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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:09 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
If having a single planet in the empire or in a supply group makes the supply transfer efficiency very high, then that will almost completely remove the use of all supply techs... I think such a species benefit would need to be restricted to a particular planet's production output, or maybe a single system.

I dont really have a strong feeling about restricting to supply-group, system or planet. Also I dont know how to code any of these.

Anyway for the empire-wide one: My idea was to balance the stockpile the other way round. Having only average races combined with good techs should make the stockpile usable, but not so good that its usable for a distributed empire. With good races distributed empire should be possible if it fits your situation. With great races it should be a valid strategy to make your empire distributed.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:14 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
Combining transfer limit and extraction limit basically are the battery idea, right? So that you spend many turns transferring you can extract a lot and if you dont spend many turns transferring you can extract only a little?
I guess you can say that you'll get a similar dynamic with the transfer limit idea, although the other "battery" ideas are more (IMO too) complicated. Anyway, you're right of course: if you put a lot of PP in your stockpile, then you have a lot to draw from, but that's a trivial conclusion.

However, to avoid possible misunderstandings about what I meant with my transfer limit idea: It's not that you can fill the stockpile only at a limited rate, but then withdraw all PP at once. The limit applies to both transferring into and extracting from the stockpile. Meaning, if you spend 10 turns filling you stockpile at a rate of e.g. 10PP/turn, giving you a stockpile of 100PP, you can then withdraw 10PP/turn for 10 turns, before it runs dry (assuming you don't put any more PP into it). You can't withdraw those 100PP at once. Unless of course you research better stockpile tech in the meantime that increases your transfer limit.

However, just to make sure that there isn't any confusion about this, I don't meant the transfer limit to apply to the total of PP put into and PP drawn from the stockpile, but to apply to both separately. Meaning, if you have a transfer limit of 10, you can transfer up 10PP into the stockpile and at the same time withdraw up to 10PP from the stockpile each turn. I guess that's how you understood it anyway, I just wanted to make sure.
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If we do not want to make distributed empires possible with the IS I dont really see why we didnt choose the stealthy supply like ovarwa said. That was interruptable with detection at least. [...] The main complexity there was different empires with different stealth and detection values with different relationships (e.g. allied) and the basic decision if you want to be hidden or disrupt enemies supply lines.
I think that those stealthy supply problems are solvable.
Maybe not in the technical sense (as in, impossible to come up with something and implement it), but I think that would require a rather complex (and potentially confusing) set of rules, which goes against our trying to make things KISS. The appeal of the IS mechanic is it's simplicity, which is why I'd very much prefer if we could make it work for the stealthy/distributed empire idea.

So, this is not about not wanting to make distributed empires possible, it's about being able to within the established rules and mechanics. With the new suggestions I've read so far (and I'm now in the process to wade through and reply to ;)) it looks promising, I think we're moving in the right direction. :D
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Oberlus wrote:
IS should be a valid tool to make viable a full pacifist, scattered, hidden colonies strategy for early/mid game (e.g. with Laenfa).

This is basically what I want.
Agreed. We'd just have to figure out/come to an agreement on what's the right way to do it.
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Vezzra asked what the basic advantage of a distributed empire is.

The basic resource a distributed empire has in comparison to a sphere-shaped one is reach. How to build one? You basically pressure your expansion to go the long way, outposting and colonizing exceeding your supply range. What does reach mean? It means access to "better" planets, trying to claim faster.
The downside is that you can't reap the many benefits you get in a supply-group because you invest your energy outside of it.
Exactly. I think you summarized the essential challenge of distributed empires pretty well here.

The challenge is to make the costs/efforts/limitations for being able to expand beyond your supply range affordable enough so that the tangible benefits faster access to better planets give a distributed empire make that a viable strategy. And at the same time make those costs/efforts/limitation expensive/strict enough so whatever game mechanic we invent to make that possible (the IS) doesn't change the way normal expansion and gameplay works.
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bounty planets which work on their own (like computronium moon, ancient ruins); distributed empire has a better chance of claiming them first (problem is claiming means bringing down the defenses and afterwards then you probably have to hide it)
Assuming "work on their own" means being able to make use their benefits without them being supply connected, I don't see much difference here to "normal" empires. What you call "distributed" empires has already been possible wrt these game elements (in my games, if I don't find usable planets nearby, I frequently colonize outside my supply range and set those planets to research).

Of course, the IS is going to be an interesting option to make more of such disconnected planets.
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specials etc which boost your whole supply network provide a great incentive to connect all production systems to it no matter how effective the stockpile is. E.g. black hole generator, growth specials.
Adding more things that require supply connection isn't a proper compensation for the IS making PP distribution via the supply network less relevant. We need to avoid the latter anyway, this isn't about the supply network mechanic becoming less important. It's the PP distribution requires supply connection mechanic that needs to be preserved and kept as important and relevant as it has been without the IS.

The way to go are suggestions you picked up yourself already: to tie a usage of the IS that allows it to replace normal PP distribution partially or completely to something that makes it a very specific, special case strategic choice the player has to make (like chosing a specific starting race), and that comes with drawbacks/limitations/restrictions that make it impossible for "normal" empires to use.

