Making fuel more useful

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unjashfan
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Making fuel more useful

#1 Post by unjashfan »

Just a random idea that popped into my head: Why not make it more difficult to extend supply lanes so that fuel becomes relatively more valuable? Orbital construction is easy to unlock and tends to solve every supply problem that might arise in a game (with a supply range of 2, each planet has 4 starlanes' length of supply connections, which is a lot IMHO). The same logic applies with the other supply range extension techs gravitic architecture and galactic infrastructure. The logistics focus and space elevator seem to be hardly used at all (at least in my test games they don't). I think it would be more interesting if we had to make decisions as to where we want our supply extensions. One way to do this would be to have orbital construction unlock a building (such as space elevator) which gives +1 supply range to the planet it is built on, instead of having it give a static +1 boost to all planets. Since not all planets would have a supply range boost, we would now have important planets that serve as connection hubs, which would be a prime target for enemies. I think this also opens up another kind of tactical play to the game.

Here are some changes that could be made based on this idea:
  • Increase the base supply range for outposts from 0 to 1
  • Make all techs that give static supply range boosts more expensive to unlock (such as orbital construction)
  • Make the logistics focus and space elevator easier to unlock
  • Add a building that gives a supply range boost of 1 to the planet it is built on (or perhaps nerf the space elevator)
  • Change the fuel mechanics so that ships will use fuel as long as their destination is not connected by supply

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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#2 Post by Geoff the Medio »

unjashfan wrote:Increase the base supply range for outposts from 0 to 1
Why?
Change the fuel mechanics so that ships will use fuel as long as their destination is not connected by supply
The current rules are fairly generous about not consuming fuel when moving through systems that are connected to supply. This is intended to avoid making players have to worry about fuel when ships are within supply range. Why is it specifically useful to make the rule depend on the destination system, rather than the system a ship is leaving or passing through?

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Dilvish
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#3 Post by Dilvish »

unjashfan wrote:Orbital construction is easy to unlock and tends to solve every supply problem that might arise in a game (with a supply range of 2, each planet has 4 starlanes' length of supply connections, which is a lot IMHO).
Have you really tested this theory on many different galaxy settings? Elliptical is fairly dense, but the others vary quite a bit. I've been playing Random a fair bit lately, and there is often quite a bit of empty space that needs to be covered, in almost every game there is at least one spot I need to build a space elevator because there are too many empty star systems in a row. That's even on Medium density stars and starlanes. It's been a while since I've played low density stars and/or starlanes, but it was painful enough even before the rate of empty systems was increased.
Increase the base supply range for outposts from 0 to 1
So, for outposts the bonus from Orbital Construction wouldn't be shifted to a building, it would be given for free up front? Plus the building is still available to them?
Make all techs that give static supply range boosts more expensive to unlock (such as orbital construction)
When looking at that you have to keep in mind it would also affect a fair number of other techs downstream from Orbital Construction et al.
Make the logistics focus and space elevator easier to unlock
I'm having a hard time making sense of all the give and take-- this change would be a pretty significant move in the opposite direction of what you say you want; depending on how much easier they became it could totally overpower the other changes.
Add a building that gives a supply range boost of 1 to the planet it is built on (or perhaps nerf the space elevator)
Yeah, it really seems like you're just talking about a junior space elevator. Overall it seems like these changes would make supply even easier for a human player (but more complicated for an AI). They could probably made to work out, I just don't see a coherent picture from it yet.

If we wanted to make fuel & supply even more important than now (& I think that over the range of galaxy options it's probably close to about right already, but could probably benefit from being a little more dependent on researching fuel cells), then my suggestion would be to make empty systems even more common than now (at least on medium and high density galaxies), coupled with your proposal above for making logistics focus easier to unlock (it's still a pretty significant cost to dedicate a planet to logistics). I'd have to write up some new AI code to deal with that & couldn't rush into it, but it could be part of a plan.

