Previously referred to with the blanket term “parenting”, breaking them off as boarding and docking clarifies what they are and what they do. Just as the name implies, boarding allows passengers to come aboard your ship. Docking makes it possible to have ships connected to other ships, even when both are moving. This boarding/docking relationship basically has the same functionality and behaviour as before but with the added benefit of rights management.
In its original design, boarding or docking a construct was not consensual. Neither the player who owned the construct being boarded/docked nor the player whose construct was being attached to another could decline. They may not have even been aware it had happened in some cases, it simply occurred due to their proximity.
This was a problem for a few reasons, most notably that it opened the door for bugs and exploits. In addition to negating those, revisiting the feature also gives us the opportunity to make it more intuitive and purposeful.
Owners can use the Rights & Duties Management System (RDMS) to assign Right to Board or Right to Dock to their constructs that will let others board or dock, or to forbid such requests.
Dynamic constructs have the ability to move, as opposed to static constructs - like buildings - that are immobile. With the necessary rights, avatars will be able to board dynamic constructs, and smaller dynamic constructs (let’s call them shuttles) will be able to dock with bigger ones (aka carriers). When boarded or docked, the player or the shuttle moves with the carrier, and their mass is added to the carrier’s physics.
A player or a shuttle will need to be near the carrier in order to board or dock, it can’t be done from a distance. The distance is commiserate with the size of the target vessel, the minimum distance being 32m and 128m being the maximum.
Players are able to board any inactive dynamic construct. This makes it possible for them to tour constructs on display in a marketplace or the like. The construct will go into the “active” state when the owner or someone else with piloting rights jumps into the driver’s seat, and unauthorized passengers will be automatically ejected.
If a player enters a dynamic construct with the proper rights or when the construct is inactive, they will become boarded and can move freely around the construct.
This is a sample of the UI that is still in progress
If the construct is active and the player attempting to board does not have the necessary right to board, they will be repulsed. The effect is similar to hitting an impassable barrier with no damage taken. The UI display may look something like this:
Once shuttle pilots with the necessary rights are within range, they can manually dock to a carrier. This is done through a contextual menu that is accessed via right-click. The shuttle will then be invisibly tethered to the exterior of the carrier.
Without that clearance, the shuttle will be repulsed.
Authorized shuttle pilots will receive an opt-in confirmation to signal when they are within docking range.
The “Docking” widget in the piloting UI informs the pilot of the shuttle when they are in docking range through this small open chain link icon.
This is a sample of the UI report to show a shuttle’s docking status.
The owner of the carrier is considered the parent, and those who are granted boarding or docking rights are children.
Just as real-world moms and dads, construct owners can give their “kids” the old heave-ho when it’s time for them to leave the nest and fly solo. This is done in a Build Helper’s submenu where all boarded players and docked shuttles are listed.
Buh-bye! Boarded avatars can be ejected at any time directly through the carrier’s Build Helper interface.
This results in ejected players suddenly finding themselves adrift, possibly in deep space. Here, they have two options. Jetpack to a safe place. Depending on the distance, this could take quite a while; however, it’s safe (they can’t be attacked) and they will arrive with the inventory in their nanopack. The second option, suicide, will get them on terra firma faster, but they will lose whatever they were carrying. Probably a good idea to stay on the good side of the carrier captain to avoid being in this predicament.
With a few simple clicks, the carrier pilot can easily de-dock shuttles, too.