No need then to add more things that require the supply network to keep it important enough. I mean, of course we can add such things, but we don't need to in order to compensate for the changes introduced by the IS. ;)
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We could give the imperial palace some supply-group benefit. This would make your first supply-group "special" in a sense.
If I understand correctly, that can only work if we make the transfer limit meter local instead of global. Which is something I'd like to see anyway, so the idea to give colonies in the same supply group as the Imperial Palace some extra stockpile bonus sounds reasonable.
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How about tuning the stockpile unusable for most species, have some species have a small bonus which makes it more viable and have one "stockpiling" species.
I wouldn't go so far as make the IS unuseable for most species. They should still be able to use the IS as alleryn suggested: not as a means to establish a split empire, but as something that could help if parts of your empire get cut off by an invading enemy, or to be able to store some PP to a limited degree in cases where you just don't have enough reasonable things to build to use up your PP output. Won't help if you have a lot of PP you don't know what to do with, but I often enough found myself in situations where I had some small surplus I'd like to have been able to save for later instead of building something I didn't really need just to avoid to waste those PPs. There might be more situations/cases where the IS might prove to be a nice extra for normal empires.

The some species with a small or moderate stockpile bonus you suggest could be species that won't allow for fully distributed empires, but allow for empires where the IS, while nowhere near being able to replace normal PP distribution, at least can make it less relevant. Such empires would be a bit better at being able to make use of planets out of their supply range than normal empires, but not good enough to be a fully distributed empire.

The last option (what you call the "stockpiling" species, I'd call the "stealthy empire" species, as that is what they are about, giving them the extra big bonus for stockpiling is just one of the things you need to give them to work) is exactly what I had in mind too.
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That "stockpiling" species could be the Sly (self-sustaining gas giant dwellers, bad supply (which makes -1 supply on the gas giants), high stealth, good detection, high stockpiling bonus, really bad attack troops, good defense troops, bad pilots, 7PP production malus for all your other species in the same system as a sly planet).
Yep, sounds like a good start, but why that 7PP malus thing for your other species in the same system as a Sly planet thing? Don't see a need for that, what did you have in mind?
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The good thing about gas giant dwelling is that you dont have to compete for living space.
And you have a greater chance of going unnoticed for a while, which is the whole point of a stealthy empire.
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The bad thing is the uniqueness - acquiring gas dwellers for any empire is probably as important for everyone as acquiring exobots (or another radiation species).
Yep, to the point where this could be a real balance problem. Everyone would be out to get you, and I can think of some other implications that could be problematic.

One solution would be to make them asteroid dwellers instead, but I kind of like the idea of gas giant dwellers. Other solutions could be to make them xenophobic, giving them ultimate defensive ground troops, or make it completely impossible to invade them, only to wipe them out with special gas giant bombard weapons, etc. And once we add Influence and species-empire relations, there will be even better possibilities to counter that problem.
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The low supply means you will probably not get any supply-group benefits without capturing natives, so stockpiling must be playable really soon.
Well, the Sly are supposed to get great stockpile bonus, so they should be able to start with basic stockpile capabilites right away. That's the idea, isn't it?
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Probably this should be a player-only species, as the strategy probably needs to be very different from the normal AI strategy.
That, or we can ask the AI team to implement the required changes to the AI so it can play the Sly. Since I don't want Dilvish to send his assassins after me, I think we should go with your suggestion... ;) :mrgreen:
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I hope I could explain why a distributed strategy could reap benefits.
Yeah, I think we've got some good ideas here.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:32 pm 
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Oberlus wrote:
Currently, you can't have a viable stealth colonizer until several hulls, detection and stealth techs are researched, which can be done fast enough. Maybe a simple solution could be to add a new basic cheap hull (something like "cargo" hull") with two inner slots and one or no extern slot
That sound a bit like a hack, stealthy hulls shouldn't be too easily available. The thing is, we already have a hull line you can choose when you want to go down the stealthy route, the organic hulls. Unfortunately this is the hull line which, while not that expensive RP wise, takes an annoyingly long time to get going, because the required techs have overly long min research time, the shipyard extensions have overly long min build times, which all adds up. While much of that makes sense flavour wise (building things usually is faster than growing things), if you want to play stealthy, you need stealthy options available and usable quickly enough to actually pull that off before you meet your opponents.

IMO the right and proper way to fix this is our long planned redo of the entire hull lines. I'd make the asteroid hulls the stealthy ones (makes much more sense), and make basic asteroid hull tech available rather soon. Unfortunately that's not something we'll be able to get done for 0.4.7, but I'd rather wait for the final thing than add another stop-gap solution to the game.
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add a species trait for ship stealth (separate from the planetary stealth) or make planetary stealth bonus also affect ships.
That's what I'd suggest too. Needs to be carefully balanced, but I'd like to see and ship stealth species trait.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:18 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
That sound a bit like a hack, stealthy hulls shouldn't be too easily available. The thing is, we already have a hull line you can choose when you want to go down the stealthy route, the organic hulls. Unfortunately this is the hull line which, while not that expensive RP wise, takes an annoyingly long time to get going, because the required techs have overly long min research time, the shipyard extensions have overly long min build times, which all adds up. While much of that makes sense flavour wise (building things usually is faster than growing things), if you want to play stealthy, you need stealthy options available and usable quickly enough to actually pull that off before you meet your opponents.

