Considering Strategic Resources

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eleazar
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Considering Strategic Resources

#1 Post by eleazar »

Here are the the most relevant discussions of strategic resources i could find.

Since adding in such resources would probably break again stuff that is currently unbalanced or broken, i think now is a good time to consider this topic.

Strategic Resources

Special Research Resources

Special elements


Though depending on how you define it already have some special resources, such as Neutronium, and Space monster nests.

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#2 Post by marhawkman »

I need to try the new version to see if I can get it to work. :D (and yeah I bumped the other thread before reading this one)
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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#3 Post by eleazar »

Minimal Strategic Resources Proposal

I've read the old threads, and given it some thought, and i now see how strategic resources could fit right into FreeOrion. I make no claims to originality. I'm just picking from various ideas, and putting them together in a way that IMHO works.

I'm calling this the Minimal Strategic Resources Proposal, because it requires little or no new code, and basically takes what we're already doing and goes further with it. More elaborate takes on Strategic resources are possible.

While these resources provide significant benefits, and sometimes unlock stuff you wouldn't otherwise be able to get-- your empire should never be seriously crippled because you don't have a particular resource (like Civ Iron or Oil). In fact, most competitive empires should have a very incomplete set of these resources-- unless they have conquered most of the galaxy. The varied portfolio of resources you acquire should add significantly to replay-ability, and the the possibility of finding a strategic resource should provide a strong motivation exploration.

These are usually planetary specials, but might be a species, or even a star type. Often, a technology, building, or focus may be required to gain the use of the resource.

There could be two kinds, but the first is the most important.

Bonus Resources
Bonus Resources provide a flat, bonus for the entire empire. Possessing duplicates doesn't benefit an empire, except as a backup and by keeping them out of the hands of your enemies. Most of the important meter/stats in the game could have a Bonus resource that boosts them, such as:
  • Population ---One for each EP?
    Minerals --- Exotic Elements?
    Industry --- Friendly Precursor Nanites?
    Research ---Computronium Moons (altered from current implementation)
    Armor ---Neutronium i.e. Neutron stars
    Weapons --- Foo Focusing Crystals?
    Ship Speed --- ??
    Detection --- ??
    Stealth --- ??
    Espionage --- Telepathic species

Limited Resources
(In Civ terminology these specifically would be called "strategic resources")
Possession of a limited resource allows the owner to build a limited number of ships or buildings -- probably one for one. If you have more of these, you can build more stuff.
Black holes would make a great limited resource. A black hole might be required to build a single galaxy-spanning wormhole, or be required to build the ultimate system-destroying super weapon.


Other
Better implemented Domesticate-able space monsters could belong to either category depending how they are implemented.

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#4 Post by Geoff the Medio »

I thought the motivation for talking about strategic resources now was removing minerals as a resource, and having mining focus instead be one of several means to extract strategic resources. This minimal proposal doesn't have that feature, so what's the point really?

"Bonus" resources as you suggest more-or-less already exist in the form of specials, except the specials act on a more limited area or single object, and often have good and bad effects. This seems more interesting to me than resources that always affect a whole empire and are only good.

Having strategic resources (that unlock things or improve things produce at their location) also only work on a single planet or system also makes them less prone to being balance-breaking and game-winning on their own, particularly if there are production spending limits at a single location.

Is there a reason not to use the term "strategic resources"? "Limited" is even vaguer, to the point of meaninglessness.

If present, distributable resources should probably be limited by resource sharing connections when applicable. Physical material resources would likely have this limitation.

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#5 Post by eleazar »

