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Player Tow Vehicles
A thread on rants / possible problems

I'm interested in hearing player's thoughts on tow vehicles that are accessible without admin intervention.

The big downside is that tow vehicles in their current impl. are way overpowered and make no sense. If players were given tow vehicles, every vehicle would be towed away on the street and chopped up.

I don't believe anyone (aside from the people with tow trucks) want that style of gameplay. What are some possible solutions, and what are the drawbacks/pros to your solutions?

Eaisest solution, to tow a vehicle the character needs to be authorised on the vehicle. Obviosuly a more illegal way should anyone get hands on a tow truck or equivilent, breaking into a vehicle like usual to steal it, so they can steal damaged vehicles too.
CookieJarvis's solution makes sense. We already car security alarms; if someone tries to hook one without authorization, sound that alarm and block the places typically used for hooking a towed car. That would also give a reason for the skill required to tow a vehicle being decently high.
Introduce Tow vehicles in a trial form, perhaps as part of the WJF for moving unauthorised vehicles for parking violations, etc ? See how it works out and see if it is viable to make a tower service in the same line as the WCS, Skyfox and Chexie ? Players driving the vehicles but them being intrinsincally tied to a business with restrictions of use, and tracked etc to restrict their potential abuse.
Make tow vehicles accessible by players, but in order to hook something up to it, you need to be either authed on that thing, or it needs to not have an active security system. In the legitimate case where a car is wrecked, the driver can facilitate the tow by authing the mechanic for a bit, or hooking it up to the tow themselves.

In the illegitimate case, if a character wants to salvage a car abandoned on the street or steal someone else's, they would have to disable the vehicle's security system somehow first. This would carry the same risks it already does. You're just using a tow truck now instead of driving it away, but the same form of balance would apply.

I would be fine personally with just being OOC disallowed from towing vehicles without explicit IC permission, having to xhelp, leave @notes, whichever. There is precedent for mechanics to be regulated through rules rather than coded controls.

In my experience the situations where towing is necessary are few and far between, and if the vehicle is already authorized to the tower, it's just as easy to deal with it through other means.

Which is not to understate, PC towing would be super convenient even if there are sometimes other solutions available.
I agree with 0x1mm. I think this is the sort of thing that could just be 'XHELP before crime' as a policy question in some fashion -- perhaps with an IC gloss that tow trucks report to the WJF the VIN of any vehicle they tow.
Just drunk thoughts here. I might have something better in the morning.

A "neutral" setting on vehicles that allows the tow. This will require authorization on the security system. Obviously, if you hotwire a car, with a kit, you will have access to this command. If you do not, and merely break into it, you will not.

This allows would-be thieves with a tow the ability to steal a vehicle that is otherwise immobilized and cannot be driven away, while preventing them from just grabbing whatever they want.

For legitimate purposes, it allows the owners of the vehicle to set the vehicle in neutral and tow at leisure.

The issues I can see arising from an authorization-to-tow security setting:

1) The vehicle operator is not necessarily (or even usually) the vehicle owner, who may be an inactive PC, or be an NPC who can't access the vehicle.

2) Towing may be required when a vehicle is inaccessible or in locations dangerous to characters on foot that would prevent coordinating authorizations, for instance middle of the express tubes, or in the middle of the desert, or in mid-air.

3) Unfinished vehicles may not have security systems installed at all.

Vehicle operators do not have permissions to change authorization settings on vehicles.
XHELP to tow, as it was previously. Regardless of the state of the vehicle.

Reason being that there really needs to be a NPC response and likely palms greased to avoid a confrontation with the local street authorities. Players can't reasonably be expected to respond to their ride getting jacked when it's pretty easy to figure out (AKA smallworld) who owns what vehicle and simply avoid them. Otherwise it'll be handled like pretty much all other high-risk crime is, when it's 4:17AM in the morning and there's all of zero people available to react to having their shit stolen.

Vehicles can already be stolen at 4:17AM in easier ways without a tow truck without xhelp.
Just to state the status quo, players can already be authed to drive the tow trucks in game and we already have an xhelp requirement.

Part of the solution we are looking for here is a way we can remove that requirement and make it more accessible. As more and more vehicle combat and damage enters the game, this becomes a more pressing thing to not have gm approval be a bottleneck for.

What about some sort of tow truck dispatcher service you can call, where it automatically brings the vehicle to the mechanic garage you select after you pay?
Not a bad idea! That works as an automated system perhaps, but we want to empower players over automation if possible. A good fallback if we can't find a way to do that though.
For legitimate jobs like mechanics that require towing for broken down vehicles, I don't know if possible to code but you could add a qualifier that engines must be in a certain state of damage to destroyed and then they can tow them away without authorization on the vehicle.

It could generate a log staff side to see who's towed what if there were concerns about abuse.

I could see a situation whereby a NPC auths the towing truck driver/service member to go collect a specific wreck off the street as maybe a once a week activity?

I.E. A wreck spawns -somewhere-, most likely in Red, takes from a few hours (in say green) to a few days (in red) until the orders come down to remove it, and then the player is able to tow it back in to the service area. If they can scan it and determine that it's a player owned vehicle, they can impound it until the owner pays to get the wreck released to another garage or repaired, and if it's a NPC wreck, they might say something along the lines of 'This isn't salvageable, take it down to the crusher and get it recycled.'

Spawn one or two wrecks a week on an automated manner so that tow truck drivers have intermittent work to do if there's not much vehicle combat going on (or until it's fully implemented) and then use the flagging system on all wrecks on public streets from there, including system-generated wrecks, as well as wrecks generated as a result of vehicular combat.

I won't be implementing wreck objects like in red. Those aren't created outside of story conditions. Vehicle hulls are otherwise indestructible.

So any vehicle towed will always be a viable vehicle in some capacity. And the goal here is to make it so players can retrieve their viable vehicles and return them to shops.

Double post, locking the thread as I have collected sufficient feedback and know how I will be implementing this. Thanks everyone who participated.