IMO the right and proper way to fix this is our long planned redo of the entire hull lines. I'd make the asteroid hulls the stealthy ones (makes much more sense), and make basic asteroid hull tech available rather soon. Unfortunately that's not something we'll be able to get done for 0.4.7, but I'd rather wait for the final thing than add another stop-gap solution to the game.
Completely agree.
BTW, currently the stealth coloniser of my choice would be the small camouflaged asteroid, mostly for roleplaying (I mean, trying that strategy is not what allows me to win such games, I still relly on normal, unstealthy expansion). But the fact that only has 1 inner slot bugs me. I would change techs and RP numbers to make that hull available earlier for species that go the stealth way (i.e. make that hull line depend on the first stealth tech or make it cheaper for empires that have researched that tech), so that the hull does not need a stealthy part along with the coloniser part to work agains empires that rush first detection level.

Vezzra wrote:
Oberlus wrote:
add a species trait for ship stealth (separate from the planetary stealth) or make planetary stealth bonus also affect ships[/b].
That's what I'd suggest too. Needs to be carefully balanced, but I'd like to see and ship stealth species trait.
I would say +10 would be good and +20 great. Good gives you that chance to stay stealthy against empires that have the same level of detection that you have of stealthy ship parts. Great (not sure about the +20) should allow you to stay stealthy against empires with one more tech level than you, except for omniscanner that renders stealthyness off. Bad, -10, should make you forget about trying stealth ships unless way ahead of your enemies RP-wise.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:41 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
We should balance imperial stockpile in a way that distributed expansion is possible with the standard settings, but only if you choose the right starting species.
Can we agree on this?
Yep, sounds good.

I'm even open to add other ways to gain the ability/means to take the distributed empire route later on (like discovery of a unique special, or have an Ancient Ruins option that grants special techs which give a very large stockpile bonus, etc.), as long as it's sufficiently rare and remains a special case.

But for now having a special race that enables the full distributed empire experience is a good start I think.
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I suggest for round three of the imperial stockpile ("The rise of the stockpiling race"):
* input ratio of 100% from the start
* I'll try to land in the battery mechanism using the transfer (stockpile input) limit.
I'm not sure what exactly you mean by that... if we switch to a general transfer limit approach, where we have the stockpile input and output transfer limits defined by one (empire or planetary) meter, the input (or conversion) ratio stat will be dropped completely. There is no more input, conversion or whatever ratio, storing and retrieving PP from the stockpile happens without loss of a certain percentage of PP.

The implementation, as well as the UI representation should actually become simpler: Instead of two stats which operate differently (the one as a ratio, the other as a limit), we just have one stat, the stockpile transfer limit, which determine how much PP you can store and retrieve at max each turn.

Do you expect the required changes to the implementation to be complicated?
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Add racial modifiers to the stockpiling; i suggest (GREAT/GOOD/AVERAGE/BAD)_FRONTIER_SKILLS
Hm, I wouldn't call it *_FRONTIER_SKILLS... it's actually a bonus (or malus) for the stockpile transfer limit, so we should probably call it just that (for now, until someone has a better idea ;): *_STOCKPILE, or *_STOCKPILE_LOGISTICS.
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Sprinkle the races with BAD_ and GOOD_; either add GREAT_ to laenfa or add a new stockpiling species (Travellers or Sly).
I'd leave most races at average stockpile transfer rate, give GOOD to a few (but maybe remove other good traits they have, or add a bad trait to counter-balance the additional bonus), and also maybe BAD to a few. Don't know about Laenfa, maybe they could be one the races with GOOD_STOCKPILE, but that needed to be counter-balanced with another malus.

For the "stockpiling", or better, "stealthy empire" species I'd go with your suggestion of the "Sly" species (we could even keep the name for now, I kind of like it ;)).

"Travellers" remind me of another suggestion that has been made in the past: a nomadic species which doesn't/can't colonize planets, but is a purely ship-based civilization. That of course requires ships to be able to produce resources (IIRC the framework for that is already present in the backend code), but another problem is PP distribution and supply. The IS mechanic could be used to solve that and thus provide an important element to make such nomadic species possible.
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probably up the research costs and adjust the tech to significantly improve the limits so the GREAT_FRONTIER_SKILLS species can use it for distributed empire. I think i will aim for a pacing of obsoletion in turn 20, turn 50, turn 100, turn 200
You can only set the the stockpile transfer limit levels the "standard" IS techs (that is, the IS techs available to all empires) provide so high before they start to make normal PP distribution less relevant.