Geoff the Medio wrote:Is there a reason not to use the term "strategic resources"? "Limited" is even vaguer, to the point of meaninglessness.
We've been using "strategic resources" as the umbrella term, but to clarify thing and to remain consistent with civ usage which these are largely inspired by, i'll hereafter use the term "Special resources" as the umbrella term, and "Strategic resources" for those that have some sort of quantity limitiation.
Geoff the Medio wrote:I thought the motivation for talking about strategic resources now was removing minerals as a resource, and having mining focus instead be one of several means to extract strategic resources. This minimal proposal doesn't have that feature, so what's the point really?
That's why i looked into it, because you mentioned seeing a connection between Special resources and the elimination of mining. I didn't see that, but came up with this.
Geoff the Medio wrote:"Bonus" resources as you suggest more-or-less already exist in the form of specials, except the specials act on a more limited area or single object, and often have good and bad effects. This seems more interesting to me than resources that always affect a whole empire and are only good.
What's the point?
  • * To create high strategic value in certain locations, so that players might go to war merely to possess another Special resource.
    * To reward exploration, add variety to planets.
    * To add a random element that effects what strategies a player might most likely succeed at.
While I'm not against some of these special resources having negative sides, especially at the source planet --when it matches the concept-- (monster nests might hurt population for instance), i can't agree that the sort of good&bad planetary specials you first added to the game are more interesting. For instance Eccentric Orbit & Tidal Lock. They add variety to the planets, and i don't want to eliminate them, but they don't matter much. Finding one isn't cause for excitement. They hardly touch the strategic balance of the game.

Geoff the Medio wrote:Having strategic resources (that unlock things or improve things produce at their location) also only work on a single planet or system also makes them less prone to being balance-breaking and game-winning on their own, particularly if there are production spending limits at a single location.
True, but in a game with potentially thousands of planets, a locally limited bonus can only ever be of limited importance. And it's not like i only proposed one of these. If there are a dozen different kinds of "game-winning" specials about, and everybody has several by mid-game, they won't really be "game-winning" will they?

I thought you were the biggest fan of Special resources, but it seems you mean something totally different by it.
Geoff the Medio wrote:If present, distributable resources should probably be limited by resource sharing connections when applicable. Physical material resources would likely have this limitation.
I agree.

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#6 Post by Bigjoe5 »

Here's a crazy idea: Why not make some strategic resources stockpilable?

In fact, why not make only strategic resources stockpilable? There are already murmurings of merging mining and industry into a single "Production" value, and there's no greatly compelling reason I can think of to keep Trade as the only stockpiled primary resource - IIRC trade isn't limited by resource supply connections, so the "buffer before you start to suffer" reasoning doesn't really apply.
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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#7 Post by eleazar »

Bigjoe5 wrote:Here's a crazy idea: Why not make some strategic resources stockpilable?
If we're:
A) simplifying things by taking away stockpiles from resources that everyone needs, and
B) giving stockpiles to optional special resources that you may or may not have.
It looks like we're simultaneously trying to reach two mutually exclusive design directions.
Bigjoe5 wrote:There are already murmurings of merging mining and industry into a single "Production" value...
If we merged them, i would argue that the new "Production" should be stockpile-able, to give it the good points of both the originals.

To your "why not?" i reply "why?"

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#8 Post by Geoff the Medio »

eleazar wrote:...the sort of good&bad planetary specials you first added to the game are [not] interesting. For instance Eccentric Orbit & Tidal Lock. They ... don't matter much. Finding one isn't cause for excitement. They hardly touch the strategic balance of the game.
The existing specials are not particularly interesting or important, but that doesn't mean there can't be interesting and important specials that have strategically significant positive and negative effects.

If a particular very useful special has significant negative and positive effects when a planet is set to a particular focus, those effects could be distributed across an empire and be very strategically significant. It's probably best to avoid surprises like naturally-occurring hidden specials that have major negative effects if their planet is colonized, but with a focus-dependence, things can get interesting with the good and bad results.
Geoff the Medio wrote:Having strategic resources (that unlock things or improve things produce at their location) also only work on a single planet or system also makes them less prone to being balance-breaking and game-winning on their own, particularly if there are production spending limits at a single location.
True, but in a game with potentially thousands of planets, a locally limited bonus can only ever be of limited importance. [...] If there are a dozen different kinds of "game-winning" specials about, and everybody has several by mid-game, they won't really be "game-winning" will they?
There should be ways to create specials that have localized benefits that actually do matter strategically, but which aren't game-winning (or game-breaking, seemingly). If a particular very-useful ship part can only be built at a certain planet, or can be built there for significantly less cost / faster, or all ships built at a planet get some benefit that's impossible or difficult to get otherwise (like building units in cities near metal in Master of Magic), or a branch of the content tree requires several planets with a particular uncommon special to be useful, those planets could be very strategically important, but not nearly as game-breaking as just having one of a special applied a powerful change everywhere in an empire. It's a matter of balancing, and having limited area of effect or extra steps to activate things allows much more interesting and independently significant effects of a special than would be workable otherwise. The idea is not that finding such a planet wins the player the game, but rather that finding such a planet might be a goal for a player to enable a strategy, or might motivate a player to change to a strategy that it enables.
I thought you were the biggest fan of Special resources, but it seems you mean something totally different by it.
I don't know what you mean by that.
Bigjoe5 wrote:why not make ... strategic resources stockpilable?
Because strategic resources and (presumably) generally distribution-limited, as in they need a resource connection between planets to share at least in some cases. Things that are distribution-limited and stockpilable have problems with game mechanics and interface that I'd like to avoid, such as questions like "where is the stockpile?" for which there is no good answer yet proposed.

