Author Topic: [Chris says: let's discuss!] Ship bays as a means of managing perplanet assets  (Read 3745 times)

Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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In AIWC, we manage engineers/remains rebuilders using the control screen to set a quota galaxywide/perplanet. Then we just have those units built on the planet.  After reading the 'ship bays' section of the design doc it comes to mind that there's no reason that ship bays cannot be used as a means of managing engineers and possibly similar assets for the player. 

Imagine that every command station has a hangar/ship bay for engineers.  Similar to AI units, engineers/rebuilders/other utility units return to the ship bay when there is no task needing their attention.  Utility units would cost power to maintain, and since power is per-planet it places native limits on the number of engineers available without taking resources from the strike fleet. It also creates tradeoffs and choice for the player; if they want to make a planet an effective repair facility via utility units, it would cost power that eats into the budget for turrets and the like.

Another implementation could involve different types of command stations having different numbers of 'free' utility unit slots; players could spend power to increase the # of slots at a command station.   Candy-upgrades for command stations could also affect the properties or number of utility unit slots, possibly including effects like faster/cheaper reconstruction or exotic upgrades like 'combat repairers'.

This would also make it easy to have a 'town bell' mechanic, where players could restrict utility units from leaving hte ship bays either totally or on a per-unit basis.  The ship bays also offer a natural UI venue for managing settings for drones at a planet; players could set options for that station in terms of AI behavior for utility units launched from the bay.

Since utility units would cost per-planet power, and would return to bays when not in use, they functionally would not require ship caps; there's little potential performance issue and they would be restricted via other means.

Finally, this would create a unified mechanic across the game between AI and players, even if they use ship bays in a different fashion.


OFFSHOOT IDEA:

When playing AIWC, I tend to build a glob of engineers, colony ships, mobile builders, and remains rebuilders and stick them in a transport. I then use this as a 'meta unit' for colonization or the construction of siege bases on AI planets.  This could easily (conceptually) be collapsed into a single unit - a construction/colony starship with a utility unit ship bay similar to the one described above. Although in this case both the unit and any drones in its bay would cost fuel instead of power.     This would actually be a reasonable valuable unit - at least enough that you'd actually care about it, unlike colony ships or mobile builders.  Something like 60,000-150,000 metal in AIWC terms.    It would be a lot more useable and straightforward too :^)

The mothership could also have a ship bay, and double as a colony ship.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2016, 11:01:12 AM by x4000 »

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Ship bays as a means of managing perplanet assets
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2016, 02:01:59 AM »
I love this intention, even if I don't completely agree on several points (nitpicking).

I had some similar ideas, weeks ago, oriented toward macro. My grandest desire would be to completely remove the engineers and RRebuilders and automate their role. I like your idea of making planetary upgrades (with Knowledge?) to enhance the construction or repair capability of a planet. (I remember the "air staging facility" from Supreme Commander: great macro-management and automation.)

* integrate the energy collector into the command station
* integrate the knowledge gathering into the command station (Only one version of science lab, stealth and used for gathering on neutral planets and ARS scouting, maybe even merged with the hacker. Researches are done in the UI.)
* integrate the redirector post into the command station (or maybe make it a UI-only thing, not a unit in the game)
* integrate the beginning's producers (cryopods and cities) into the Home command station (or maybe let them out as they are for lore and AIP², why not)
* make remains rebuilders automated: they would be OCStation's drones, unbuildable and uncontrollable, only and automatically dispatched when needed.
* better build rate for space docks to let them work without a swarm of engineers (I would even say "remove engineers, make a healer fleetships (between scout drone and triangle) and make self-building at better rate").
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Ship bays as a means of managing perplanet assets
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2016, 11:00:53 AM »
In general there is a lot to like here.  My takeaway from this, overall, would be to do something like the following:

1. On each planet, have a "utility panel" that describes a few things like how many engineers you want there, and potentially even what you want them to focus on, as well as things like how many remains rebuilders and so on.

