Distibuted production models

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tzlaine
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Distibuted production models

#1 Post by tzlaine » Sun Apr 11, 2004 7:48 pm

The discussion about up-front mineral costs brought up the issue of empire-wide production.

This is something that we discussed at length in the original forums, now lost forever. The consensus was that the abstract system that MOO3 used for ship deployment was pretty nice, since it kept you from needing the move a bunch of individual ships from a bunch of different places to form a fleet. It gets rid of most of the problematic details. The consensus was that we should have some sort of reserve system that allows you to do the same thing. This is especially important if we have lots and lots of ships.

There was some related discussion, for which there was no clear consensus, about disributed production.

There were three camps that I remember.

1) Production happens at a planet. After all, production has to happen somewhere, so each planet has its own production queue(s).

Advantages: Familiarity. Lotsa realism (eew, gross!).
Disadvantages: Micro hell for large-galaxy games.

2) Production happens at the system level. Each system is pretty much a neighborhood to a spacefaring race, so each system has its own production queue(s).

Advantages: It's a happy medium between micro hell and the completely wacky #3. Some realism (icky!), if abstracted.
Disadvantages: It's only micro heck instead of micro hell, but it doesn't necessarily help enough for really large games.

3) Production happens at the empire level. #2 is still too micro for an imperial ruler to mess with, so the entire empire has the production queue(s).

Advantages: It allows you to set the big picture all in one go, as a galactic ruler actually might.
Disadvantages: Where the hell do the results of production go if you build them at the empire level? It's completely insane; who ever heard of such a wierd system?


There was also another discussion in which a lot of people wanted to make shipyards more significant by making them really valuable in terms of production, really expensive, and therefore really important strategic targets. I like this idea a lot.

I bring this thing about the shipyards up because I like #3 above a lot, and I think they could be very complimentary.

This is how I'd like to do things:

- You have a certain amount of production empire-wide, and you can specify as many things as you like for production. You can build part of one gigantic item, or 100 small items, or any such combination. Production is divided into mobile units (ships, etc.), and infrastucture (buildings, if we have them, fixed defenses, etc.).

- The mobile units are not placed anywhere when you build them, but are considered "reserves". Reserve units can be formed into fleets or placed individually, and the time it takes to place them depends on the distance from the nearest shipyard to the place you want to place them. The implication of this is that mobile units are only built at shipyards.

- If at any time you want to reorganize your fleets, you can take some or all of them and put them in reserve. At that point, it would take them a time that depends on their distance from the nearest shipyard to become available for redeployment, upgrading, etc. You can also reorganize your fleets without placing them in reserve first, if you prefer, or if they are not moving too far.

- The infrastucture/immobile units are placed at the systems where you want them. There is a delivery surcharge for building things at a developing destination planet. The surcharge is proportional to the "development" level of the destination (its level of industry, focus, or some similar game mechanism). There is some level of devlopment that is considered "fully developed", and such destination systems incur no delivery costs. This just establishes the need to develop you systems, or rather the increased difficulty inherent in producing something new at a planet that specializes in something other than production. This is necessary because of the distributed production model itself; if there were no surcharge, it would be just as easy to build a missile base on a research world as on a factory world, which would largely eliminate the point of plaetary foci.

This level of abstraction can reap large benefits in terms of micro avoidance. If you discover a new weapon tech and update your ship designs, you can then go to one place to change all your production, or one place to do all your upgrades. You can also use the redeployment feature to shift most or all of your fleets from one side of your empire to the other in an abstracted way, without having to move 50 fleets by hand. That would make me and a lot of other people very happy.

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#2 Post by Ablaze » Sun Apr 11, 2004 8:16 pm

I defiantly favor making shipyards really strategic and rare things. I think it should take approximately 20 planets to support 1 shipyard and that each shipyard should be attached to a particular system.

I also think you should be able to move a shipyard, but it should take a few turns and a significant monetary investment. That way you could keep your production near the front line or in core, well defended, worlds depending on how many risks you want to take.
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#3 Post by utilae » Sun Apr 11, 2004 9:22 pm

What about a fourth option?

Production happens at the planet level, system level and empire level. So there is a planet production queue, a system production queue and an empire production queue.

