Limited Build Slots or No?

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drek
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Limited Build Slots or No?

#1 Post by drek » Sun Jul 11, 2004 10:06 am

Should the number of buildings per planet be primarily constrained via maintaince fees or limited build slots? (also, it should be said that many building effects won't stack, so building 20 MegaFarms on one planet would be a waste.)

It's an issue that's come up, possibly not open to change/debate, but I'd like to hear people's thoughts on the matter anyway.

Constraining # of buildings exclusively via maintenance fees and huge build times would create more freedom for the player. Assuming most fees are taxed at the empire level, the player would be free to place buildings on any planet. I've heard a significant number of people on these boards complain about "artificial constraints"--limited build slots aren't based on "realism" or even common sense, and so they certainly are artificial constraints.

But, constraining via maintenance fees might become difficult to balance over the entire game. There's a huge difference ‘tween what a new empire can afford vs. a late game empire. The assumption is that there will be few build decisions over the course of the game (perhaps a decision every five or so turns.) With unlimited build slots, there is the potential a build decision on every planet every few turns—essentially like moo2.

Personally, I'm on the fence on this issue. Also, I'm' wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to constrain # of buildings without slots or excessive local maintenance fees. (a few buildings with local taxes seems fine to me, but if every building has a local fee, then we’ve got a less user-friendly version of build slots.)

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Geoff the Medio
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#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Jul 11, 2004 10:38 am

Ways to reduce # of buildins:

-Limit the number of a certain type that can be built in empire / galaxy
-Limit player to one of a group of buildings (must pick one of three, get only that one)
-Minimum distance / starlane jumps between buildings
-Require specials (resource?) or particular environment to build


What are the pros/cons of limited slots (other than helping to limit making lots of build choices, which is a rather weak pro imho, and the "artificialness")

How many slots are we talking about here? 3? 4? 5? 8? 10? 12? 20?

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#3 Post by drek » Sun Jul 11, 2004 11:31 am

In the orginal design document version, it was 1-5 dependant upon size of planet, +2 for Homeworld special. Currently, there are no limit on build slots listed in the DD, but with a reservation that they could be added in later if required to balance the game.

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noelte
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#4 Post by noelte » Sun Jul 11, 2004 11:39 am

i would try to limit buildings per planet by maintaince- and build costs. Also if building effects don't stack, it's rather dump building more than one to a given kind. Limiting buildings by distance to others or by an amount a single empire can manage is rather bad, imo. Also introducing limited slot because of UI issues (drek ;-) ) shouldn't the way to go.

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#5 Post by Satyagraha » Sun Jul 11, 2004 12:44 pm

i´d prefer build slots.

pro: it´s easier to understand for newbies, it makes sure the player´s choices have impact, that buildings are spread out, that every planet is unique, and it improves UI.

"it isn´t artifical" is not an argument for maintaince imo, neither is "more freedom for the player". freedom is good if it´s good for gameplay, freedom is bad if it´s bad for gameplay. even "common sense" isn´t an argument imo - heros in warcraft have 6 slots for items, and nobody ever complained about it. imo, slots are common sense in games.

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Prefer slots too

#6 Post by guiguibaah » Sun Jul 11, 2004 2:08 pm

I'd prefer the slot idea, as the player has to deal with the 'opportunity cost' of placing building X but not building Y on the slot. It's like being offered two candies at a candy store, but you can only choose one. I would have to decide, given the current situation, which building best serves my strategy at this point - and what do I lose by not chosing the other building. I think it could add some 'specialty' to those far-off mining or farming worlds that get build, then nobody thinks twice about them.


(personal note)
The buildings would auto-upgrade over tech advances, as well as having very few overlap between them. By overlap, I mean the player won't have to decide to scrap all +3 industry -2 biofactories in favour for a new +4 industry factory that was just made available. This would make one 'building' better than the other and could result in the player visiting each planet, ripping out the biofactories and replacing them with the +4 factories. If that is to be the case, I would suggest that with the tech advance all biofactories automatically upgrade to industry factories without the player having to do anything.


High maintenance fees for overslotted planets is an interesting idea, but I fear it could result in the player having to sift through a lot of planets if a sudden economic shift happens and they can't support these high-maintenance buildings anymore. It may also lead to 'Uber' planets with 18 super buildings on my special chokepoint planet, stuffed with planetary defences / shipyards to the brim, with the rest of the galaxy pumping out the cash to support them.


