Public Review: Buildings

Past public reviews and discussions.
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Public Review: Buildings

#1 Post by Aquitaine » Sun May 30, 2004 10:22 pm

My apologies for the delay in getting this out.

Since this is a fairly involved topic, it is likely that I won't be spot-on for every proposal. I've read the design thread, but there's 19 pages of material there, so if you would like to elaborate on one of the proposals here, you may -- but please, no entirely new proposals or significant changes to what's here (unless I've completely screwed it up, but better to PM me in that case). Also, in order for a proposal to make it to the review, it had to be clearly written (if I write the design docs and I can't understand it, there's a problem) and ideally it would've had some support or discussion in the DESIGN thread.

The topic for this review is: How do we implement buildings, or colony infrastructure and improvements?

Military issues like defense installations, starbases, and shipyards are related to this topic, but we are not passing anything related to these right now. Nevertheless, before you commit to an idea, you should think about how it would affect these related issues.

Some things we can safely take for granted:
- There may be a distinction between 'regular' buildings (a building that any planet or system can have) and 'wonder' buildings (a building that an Empire may only have one of, or even that only one Empire may have)
- Buildings may be specialized according to focus, e.g. buildings may require a primary or secondary focus as a pre-requisite for construction, and changing the focus may disable or remove the building.

Some relevant questions that were raised in the discussion:
- How often should the player be making decisions about what to build where?
- From what perspective should these decisions be made (planet, system, or Empire)?

Proposal #1: MOO2 Style

This is the style of buildings that we see in MOO2 and Civ2/3. Buildings are plentiful and every planet can support a significant number of them. This is the 'classic' 4X approach to this issue and tends to involve a lot of micromanagement, although something like GalCiv's build queues can lessen this somewhat. Nevertheless, it's tried & true.

Proposal #1a: MOO2 Style w/Macromanagement tools

This assumes a similar number and style of buildings to MOO2 and/or Civ, but adds system and/or Empire-level logic to automate the building process when you aren't looking at a planet. This is similar in design (although not necessarily implementation) to MOO3's development plans; we could say 'if a world has this primary focus and this secondary focus, build these things unless I override it.' Additions could be made to this system to handle defensive or military structures (since there are no foci for these) that allow the player to prioritize these items in the context of the planetary focus.

Proposal #2: Limited build slots :

The basic idea behind this group of proposals is that the game takes for granted what the player wants through infrastructure. For example, if a planet has a primary focus of farming, the game assumes that the player wants farming things built there, and the player never has to specifically ask for them. In this system, the player asks for exceptions rather than the rule -- that is, if the player wants the planet's industry to crank out ships or defense structures or wonders, then the industrial output goes toward the 'special order' instead of planetary infrastructure.

The build slots would be used for advanced structures that would augment some aspect of the planet's production, defenses, or population or be used for ship construction or troop mobilization.

Proposal #2a: Limited Build Slots w/Separate Defense structures

Same as above, only defense gets its own system (or an automatic 'defense slot' on every planet that can be upgraded).

Those are proposals for 'what a planet can hold' -- there are other proposals for how this should be managed and what should be built on the planet level versus the system level versus the Empire level.

There are several specific means of doing this out there, but I'm going to try and abstract what's been suggested into the questions they are trying to answer, so those of you who haven't followed the DESIGN discussion can try to grasp this without diving into a pile of prose.

The first issue is how infrastructure is calculated and improved; whether or not it simply goes up over time, or if it can be assumed that a planet's industrial output goes toward improving its local infrastructure when it isn't otherwise occupied (or some of each, so that a planet whose resources are being diverted to the Imperial-level doesn't stagnate infrastructure-wise indefinitely). So our choices here are:

- Infrastructure steadily increases along with population or simply over time, regardless of industrial output; this basically means that a farming planet develops as a farming world as quickly as an industrial planet develops as an industrial world. This is the most simple solution as far as I can tell. Techs could still modify the rate, though.

- Infrastructure increases at a rate dependent on industrial output of a planet.

- Both: Industrial output modifies an otherwise fixed rate.

The next issue is what, exactly, gets built where. Here are some proposals:

Build methodology 1: Local Building

Everything is built 'at some place' ala MOO2. This would be organized with a sort-able planets screen (also like MOO2) so you could hit your top producers fairly easily, but it's still a lot of micromanagement. The Empire-wide resources then become a 'spare parts' stockpile as planets build in isolation from each other.

