DESIGN: Buildings / Build Queues / Infrastructure

Past public reviews and discussions.
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#301 Post by vishnou00 » Thu Jun 17, 2004 12:23 am

Krikkitone wrote:One of the big problems with 'Local only' is how it relates to infrastructures (Farms/Factories,etc.) If they all require Production to build, then a 'Local Distribution' model means all 'New worlds' need to be Industrial to grow well.
See second part of the post here for a proposal for that issue. But I don't think it will change your views.

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#302 Post by Aquitaine » Thu Jun 17, 2004 12:58 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:In Star Wars, one could travel across the galaxy in a day or week.
This is astronomically nit-picking, barely on-topic, and utterly revealing of how much of a nerd I am, but actually, that's not true. It's two weeks from the core to the rim on a fast ship, so from one end of the rim to the other would take about a month.

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#303 Post by drek » Thu Jun 17, 2004 1:34 am

2. Global Pool no limit (really cuts down on strategy as a new world would be operational in 1 turn with 100 developed planets behind it. Also worlds would be 'fully developed' one at a time, rather than all growing step by step.)
Very Good for Micropurposes though
There can be other limits aside from industrial capacity. For example, if infrastructure/population grows at a steady rate regardless of investment, then it can be used as a key value for determining the health/age of a colony. If certain buildings/ships can only be placed on colonies with X infrastructure, then a new planet could not be fully "operational" in 1 turn.

If the number of build projects per planet is limited to one and each project takes a certain number of turns to complete (like research projects), then building up a colony world is guaranteed to take at a minimum "a whole lot of turns."

For example, if a Shipyard (and/or mobilization center) takes 10 turns to construct and must be placed on a world with 10 turns worth of infra, then a new world would take a total of 20 turns before it could be used to pump out military units. In the meantime, an enemy could use spy, military, or diplomatic actions to try to belay the construction of the shipyard.

imho, adding in simulationist game systems just muddies the issue from the perspective of both the designer and player, without adding much to gameplay.

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#304 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Jun 17, 2004 2:01 am


main objection: no (or very little) strategic choice with that system... strategic choice = gameplay

other issues: what happens if you lose population and fall below the minimum for a certain building? when do you switch from exponential growth to leveling off? is this the same everywhere? how does this work with focus, mineral richness, suitability of planet/environment to racial characteristics and/or planet specials? how does technology or race characteristics affect the rate of growth?

these are the types of problems and questions that arise when attempting to abstract too much. using a more simulation-like system, these sorts of issues are resolved simply and elegantly (imho). abstract rules to deal with all these sorts of details seem artificial and difficult to understand to me... they also have to be robust enough to deal with any perturbation of the normal growth curve without breaking down into logical inconsistencies / exploits... this seems much more muddled for player/designer than a simple simulation with clear rules.

the simulations being proposed aren't overly complicated... currently it's just a number of farms/mines/factories/labs on each planet, and a few simple rules that use those numbers to determine how many PP you produce locally, how many you can import, and how many more farms/mines/factories/labs you can build per turn as a function of how many you currently have. Personally, I'd like to go a bit further and add maintainance and facility upgrade costs and the like, but those things might be unnecessary and not add any useful choice.

I think your system of (apparently? maybe not if you fleshed it out) uniform planet development would work well if all planets were the same... but I exepct there will be lots of variations to take into account, including player choices to bring extra colonists to get a world up and going faster, or to drop a small number of colonists on a newly captured world with lots of natives / enslaved enemy workers or lots of prebuilt, but now abandoned infrastructure in place...

I acknowlege that not all choice is good... and you can have too much of a good thing... but I don't think this is too much (meaningless) choice. Granted, I'm a builder, so want something to think about when building. Your preference may vary.

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#305 Post by vishnou00 » Thu Jun 17, 2004 3:57 am

I totally agree with Geoff the Medio.

The 'simulationist' model, as drek calls it, provide something other approaches don't: conceptual robustness. Concepts will be coherent because they are consequences of the model. In a very abstracted system, concepts are added through addition of rules.

Early on, some pointed out the global production model wouldn't take into account distance, so some other proposed to add a distance factor. Then there was a problem with backwater worlds that produced too much for its size, so other people propose to factor planet development into a max variable. But where does it end? There will be leftovers and absurd exploits.

The problem is that the effects are directly implemented in the game, but the causes of these effects are all in the head of the designers, and different designers head are usually not coherent.