-Empire production queue overides the system and planet production queues.
-System production queue overides the planet production queue.

So you could set the production queue on the empire level and then use the system and planet production queues to be specific.
eg.
-In the empire production queue you set all planets to build research.
-Then in the system production queue you set five systems to be set to production.
-Then in the planet production queue you set one planet to farming.

<if need be we could just have empire and system and leave out planet level production queues, to reduce the micro>

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#4 Post by Sandlapper » Mon Apr 12, 2004 1:34 am

I don't know how feasible this would be, but what if you had a core group of systems, maybe 20-30, that you base your empire production on. You develope and dictate how production is run, at least to the system level, for this core group. Then this core group creates a model empire that future systems are built by. The computer mimics this core empire, like systems have like production, based on the model.

Obviously, the key is having an efficient model programed. If you are keying production on ship building, then the model mimics this on like systems outside of the core. Ideally, with a perfect model and perfect empire, if you had 25 core systems and overall 125 systems, you would have, say, the core producing 2 colony ships and 10 battleships, then the empire produces 10 colony ships and 50 battleships. The primary exception to this would be border worlds, with their defensive needs. So perhaps two models, one for borders and one for interior systems.

The attempt here is to automate empire growth and production, without excessive micro, you merely micro the core. However the game engine does not assume what's best, but copies what you are already doing with empire production. No suprises when you check in on any system, it's merely following your lead. If you suddenly change all you core systems production to defensive nature, then the rest of your empire follows suit.

This is similar in effect to the US federal government giving environmental dictates to industry production in individual states. The federal government is the empire model, the states are the systems outside the model, conforming to the dictates.

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#5 Post by spiff » Mon Apr 12, 2004 1:59 am

i like the idea of empire wide production, especially for mobile (i guess mainly military) units. makes things much nicer and easier. using reserves to do this would make it possible. perhaps we would have a large number (number of planets?) of parellel, empire wide build queues?

as for realism (i kind of get a feeling people have strong feelings either way on this...) its not urealistic at all to have production spread over many worlds - one world can't be expected to produce all the specialist parts for a large project, it must import from other places. thats why a big empire is good :)

as for planet specific things, the surcharge could work, but might it not be simpler to just present all the planets build queues on a single screen?

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#6 Post by drek » Mon Apr 12, 2004 2:45 am

Interesting tzlaine.

This might cut micro enough to make the present galaxy sizes playable.

Pondering...

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#7 Post by tzlaine » Mon Apr 12, 2004 4:19 am

utilae wrote:What about a fourth option?

Production happens at the planet level, system level and empire level. So there is a planet production queue, a system production queue and an empire production queue.

-Empire production queue overides the system and planet production queues.
-System production queue overides the planet production queue.

So you could set the production queue on the empire level and then use the system and planet production queues to be specific.
eg.
-In the empire production queue you set all planets to build research.
-Then in the system production queue you set five systems to be set to production.
-Then in the planet production queue you set one planet to farming.

<if need be we could just have empire and system and leave out planet level production queues, to reduce the micro>
I think you're confusing production and focus. The things above ("building" research vs. "building" production) are covered by planetary focus; the actual items built (a ship, a defense base) are covered by production.

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#8 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Apr 12, 2004 4:26 am

It's rather important to seperate game effect (where production occurs) from UI (where production is managed from)

You should in any game model be able to manage your production from the empire level
(For example while in Civ 3 production occurs at the city level, you can manage it empire wide with their governors)

If all production is actually done on an empire level, that is like rush building with no penalty (all of your 100 developed worlds can instantly build up the new colony world..)

Now I definitely think production of planetary economies should be managable on the empire level (with something like an actually usefull version of MOO/Civ 3s devplans/governors) (and our Focus system should simplify that)

Management of fleet buildup can just as easily be done on an empire level.. although if shipyards are to be important centralized facilities, they should have a cheap way of importing production to build their massive ships.

So I woiuld stick with production in a game effect being at the local level, but would make sure that the player can effectively manage it at the imperial level (especially since it shjould be fairly basic for a given planet.. ie set the focus, as well as how much it is going to spend on development v. defense v. shipbuilding)

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#9 Post by tzlaine » Mon Apr 12, 2004 4:30 am

spiff wrote:as for planet specific things, the surcharge could work, but might it not be simpler to just present all the planets build queues on a single screen?
It may actually be simpler to do as you suggest, but then you don't get the micro-avoidance advantages. If you are just using each planet to build its immobile production from a common interface, you still have to keep track to some extent of which planets are coming along and which are not.