Build metholody 2: System Building

Same as above, only planets are grouped into star systems, so you'd end up with the total industrial output of a star system as the largest single production unit in your Empire.

Build methodology 3: Empire Building

Planets 'contribute' their industrial capacity to an Empire-wide queue for certain types of large projects.

Most of the suggestions I saw for this side of the issue involve using at least two of the above methods. For example, most of the tech you'd research that helps planetary production is abstracted into infrastructure, but certain advanced buildings can be built (locally, at the Planetary level) using build slots. Certain other things (to be determined) must be built at the Empire-level. A planet that is using its resources locally (perhaps to build defense or filling a build slot) would either not contribute or contribute less to the Emipre production pool.

I'm taking the risk of over-simplifying the proposals here just so I can keep this to an overview, but please feel free to expand upon any part of it that's already been brought up. The only thing to avoid would be something that couldn't be classified into the above suggestions at all.

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One review.

#2 Post by guiguibaah » Sun May 30, 2004 11:35 pm

Ok, first off that bat, just want to say that this isn't 'my proposal' or anything of that sort. A lot of people had some really interesting ideas that I probably never would have thought up. I'll try at best to present my interpretation of their ideas.

Hope it helps somewhat. The proposal most reflects idea 2A and build idea 3.

= There are 'small' buildings that are slowly added on over time as the planet grows. These 'small' buildings depend on the planet's focus. They are not found on the imperial build que. Planets build them on their own based on their focus. .

= There are 'Large' buildings that the player can place on a planet that have specific effects.

= The 'size' of the planet's 'small building construction speed' would depend on the population and on the terraform preference.

= Industry from all planets is pumped into an empire build que.

= The buildings you see below are of the 'large building' variety.

- - - -

Image 1

This is the empire "parts" list. These are completed items that have been created through an empire build que, waiting to be placed.

The left column (infrastr.) are 'large building' like items. In order is a +1 to total planet industry building (factory), a +1 to total industry farming building (farm), a +1 to total research (lab), and a moon colony. More creative people could probably think up of some better ideas.

The right column (military) includes planet defences, ships, starbases and shipyards. Oh, and that funny green thing that looks like a crown is an empire wonder waiting to be placed on a planet.

On the right are the planets as seen when selecting a star (modeled after the current UI)

Image 2

Here I've selected the homeworld, which happens to be a very large planet. It has 2 moons, one of which has a colony, the other not. It has 6 slots for infrastructure, 4 slots for defence, and 1 orbital slot.

(I arbitrarily chose 6.. I figured a maximum of 4 for the biggest & best planet type (optimum size + terraform range), plus an extra 2 if it was your capital / homeworld)

Here with my 'mouse cursor' I'm dragging over a mine to place it on the planet's moon. The planet also has a factory, a farm, and a laser battery.

Image 3

Now I've dragged over a shipyard (one per system only), another laser cannon, and a mine. The planet's focus AND it's population size will determine how long it takes to 'assemble' these items. I imagine worlds who have industry as their primary focus would complete buildings a little faster, while completing ships a lot faster. The time to assemble should not take long (3 turns at most). In fact, a large industrial world with a ton of people should probably get the job done the next turn or immediately.

Oh, and I'm also dragging a completed moon colony to 'open' up the empty moon space.

Image 4

The buildings are complete, now I'm in the process of dragging and dropping 3 research labs. Note, however, that I don't have enough 'lab parts' hence why the labs show -2. This is so that if I am in a rush, I can drag / drop items in slots that aren't complete yet and they are placed next on the empire build que (to reduce micromanagement of having to visit each planet when something is complete to place it). Hence why they are colored 'dark red'.

Image 5

Here's the empire build que. The 2 buildings are being built. Based on the empire's total industrial output, it should take 7 turns to complete the parts for a lab. (If there was excess industry lying around, it could go into the first item, thus making it take, say, only 1 or 2 turns depending on how much was stockpilled). It follows the 'tetris' proposal in the discussion forum.

Image 6

The two labs are complete. I've now ordered a battleship and 3 farms. Note the battleship will take 38 turns of empire industry to complete. (Note to self. I should have made the farms 20 instead of 2 to give them that 'special' edge over ships).