The simulationist approach choose the causes that will lead to effects. What the designers choose is the model, and the application of the model will generate the effects. Consequence: the in-game effects will be coherent. What may be less coherent is the model, but that's a reality of design.

I'm not for simulating every aspect of the game, but those that are deemed important for the genre (4X space strategy), and have deep consequences on gameplay. That does not include Endor truckers, but it does include the relations between the production of each world. Parts I would be gladly abstract (not model) is the population, infractucture buildings, mineral types, energy into factories, unrest into productivity, ship damage, research, planetary invation/bombing, intra-system movement/supply route/communication. But please, don't abstract game behavior: ship movement, production, exploration, combat (non-interactive simulation).

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#306 Post by emrys » Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:43 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:emrys: Your preferred design, ie: empire supply pool with no penalty for distance and no effect of planet focus on abilty to produce at a given world, seems specifically chosen to remove many (any?) strategic choices that a player could make.
To understand why I'm advocating this system, you need to understand a few key points.

1) As I see it, in nearly all 4X games, (and as far as I can see so far in FO) the main end reason for having a large industry, is to pump out ships. The ability of industry to boost planetary development is parallel to this, it's important really only because it lets you build more ships faster later.

2) I really want to decouple ship production from individual planets. I.e. I want to see a game where not every planet can produce ships. I want to see separate game entities that build ships (shipyards!). This is useful for many reasons, but mainly to reduce the amount of management required by allowing the number of locations that need to be considered when deciding where to build ships to scale more slowly than empire size), i.e. it allows the nicely ticking over developed planets in the safe parts of your empire to be pretty much ignored, with all the decision 'action' taking place at a few strategically important places, which is easier for players to handle conceptually.

3) I personally find a system that requires a research focussed location to start out as industrial just so it can build up capacity annoying. So at least for the initial ranges I'd like to see it possible to ship production around in a abstracted way. If we're happy to auto-ship minerals under the hood, why not production? (If anyone objects that minerals are tangibleand production isn't, what about e.g. Apple computers - all the parts are made in china, then shipped to the US to be assembled, seems like shipped production to me...)

So... no penalty for shipping, because coming up with workable game mechanics for penalties that aren't hideously complicated, but are intuiive and flexible, is way beyond my capabilities, though if someone has a good robust idea, plese mention it.

Limited effect of planetary focus on ability to produce at a given world.(note that v. high industry worlds would still get a higher investment cap that most others.) The main limit on ability to produce is reserved for the main location where massive production rate is important, i.e. shipyard capactiy determines ship production rate.

So the strategic choices left to a player are: where and how to build their industrial planets to provide the PP for the empire pool. Where to build shipyards and to what capacity to balance time to front , productive capacity, and risk of attack. Which focus to choose for each planet.

Which strategic choices are missing?

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#307 Post by vishnou00 » Thu Jun 17, 2004 4:55 pm

emrys wrote:though if someone has a good robust idea, plese mention it.
There are potentially two ressources: parts and raw material.

Parts could are electronic components, hull panel, engine core, everything you need. They are deemed to be always useful for every production. They take part in a Part+assembly=parts.

Raw material is mineral (oil, iron, uranium), to make the parts, or be transformed into energy. Again, it is abstracted to be always useful for the Raw+work=production equation.

When used locally, production takes place in a simpler circle: Raw+(part+assembly)=production. If you use your raw material locally, there is no need for the intermediate step to take place. Unused production is just stockpiled as parts.

For the supply lines, there could be military transport, managed by the player. Freighters are built, moved, repeating orders are established. They are escorted by the player if need be. They could easely be a pain to manage, but they are an option.

On a more day to day basis, a civilian merchant fleet is abstracted. Parts and raw is stockpiled, supply and demand evaluated. When entering the civilian network, those ressources are in an unreachable limbo until the merchant freighter "reach" their destination. The cost of maintenance, development and lost (pirates and ennemy empires) of the civilian fleet is abstracted in a decay of the moved ressources (based on the risks of the region they are in). You could control the fraction of the ressources that enters the network, and in some way control what are the most important demanders and suppliers.
This is only one way to abstract a civilian merchant fleet, and not perfect.

So, these two methods of shoving ressource around: military transport, for risky and new destinations, with more efficiency than the civilian, but with cost to the empire (building freighters and escort ships). The civilian is, in a way, self managed. If that self management is inefficient, you can control their amount of involvement in your economy and take over with military transports.