So you need to set the stockpile bonus for GREAT sufficiently high (a stealthy empire race needs sufficiently high stockpile capability right at game start anyway), or reduce the tech costs of the IS techs for stealthy empire races (like Psionics has reduced research costs if your empire contains a telepathic race), or let the IS techs give empires with stealthy empire races much higher stockpile boni than empires who don't have them, or provide special techs only available to empires with stealthy empire races, or some combination of these suggestions... you get the picture. ;)

For the standard IS techs, I suggest the following: you don't start with any stockpile capability at all (only species with great stockpile should have stockpile capability right from start). The most basic IS tech should probably cost 50RP/3 turn min research time, and give a fixed stockpile transfer limit of 5. Then have some techs which give additional fixed boni, maybe so you get up to 50 or 100 in total if you research all of those techs. Then have some more expensive techs which should start later in the tech tree that give boni to the stockpile transfer limit that scale dynamically with empire size/PP resource output (e.g. 1%, 2%, 5% of total PP output).

A standard empire should not be able, with all the IS techs researched, to raise the total stockpile transfer limit above 10% of its total PP resource output. That should only be possible for empires with species with the good or great stockpile trait (or which gained access to a rare strategic resource, special, whatever - as long as it's rare and special ;)).

BTW, while we are at it: I really like the idea of the InterDesign Academy, but fluff/flavour wise it doesn't work for the stockpile for me. An institution that manages to capitalize upon the vastly different input different species can provide sounds like something that would boost creativity and research. So, I'd put that into the learning category and make it provide research boni.
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If i dont manage to implement the battery in time I need you guys to roleplay/pretend that you dont have so many PP in your stockpile (we are still in prototyping stage). Extraction limit actually still enforces most of the limits of usability.
I'd rather not merge something into master that requires the players to roleplay/pretend something to not basically break current mechanics. There is no need for that, take the time you need to implement the change to the stockpile transfer limit properly. Unless you're going to drop the ball on us for months, you can't be not in time.

The IS is the core feature of 0.4.7, it's already obvious at this point that we won't stick to the January/February deadline. The IS needs proper refinement to be ready for release, and we will take the time we need to get there. If that means the release will be postponed for a couple of months, then so be it. I don't want to make a release with a half finished feature.

So relax, there is no pressure, no rush. The great thing about open source projects like ours is, there is no big annoying company bugging us with deadlines. It's ready when it's ready. ;)
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add a basic "cargo" hull" with three inner slots and no extern slot and stealth 15 ; i'd add it to the generic supplies tech
Personally, I'd rather introduce a stealthy ships species trait and use that for stealthy empire races.

If you prefer a hull, please add a "stealthy hull" (only one internal slot should be sufficient for an early stealthy outpost/colonization hull) and let that be unlocked by a "Stealthy Hull" tech (I suggest the same research costs/turns as the tech for the Robotic Hull has). That tech should be in the ship hull category and be unlocked by either one of the techs that are already completed at game start ("Deception" would be a prime candidate), or by one of the first tier techs, so you can get it quickly.
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@Vezzra what you think? did i address your concerns?
Looks good, I'd say, we're making promising progress.

There is one thing though, which you already discussed with Geoff: if we want to make a species that provides a stockpile transfer limit bonus, we won't be able to keep the stockpile transfer limit as an empire meter. Adding measures to prevent easy abuse by capturing a single planet with such a species and thereby gaining easy access to all the benefits which should be restricted to a special case strategic choice is going to be complicated and messy.

Solutions with meters on supply group level or anything like that also sounds awfully hacky/complicated. My suggestion would be to take the obvious, simple route: make the transfer limit a planetary meter. That opens up a lot of flexibility and possibilities for IS related content, it allows to restrict stockpile boni to certain locations, particularly e.g. to planets that have a species with stockpile traits.

That means, you only profit from the e.g. great stockpile species trait on colonies with a respective species. You want to play a hidden, distributed empire? Well, you'll only be able to do that if most of your empire consists of a stealthy empires species. You might be able to keep some colonies with other species, but they can only serve as a complement. Just a few colonies with a stealthy empires species won't help much in making a distributed empire.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:52 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
To be interesting, I suspect it would be good if any species-specific stockpile modifiers applied only to the planet the species is on, and not to any supply-group connected planets with other species. Or more accurately, to PP generated on the planet, and not PP from other planets supply-connected. This would be essential to ensure a player can't just get one planet with a strong-stockpiling species in order to avoid any need to research any supply-boosting techs.
Drop the stockpile conversion ratio, replace the extraction limit with a general transfer limit that determines both stockpile input and output limits like suggested in my above posts, make that a planetary meter, and what you describe here should work perfectly fine... or am I missing something?

Having stockpile input/output stats as planetary (local) meter would make location specific stockpile content possible (like buildings granting a certain transfer limit bonus to all supply connected colonies, specials granting a stockpile bonus for the planet/system they are in, nebulae which disrupt stockpile operations, etc.).


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:07 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
There is one thing though, which you already discussed with Geoff: if we want to make a species that provides a stockpile transfer limit bonus, we won't be able to keep the stockpile transfer limit as an empire meter. [...] My suggestion would be to take the obvious, simple route: make the transfer limit a planetary meter.
Vezzra wrote:
Drop the stockpile conversion ratio, replace the extraction limit with a general transfer limit that determines both stockpile input and output limits like suggested in my above posts, make that a planetary meter, and what you describe here should work perfectly fine... or am I missing something?
Yeah, obviously I've been missing something... my brain must have malfunctioned when I came up with that idea. :?