Ever stand in a line at a cashier, only to have an irate customer demand that they be paid all in pennies, taking 15 minutes when all you and everyone else just wanted to pay your 10$ gas and go? You could if you had a second cashier.

Image 7

I've opened a second build cue, allocating the first one at 75% capacity, and the second at 25%. The farms, taking less time, get automatically shifted to the 25% mark so they get completed and are put into use before the battleship is completed.

Image 8

I've returned to the large homeworld (note the completed labs) and decide to make a fleet. I drag and drop the ship icons from the military slot onto the shipyard icon.

(I could also do this on the galaxy view, since only 1 shipyard would be available per system, I could just drag and drop them on the appropriate star and they would be completed there). Again, based on
1. The industrial capacity of the planet
2. The population size
3. The planet's focus
4. The type of shipyard
the ships could take from (immediate) to (X) turns to complete at the planet, depending on the amount of ships I told it to build. (2 frigates? done next turn. 18 Battlecuisers? Try 4 turns, 2 if it's an advanced shipyard).

Planets without shipyards could be given the ability to construct only mark 1 (frigates) ships. To do that, drag the frigate parts and drop it on the planet. it would take a lot longer to complete it on the planet (like 3 times longer) than on the shipyard.

Image 9

Here I've selected a small planet. Only 1 lab, 1 missile defence, 1 empty defence slot and an empty orbital slot. No moon. Oh, speaking of orbital slots, I figured starbases and shipyards would go in them, but they could also be used for such things as detection grids, system minefields, EMP disruptors and other goodies I can't exactly think up of at this time.

Image 10

I don't want that research facility anymore, so I'm scrapping it by dragging and dropping it. Scrapped items get dissasembled into their component parts. (So now I would have extra lab parts).

Image 11

Another large sized planet (but not homeworld). This would be the largest, non-homeworld maximum, with 4 slots. Unfortunately, it has no moons. It has lots of people, but no special buildings. I'm going to put the wonder on it.

Image 12

Now I'm placing the wonder. It has grown in size to take up all 4 slots on the planet.

Image 13

Finally, I've returned to my homeworld. A few turns have passed, and I've done quite a bit of research. I've researched advanced factories (+2 to industry), advanced farms (+2 farm) and Advanced research labs (+2 research). Research was also complete in advanced missile defence systems, and shipyards.

As you can see, all items are upgraded automatically when they are researched (so I don't have to revisit each planet like in moo2 to build 'robotic factories' atop my 'automated factories') to reduce micromanagement.

* Finally, planet colonies (inside the system) are built like moon colonies, except they are dragged and dropped onto the un-occupied planet.

= = = = =
(slightly out-of-discussion scope)

Q: Why have slots for planetary defence?

A: I figure, it would give the player a paper/stone/scissors approach to defence, to customize their defence strategy, and to give attacking an entire system a new perspective.

Missiles pack a greater punch than batteries, but can easily be negated with a fleet of point-defence ships.

Batteries would be better against bigger, larger ships, less effective against frigates and fighers.

Figther bays would be less effective against large point-defence ships. However, each fighter bay could assist another planet under attack by sending it's fighters to that planet. 1 fighter base won't do much damage. 2 fighter bases on each planet, in a system of 5 planets, means you'll be facing 10 squadrons.

Therefore, if I was an attacking force wanting to take over a heavily defended homeworld armed to the teeth with batteries, missiles and an orbital, I would first attack the smaller planets with fighter bays so I can concentrate on eliminating the fighter garrisons, while not getting pounded each turn by massive batteries, missile turrets and orbital ray guns.

A small substitute to 'system ships'

So by picking slots, it forces the player to choose a strategy. Heavily defend each planet, or lightly defend all planets, but have them all assist each other.

= = = = =

Oh, and if need be, the empire build que could eventually be divided into a 'sector build que' if the dev's ever decide to go with sectors.

I also think it could look pretty neat if the icons were animated, especially when they are installed on the planet and being built.

Well, that's it. Hope I made some sense :).
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#3 Post by drek » Mon May 31, 2004 6:21 am

Haven't read it yet guiguibaah, but I would have been much happier with seeing all that a: before final review b: on a web page or rtf doc instead of one long forum post.

