Oberlus wrote: ↑
Mon May 11, 2020 11:12 am
There is a huge difference, in terms of RP and turns needed to get a Black Hole Power Generator (BHPG), between having a black hole with planets nearby and having to create one from a red star.
That's insanely unbalanced, way more than double the RPs and double the minimum turns.
Given that the BHPG is the most powerful PP boost in game, there should not be such a big difference depending just on luck at galaxy generation.
You are definitely right that there is a problem and are commendable to try to address it, but I think that you misidentify the real problem and thus propose a wrong answer, which would be really detrimental to the game.
FreeOrion has a real
problem with randomness, leaving a lot of game-changing situations to sheer luck, especially as starting positions are concerned. That
is the main problem, and indeed the availability of a Black Hole not too far (nor irremediably blockaded) from a player's Homeworld is part of it, since BHPG is indeed an extremely powerful building.
So basically a player can find himself, through no choice of his (which is the actual problem) in one of three positions :
1 - He's got an outpostable Black Hole near his Homeworld, making everything fine and dandy.
2 - He hasn't any outpostable Black Hole nearby, but there's one available not too far from the outward limits of where he can stretch his empires, so he'll have to organize most of his development strategy to get to it before anybody else can, and be sure to be militarily able to defend it too.
This is exactly the situation we should aim for as it is the one who will require the most strategical thinking and the best skills
, especially if there is an opponent nearby who will try to take it for himself/deny the player access to it.
Note that since proximity from homeworld goes in circle, the "outwards limits of where one can stretch its empire" is much bigger than the immediate vicinity of one's homeworld, so this second situation is the most probable.
Obviously, this covers a lot of different situations, from "having to build a chain of outposts to be able to reach the Black Hole in time" to "being stuck in a war to the knife about control of the Black Hole with a neighbor since sheer survival will depend on getting it".
That's not a problem, it just makes for different game experiences.
Losing (or at least being dealt a great blow) early does not necessarily make for a less interesting game, if it is the result of one's actions and decisions.
3 - There are no outpostable Black Holes anywhere in the vicinity, either because there are none, the only one is stranded behind a Sentinel, or the only one is very near the Homeworld of a military specie (if YOU are playing Mu Ursh or Eaxaw and the Black Hole is near a Sly or Gysache opponent then it's not an excuse, just furbish your attack ships and go conquer it).
That is indeed a problem, and you are right to want to tackle it. There is no fun of having one Empire's potential crippled through no fault of oneself.
The problem with your solution is that it removes not only the very bad and very in need of being removed third situation, but also the (quite frequent) very
interesting second situation : if it's too difficult (but not impossible) to get hold of a Black Hole, just make an artificial one, problem solved.
That removes one of the biggest element polarizing the Galaxy, leaving it quite "flat" again.
I am adamantly against this type of solutions which greatly aggravates the game experience, making for quite insipid and very less distinctive games !
A game where one cannot find an easy Black Hole should definitely not
be similar to a game where one was able to secure one !
So, as the randomness is indeed a problem, the solution would reside in a very different building, on a different research path, not compatible with the BHPG in the same Supply group, and providing balanced¹ but very different bonus to the player - I'm thinking either Population or Influence. We can call it "Gravitic Harmonic Weaver" to explain why a BHPG would nullify its effects...
So a player unable to secure an outpostable Black Hole would not be condemned to irrelevance, but would have to completely rethink his strategy and reorient his Empire - that's what would make for very different game experiences, and as such the way to go.
¹ Yes, that's the hard part.