Species: Whumsoom

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DraconicLunacy
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Species: Whumsoom

#1 Post by DraconicLunacy » Sun Jul 05, 2020 10:10 am

Whumsoom (natives - aerial-02.png)
Benevolent space whales that farm moss on asteroids.
Exclusively Prefer Asteroids.
Lithic Metabolism, {Gregarious}, {Environmentalist}.

- Very Bad Industry: 50%
- Bad Research: 75%
- Bad Population: 75%
- Good Defensive Ground Troops: 150%
- No Offensive Ground Troops: 0%
- Great Stockpile: +0.2 per population
- Great Planetary Stealth: +40 bonus

Cannot produce Ships.
Can Colonize Planets.

Preferred Focus: Research

Environment Preferences:
Swamp: Uninhabitable
Toxic: Uninhabitable
Inferno: Uninhabitable
Radiated: Uninhabitable
Barren: Uninhabitable
Tundra: Uninhabitable
Desert: Uninhabitable
Terran: Uninhabitable
Ocean: Uninhabitable

Asteroids: Adequate
Gas Giant: Uninhabitable

Description:
The Whumsoom are massive herbivores, which resemble winged whales and live exclusively on asteroid belts. The 'wings' are used as solar sails and an 'engine' on their backside emits electromagnetic radiation, thereby achieving slow but efficient propulsion. Whumsoom feed on lithic moss, an organism that absorbs electromagnetic radiation in order to transform asteroid rock into edible minerals. To sustain their massive appetite, Whumsoom live as nomads and migrate to whereever the lithic moss is ripe. After digestion, the excreted asteroid rock is immediately colonized by moss spores that are carried as blind passengers from other asteroids. The ecological role of the Whumsoom is that of pollinators, and their homeworld boasts of elaborate space gardens, on which domesticated crops of lithic moss thrive.

Social Structure:
The asteroids on which these herbivores graze belong to everyone. A government is nonexistent, and most action is taken by consensus. Each individual harvests and pollinates on its own, but frequently coordinates the collective efforts via electromagnetic radiation. Any form of industrial manufacturing is greatly impeded by their anatomy, so the Whumsoom compensate by growing specialized lithic mosses that produce rare minerals for export. Whumsoom are unfit for space combat and planetary invasions, since their ecological role and lack of predators favoured a goodwill towards all other organisms. However, massive size and extreme resilience do have their advantages on the defense. Far from being isolationists, the Whumsoom are glad to colonize unoccupied asteroids and fill them with lithic moss, if given the opportunity.

History:
Molecular similarities to the Banforo suggest that the Whumsoom could be artificially created life aswell. A commonly accepted theory is that the Precursors planted the first lithic moss, which evolved ever since their absence. Eventually, it featured an entire ecosystem of lithic moss species and even sentinent spores, the most notable of whom are the Whumsoom.


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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Jul 05, 2020 1:29 pm

Could you explicitly state in your post that you release your contribution under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license?

If there was an image, it looks like the image didn't attach. The forum can be glitchy with multiple attachments and previewing.

DraconicLunacy
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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#3 Post by DraconicLunacy » Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:52 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 1:29 pm
Could you explicitly state in your post that you release your contribution under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license?

If there was an image, it looks like the image didn't attach. The forum can be glitchy with multiple attachments and previewing.
Done and fixed ^^
I originally intended to append another post right after I wrote the species description. One might imagine the surprise when I learned that my post had to be approved by a mod first...

Anyways... I recently gave FreeOrion a try and despite some early difficulties (It's really too much at once for a beginner...), I got totally hooked. One thing I began to like is the variety of every aspect of gameplay, whether strategies, environments or of course species. Eventually, I found myself designing one :D

The Whumsoom are supposed to remedy the total lack of asteroid-based species, but without making Exobots obsolete. This would give an empire with Whumsoom far too much of an advantage, since the others cannot populate asteroids with anything but 'underpowered' exobots. I will describe my balancing process below. If you see any flaws, feel free to join the discussion <3

- 'Good Habitation' on asteroids gives them a flat bonus in the early game, but this is countered by '0.75% Population' as the game progresses. With all population techs maxed, the Whumsoom actually have a slightly lower population than exobots.
- 'Terraforming' is disabled, since the 'Gaia' bonus completely wrecks any Whumsoom - Exobot balance.
- Both Exobots (1 population * 0.75 research) and Whumsoom (0.75 population * 1 research) have 0.75% research, which means that the research advantage of the Whumsoom is only due to a flat 'Good Habitation' bonus.
- Whumsoom cannot match Exobots in offense (no ships / attacktroops), but are two times as good on the defense (50% troops vs 112,5%).
- The stockpile bonus is to help them work around the (0.75 population * 0.75 industry =) 56,25% industry malus.
- The supply helps the Whumsoom colonize, compensating for their inability to build ships.

