Tamed Dyson Forest

For what's not in 'Top Priority Game Design'. Post your ideas, visions, suggestions for the game, rules, modifications, etc.

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Oberlus
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Tamed Dyson Forest

#1 Post by Oberlus » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:20 pm

I'm working on the production/research/population boosts for the new tech tree.

What do you think of a tamed dyson forest around a system to increase production (collects solar energy and resources orbiting the star, and the forest is "harvested" by the owner empire) and defense of a/every system, for the Biotec theme?
Regarding mechanics, I have my doubts. The extra defense would come from the "monster" object itself. The production boost, as well as the extra defense damage, could be proportional to the forest size/HP (slow growth).

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Re: Tamed Dyson Forest

#2 Post by Oberlus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:27 pm

So I think nobody is against this idea. Good, 'cause I like it :D

Now the details for a possible implementation.

I want no micromanage for this, so it won't be a build-everywhere building (in the sense of the player queueing it for every system).
At first impression, I don't think there is a good reason to limit this kind of structure to one of very few planets systems, so it won't be a imperial-wide (ministry-like) building, nor a building with location restrictions (like require an special or have a minimum distance from another one).
And it makes sense to have it everywhere.

So I think it should be an automatic, slow-paced mechanism: any system with a colony (not outpost) of this Empire will start growing a tamed Dyson Forest (the monster that is already in the game), and a new FOCS effect will give an increase of production (or population, or the meter we finally decide that is better for this app) to any Empire's colony in that system proportional to the structure of the Dyson Forest. It could be a flat bonus (+1 PPs per each 10 HPs of the forest, something like that) or a pop-based bonus (+0.1*pop per each 100 HPs of the forest). It should not release floaters to seed uncolonised systems with tamed Dyson Forests, or should it?
If an enemy attacks the system the forest gets into combat as any other monster or ship of the Empire, and it gets damage, reducing its structure (may to 0, killing it). The bonus given by the forest should then be reduced accordingly (and, if possible, immediately).
Shall this be the only Biotec effect that affects planetary defenses (I've got other ideas), the weaponry of the Dyson Forest should be improved, to make it grow with size too (instead of the fixed 3 damage that it currently has). In fact, I would change the Dyson Forest monster itself to work this way too, and make it ignore shields (it's supposed to be formed of many tiny space-plants, they fit in the concept of drones or even better mines, and both ignores shields).

Other ideas for Biotec planetary defense techs:
- Gigantic bettles in the atmosphere that shoot huge balls of plasma to the outer atmosphere (like those bugs in Starship Troopers). Would be few but big shots that does not ignore shields.
- Floating gasbags (like zerg overlords) that release swarms of acid (explossive) bugs (like flying zerg pestelings) that attack enemy ships in orbit. Many but small shots that ignore shields.

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em3
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Re: Tamed Dyson Forest

#3 Post by em3 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:39 am

What will happen if the system is taken over while the Dyson forest grows? Will the Dyson forest change affinity to the new owner? Or does it stays loyal and interfere with operations of the new residents? Or maybe it reverts to unowned (monster) version? Does it still grow (even if conquering empire does not have the technology) or wither away?

Depending on answers to this questions, I would be wary of making Dyson forests automatic. Maybe they should have a significant trade-off, like a large penalty to supply or maybe increased stealth of everything in-system (allied or not).
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

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Re: Tamed Dyson Forest

#4 Post by Ophiuchus » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:40 am

So as far as i understood: you suggest a tamed dyson forest ship which can be spawned in a system if there is not already one and it is owned by an empire with the right tech which has a colony in that system.

I am not sure about the PP boost so i will ignore that topic here here.

Regarding maintenance cost i think it should not spawn everywhere, but only if a planet in the system is set to defense. Also it should only grow structure if there is a planet in the system is set to defense focus. Variant: It could be grow/spawned everywhere as long as the empire implements a fitting gardens-of-dyson policy.