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#9 Post by Bigjoe5 »

eleazar wrote:Limited Resources
(In Civ terminology these specifically would be called "strategic resources")
Possession of a limited resource allows the owner to build a limited number of ships or buildings -- probably one for one. If you have more of these, you can build more stuff.
Black holes would make a great limited resource. A black hole might be required to build a single galaxy-spanning wormhole, or be required to build the ultimate system-destroying super weapon.
I do like this idea. I'm also interesting in removing the Terraforming and possibly Gaia Transformation buildings, and have these things done by domesticated space monsters, to get rid of the "build-on-every-planet"-ness of Terraforming.
eleazar wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:Here's a crazy idea: Why not make some strategic resources stockpilable?
If we're:
A) simplifying things by taking away stockpiles from resources that everyone needs, and
B) giving stockpiles to optional special resources that you may or may not have.
It looks like we're simultaneously trying to reach two mutually exclusive design directions.

To your "why not?" i reply "why?"
I suppose you're right... I guess what I'm really after is not to have them stockpilable, necessarily, but mainly to have them quantified as a resource. I'm not a big fan of the empire-wide bonus thing, at least not for something that one would typically consider a "resource" (species giving bonuses by performing certain roles in your empire is a bit different). But the "you have a supply of this stuff and all your ships are faster" isn't that interesting to me. It does have the benefits you mentioned of creating strategic locations to fight over, but it sort of misses the decision on how to use the resource. "Limited" resources certainly have this property, but there's I don't see a reason not to have "unlimited" resources come with a decision of how to use them.

On the other hand, having them quantified as a resource isn't the only way that there can be interesting decisions regarding their use. For instance, if using the resource to its full potential requires some kind of investment, for instance, research into a particular branch of the tech tree, then how much to devote to using the resource, and which particular applications of the resource to research could be equally interesting.

Right now, for instance, Neutronium requires Neutronium Extraction tech and Neutronium Armor plating tech to be useful. Another way to do this would be to put all techs related to Neutronium in their own little tree, and have the root of this tree be unlocked when the player gets a colony/outpost at a location with a Neutron Star. Then the decision on how to use the resource is driven by how much research the player is willing to put into it, and which techs he chooses to research.
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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#10 Post by eleazar »

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:...the sort of good&bad planetary specials you first added to the game are [not] interesting. For instance Eccentric Orbit & Tidal Lock. They ... don't matter much. Finding one isn't cause for excitement. They hardly touch the strategic balance of the game.
The existing specials are not particularly interesting or important, but that doesn't mean there can't be interesting and important specials that have strategically significant positive and negative effects.