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#4 Post by Ophiuchus » Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:44 am

I like the fluff and the implementation mostly.

But exobots just go seriously nerfed so the whumsoom are not really comparable to exobot anymore. And in my opinion the power level must be roughly comparable.
Oberlus should be able to provide input.

I would make sure that the home planet has some good protection so that acquiring the species is more expensive/takes more time than acquiring exobots and the tech necessary to live on asteroids. But with the recent exobot nerf, those are a lot more accessible than before.
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Oberlus
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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#5 Post by Oberlus » Mon Jul 06, 2020 9:28 am

Exobots got now (v0.4.10):
- Adequate in all planets, poor on asteroids and uninhabitable on GGs.
- Researchable after Nanoteth Production (i.e. not require Adaptive Automation, so can get them faster).
- Very bad (50%) research and production, average detection and bad everything else (including population).

To use Exobots on asteroids you have to research Subterranean Hab., Symbiotic Bio. and Xeno. Genetics (or get one robotic growth special to hijack Xeno. Gen.).

All this means that Exobots are a good choice early (even sooner than Adaptive Automation and Microgravity Industry) when you got a bad start regarding good/adeq. planets for your starting species and nearby natives to conquer early, but can be delayed until you get Xeno. Gen. if you have good colonization/conquest options to keep your shipyards occupied. Being adequate in all planets means they will get some juice for you most of the time but late game Exobots are concentration camps meatjunk for most environments because chances are you'll have a better species to put in there even if the environment is poor for the target species (and there is terraforming). The only environment in which Exobots don't get ever displaced is asteroids.

This Whumsoom space whales, which I like a lot, are quite different from Exobots. I don't see a problem on the whales displacing the Exobots from asteroid niche, since Exobots are still the only adequate-everywhere species (great niche early-mid game) and will have some special attributes regarding government and species-empire relations some day (since they are semiautonomous machines more than sentient beings, they should be hard to turn against their current owners except by conquest and reprogramming).

But asteroids should not be easily colonizable, so I guess giving Whumsoom something else to delay their conquest is advisable. I think Great Planetary Stealth and Great Defensive Ground Troops would make it. Or down one of those to good and add mid tech special. Thoughts?

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#6 Post by DraconicLunacy » Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:16 pm

My distro included FO 0.4.8, so my knowledge may obviously be outdated...
If I understand you correctly, the 'new' Exobots are a kind of crappy placeholder species that should make way to more useful species as the game progresses. They are naturally a lot weaker than the others.
This Exobot-nerf does seem really painful, but I will try my best to adapt my species to the new level of balance. As you suggested, I exchanged supply for planetary stealth (to make them harder to conquer early on) and reduced their utility (for empire balance), though that can be done by either reducing Industry/Research or Population. Here are the two options, among whom I still cannot choose... :S

Nerf to Industry/Research:
- Very Bad Industry: 50%
- Bad Research: 75%
- Bad Population: 75%
- Good Defensive Ground Troops: 150%
- No Offensive Ground Troops: 0%
- Good Stockpile: +0.06 per population
- Good Planetary Stealth: +20 bonus

Nerf to Population:
- Bad Industry: 75%
- Average Research: 100%
- Very Bad Population: 50%
- Great Defensive Ground Troops: 200%
- No Offensive Ground Troops: 0%
- Great Stockpile: +0.2 per population
- Good Planetary Stealth: +20 bonus

Perhaps it would be better to shift the Whumsoom from I/P to softer forms of utility, such as stockpile and a little planetary stealth. These forms disrupt empire-vs-empire balance less, but are still quite nice.

As always, critique is highly welcome ^^

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Oberlus
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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#7 Post by Oberlus » Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:46 pm

DraconicLunacy wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:16 pm
the 'new' Exobots are a kind of crappy placeholder species that should make way to more useful species as the game progresses. They are naturally a lot weaker than the others.
Yes. Others called it "poor man's option". The fact that they are adequate at every enviroment makes them unique, and very useful for empires that start with few to no colonization options at start (which is a huge problem in multiplayer games: the empires with bad luck at start are doomed... until now).