I like #2 with build #3.

I'd caution against locking ourselves into 2a--defenses are something we can worry about after the combat system is better defined. Saying that planet based defenses are a special building type with their own slots might come into conflict with better ways of representing defenses: for example using units to represent ground defenses or using very abstracted defense buildings in the main slots.

I'd say that the idea for special defense slots be shelved until the ground combat version of the game.

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#4 Post by utilae » Mon May 31, 2004 10:03 am


I like that proposal. Cool.


I'm thinking Proposal #2 and Build Methodology #3.

Now between proposals 2 and 2a I think for 2 you would have slots which share defense and advanced structures. You could get a situation where you have slots filled with advanced structures and no room for defense.

But with 2a you could max out advance structures and still have room for defense, cause defense buildings would have slots reserved for them. I'm not sure whether this is a big issue, but maybe its something to discus. If defense and advanced structures shared build slots (proposal 2) then it would be less micro, cause you would only have to drag buildings into one set of slots instead of two (which is the case in guiguibaah proposal/pics).
Last edited by utilae on Tue Jun 01, 2004 8:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#5 Post by Satyagraha » Mon May 31, 2004 1:19 pm

Proposal #2: Limited build slots and Build Methodology #3: Empire Building.
maybe a mix between Build Methodology #3: Empire Building and Proposal #1: MOO2 Style (semi-local)

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#6 Post by krum » Mon May 31, 2004 2:42 pm

Proposal #2 fits the foci system better; Also it's better than #2a for drek's reasons.

All three build methodologies have their advantages that have to be used. A combination of 1(&2?)&3. Only #3 would make planets more alike; Only #1 also has its bad sides...

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#7 Post by Underling » Mon May 31, 2004 3:51 pm

Building proposal 2 - limited build slots

Build que proposal 3 - Empire wide que

IMO, this combo holds enormous potential to produce a low-micro 4x game that incorporates the best of real-time with the best of TBS.

2a could also be OK. I hesitate to endorse 2a over 2 until a more solid picture of the defense system in game is determined.

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#8 Post by DemoMonkey » Mon May 31, 2004 4:42 pm

Casting my vote for Proposal 2 and Build Method 3.

The idea that the basic complexity and micromanagement requirements can remain relatively constant throughout the game, rather than increase geometrically, is key to overcoming the drawbacks and failures of previous efforts.

I think this is a great example of the design team really listening to the feedback and suggestions offered. Well done guys!

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#9 Post by Krikkitone » Mon May 31, 2004 6:47 pm

Well My proposal closest to 2, although it might better be described as

No 'Buildings'...only
'Wonders' (although looser than the Civ sense in that you might have
5 per Empire or 1 for every 5 systems or 1 on every artifact world, etc.
Main difference with plan 2 is that a specific planet could have as many different 'wonders' as you wanted it to have (no planetary slots))
'Infrastructures' (which I favor as Very similar to MOO1 Factories, except
one type for Each Resource
a limit to how fast they can grow
a cost involved (like in MOO1)
no 'upgrades' (tech only lets you build more of them)
'Defenses' (although that could be handled a seperate way possibly such as specialized 'unit' types)

My Build Queue Proposal is 3 (with limitations on max investment to limit transport costs)

No Buildings, Empire wide Resource Queue

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#10 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Jun 01, 2004 10:16 am

My preferred solution is very similar to Krikkitone's, i.e.

No buildings in the Moo2 or Civ sense - allow a limited number of 'wonders' per system (some of which might be unique, some of which can be built one per system, some of which can be built anywhere) which provide benefits/bonuses.

Examples of 'wonders':
shipyard complex
farming 'booster'
industry 'booster'

I differ with krikkit in that ideally i'd like to see a limit of one building per planet.
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#11 Post by noelte » Tue Jun 01, 2004 10:28 am

Hmm, normally i would vote for 1a, but as i see it, it's senseless as nobody would join me on this. :-(

OK, this said, i vote for 2 and build 1. I favor 2 over 2a because i like the idea of sharing slots between defences and buildings. That way you can put some missle bases on your border worlds to defend those planet better. When they became core worlds you can remove defence installations and put in some buildings instead. I think many people love build 3 because it seems to reduce micro to a minimum. I vote for build 1 because i fear that with sum all production into one bag you will be able to pump out f.i. ships at ones wheater you have 100 undeveloped planets or 10 well developed ones. I would like to see that a single (for instance) ship production is based on how well the planet is developed where that ship is build. Returning to the 10 vs. 100 planet sample, that would mean that producing 10 ships would take ten times as long on one of the 100 planets as on one of the 10.

