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 Post subject: Ships: Supply
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 12:19 am 
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This thread is to discuss issues of supply for fleets. Some options (courtesy of Geoff) include:

* MOO1-like range limits: can't move a fleet further than some limit from your planets and breaking this rule can result in fleet loss
* Fleet fuel limits, where moving fleets consumes their fuel, and you can't move or can't move quickly fleets that don't have any fuel, and replenishing fuel requires bringing a ship to a friendly base
* Remote fleet supply, where ships need a "safe path" between them and one of your supply points to have their supply (ammo, fighters, crew, fuel?) replenished. Rate of replenishment might depend on distance of shortest available path, or number of unsafe or semi-safe points along the path.
* No range limits - fleets can move anywhere they want

This list is by no means exhaustive. Remember to keep solutions simple. We don't want a solution that takes too much micromanagement.

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 1:50 am 
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You could always do what sword of the stars does, and only make fuel the supply ingredient. This makes it so that there is a supply ship you can send along with your fleets to keep them supplied, or fly it out to them if you forget it. (just abstract it as a supply ship or tanker or whatever).

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 2:27 am 
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Zanzibar wrote:
...there is a supply ship you can send along with your fleets to keep them supplied, or fly it out to them...

How do these supply ships function with a fleet? Do they have a large cargo / fuel storage capacity that the fleet can use? If so, what happens when the supply ship runs out of supplies as well? Or does the presence of a supply ship with a fleet give the fleet unlimited supplies? If you send a supply ship out with a fleet, is there any effective limit on its range? If not, why have supply ships and limited fuel at all, assuming one will always send one with a fleet that one wants to send far away?

A system in which multiple supply ships / fleets of supply ships need to be manually managed by the player, and flown back and forth between supply sources and fleets is probably not workable, due to the extra micromanagement it would require.


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 6:54 am 
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@Swords of the Stars
Ick, that fuel system is not ideal. When I first played the game, I found that my ships quickly got stuck in the middle of a starlane.

The Moo2 system is the best that I can think of cause your ship will never get stuck half way, it is automatically determined for you so that you have enough fuel to get back. I guess you could turn this safety method off in FO at players discretion, but I see no need for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Supply
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 4:12 pm 
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Tyreth wrote:
* MOO1-like range limits: can't move a fleet further than some limit from your planets and breaking this rule can result in fleet loss
* Fleet fuel limits, where moving fleets consumes their fuel, and you can't move or can't move quickly fleets that don't have any fuel, and replenishing fuel requires bringing a ship to a friendly base
* Remote fleet supply, where ships need a "safe path" between them and one of your supply points to have their supply (ammo, fighters, crew, fuel?) replenished. Rate of replenishment might depend on distance of shortest available path, or number of unsafe or semi-safe points along the path.
* No range limits - fleets can move anywhere they want


• I really disliked the range limits in MoO1,2. IMHO too much of the success of your early game hinges on the quality of the stars within your original reach. With only 3-6 stars within reach, there is little "averaging" of the quality of starting stars.

• However, the current FO provides an opposite undesirable problem where exportation is overwhelmingly easier than colonization. Starting with 2 scouts and a colony ship, it's not hard to get 50-75 systems explored before your third colony goes up. If exploration is too easy/fast it's not really fun.

So on consideration, i won't endorse the "no range limits" i originally gravitated to, but instead propose something that resembles MoO1,2 but hopefully without the annoyance.


Technobabble Explanation:
The hard part about star-lane travel is entering the lane. It is at that point that "fuel" is consumed. The rest of the trip relies on the original momentum, no matter how long it takes to get to the other side.

Proposal:
I will assume the existence of invisible, unmanaged fuel ships; like our cargo ships. Refueling ships are automagically where you need them to be to refuel your ships— within a certain range of your (or your allies) colonies or mobile refueling stations.

So at the opening of the game, most of your ships can travel anywhere that can be reached within 3 StarLane Nodes (hereafter abbreviated "SLN" of your home planet. There should be a decent selection of planets to choose from in that area in the opening game. Scouts can travel up to 5 SLN from your home planet. (Of course these numbers are preliminary) Ships don't have fuel meters, and you never have to manually refill. There is simply a an area within which you can be refueled. StarLanes beyond that area are "greyed out".

As you add additional colonies, or discover new fuel techs, the size of the accessible area increases. Perhaps in mid game mobile resupply ships could be built to serve as another link in the resupply chain.

And of course the shape of the flyable area should be calculated as similarly as possible to the area of Redistribution (which is admittedly unfinished). However, the basics are sufficient for this discussion. Obviously the path of invisible refuel ships cannot travel through Hostile nodes (enemy occupied systems). So a the attack strategy can involve striking at highly abstracted supply lines, without the bother of actually managing individual ships and supplies


So what happens if the flyable area changes and a ship is stuck outside?
At this point i don't have a strong opinion. It could be one of the following:
1) the ship is stranded
2) the ship automatically plots a course for the nearest portion of the flyable area.
3) the ship is assumed to be "fully fueled", and the player can attempt to use that available range to move it somewhere good.

