Make a big variety of generators for a ship system that's scalable, balanced and specialised

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by Average, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. Average

    Average Commander

    Jun 22, 2019
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    Problem definition

    I want to suggest the aim of the ship power and CPU systems is that they should provide the following:

    • Limit what the ship can do (sensibly) - prevent you stacking 1 million turrets on a ship, or making walls out of 50 hangar doors, or being overpowered, while still letting you design a ship largely as you wish.
    • Provide fluid specialisation - It acts as a limited 'currency' (CPU/power) which you get to 'spend' on things you want the ship to do (weapons/shields/fuel quantity/thrust/production/cargo capacity/mining/etc) (also choose your own mix of missiles/lasers/artillery). There isn't a cargo hauler or missile cruiser category - you just create a mix that suits you, but you can't do everything. Because there are limits, everyone is flying around with ships with different shapes and functions. Fun! (Imagine the very different roles, and internals, in the ships below!)
    • Scales with the size of the ship - A bigger ship intuitively should be able to do more and have more stuff than a small ship, although a smaller ship should remain relevant to keep diversity (eg. by being faster, cheaper and harder to hit).
    • Provide progression - as you progress through the game you should get access to more power/CPU for the same ship size, so your ships get a bit more powerful, while also getting more expensive.
    • Influences ship designs physically more than statistically - The game centres around a block system, may as well use it!

    Generators currently provide the power for ships. There's only 3 sizes on CVs, 2 on SV/HVs. Once you have a T2 or even T1 large generator, you have more than you'll ever need, and unless they are killed in PvP you'll never think about them again. Boring! They could play a much more useful and interesting role! They could also help with everything from the above list!

    Solution - A wide array of generators/reactors that take up a lot more internal space

    What if instead you had a wide selection (20-50?) of generators (higher end ones should be called 'reactors'), each having different costs, sizes, shapes, weights, and efficiency. Your generator choice would influence the shape of your ship and how much power you have to spend on weapons/production/etc. To achieve this, their output should make them take up a significant percentage of your ship's interior space to generate enough power. (Think the reactor in Enterprise from Stark Trek - it takes up a big area in the ship) The game might offer very large reactors for very large ships (eg. 20 x 15 x 5 ), as well as tiny ones like the small generator. The shapes on offer would vary from cube-like, to flat, to long thin reactors.


    The benefits of this are:

    Intuitive - most science fiction ships have large reactors powering them, and have sections of the ship shaped around the reactor.
    Natural limits - you don't need an unexplained 'maximum number' on everything, because you can limit stuff by requiring power.
    Scalable - bigger reactors require bigger ships (more thrust and more armour to protect) (CPU doesn't fill this role)
    Relevant - remains an important design consideration even in late-game
    Physical - the location in your ship, it's protective armour, and even it's shape create interesting design choices. Choosing your reactor is fun! Much better than some abstract statistical bonus!

    What would happen if you have insufficient power?

    As with the current CPU and power system, the greater the power shortage, the less stuff works. You lose thrust, weapons fire slower, the shield might fail, production slows, etc.

    How would that fit with the CPU system?

    CPU extenders and their components appear to be here to stay. This system could work with it, however. Either your reactor could require CPU (even today's reactors need computer control), or CPU extenders could require a lot of power. Either way, the diverse reactor system provides a limitation that scales with ship size, and creates more interesting design choices.

    How would you prevent HUGE ships from exploiting this system?

    Easy! Reactor output decreases based on the number of reactors! One reactor could output 100%, two 80%, three 64%, four 52%, so each extra one adds a little less. This will limit size naturally. Reactor redundancy for PvP now has a cost too! You're usually going to want the biggest reactor you can afford and fits your ship size, but you might sometimes opt for two or four, creating some cool design variety in the process.

    How would it fit with progression?

    Higher tier reactors aren't necessarily bigger, but they are lighter, or tougher, or more efficient for their size, allowing ships to do more. They are very expensive and require lots of rare resources.

    Reactor/generator locations

    Finally, penalising some high efficiency reactors for being close to each-other or to other stuff, by chain exploding, by causing massive heat damage, and by irradiating nearby areas, would encourage distinct sections in a ship, and even cool designs like the auxiliary reactors being on separate wings (like the engines are separate in the Enterprise).
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
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  2. Needleship

    Needleship Master of Custom Terrain

    Apr 13, 2017
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    Some interesting bits in there.

    - Not sure about that. Seems to depend very much on what scfi you consume. :)
    A lot of stuff is also modeled after 'normal earth-water' -ships.
    The generator is large, but not the main component in an aircraft carrier's or submarine's hull.
    Probably less than a fith to a tenth of the total volume.

    Hmm... So, the main point of differentiation is the generator's shape, in combination with power output?
    Then it behaves similar to a 'very large CPU extender'...?

    - You need lots of different generator models for that.
    -> Time demand designing that
    -> Money.

    Just to tie it all to generators seems to me very 'restrictive'.
    If you get that somehow modular, then I would be more on board.

    But the idea to use 'something' 'you can build around' ... Seems good, IHMO.
    (I think, the game 'Reassembly' did this too - With devices, weapons of _very_ different sizes and shapes.)

    That would mean, you can't upgrade your shield generator, though.
    You'll have to yank it out, and install the more voluminous one. If you can fit it in there.
    (Wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me)

    But if you could install an CV rocket launcher on an SV ... (but the rocket launcher has still the CV size, mass, damage)...
    - Yeah, that could be fun. :)
  3. Average

    Average Commander

    Jun 22, 2019
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    I guess alternatively you could either make generic models that were very easy to expand/shrink, or you could make a 1x1x1 reactor controller block that you would place 1x1x1 reactor extenders around. Each controller would have diminishing returns. It would probably achieve most or all the things in my post, such as scalability, with much less 3d modelling cost. I think the reactor models would be great fun though, so perhaps if they become viable in the budget...

    In regards to your sci-fi point, it's a good one, although I'd also say it's worth including all the stuff around the reactors, like cooling chambers and reactor-related engineering and computer sections, for which we don't have much of a representation at the moment. Even in sci-fi, the reactor output should be what's theoretically limiting the ships capacities, otherwise they could pump more energy into shields and lasers (in Star Trek for example I seem to remember they do this in a couple of episodes when they have an external power source). Something has to be the limiter, to prevent builds with 1000 turrets stacked on it, and a reactor is the only one I can think of that would scale with ship size and intuitively make sense taking up large amounts of space.

    Thanks for constructive comment :)
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