Fuel-- do we need it?

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eleazar
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Fuel-- do we need it?

#1 Post by eleazar »

I very seldom find that i pay attention to fuel in FO.
Sometimes a scout will survive long enough to run out of fuel, and then i'm forced to pay attention to it -- and it is annoying. It is easy to forget about a scout while you are waiting for it to rebuild some fuel. Sure that problem could be partially patched with more sitrep messages, or some kind of fleet overview screen, but that doesn't fix the underlying problem.

Now there is some virtue in limiting travel outside the bounds of your empire. If we need that, it could be done more simply and smoothly, giving ships two different speeds. Two possibilities:

1) Ships travel at a reduced speed on starlanes that are not supply lines for any empire, or
2) Ships travel at a reduced speed when not on their own starlanes --or those of an ally.

The "reduced speed" could be a fraction of the regular speed. Some ship parts / hulls / tech might improve that fraction, so that scouts could be built that can move beyond the civilized lanes at a speed closer to normal.

EDIT: it gets rid of a little used meter, which is also IMHO a good thing, though depending on how we implement we may need to list the both the supply-line & non-(friendly?-)supply-line speeds.

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Dilvish
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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#2 Post by Dilvish »

I think that's a great idea.
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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#3 Post by em3 »

Maybe instead there could be techs that boost travel speed on supply-connected starlanes? The out of supply range speed would be the base speed then. This would be similar to how roads work in Civ...
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eleazar
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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#4 Post by eleazar »

Dilvish wrote:I think that's a great idea.
I thought the AI might handle scouting better if it didn't have the issue of running out of fuel in safe vs. less safe places to consider.
em3 wrote:Maybe instead there could be techs that boost travel speed on supply-connected starlanes? The out of supply range speed would be the base speed then. This would be similar to how roads work in Civ...
The point of the game where there are the most non-supply-line lanes (and the highest incentive to use them) is at the beginning. If there's no resistance to traveling on them, then all your initial exploration will go by too quickly. And that wouldn't be fun once it was over.

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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#5 Post by Dilvish »

eleazar wrote:I thought the AI might handle scouting better if it didn't have the issue of running out of fuel in safe vs. less safe places to consider.
Actually, the AI has pretty decent code for planning routes taking that into account, and not running out of fuel -- it sends the ships back to supply lanes to refill fuel after a destination has taken them off the supply lanes. The old code was a rather computationally intensive (I think that had been a big AI cpu sink as the game progressed) and also wouldn't ever let them stray past that refuelable zone, but I made it more efficient and extended it to include the surrounding rings of systems that *would* connect up to the existing supply lanes if the ship was on or associated with (and succeeded with) an invasion or colonization mission at the destination. I think exploration ships (and other ships if their colony/invasion mission fails) might be able to get stuck without fuel, but that has looked like a reasonably rare occurrence to me. Even if/ when it does happen, it was probably still the right decision to go there.
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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#6 Post by Vezzra »

I'd even go so far as to consider disabling traveling on starlanes that are not your own supply lines (or those of allies) completely - at least in the beginning. To get the ability to travel outside your supply network you'd have to research special techs, e.g. giving you special ship parts ("quantum reactor") that give this ability to a ship (or, to make things not too restrictive, to an entire fleet containing a ship with this part). At a fraction of the normal speed of course. More advanced techs could allow for higher speed, and/or removing the requirement for a dedicated ship part.

That would give much more incentive to research techs that extend the supply range of your colonies. Currently, at least in my test games, these are very low priority.

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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#7 Post by Sloth »

eleazar wrote: The "reduced speed" could be a fraction of the regular speed. Some ship parts / hulls / tech might improve that fraction, so that scouts could be built that can move beyond the civilized lanes at a speed closer to normal.

EDIT: it gets rid of a little used meter, which is also IMHO a good thing
I think this is a good idea in general.

We have to make sure that some strategies are still possible with the new system. For example pinpoint attacks behind the enemys lines. But as you've mentioned ship parts / hulls / tech could allow that (and make those strategies extra surprising).
eleazar wrote: 1) Ships travel at a reduced speed on starlanes that are not supply lines for any empire, or
2) Ships travel at a reduced speed when not on their own starlanes --or those of an ally.
I tend towards option 2, because it sounds more logical.

Option 2 would also allow you to strategically colonize or capture a planet in your opponents supply routes and slow down his fleets until they remove the obstacle.
Vezzra wrote:I'd even go so far as to consider disabling traveling on starlanes that are not your own supply lines (or those of allies) completely - at least in the beginning. To get the ability to travel outside your supply network you'd have to research special techs, e.g. giving you special ship parts ("quantum reactor") that give this ability to a ship (or, to make things not too restrictive, to an entire fleet containing a ship with this part). At a fraction of the normal speed of course. More advanced techs could allow for higher speed, and/or removing the requirement for a dedicated ship part.

That would give much more incentive to research techs that extend the supply range of your colonies. Currently, at least in my test games, these are very low priority.
That is just a matter of balancing. If your ships are so slow that it takes 10 turns to get from one system to the next, you will want to expand your supply range asap too. Disabling traveling without supply connection sounds a bit harsh - A space monster could cut of your starting fleet and render you helpless.
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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#8 Post by unjashfan »

1) Ships travel at a reduced speed on starlanes that are not supply lines for any empire, or
2) Ships travel at a reduced speed when not on their own starlanes --or those of an ally.
I would prefer point 2 over point 1, but I think that is heading into problems like the armor with speed penalties. If the speed reduction is too low, it becomes more of an annoyance. It would be replacing the fuel value with a second starlane speed value that spurs more confusion. If the speed reduction is too high, then it might slow down the natural flow of the game (we don't want FO to start lagging prematurely). How about changing the fuel mechanics so that it encourages the use of fuel tanks? Maybe something like reducing the base fuel capacity of all ships to around 2. Fuel doesn't automatically regenerate, except when the fuel meter hits 0, where it is increased by 1 the following turn. This way, ships that run out of fuel can slowly travel back to supply lanes by making a jump every other turn, instead of every 10 turns. Putting some emphasis on supply lanes and fuel tanks also helps get rid of the "Now what do I want to research?" problem.

