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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 3:39 pm 
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Dyson Forest

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Edit by Vezzra: splitted this thread from here. /Edit

Just an update. I had a look at resource production on ships and did some more thinking and didn't find a solution better than one-time supply ships using ship based industry yet. So I'm trying to get a broader view right now and thinking of new alternatives.

Following design questions need to be answered by solutions regardless of supply ships/supply group ships/remote supply buildings:
On functional level
  1. Mechanism to build scanning facilities at outposts (e.g. special ship part which creates the building there)
  2. Mechanism to use PP produced at disconnected supply groups (e.g. put them in a local stockpile until the area is supply connected)
  3. Mechanism to build faster at disconnected planets/supply groups (e.g. construction ship using PP from different planet)
  4. Optional: Mechanism to make use of excessive PP (e.g. stockpile them)
  5. Decision how and if an enemy should be able to disrupt this
  6. Decision if and by how much this way of production is more expensive than the usual way
  7. Decision if supply groups are actually necessary for PP distribution (or if a imperial pool suffices)
  8. Check that player decisions how to allocate PP to projects need to be made by just manipulating the queue.
If the solution is a way to distribute PP, then on a technical level
  1. Mechanism to specify the supply source
  2. Mechanism to specify the supply target (outposts cant use buildings for that)
  3. Mechanism to specify amount of PP supplied (e.g. the whole production of a planet)
  4. Mechanism to specify amount of PP available per turn

Also granularity is a question. One could produce things at supply sources which could be evenly distributed to all supply targets. Or one could set up one-to-one connections between sources and targets.

Alternatives:
supply ships (discussion) - viewtopic.php?f=6&t=10308
supply ships (mostly implementation discussion) - viewtopic.php?f=15&t=10152

Edit: Added the imperial pool question. Added manipulating the queue design decision by geoff.

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Last edited by Ophiuchus on Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:38 pm 
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A new blueprint: Universal Remote Supply Building

Idea:
Targets all other supply networks which do not build this building (Not sure this is scriptable),
specify amount of PP used for remote supply using production queue.

Fluff: something about cheap mini-stargates(?)

Benefits:
  • very KISS (implementation will be minimal)
  • minimal user interaction necessary
  • quite versatile (covers most requirements)

Questionable:
  • Is this scriptable at all?
  • Not possible to stop by enemies at all.

Implementation idea: TBD

Variants:
Add a "Development Hold Order" building, which skips systems when finding out target supply networks.

On functional level (works == green, questionable == yellow , black == not decided or not important)
  1. Mechanism to build scanning facilities at outposts
  2. Mechanism to use PP produced at disconnected supply groups
  3. Mechanism to build faster at disconnected planets/supply groups
  4. Optional: Mechanism to make use of excessive PP (e.g. stockpile them)
  5. Decision how and if an enemy should be able to disrupt this - (NOT AT ALL)
  6. Decision about granularity: universal, for more complex situations maybe some extra buildings ("Development Hold Order" necessary)
  7. Decision if and by how much this way of production is more expensive than the usual way
  8. Decision if supply groups are actually necessary for PP distribution (or if a imperial pool suffices) - No imperial pool
  9. Check that player decisions how to allocate PP to projects need to be made by just manipulating the queue.

If the solution is a way to distribute PP, then on a technical level
  1. Mechanism to specify the supply source - production location
  2. Mechanism to specify the supply target - automatically (i.e. script checks for production/buildings in supply networks)
  3. Mechanism to specify amount of PP supplied - by choosing what you produce and how often
  4. Mechanism to specify amount of PP available per turn - building takes 1 turn, set production to recurring

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Last edited by Ophiuchus on Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:57 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:44 pm 
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The easiest thing to implement would be a building or ship part that can send unlimited amounts of PP in either direction to the location of another such building or ship part. in this case, the two locations' supply sharing groups would be merged for purposes of deciding where PP is spent on the production queue.

It would also be relatively simple to set up one way fixed transfers of PP, which happen regardless of need in the recipient group, as long as the source can supply that much PP. In this case, the two groups would remain separate, but one would just have a bit more PP to allocate.

A bit more complicated would be to implement need-dependent one-way transfer of unlimited PP between groups. This could possibly be done by allowing queue items to be in multiple PP groups... ie. put any queue items in the recipient sharing group into the donor group as well, so that it can be allocated PP from either group. A complication with this is that it would require deciding which group to take PP from for each item, and not deciding this intelligently would lead to wasted PP. Also, if there are one-way transfers of PP in both directions, or in a cycle, or some complicated ordered network, deciding how to merge the groups (as above) or prioritize groups could be problematic.

