Saturday, December 5, 2009

Canned Heroes (part 3)

[Continued from part 2]

Understanding backup clones.

The four major changes in cloning 2.0 relative to medical/backup clones are:
  • You can no longer remotely spawn your medical clone in any station you've ever visited or your corp has an office in. To install a medical clone, you need at least proper standings with the medical facility owners (1.0 with most NPC corps), and to bring a CryoCanned clone on location.

  • Backup/medical clone are no longer different in nature from jump/generic clones. Any installed clone can potentially act as a backup clone by being bound to the character's mind-backup contract.

  • Backup clone contracts are now subject to a weekly fee proportional to the grade of your backup clone contract (about 1% base price) without which you'll enjoy only a reduced protection against skill point loss in case of podding — backup clone upgrades become less expensive, though.

  • The potential loss of skill points on death without sufficient coverage is much harsher than it used to be — this is partly eased by new ways to help ensure your backup clone protection remains sufficient at all times.
• To somewhat atone for the addition of a weekly maintenance fee on backup clone contracts, and for much more expensive transfer fees when switching to a different backup clone, Cloning 2.0 is more forgiving than previous rulesets about the price you have to pay for your backup clone upgrades:
You will only pay the difference between your current backup clone grade and the one you want to move up into, as opposed to the old way of paying the full price of an upper-grade clone on each successive upgrade.
The one case you'll pay full price for a backup clone is when you need a new contract, after you've used up your security deposit by activating a backup clone.

• On the other hand, death penalty for those failing to keep their clone up to date and maintained is significantly harsher in Cloning 2.0:
On getting podded, you will now lose 50% of the non-protected SP count, shaving off from your highest ranking level 5 skills and downward until all the lost SP are deducted from your character sheet.

Other stuff worth knowing:

Only individuals can subscribe a backup clone contract, solely for their own clones and in their own name.
A pilot can have only one backup clone contract at any one time, which is bound to a specific clone inside a station's medical facility, but the mind-scan transfer meant for the backup clone can optionally be re-routed and fed to a generic clone installed aboard a supercapital medical facility instead.

Switching which clone is to act as your backup clone doesn't void your backup contract on the whole, it simply transfers it to a different clone-facility pair (for a transfer fee), while demoting the previous backup clone down to generic status, but leaving it hooked up to the medical facility, accessible as a jump clone.

Every time a backup clone contract is transferred to a different clone-facility pair (intentionally, or as part of an automatic procedure), the applicable opening fee for that facility and clone grade will have to be paid, and it will reset the weekly maintenance bill start to the date of the transfer.

Managing clones:

• Locally:

While sitting at the same station or near the supercapital ship where your clone of interest is, you can do any of the following (provided the station manager lets you):
  • Hook or unplug a CryoCanned clone with the local medical facility (Infomorph Psychology limits allowing).

    • Hooking up can be done by a third party on your behalf, as long as somebody is present at the medical facility with your CryoCanned clone in her possession.

    • Unplugging a generic clone can only be done by you personally, either by jump cloning into the meat popsicle, or by getting on location and pulling the plug.

    • Backup clones can be indirectly unplugged by medical facility operators as a consequence of them un-binding the backup clone contract (see "Revoking Clones" below).

  • Capital ship-based clones are the exception to that rule:
    The ship pilot has the ability to unplug even generic clones, and can see who's the owner of any clone connected to the ship's medical bay (the limited number of slots warrants this, plus capital ship-based clone services are barely legal at best, so there's no complaining about the breach of privacy).

  • Bind a CryoCanned 'blank' clone to your backup clone contract.
    Your physical presence may be required, in the case where you have good enough standings with the medical facility owners to access the backup cloning service but not the generic cloning service. In that situation, you may lack a generic clone already connected the local medical facility network, yet still have enough privilege to install your canned clone directly, as part of a backup contract.
Everything you can do remotely you can do locally, to the possible exception of a station that wouldn't let you dock, yet still allows you to use their medical facility services (weird, creative station settings).

• Remotely:

Managing your installed clones can partly be done remotely: you can select which of your currently installed clones is to act as your backup clone, and optionally flag another already installed clone on a mothership or titan as your primary backup clone choice.

Upgrading your backup clone grade can be done remotely and doesn't require you to be in the station where the target clone is (or even a station owned by the same entity), but you need to have sufficient privileges to access cloning services both where you stand (to access the interface), and in the facility the target clone is installed in (for the changes to take effect).

Note that you can not remotely unplug or destroy clones that are currently hooked to a medical facility: if you need to free up active clone slots, you'll have to jump to the unwanted clones first, and either fly away or wait 24h to put that meat back in the freezer before jump-cloning out (without re-attaching the CryoCan to the local medical facility).

Revoking clones:

A revoked contract doesn't really cancel your mind-backup deal with DED as the ultimate supplier. What is really revoked is the bond between your  mind-backup contract and a specific clone-facility pair. This usually happens as a result of the medical facility suddenly denying you services, or because you willingly transferred the bond to a different clone-facility pair yourself.

Generic clones can not be manually unplugged by station owners, although the clone service can be temporarily disabled as a whole, at their discretion.
The captain of a Capital ship pilot however can plug/unplug generic clones installed on her ship at will, and revoke backup clone bindings to her ship, all without formal permission from the clone owner.

Backup clones require a contract, which can be unbound at any time by the client or the station owners if they so choose, and may be frozen and/or revoked as a result of failing to pay the weekly backup contract fee on that clone.
  • When a backup clone contract is unilaterally revoked by the station owners (manually or by default of payment), the clone is unplugged from the station medical services and dropped back in the client's personal hangar (in its CryoCan), demoting it to 'blank' clone ; meanwhile a new clone-facility pair is picked automatically for your contract to be transferred to — you are of course to be billed for the transfer.