Along with that, perhaps doing something to make it easier to load a colony ship with a fuel cell -- fuel cells having a new shape, like a fat plus sign, which can still fit inside a current internal slot, and letting most hulls have one dedicated fuel slot of this shape in addition to their current slots.
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MatGB
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#4 Post by MatGB »

I am having shuddering memories of the times when supply was a meter that grew so very slowly and you ended up building Imp palaces all over the place because you still got the supply bonus and needed it.

I like that it's a lot simpler than it used to be in this regard. I still run out of fuel on occasions, although I never use fuel tanks, and I suspect Logistics focus may be a bit OTT at times.

I'm currently, for the first time in ages, playing in a Cluster 200ish systems and medium/medium, I've had to rush research logistics and even that's not been enough a few times. Fuel is useful.
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Vezzra
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#5 Post by Vezzra »

I think unjashfan has a point insofar as the techs that grant an increase to the supply meter just by themselves without requiring to set a focus (and by that have to dedicate a planet) or at least produce a building should be more expensive, harder to get, be placed later in the tech tree than those which do require a focus or building. From my test game experiences I can tell that once I get the logistic focus and/or the space elevator, I hardly need them anymore, because at that point I usually have researched enough of the other supply range extending techs that supply range isn't an issue anymore.

A supply range boosting building of course introduces the problem that the player is tempted to build it everywhere, requiring it to be sufficiently expensive, so that players really only build it in spots where this kind of investment pays off.

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Vezzra
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#6 Post by Vezzra »

Dilvish wrote:Along with that, perhaps doing something to make it easier to load a colony ship with a fuel cell -- fuel cells having a new shape, like a fat plus sign, which can still fit inside a current internal slot, and letting most hulls have one dedicated fuel slot of this shape in addition to their current slots.
Why would that be necessary? An extra special purpose slot type just for fuel cells seems overkill to me. If we want to give the player a possibility to build colony ships with extended range at the start of the game, we could add another early game hull with just two (or even three) internal slots and no external slots. Make this hull roughly equally expensive as the basic medium hull, that should serve the purpose perfectly.

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MatGB
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#7 Post by MatGB »

Vezzra wrote:I think unjashfan has a point insofar as the techs that grant an increase to the supply meter just by themselves without requiring to set a focus (and by that have to dedicate a planet) or at least produce a building should be more expensive, harder to get, be placed later in the tech tree than those which do require a focus or building. From my test game experiences I can tell that once I get the logistic focus and/or the space elevator, I hardly need them anymore, because at that point I usually have researched enough of the other supply range extending techs that supply range isn't an issue anymore.
When you put it that way I agree, I think I've built two elevators total in my last 10 games, and used logistics focus twice, for scouting in a very large galaxy and for getting through a sparse area for a strike.
A supply range boosting building of course introduces the problem that the player is tempted to build it everywhere, requiring it to be sufficiently expensive, so that players really only build it in spots where this kind of investment pays off.
But would 'build it everywhere' necessarily be a problem? I'm now in the habit of putting scanning facilities everywhere that an AI hasn't already built them, and I can see having something you build regularly be useful-or tie it into either shipyards or drydock? If you've got a shipyard, by default your system is able to deal with more out-of-system traffic, etc.

Technical question: is it possible to have an existing common building get better with tech increases, in the same way the industrial centre is designed to get better?
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Dilvish
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#8 Post by Dilvish »

Vezzra wrote:Why would that be necessary?
Not necessary, hence the 'perhaps' :D I had considered suggesting an extra internal slot for more hulls, but folks are already complaining about too many internal slots; I thought they might find a dedicated fuel slot less objectionable. But then that's an extra complexity, sure.
If we want to give the player a possibility to build colony ships with extended range at the start of the game, we could add another early game hull with just two (or even three) internal slots and no external slots. Make this hull roughly equally expensive as the basic medium hull, that should serve the purpose perfectly.
Depending on how much more scarce planets became, it might not be necessary, but yes, a multi-internal slot, no external slot hull would probably solve the problem fine.
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Vezzra
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#9 Post by Vezzra »

