It's still unclear to me how this pirate thing would work.
1. Starting a tech at level 1, not connected to a level 0 tech, does not in itself prevent that tech from being researched (although it will probably not start off researched in a pre-warp start). Check out the tech 'Shields' for example. I tested this extensively when doing my 'research unleashed' mod, but I couldn't stop races being able to research techs not connected to a level 1 tech.
2. I don't think hyperdrive, in itself, has an 'explore' requirement. You give it the explore requirement by selecting special function code '2=primitive hyperdrive tech (warp bubble) that must be unlocked before can be researched'. However, if you do it this way, wouldn't non-pirates would be able to find the tech by exploration (the same way warp-bubble is found by exploration in pre-warp games)?
3. Research orders would stop AI empires from researching the tech, but not the player.
There might be a way to do it with a combination of research orders and very high tech cost. The research orders would prevent the AI from researching the tech, while a very high tech cost would deter the player from doing the research. However, if an AI player ever did get the chance to research the tech, it would probably screw the AI's game. Having said that, I don't like the research orders feature, because it locks each AI race into always doing the same thing. I'd prefer having a clearer tech tree which makes it less difficult for the AI to go wrong, together with a small number of tech orders (no more than 5-10 for each race) to get them off to a particular start.
The problem is that although we can disallow races, we can't disallow pirates or non-pirates. The game could really use an additional tech flag for 'pirates only' and 'non-pirates only'.
Edit, thinking about it some more, maybe you could do this, but it would require some work. You would have to do this:
(i) Go through all the existing 'races'.txt and change:
'Can be Pirate: indicates whether this race can be a pirate faction or not (Y/N)
(ii) Create a new set of races (call them 'racename (Pirate)' or whatever - e.g. 'Human (Pirate)', which you want to be pirates, select the flag in (i) above to be 'Y' and also change:
'Can be Normal Empire: indicates whether this race can be a normal empire or not (Y/N) (e.g. may set as only CanBePirate, but not CanBeNormalEmpire)
(iii) For the pirate hyperdrive tech, select the allowed races to be only those races which are pirates.
I think that would actually achieve the affect you're thinking of. I might even consider doing it for my own mod.
That would actually work. But a lot work would be needed just to make pirates speed up at pre-warp. I'm not sure it's worth the effort involved. For my mod with 70 races that's just way too much work. It would be like having 70 other races as pirates. I'm not even sure what the race cap is for the new beta 12.
One thing to consider is will these pirates be as non-playable race? Since these would technically be races then what to pick and choosee add to your game when starting a new game?
Also pirate images could be a problem since all pirate races would be using the same images unless you modify the original images somehow?
I'm think just gonna stick with what works for me.
The AI and player cannot research what I designed because the "2=primitive hyperdrive tech (warp bubble) that must be unlocked before can be researched" flag cannot be triggered.
The only way the AI or player can explore it is if it actually existed in the game to be explored. To do that, you would have to manually add a ruin with that tech to each system so that it can be explored.
Also after thinking about it more, if the player decides to start off at level 1 or above then there really is no problem with pirates travelling slowly since this problem only occurs during pre-warp