  • Transferring your own backup clone contract from a clone-facility pair to another doesn't unplug the demoted clone from its local medical facility, it simply returns it to a status of generic, anonymous, jump clone.

How many of my SP are protected ?
  • As long as your backup contract clone grade is good enough to cover your current skill points count, and you're paying its weekly maintenance fees, you enjoy 100% protection on your skill points total.

  • Even with a high-enough grade backup clone, failing to pay your weekly fee may still lead DED to freeze your coverage, resulting in 100% protection of the skill points you had at the time you defaulted on your maintenance fee, while any points above that will remain uninsured until you resume weekly payments.

  • If your backup clone grade is inferior to your current SP count requirements, assuming you paid your fees at least until you overgrew your backup clone grade, any points exceeding your backup contract clone grade capacity will be exposed to death penalty.
After your backup clone is activated, it is up to you to upgrade the default newbie backup contract to the proper clone grade to cover your current SP count, lest you fly largely uninsured and exposed to much painful loss on next podding.

In order to reduce the odds of mishaps, you will get regular warnings and optional automatic assistance to save you from your own foolishness.
  • An alert will pop up every time you try to undock with an insufficient backup clone coverage for your current SP count.

  • If your backup clone isn't up to speed with your current SP count (as a result of undersized backup clone grade, or frozen coverage), it will show on your character sheet with the backup clone SP count highlighted in red.

  • You'll get a mail warning you about your insufficient and frozen backup clone SP coverage every week while you fail to pay your maintenance fee.

  • Using the automatic payments options of the wallet, it is possible to ensure one's backup clone grade is nearly-always good enough: every week, just before paying the backup clone maintenance fee, the service will check for you that your current backup clone grade exceeds your current SP count, and will automatically upgrade your backup clone subscription if needed, billing you automatically for it.
    [If you are really broke, this system ensures you'll get at least the protection you can afford, by incrementally upgrading your backup clone weekly as your wallet allows.]

Backup clone fail-safe:

It is not possible to not have at least a basic clone insurance: if you don't currently have a backup clone, the cheapest grade backup clone will be automatically picked up for you (and billed) by DED.

The check for the presence of a functional backup clone will be performed twice every time you die: once as your pod actually goes pop, to figure where you're supposed to end up, and a second time right after you respawn into a new clone.
  • As you die, it first checks whether you already have a backup clone-facility pair set, then if the clone is available, respawns you there.

  • It will then try to offer you to get you a new clone contract at the same location, if possible.

  • If either or these checks return a false result, the backup clone system will go to fail-safe mode.

Fallback plan.

• The automatic clone backup selection will first go through the list of your installed generic clones to try and find one in a facility that allows you to bind your backup contract.
Failing that, it will automatically order a a backup clone grown for you in the fastest and closest (in that order) suitable medical facility (one that will welcome your business), and bill you accordingly (automatically syphoned from your wallet, so you could potentially end up in red over this).

[Note: It is still possible to respawn after a podding in a station where you don't have access to medical services (say because the new owners don't like you very much, yet haven't bothered to revoke your old backup clone contract yet), but the fail-safe will ensure you can't get permanently stuck there, by auto-selecting a different clone-facility pair for your new default backup contract, since you can't do it yourself for lack of access to the medical services interface.]

• If the cloning service of a station is disabled, as a result of it being temporarily incapacitated or switched off, local backup clone contracts will automatically get transferred according to the above rules, on a per-user, need-basis (ie transfer to the next-in-line clone will happen as pilots get podded and the designated facility is not found, but not before).
Since the 'main' backup clone always defaults to a station-based one, the temporary absence of a supercapital designated as Home station will be of limited consequence, simply respawning podded pilots at their respective 'real' Home station without additional transfer fee (if available).

Stuck in limbo, the horror.

Failing a suitable clone to welcome your recently podded self, your mind-scan will be redirected to the fastest and nearest (in that order) clone-breeding vat-equipped station where your standings allow you to use the backup cloning service ; a fresh clone will be emergency-grown on location for your mind to transfer into, which can take anywhere from 18h to 30h depending on the station type. You will be billed by DED directly for the vat-growth and transfer service, at applicable prices, with your wallet possibly going negative in the process.

Worst-case scenario, if you were to prove so unpopular everywhere that no other player or NPC station will have your filthy soul, you will end up in the nearest DED office with clone-vat medical facilities, where you will wake up 24h later in a freshly-baked clone, as explained above.

Special note:
The only thing that can hold your mind in limbo is the lack of a ready and suitable 'blank' clone to receive your mind-scan. In a bit of ugly metagaming, and although you'll be unable to do anything with this disembodied character in the meantime, you'll still get to log on and watch the mesmerizing dance of nano-assemblers knitting a new you from cadavers' biomass, learn in which station your brain-scan is currently buffered, and how long until your new clone is done.

If a friendly party was to haul a CryoCan with one of your blank clones to this station and install it for you (you most likely will have a free clone slot at this stage), you'd suddenly find yourself with a suitable clone at the ready, which the medical facility would then instantly use to dump your mind and memories into. You'd still be billed for the locally-grown blank clone and backup transfer, but you'd get to be back in action sooner than if you waited for the clone vat to finish cooking you a new meat bag.


[The next, and hopefully last episode in this series will focus on Cloning 2.0 applied to Rorquals and Supercapitals, and on new and interesting ways to enjoy your bodies.]

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