Removing Food?

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Geoff the Medio
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Removing Food?

#1 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:22 am

I've been very lazily pondering a fairly large change to the economics / growth system presently in FreeOrion: Removing the food resource from the game.

One big advantage would be to eliminate the potentially confusing distinction between health, target population, and available food on planets. Most of the influence of available food could be folded into health and/or modifications to the target population of planets.

Issues with starvation and stockpiling quirks with the current blockading system would also mostly disappear.

Would there be any major problems with doing this?

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Re: Removing Food?

#2 Post by em3 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:22 pm

So the farming focus would be removed or would affect a planet's health?
Would there be blockading starvation at all?
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

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Re: Removing Food?

#3 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:31 pm

Farming focus might be renamed to something that sounds more inclusive of other non-food health-boosting effects. The range of these effects could include planets in nearby systems, possibly only when there is a non-obstructed (eg. by blockades) path between the systems. Thus, you'd still need a few "farming" focused planets, which would boost growth / population capacity of nearby planets, much like farming is supposed to work now.

If settling marginal planets, there might be insufficient inherent health to support their population without boosts from nearby health focused planets. Or, planets could develop high populations while receiving health boosts, and then if cut off would suddenly have a lower max population or lowered health, and could begin "starving" in effect. They'd loose population, possibly generating "starvation" messages, though having that be a concept in-game might not be necessary.

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Re: Removing Food?

#4 Post by em3 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:34 pm

This seems like an overcomplicated and unintuitive way of handling the concept of food supply.

When there is a resource called food, it is easy to find topics relating to it (farming, supply, starvation).

When there is no formalized concept of food supply, but just a bunch of effects that influence population in various ways, it can be harder to learn the game. Unless the knowledge base will provide a way to ind technologies basing on topics/tags... :|
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

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eleazar
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Re: Removing Food?

#5 Post by eleazar » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:13 pm

I'm certainly open to considering a simplification of resources-- as long as we look at it and make sure it actually turns out to be simpler in concept and practice.

Let me try to flesh out what Geoff may be talking about.

Instead of farming, perhaps we have a "Growth" focus. It represents the production of food, consumer goods, housing, domes-- whatever consumables are needed to maintain and expand population.

I don't really see how it could work without being a resource-- but it could work without being a stockpiled resource. Let's call the resource "GP". Every turn all GP's would be distributed to all connected planets in order of need. GPs are needed to maintain population and more GP are needed to grow population-- probably by feeding the health meter. Possibly the "health" meter should be changed to "habitability" meter. Depending on the EP of the planets, the planet would have a lower or greater "natural" habitability level without any GP going in to it. (similar to how health behaves now.)



I'm just kinda thinking out-loud. I'm not sure if this really addresses what Geoff is concerned about.

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Re: Removing Food?

#6 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:39 am

eleazar wrote:I don't really see how it could work without being a resource
Why not? What special property does a resource have that is particularly important for food / growth rate / target population boosting content?
...it could work without being a stockpiled resource. Let's call the resource "GP". Every turn all GP's would be distributed to all connected planets in order of need. GPs are needed to maintain population and more GP are needed to grow population-- probably by feeding the health meter.
Issues of how to distribute GP are partly why I wanted to make food not a resource at all. Instead of deciding how to partition up the supply to various planets using some rule the player might not like, why not make all things that would produce GP instead give a non-stacking bonus to target population of planets? So, if you had a farming focused planet nearby, it might give +1 to +5 to target population (depending on EP / size) to a planet. Having additional farming focused planets in overlapping range wouldn't give any additional benefit. Other content (eg. techs) might act on every planet the empire owns, without any range limits. Buildings might work similarly, or interact with the use of farming / growth focus. Planets might get a small bonus from being farming / growth focused themselves, but this should be quite limited to discourage potential micromangement issues.
Possibly the "health" meter should be changed to "habitability" meter. Depending on the EP of the planets, the planet would have a lower or greater "natural" habitability level without any GP going in to it. (similar to how health behaves now.)
What benefit would having this meter give over just modifying the target population meter, with growth occurring naturally in response to the difference between current and target population?
I'm just kinda thinking out-loud. I'm not sure if this really addresses what Geoff is concerned about.
More or less yes. Basically, we've got a number of similar statistics and systems - current population, target population, current health, target health, food allocation, food need, food production - which don't seem to be doing anything super exciting or important enough to warrant having all of them. Other games make do with fewer such statistics.

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Re: Removing Food?

#7 Post by eleazar » Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:16 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:I don't really see how it could work without being a resource
Why not? What special property does a resource have that is particularly important for food / growth rate / target population boosting content?
...it could work without being a stockpiled resource. Let's call the resource "GP". Every turn all GP's would be distributed to all connected planets in order of need. GPs are needed to maintain population and more GP are needed to grow population-- probably by feeding the health meter.
Issues of how to distribute GP are partly why I wanted to make food not a resource at all. Instead of deciding how to partition up the supply to various planets using some rule the player might not like, why not make all things that would produce GP instead give a non-stacking bonus to target population of planets? So, if you had a farming focused planet nearby, it might give +1 to +5 to target population (depending on EP / size) to a planet. Having additional farming focused planets in overlapping range wouldn't give any additional benefit. Other content (eg. techs) might act on every planet the empire owns, without any range limits. Buildings might work similarly, or interact with the use of farming / growth focus. Planets might get a small bonus from being farming / growth focused themselves, but this should be quite limited to discourage potential micromangement issues.
I agree the ideal partitioning problem is a thorny one.