MatGB wrote:But would 'build it everywhere' necessarily be a problem?
Yep, it would, because in FO a building should be something rare and special that you don't build on every planet. The design philosophy behind that is our dedication to "KISS", which (among other things) means no micromanagement. That's why we have meters to represent those kind of structures that actually are present on every colony, e.g. the industrial or research facilities, instead of requiring the player to build something like factories or research centers on every planet. If a building turns out to be a "build everywhere" thing than this is considered a design flaw and is going to be revised at some point. Building something everywhere is considered boring and no fun.
I'm now in the habit of putting scanning facilities everywhere that an AI hasn't already built them
This would be one of the current examples of buildings that need to be revised. I too build them, maybe not on every, but on many of my colonies. But that's not what we aim for.
Technical question: is it possible to have an existing common building get better with tech increases, in the same way the industrial centre is designed to get better?
I don't know what you mean by "common" building - there are no different classes of buildings. And of course you can make techs that increase the bonus of a certain building like it's done with the industrial center.

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MatGB
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#10 Post by MatGB »

Fair enough-I wasn't sure is ICs were a special case with weird code, or a normal thing-but if you're trying to avoid buildings generally then having a design for a building that gets better with tech isn't necessarily good unless it's a pre-existing building, like shipyards.

Or maybe space elevators, have them be an early build and have them get better, but that negates the KISS idea a fair bit.
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#11 Post by Dilvish »

Vezzra wrote:
MatGB wrote:I'm now in the habit of putting scanning facilities everywhere that an AI hasn't already built them
This would be one of the current examples of buildings that need to be revised. I too build them, maybe not on every, but on many of my colonies. But that's not what we aim for.
For me it all depends on layout, but even starting out I almost never need/want them in more than a fourth to half my systems, and that ratio goes down as detection range goes up and as I get growth tech to settle more densely. So it seems to me their build frequency is decent as is, though a bit on the high side.

To stray a bit further off the main topic, one thing that I *do* wind up building in virtually every system is an interstellar lighthouse, for the speed boost effect. I rather suspect that its speed boost effect should be made automatic in owned systems (like the other speed boost tech) so that the building is just for detection. Or perhaps there could be a non-stacking refinement that makes the effect automatic for all owned systems.
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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#12 Post by Geoff the Medio »

MatGB wrote:...if you're trying to avoid buildings generally then having a design for a building that gets better with tech isn't necessarily good unless it's a pre-existing building, like shipyards.
Techs improving buildings is pretty much the same as a refinement tech that makes an already-researched ship part better. Such a building-improving tech could / should actually be called a refinement, probably. Why doing this or not is relevant to whether buildings would be spammed everywhere, I'm not clear on... In many cases, making buildings better could reduce the desire to produce more of them.

A possibility might be to have some buildings get better with time, so that it's not necessary to produce as many copies. For example, a detection-boosting building that increases its range slowly over time would eventually mean that producing more late enough and close enough would be pointless since the earlier version already overlaps the area the new one could cover.

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Re: Making fuel more useful

#13 Post by unjashfan »

unjashfan wrote:
Increase the base supply range for outposts from 0 to 1
Why?
This is to allow outposts to serve as "connectors" that link up planets that may be too far away from each other (think of it as another option to extend supply). Assuming the other changes I've suggested were implemented, it may be wise to connect planets via outposts rather than to build "space elevator Jr.'s" on newly colonized planets (that would take quite a long time). Of course, one could spam these outposts everywhere for this purpose, but these would become major liabilities since outposts have poorer defenses than fully established planets.
The current rules are fairly generous about not consuming fuel when moving through systems that are connected to supply. This is intended to avoid making players have to worry about fuel when ships are within supply range. Why is it specifically useful to make the rule depend on the destination system, rather than the system a ship is leaving or passing through?
My thought on this is to make fuel consumption a little less forgiving, in hopes it will make fuel tanks appear more valuable to players. With the current supply and fuel mechanics, a well established empire does not need any fuel tanks at all.
Quote:
Increase the base supply range for outposts from 0 to 1
So, for outposts the bonus from Orbital Construction wouldn't be shifted to a building, it would be given for free up front? Plus the building is still available to them?
While the idea of free supply from outposts is quite attractive, they can become liabilities as I have explained above. And IMHO, it's not as easy as it looks. With a supply range of just 1, planets/outposts would only be able to connect to an adjacent system. If there are a few empty systems nearby, sometimes it would be impossible to connect to a certain system just because there's no adjacent system to set up any links. Extending further out would actually require one of these outposts, which makes any potential colony more expensive, and also more difficult to defend since the outpost connecting to it is also a target. (Then there's that nasty upkeep, which racks up over time)

