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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:23 pm 
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This thread is to discuss planetary resource distribution and blockades. Thanks to eleazar for much of the prep work for this.

The fundamental game mechanics of global queues / stockpiles, and instant resource distribution are not up for review. However, there is much potential for interesting game mechanics and strategies if a system similar to fleet resupply is used to determine how resources (food, minerals, and industry) can be shared between planets. Ideally, such systems should be as similar as possible, to make understanding them as simple as possible. So, like fleet supply, it could be possible to blockade a system or group of systems by blocking their starlane path to the rest of an empire.

This thread is not about alternate means (pirates, raiders, etc.) that could cause resource supply blockages.

* Should blockades be possible?

* What can cause a blockade? (What occurs when a blockade isn't happening, if relevant?)
* How widespread are the effects of a blockade, and what rules determine the range of a blockade, or which systems are affected?
** Does a blockade only limit resource supply to the blockaded system itself?
** Or are systems "further upstream" (by whatever definition applies) be blockaded as well?
** Or any nearby systems?
*** To varying degrees?
** Does the empire's Capitol play a special role in resource redistribution?

* What happens during a blockade?
** Can a blockaded planet send out any resources?
*** What happens to excess resources which can't leave the planet?
*** Is there a difference between sending out resources, and those resources actually arriving somewhere they can be used or stockpiled?
** Can a blockaded planet receive any resources?
** What share (if any) of the global stockpile does a planet have when a blockade begins?

* Are less physical resources: research and trade, effected the same way food, minerals, and industry are?

Links:

Directly applicable:
The Merchant Marine: http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1187
"Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution": http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=26823
"Display of Starlanes and Supply Lines": http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopi ... =10&t=1797

Indirectly applicable:
"Design: Stockpiles": http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=118
Incomplete public review of stockpiles: http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=132
How we got our global production queue: http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=634[/quote]


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 11:15 pm 
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Blockades should be caused by ships or (if included) mines, which would gradually disappear due to cargo ships getting blown up, or could be destroyed by PD ships.

I suggest that planets that are blockaded cannot contribute PP to any project that is not occuring in that system, and must rely on the resources in that system to work on any projects there, with the exception of the later explained blockade passing system.

Now if the empire is split up by a blockade, for instance if an empire is developed on both sides of a choke point and has no way to get supplies to the other half except through that choke point, the effects of a blockade of that choke point would be like this:

Each half of the empire contributes to projects on it's own side of the blockade first. If there is PP left over, and there are projects on the other side can recieve PP, the amount that gets through would be something like stealth bonus + engine tech + shields/armour - enemy's detection ability - enemies engine tech - magnitude of enemy fleet (accounting for weaponry). In other words, races with a significant stealth and engine bonus would be able to partially bypass a light blockade, but it's not something the player would count on. Single system blockades would work effectively the same way, with one system being one "half" of the empire, and the rest of the empire being the other.

The stockpile would be divided between seperated regions based on either population or infrastructure of all planets in the area.

Food and ship supplies would work pretty much the same way as minerals and PP; the seperate areas supply themselves first, then try to break through the blockade. Naturally they would send as much of the resource as is necessary to supply them, accounting for the blockade, to the extent of their resources, so that the player doesn't end up with unfed planets/ships that could be fed if the rest of the empire had sent more than the bare minimum *not* accounting for the blockade.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 2:32 am 
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Sorry for the double post, but since I'm writing this on my Nintendo Wii, I don't have enough room in a single post to cover research and trade, even in this amount of simplicity.

Research should be unaffected by blockades. I mean, what are you going to do, eliminate research from that planet entirely, limit it to research projects that are going on on only that planet? Neither is a fun idea, the first for the obvious reason that there's no way to salvage any of the research, so it's even more brutal than blocking food or minerals, to the extent that it's kind of unfair. I don't even have to say why the second reason can't be used.

Trade is a matter that might be better left for a later date, once the money system has been finalized (i.e. all it's sources and uses) so we'll know all the implications of linking it to blockades.