For instance, I often rush-build certain buildings on young colonies in MOO2, to bring them up to speed eariler. But this means I have to visit these young colonies several turns in a row, and do the rush-building I want. For large numbers of planets, this gets old fast. If instead I were producing things at the empire level, I could just produce the desired upgrades or facilities all at once, then place them.

All this really means is that whenever I get the idea to do a bunch of upgrades or any other changes to a bunch of systems all at once, I can use the entire empire's production to get the job done in a turn or two, instead of several, using one empire-wide set of production queues, instead of several planetary ones.

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#10 Post by drek » Mon Apr 12, 2004 5:34 am

Krikkitone wrote: If all production is actually done on an empire level, that is like rush building with no penalty (all of your 100 developed worlds can instantly build up the new colony world..)
Combine tzlaine's idea of a global build queue with PC's idea of infrastructure from the buildings thread.

Each world builds up it's own infrastructure score at a slow and steady pace, independent of the Industry generated by the game-rules. Each world donates Industry to the empire, the same way Research is handled by the empire.

Building is then handled a lot like research projects. Maybe each build project has a set number of turns and Industry cost per turn, the same as Research projects. It could the same basic UI.

The only projects to build aside from ships would be Wonder like mega-buildings (limited one per planet?), Terraforming, and maybe even Colonization. Given the epic scale of Wonders and Terraforming, it makes sense that the rest of the worlds in an empire would help out. An empire-wide build queue makes the process easy, without having to send supply convoys like in SMaC or Civ.

Tzlaine's global build queue + Powercrazy's Infrastructure eliminates most of the tedious micromanagement in the game. I think it's a winner.

Problems:

* It is nice to have a little micro. It's cool to have something on the local level for the player to fiddle with, so long as it doesn't become overwhelming. Otherwise, the worlds stand a chance of losing their individual character.

* The global build queue amplifies the potential for exponential expansion. In my mind, one of the main limits on exponential l expansion in Civ-type games is the tedium of juggling 50 different build queues.

Solution?
I'm going off on a tangent now, an added wrinkle to re-introduce some micro without overwhelming the player:

There's certain types of potential "projects" that have been occasionally discussed that don't really fit into this build model....like "Explore Ancient Ruins", "Enact Edict", "Quell Rebellion". Terraforming, Wonder-building and perhaps colonization might fit into this list as well.

These might be Leader actions. Give each empire 5 or 6 leader slots, each type of leader capable of performing a different list of actions. The idea here is to limit actions to a local scale based on the location of the leaders, so that the player isn't overwhelmed by choice. If a Leader type unit is performing a project, it would dip into the same global Industry queue as shipbuilding.

It would also limit exponential expansion if you *needed* certain leader types to be present for certain actions. If you need a trailblazer type character to colonize you could never be colonizing more worlds than you have Leaders.

A Grand Architect might, for example:
* Build Wonder-type projects.
* Terraform
* Improve the rate at which planets improve their infrastructure

A top level Administrator type character might:
* Quell Rebellions
* Enact Edicts
* Improve the rate at which populations grow

A trailblazing explorer might:
* Colonize systems
* Explore certain planet specials
* Improve infrastructure and populations on newly colonized worlds

A Fleet Admiral could:
* Draw ships out of reserves without having to have a shipyard Wonder present
* Give combat bonuses to fleets

The sort of empire the player wants to run is partially shaped by what sort of leaders he recruits from the available pool. As an empire's population increases, techs are researched, and wonder built, the available pool of leaders increases. For example, researching Spy type techs might introduce shady cloak and dagger type leaders to the mix. Researching advanced military tactics might draw better Admirals from your empire’s ranks.

(the other solution that springs to mind is IFPs. Imperial Focus Points from Moo3's orginal design)

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#11 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Apr 12, 2004 7:23 am

That might work.