However i'm not fond of the idea of making something as basic as a "growth focus" work on "nearby" planets. I realize we already have some effects that work in a limited range, but this introduces what would essentially be another distribution system. I think most planetary effects that go beyond a single planet should:
  • A) Effect only planets in the same system
    B) Effect planets connected by the resource network, or
    C) Effect all your planets.
B is nicely illustrated by the colored star lanes. Some sort of range-limited growth effect wouldn't be (weather calculated by direct distance or starlane jumps), and would be less obvious, more confusing, and/or probably require a toggled overlay to try to figure out what is going on.


That said, i'm not enamored with the system in my previous post, it only eliminated 1 stat: the food stockpile, which could of course also be done while still keeping the "food" concept.

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Re: Removing Food?

#8 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:58 am

eleazar wrote:[Resource network connections are] nicely illustrated by the colored star lanes. Some sort of range-limited growth effect wouldn't be (weather calculated by direct distance or starlane jumps), and would be less obvious, more confusing, and/or probably require a toggled overlay to try to figure out what is going on.
It's quite tempting to make other range-limited effects that wouldn't be appropriate to extend over the whole resource network... So there may be need for such UI tools regardless.

Perhaps food as a resource could still be used mainly to boost target population, but with a local spending limit for each planet. A spending limit for PP on a planet would also be useful to have for balance reasons, and I think has been discussed.

Import capacity for each movable resource might be determined by something straightforward... Perhaps industry produced on a planet determines its max PP spending at that location, but minerals may be produced locally or imported? Similarly, food would have some limit on how much can be applied to a given planet to boost its target population - perhaps the health meter? This could probably be done without a separate target and current health meter, since the effect on population is to alter its growth / decay rate and stable state by moving the goal, rather than causing an instant change, so there would be no need for a similar smoothing of the changes in health itself.

Still seems kludgy / complicated, but I'm not sure how else to determine how much food a planet can import. It needs to be limited in a very location-dependent way, since you don't want natural size 1 planets or size 25 planets being able to boost their target populations by the same amount all the time.

How this will work for an isolated planet is also interesting... Presumably planets will produce food at a rate dependent on their population in many cases, so there would be a feedback between food output and target population, and thus population growth rate, for planets that are growing while focused on "food" or "growth".

It does need to be called something other than "food" though, as it wouldn't make sense to have planets naturally have stable populations even when no food is available, and then have an increase in stable population when food becomes available...

Much of this above discussion makes me still want to have limited-range non-stacking boosts to target population when connected to a growth-focused planet. This is a mechanically quite simple system (few meters, no self-feedback issues) even if it requires some additional UI to illustrate the ranges where bonuses are being applied...

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Re: Removing Food?

#9 Post by eleazar » Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:10 am

Your'e not thinking of doing something about this before the full 0.4 release are you?

If not i'll mull it over and do more testing for now.

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Re: Removing Food?

#10 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:43 am

eleazar wrote:Your'e not thinking of doing something about this before the full 0.4 release are you?
Most definitely not.

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Re: Removing Food?

#11 Post by OllyG » Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:36 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:Basically, we've got a number of similar statistics and systems - current population, target population, current health, target health, food allocation, food need, food production - which don't seem to be doing anything super exciting or important enough to warrant having all of them. Other games make do with fewer such statistics.
I think removing health would be good. Everything which affects health could affect target population or maybe food need. Health only seems to be required by biological warfare, which could be done in a different way. The main effect of health now is on population growth, but food need and allocation could be used for this instead, rather than being filtered through health. Planets with insufficent food should reduce target population, which should then make current population drop slowly if it is above target. Using percentages might be good here, with a minimum of 0.1 loss per turn, so planets take a long time to die of starvation.

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Re: Removing Food?

#12 Post by eleazar » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:00 am

What is the point of "Food Consumption"?
It always seems to be a number identical to "Population".

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Re: Removing Food?

#13 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:12 am

eleazar wrote:What is the point of "Food Consumption"?
It always seems to be a number identical to "Population".
It determines how much food a species / planet needs to avoid starvation penalties. Currently it is always the same as population, but it could be modified when appropriate, such as if a species needed very little or no food, or needed extra food.

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Re: Removing Food?

#14 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:24 am

An advantage to replacing food as a resource with simpler bonuses to planet target population from nearby farming/growth focused plants or buildings or techs would be to make things work universally and consistently for species that don't consume "food". For food-eating species, there would be a set of content that gives bonuses as above, but these wouldn't have any effect on the target population of robotic, energy, or rock/silicon based species.

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Re: Removing Food?

#15 Post by eleazar » Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:17 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:An advantage to replacing food as a resource with simpler bonuses to planet target population from nearby farming/growth focused plants or buildings or techs would be to make things work universally and consistently for species that don't consume "food". For food-eating species, there would be a set of content that gives bonuses as above, but these wouldn't have any effect on the target population of robotic, energy, or rock/silicon based species.
We could redefine the "food" into something more generally applicable to robots and silicoids, etc. (and i think we should really look into it) weather or not me make those other changes.

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