I think having some bonus from long-term defense-focus would definitely help the AI (AI wastes much too much resources on defense without benefit), so we should do something along this line also for general defense.
We could a) either introduce planetary weapon buildings which get auto-spawned if you have the necessary tech and keep defense focus. (If we also to be able to build planetary weapon buildings using PP in the prod queue they should be way "overpriced", so usually you would prefer to get them for free. This might be hard to balance).
Or we could do something boring and b) change defense growth to have some slower long-term increase if the current max is reached (one way would be to increase capacity of a long-term defense special and use that to boost max defense; slowly decrease the capacity if the focus is not on defense)
Or we could go the other way c) pseudo-switch to preferred species focus as long as the defense value is already at maximum (so you reap some RP/PP benefits if you have full defense).
Also it would be nice to d) change the planetary defenses from a single meter to different weapons; this would need some changes to FOCS and backend; if was thinking of having weapon building designs which e.g. can have launch bays and hangar parts - these would be easy to handle in the backend (basically planets would spawn weapons in combat the same way ships do)

p.s. besides the monster defense, it could provide a stealth boost (?based on forest structure value?) to the owners ships in the system (because an approaching enemy cant "look" through the dyson forest).
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: Tamed Dyson Forest

#5 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:02 am

em3 wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:39 am
What will happen if the system is taken over while the Dyson forest grows?
That should not be possible, the same you can't take a planet (invade it) if you haven't zeroes first its shields and defences (or is it just the shields?). Consider the Tamed Dyson Forest as a system-wide (instead of planet-wide) defences that must be taken down in order to colonise/outpost or invade a planet in that system.
Will the Dyson forest change affinity to the new owner?
Nope, it shall be destroyed in order to take the any planet from the owner empire, and therefore it can't change ownership (the same way you can't change ownership of any ship, BTW).
Or does it stays loyal and interfere with operations of the new residents?
Since it must be destroyed to get the planet(s) from which it stems, it can't annoy you once you have conquered it. If an enemy empire with tamed Dyson forests colonises a planet in the same system than you, and you don't stop his newly born Dyson forest on next turn in any other way, it shall start fighting your planet(s) in that system. If there were two planets of the tamed Dyson forests and you only conquered one (after destroying the forest first), the other planet will try to spawn a new Dyson forest (that could fight your newly conquered planet), but it won't spawn as long as there are enemy armed ships standing in the system on previous turn (i.e., Dyson forests will only spawn if system is under control).
Or maybe it reverts to unowned (monster) version?
Never.
Does it still grow (even if conquering empire does not have the technology) or wither away?
As above, impossible.

