Found out that my epidemic crashes (at least) were due to a bad cache (yet again... how many times does this have to happen? I don't know!)
I am reworking the cache stuff becuase I have a few bugs that I'm really not comfortable with. I reworked the thread-disabling code. I got the city nightlights working. Other than this, I'm well on my way to getting the ship "traffic" drones working.
There are a few types of NPC ships in vex. There are the old "npcships" which I think are being phased out, or have been. I'm not really sure. Maybe not actually. These are basically ships that would be like pirates without any homes. Then there are "transport" ships that inhabit any given system, and will contain NPCs from those systems when you hail them. Those NPCs won't be home if you visit, and hopefully they get mad if you attack. Then there are "traffic" ships. These are not hailable, don't contain NPCs, but if you attack them you will lose/gain cultural favour/fear, and so on. The main reason for them is actually just to populate the planets a bit more. Anyhow these ships only exist on the planet you are on and they just fly around, sort of like monsters but, between cities mainly. I'm going to try and add some code that they can land at a city, sort of like the player has to.
Things are going pretty well, all considered, but I sort of have slowed down in implementing gameplay stuff (still have to get the pirate base done, and actually a significant part of the galactic senate done). What I think will end up happening is I will have from January to April to mostly work on quests, gameplay balance, and graphics enhancements. One pleasant surprise was that most of these things (except maybe gameplay balance, which always requires you to implement new player-aids and tweak endlessly) are kind of fast going. Reworking/enhancing the models tends to be very fast going because the system is so reliable and flexible. And gameplay stuff is easy because it's all lua. Quests are a bit more of a pain but, we'll see..... Right now the quest system isn't fantastic, not nearly.