Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

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Oberlus
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Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#1 Post by Oberlus » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:23 pm

I keep building basic shipyards and orbital drydocks all over the place (one per system), because they are cheap (10+20 PPs) and are great for fast fleet repairing while enlarging your empire through conquest.
I don't spam other shipyard extensions.

I also build many scanning facilities (25 PPs), because it's never bad to get extra vision.

Terraforming is another building that I spam a lot, but only when I have no clear menaces (I'm winning) or when the total production is considerable greater (20x) than the cost of the building and thus diverting some of it to the secondary objectives (like terraforming) isn't going to kill me.

I think something could be done with this kind of buildings to reduce micromanagement and/or "no-braining". Terraforming has been considered before and there are a couple of suggestions around to deal with it, so I'm leaving it out and focusing on the shipyards and drydocks.

Increasing cost of shipyard and drydock wouldn't fix anything, because it just delays the issue to later stages of game when the increased cost can be considered small (like mentioned for Terraforming), and it could mess up with current balance for early game.

Making the shipyard+drydock an implicit building, so that every planet colonised by a "CanColonize" species could produce ships out of the box, would (or at least could) break current strategies (e.g. you can start pumping out more troopers as soon as you conquer the planet). But the difference between this and the current mechanics is mostly the time you need to get that shipyard+drydock installation up: 9 turns if enough PP are supplied with current mechanics, 0 turns with implicit shipyards. Therefore, if we can make shipyards+drydocks implicit but delay its "deployment" for several turns after the planet has been colonised/invaded, the operation would be the same in both implementations except for the PPs that you save if the buildings are implicit.

What do you think about making shipyard+drydock implicit (remove them from buildings to build) but tying the availability of its operation to the infrastructure of the colony?
If the meter is under some threshold, you won't be able to build ships nor to repair ships in orbit. Also, this would mean that an old colony won't be able to produce or repair ships after a combat in which its infrastructure got knocked down. This could mess up with current strategies: since colonies with its infrastructure knocked down are probably blockaded as well and they wouln't be getting much PPs, that particular bit does not seem discouraging, but the fact that you wouldn't be able to use the shipyard+drydock for a few turns after regaining control of the system mean the impact on gameplay could be noticeable. However, I think I'd like that, it would force me to be more careful about where I try to build my fleets, fearing more possible blockades.
And the same for scanning facilities: make them implicit, but remove the bonus when infrastructure meter is under some threshold.

This suggestion could play well together, or be substituted, with some Influence and/or Government Policies mechanics.
For example, the scanning facility could be removed as building and left for a Policy that mimics its effects.
The shipyard+drydock spamming could be tackled by adding an influence cost per turn, so that you won't build them everywhere but only where you need them most, unless you're influence production is great enough to support many of them, and then we would be back at the starting square: micromanagement and no-braining, you build as much as you can support, and remove the older, far-from-borders ones when necessary. So I'm inclined to think that the implicit building tied to infrastructure is a better solution. Anyone has better insights for this?

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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:15 pm

Increasing cost of shipyard and drydock wouldn't fix anything, because it just delays the issue to later stages of game when the increased cost can be considered small
A way to keep the cost more significant might be to scale it up for each already produced by an empire or that the empire already owns. This might not work well with % based building completion though, as one could finish several to 95% then produce them all together... even if finishing the Nth increases the cost of the N+1th on the same turn, if only 5% of the cost increase matters, thats not so relevant. Having restrictions on more than one being enqueued might help with this, though.

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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#3 Post by Oberlus » Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:13 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:15 pm
A way to keep the cost more significant might be to scale it up for each already produced by an empire or that the empire already owns. This might not work well with % based building completion though, as one could finish several to 95% then produce them all together... even if finishing the Nth increases the cost of the N+1th on the same turn, if only 5% of the cost increase matters, thats not so relevant. Having restrictions on more than one being enqueued might help with this, though.
This would certainly remove the no-brainer spamming, no doubt. Possible problems I forsee:
- If cost is relevant (i.e. building another one is going to hurt you) and it depends on the number of (that kind of) buildings on the empire, you might find yourself looking for the older instances to scrap them and start building the new one on the better place next turn. So, micromanagement (although not a no-brainer, at all).
- If you can't queue more than one, but you are willing to do it because you have enough PPs for that, you're required to pay extra attention to not miss some turns, after one is finished, and would require more actions.

I think I like more the not-a-building approach, including the game-change of allowing to shut-down ship-building power-houses for several turns after a succesful "raid".

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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#4 Post by o01eg » Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:01 pm

What about to add infrastructure requirements or maintenance cost?
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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#5 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:04 pm

o01eg wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:01 pm
What about to add infrastructure requirements or maintenance cost?
Infrastructure requirements actually support the ides of making it implicit.

ie low tech= build this building (which requires X infrastructure)
higher tech=at X infrastructure you get the buildings for free

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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#6 Post by Oberlus » Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:05 pm

o01eg wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:01 pm
What about to add infrastructure requirements
You mean to require something like TargetIngrastructre > X for the building to be available for construction, or something else? If it is the former, don't see how that can help with current infrastructure mechanics, because either you have enough infrastructure on every colony or you don't. Or I'm confused?