Nerf to Industry/Research:
- Very Bad Industry: 50%
- Bad Research: 75%
- Bad Population: 75%
- Good Defensive Ground Troops: 150%
- No Offensive Ground Troops: 0%
- Good Stockpile: +0.06 per population
- Good Planetary Stealth: +20 bonus

Nerf to Population:
- Bad Industry: 75%
- Average Research: 100%
- Very Bad Population: 50%
- Great Defensive Ground Troops: 200%
- No Offensive Ground Troops: 0%
- Great Stockpile: +0.2 per population
- Good Planetary Stealth: +20 bonus
I would not use any of the "very bad", just bad, and make them great stealth, so that empires require the second detection upgrade to get them:

- Bad Industry: 75%
- Average Research: 100%
- Bad Population: 50%
- Great Defensive Ground Troops: 200%
- No Offensive Ground Troops: 0%
- Great Stockpile: +0.2 per population
- Great Planetary Stealth: +40 bonus

They would be undoubtly better than Exobots at asteroids, but certainly not easy to conquer so Exobots at asteroids for mid game is still an option for empires that do not focus on detection early game.

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#8 Post by DraconicLunacy » Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:54 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:46 pm
I would not use any of the "very bad", just bad
Is 50% not technically "very bad"? I am afraid I don't understand what you mean.

Anyways, since you chose the latter version, could you tell me what persuaded you to reduce population, rather than industry and research? I tended to favour an I/R reduction, but came to realize that unless *both* are reduced, we are creating an overpowered monster. I will post my proposal and am going to explain why:

0.4.10 - Adjusted Whumsoom:
- Very Bad Industry: 50%
- Bad Research: 75%
- Very Bad Population: 50%
- Great Defensive Ground Troops: 200%
- No Offensive Ground Troops: 0%
- Great Stockpile: +0.2 per population
- Great Planetary Stealth: +40 bonus


Okay, this may seem harsh, devastating even, but when we look at the actual math, even this version of Whumsoom is highly desirable. Compared to 0.4.10 - Exobots (=100%) on asteroids, Whumsoom have:
- 100% Industry
- 150% Research
- 66% Population (+6 Compared to Exobot Malus) (+ 9 Environment Bonus!)
- 400% Defensive Ground Troops
- 0% Offensive Ground Troops
- 1000% Stockpile
- +40 Stealth
The +15 population bonus means that even with all techs maxed, the Whumsoom have slightly better industry than Exobots. The rest (except ships and offensive troops) is an obvious improvement.
But we are not balancing against not only Exobots, but also other species. Currently, the only possible upgrade to asteroid belts is to build an artificial planet, which will reduce the habitable size to "tiny".
If we adjust the population advantage on asteroids (* 300%) to that of a tiny planet, Whumsoom have:
- 75% Industry
- 112,5% Research
- 100% Population (- 3 No Gaia Bonus) (+ 9 Environment Bonus)
- 300% Defensive Ground Troops
- 0% Offensive Ground Troops
- 1500% Stockpile
- +40 Stealth
This is a strong species by any measurement, both in regards to other asteroid-inhabiting species (Exobots) and when accounting for general asteroid-planet balance. In my opinion, more buffs would make the Whumsoom overpowered. If there is a flaw in my reasoning, feel free to point it out. Otherwise, I am going to update the original post to include the latest version of the Whumsoom ^^

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#9 Post by Oberlus » Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:05 pm

DraconicLunacy wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:54 pm
Is 50% not technically "very bad"? I am afraid I don't understand what you mean.
Sorry, my bad. I copypasted your text and removed "very" without changing the percentages.
Very Bad is 50%, and just Bad 75%.
Anyways, since you chose the latter version, could you tell me what persuaded you to reduce population, rather than industry and research
Well, I didn't choose any of those, as per above. I would rather not use "very bad" anything because that's a thing for Exobots, but that's not really a reason.
I think bad population and bad industry is bad enough. As mentioned in my previous post, they would be better than Exobots at asteroids hands down, but since the whales can't live in other environments, Exobots have a niche.
Also, keep in mind the whales are not ensured to appear on every game. It's not bad that they are good as long as they are not easy to conquer.

