New colony system, what do you think?

In last week’s development update, I showed recent work on the planetary colonisation that made the exploration grid visible from orbit. This week I updated it so that you can even direct your exploration efforts from orbit and developed a new resource distribution algorithm, but I ran into a small problem: If you add in enough resources to keep exploration interesting, you’d end up with a ton of colonies to build on each world. To solve this problem, I decided to try out a new system inspired partly by Civilization.

Explore Planet

The old system:

Planets are currently covered in randomly distributed resources and pre-defined city locations. Cities are residential colonies with lots of building space that is used for housing and big buildings like shipyards, while resources are small colonies with 6 building locations. Resources are only accessible in the resource towns themselves and the materials collected are stored in material silos. You’d need to design separate blueprints for each resource and for residential cities, and there’s not really much choice in where your colonies go or what they’re set up to do.

The new system:

The new system covers planets randomly in resources as normal, but players can decide where to build their cities! You can set up a city in any suitable location (on flat land for most races). Resources are no longer mini-cities with building spots, instead you set up an extractor like a mining drill and then tell it which city to ship the materials to. It’s up to that city to use all the resources that are linked to it. There may be a logistics cost for linking a resource to a colony far away, and you would be able to set up trade routes between cities to move resources around more efficiently.

There’s only one type of colony in this system so it’s up to you to decide how to lay it out and balance housing space with industrial output etc. You would only need to design blueprints for the different types of colony you want, for example you could have one for a production colony that uses 4 ore per turn or a residential colony that needs 20 food and 2 coal per turn. To keep things balanced, we would simply impose a limit to the number of cities you can have on a planet based on its size. Instead of having 5 residential cities and 30+ small resource towns pre-placed on a planet, now we’d just have 5 manually placed cities that split the 30 resources among them.

What do you think?

Which system do you prefer, and are there any other issues you can see with the new colonisation system?

About Brendan Drain

Director @ Brain and Nerd
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10 comments
Jaden
Jaden

I also like the new system, but I wonder whether those city limits are permanent or can be raised as time passes, and whether the cities are also limited in size or not. I'm thinking planetary city here - Give it enough time, effort and population growth and pretty much the entire planet could be covered with buildings (and growing food in greenhouses with artificial lighting and artificial soil that's geared to the needs of the plants in questions is even more efficient than traditional agriculture). Then again, I'm hoping that a game could go on for decades or centuries, if I want it to. But a mechanical or insectoid species (which tend to reproduce ridiculously fast) could change the face of a planet in a matter of years rather than centuries. So, yeah, those are my thoughts.

Brendan Drain
Brendan Drain

The cities are limited in size, both in the number of buildings each can have and the size of its surrounding territory. Certain technologies will expand the city limits, give you extra space for buildings, and even give you additional bonus colonies on each planet. Where that limit will end up is not decided yet, but you could eventually have an entire planet covered!

Jorian
Jorian

Planet cities like Coruscant. I like. =)

Jorian
Jorian

I love to build stuff, no matter what the game, even in Crusader Kings I construct roads, upgrade castles, and so on. For me that is more fun than to actually fight for territories, or any combat to be honest, even in RPG games alternative ways to handle encounters (persuation, sneaking, etc) are by far more preffered than combat. Also, love to design my own ships and buildings. Think Spore, or Sims, or Haegemony and so on. So my opinion on the new design: It is good to be able to place a city wherever we want, and like the idea that resources get transported to the location. I would like however to keep building/city design a possibility, and maybe represent the transport vehicles to the city also on closer zoom, maybe even an option to design their looks aswell. :) I wish to also have unique building constructions as an option. Maybe think of a special Casino for a holiday planet, or for your designated imperial capital a shiny super-skyscraper for government building. As you can see I consider customization opportunities a very important factor in the games of today and tomorrow. No matter what genre, this is why I like the weapon/armor mechanics for Mass Effect 3, or why I hate that in Dragon Age 2 and 3 players are forced to play as humans with a set background while Dragon Age 1 already set a precedent allowing more races and background stories. If possible, please also consider the option to ingame (without modding) let players design their own Coat of Arms (faction symbol) and place it on units and buildings. Other games may also give you examples on how to do (or not to do) this. Btw, sorry for possible typos, and the overall huge comment. I am Hungarian and just quickly wrote this during my job :)

Brendan Drain
Brendan Drain

Don't worry, city design is still a big part of the new colonisation system! All that's changed is how the player acquires and uses resources, colonies will still have a hex grid to place buildings on and you can still use the blueprint system to automate city development or choose to develop each manually. We'll definitely be having some unique buildings like Civilization's world wonders, and special race-specific buildings limited to particular race types. Regarding the graphics, I'd love to have visible roads on the planet's surface and freight trucks moving when zoomed in. This feature is purely visual though so it's a low priority while we work on the core gameplay.

Jorian
Jorian

Okay. :) Just for clarification: when I meant unique buildings I meant not as in Civ where they are already named, give a specific bonus, and their looks are also constant/static. My idea is to allow building design for them as in Spore or even the castle of Settlers 7 (or 6?) then to attach a specific modifier to it. To avoid having multiple similar bonus giving "unique" buildings maybe just allow a specific modifier be chosen only once per culture/faction, or galaxy. (There is likely to be a cultural center like a gallery of arts for all species, while unlikely that there are more than only 1 "Citadel" -space council for the galaxy- around)

Vidalaac
Vidalaac

I definitely like the new system, not that I wouldn't be willing to deal with the management of the mining towns, but the idea of actually having trade routes between the cities in a single planet is very interesting - yes there should be a way to have "blueprints" to take care of that, but it is a very interesting element, since it adds personality to the planets. The worlds of your empire should be different in more than just their appearance - and things like trade routes between cities add details that are ultimately important to create believable planets. The same can be said about the liberty to position your cities anywhere you like... but there is an issue with this idea: you could build a city in a flat spot that might become underwater if the planet is terraformed. Of course there ways to deal with it - either by preventing the player to choose any land below the highest sea-level in the planet after terraforming, or by preventing terraform itself beyond a certain level in that world (until "underwater habitats" is researched).

Vidalaac
Vidalaac

Great idea, it could be just a matter of informing the player that there would be an increase in cost due to the adaptation of the normal city design to a floating one.

Jorian
Jorian

answer: floating cities! There are actually RL designs for such floating settlements already, and since years before Stargate Atlantis came out :)

Jack Deichgraf
Jack Deichgraf

I like the new system, but I'm afraid it will be the cause of too much micro-management. A system to automatically assign the resources and deal with trade routes should be implemented, for people who don't want that much control.