The process of converting parts into production (assembly) is limited by the planet's (or world or system) current productivity: the heightened production output can't be fed back into the assembly power of the world. Work is one thing, production another:

Factory&population => work
Mines&population => raw material
work + raw material => parts
work + parts => production
since parts are produced, work + parts => parts is true, but work + parts => work is not.

Many strategic concepts (blockade, time to deliver, cost of transportation, cutting/flaying of supply lines) are already present with military convoy, as the ships can be attacked, intercepted and destroyed. If the management is taken out of the players' hands, those concepts must be reproduced by formulae.

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#308 Post by emrys » Thu Jun 17, 2004 5:07 pm

Well, yep, that just about covers the 'hideously complicated' side of things...

Seriously, it's not that this suggestion, or the many similar suggestions that have been made (occasionaly even by me :wink: ) are actually all that complicated, they're just too overblown for what people generaly feel should be a fairly minor part of the game. Stars! (which I love) for example shows how a 4X game which heads of down this route develops, lots and lots of micromanagement, to the point where basic resource handling rapidly starts to swamp the rest of the game. I think we should probably aim to stay above that kind of level of detail.

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#309 Post by Rockstone » Thu Jun 17, 2004 5:58 pm

drek wrote:
noelte wrote: Placing a super computer onto a tiny world was mid game a bad decision because maintance/cost ration was realy bad, placing a super computer on a huge word was much better. same to research lab. Autolab could be placed everywhere, because research production was independed to population.
The decisions cited are all obvious ones, so long as you know the math behind the game. I'd like to cut all the obvious decisions.

I'd also like to cut all the redundant decisions. Focus system already handles resourcing....if there's a strong penalty for switching Focus on a planet with a built up (abstracted) infrastructure, then Aquitaine's dream of specialized planets becomes reality without having to force the player into making obvious, redundant decisions.

Do I want to place an UberFarm on a Farm world? Of course, so let it happen automatically.

With a little imagination, we can think up plenty of different kinds of Structures to build that don't involve resourcing. (Or defense. I think Defense/Security ought to be a Focus rather than a gadzillion different build decisions)
What i try to say is, if we cancel buildings we cut of depth at the decision-tree.

I would like to see many different buildings which has different impacts and force the player to decide, where and when to place them.
Yes. But there shouldn't be so many decisions as to overwhelm the player. The game should play just as well late game as it does early. We've all suffered through enough late games in Civ, Moo2, SmaC to know that a: it's gets boring compared to early and mid game b: the viceroys don't really help.

I'd like to see one build decision every five to ten turns, on average.
yes but you could add a choice between a regular city or a military reserved city with only millatary stuff and you could choose most buildings there. (i like Gciv because you could have stuff that we know about or have thing that have the same efect. eg:news network)
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#310 Post by PowerCrazy » Thu Jun 17, 2004 6:38 pm

The strategy in eliminating buildings from planets allows the player to manage other more interesting parts of the game. Face it in Moo2 there was little to now strategy in placing buildings. Just put every building on every planet, and then move your population around so you can get maximum growth. It took about 10 minutes per turn in mid to late game. But if the other player was doing it, then you had to as well also the gains were very real an average of 5 additional popunits per turn IIRC. Anyway it sucked as far as "fun" was concerned.

In dreks, mine and others proposals the strategy would be achieving the balance or research, industry, mining and farming planets. As well as deciding where to build your ships, when to expand, what to research, etc. I have a VERY complicated and multibranched (and hopefully fun) view of the tech tree. But the point is: the strategy of the game should not consist of the buildings I put on my planets.
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#311 Post by vishnou00 » Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:48 pm

emrys wrote:Well, yep, that just about covers the 'hideously complicated' side of things...
But it's not complicated to play, only to implement. To the player, optimizing trade routes (with adequate tools, the number of route configuration would be O(n), not O(n^2) (n as the number of planets)) will be as much of a chore than optimizing the parameters of the wholly abstract model, just that in the "trade route" model, player will just have a better feel of the parameters.

And an element often left is the multiplayer balance. If it is "very easy" to pump out production, what element is there to provide challenging multiplayer? 4X games are not wargame (too much unit production and development), so they provide shallow wargame strategy elements, they are not RTS (not enough details in battles) so it provides shallow tactical elements. But they have production challenge, managing research, coordinating production/expansion, population productivity.

If there is no complexities on the production level, what will be left? A wargame with flows of units instead of indivitual units (since production will be trivial)? It will just be a wargame. I thought it was called FreeOrion, not FreeGeneral.

