ConorC wrote:Tim, a question: I've been using a lot of your methods and getting really good results, but I only have maybe 20 - 30 ships moving around different areas trading, the most being in the terran sectors. My question is, how do you keep them all straight in your head?
I don't. My head is a very twisted place, and nothing can be kept straight there.
I do keep them straight in my property list though, by using a rigorous system. The key element of that system is recognizing that while a CAG has to have a home base, every ship can
have a home base...and that can be used to build a hierarchy structure that is very much like the file tree structure in my computer.
Example from current game:
Early on, while I was still doing the opening plot, I had credits to invest and had picked up a few ships. I wanted the factories in the Argon Military Sector to get with the program and be productive because I knew I would be wanting 25mj shields, HEPTs, CIGs and maybe some other stuff that should be available there but seldom is. So, Milsect Trading Company.
Need a CLS ship distributing e-cells from the local SPP, a buyer bringing in ore, a distributor to sell the ore, a buyer bringing in cahoonas, and a distributor to distribute them. Need a transfer tank for the ore buyer to drop off to, and since there's no trading station for some reason I also need a transfer tank for the cahoonas. So seven ships, minimum.
Since I usually have a "personal fleet" of around a dozen ships and I like to be able to go right to them on my property menu I don't want all these CLS guys cluttering things up. I choose 'NO" for "show ships if homebase assigned" and assign them all to a handy military transport renamed "HQ MilSec Trading Company," and I homebase that to my personal Boa. Conveniently, with a CLS pilot it can also fly around in the MilSector and collect the stuff that I want.
Now, early on all these ships have apprentice pilots and they need a lot of attention, so as I'm in flight I open property, mouse to the Boa and click "owned ships." There's MilSec Trading. At the time it was the only thing there, and the thought that I was wasting a click would cross my mind, but I've learned to be rigorous from the start. Now there are four or five TMs listed there.
Opening the owned ship list for HQ MilSec Trading there's MilSec Energy Distributor Dolphin, MilSec Ore Buyer Vulture Hauler, MilSec Ore Seller Mercury, etc. I name ships "buyer" if they buy and unload to a transfer tank or trading station, and "seller" if they pick up the goods and sell them. If they buy from suppliers and also sell the goods without some sort of relay I name them "distributor." Transfer tanks are named "transfer tank," confusingly enough.
When networks get big I get more TMs to add layers to the structure. Very seldom will opening "owned ships" bring up a list of more than ten to twenty ships.
Things I've learned to establish early:
My Boa owns a TM of some sort named "HQ ScorpCorp Salvage Division." Ships that I'm currently not doing anything with get based to that. As things develop more TMs may get involved to separate "ready" ships from "Equipment Required" and/or "Collector's Items."
It's also kept stocked with shields, has a Disco named "gear locker" aboard with a jump drive, and another one named "Pilot Shuttle" equipped for CLS. It is my MORS (Manually Operated Remote Salvage) ship. When I get a bail I have to do the claiming, but MORS hops in and either loads it on board or sets it up to jump to a shipyard...and gets it off my main property list. I also use it when I want to move an experienced pilot and replace them with an apprentice without disrupting the operation of the ship they trained in. I try to make the TMs I use as file headings at least somewhat useful.
There's also usually a TM with some clever name, in my current game it's Spike's Liquor and Sundries. Spike handles my illegal goods operations, and all the little rum runners, spacefuel buyers, storage tanks where I dump the kind of goods that pirate missions ask for, and other appropriate stuff, are homebased to that.
In most games I have swarms of CLS traders that are what I call the willy-nilly fleet. I buy freighters ten at a time and just throw them on trading routes in some area and leave them to ferment. Sometimes this will involve transfer tanks. Before I buy them I make sure I have a TM available and call it something like "HQ Argon Prime Regional Trading," and the whole laot, tanks and all, gets homebased to that. I might have a handful of such TM's under "HQ ScorpCorp Regional Trading Division."
So, by naming conventions and property list structure I avoid needing to keep things straight in my head. This helps out in a lot of ways besides keeping the property list manageable. When I see a good deal on space fuel I can order Spike's HQ TM to jump and fly there, and when I get the order completed message, since it's from Spike I know more or less what is going on even if I saved the game and a week has gone by.
Hope that helps.