If a particular very useful special has significant negative and positive effects when a planet is set to a particular focus, those effects could be distributed across an empire and be very strategically significant. It's probably best to avoid surprises like naturally-occurring hidden specials that have major negative effects if their planet is colonized, but with a focus-dependence, things can get interesting with the good and bad results.
Oh, that's not quite what i thought you meant. If the special resource is activate-able via a focus, then yeah, a logical negative result could make it more interesting. But it may seem forced to put every special resource into that pattern. Can you provide an example?
Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:Having strategic resources (that unlock things or improve things produce at their location) also only work on a single planet or system also makes them less prone to being balance-breaking and game-winning on their own, particularly if there are production spending limits at a single location.
True, but in a game with potentially thousands of planets, a locally limited bonus can only ever be of limited importance. [...] If there are a dozen different kinds of "game-winning" specials about, and everybody has several by mid-game, they won't really be "game-winning" will they?
There should be ways to create specials that have localized benefits that actually do matter strategically, but which aren't game-winning (or game-breaking, seemingly). If a particular very-useful ship part can only be built at a certain planet, or can be built there for significantly less cost / faster, or all ships built at a planet get some benefit that's impossible or difficult to get otherwise.
OK, i guess we're disagreeing on how to apply the term "local". I'd consider a special that allows you to make a unique ship (or ship part) to be of empire wide benefit -- that's what i'm going for. With the way our resource system works it doesn't seem to be greatly significant if the special part/ship can only be built at a particular planet, or at any planet connected to the special.

Geoff the Medio wrote:The idea is not that finding such a planet wins the player the game, but rather that finding such a planet might be a goal for a player to enable a strategy, or might motivate a player to change to a strategy that it enables.
Yes, that's exactly what i'm trying to do.

Geoff the Medio wrote:...such as questions like "where is the stockpile?" for which there is no good answer yet proposed.
I though "At the imperial capitol" answered the question simply and well.

Bigjoe5 wrote:
eleazar wrote:Limited Resources
(In Civ terminology these specifically would be called "strategic resources")
Possession of a limited resource allows the owner to build a limited number of ships or buildings -- probably one for one. If you have more of these, you can build more stuff.
Black holes would make a great limited resource. A black hole might be required to build a single galaxy-spanning wormhole, or be required to build the ultimate system-destroying super weapon.
I do like this idea. I'm also interesting in removing the Terraforming and possibly Gaia Transformation buildings, and have these things done by domesticated space monsters, to get rid of the "build-on-every-planet"-ness of Terraforming.
"Do it with space monsters" is your answer for everything isn't it? ;)

SMAC had alien artifacts that you would find scattered around and had to get back to one of your planets to use. If you found a Gaia-transformation ship or monster, it could add to the fun/tension if you had to protect in on the way back to the place of intended use. Since normally you find stuff in the "wilds".
Bigjoe5 wrote:But the "you have a supply of this stuff and all your ships are faster" isn't that interesting to me. It does have the benefits you mentioned of creating strategic locations to fight over, but it sort of misses the decision on how to use the resource. "Limited" resources certainly have this property, but there's I don't see a reason not to have "unlimited" resources come with a decision of how to use them.
Yeah, i agree that is not the best way to implement a ship speed boost. I would rather only apply the speed boost to ships built when you have the special resource, or possibly a unique ship part. Techs could also be required.
Bigjoe5 wrote:On the other hand, having them quantified as a resource isn't the only way that there can be interesting decisions regarding their use. For instance, if using the resource to its full potential requires some kind of investment, for instance, research into a particular branch of the tech tree, then how much to devote to using the resource, and which particular applications of the resource to research could be equally interesting.

Right now, for instance, Neutronium requires Neutronium Extraction tech and Neutronium Armor plating tech to be useful. Another way to do this would be to put all techs related to Neutronium in their own little tree, and have the root of this tree be unlocked when the player gets a colony/outpost at a location with a Neutron Star. Then the decision on how to use the resource is driven by how much research the player is willing to put into it, and which techs he chooses to research.
If Neutronium techs are useless without a Neutron star then is it somewhat of a formality weather your can research the techs without a Neutron star. But, yeah, i'm all for techs improving or enabling the use of special resources.

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#11 Post by Nemesis »

Some thoughts on strategical resources

I) The role of strategic resources in the game

1) Adds another option where to invest your money/ships/production capacity. To make this work, three conditions need to be met:
A) Acquiring resources needs to be OPTIONAL. Must- have ressources like iron in civilization 3/4 do not add Options, but herd the player along a narrow path. The advantages that resources offer should be roughly the same scale as the benefits of teching or expanding.
B) Acquiring resources needs to require investment.
i) you need to send out a number of ships to disvover the resource
ii) Planet defended by guardian/monster
iii) you need to build an expensive mine
C) The investment should be distinct from investments into different purposes. No stumbling upon resources during normal expansion.