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Re: Tamed Dyson Forest

#6 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:46 am

Ophiuchus wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:40 am
Regarding maintenance cost i think it should not spawn everywhere, but only if a planet in the system is set to defense. Also it should only grow structure if there is a planet in the system is set to defense focus. Variant: It could be grow/spawned everywhere as long as the empire implements a fitting gardens-of-dyson policy.
I like the policy variant.
This idea came when I was looking for distinct ways of producing energy (boosting PPs) on each theme. For Mechs I've thought of Dyson rings (a building to boost PPs of supply-connected, production-focused colonies, around tier 3-4) and Dyson bubbles (same plus gives and stealth bonus to everything in that system, more expensive to build and with higher maintenance cost, 5-6), and that made me thing of Dyson forests and how well they fit in the Biotec theme, with its natural growing mechanics and being so biologic...
Considering th other points you've raised, I think it could be like this:
Once researched the tech, tamed Dyson forests start growing in every system and two (maybe more) policy cards are unlocked:
  • Space (or Dyson forest) harvesting: Any (allied) production-focused colony in the system will get a pop-based PP boost depending on the size (structure) of the tamed Dyson forest, balanced so that a full grown forest requires many turns (30+) to reach max size and the boost then is comparable with the strongest boosts in other themes, while the initial boost when the forest is young (or small after an attack) is comparable to the weakest boosts in game(*).
  • Space (or Dyson forest) culturing/gardening: Harvesting is forbidden for better defence and only some by-products of the forest can be used. The forest maximum structure and damage is doubled, and it will grow (or heal) twice as fast, if at least one of the colonies in the system is focused on defence. Every production-focused colony in the system will get a small pop-based PP boost (a fraction of the boost you'd get with newly born forests under harvesting policy)(**)
(*) what is strong or weak, big or small, is something to be decided once I finish the FO economic model I'm working on to estimate growth rates depending on the several factors and help reduce the steamroll/exponential growth problem.
(**) I've considered a flat bonus in this case, but then it is impossible to ensure that no "defense-focused with gardening" system could produce more than a any "production-focused with harvesting" system, which would be counter-intuitive and prone to micromanagement.
I think having some bonus from long-term defense-focus would definitely help the AI (AI wastes much too much resources on defense without benefit), so we should do something along this line also for general defense.
I like the idea of giving some extra benefit to long-term defence focus. With above suggestion, that would be true for Biotec empires: setting defence focus and the gardening policy card, will give you faster growth of the forest (half time to max out PP boost if then you switch to production and harvesting policy). But then this specific implementation would create the need for micromanagement... OK, editing the above suggestion.
But regarding AI's inefficient use of defence focus, I think that's a problem that should be fixed in the AI's decision making system, not by accommodating the game mechanics to the AI's choices.
a) either introduce planetary weapon buildings which get auto-spawned if you have the necessary tech and keep defense focus.
b) change defense growth to have some slower long-term increase if the current max is reached (one way would be to increase capacity of a long-term defense special and use that to boost max defense; slowly decrease the capacity if the focus is not on defense)
c) pseudo-switch to preferred species focus as long as the defense value is already at maximum (so you reap some RP/PP benefits if you have full defense).
d) change the planetary defenses from a single meter to different weapons; this would need some changes to FOCS and backend; if was thinking of having weapon building designs which e.g. can have launch bays and hangar parts - these would be easy to handle in the backend (basically planets would spawn weapons in combat the same way ships do)
I haven't understood (c).
I'm sure (d) is necessary, sooner or later, to make planetary defence techs meaningful. Currently, that 1 big shot that planets have (regardless of planetary defence focus) is useless and the RPs invested on them a waste.
Regarding (a), I don't like the idea of such a strong/restrictive bond between defences and planet focus. I like the "sacrifice your focus-dependent production/research/influence of this planet in favour of doubled defences" (maybe more than doubled, or less, but that would depend on a pending planetary defences redesign, ongoing). Is a mechanic that I can use in certain border areas close to enemy fleets. But I wouldn't like defences to only spawn when defence-focused, because that would require some more attention from me (not exactly micromanagement, but very close) to get the most of it, and so I would probably ignore planetary defence techs and focus on having good mobile fleets to defence everywhere without having to keep changing planet focus depending on the moves of my enemies.
(If we also to be able to build planetary weapon buildings using PP in the prod queue they should be way "overpriced", so usually you would prefer to get them for free. This might be hard to balance).
Impossible I'd say. I know there is discussion (cold right now) about how to prevent snowballing and building spam, with some probably good suggestions but no definitive solutions. Therefore, unless I have no other option, I will refrain from introducing any spammable building (i.e., I will allow myself to introduce buildings that spawn automatically, but none directly managed by the player that could be built everywhere.
p.s. besides the monster defense, it could provide a stealth boost (?based on forest structure value?) to the owners ships in the system (because an approaching enemy cant "look" through the dyson forest).
Indeed! It makes so much sense, and fits very well with my preconceived Biotec's affinity to stealth. I didn't thought of this before, even if I already put that effect on Mech's Dyson bubble.

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Re: Tamed Dyson Forest

#7 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:57 am

Like the idea of a spontaneous systemwide defense (nice way to help consolidate empires as well)

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