Another thing: notice that not all industry/research/population techs are affect by the species traits, only those that have early priority (check out the FOCS files). For example, the population techs called "<something> habitation" are not affected by good/bad population traits.

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#10 Post by DraconicLunacy » Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:29 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:05 pm
Anyways, since you chose the latter version, could you tell me what persuaded you to reduce population, rather than industry and research
Well, I didn't choose any of those, as per above. I would rather not use "very bad" anything because that's a thing for Exobots, but that's not really a reason.
I think bad population and bad industry is bad enough. As mentioned in my previous post, they would be better than Exobots at asteroids hands down, but since the whales can't live in other environments, Exobots have a niche.
Also, keep in mind the whales are not ensured to appear on every game. It's not bad that they are good as long as they are not easy to conquer.
So you're essentially okay with their power level staying like it was in my original post. I was under the impression that the Whumsoom need to be comparable to the new Exobots, and thus nerfed them accordingly.
Alright then, here is my latest version that should incorporate your wishes:

- Bad Industry: 75%
- Average Research: 100%
- Bad Population: 75%
- Good Defensive Ground Troops: 150%
- No Offensive Ground Troops: 0%
- Great Stockpile: +0.2 per population
- Great Planetary Stealth: +40 bonus

Our perceptions of balance differ quite a bit, doubtlessly because I have barely any knowledge of the FreeOrion balance philosophy. Could you perhaps refer me to some thread/guide/dev-statement about FreeOrion game balance? Thanks in advance ^^

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#11 Post by Oberlus » Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:02 am

DraconicLunacy wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:29 pm
So you're essentially okay with their power level staying like it was in my original post. I was under the impression that the Whumsoom need to be comparable to the new Exobots, and thus nerfed them accordingly.
I might be wrong, but I think that as long as they are not easy to acquire and have a very limited environment tolerance they can be OK.

Exobots are easy to research currently, right after Nanotech Production, 90 RP (which is prerequisite to Adaptive Automation and you probably want that even without interest on Exobots) and Nascent AI, 48 RP (you always want that), and can inhabit everywhere but GGs, only asteroids need extra research to unlock poor environments (Symb. Bio 100 RP and Xeno. Gen. plus prerreqs. 186 RP, and you are getting Symb. Bio that is good to have always).

The Whumsoom will need a sizeable RP investment on research, the first two detection techs that default to 500 PP total (and gives you nothing really interesting early game such as research, production or population boosts), and also a PP investment on troops for the invasion.

So I don't think Exobots and Whumsoom need to be comparable in production/research, Whumsoom can be better. Although, since they are good in asteroids, which gives them a nice extra population compared to Exobots, if you feel they would be OP you could give them NO_INDUSTRY (for which it would make sense to give them also NO_STOCKPILE) or NO_RESEARCH, whatever fits better your species description and lore.

Our perceptions of balance differ quite a bit, doubtlessly because I have barely any knowledge of the FreeOrion balance philosophy. Could you perhaps refer me to some thread/guide/dev-statement about FreeOrion game balance? Thanks in advance ^^
Well, my own perception comes mostly from playing a lot and reading a lot in the forum, yet I keep coming up with ideas that are not always great :lol:
Usually the best way to realize if something (balance change, new species, etc.) is really OK is to playtest it several times.

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#12 Post by Ophiuchus » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:46 am

If the whumsoom are much better than exobots they will be on all of the asteroids in the end game. We have a similar situation with the Sly at the moment and i am not too happy about it.
But i think most people do not care.

One way out is preventing colonization. Then they won't change balance much and you are completely free to find fitting numbers.
Or we could invent something like slower population growth - so building a whumsoom colony would be rather a long-term commitment.
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#13 Post by wobbly » Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:45 am

You could give them no industry which would take away the bonus from microgravity industry & then it's Whumsoom for research & exobot for production. Just a random idea.

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#14 Post by DraconicLunacy » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:29 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:02 am
DraconicLunacy wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:29 pm
So you're essentially okay with their power level staying like it was in my original post. I was under the impression that the Whumsoom need to be comparable to the new Exobots, and thus nerfed them accordingly.
I might be wrong, but I think that as long as they are not easy to acquire and have a very limited environment tolerance they can be OK.