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#312 Post by drek » Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:10 pm

But it's not complicated to play, only to implement.

I disagree.

When you start calling for automated tools to do half the work, then obviously the system is either too complicated or too boring for the ordinary human player.

In any case, you are reshaping the economy entirely. We've already had these discussions and after public review ended up with decisions. If I remember correctly, supply routes were explicitly rejected.

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#313 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jun 18, 2004 12:42 am

Warning: Long post.
emrys wrote: I really want to decouple ship production from individual planets.
I also like ship production at system shipyards, but this isn't mutually exclusive with limiting how much production a planet can use from the empire pool based on it's current industrial capacity, and not it's current population.

The following ties together a bunch of the issues under discussion here... It might be better to separate them, but they're so intertwined it would be difficult... (and it'd take up the same amount of space even if I split it into two posts... SO)


Every planet in a system can use some number of PP from the empire pool that is determined by how many factories are on the planet. The function that determines how many PP can be used from how many factories are available could be simply a multiplier (that changes with tech?) or some more complicated S curve function.

Factories also each produce PP. Probably 1 PP per factory, but this could also vary with race or technology. These PP are sent to the empire pool to bo dolled out as necessary throughout the empire.

A key factor would be that the number of PP that can be used is usually larger than the PP produced at a planet. It is still necessary to have lots of factories at a planet in order to use lots of PP there, but a planet can easily and transparently ship it's PP offworld if it they're needed elsewhere.

PP can be used for various things.

For balance purposes, and to add additional need for industrial worlds and a strategic tradeoff aspect, all farms, mines and labs require maintainance. This would take the form of an off-the-top deduction from the empire PP pool. The details of the PP cost for each facility would probably depend on race, tech and balancing, but say 1 PP for every 10 farms, mines and labs would be a rough guesstimate. For simplicity, I assume that factories can maintain themselves, so don't deduct 10% of their own production.

A planet can spend PP from the empire pool on construction of wonder buildings, up to its spending limit. Let me emphasize now that factories/mines/labs/farms are *not* buildings in the sense they would be thought of in most civ of moo style games.

A planet could send PP from the empire pool, up to it's spending limit, to the system shipyards. The PP available at the system shipyards would be the sum of the PP sent by all planets in the system. If an order for ships is sent to the shipyards, any planet that's not building something more important (ie wonders) sends as many PP as it can to the shipyards (prioritized by empire-wide, probably).

If, after all the other projects have taken their cut of PP, a planet could spend up to its PP spending limit on building more factories, farms, mines and labs. These would probably cost 1 PP each to build, and additionally some minerals and food. They would build in one turn, and would not (individually) appear in the queue. They are the 'default' or fallback option to soak up extra PP that aren't being used elsewhere. It may also be necessary to have a "build infrastructure" order that would appear in the empire or planet build queue. This would specify a particular world or worlds that get priority for infrastructure development, up to their PP spending limits that turn.

(I'm not sure if PP are made from minerals, or allow you to spend minerals on things like ships and wonders... it doesn't really matter though)

How the PP allocated to infrastucture at a planet are spent depends on focus. All worlds need *some* industry, in order to have a decent PP spending limit in order to build whatever they're supposed to focus on. That said, what else gets built is determined by focus. Farm worlds build lots of farms in addition to some industry, lab worlds lots of labs, mining worlds lots of mines. All worlds would probably want to have at least a few of each facility though... but predominantly the focus building, and then industry (unless the focus is industry, in which case it's predominantly industry only). There wouldn't need to be an initial buildup period of focusing on industry before building the real focus buildings... the system works just fine if a uniform fraction (determined by focus) of infrastructure PP are spent on the various options... (and this is done automatically)

Based on the details of maintainance, facility construction and other such costs, a little experimentation will determine just what the optimal number of factories to have on a non-industry focused world is... I suspect something like 50 factories, 350 labs, 50 farms and 50 mines would be reasonable...

Additional things that could be added to the system include upgrades. When you discover a technology that lets you build better farms, they don't all suddenly produce twice the food. Instead, you spend a few PP on upgrading some facilties at a planet where you've already built a lot of older model facilities. I imagine the upgrade cost would be less than the fresh construction cost. Also, you could probably just build new facilities (upgraded) at the same cost as it always was to build to old ones.

The player wouldn't directly control the construction of facilities (farms, mines, labs, factories). They would be done based on the ratios indicated by focus settings. This avoids tons of pointless micromanagement, but maintains the benefits of the simulation system as discussed in previous posts. Example: Transition between two different focuses occurs naturally as you build more of the new focus' buildings, and optionally tear down (recycle?) the old focus' buildings.