A planetary/local stockpile transfer limit meter can't work: if that limit is local, it applies to each planet independently. Meaning, each planet can transfer to and from the stockpile up to that limit, and the total stockpile transfer limit of an empire is the sum of the limits of each planet. Which in turn means either this total is way too high (if the planetary limits are set to values that allow for reasonable stockpile transfers on the local level), or the planetary limits are way too low (if the planetary limits are set to values which ensure the total doesn't get too high).

Of course we could try to solve that with a combination of several empire and planetary meters, but that gets way too complicated. The stockpile transfer limit needs to be an empire meter, and we can't do stockpile species traits, this option is out. We need another approach to make a "stealthy/distributed empire" species.

The only reasonably simple solution I can think of so far is to create an extra set of IS techs, which are completely independent from the "standard" ones, and unlock those techs on turn one for empires which have a "stealthy/distributed empire" starting species (doing that unlock only on turn one ensures that an empire that captures the species during the game doesn't get the techs).

Unless anyone has an ingenious idea how we could make planetary stockpile tranfer limits work...


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 4:07 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
Unless anyone has an ingenious idea how we could make planetary stockpile tranfer limits work...
Another case where there could be an empire government / social engineering type choice, where players can either have very effective stockpiling or sharing with resource groups, but not both.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:54 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
Vezzra wrote:
There is one thing though, which you already discussed with Geoff: if we want to make a species that provides a stockpile transfer limit bonus, we won't be able to keep the stockpile transfer limit as an empire meter. [...] My suggestion would be to take the obvious, simple route: make the transfer limit a planetary meter.
Vezzra wrote:
Drop the stockpile conversion ratio, replace the extraction limit with a general transfer limit that determines both stockpile input and output limits like suggested in my above posts, make that a planetary meter, and what you describe here should work perfectly fine... or am I missing something?
Yeah, obviously I've been missing something... my brain must have malfunctioned when I came up with that idea. :?

A planetary/local stockpile transfer limit meter can't work: if that limit is local, it applies to each planet independently. Meaning, each planet can transfer to and from the stockpile up to that limit, and the total stockpile transfer limit of an empire is the sum of the limits of each planet. Which in turn means either this total is way too high (if the planetary limits are set to values that allow for reasonable stockpile transfers on the local level), or the planetary limits are way too low (if the planetary limits are set to values which ensure the total doesn't get too high).

The dynamic part would work for input on planetary level. Sum of PP fraction on all planets is the same as the fraction of the sum of all PP. So if there is some overproduction in a supply group we could map/reduce over all planets in the supply group and use that value to cutoff overproduction into stockpile and waste.

So lets make the input limit into a planetary ratio of production and the use limit into an empire constant+ratio.
If you cant put much into the stockpile, a high use limit is probably not game-changing. So acquiring a single planet with a good species in will not change too much.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:14 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
The dynamic part would work for input on planetary level. Sum of PP fraction on all planets is the same as the fraction of the sum of all PP. So if there is some overproduction in a supply group we could map/reduce over all planets in the supply group and use that value to cutoff overproduction into stockpile and waste.

So lets make the input limit into a planetary ratio of production and the use limit into an empire constant+ratio.
If you cant put much into the stockpile, a high use limit is probably not game-changing. So acquiring a single planet with a good species in will not change too much.

It seems there is still some confusion and/or disagreement about this:
Vezzra wrote:
I'm not sure what exactly you mean by that... if we switch to a general transfer limit approach, where we have the stockpile input and output transfer limits defined by one (empire or planetary) meter, the input (or conversion) ratio stat will be dropped completely. There is no more input, conversion or whatever ratio, storing and retrieving PP from the stockpile happens without loss of a certain percentage of PP.

which is referring to Vezzra's original suggestion, back on page 3:
Vezzra wrote:
That purpose can easily be achieved by changing the conversion ratio into a conversion limit: instead of imposing a tax on the PP transferred to the stockpile just limit the amount of PP that can be transferred to the stockpile the same way the amount you can transfer from the stockpile. Make sure that these limits are always only a tiny fraction of the empire's PP output, so that it won't make normal PP distribution irrelevant, and we're good. It would actually even make sense to drop the distinction between conversion limit and extraction limit, but just use the same stat for both and call it "stockpile transfer limit".

That would also solve the problem with poor early conversion efficiency, as there would be no such thing as poor efficiency, as no PP would be wasted. Keeping the transfer limit low enough should be sufficient to ensure the IS stays a complement and not become a replacement for normal PP distribution.

Of course, with that approach the IS isn't much good for a stealthy empire anymore, but it should serve every purpose the original Generic Supply Ships had been designed for just as well, if not better.

Personally I strongly prefer the latter option. It's the closest to the original Generic Supply Ship idea, it is straightforward, makes the IS mechanic simpler, also easier to balance, and should be of some value in certain situations.