EDIT: Things are going really slowly around here. Is everyone in school, or what?

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Last edited by Bigjoe5 on Sat Sep 08, 2007 6:06 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:15 am 
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* Should blockades be possible?: Yes

* What can cause a blockade?: A hostile force worth more than 1/10th (big enough to be noticeable, small enough to be small) the defending force, and greater than a small absolute minimum (no single scoutship blockades). The hostile force need only be in the system, but it doesn't count if its retreating.

* Does a blockade only limit resource supply to the blockaded system itself? No, it blocks all supply lines that travel through that system.

* Or any nearby systems? Only if their supply travels through the blockaded system, and if it has no alternative route.

* Does the empire's Capitol play a special role in resource redistribution? I'd hope not, but it may be necaccary.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:01 pm 
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Sorry to doublepost, but that post was yesterday and an edit wont show up on new posts.

Anyway I have a proposal, I wouldn't recommend it myself but it makes a perfect fall-back for its simplicity so I'll post it.

What you do is for each resorce you work out how much many turns you're stockpile could last for across the empire, ignoring any income. Then you give every planet enough resorces to survive for the exact same number of turns.

A worked example, using food:

Income: 10 food per turn
Stockpile: 30 food
Consumption: 10 food

Turns you're stocks can last for: 3 turns

So every planet has enough food stored onworld for 3 turns. If it gets blockaded the game knows exactly how much food is on every planet.



The reason I don't like this one is that its not what I'd do as emperor, I'd want extra food on the borderworlds, that are likely to get blockaded, and less on the core worlds, that probably won't get blockaded. Although I do think having the game remember what resorces are on what world is probobly the sanest way to go about it.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:29 pm 
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Keep in mind that we need to keep any resource sharing and blockading system as simple as possible. This means that, unless there's a very good reason we need it, we won't have any sort of partial blockade, with some fraction of resources getting through. Rather, blockades will be all-or-nothing, similar to fleet supply blockages. This doesn't mean that stealth or detection or fleet size can't affect blockades, however; we could have a few techs or buildings or such that give stealth bonuses to an empire's supply ships. Enemies wanting to stop these ships would need a ship or fleet (if ships stack for this purpose) with sufficient detection to see the stealthy supply ships.

Similarly, unless necessary, we won't have complicated algorithms to split up stockpiles in the event of a blockade, or reintegrate them when blockades are lifted. There will be only one empire stockpile of each resource. Any resources not used and not able to get to the main empire pool (however that's determined) will be lost each turn. It might be possible to have separated subsections of an empire share resources, while being cut off from eachother and the main pool / stockpile, but we'll need to be sure this won't be too complicated to understand, and that it can be implimented with simple rules that don't require the player or the game or an AI to make judgement calls about how to allocate resources any differently than would be done if there was only a single common pool and no blockading complications.

Regarding what causes a blockade, do we need any complicated rules about ratios of fleet power or similar to determine if a blockade can occur? Would it not be adequate to say that if there is any armed hostile force in a system, then no supply can travel through it? If there is a multi-turn battle with a large fleet in a system, supply probably wouldn't go via the warzone. If there is less than 10% strength enemy fleet in a system, then presumably that fleet would be destroyed in one turn, stopping any blockade. Complications might arise if there are stealthy ships causing a blockade that can't be seen to be destroyed, but this seems like a good use for stealthy ships.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 4:05 am 
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Since i've pretty much already worked up a scheme for this, i'll wait a bit and give others a chance, and see if anyone comes up with something i want to add.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 8:22 am 
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I see only two simple solutions:
1. Systems that are cut off from the capital do not receive any resources from global stockpile, but also they do not receive any resources from other systems they are not cut off from.
2. Each splinter of an empire has its own stockpile and production queue. In all aspects related to resource redistribution splinters are viewed as separate empires(but still under player's control).