Each world's 'Infrastructure' has a Growth Rate and by diverting away from that growth rate you get the world's production. (as you would divert all of it when the world reached maximum allowed development level)

Wait there's a bit of a problem... That means that to feed your people, you would have to start out with Food as the Major Focus, since that what you want that excess diverted from Infrastructure to be.

No I think it is a lot simpler if each of the 5 Resources has a seperate 'Maximum Level' and 'Current Level' That way a change of Focus is just building the new and scrapping the old.

Perhaps industry is imperialized, but then each planet can consume Up to a certain amount to grow their infrastructure (ie a maximum of X% growth rate in all Resources Infrastructure levels which would take production away from ships, but the Infrastructure's output would be constant..actually constantly growing but not zero for a while and then suddenly appearing. That way you wouldn't have to make all new worlds industrial to start, their growth rate would be independent of their focus and would only depend on your overall industrial strength)

So your capacity to Buildup a planet would then be limited to a constant rate of expansion on the planet (although you could have some type of diminishing returns... growing any Resource Sector at more than an X% increase in the number of levels would require more than the normal expense of 1 PP per Level)

The Local Production wouldn't limit the world's ability to develop buildings but it Would then limit the world's ability to build spacecraft/shipyards/defensive structures/probably any 'Wonder' or special type buildings.





Just a second..For something almost completely unrelated.. I thought of a possible application for Late Game Food... Food is not only the resource you use to feed your people, it is also the resource you use to terraform and maintain terraforming (allowing a higher max population).. this also gives 'non food eaters' a use for food... they can survive anywhere but to expand their population, they need to 'farm'

[since food tech is the area where environmental techs take place, as well as the fact that 'food' in a space game is sort of a generic 'life support'... Terraforming devices could be looked on as 'super farms'.]

This way Food isn't something to completely ignore late game.

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#12 Post by drek » Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:34 am

Krikkitone wrote: Each world's 'Infrastructure' has a Growth Rate and by diverting away from that growth rate you get the world's production.
I was thinking infrastructure improvement would be automatic and would *not* divert from the current Industry. There *should not* be a slider for each world to determine how much industry is applied to infrastructure....that just reintroduces tedious micromanagement.

I'm thinking a steady 3 point improvement every turn, starting at a score of 1 point for a new colony. Certain technologies and leaders would improve this rate. The max infrastructure would be capped by enviromental preference...Optimal worlds can reach the full 100% infrastructure score, the worst enviroments would be capped at 20%.

Changing focus would reduce infrastructure by 50%, changing secondary focus would reduce it by 10%. Infrastructure would also be reduced by battles, famine, and unrest. A colony that dips below 1% infrastructure would be considered destroyed.

The new economic forumla (for each resource) would be:

(focus muliplier + racial, government, technology, planet modifiers) * population * infrastructure


I guess you are saying more or less the same thing here:
but the Infrastructure's output would be constant..actually constantly growing but not zero for a while and then suddenly appearing. That way you wouldn't have to make all new worlds industrial to start, their growth rate would be independent of their focus and would only depend on your overall industrial strength)
Food is not only the resource you use to feed your people, it is also the resource you use to terraform and maintain terraforming
I had the same thought. Make it lots and lots of food, so that terraforming is difficult early game.

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#13 Post by tzlaine » Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:12 pm

Krikkitone wrote:It's rather important to seperate game effect (where production occurs) from UI (where production is managed from)

You should in any game model be able to manage your production from the empire level
(For example while in Civ 3 production occurs at the city level, you can manage it empire wide with their governors)

If all production is actually done on an empire level, that is like rush building with no penalty (all of your 100 developed worlds can instantly build up the new colony world..)

Now I definitely think production of planetary economies should be managable on the empire level (with something like an actually usefull version of MOO/Civ 3s devplans/governors) (and our Focus system should simplify that)

Management of fleet buildup can just as easily be done on an empire level.. although if shipyards are to be important centralized facilities, they should have a cheap way of importing production to build their massive ships.

So I woiuld stick with production in a game effect being at the local level, but would make sure that the player can effectively manage it at the imperial level (especially since it shjould be fairly basic for a given planet.. ie set the focus, as well as how much it is going to spend on development v. defense v. shipbuilding)
Moving the UI to an empire-wide level doesn't change the fundamental need to micromanage individual planets. You said as much yourself at the top of the post :"It's rather important to seperate game effect (where production occurs) from UI (where production is managed from)."

