Devlog video 14 covers the basics of using NPC Mercs. They are much like the party members of most RPG games. They each can level up, and progress in their respective professions, and they have lots of earning potential. Whether it be mining or combat, transport of trade, NPC Mercs can really increase your ability to survive in the Astrox Universe.
You can control how the NPCs fly with your ship, set their formations, and their tactical behaviors. You can set them to Auto dock and Auto market, where they will take it upon themselves to return to a station, heal themselves, and even make a few bucks by selling their ore, and even purchasing needed ammunition.
You can hire Mercs at most stations, and once they are hired, they require payment for every seconds that they are outside the station. When docked, they are considered to be in port, and free to roam and do as they please. They are off the clock when docked.
You can leave a Merc docked at the station by retiring them, They will stay retired at that station until you return, and add them back into the fleet. They will remain dormant during retirement, and not suffer any penalties. Rehiring the Merc will not cost anything extra, and only the payroll costs will be deducted from the player.
All hired Mercs will provide you access to their cargo bay, and module fittings. Refitting modules via the station garage will require a few Fleet Mechanic skills. Once a few of these skills have been trained, you will be able to access just about every module type.
Mercs will gain levels of experience, and their abilities and base ship attributes will increase with each level. The progress of leveling will be visible from the fleet panel, pilot fleet info, and the npc hud with an orange bar. As they gain levels and perform better, they will require more pay over time, or their loyalty rating will begin to suffer, thus effecting all areas of performance and productivity.