1) 100planets = 1000 PPs (newly colonized planets)
2) 10 planets = 1000 PPs (well developed planets)

each of those 10 ships would be assigned to be build on one planet, but because a planets in 1) only has 10PPs it would take ten time as long as buildings those ships on tze developed ones.

I think build 1 have to be supported by empire management.

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#12 Post by Hexxium » Tue Jun 01, 2004 1:11 pm

noelte wrote:Hmm, normally i would vote for 1a, but as i see it, it's senseless as nobody would join me on this. :-(
Well, I would ;)

As I stated in the design thread, the most important things for me are:

1. Control: I want to have complete control. It's very frustrating in a game when I'm at some point where I can think of a really good way to handle things, but the game doesn't allow me to. I want a wide range of viable strategic options.

2. Feel: I want to feel like I'm leading a galactic empire, not a bunch of spreadsheets.

So, my favourite is proposal #1a, build method 1 or 2, because I think it's the safest way to achieve those two goals. However, it doesn't have to be done exactly the way it is in MoO2.

I think I've stated that before in the design thread: The bulding system can be made more interesting simply by better building design, i.e. buildings that have their downsides and/or high maintenance cost (cost may be any combination of ressources). That would require good colony planning and involve some interesting strategic decisions.

I think when complaining about micromanagement, most people mean the tedious, "no-brainer" building management, like "Research Automated factories => klick on every planet and put them in every build queue". So I'd rather reduce micromanagement a bit and make it more interesting than eliminate it. You still want to manage something after all, don't you? ;)

Just to make it clear: I know my design "goals" (Control & Feel) can be achieved with any of the suggestions, but with some of them it may be quite difficult.

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#13 Post by dstjames » Tue Jun 01, 2004 1:59 pm

I vote for 1a with build idea of 1 or 2. I like the control and feel in MOO2 but the one thing I always hated was that at later levels it was a pain to get new planets started up with the proper buildings. I think the queue approach of 1a will solve.

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#14 Post by Tyreth » Tue Jun 01, 2004 2:13 pm

Hexxium wrote: 1. Control: I want to have complete control. It's very frustrating in a game when I'm at some point where I can think of a really good way to handle things, but the game doesn't allow me to. I want a wide range of viable strategic options.
I don't think this is the same thing. Under the systems #2 or #2a you won't have a multitude of building constructed automatically in a predefined order. Those smaller, inconsequential buildings will be abstracted - meaning that you won't notice that they are missing. Instead of having automated factores giving +2 on each system, we may simply say every industry world gets +2 production from now on. Either way, under either of these two you should never feel like the game is playing itself. Where the game pretends to give you a choice you will really have that choice. When you don't have a choice, it won't pretend to have given you one.

Having said that, I prefer #2 or #2a with build methodology #3. Thanks for the great explanation guiguibaah :)

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#15 Post by Hexxium » Tue Jun 01, 2004 3:41 pm

Tyreth wrote:Instead of having automated factores giving +2 on each system, we may simply say every industry world gets +2 production from now on. Either way, under either of these two you should never feel like the game is playing itself. Where the game pretends to give you a choice you will really have that choice. When you don't have a choice, it won't pretend to have given you one.
That's why I'd rather have the buildings themselves involve choices. No more buildings that are always helpful on any planet under any circumstances. But still any combination of buildings is possible.

Let's face it, it's all about the so much hated sliders anyway: The focus system is lika a simplified slider system that only allows certain slider positions, e.g. primary focus = 50%, secondary focus = 30%. Assigning population is MoO2 is a simplified slider system too, with its possible values depending on population count and planet type (for farming). Building Automated Factories in MoO2 is a way to increase the production slider's minimum effect (15 automatic production points) and also to increase the effect of raising the production slider (+1 production/worker).

Now if colony development is based on focus only, the possibilities are more limited than with individual buildings. Of course the question is how much limits the system can take before it starts to limit the player too much.