See my previous post, in which I addressed this issue as brought up by Spiff.

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#14 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Apr 12, 2004 6:00 pm

We do agree on some stuff but I would disagree with these
drek wrote: I was thinking infrastructure improvement would be automatic and would *not* divert from the current Industry.

The max infrastructure would be capped by enviromental preference...Optimal worlds can reach the full 100% infrastructure score, the worst enviroments would be capped at 20%.

Changing focus would reduce infrastructure by 50%, changing secondary focus would reduce it by 10%.
The problem is if infrastructure growth doesn't cost anything, then there is no trade-off or flexibility in economic growth vs. expansion, militarism, or technology. It essentially removes a strategic option, do we want to get advanced technologies fast, build up a more powerful fleet to invade our neighbor, colonize, keep our people happy, OR improve infrastructure now so I can do those things later.

The only choice you would be making then in terms of production would be what ships do I want to build with it , military or colonial (unless the special buildings were numerous with large effects)

Admittedly my approach would probably have a 'slider' probably for each planet. However,
By incorporating your idea of a fixed % growth rate (which to me meand adding a certain % of the current Infrastructure level ie when at 100 you add 4, when at 200 you add 8)
All you need to say is how much Empire wide is devoted to economic growth (the maximum amount possible or some % of it ie an imperial level slider)
And then pick out the exceptions [which could probably be handled in a dev plan ie I want to build more in Mineral Focused worlds devote less to Food Focused worlds because I have a food glut and mineral shortage.]


Also by splitting infrastructure among the various Resources, and making infrastructure actually costs something, the transition from one focus to another would be smooth in terms of overall output remaining the same, but still costly and slow.

I definitely wouldn't limit Infrastructure by environment because the population is already limited by environment so that just results in a double penalty. I would limit Usable infrastructure to the population that was on the planet.. so the people COULD keep building infrastructure, but it would never get used

So my formula would have 2 parts

1. Determine the Population to Infrastructure Ratio (PIR)
PIR= Total population / {Sum for all resources(Infrastructure for a Resource/TechModifier for that Resource)}
[Basically just dividing the population among the 5 resources according to how much they are needed]

2. The Output of a specific Resource would then be
Output= (Base Rate* Racial Bonus* Environmental Bonuses* Tech level* Infrastructure Level)* Minimum of (PIR or 1)

A PIR of less than 1 indicates a planet that is 'overdeveloped' ie more factories/farms/labs/mines/banks than there are population units to work in them, caused by something like biological warfare, Xenocide, famine, etc. This would result in the infrastructure levels slowly declining automatically (unless the player wanted excess infrastructure scrapped immediately which would be reasonable if it had maintenance costs)

By changing the Focus, Infrastructure building would occur first in resources that were farthest below their target levels for the current population of the planet, resources that were actually above their new target levels would be scrapped once the PIR was less than 1. (ie once overall productivity was at its max)

Environment could/should probably limit the growth rate of infrastructure .. either by dropping the allowed growth rate or by increasing the cost of adding levels.


tzlaine wrote:
Moving the UI to an empire-wide level doesn't change the fundamental need to micromanage individual planets. You said as much yourself at the top of the post :"It's rather important to seperate game effect (where production occurs) from UI (where production is managed from)."
Yes as long as there is any player influenced difference between planets, then there will be micro ie planetary level management. However by limiting the complexity of player decisions, the micromanagement can become something which can be comfortably turned over to a macromanagement tool, ie semi automation.

FO each planet only has 5 decisions to make so far with regard to individual planets (with my building proposal)

1. Major Focus
2. Minor Focus
3. What Ships to build there
4. What Special buildings to build there
5. How much Infrastructure to build there, something that is likely to almost always be at the maximum if that maximum is reasonably low (..indeed one could have it so that least developed worlds (not necessarily new but with lowest infrastructure to population) got automatic first dibs on the imperial development money.

With Foci and Infrastructure levels, the advantage is there are no 'planetary queues' for economic development the only queues are those that involve 4. and 3. (special buildings and ships) which if they are truly 'special buildings' makes them rare dropping out repetitive micromanagement from buildings altogether leaving ships, which is another thread altogether.