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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#9 Post by Bigjoe5 »

How about ships get destroyed when they run out of fuel?
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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#10 Post by AndrewW »

Bigjoe5 wrote:How about ships get destroyed when they run out of fuel?
That would penalize the new players in particular...

Would also add a need to watch the fuel closesly for all ships operating outside of supply lines.

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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#11 Post by Bigjoe5 »

AndrewW wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:How about ships get destroyed when they run out of fuel?
Would also add a need to watch the fuel closesly for all ships operating outside of supply lines.
Yes, that would be the point.

Edit: Or rather, the point would be making the player think about the decision of whether or not to send his ships beyond the range where they can safely get back in the first place. A good UI indicator that lets the player know what the "point of no return" is when sending out ships would be useful in that regard, and get rid of the need to check every ship operating outside of supply range every turn (because the decision would just be part of giving a move order).
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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#12 Post by Dilvish »

Bigjoe5 wrote:A good UI indicator that lets the player know what the "point of no return" is when sending out ships would be useful in that regard, and get rid of the need to check every ship operating outside of supply range every turn (because the decision would just be part of giving a move order).
I think it wouldn't be too tough to change the current "Prospective Path" indicator from all white, to be red for any portions outside the supply lines. It also seems that would be a decent thing to go ahead and implement (has some value even if we didn't change the current fuel dynamics).
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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#13 Post by yandonman »

How about ships get destroyed when they run out of fuel?
I thought we were against punishing the player?

I don't find fuel a fun game mechanic - it only serves to restrict me. If the game doesn't want me to travel "too far" just don't let me travel "too far". (MOO2 had 'range' and that was easy to understand and it wasn't micro intensive).
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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#14 Post by eleazar »

Bigjoe5 wrote:
AndrewW wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:How about ships get destroyed when they run out of fuel?
Would also add a need to watch the fuel closesly for all ships operating outside of supply lines.
Yes, that would be the point.

Edit: Or rather, the point would be making the player think about the decision of whether or not to send his ships beyond the range where they can safely get back in the first place. A good UI indicator that lets the player know what the "point of no return" is when sending out ships would be useful in that regard, and get rid of the need to check every ship operating outside of supply range every turn (because the decision would just be part of giving a move order).
In the OP, i complained about 2 problems.
  • 1) fuel seldom matters,
    2) when it matters it is annoying
BigJoe's suggestion doesn't improve #1, and it makes #2 much worse.

In FreeOrion the universe may hold nasty surprises for you. I do not think the GUI should also.

I don't see this as a problem that needs solving, but, if we wanted to make going beyond fuel range more serious, -- something that the player should consider carefully-- then totally removing fuel regeneration, would better fit the bill. Ship destruction on empty is senselessly punitive.

Dilvish wrote:I think it wouldn't be too tough to change the current "Prospective Path" indicator from all white, to be red for any portions outside the supply lines. It also seems that would be a decent thing to go ahead and implement (has some value even if we didn't change the current fuel dynamics).
Isn't is abundantly obvious when you are directing ships beyond the supply lines? If people aren't paying attention, it is because it doesn't matter much right now.

yandonman wrote:I thought we were against punishing the player?
That statement is too broad for me to agree or disagree to.
yandonman wrote:I don't find fuel a fun game mechanic - it only serves to restrict me. If the game doesn't want me to travel "too far" just don't let me travel "too far". (MOO2 had 'range' and that was easy to understand and it wasn't micro intensive).
IIRC the current fuel mechanic was devised in large part to be less restrictive than MoO2. I believe it is.

But it is too micro-heavy. That's why i'm proposing moving slowly instead of alternating between moving and then being stuck for X turns. It limits the speed of exploration beyond supply to approximately the same degree, but there's less to keep track of.

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Re: Fuel-- do we need it?

#15 Post by Bigjoe5 »

eleazar wrote:
Dilvish wrote:I think it wouldn't be too tough to change the current "Prospective Path" indicator from all white, to be red for any portions outside the supply lines. It also seems that would be a decent thing to go ahead and implement (has some value even if we didn't change the current fuel dynamics).
Isn't is abundantly obvious when you are directing ships beyond the supply lines? If people aren't paying attention, it is because it doesn't matter much right now.
Not any portions outside supply lines. Any portions that go beyond the "point of no return", so you know that if you send your ships out there, you won't be able to get them back into supply range.

The reason that fuel is annoying when it matters is because you have to be paying attention to too many things to figure out if it's going to matter, and if so, what to do about it (the fuel of the fleet you're moving, your supply lines, and your fleet's destination? And it involves doing a shortest-path algorithm in your head? No wonder fleets are getting stranded in the middle of nowhere). Letting the player know as he's making a move order that his ships won't be able to return will make a huge difference by instantly giving the player all the information about fuel that he really needs at that moment. So destroying ships might not change anything (I would argue otherwise, but that's less important), but the UI indicator would do a lot to solve #2.
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