Combining things, so there are limited amounts of PP that can be transferred, but this only occurs if needed and depending on queue prioritization, would be even more complicated to get right.

Having PP be stockpiled at particular locations probably won't happen. It's already a tricky UI issue to display unstockpiled multiple pools of available PP, before adding stockpiles and (probably) locations of stockpiles, perhaps with capacities and current stockpiles and thus the desire by players to transfer stockpiles between locations, etc.

Decisions by the player about how to allocate PP to projects need to be made by just manipulating the queue. Having an empire-wide "common pool" of PP could work as well... so that you can't sent PP to a particular location, or expect it to be stored in a particular location, but you can send it to the reserve and then it can be spent anywhere with access. The allocation would spend all location-restricted PP first, then spend any common pool PP on anything not yet fully funded, so as to avoid any waste as could occur with the more complicated point-to-point directional transfer mechanisms as above. This is probably the only way a turn-to-turn persistent stockpile could work, as it would avoid needing player input on each turn's queue allocations. A suitable building or ship part would be needed to access the imperial pp stockpile.

I'd probably have some building that acts as an imperial PP stockpile, but have nothing tracked about where any given amount of PP is being stockpiled... so that you could have 200 PP stockpiled and lose 50 PP capacity when a building is captured, but not worry about whether any of that 200 PP was located in that particular building.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:50 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
The easiest thing to implement would be a building or ship part that can send unlimited amounts of PP in either direction to the location of another such building or ship part. in this case, the two locations' supply sharing groups would be merged for purposes of deciding where PP is spent on the production queue.

I am not sure I do understand. Merging the supply groups sounds good. I do not see how this would be implemented though (probably in the backend?). I also think that this would make supply groups as a means to distribute PP obsolete (if there is no cost involved to distribute the PP to another supply group you want all of your supply groups to be merged).

Geoff the Medio wrote:
It would also be relatively simple to set up one way fixed transfers of PP, ...

A bit more complicated would be to implement need-dependent one-way transfer of unlimited PP between groups. ...

I think the complicated alternative is too complicated. The simple alternative leaves too much open to be discussed I think (or I misunderstood what you meant).

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Having PP be stockpiled at particular locations probably won't happen. It's already a tricky UI issue to display unstockpiled multiple pools of available PP, before adding stockpiles and (probably) locations of stockpiles, perhaps with capacities and current stockpiles and thus the desire by players to transfer stockpiles between locations, etc.

With the supply ship implementation the UI is OK, I'd say. You see a special with a capacity on a planet.
There is a "good thing" about stockpiles at the locations if moving supply is not too easy. That would be that they could be captured by enemies if you don't move your supply in time. The reason for building up stockpile would be that you intend to (re)connect the planet to your supply networks later on. Also finding stockpiles at native planets or as special would give incentives to include that places in your supply network.
Like seeing supply ships move through the galaxy, for me these kind of things adds flavor.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Decisions by the player about how to allocate PP to projects need to be made by just manipulating the queue.

I'll add this design decision to the requirements.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Having an empire-wide "common pool" of PP could work as well... so that you can't sent PP to a particular location, or expect it to be stored in a particular location, but you can send it to the reserve and then it can be spent anywhere with access. The allocation would spend all location-restricted PP first, then spend any common pool PP on anything not yet fully funded, so as to avoid any waste as could occur with the more complicated point-to-point directional transfer mechanisms as above. This is probably the only way a turn-to-turn persistent stockpile could work, as it would avoid needing player input on each turn's queue allocations.

I really like this.

Some questions:
Is this scriptable? Or does it need backend implementation?

Is it ok to have that at zero cost, because that changes the role of the supply groups to only provide fuel and boni through supply group connected effects?
If the role of supply groups should still be the primary way send to PP it should be not as effective.
So something like for 10PP you send to reserve, you get 8 PP (or maybe just 5 PP) in the common pool.

How you specify to send PP to the reserve? All excess PP? Or by having to build something in the queue?

Geoff the Medio wrote:
A suitable building or ship part would be needed to access the imperial pp stockpile.