Some special buildings might be very common ie Defensive structures but that is probably handleable by some simple setting (desired defense level on planet.. that then draws from imperial defense base plans like MOO1)
Last edited by Krikkitone on Mon Apr 12, 2004 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#15 Post by Ranos » Mon Apr 12, 2004 6:01 pm

Forgive me for I did not read any other posts other than the first one, which I didn't even finish, before making this post. I wanted to through out my thoughts.

I dislike all three suggestions. Now as insane as that sounds, hear me out. My idea also makes shipyards extremely strategically important as well as adds more realism than any other TBS game to unit building and solves the problem of where ships deploy to when completed.

Instead of the old system where every planet builds up its own shipyard and produces its own ships which you somehow have to get together to form a fleet. MOO3 solved that last part with the, as far as I'm concerned, unrealistic and asinine reserve. Every ship instantly disappears when it is completed and reappears in the reserve box universe. When you are ready for it, poof, it reappears in our univers at the spot you designated but boy it sure takes a long time to go from planet to planet. Anyway that is a topic for the rant and rave forum. Back to the topic at hand.

If were to read some of the Star Wars books, not the ones that are movies but some of the other sixty or seventy that take place afterward, you would see that there are only a few planets ever mentioned that have shipyards. My idea is this: You only have one shipyard for every ten or fifteen planets in your empire, but it can build multiple different ships at once. The shipyards would have to be built at a planet and that planets focus would be nothing but building ships. I posted this in another thread but after posting, I noticed that someone had revived it after it had been dead for a few months. here is some of what I poster there:

If you have 20 planets in your empire, only one or two would have shipyards, but those shipyards would be capable of building multiple ships at once. The rest of the planets would send pp to this planet so the ships could be built. Call me longwinded, but follow me on the building of this ship producing planet:

--The planet is colonized.
--Its industrial base is built.
--You decide to use it as a ship producing world.
--You build the first shipyard which is automatically capable of building the largest ship design you have, but only one.
--The game continues and you are getting more and more planets and more and more pp.
--You add a second bay to the shipyard. Now you can build two ships at once.
--You just finished researching the next design size. You can already build it in your shipyard. Why? You tell your military researchers to design a larger ship type. They start working on the design. As they are working on it, the size specifications are finalized and sent to the ship produsing planet. They immediately begin upgrading the shipyard to accomidate the larger design. When the design is finished, so are the upgrades. You may now commence construction of the newest and greatest ship in your fleet.
--As the game goes on and you continue to increase, you continue to build additional bays on the shipyard.

This makes for more strategic points in wars. Instead of having to take every world before you can stop worrying about facing the big ships, you try to take the ship produsing worlds, or if the enemy has too many ships there, you take all the worlds with starlanes to it, effectively cutting off its supply of pp and forcing it to abandon all but one or two ships being built.

There would have to be a maximum on the number of bays that could be constructed per planet and empire wide. Something like ten or fifteen per planet and a fromula for the empire maximum. Maybe one per planet in the empire or 1.5 per planet.

Now for the multiple ships being built at one shipyard, it wouldn't be the annoying MOO3 way. Ship A takes 5 truns to buld so buildding 5 would take 25 truns and 25 turns later you get 5 of that one ship. This would be a screen in which you would either micro and tell Shipyard 1, Bay 1 (S1B1) to build ship A and S1B2 to build ship B and so on or you have a supervisor and tell him how many of each kind of ship you want built and he will order the Docks and Bays to build the specific ships.

Lets say you have four different ship designs, A, B, C and D. A takes 2 turns to build; B, 4; C, 6; D, 8. You have four bays on a shipyard. You tell B1 to build A, 2 to build B, 3 to build C and 4 to buld D. After two turns, you have a working A that is on its way to the rally point or is ready for orders B1 begins building another A and the rest of the bays have completed two turns of work on their ships. Two turns later, you have another A and a B. Now you have two As and a B to use. I can go on, but I think you get the idea.

This would be a more realistic and, for me, a more enjoyable way of doing ship building. Now I am not a prgrammer so I don't know how complex that would be to put into the game nor do I particularly care. I'm just throwing out my idea for discussion/consideration.

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