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 9:19 am 
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loonycyborg wrote:
2. Each splinter of an empire has its own stockpile and production queue. In all aspects related to resource redistribution splinters are viewed as separate empires(but still under player's control).
Multiple stockpiles is not going to happen, most simply because it's definitely not "simple"... Imagine trying to make a UI with multiple subempire stockpiles of five resources of different amounts.

An issue to consider more carefully: Should blockades stop resources from passing through a system, or just from being exported into or out of the system. That is, you could blockade system B here:
Code:
 A----B----C

But systems A and C could still send resources to eachother, if they meet whatever requirements there are for two systems to be able to share resources. It's been suggested above that blockades should stop (for example) sharing between A and C... but why?

Also, what should the criteria be for two systems to share resources? A minimum (unblocked?) distance, similar to fleet supply routes? If so, what should determine this length?

If not, then what else? Some sort of requirement that makes the shape and cohesion of an empire important should probably be used, but is there something better than the above?

For these criteria, keep in mind that there's just one empire stockpile, so some way to decide what can or can't be stockpiled will be necessary, which might be different (more restrictive) than what can share between any two particular planets (which might be a sub-empire, but disconnected from the main stockpile-capable empire).

If the stockpile criteria is being able to share supply with a particular system (eg. the homeworld), there need not be only one system that can accept and dole out stockpiles. The ability to make more stockpile-capable planets (still contributing or taking from one pool, though) could be allowed with later tech, by a specific building, for example.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:04 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
It's been suggested above that blockades should stop (for example) sharing between A and C... but why?

This is a way for an opponent to harm player's planets without attacking them directly (same as in fleet supply).

Quote:
If the stockpile criteria is being able to share supply with a particular system (eg. the homeworld), there need not be only one system that can accept and dole out stockpiles. The ability to make more stockpile-capable planets (still contributing or taking from one pool, though) could be allowed with later tech, by a specific building, for example.

IMHO it's a good alternative to per-splinter stockpiles, if splinters can't get resources from global stockpiles but are able to share resources produced by their planets (but each splinter can't share resources with other splinters and the capital).

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Last edited by loonycyborg on Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:11 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Regarding what causes a blockade, do we need any complicated rules about ratios of fleet power or similar to determine if a blockade can occur? Would it not be adequate to say that if there is any armed hostile force in a system, then no supply can travel through it? If there is a multi-turn battle with a large fleet in a system, supply probably wouldn't go via the warzone. If there is less than 10% strength enemy fleet in a system, then presumably that fleet would be destroyed in one turn, stopping any blockade. Complications might arise if there are stealthy ships causing a blockade that can't be seen to be destroyed, but this seems like a good use for stealthy ships.


Stealth blocakdes are fine, and have been proven very effective in history (Uboats), but they should require a reasonable effort to create, hence the 10% rule and some absolute minimum. I think without it blockading by stealth could be too easy. The 10% rule also dynamically adjusts "reasonable" so its grows with the size of the defences and tech level.

Furthermore a few scoutships should not be enough to cause a blockade. Its way too overpowered, buy 3 cheep scout ships, order them to split and use their high speed to avoid combat, and you get a few turns blockade for next to no cost until the defenders catch them. Furthermore if the defenders don't have any ships in a system, send a lone scoutship and you blockade untill some ships arrive to take it down. Blockades should not be that easy.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:36 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Regarding what causes a blockade, do we need any complicated rules about ratios of fleet power or similar to determine if a blockade can occur? Would it not be adequate to say that if there is any armed hostile force in a system, then no supply can travel through it? If there is a multi-turn battle with a large fleet in a system, supply probably wouldn't go via the warzone. If there is less than 10% strength enemy fleet in a system, then presumably that fleet would be destroyed in one turn, stopping any blockade. Complications might arise if there are stealthy ships causing a blockade that can't be seen to be destroyed, but this seems like a good use for stealthy ships.