Solutions so far:

Construction upkeep: Add upkeep factor to the building cost that makes them more expensive the more you have.
  • Pro(+): Reduces spam (micromanagement and no-brainer).
  • Pro(+): Increases strategic value of the building.
  • Con(-): Calls for some new micromanagement scrapping old, non-strategic buildings to workaround the upkeep (still less work than just spaming everywherel, but may be annoying for larger games to locate the ones you want to scrap)
  • Con(-): Requires restrictions on the queue (no more than one on the queue) to avoid easy working around of the building cost upkeep; or probably better rework how the upkeep works to make it consider unfinished buildings.
Maintenance upkeep: Add influence cost per turn and building, probably increasing with number of buildings to counteract the expected increase of influence.
  • Pro(+): Reduces spam (micromanagement and no-brainer).
  • Pro(+): Increases strategic value of the building.
  • Con(-): Calls for some new micromanagement scrapping old, non-strategic buildings to workaround the upkeep (still less work than just spaming everywherel, but may be annoying for larger games to locate the ones you want to scrap)
Implicit building: Require certain infrastructure for the building to function, but get it for free on every colony.
  • Pro(++): Eliminates all spam and micromanagement.
  • Con(-): Removes the strategic value of where you build drydocks (you just don't).
  • ???(?): Adds more preasure to the strategic choice of where you build your stacks and how you defend that position, because if the colony is question gets knocked down just for a turn, works on that colony won't continue for a few turns.
I like the last one more.

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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#7 Post by Krikkitone » Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:03 am

If the colony where you are building stacks gets knocked down you should lose all progress not just one turn

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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#8 Post by Vezzra » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:04 pm

Please keep in mind that the original (and to this date still current) idea regarding shipyards is that they are supposed to be expensive, requiring a lot of time and investment to build, so that players have to plan and decide carefully how many and where to build their shipyards. Shipyard locations should be very valuable and locations of high strategic importance, so that defending them is of topmost importance. Choosing shipyard locations are meant to be one of those interesting choices players have to make.

Making shipyards and drydocks implicit as suggested would ultimately defeat that idea.

The fundamental problem we currently have is that it's very difficult or even impossible to balance game elements via their build costs/time, but that in itself is already the real issue here. Because it should be possible to prevent a building to become a "build everywhere" thing by ajusting it's costs accordingly.

The reason why this currently doesn't work is simply because resource output scales way, way to high during the course of the game. Things that are almost unaffordable at the start of the game become less than peanuts later on. Which makes it impossible to balance them right: if you set the costs high enough so that they are still relevant in late game, it would be completely impossible to build them at game start. If you set the costs low enough that building them at game start is at least remotely reasonable, these costs will become irrelevant maybe already in late midgame.

This basically wreaks havoc with everything that needs to be expensive, and causes a lot of trouble with all sorts of things, particularly with all those buildings which provide valuable benefits, but shouldn't become "build everywhere" buildings. Instead, the player should have to make interesting decisions about where to build them, because they can only afford so many. Scanning Facilities, Interstellar Lighthouses, Shipyards, Gas Giant Generators etc., to name a few examples.

We frequently stumble across these issues, and whenever that happens, discussions ensue how to fix building X or Y, ideas are thrown around, but we never really fix the actual root of the problem (which, I have to admit, gets a bit frustrating for me now and then). Please, instead of coming up with another mix of ideas that might alleviate one of the issues caused by the underlying problem, why not deal with that underlying problem?

Drastically rebalance and reduce the resource output boni granted by techs, species picks, specials etc. The base bonus you get needs to be far higher compared to the additional boni you can acquire by techs etc. That would, IMO, be the right way to fix all these issues e.g. with "build everywhere" buildings.

Of course, there are other things that contribute to these issues, one being that we still haven't enough things to spend PP on, so that, at some point, you have too much of them and can easily afford to sink them into expensive stuff, which shouldn't be so easily affordable. So, drastically flatten the increase curve of resource output, have more stuff player need to spend PP on, and much of these issues should get a lot better.

Once those fixes are in place, we can still think of more solutions should it be necessary. But, at least IMHO, the reasonable approach should be to deal with the obvious fundamental problems first. It's always the smart thing to fix problems at the root, instead of wrestling with the symptoms. ;)

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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#9 Post by Oberlus » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:36 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:04 pm
[...] it should be possible to prevent a building to become a "build everywhere" thing by ajusting it's costs accordingly.

The reason why this currently doesn't work is simply because resource output scales way, way too high during the course of the game. Things that are almost unaffordable at the start of the game become less than peanuts later on. [...]

So, drastically flatten the increase curve of resource output, have more stuff player need to spend PP on, and much of these issues should get a lot better.
I'm sure that's the way to go. Not advocating for the OP's suggestion anymore.

However, it won't be easy, if possible. If you flatten the curve enough for a fixed cost to be balanced until late game, you end up with a game where it doesn't matter to get the techs and boni and even colonies, you can just go Egassem-like, hell bent for invading other homeworlds with just your starting world.
So this should be coupled with some kind of upkeep (maintenance) mechanism to make sure that game can "grow" at different rates without building everywhere anything. Time for brainstorming.