Also, we could make the building a planet-only building so it can't be built on outposts. Of course, the building will be unlocked separately from outposts. Making outposts a little more expensive is also a possibility. One benefit from this change would be a lot less hell on low density maps, which, since the last time I checked (which was quite long ago), are abundant with empty/asteroid only/gas giant only systems.
Have you really tested this theory on many different galaxy settings? Elliptical is fairly dense, but the others vary quite a bit......
I always test on random galaxy shapes on medium density. I've only played a few low density maps, so I'm not going to elaborate on that. However, regarding galaxy shape, the main difference is usually the length of the starlanes, which does not affect supply at all. Interestingly enough, maps that aren't very dense tend to benefit more from the supply because ships will be able to travel a greater distance (in uus, not starlanes) before running out of fuel. Denser galaxies have more stars per square uu, are much easier to explore, and especially in the case of elliptical galaxies, have more interconnections between stars (i.e: more possible ways to connect planets together). I've never had any major supply problems in any of my test runs, even with the greater number of empty systems.
From my test game experiences I can tell that once I get the logistic focus and/or the space elevator, I hardly need them anymore, because at that point I usually have researched enough of the other supply range extending techs that supply range isn't an issue anymore.
Exactly what I have been experiencing.
A supply range boosting building of course introduces the problem that the player is tempted to build it everywhere
One way around this is to give these buildings an exponential build cost so that subsequent copies of the same building become much, much more expensive to produce. Something like 50x2^N, where N=number of buildings already built. The first one would cost 50PP, then 100, then 200, 400, and so on.

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Re: Making fuel more useful

#14 Post by Dilvish »

unjashfan wrote:I always test on random galaxy shapes on medium density.
Be sure to try some on 'Irregular' -- there is quite a bit of variance in number of starlanes per system. Playing 200-450 stars I find quite a few areas with long sections of empty systems.
I've only played a few low density maps, so I'm not going to elaborate on that.
Well if not you, then who is going to figure out how these proposals would affect low density galaxy settings? It's not like that's just some randomly chosen thing to test; it's something that will obviously be affected by your proposal, and it seems an advocate for the change would want to be able to discuss the impact and perhaps alter the proposal if necessary.
However, regarding galaxy shape, the main difference is usually the length of the starlanes, which does not affect supply at all. ... Denser galaxies ... especially in the case of elliptical galaxies, have more interconnections between stars (i.e: more possible ways to connect planets together).
I agree with the second statement, and those extra interconnections simplify Supply issues greatly. The first statement seems in conflict to me, and to that extent not so accurate.

Even if the only significant use of a tech or building were to make the game viable for a particular setting (such as low density planets and/or lanes) then that seems a sufficient justification for the tech or building; it doesn't have to be needed in every galaxy setup.
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Vezzra
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Re: Making fuel more useful

#15 Post by Vezzra »

MatGB wrote:...but if you're trying to avoid buildings generally...
I wouldn't say that we try to avoid buildings, we just try to avoid buildings you'd want or even have to build (in order to play an optimal game) on the majority of your planets, because that's considered unnecessary micromanagement. For example the industrial center: AFAIK the IC originally only gave a bonus to industry to the colonies in the same system it has been built. Consequently leading to players building one in every system where they had colonies focused on industry. So it has been decided to extend the bonus to all supply connected colonies. The other solution would have been to give a bonus to industry for all industry focused colonies just by researching the tech, without requiring the player to build an IC. The reasoning behind that is when you have to build it almost everywhere anyway, there's no point in requiring the player to build something at all, because placing a building should always involve a decision with pro and cons, not be a no-brainer.

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