2) Resources as exploitable weakness
I love the idea that a big empire can be defeated (or at least significantly weakened) by taking out one or two planets. Any resource that gives a significant advantage should fit that definition.
Special idea: Instant Death Resources: Usage of the resource causes addiction to the ressource => the loss of the resource means instant death (for example a drug that changes metabolism and reduces food consumption by 30-40%, but the population cannot live without it any more)

3) Making the "exploration experience" last till lategame: The experience of exploring the galaxy, hunting for treasures is one of things that make 4x games fun. Its a pity that this experince doesnt survive the initial phase. Even if you discover an ultra rich gaia planet in late game, it isnt the same – it is nothing special any more because you already hold a handful of good planets and one more will make a rather insignificant difference. The Solution: Areas that are only acessible in mid – lategame (or before only with extreme effort) and hold powerful strategic resources.



II) Where to find resources
Based on the aforementioned notions that it should take an effort to find resources and that there should be something special to discover in later stages of the game, there need to be special places to find resources.
a) space nebula (mid game) - Basic Idea: The stars and Planets in the nebula are hidden. To find them, you need to send in a given number of ships * turns.
b) faraway star clusters (late game) – Basic Idea: Outside of the main galaxy, there are several star clusters, that are really far away from every other star (maybe 50 parsec), and can only be colonized once some fancy whormhole/stargate tech has been researched
c) some prominent area close to the galactic core (the idea is to place resources that are mainly useful in early game in places that under most circumstances are only colonised in mid- game)
d) stars that have a low percentage of habitable Planets (early game)



III) Planning with resources
The usage of the resource should be part of a strategy:
1) The advantage has to be big enough to make a difference for strategic decisions.
2) The circumstance should allow to employ the resource in a planned way. Example: If I discover a resource that gives a bonus to merculite missilles, this advantage runs out as soon as merculite missiles become obsolete. That means, if i am already at war, or about to enter war, i have an advantage. But the window of opportunity doesnt last long enough to build a strategy on this advantage. For this, the advantage would have to last long enough at least to plan and execute an extended campaign.

IV) The same Ressource might give different kinds of boni to different technologies in the field (Example: energy crystals give +50% Damage to laser cannon; shield piercing upgrade to fusion beam; auto fire upgrade to neutron cannon, ...).

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#12 Post by Geoff the Medio »

eleazar wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:...such as questions like "where is the stockpile?" for which there is no good answer yet proposed.
I though "At the imperial capitol" answered the question simply and well.
It doesn't, because anywhere not resource-connected to the capitol will have no stockpile. This is bad because it makes the stockpile work differently at different locations. It's also just ... "clunky" ... for lack of a better term; things are partly set up to use stockpiles, but seemingly arbitrarily only a single place (per empire) can actually have one. The system is sort of designed around everywhere having a stockpile (partly due to the single empire production queue) which suggests that each system or connected set of systems should have access to a stockpile. But, it was decided that would be too complicated to keep track of and that there would be issues with how to distribute the stockpile in case of breaks in connectivity, so just one location was allowed. It all doesn't really work together as a game system.

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#13 Post by Nemesis »

Bigjoe5 wrote:
I suppose you're right... I guess what I'm really after is not to have them stockpilable, necessarily, but mainly to have them quantified as a resource. I'm not a big fan of the empire-wide bonus thing, at least not for something that one would typically consider a "resource" (species giving bonuses by performing certain roles in your empire is a bit different). But the "you have a supply of this stuff and all your ships are faster" isn't that interesting to me. It does have the benefits you mentioned of creating strategic locations to fight over, but it sort of misses the decision on how to use the resource. "Limited" resources certainly have this property, but there's I don't see a reason not to have "unlimited" resources come with a decision of how to use them.
1) WHAT kind of decisions are beeing forced? Just limiting doesnt force a decision.
- Most of the time there will be one optimum ship type to produce at the moment. If i can improve 30% of this production, well, where is the decision?
- ok, there may be the decision between ships and space stations.
2) There may be different ways to force a decision about resource- usage
- different options what tech improvement to use the resource for (auto- fire or +50% damage?)
=> additional idea: creative races get both!
- option to use all of the resource for a one-time project, destroying it in the process

3) Hard to balance between game- breaking and insignificant
Chances are that the player will aquire the resource either at a time when he has so few production capacities that he can outfit all of his ships, or so big capacities that he can use the resource only on so few ships that he wouldnt care. The window of balance is too small.

