Hi, this is SymTec ltd. from the X3TC scripting team. For X3TC, we had improved the Trade Command Software MK3 in many areas – it got the new “Local Trader” option to make the pilot trade in one area only, a special internal blacklist that would stop it from entering into really dangerous territory, and of course was prepared for the new Terran economy. However, after many players had worked with the UT in their actual games, they told us that things were sometimes not running as smoothly as they should. Apparently, the pilots you hired got rather lazy after a while – just hanging out at the stations’ pubs when the next trading opportunity was just a few stations away, or trading in Energy Cells when there were plenty of other wares around.
For 2.0, I took some time to look over the scripts responsible for the UT, and found ways to correct some of the misbehaviour that people had reported in the previous versions. Reading through hundreds of lines of debug logs, I found the cause of the pilots’ laziness: Trying to be clever, they first checked if the current station’s products could be sold with profit – if that was not the case, they ordered another beer before going on with checking the other stations, and of course forgot about their plans right the next second. I was able to talk the barkeepers into not serving any beverages to working trade pilots anymore, so that should be fixed.
Especially for Universe/Local Traders with a big jumprange, designing the algorithm that picks a good trade run is always a compromise between game performance and trade efficiency – of course, it is possible to check every possible trade route in the whole area and pick the best, but that is performance heavy. On the other side, just taking the first opportunity that the routine finds is very simple, but most likely won’t satisfy you either. The MK3 software uses a method in between those extremes: The routine picks the trading wares based on random numbers and with those wares tries to yield a certain profit; but the probability for each ware type can be closely adjusted. With the new version, I changed these settings: Less energy, more tech wares (for fighters) and bio wares (for freighters).
As you proceed in the game, you have more and more money available, but the universe is a dangerous place for expensive high-tech traders. Creating a fighter escort for your trader is not quite a good idea, because they tend to run out of fuel if the trader uses its jumpdrive a lot and then get killed in the attempt to catch up. One solution to the danger of transporting expensive wares was to use fighter craft for the job: They have a smaller cargo bay and a higher price, but are faster, better shielded and more dangerous to potential attackers than the TS freighters. Several people asked me why they couldn’t employ a Universe Trader on TM class ships – now they can! TM class ships can carry around their own little defence/distraction fleet, have a decent speed and cargobay size, great shielding and weaponry, and are still less expensive than many super freighters: A great new opportunity for the more dangerous areas of the X-Universe.