Geoff the Medio wrote:
To be specific: I was cautious to the point of negativity/opposition to the very idea of Influence as another focus based meter until I got my head around/understood that it would replace the existing (awful) upkeep mechanics, especially fleet upkeep mechanics.
To be clear, are you assuming that that will be the only function of influence, or is it implicit here that there will be other stuff to spend influence on, like actual influencing of populations?
Implicit, there would be no point if it was just an upkeep replacement.
If Upkeep isn't to be replaced by Influence then it needs to be replaced by some other mechanic, and as a matter of urgency, if we weren't planning Influence I'd have done something else already based on parts in ship design or similar as the current mechanic is awful and has to die.
I strongly encourage you to do try implementing any ideas you have for making upkeep costs work without influence. Regardless of the specific problems, it could / will be rather nice to have two options for how to balance more vs. less ship strength in an empire. One thing I'd like to be able to do is have a player choose between two such methods, as part of configuring how the government or empire is structured, however that is implemented (perhaps switching between governments or civics or policy cards or similar). So even if influence is implemented wonderfully, there could still be cases / strategies where using the upkeep mechanics would be a preferred choice. (And even if you do implement something better, the current mechanism could also be available as an option for players, without requiring you to ever deal with it yourself in-game.)
Has some potential. Of course, that'd be a much more longer term goal but it's something we can start brainstorming, perhaps Influence projects would be involved in changing government type and there would be disruptions, unhappiness, etc that you'd need to ameliorate.
Because of the current mechanism, we need big bonuses to production in order to build ships and create colonies, this makes balancing the costs of either of them harder as well.
This strikes me as a rather odd comment... the point of the upkeep / increasing costs when an empire has a lot of ships is to make it harder to produce lots of ships. How is that a problem?
Point, and a good one, but we've had excessive production for long before I got involved so I'm used to it.
Because the in game balance of a ship once built isn't affected by upkeep nor does it affect you much it means an empire with a small number of high value ships can produce more high value ships at lower cost: this is made worse by the tendency of the AI to build excessive troop ships, troop drops, etc and rarely scrapping things.
Having variable production costs makes getting the balance between hulls harder, and having everything spiral upwards in cost makes it necessary to constantly expand your production: if you can do that more optimally than an opponent you win, it makes it much more of a numbers game.
In addition, the way upkeep can disrupt production orders with fleets finishing before or after their estimated time is REALLY bad and counter intuitive (and I have done the "scrap 100 comsats to half the build time of a titan fleet" a few times, any system that encourages/allows for that behaviour is a bad system regardless of other factors).
Probably the solution to that issue is to make it less useful to produce comsats... Fighters would presumably help with that?
Because the point of the "build lots of things then scrap them" approach isn't to actually have them have any use at all in game other than to manipulate upkeep. You can still do it with troop ships and similar, once your production is high enough then juggling ships so you scrap/land a large fleet to speed up the build time of your, for example, new Flagship fleet.
I can very easily use the current mechanic to deliberately double the production cost of a large group of very powerful hulls (eg Scattered Asteroid or Titanic) and then, once they're nearly "half" built scrap enough ships to have them complete in ~4 turns instead of 8+. Production time is meant to be part of the balance of various things, being able to massively disrupt it if you know what you're doing isn't optimal.
It doesn't matter if it's comsats, troop ships or simply empty small hulls, it matters that you can build a large number of cheap things then scrap them for an advantage hat shouldn't be there.
What I do care is I've put off balancing hulls for the upkeep system to be better for far too long and the current system has to die.
As above, if you have ideas ready to implement, please do, if they can make "increasing costs to produce ships when an empire has more fleet strength" a less objectionable, to you, game mechanic. While I do like having the costs increase, it doesn't need to be per ship. The main reason it has been is that having lots of ships causes / caused huge increases in effects processing time, but with various optimizations to how the scripting is organized, that should be less of an issue now.
[/quote]Yup, and things have got even better last few weeks with the backend changes LGM Doyle and you have been working through.
We had been discussing an upkeep cost per part and similar other things: the current system I object to for two different reasons: the above manipulation/micromanagement is one, the other is that it encourages blunt force large fleets and not mixed types, we have so many cool hulltypes available, but some are simply never going to be used heavily if at all, that's especially true in the Asteroid and Organic lines, both are scripted to benefit mixed fleet types in many ways, but the upkeep mechanic says "all warships are heavy asteroid/scattered because upkeep", that's not cool.
I shall start a different thread later on different ideas for upkeep mechanics that can be as well as/instead of Influence, but the basic plan of putting it into Influence as The Silent One has coded up is a good one for now.