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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Supply
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 8:29 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
...current FO ... exportation is overwhelmingly easier than colonization. Starting with 2 scouts and a colony ship, it's not hard to get 50-75 systems explored before your third colony goes up.

This sort of imbalance in current FO is probably not a good reason to motivate this discussion...
* Start-of-the-game scouts will probably move significantly more slowly than scouts do in v0.3.
* Low-tech colony ships can be much less costly and time consuming to produce than they are now.
* FO v1.0 will probably have space monsters, minor civs, ion storms, etc. that impede exploration without military ship support.
* Other effective-range-limiting factors arising from this discussion might be relevant, obviously...


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Supply
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 2:34 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
...current FO ... exportation is overwhelmingly easier than colonization. Starting with 2 scouts and a colony ship, it's not hard to get 50-75 systems explored before your third colony goes up.

This sort of imbalance in current FO is probably not a good reason to motivate this discussion...
* Start-of-the-game scouts will probably move significantly more slowly than scouts do in v0.3.
* Low-tech colony ships can be much less costly and time consuming to produce than they are now.
* FO v1.0 will probably have space monsters, minor civs, ion storms, etc. that impede exploration without military ship support.
* Other effective-range-limiting factors arising from this discussion might be relevant, obviously...

The above proposal isn't aimed at fixing the current problems with early-game. I'm assuming it will be worked out no matter what sort of resupply model we have. I mention the current state of FO because it provides an example that too-easy exploration isn't fun.

• You've mentioned several factors that can limit the speed of exploration. They could be categorized as:
    range limitation
    ship speed
    random dangers (ion storms)
    fixed dangers (systems occupied by space monsters, hostile intelligences, black holes?)

I turned to the MoO concept of range limitation, because relying only on the other 3 factors seems to either make initial travel too slow and/or survival too uncertain. In part I'm thinking here of other 4X games that used only the last 3 factors to limit exploration. It never feels "fair" to me when a scout is killed due to a random event (ion storm?). There's nothing you could have done to prevent it. At least when you die because you ran into a space monster/enemy fleet/orion guardian you have learned something useful with your scout's death.

• On the plus side, this proposal give significance to the shape of the empire— something i consider strategically interesting.


I'll admit it's probably not possible to figure out exactly how this should be balanced beforehand.
:arrow: Perhaps all that really needs to be said at this point is IMHO a scheme that includes fuel gauges for ships and manual control over shipping supplies is not cool.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 5:53 pm 
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Tyreth wrote:
* Remote fleet supply, where ships need a "safe path" between them and one of your supply points to have their supply (ammo, fighters, crew, fuel?) replenished. Rate of replenishment might depend on distance of shortest available path, or number of unsafe or semi-safe points along the path.


This is somewhat the kind of system that I was thinking.

Now I was thinking that maybe the supply points could be the star systems that you control and supplies could also be send trough neutral systems that aren’t owned by any empire and are without enemy presens, or through your allies systems. This way if you are for example attacking your neighbour empire, your whole empire can supply your assault fleet, since there is a star lane between your system and the system you are attacking. However if you manage to capture the enemy’s star system, but they suddenly move one of their fleets into your only star system, which has a friendly star lane with the newly conquered system, your fleet in the system no longer gets supplies from the whole empire and has to rely on the supplies it can get from the newly conquered star system.

Then there might of course be the situation where you move your fleet to the enemy/neutral system, but can`t capture it and after that the enemy cuts your supply lines by blocking or attacking your only system which has a star lane with the enemy/neutral system. Now in this situation I would think there might be the option for the player to attempt to send some supplies trough the blockade or through the enemy system so that your fleet wouldn`t become completely useless. This would of course be more expensive than the normal supply sending, since many “ships” and supplies would be lost, and your ships would probably receive only some of the supplies thanks to the supply “ship” casualties. Also the overall success change of supplies getting to your fleet might be calculated by comparing your stealth and engine technology to their sensor and engine technology, and also taking into account the amount of their ships in the hostile system, which your supplies has to go through. One thing that could also affect this calculation is how deep your fleet is in enemy space.

Overall even though this might not seem to be a very simple solution I don`t think it would add the amount of micromanagement, since the supply transportations could be calculated automatically and so the player wouldn`t have to worry about building and sending supply ships to certain locations. The only thing really for the player to worry about would be if he/she wants to try to send supplies trough enemy blockades or star systems, and this could perhaps be done by simply adding a button, which would allow this and a tool tip/info window which would have information about the overall cost and success change of such an operation.

This kind of system might also add some interesting options to the diplomacy, since you could demand neutral empires to allow military access for your supplies so that you could circle around the enemy’s supply blocks and by so doing maybe even bring the neutral empire to the war or worsen their relationship with your enemy, if they accept your proposal.

And what comes to the question about the rate of replenishment I would also think that it would depend on the length of the supply lines.

I also hope that I haven`t at least completely stolen someone’s idea from the earlier threads as I can`t remember everything that I have read.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 11:22 pm 
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I like #2. Of the many space strategy games I've played I've liked the fuel/range systems in Stars! and SE5 best. Why?