I agree with Geoff here, except i'm unsure about having ships you can't find blockading your system. What sort of battle fun do you get when you can't find the enemy, and they have a vested interesting in avoiding engagement and hanging around the system causing the blockade?
But to rephrase: To cause a blockade, ships:
  • must have offensive weaponry
  • must be stopped in a system
  • must have overcome the defenders (if any) or have remained fighting for at least a turn.

Tortanick wrote:
Furthermore a few scoutships should not be enough to cause a blockade. Its way too overpowered, buy 3 cheep scout ships, order them to split and use their high speed to avoid combat, and you get a few turns blockade for next to no cost until the defenders catch them. Furthermore if the defenders don't have any ships in a system, send a lone scoutship and you blockade untill some ships arrive to take it down. Blockades should not be that easy.

I agree that running away but staying in a system shouldn't generally be a workable strategy. As stated elsewhere it's a really lousy way to spend multiplayer-battle time. I'm not sure what exactly what steps should be taken, but i don't think some abstract ratio is the best approach. How can your break an RPS ship system down into a strength number? How is the player supposed to know if he has passed the invisible threshold?

However:
1) cheap scout ships shouldn't have high-speed in-system drives. They just move quickly on starlanes.
2) If an empire has a completely undefended border-system, it deserves to have its enemies park a single ship in that system and blockade it.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:39 am 
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Tortanick wrote:
...a few scoutships should not be enough to cause a blockade.

As noted above,
Geoff the Medio wrote:
...if there is any armed hostile force in a system, then no supply can travel through it.
That is, an unarmed scout wouldn't count.

Additionally:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
...we could have a few techs or buildings or such that give stealth bonuses to an empire's supply ships. Enemies wanting to stop these ships would need a ship or fleet (if ships stack for this purpose) with sufficient detection to see the stealthy supply ships.
This would mean that just having a ship or two in a system wouldn't be enough to be able to block an empire's supply to and from the planet if the empire's supply is carried by stealthy supply ships. You'd need a very good detector ship or (depending if detection stacks) a lot of detector ships.

An armed ship that's also a good detector would probably be expensive, slow and/or poor in combat, so would hopefully not be a universal supply-blocking solution. You might instead need a detector ship and a shooting ship working as a pair to blockade effectively... Unless that's also too expensive, in which case blockading isn't really that cheap and easy.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:06 am 
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eleazar wrote:
How can your break an RPS ship system down into a strength number? How is the player supposed to know if he has passed the invisible threshold?

Same way you break it down to work out the cost of a ship I guess.

eleazar wrote:
2) If an empire has a completely undefended border-system, it deserves to have its enemies park a single ship in that system and blockade it.

2) It may well deserve to be blockaded, but that doesn't mean one armed ship should be enough.


Geoff the Medio wrote:
An armed ship that's also a good detector would probably be expensive, slow and/or poor in combat, so would hopefully not be a universal supply-blocking solution. You might instead need a detector ship and a shooting ship working as a pair to blockade effectively... Unless that's also too expensive, in which case blockading isn't really that cheap and easy.

Id rather the same cost was used on combat ships rather than a detector. If you're going to have to travel round and round swatting flies when they send a small detachment to blockade I'd rather get some pretty explosions out of it. Wasn't it you and eleazar who argued against useing military supply ships because running blockades would be a lot of "pointless battles", and now your proposing battles to take out two ships to break supply.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:03 pm 
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I think we should use exactly the same system for determining redistribution as we use for supply. That is, to distribute/receive excess resources, you must be able to trace a route to/from another system, based on your/the other system's supply meter, and the presence or absence of blocking factors (enemy ships, etc.).

The only distinction that must be drawn between ship supply and resource supply is that resource supply is stockpilable. The answer to this is to say that the stockpile is always at the empire's capitol. So if a planet can trace an unbroken chain of connections (again, governed by the supply-meters and blocking factors between planets in each connection), the planet can place/take resources into/from the imperial stockpile.

Let's say you have an empire in which about 1/3 of it is cut off from the capitol. Redistribution of excess should happen as normal within this isolated region, so that planets with excess can supply planets without, but no stockpiling takes place.


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