Currently autons (and even wingmates) cannot have ammo weapons. The problem is how do they get more ammo? This record proposes some solutions.
A few principles:
- It should be possible to rearm an auton without the Auton Bay.
- The solution should work for wingmates too (though they may have additional ways to rearm).
- Not all autons need cargo space; e.g., smaller autons probably can't use ammo weapons.
For each ammo useable by an auton, we add a Reload command in its communications menu. For example, if an auton has an Akan 30 cannon, we add the entry, "Reload Akan 30 ammo". If an auton has a missile launcher, we add an reload command for every appropriate missile type in the player's cargo hold.
If possible, the communications menu should show how much ammo is left on the auton.
When the player selects the reload command, the auton moves towards the player ship. When it reaches the player ship, we do an automatic reload. The player gets a message describing the result of the reload (e.g., "50 Akan 30 shells on board.")
If there is a problem, we announce it. E.g., "No more Akan 30 shells in you cargo hold." [Though in some cases we should just gray-out the Reload command with an explanation.]
Auton Bay Reload
When an auton is in the Auton Bay, there should be a Reload command for each weapon that has ammo. For single-ammo weapons, we tell the player how much ammo is on the auton and how much she has in cargo and lets the player load more into the auton (type a number).
For missile launcher, we show a screen with all possible missile types and let the player choose which ones to load.
Transfer Command for Wingmates
Wingmates (not autons) have a Transfer Cargo command. When issued, the wingmate stops in space like a Mule auton and allows the player to dock. Once docked, the player can move cargo between the two ships, including ammo.
The wingmate refuses to take any cargo that it doesn't know what to do with (option grayed out). For example, it will refuse to take ammo for weapons it doesn't have.
Eventually, we can add code for wingmates to use items like armor repair kits or even halo gems. Perhaps they can also take armor and devices from the player and install it the next time they are at a station.
Automatic Reload for Wingmates
Wingmates are assumed to have an independent source of money for supplies. They are assumed to refuel and repair armor without player intervention. We should extend this to ammo.
When a wingmate has an ammo weapon, they seek out stations to rearm, just as they do for repairs. They prefer missiles of the current system level but will buy missiles of higher and lower levels, if preferred missiles are not available.
I implemented some of the wingmate parts of this in my old UpgradeableWingmen mod. This basically added a dockservices for wingmates so you could give them device and armor upgrades:
- They would only accept upgrades
- Primary weapon could not use ammo (but secondary missile launcher was accepted)
- "install" was free on the assumption that the wingmates were paying
- Wingmates would automatically buy appropriate ammo from stations
The current version of the mod should work with 1.9:
However, the code to buy ammo is only available in an older version:
I think this was based on Transcendence 1.8 alpha and made other tweaks to RPGWingmen which are now obsolete.
I was planning to tidy this up and make some PRs (#17 and #22 were the start) but haven't got around to it yet.
Additionally, the auton and wingmate should able to inform player about ammo they have. It doesn't necessary to tell how much, but they should tell player they need to reload if the ammo reached below point (e.g. 10 ammo left).
From using cargo autons I have found that having multiple objects with docking ports nearby can make docking with a particular auton difficult as you need to position the playership carefully.
From a gameplay perspective it would be better if the docking feature for a wingman was only activated by the 'Transfer Cargo' communication. For the rest of the time have the wingman set as not showing docking ports to prevent unwanted dockings.
And a random thought: maybe autons could use magazines for ammo? Ammunition could be added into a magazine by the player somehow and only a certain number of magazines could be loaded to an auton, probably based on ship mass.
This might simplify the non-auton bay handling of autons as only magazines would need to be loaded into the auton, not individual ammo.
Now that I thinking, reloading auton without auton bay doesn't need sophisticated command. Save the reload command on auton bay, better just use dock to auton like mule auton instead where we can store ammo. A bit more tedious with multiple auton, but this is much easier to do especially if autons have both ammo weapon and launchers.
A refill all command would be a good idea. Filling multiple autons individually could get tedious, so a command to order all autons to take whichever ammo they need would be useful.