There was a game that this slot system had been tried before. It would be interesting to play it and find out how they approached this challenge.
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#7 Post by Ellestar » Sun Jul 11, 2004 3:19 pm

I prefer a way like in MOO3 - population must work in a building and that population can't work in other places (like in producing resources).
Resource_Production = Free_Population * Resource_Meter
Free_Population = Planetary_Population - Population_in_Buildings_Wonders

That way, upkeep cost of a building scales according to a technology level (you'll get more and more from one population, so effective "upkeep cost" will grow too).

In addition, it will be inefficient to make a lot of buildings because it will reduce a working population.

Also, it may be a good idea to scale this population "upkeep cost" with maximum planetary size for some buildings (mostly planetary ones), or big planets may be unbalanced. Maybe the same with the buildings with the sector outreach.

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#8 Post by Extremepumpkin » Sun Jul 11, 2004 4:29 pm

Satyagraha wrote:i´d prefer build slots.

pro: it´s easier to understand for newbies, it makes sure the player´s choices have impact, that buildings are spread out, that every planet is unique, and it improves UI.
I'd have to agree with this as well (OMG I'm posting OUTSIDE the graphics form END OF THE WORLD). Its also adds a depth of strategy, as not every planet can be the best at everything.
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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Prefer slots too

#9 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Jul 11, 2004 8:58 pm

Note: I'm undecided concerning slots at this time.
guiguibaah wrote:I'd prefer the slot idea, as the player has to deal with the 'opportunity cost' of placing building X but not building Y on the slot. It's like being offered two candies at a candy store, but you can only choose one.
There's an opportunity cost with any building project alrealdy... not building something else (or at least not having the PP available to build something else).
I would have to decide, given the current situation, which building best serves my strategy at this point - and what do I lose by not chosing the other building.
Same thing can be done with mutually exclusive buildings. Also, range or number / empire causes similar choices, except the choice is about where to build, not what to build.
I think it could add some 'specialty' to those far-off mining or farming worlds that get build, then nobody thinks twice about them.
This is possibly a good point, though I'm skeptical whether it'd actually be true in practice.
The buildings would auto-upgrade over tech advances, as well as having very few overlap between them. By overlap, I mean the player won't have to decide to scrap all +3 industry -2 biofactories in favour for a new +4 industry factory that was just made available.
This is similar to the shipyards addons I was suggesting. A shipyard component, which might be slotted on planets in the system, would unlock a class of weapon, which would allow buliding any tech level of that class of weapon that has been reserached. (or maybe be necessary.. could make things more complicated).

Actually... now that I think about it, if every planet in a system could build shipyard addons for the system shipyard, (having to put them in a build slot on the planet), then there's no problem with only having ~4 slots per shipyard, as I had earlier worried. The whole system might have 12 or 16 slots, giving sufficient slots to make an interesting branched addon tree, like the starcraft or warcraft building tech tree dependencies. The slots limit is still relevant as well, since 12 slots might not be enough to put every top-level addon at a single shipyard, so you'd still have to choose. This might worry some people about micro, but if there are only a few shipyards, this won't be a big problem.

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#10 Post by PowerCrazy » Sun Jul 11, 2004 11:57 pm

My problem with slots: What is the right number? It will be completely arbitrary even when buildings are completely defined. The player cannot change the limit, he cannot influence it through government choices, technology, conquest, anything. He just can't do it. Why?

Also I'm not a big fan of forcing players to pick through all their core worlds looking for something to scrap so they can get Uber delux building number 10. Just let them build uber delux building number 10, and then tweak their budget to support it.

If we limit buildings slots I think it will eliminate the viability of dual focused planets. If I have 10 Farming buildigns, 10 mineral buildings but I can only put 10 buildings on a planet. Wouldn't it make more sense just to build the 10 farming buildigns on the planet and therefore just make a double focused farming planet?

Also what about misc (non-focus specific) buildings that you'll want to build. They take up a build slot and essentially by building them you are preventing the planet from achieving its full potential.