So for outposts you would need to send a ship?
Actually I don't see the need for a building as I do not see the need to restrict access.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
I'd probably have some building that acts as an imperial PP stockpile, but have nothing tracked about where any given amount of PP is being stockpiled... so that you could have 200 PP stockpiled and lose 50 PP capacity when a building is captured, but not worry about whether any of that 200 PP was located in that particular building.

If there is easy access to stockpiles, I probably would rather deplete the reserve in the turn before i loose the building and that 50 PP. So capturing stockpiles can never be a tactic, so probably it should not be necessary to worry about this.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:40 am 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
Merging the supply groups sounds good. I do not see how this would be implemented though (probably in the backend?).
Engine modifications would be needed.
Quote:
I also think that this would make supply groups as a means to distribute PP obsolete (if there is no cost involved to distribute the PP to another supply group you want all of your supply groups to be merged).
Yes; this would need to be something a player unlocks part way through a game by devoting resources to unlocking it, or perhaps a species or government perk, not something available to anyone at the start of the game.
Quote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
Having PP be stockpiled at particular locations probably won't happen. It's already a tricky UI issue to display unstockpiled multiple pools of available PP...

With the supply ship implementation the UI is OK, I'd say. You see a special with a capacity on a planet.
Having to keep track of special capacity / production supply on multiple planets for basic production allocation is not OK, I'd say.
Quote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
Having an empire-wide "common pool" of PP could work as well...
Is this scriptable? Or does it need backend implementation?
No and yes.
Quote:
Is it ok to have that at zero cost, because that changes the role of the supply groups to only provide fuel and boni through supply group connected effects?
As in the original Master of Orion, the amount of PP sent to the global pool need not be the same as the amount a player gets back when taking from the pool.
Quote:
If the role of supply groups should still be the primary way send to PP it should be not as effective.
So something like for 10PP you send to reserve, you get 8 PP (or maybe just 5 PP) in the common pool.
Probably the ratio would start out rather poor, and get better with advancing tech.
Quote:
How you specify to send PP to the reserve? All excess PP? Or by having to build something in the queue?
Don't see why an extra step would be needed, if any excess PP is in a supply group that can send to the global pool, it should be sent.
Quote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
A suitable building or ship part would be needed to access the imperial pp stockpile.
So for outposts you would need to send a ship?
Anywhere not supply connected to a source of PP or a facility to extract from the global pool would need a ship.
Quote:
Actually I don't see the need for a building as I do not see the need to restrict access.
Restricting access to the empire PP pool gives players something interesting to build to get access, and avoids making it too easy to produce tons of stuff far from your empire immediately or quickly after capturing a planet.
Quote:
If there is easy access to stockpiles, I probably would rather deplete the reserve in the turn before i loose the building and that 50 PP. So capturing stockpiles can never be a tactic, so probably it should not be necessary to worry about this.
The rate at which the reserve can be depleted might be limited, requiring players to keep track of how much of something is kept in each stockpile location is tedious detail, player don't always know when they will loose a building, and regardless, having location-specific stockpiles of anything mean players will want to be able to move it around between locations or control how much is stored where, which is unnecessary micromanagement.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:46 pm 
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I was looking in the code for ways to implement the global pool idea. Have to concede that I don't know the concepts well enough. Please tell me if any of the following ideas is valid:
  1. Add the global pool as stockpile on the RE_INDUSTRY resource pool
  2. Add the global pool as another resource type RE_INDUSTRY_RESERVE
  3. Add the global pool as a special supply group and call SetProdQueueElementSpending a second time with that special supply group
  4. in Empire::SetProdQueueElementSpending take PP from global pool if queue pool had not enough PP to build the max contribution for that element that turn
  5. Somehow make the whole pool thing accessible to scripting (scripting a pool, scripting transfer there and back, have UI automatically handle this)

On a sidenote: I like your idea that effectiveness of global pool would be bad at the beginning and could increase with research, species traits... or similar. I can't imagine how one would allow that to be scriptable though.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 8:12 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
  • Add the global pool as stockpile on the RE_INDUSTRY resource pool
  • in Empire::SetProdQueueElementSpending take PP from global pool if queue pool had not enough PP to build the max contribution for that element that turn
  • Somehow make the whole pool thing accessible to scripting (scripting a pool, scripting transfer there and back, have UI automatically handle this)
Probably the first two, and a form of the last. Some changes to C++ code that allocates PP would be needed. If there was a pool, then the capacity of it could be an empire meter, as would the cost input amounts penalty (have 10 pp extra, get 3 sent to the pool, 7 lost). The "UI" wouldn't need to do anything special, other than update to reflect what the mechanics are doing. No need for "transfers" to be a special thing requiring scripting to occur.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:09 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
  • Add the global pool as stockpile on the RE_INDUSTRY resource pool
  • in Empire::SetProdQueueElementSpending take PP from global pool if queue pool had not enough PP to build the max contribution for that element that turn

I implemented a first version of the imperial stockpile to check out the gameplay
https://github.com/agrrr3/freeorion/tre ... -stockpile

The imperial stockpile does not have a location, but PP can be added and used from anywhere in your empire.