Exobots are easy to research currently, right after Nanotech Production, 90 RP (which is prerequisite to Adaptive Automation and you probably want that even without interest on Exobots) and Nascent AI, 48 RP (you always want that), and can inhabit everywhere but GGs, only asteroids need extra research to unlock poor environments (Symb. Bio 100 RP and Xeno. Gen. plus prerreqs. 186 RP, and you are getting Symb. Bio that is good to have always).

The Whumsoom will need a sizeable RP investment on research, the first two detection techs that default to 500 PP total (and gives you nothing really interesting early game such as research, production or population boosts), and also a PP investment on troops for the invasion.

So I don't think Exobots and Whumsoom need to be comparable in production/research, Whumsoom can be better. Although, since they are good in asteroids, which gives them a nice extra population compared to Exobots, if you feel they would be OP you could give them NO_INDUSTRY (for which it would make sense to give them also NO_STOCKPILE) or NO_RESEARCH, whatever fits better your species description and lore.

Our perceptions of balance differ quite a bit, doubtlessly because I have barely any knowledge of the FreeOrion balance philosophy. Could you perhaps refer me to some thread/guide/dev-statement about FreeOrion game balance? Thanks in advance ^^
Well, my own perception comes mostly from playing a lot and reading a lot in the forum, yet I keep coming up with ideas that are not always great :lol:
Usually the best way to realize if something (balance change, new species, etc.) is really OK is to playtest it several times.
I have decided to follow your advice, that Whumsoom don't have to be comparable to Exobots. Since there is no other asteroidic species against which to compare, I am balancing against the 100%-average Humans, as if the Whumsoom are a planetary species:

- Very Bad Industry: 50%
- Bad Research: 75%
- Bad Population: 75%
- Good Defensive Ground Troops: 150%
- No Offensive Ground Troops: 0%
- Great Stockpile: +0.2 per population
- Great Planetary Stealth: +40 bonus

If the Whumsoom are too strong, they are confined to asteroids only, and are obtainable only later in the game, if at all. You have already stated that you're okay with that.
If the Whumsoom are too weak, so be it. As long as they only compete against exobots, they will do just fine. Junk species should be allowed to exits too, right?

If anyone disagrees with this version of Whumsoom, please voice your critique by suggesting your own version of their stats. Otherwise, I might misunderstand what you mean, as often happened in this thread :(
Ophiuchus wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:46 am
If the whumsoom are much better than exobots they will be on all of the asteroids in the end game. We have a similar situation with the Sly at the moment and i am not too happy about it.
But i think most people do not care.

One way out is preventing colonization. Then they won't change balance much and you are completely free to find fitting numbers.
Or we could invent something like slower population growth - so building a whumsoom colony would be rather a long-term commitment.
If any species is the best at any given niche, they will naturally be all over the place. The problem with GGs and ABs is that there are only 2 species that can colonize them, hence the monoculture. If the only species ingame were average Humans and much weaker Exobots, I wouldn't be surprised if Humans end up being everywhere. Until the Whumsoom have an actual, non-exobot competitor on asteroid belts, it is futile to debate species overrepresentation. Yes, there will be Whumsoom everywhere, but only because there is nothing else to populate asteroids with.

Additionally, I would like to ask about the balance of artificial planets from asteroid belts or gas giants.
An Artificial Paradise World from a GG can be settled by far better (stat-wise) species than Sly, even if the process is atrociously costly. This creates competition and a means to measure balance between species, which normally inhabit totally different habitats (Sly make up by having +1 hab. size on GG). But on Asteroids, the species inhabiting the resulting tiny (hab. size +1) planet has to be 300% as good as the asteroidic (hab. size +3) species in order to make it worthwhile. What's the reason behind this extreme difference? Would it not make more sense balance-wise to buff the resulting artificial planet to a small (hab. size +2) one?

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Re: Species: Whumsoom

#15 Post by DraconicLunacy » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:46 pm

wobbly wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:45 am
You could give them no industry which would take away the bonus from microgravity industry & then it's Whumsoom for research & exobot for production. Just a random idea.
That was the original idea, until I learned that after 0.4.10, Exobots will be massively nerfed. The choice was to either have the Whumsoom outclass Exobots, or nerf Whumsoom aswell.
I have decided to keep them viable, since even if another (say, xenophobic) empire does not have Sly/Whumsoom, they still can terraform GGs & ABs into planets and settle them with viable species.
That this process is only worth on GGs and not ABs is a problem of terraforming balance, not my species.

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