I'm not trying to take sides here. I've been trying to think of a good approach, and frankly i'm coming up empty, probably in part because, frankly, i'm still not entirely convinced of the need for the stockpile mechanic to begin with.

But i feel like there's some miscommunication over this issue, whether we will attempt to adopt Vezzra's single-transfer-limit-approach.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:54 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
The dynamic part would work for input on planetary level. Sum of PP fraction on all planets is the same as the fraction of the sum of all PP. So if there is some overproduction in a supply group we could map/reduce over all planets in the supply group and use that value to cutoff overproduction into stockpile and waste.

So lets make the input limit into a planetary ratio of production and the use limit into an empire constant+ratio.
If you cant put much into the stockpile, a high use limit is probably not game-changing. So acquiring a single planet with a good species in will not change too much.

alleryn wrote:
But i feel like there's some miscommunication over this issue, whether we will attempt to adopt Vezzra's single-transfer-limit-approach.

Hi alleryn,

Vezzra's single-transfer-limit-approach applies the same limit to input as it applies to output. (E.g. if the limit is 10 PP, you can add up to 10 PP to the stockpile and you can take out up to 10PP out of the stockpile in a single turn). This definitly has the of beauty of symmetry.

Vezzra found later a reason why the single-transfer-limit-approach will not work. I was suggesting a fix to the problem, which uses different values for input and output.

Im waiting on feedback for this, it is not completely decided what round 3 will look like.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:38 am 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
Vezzra found later a reason why the single-transfer-limit-approach will not work. I was suggesting a fix to the problem, which uses different values for input and output.

Vezzra wrote:
The stockpile transfer limit needs to be an empire meter

I don't want to put words into anyone's mouth, but it sounds to me like the part Vezzra thinks isn't working is the local (planetary) meter, not the single-transfer-limit.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:56 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
The dynamic part would work for input on planetary level. Sum of PP fraction on all planets is the same as the fraction of the sum of all PP. So if there is some overproduction in a supply group we could map/reduce over all planets in the supply group and use that value to cutoff overproduction into stockpile and waste.

So lets make the input limit into a planetary ratio of production and the use limit into an empire constant+ratio.
If you cant put much into the stockpile, a high use limit is probably not game-changing. So acquiring a single planet with a good species in will not change too much.
I've thought of that approach too (having a planetary/local stockpile input/store transfer limit and an empire/global stockpile output transfer/extraction limit), but discarded it because it seems only to complicate the mechanic without really helping that much with the basic issue. Based on my own playtesting, I got the impression that the most important factor of the IS is the extraction limit, how much you can take out of the stockpile per turn (which, btw, is why I felt comfortable with just dropping a ratio based input stat, where you lost a certain amount of the PP you stored in the stockpile).

Unfortunately it's the extraction limit that can't be made a planetary/local stat/meter, which means we can't tie that to a species trait. Of course, we could still do that with the input limit (make it planetary/local and thus be able to tie it to a species trait), but what's the point if that stat is of lesser importance? Especially if it makes the entire mechanic more complex (having two instead of one meter, and on top of that one is a planetary, the other an empire meter, which need to be carefully balanced against each other).

Which is why I came to the conclusion that the best course of action would be to drop the idea of a planetary/local stockpile tranfer limit, just stick to an empire/global meter which determines how much at max you can put into/take from the stockpile each turn (alleryn was right about that). Consequently, forget about stockpile species traits, and try to make a "stockpile"/"stealthy/distributed empire" race by giving them access to an extra set of special IS techs which are only accessible if you choose that species as your starting species.

Of course that approach sacrifices a lot of flexibility, so I mulled over the idea of an approach with a planetary meter a bit more. The only way that maybe can work at all is basically what you suggested above: make the stockpile input limit the actually limiting factor. However, if we rely on the input limit as the primary limiting factor for the IS, the question is if the extraction limit is really necessary anymore. If not, we probably should just drop it to make the mechanic simpler.

So, IMO we have two options now:

1) My original suggestion: use a single empire meter as the global stockpile tranfer limit which determines how much PP you can store and retrieve from the stockpile each turn. Have a set of "standard" techs available to all empires, which allow you to raise that meter to only modest levels at best, so that the IS can be used as a nice complement to the standard PP distribution along supply connections, but never as something that comes even close to replace it. Then introduce a new race (the proposed "Sly") which, when chosen as starting species, unlocks special techs not available otherwise, that provide much higher boosts to the stockpile transfer limit, up to levels where it basically makes standard PP distribution obsolete.

2) Attempt to implement an approach with a planetary stockpile meter which determines the amount of PP that planet can store at max in the stockpile per turn. As that means that the amount a supply group can store is the sum of the stockpile meter values of the planets in that supply group, that value has to be really low.

I also suggest, for the first attempt to implement that, to drop the extraction meter and see if sufficiently limited planetary stockpile meters are enough to keep the IS from becoming too powerful. Don't know how that is going to turn out, but I guess we have to try. Being able to withdraw all the PP stored in the stockpile at once is a potentially extremely powerful thing, if you manage to accumulate a very large amount of PP in it (by storing PP over many turns). Which is why keeping the planetary stockpile meter really low is so important.