2. These things would be automatically created and would not be something you'd have to come back on and see (hey do I have X number of engineers left?)

3. Having them go into the ship bays I'm less crazy about, because then the logic for "do I stay or do I go" gets kinda complicated in the inefficient-on-the-CPU sense.  Probably.  Maybe. ;)  I see pros and cons, but overall I think it adds more complexity than it solves.

4. Basically I think of this kind of like the screens in SimCity where you can set the tax rate, set the funding rate for different programs, and enact social policies, etc.  I don't think there needs to be a different type of command station for planets at all, but rather you configure these things at the planet the way you want (and if your command station dies, next time you come back it's the same again since this data was at the planet).

5. Various tech unlocks could get you new things that are like the social policies in SimCity (recycling as a new program, etc).  But those would cost power on a per-planet basis, so you'd need to weigh where your power goes at any given time.

6. Being able to turn up and down the amount of power being used for turrets in general versus for the other things would be pretty cool.  Aka, it's like under-funding your fire department.  You can build a certain number of turrets, period, on a planet in general.  And you can have those fully powered if you want.  Or you can turn those to 50% power for a while to then have extra power to ship creation or whatever you want.

7. Hell, having engineers and remains rebuilders actually doesn't fit super well into the current design in general.  In the past those were useful on AI planets, but that means they should cost fuel.  But that really doesn't fit with the overall goals here, I don't feel like.  Having "battlefield engineers" that are used in hostile space and are a fuel-related ship would be pretty cool, but on your own planets why even have those?  Why not control everything from this sub-screen and save any worries about things like engineer travel times and whatnot.  Cutting down on the amount of waiting time, and just letting you express yourself through the sorts of screens that have been really well-refined over the years (I'm thinking of SimCity 4, not having played the later ones).
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Offline Pumpkin

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Nice.

Galaxy-cap for engineer stuff would go bye-bye?
Would engineer drones and remains rebuilders be merged, in the end?
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
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Offline x4000

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Bear in mind these ideas are super half-baked right now.

Galaxy-cap for engineer stuff would go bye-bye?

Yes, BUT.  We'd see those utility ships actually removed in general in terms of something you can control or whatever, potentially.  Instead it would be something like "invisible nanobots" that come from the command station and repair things after a certain amount of time, and you put a certain amount of funding into that from the power budget on that planet.  Same thing for acceleration the construction of ships.

It's easier for players to control in that fashion (as SimCity shows), and there's not then a bunch of micro with enemies killing your engineers and whatnot.  This whole thing ought to make refleeting easier by doing things like letting you lower your defenses on a planet in exchange for faster ship output for a bit, etc.

And on another planet lower the defenses in exchange for increased metal production or whatever.  It would have to take time for those changes to take effect so that you can't spam it, but basically have it set to a target "funding level" from your energy stores, and it moves to that at a certain rate that leads to it taking longer to adjust the larger the change is you just made.  One candy tech might be to make the change rate on that faster.

Overall my goals with games these days is to make the minimum amount of player effort between "deciding to do a thing" and "having the thing done or in progress of being done."  Babysitting engineers and remains rebuilders is kind of the antithesis of that.

Would engineer drones and remains rebuilders be merged, in the end?

I think that the "combat version" of these, which would still be a thing, would possibly be merged.  Basically these would be the fuel-using version of engineers that you DO need and want to micro, and which are not at all related to a planet, and which would have an even sharper (very VERY low) galaxy-wide cap.  These basically are for going into warzones and nothing else.


All half-baked ideas so far, but it's an interesting direction to go.  I want to set up how I want things to happen in the most direct way fashion, not involving a ton of confusing checkboxes and such.  SimCity 4 really nailed that.  I don't want to be ordering engineers around on my own planet when idle enemy ships come through.  I do want the ability to use engineers on beachheads like I always have.