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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#10 Post by Ophiuchus » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:17 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:36 pm
Vezzra wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:04 pm
[...] it should be possible to prevent a building to become a "build everywhere" thing by ajusting it's costs accordingly.

The reason why this currently doesn't work is simply because resource output scales way, way too high during the course of the game. Things that are almost unaffordable at the start of the game become less than peanuts later on. [...]

So, drastically flatten the increase curve of resource output, have more stuff player need to spend PP on, and much of these issues should get a lot better.
I'm sure that's the way to go. Not advocating for the OP's suggestion anymore.

However, it won't be easy, if possible. If you flatten the curve enough for a fixed cost to be balanced until late game, you end up with a game where it doesn't matter to get the techs and boni and even colonies, you can just go Egassem-like, hell bent for invading other homeworlds with just your starting world.
So this should be coupled with some kind of upkeep (maintenance) mechanism to make sure that game can "grow" at different rates without building everywhere anything. Time for brainstorming.
Just notice we have currently an exponential growth which gets fuelled by research (until you run out of techs to research which give RP boosts) but has its underlying mechanic in the logic of acquiring planets and resource production.

In the expansion phase basically doubling the number of planets in your empire leads to doubling the resources, which leads to you doubling the number of planets again in half the time.
This stops if expansion cost increases (e.g. because you need to take out an enemy).

If we make it to make shipyards costly/valuable there will be a problem for distributed peaceful expansion, but i guess we can fix it.

So one can also go the other way: increase cost (kind-of-)exponentially. For an extreme example double the price of the shipyard for every shipyard your empire has ever built. In order to prevent micromanagement, destroying your shipyard should not decrease the costs.
I am pretty sure players would be a lot more careful about placing shipyards then (and very eager to acquire enemy shipyards).
So the first shipyard you build costs 25 PP, the second one 50 PP, the third one 100 PP and so on.
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: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#11 Post by o01eg » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:27 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:17 pm
So one can also go the other way: increase cost (kind-of-)exponentially. For an extreme example double the price of the shipyard for every shipyard your empire has ever built. In order to prevent micromanagement, destroying your shipyard should not decrease the costs.
I am pretty sure players would be a lot more careful about placing shipyards then (and very eager to acquire enemy shipyards).
So the first shipyard you build costs 25 PP, the second one 50 PP, the third one 100 PP and so on.
I think it is a irrational idea. Nothing should rise it cost just because you already some ones.

I agreed it better to add maintenance cost. What about to return Food resource but made it maintenance production cost of population? It will add guns-vs-butter choice to player and restrict exponential growth of empire.
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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#12 Post by Oberlus » Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:31 pm

Making the shipyard buildings cost's greater than the cost of ships you can build with it could be a good starting point. Currently it is the opposite, so the cost of building a shipyard is several times smaller than a Cruiser MS. Let's make it cost at least two basic outpost ships, and the orbital drydock three robotic outpost ship. That is commitment in terms of immediate PP consumption.
Then, if this doesn't work (and it won't) for late game, we can wait for influence upkeep (instead of getting food back) or add some PP-based upkeep, either the one we have for ships or something that consumes PPs every turn the building is up.

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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#13 Post by Ophiuchus » Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:32 pm

o01eg wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:27 pm
I think it is a irrational idea. Nothing should rise it cost just because you already some ones.
No realism please. This is a space opera game.

I think everything which is based in realism will lead to exponential growth in this context - think bacteria in petri dishes.
I agreed it better to add maintenance cost. What about to return Food resource but made it maintenance production cost of population? It will add guns-vs-butter choice to player and restrict exponential growth of empire.
How does juggling with another meter restrict exponential growth?
If your empire expands your capacity for food production will expand as well.
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: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#14 Post by em3 » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:23 am

How about introducing handicaps to planets with a shipyard? Maybe prohibiting foci other than ship building? Reducing supply meter?

Shipyards could be required only to build and repair larger and more advanced hulls and parts, while basic hull with early tech parts could be built anywhere.

EDIT: fixed auto-correct
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Re: Make shipyards & drydock implicit (not a building)

#15 Post by Oberlus » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:40 am

em3 wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:23 am
Maybe prohibiting foci other than ship building?
This.
It's equivalent to a PP cost per turn, which should be rather discouraging for spam. So, when you build a shipyard, the only available foci is "shipbuilding_focus" (which enables the use of the shipyard and its repair functions), and you must scrap the building to be able to use the other foci. Would that be directly doable FOCS-only?
em3 wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:23 am
Shipyards could be required only to build and repair larger and more advanced hulls and parts, while basic hull with early tech parts could be built anywhere.
The orbital drydock repair effect (reparation of ships in orbit, regardless of hull line and type) could be distributed into all the shipyard buildings, so that each ship can be repaired only in a system with the appropriate shipyard building.

Something similar could be applied to the Scanning Facility: it only works if focus is set to scouting (but here we don't disable the other foci).

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