* Adding PP to the stockpile is very easy from any planet - unused production PP just get added without user interaction. This is really nice.
* Using PP to build something somewhere else is also easy - if there are PP in the stockpile, build items in the queue which are not sufficiently supported by their supply groups are supplied by the stockpile, but...
* UI is in need of quite a few extras I think
* trying not to use PP from the stockpile results in micromanagement:
** say you have an outpost out of your main supply group, and you want to build something there which costs 50 PP and takes 5 turns.
** turn +0: your top-queue the item on the outpost and you dont use all of your PP to have the necessary amount in the imperial stockpile (lets say 80 PP, which get converted to lets say 50 PP)
** turn +1: 50 PP are now in the imperial stockpile. The build didnt start yet, because there were 0 PP before in the imperial stockpile.
** turn +2: The first round/10 PP of the building are finished on the outpost. But only 0 PP are now in the imperial stockpile. Why? Because they were used on build items in systems which are in the main supply group.
** In order to prevent the stockpile to be used on build items you dont want it to be used on, one has to finely tune the amount of PP to be used in the rest of your empire by e.g. pausing/resuming builds in order to produce excess PP every turn instead of using the stockpile.

So what I need is a mechanism for deciding which build items are allowed to use the stockpile and which are not.

I imagine one could do that directly in the build queue - if a build item can't be build (finish: never) because it is insufficiently funded, press a button on the build item: 'use imperial reserve' . Only build items which are allowed to use the imperial reserve use pp from the stockpile. Build items in the queue which are allowed to use the imperial could get e.g. color coded in gold/yellow so you know.

Or one could build a building which suppresses imperial stockpile usage in that supply group. (But checking for existence of certain buildings in the backend seems wrong).

Any ideas?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:53 am 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
...press a button on the build item: 'use imperial reserve' . Only build items which are allowed to use the imperial reserve use pp from the stockpile.
I'd do this with a right-click menu toggle / check, and an icon on the queue item to indicate that it can accept stockpile PP.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 3:42 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Ophiuchus wrote:
...press a button on the build item: 'use imperial reserve' . Only build items which are allowed to use the imperial reserve use pp from the stockpile.
I'd do this with a right-click menu toggle / check, and an icon on the queue item to indicate that it can accept stockpile PP.

I implemented parts of the feature, but I need some help!
The problem first: The build items which are allowed usage of the imperial reserve are simply vanished in the next turn.

imperial-supply-stockpile2

What works: use of reserve is per default disallowed and you can allow/disallow by using the right-click menu on the build item. (you can see stockpile usage E.g. if you build an outpost)

Does anybody know what could cause the build queue element to disappear or how i approach debugging this (i dont see anything in the logs)?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 6:54 pm 
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Continueing the bug hunt, I found when saving and loading a game which had some build queue elements which were allowed to use the imperial pp stockpile, these elements also went missing.
So it is most probably a serialization issue.
I am new to c++/boost serialization so maybe i need to add something?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:08 pm 
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One step further. It looks like on the demon the wrong order gets executed because the new member value was missing. Because of that on the demon it falls through to the default case (removal).

freeorion.log - ProductionQueueOrder: allow use of imperial PP stockpile
freeoriond.log - ProductionQueueOrder: removing item from index 0

SerializeOrderSet seems to be my long lost friend :)

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:49 am 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
One step further. It looks like on the demon the wrong order gets executed because the new member value was missing.
Might be time to start using another method of distinguishing what a production order should be doing... an enum, perhaps, rather than just checking what member variables are set / using dummy variables to specify when creating the order.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:07 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
I implemented parts of the feature, but I need some help!
Could you make a pull request for your branch implementing this? Mark it work in progress / testing required or similar.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:04 pm 
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Just a mild moderator note: The discussion in this thread has gone completely off topic. Originally this thread was about specific questions on problems with scripting the original supply ship idea. Which apparently got dropped somewhere down the road, and the discussion transformed into a mixture of a discussion about the design of an actually completely different concept/game mechanic and a discussion about implementation questions. Either of these aren't even in the right subforum anymore (this is the "Scripting & Balancing" forum!) - the first belongs on the Other Game Design forum, probably even the Top Priority Game Design forum (given the severity of the proposed changes to fundamental game mechanics), the second on the Programming forum (given that the implementation has to be done mostly in the backend C++ code).