I want a PP limit based on # factories, and not a generalized planet development level as proposed by drek and others, or by population alone for two main reasons. Firstly, it's easy to see how many PP your planet is producing... you just look at how many factories there are. I hate in GalCiv how there's no obvious indication of why a particular planet is producing 8 construction points... there's obviously some abstracted formula in there, but I don't understand it. I shouldn't have to look it up. Second, with a PP limit based on factories, and factories build in large quantities only at industrial worlds, it becomes necessary to have an industrial world to do any large production activities. This unifies industrial production (making PP) and capacity to spend (using PP), which is a conceptual simplification that appeals to me -> Industrial Worlds Build Stuff
PowerCrazy wrote: In dreks, mine and others proposals the strategy would be achieving the balance or research, industry, mining and farming planets.
That alone doesn't strike me as terribly meaningful or interesting strategy. If there's no penalty for *where* you put things, then what's the point in even having the different focuses for different planets? Why not just abstract away the whole empire's production into a few (shudder) sliders that let you set how much food, research, mining and production you do?
emrys wrote:so the strategic choices left to a player are: where and how to build their industrial planets to provide the PP for the empire pool.
The "where" isn't really an issue for planets to *provide* PP... they can be anywhere. All that matters with that system is that there are enough industrial planets making PP somewhere (anywhere) in the empire. "how" is also not an issue... you just set them to industrial focus.

My system requires player choice of a location to put an industrial world near where the ships that will presumably be produced will be used, and the strategic issues accompanying that choice.

(I may misunderstand parts of emrys' or others' proposals. If I have misrepresented something, I apolgize).
Last edited by Geoff the Medio on Fri Jun 18, 2004 2:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#314 Post by vishnou00 » Fri Jun 18, 2004 1:38 am

drek wrote:When you start calling for automated tools to do half the work, then obviously the system is either too complicated or too boring for the ordinary human player.
This is why only part of it is, the boring one (it's NOT too complicated). And it is not automated, it is abstracted.
-automation mimics user commands
-abstraction reproduce the result of user commands
drek wrote:In any case, you are reshaping the economy entirely. We've already had these discussions and after public review ended up with decisions. If I remember correctly, supply routes were explicitly rejected.
Supply route is ressource pooling, with delay and various degree of blockade. Neither of them were explicitly rejected. Ressource pooling is in imperial queue.

And please, reference your explicit rejections, as there is no central documentation.


Good post Geoff, especially the last part about *where*.

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#315 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jun 18, 2004 3:11 am

Some further thoughts for above proposal:

My model as above has no mention of population. Here's how it can be integrated:

Population is required to run all farms, mines, labs and factories. Likely 1 population point for each, but again this could vary with tech (especially for factories mines), race or planet conditions (especially for farms).

Thus population represents the maximum useful level of infrastructure development for a world. If you had as many facilities as your population could operate, no more would be built (though you could still spend PP to upgrade facilities with new tech discoveries). If you had extra facilities without population to run them, the world's focus setting would determine which facilities are used and which are not.

Biological warface, such as bioengineered plagues, becomes useful for attacking other empire's production centres without having to fight past their fleet.

Another obvious possibility is what happens with population points for whom there are no facilities etc. to work. Since facility production is tied to available PP (and perhaps minerals & food), there would likely arise instances where you have more population than facilities... such as right after founding a colony, or on a world where you've neglected to invest in infrastructure due to more pressing needs (ships, wonders).

In this case, the people could generate money!

In fact, as I've seen suggested, there could be a money planetary focus, the point of which is to *not* build facilities up to capacity, leaving large numbers of population without empire-sponsored jobs. In this case, a free market economy would spring up, causing people to produce lots of stuff for their own enjoyment. Without going into details of economic theory, in which I am not well versed, it seems reasonable that this could be a source of cash for the empire.

This type of money planet could be necessitated if population units working in empire-controlled facilities require payment from the empire treasury as well. Thus, like you need extra farm planets to feed people on reaserach, mining and industrial worlds, you also need money planets to pay them.

I see no need for a special money-facility... though one could be included if deemed necessary.

I would also hope that money would be used for espionage: destabilization of border worlds of other empires. See my factions brainstorming thread for a possible implimentation of this (though which doesn't actually discuss money much, and is probably too complicated as described).