If that doesn't work, we still can reintroduce a global extraction limit, or, what I'd prefer, a global stockpile capacity limit (which of course can be improved by techs etc).

To achieve that, I suggest the following:

When calculating the amount of PP a supply group can transfer to the stockpile each turn, treat the planetary stockpile meter as a limit that applies to the local (planetary) PP output. That means that the stockpile meter determines how much of the PP produced by the planet can be tranferred to the stockpile each turn at max. In case the planetary PP output is lower than the stockpile meter (which should be a rare case anyway), the PP output of the planet gets added to the supply group's total stockpile input transfer limit (instead of the stockpile meter of the planet).

Also, most of the boosts for the stockpile meter should only apply to planets on industry focus. That should go a long way to ensure that a planet can put more PP in the stockpile than it can actually produce. After all, the idea is that you can only put a small fraction of your industrial production into the stockpile.

Although making the stockpile meter a ratio that determines how much percent of the PP resource output can be put into the stockpile, I'd rather have the stockpile meter being a "fixed" limit of PP, independent of the industry meter. It fits better with the other planetary meters (none of those are ratios/percentage values) for one thing. But more importantly, it does not scale automatically with the industry meter. Otherwise you could achieve higher stockpile input simply by increasing your industrial capacity, without having to invest further into IS techs. It's much better if you have to continue to invest research efforts into IS technology if you want it to keep up with your industrial capacity.

Of course that's another reason the keep the levels you can improve the planetary stockpile meter to sufficiently low.

Ok, what do you think, which option should we pursue? I still think we should take option 1, easier to balance while keeping things simple, but that's just a personal preference. Or are there other suggestions, ideas? Please, everyone, feel free to provide your feedback! :D


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:13 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Another case where there could be an empire government / social engineering type choice, where players can either have very effective stockpiling or sharing with resource groups, but not both.
That's a very interesting idea/approach. The beauty of it, or better the big advantage over tying effective stockpiling to a starting species choice, is that such a mechanic works on the empire level, exactly where that kind of choice (do I want to to play a stealthy/distributed empire?) should be made.

Doing this via a special species is actually a hack, because of the species != empire design of FO (hence the all the issues we run into by trying to take that road).

The obvious downside of that approach is that we have no empire government / social engineering mechanic in place yet, there's nothing even in the design stage. Just the general idea. So, for a first release ready implementation of the Imperial Stockpile, we probably have to resort to hacky stop-gap solutions.

I wonder, do you think we could pack that into 0.5 too, in addition to the whole Influence thing? And, while we are at it, this other thing you've suggested somewhere else, I think you called it "policy cards" or something like this. Each empire could choose a limited number of "empire policies" out of a pool (with more "policies" unlockable by research), where each of these policies would provide certain boni/mali on the empire level. That's also something I'd very much like to see in the game...


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:12 am 
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Vacuum Dragon
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TL;DR

Got an idea: bound all IS-related stuff to stealth techs (as requirements) and stealth meters.

The total amount of PPs added to the IS each turn from each supply group G could be:

G.CONTRIBUTED_PPS_TO_IS = G.SURPLUSS_PP * 0.005 * G.AVERAGE_PLANETARY_STEALTH
where
G.SURPLUSS_PP = G.PRODUCED_PP - min(G.REQUIRED_PP,G.PRODUCED_PP) and
G.AVERAGE_PLANETARY_STEALTH = (sum for each colony P in G of P.PLANETARY_STEALTH_METER) / G.NUMBER_OF_COLONIES

Dropping the extraction limit seems the way to go, but we want to prevent IS storage exploiting.

Got a second idea: make stuff in the IS suffer losses over time to discourage accumulation. So lets introduce a IS storage decay coefficient:

STOCKPILED_PPS(turn T) = CONTRIBUTED_PPS + (1-IS_DECAY_COEF)*STOCKPILED_PPS(turn T-1)
where
CONTRIBUTED_PPS = sum for each supply group G of G.CONTRIBUTED_PPS

Stealth species/empires can ignore decayment since they can consume stockpiled resources in the turn they are stored.
For correctly balanced techs, specials and species traits, stockpiling species/empires could do some good use of the storage capacity from the beginning and not be able to do the storage "exploit" until near-trascending, while regular species/empires won't be able. I suggest trying standard starting decay coef. 0.3 (0.35/0.25/0.20 for bad/good/great starting species), and three techs and one special that each decreases decay by 0.05.


Long version

The IS is a sort of empire-wide, stealthed logistics network, with some capacity to storage over time PPs produced in any planet and to deliver the stored PPs to any planet of that empire.
It must not be possible to use it to effectively substitute the basic supply group mechanics (1).
It must make viable the scattered, stealthed expansion strategy (2).

As already pointed out by Vezzra and others, the stockpile extraction limit (planetary, group or empire wide) is an unballanceable pain in the ass.