Just saying. While we certainly don't need to be overly restrictive when discussions don't stay strictly on topic all the time, and allow them to stray quite far from the original topic on occasion, we need to draw the line somewhere, otherwise using subforums and thread subjects becomes pointless. And an important design discussion like this becoming buried deep in a thread that actually is about something completely different is definitely a bad thing.

But nevermind. I don't have the nerve to (once again) disect a thread, especially one that has grown as large as this one, and move its parts to the places they actually belong. So I'm responding here, but please, in the future, be a bit more disciplined about this... ;)


Sorry for getting back to this only now, I probably should have been following this discussion more closely (especially since I have some pretty strong reservations to the direction the whole thing has taken), but I've been occupied with other things, so please bear with me. ;)

As I said, I have some strong reservation about what the original idea has turned into - that said, I also want to note that several statements I read in this thread might alleviate my major concerns, it's just that it's not entirely clear to me how exactly this new mechanic is supposed to work in the end.

The main issue I have with the currently proposed ideas is this: the original idea (supply ships "carrying" limited amounts of PP to disconnected colonies/outposts) was a potentially interesting extension to the current PP distribution mechanic. I'm still of the opinion that this could have worked and wouldn't have created too much micromanagement, as it would have been used only in uncommon edge cases. We could at least have given it a try before dismissing it.

But that's of course your decision, if you're not happy with how the whole thing seemed to work out anymore, I understand perfectly fine that you don't want to waste any more effort for it.

However, the idea you finally came up with to replace the supply ships is a fundamental change to a key game mechanic, as this fundamentally changes how PP are distributed, at least potentially so - depending on what/how exactly you intend to do/have things work. Restricting distribution of PP to supply connected systems is a key mechanic, and requiring the player to establish supply connection to outposts/colonies to be able to do any reasonable building there is specifically intended and wanted that way. Also, the ability to cut enemy supply connections by blockading certain key systems is an essential key strategy.

By being able to transfer excess PP to a global stockpile and subsequently retrieving them from there as currently proposed, without the partaking supply groups having to be supply connected, these key mechanics/strategies are more or less nullified. And that's what I have strong objections against.

(Sidenote: This is a change to the way the game works on a whole different level which usually requires a thorough design discussion, careful consideration and reaching a general consensus. Hence my complaint at the start of this post, because that thing is actually important enough to warrant a thread on the Top Priority Game Design board, not to be buried in a thread about scripting problems of a game element that has already been given up.)

That all said, now the big "but" to my reservations/objections. I am well aware that there already exists a similar drastic change to a key game mechanic which becomes accessible through research: stargates. And ships only being able to travel along starlanes is a probably even more fundamental concept of the basic game design than PP only being distributable along established supply connections.

Stargates change that mechanic on a fundamental level, however, this comes with some important restrictions, which make the whole thing reasonable and not game-breaking: You need quite some research to unlock the feature, then you need an expensive building in every system you want to connect to the stargate network, and this building can only be built at colonies, not outposts. Which means, you can't just sneak a high stealth outpost ship behind enemy lines, secretly create an outpost in some corner and establish a stargate there, which subsequently can be used to send your invasion fleet right into the backyard of your enemy.

If you want to use stargates to connect disconnected parts of your empire, this is only possible if the disconnected part is large enough to sustain the production of a stargate.

So the way this mechanic-changing feature is designed and implemented makes sure that while it's certainly quite powerful, it still has its limitations.

Which brings me back to the proposed idea of a global PP pool: if you intend to design and implement it in a way that this feature also has its proper costs and limitations, similar to how stargates have their price and are limited (and from what I've read and understood so far, it looks like you do), then you have my full attention, I'm all ears! :D

Next I want to specifically reply to some of the discussion, but in order to avoid this post becoming even longer than it already is, I'll do that in subsequent replies.


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