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What the current game needs is for the players to get reputations., and for there to be an NPC Royal Navy (Police). Then for those players that like offline raiding and attacking targets that they are not in an official declared WAR with, they would get a worse reputation. If they are seen on the seas by the NPC royal Navy they will be attacked. The Royal Navy should (like the Ships of the damned), come in various sized ships. But the Royal navy unlike the ships of the damned should only attack ships with players on that have a poor reputation. Therefore if the player with the bad reputation jumped overboard the Navy ship would target on the player with the poor reputation and not continue after the ship. At the end of the day, why penalise the crew mates when maybe only one person has been raiding. Obviously the worse the reputation the bigger the aggro range of the player, and the easier it is for the NPC royal Navy to detect. Reputation should not reset when you die, but should only reset when you die of old age or fountain of youth regen. To regain your reputation, you should get a reputation increase for every game Month that you don't attack someone. The worse your reputation the longer it takes to get rid of it. This would force more official wars to be fought, and get rid of a lot of the offline raiding.
The golden age of piracy occurred during a time when war and commerce were exploding on the sea. The English, French, and Spanish were in constant disputes over land. These nations often hunted and punished pirates (if they could find them). Trade was everything during the golden age of piracy. Without merchant ships to attack, there could have been no privateers or pirates. With that in mind, I would like to make the following suggestions that I think would appease and encompass several of the most active suggestion threads on the forums. Territory at Sea The sea in a given map sector belongs to the company with the largest non-anchored fleet. Ownership is determined every 30 minutes and lasts for 30 minutes. Upon taking control of the sea and when interacting while in or looking at the sea, the company that has an active claim has the option to set tax rates for trade and salvage and the bank to receive the tax. Tax payments take time based on the distance of the trade/salvage from the bank. This means no more sea claim flags. Trade When interacting with another player (E) or through the whistle menu, you are given the option to trade. Once two participants confirm their desire to trade, a pseudo-inventory appears for each player, allowing them to offer goods while also seeing the goods offered by the other player. A private chat channel is opened for the trade and accessible while trading. Each player has the option to "Accept" or "Decline" the offered trade. Both players must accept in order for the trade to complete. Any changes to the offered goods revokes the acceptance of a trade. Claim owners are able to establish a special tax rate for trade. Factions and Faction Ports Freeports are replaced by Faction Ports. A Faction Port is owned by one of four factions: Pirates, English, Spanish, or French (or something entirely new and dripping in lore). Each Faction Port is frequented by guard ships on the lookout for players with reputation that is considered undesirable by that Faction and will attack on sight. By default a player and company have no faction or allegiance. Trade ships and Ships of the Damned are replaced by faction-specific merchant and military vessels that can be sunk for large amounts of gold/resources. Ships of the Damned become a perk of Piracy that can only be "discovered" with a skill activation and are boosted in value and strength. By joining a given faction, a company or player gains access to: In-faction auction houses for trade Faction specific skins and items The ability to dock ships in the Faction Port The ability to purchase storage space for resources and items. Spend reputation and gold to request the aid of NPC-controlled faction ships for use against ghost ships or protection from other factions (follows for a given period of time, paid by the hour). Privateers and Quests Players are given the option to go on quests in Faction Ports ranging from privateering missions, salvage missions, whale hunting, and more. Missions requiring the player to track or attack a ship would provide a general area to search for on the players' map, and appearing in that area would spawn the ship. Reputation Interactions with players and NPC can cause one to develop a reputation. Killing a player that has not first damaged you would result in a reputation for murder. Destroying structures would result in a reputation for vandalism. Taking items from an enemy container: thievery. Attacking ships: piracy. Successful trades: trading. Defeating ghost ships: Captaineering. Taming animals: Beastmastery.... and so on. Factions would have their own interpretation of a players' reputation based on the faction of the victim or benefactor of these actions. Faction Ports would respond differently to each reputation, depending on faction. "Positive" reputation would result in additional NPC offerings and reduced prices. Reduced Visible Name Range & Flying Enemy Colors Each ship flies flag(s) on the rear mast. If in a faction and a company, both the faction flag and company flag are flown. The visible name range of players is reduced significantly. The current UI ship names are not visible at all. Instead the name of the ship is painted on the hull (high contrast based on paint color). Players can temporarily paint over the name of their ship. Upon sacking an enemy ship, the player is given the option to steal the enemy flags. The player can then fly these flags on their own mast for a limited time (perhaps 2 hours?) to confuse players and NPC ships.