1: fuel is just a number. It shows how much time your ship has before needing refuel.

2: ships that are "running on empty" can still move. It's just REALLY slow.

3: the games have an easy to comprehend graph that shows the amount of fuel remaining. you can easily see how much fuel there is left, and tell at a glance when you need to send your ships to resupply.

4: resupply is automatic. simply moving your ship to a properly equipped planet will fill it up to full. both games have "manual" resupply methods but these are only used if one of your ships runs out.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 12:39 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Zanzibar wrote:
...there is a supply ship you can send along with your fleets to keep them supplied, or fly it out to them...

How do these supply ships function with a fleet? Do they have a large cargo / fuel storage capacity that the fleet can use? If so, what happens when the supply ship runs out of supplies as well? Or does the presence of a supply ship with a fleet give the fleet unlimited supplies? If you send a supply ship out with a fleet, is there any effective limit on its range? If not, why have supply ships and limited fuel at all, assuming one will always send one with a fleet that one wants to send far away?

A system in which multiple supply ships / fleets of supply ships need to be manually managed by the player, and flown back and forth between supply sources and fleets is probably not workable, due to the extra micromanagement it would require.


Well, actually refinery cruisers can just make fuel wherever they park, at the cost of eating resources in the system where the fleet is parked. Sure, destroyer sized tankers eventually run out of fuel, but they auto-refill when you go back to a friendly colony at no cost. I suggest playing the 1.1.1 demo to see how it works. I believe cruiser refineries are included in the game. Cruiser refineries also have the same free refill ability at friendly colonies as thier tanker cousins. As far as running out of fuel in deep space... well, with the patches it is easier to tell if you have enough fuel or not to make the trip. Again, play the updated demo to see how it works...

Linky to a list of sites that let you download the 1.1.1 demo

NOTE: The game has been updated even further, the current version is 1.2.2 and there will soon be an expansion. Not all the features in the demo will be exactly the same as the full game.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 3:10 am 
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MikkoM wrote:
This kind of system might also add some interesting options to the diplomacy, since you could demand neutral empires to allow military access for your supplies so that you could circle around the enemy’s supply blocks and by so doing maybe even bring the neutral empire to the war or worsen their relationship with your enemy, if they accept your proposal.

Any proposal with any variation on the concept of "supply line" (i.e. the first 3 on Tyreth's list) could have diplomatic statuses with more or less open borders. It's probably a good idea, but probably not an important consideration at this point.

MikkoM wrote:
I also hope that I haven`t at least completely stolen someone’s idea from the earlier threads as I can`t remember everything that I have read.

Carry on. If anyone feels possessive about ideas like that, they need to grow up and realize this is a GPL game. As a matter of fact, i believe Geoff has suggested similar ideas in the past, but i'm sure he'll speak up if he has something else to say.


Zanzibar, Marhawkman:

Your support for having a fuel gauge IMHO boils down to 2 arguments:
1) i like it
2) it's not a pain

What is really needed is an explanation of why it's worth while. I (and all non-windows users) can't run the demo.

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 5:28 am 
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NOTE: I hated the fuel management system in the version of SotS that I played.

Why have a fuel gauge?

Too much transparency is a bad thing. They also seem (to me) to be easier to code and balance.

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 5:51 am 
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marhawkman wrote:
NOTE: I hated the fuel management system in the version of SotS that I played.

Why have a fuel gauge?

Too much transparency is a bad thing. They also seem (to me) to be easier to code and balance.

What is "easier to code and ballance than what?

The UI implementation of a fuel meter isn't an issue at this point. Most likely if there was a fuel meter for ships, it would be displayed as a number and a graphic bar. But it's really irrelevant until someone gives comprehensible reason to keep track of fuel.

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 6:02 am 
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I'll compare to the Moo2 way to show why the Moo2 way is far superior.

marhawkman wrote:
1: fuel is just a number. It shows how much time your ship has before needing refuel.

3: the games have an easy to comprehend graph that shows the amount of fuel remaining. you can easily see how much fuel there is left, and tell at a glance when you need to send your ships to resupply.

4: resupply is automatic. simply moving your ship to a properly equipped planet will fill it up to full. both games have "manual" resupply methods but these are only used if one of your ships runs out.

I hate the idea of managing the refueling of hundreds of ships.

In Moo2:
Fuel is range able to be travelled from home. You don't need to worry about refueling ever.

marhawkman wrote:
2: ships that are "running on empty" can still move. It's just REALLY slow.

Yeah, so they might as well be stopped, a useless feature. Only incompitent ship captains would allow there ships to run out of fuel or not have enough fuel to get back.

In Moo2:
Ships don't run out of fuel. With this safety feature built in ships will never get stranded.


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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 6:05 am 
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I think most players wouldnt like to manage fuel in midgame when they have many fleets going on so i like invisible fuel as range limitation idea more. If u have lets say 5 fleets moving and then manually sending fuel ships back and forth can be really annoying.


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