I got to work on the planet exploration a bit more this week, and added in a lot of the planet exploration features I described last week. You can now queue up as many scout missions as you want and they will be executed in sequence. When a mission starts, it takes an energy cost from the planet’s reserves, and if that energy isn’t available the mission will wait until you have enough energy before starting. You can now delete scout missions, and they are now sent from the nearest settlement you own for reduced travel time. Below is a video showing some of the new mechanics:
I want players to be able to figure out the most likely places for resources to be before they start scanning, so there needs to be some kind of visual clue in the terrain. In the final game each planet will be randomly generated and put together from a large set of continents and islands, so whatever visual clues I use have to be obvious to players looking at unfamiliar terrain too. My solution was to pull in data about the height, slope, and environment type of points on the map and assess them for suitability. The new system works like this:
- Ore deposits: Found in elevated areas with a high slope (mountains, crater rims etc). Each planet has a certain number of ore sites based on its size and mineral richness. So a small mineral poor planet may only have two or three of them but a large rich one could have 20 or more. You’ll build mines on these to extract them, which produces one ore per turn. Certain buildings (factories, shipyards etc) will require ore each turn to function.
- Fossil fuel deposits: Found on land in terran, swamp and gaia worlds, sparse and randomly distributed on ocean and tundra worlds, and not available on any other planet types. You’ll extract these with a mine/drilling station, providing 1 fossil fuel per turn to the colony. You can use this to run fossil fuel power plants, and certain types of factory will require both fossil fuel and ore to work. Fossil fuel power plants will output more energy per unit of space than renewable resources, so they’re more efficient but at a cost. These deposits might have a finite number of units in them.
- Uranium deposits: Very rare, and found on land. You’ll extract this with a uranium mine, and will need a special storage facility to keep it in. You can use it to fuel nuclear power plants, which output more energy per unit of space than fossil fuel plants. It’ll also be required as a resource to build certain things, like long-range nuclear missiles that you can launch at an enemy planet.
- Food sources: Found around the coastlines. The number of these has a random factor but is based on the planet’s climate, so terran planets will have more than ocean or swamp. There are none on desert, barren, molten, toxic, or tundra worlds. You’ll build farms on these, each one increasing the food output of your farmers by a certain percentage.
- Research materials: On terran, swamp and gaia worlds, these are found just off the coast and in icy regions. You’ll build a research station on these, increasing the research generated by your scientists by a percentage.
Ore, fossil fuels and uranium will all have intermediary storage buildings that you can use as a material buffer to store production up when you aren’t building anything. If you have 10 ore per turn coming in but your shipyards can use 20 per turn, you might want to store up materials for a while and then quickly burn it all on ships. The ability to store materials also opens up some interesting diplomatic options, like trading resources with other races. You could stockpile uranium and ship it to another planet to build weapons, or set up a trade deal to supply a neighbouring star with fossil fuels, or even just offer a trade of ore for technology.