And the biggest reason not to have slots. It makes the player feel that they have to build in ALL the slots on ALL the planets. Thus what we have is MoO2 but with fewer buildings.
Satyagraha wrote:pro: it´s easier to understand for newbies, it makes sure the player´s choices have impact, that buildings are spread out, that every planet is unique, and it improves UI.
I don't think we should outlaw certain strategies simply to make it easier for the "newbie" to understand. That would be like in chess outlawing certain openings simply because it is too hard for the new player to understand all their ramifications. As it is right now, a valid strategy is to build ALL your buildings on a single planet. There are obviously consequences to this (all your eggs in one basket comes to mind), but I say let the player do it. It is also equally feasible to put one building on EVERY planet in your empire. Again I see no problem with this. If or one prefer the former strategy. All my buildings are in one spot I know how threatened I am based on how close an enemy fleet, and It makes my defense priorities a lot easier.

This also works against the arguement "Its too hard to balance maintenance cost throughout the scope of the game so lets just do it this way." We can't understand the ramifications of building maintenance cost until we have fully fleshed out the economy. At the point we can start coming up with formulas, constants, and everything we could need for limiting buildings in a good, player friendly, way (If we even need to).

The best way to limit buildings rather than maintenance. Is just to design build effects in such a way that there is no need to limit them at all. (obviously this is impossible, but the fewer limits we NEED to put on the buildings the easier it is to apply those limits).

P.S. I'm against Building Slots. ;)
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#11 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:01 am

Thought or two...

# of slots on a planet could be a function of the planet population, rather than size. Say 1 slot for ~5 pop points.

Taking that even further: Buildings could have a "Staffing Requirement". Each building requires X pop points to run it (different X for different kinds of buildings, races). You could build more buildings than you have pop points to run if you wanted, but you wouldn't be able to operate them (they'd be "inactive"). Would need an interface to pick which buildings get people... or might have some priority ordering of which buildings get worked first. Staffing requirement for a given building could change with focus, if you wanted to get really fancy.

Taking it further still: Pop points which are staffing a building are not able to work to generate resources.

(food produced) = ((Population)-(Population Staffing Buildings))*(Farming Meter)/10

There's an opportunity cost for you...
Last edited by Geoff the Medio on Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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#12 Post by drek » Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:03 am

guiguibaah wrote:
I'd prefer the slot idea, as the player has to deal with the 'opportunity cost' of placing building X but not building Y on the slot. It's like being offered two candies at a candy store, but you can only choose one.

geoff:
There's an opportunity cost with any building project alrealdy... not building something else (or at least not having the PP available to build something else).
For me, one of the big appeals of planets slots is the opportunity cost.

If a few planets can barely afford to build Structure X early game, then many planets will be able to easily afford Structure X late game, diminishing the percent effect on the PP pool for building each structure.
don't think we should outlaw certain strategies simply to make it easier for the "newbie" to understand. That would be like in chess outlawing certain openings simply because it is too hard for the new player to understand all their ramifications.
Chess is easy to learn, difficult to master. But, since buildings are going to have maintaince fees anyway, its open to debate whether build slots increase or decrease the complexity of the game in the eyes of a noob.

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#13 Post by drek » Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:32 am

This also works against the arguement "Its too hard to balance maintenance cost throughout the scope of the game so lets just do it this way." We can't understand the ramifications of building maintenance cost until we have fully fleshed out the economy.
The economy is close enough to "fleshed out" that we can make some guesses.

In v.2, the aveage max population of a planet is 20. The average balanced focused mid-tech planet will probably produce 5 units of money per citizen.

So, if we want an *average* of one building per planet, then maintaince fees will have to be circa 100.
Last edited by drek on Mon Jul 12, 2004 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#14 Post by Ellestar » Mon Jul 12, 2004 2:26 pm

drek wrote:The economy is close enough to "flesh out" that we can make some guesses.
IMHO it's a wrong approach.
It's better to declare what you want and how it should work, and then tweak formulas to get what you want. You're trying to make a roof before a foundation by inventing random formulas before you have a full picture.

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Build slots

#15 Post by dstjames » Mon Jul 12, 2004 3:37 pm

I like the idea of linking build slots with population. I wouldnt let you build extra buildings that you cant staff though. When your planet reaches X population points a new build slot opens up. This could always then be modified based on race or tech advances. Say for a human race its every 5 million people you get one slot but for a meklar type race its every 3 million. Additionaly when you get a tech upgrade such as robotics or something then it would lower it by 1 unit.

If you base it by upkeep are we talking about money, PP or both? I think it would be really hard to balance those throughout the entire length of the game where the designers would have more control over balance if it was linked to population since thats a set population limit for each planet.

That would also stop you from building a ton of buildings on that small very rich planet and none on the large poor radiated world since the smaller one has a larger PP output.

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