That's just me, though. :)
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Offline chemical_art

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I am always a fan of macro vs micro. However that need wants me to push it further. I would want the "base" settings of such a process to be at least adequate the majority of stations I make. If the settings are too diverse or too poor at a base level then I will be forced to go to each command station to individually set the settings. While that isn't awful (it was the case for AIW1 using settings) I feel like we should attempt to improve upon it. Obvisouly I would need to make a few unique ones for chokepoints, etc, but I would want the majority of stations to not be tinkered with. This would greatly aid new plays and reduce micro for all.
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Offline kasnavada

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I like what's being discussed here and the direction it's taking, but I've got nothing to add.

Offline x4000

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Awesome, I'm glad to see chemical_art and kasnavada on board with this.  Now it's mainly a matter of Cinth and Cyborg as the two main ones that might have other insights into problems.

I agree that the base settings here should be good by default (that was the case in SimCity, after all).  To some extent that really means here that a certain amount of stuff should happen in an automated fashion in general.  Aka you don't have to go out of your way to set up things for repair or rebuilding or whatever: we'll assume that everyone wants to have that on all their planets at some sensible value, unless they tell the game otherwise.

Possibly loading and saving templates for these would be a possible thing, too.  That would be interface-only, so I could safely add that in without complicating anything for Keith in the sim and sync and whatnot.
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Offline chemical_art

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Possibly loading and saving templates for these would be a possible thing, too.  That would be interface-only, so I could safely add that in without complicating anything for Keith in the sim and sync and whatnot.

Many of my worries would be fixed with having dedicated templates. "Repair system" "Production system" "Defense system" are the three templates I can think of, although with AIW1 mechanics the first two are almost the same. I don't mind that overlap, but if they ever diverged I would make two separate ones.
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Offline tadrinth

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The combat engineers sound like... mobile space docks!

Just declare that having a command station present in the system gives you construction/repair/rebuild across the entire system.  In essence, just make the command station an engineer+rebuilder with infinite range.  Then you can tell it what to build right now by right clicking on stuff.  With queued commands and the 'remember target priority' feature, this would let you have some control over what to build.   You can even animate little engineers blipping around if you want. 

Different command centers could have different construction rates, or not if that encourages annoying micro.  Maybe just have candy techs that improve it.  Then you don't need a bunch of sliders. 

This does mean that you'd need to bring in a combat engi/mobile space dock to rebuild the command station itself, but that's probably a good thing. 

I'm not sure where this puts mobile builders; perhaps instead a 'beachhead' structure that is built by a mobile space dock/combat engi.  That one might not have infinite repair/construction range. 


Offline x4000

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Something along those lines!
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Offline Nuc_Temeron

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I like these ideas very much, with the caveat that I don't think these various drones should be invisible. I like seeing a bunch of drones flying around doing their thing, and it visually represents a game mechanic that's important for the player to be aware of.

Carrier ships are rad!

Offline chemical_art

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I like these ideas very much, with the caveat that I don't think these various drones should be invisible. I like seeing a bunch of drones flying around doing their thing, and it visually represents a game mechanic that's important for the player to be aware of.

Carrier ships are rad!

I do admit that while there are costs involved in both gpu and cpu, I feel like these assets need to be visually represented.
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Offline Yavaun

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I like these ideas very much, with the caveat that I don't think these various drones should be invisible. I like seeing a bunch of drones flying around doing their thing, and it visually represents a game mechanic that's important for the player to be aware of.

Carrier ships are rad!

I do admit that while there are costs involved in both gpu and cpu, I feel like these assets need to be visually represented.

Yes. Yes indeed. I loved neinzul combat carriers and bomber bays for special fortresses / champion. I figure the gpu/cpu drain will be a lot less if they bundle those launched ships into squads like they plan for other ships (likely larger squads though).

Offline Mánagarmr

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I like what's being discussed here and the direction it's taking, but I've got nothing to add.
I was just sitting here thinking the same thing.
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