You could try the following:

First, use the planetary stealth meter as the base for stockpile input ratio.
For techs at start you'd be getting 45 planetary stealth for Laenfa and 5 for most of the rest. For near-trascending empires, Laenfa would surpass 100 stealth (125, right?) and the species without planetary stealth bonus would max out at 85. Something like 0.5*(PLANETARY_STEALTH_METER-5)% could be a good start for playtesting: Laenfa would have 20-60% and regular species would have 0-40%. To be sure: we talk about the percentage of PPs from each planet, not consumed that turn within its supply group, that can be added to the IS that turn (or next turn, if you like).
The total amount of PPs added to the IS each turn from each supply group G could be to:

G.CONTRIBUTED_PPS_TO_IS = G.SURPLUSS_PP * 0.005 * G.AVERAGE_PLANETARY_STEALTH

where

G.SURPLUSS_PP = G.PRODUCED_PP - min(G.REQUIRED_PP,G.PRODUCED_PP) and
G.AVERAGE_PLANETARY_STEALTH = (sum for each colony P in G of P.PLANETARY_STEALTH_METER) / G.NUMBER_OF_COLONIES

This formula is simpler than it could be, to avoid having to deal with actual surpluss PPs of each planet. So it assumes that every planet contributes with the same number of PPs to the surpluss. It could be improved/corrected by any volunteer as desired.


Second, drop altogether the (absolute) stockpile extraction limit. So every planet drawing from the IS can take as many PPs as it can consume as long as there are more in the IS.

To prevent exploiting of the IS over supply groups, we can resort to the input ratio. However that will be insufficient, e.g. single-supply empires with no interest at all in scattered expansion could try to save PPs in the IS to later boost the production of newly research stuff, effectively going against the rule that later things must take longer to finish. We could think that is not really breaking the mechanics of the game but giving them a twist, that's up to you, but in any case it would introduce more complexity for the proper balance of the game. Therefore...


Third (but second drum roll), introduce a IS decay coefficient: Stuff in the IS suffer loses over time, effectively discouraging accumulation. For example:

STOCKPILED_PPS(turn T) = CONTRIBUTED_PPS + (1-IS_DECAY_COEF)*STOCKPILED_PPS(turn T-1)

where

CONTRIBUTED_PPS = sum for each supply group G of G.CONTRIBUTED_PPS

IS_DECAY_COEF should actually be called IS_PRESERVATION_COEF and remove the "1-", but I'm a twisted man.

This decay coef. should be big at start and decrease with techs, (empire) species traits and specials, but not too much to prevent the storage exploit. I suggest 0.3 as the starting value, which means that after 2 turns you only have half (0.7^2=0.49) of what you stored in the first turn, and a quarter after 4 turns.

Each tech and special could decrease it by 0.05. If capped at four upgrades (three techs and one special?), max coef. is 0.9, which needs 6.5 turns to reduce stored PPs to half, and 13 turns to reduce to 25% (again, the PPs stored 6.5 or 13 turns ago, not the ones stored later).

Then, the IS speciallised species could have a starting bonus of +0.1 to the decay coef. (probably better via a species-dependent tech unblocked only at start, as pointed out by Vezzra, to be able to stay simple as an empire meter and be dependent only on the starting species).

Now the only species that could effectively use the IS storage "exploit" would the the IS species after getting the required techs and specials (that can reach coef. 1.0, unless capped at 0.98 or something). Balance seems easy by adjusting increase step, starting bonus and number of techs/specials.

Stealthy empires could still use the IS to boost scattered expansion regardless of the decay parameter. They get better input ratio from their stealth and are eager to consume all the (modest) stockpile every turn, so the decay does not affect them.
The IS specialised species does not get so much boost to scattered expansion unless they are also a bonus to planetary stealth.


(1) So first, it must prevent the investment of (not even near) as many stockpiled PPs as global empire PPs per turn (regardless of how many planets are receiving the PPs or where are with respect to the source of the PPs).
And second, it must prevent the investment of many PPs in stranded planetary systems to avoid situations like a (non-stealthy) empire sneaking a colony behind the enemy lines and quickly building small harrasing stacks past the main defenses. It is not the same to sneak already built, expensive stealthed armies past the enemy lines than sneaking one single ship to build inexpensive, fast fleets behind enemy lines, it kinda breaks most strategy decissions based on the network of systems and starlanes.

(2) So it must allow the transfer of PPs from older supply groups to new supply groups that require PPs to develop (mostly to make more outpost/colony bases/ships and some buildings). For this it makes sense to use low absolute limits, so that no planet will be able to get many PPs, to avoid what's commented in (1). But once you have your many scattered supply groups already developed and you want to invest in military, either you build warships everywhere at the same time with stealth parts and gather them somewhere (and that is an invitation to intense micromanagement as well as to some loses), or you can transfer those PPs to the places where you need them better but (1) must still be honored. Is there a valid balance for these two opposing requirements? It's unclear to me until playtesting.
I don't know if you should be able or not to build late-game/massive projects in a single stranded planet pulling massive resources from the IS if you have IS specialised species and late-game techs.
Nevertheless, I've tried to come with a formula to set a (planetary/empire) limit for extraction that avoids these issues, to no avail. The limit cannot be adjusted to allow what it must allow and at the same time forbid what it must forbid. Dropping the limit then.


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