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#14 Post by Geoff the Medio »

eleazar wrote:If the special resource is activate-able via a focus, then yeah, a logical negative result could make it more interesting. But it may seem forced to put every special resource into that pattern. Can you provide an example?
Not every resource would have to have negatives, but powerful positives could be balanced by them. Perhaps:
* A resource that gives all ships built on resource-connected planets a special that boosts their attack power, but also reduces the target populations of planets by a few points, due to the impossible-to-contain toxic residue from mining the resource that gets spread to those planets from the planet with the special while it is mining.
* A spatial anomaly gives a large boost to research when a planet in the system is on research focus, but it distorts spacetime, and slowly moves the nearby systems away from it.
* A psionic rift is present that gives a boost to empire detection power, but makes planets unhappy or species dislike the empire when active.
* An unstable star can be manipulated to produce lots of production, but will periodically have novas, which have a tendency to cause chain reaction novas in nearby systems, which destroy / damage ships or planet infrastructure.
* A system has a magnetic monopole particle in it, which enables empires to produce a special cheap but powerful ship shield boosting part, but which cause ion storms to move towards / orbit the system when active.
OK, i guess we're disagreeing on how to apply the term "local". I'd consider a special that allows you to make a unique ship (or ship part) to be of empire wide benefit -- that's what i'm going for. With the way our resource system works it doesn't seem to be greatly significant if the special part/ship can only be built at a particular planet, or at any planet connected to the special.
I'm supposing there are limits on PP spending at a given shipyard or planet, so that only being able to build unique ship parts there requires prolonged investment (to boost PP spending limits) in order to be better exploited.
...such as questions like "where is the stockpile?" for which there is no good answer yet proposed.
I though "At the imperial capitol" answered the question simply and well.
As noted in other threads, I disagree.
Bigjoe5 wrote:But the "you have a supply of this stuff and all your ships are faster" isn't that interesting to me. It does have the benefits you mentioned of creating strategic locations to fight over, but it sort of misses the decision on how to use the resource. "Limited" resources certainly have this property, but there's I don't see a reason not to have "unlimited" resources come with a decision of how to use them.
Yeah, i agree that is not the best way to implement a ship speed boost. I would rather only apply the speed boost to ships built when you have the special resource, or possibly a unique ship part. Techs could also be required.
Things with fewer restrictions - like "have to get benefit" vs. "have to enable production of thing that gives benefit" - can have weaker effects to make them. Alternatively, things that give more wide-ranging benefits can have wide-ranging penalties when active, such as discussed above.
Bigjoe5 wrote:...if using the resource to its full potential requires some kind of investment, for instance, research into a particular branch of the tech tree, then how much to devote to using the resource, and which particular applications of the resource to research could be equally interesting.
Investment being required to use something is potentially interesting, but I'm a bit wary of too many layers of prerequisites before things can be actually put into action by players. There's already a bit of a problem with some content in FO, IMO, which require unlocking two or more techs or enabling buildings before something useful can be produced, after which the player still has to enqueue and actually do the production of the cool new thing, after which ships still have to be moved to somewhere they can be useful. (More) immediate rewards or benefits can be more fun.

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Re: Considering Strategic Resources

#15 Post by Bigjoe5 »

Empire Meters.

They could be a good way to keep track of "how much access" an empire has to a particular strategic resource. If one of the main reasons for talking about strategic resources now is to have a use for the mining focus, it seems like we would want it to be used relatively frequently. However, a single-source instantly-maximum bonus (like Neutronium, currently) doesn't really support that idea. Having more strategic resources scattered around with some continuously increasing advantage being conferred to the empire as it possesses more of a particular resource could make mining a reasonably common focus option.
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