Adopting T2 Materials and Supply Chains [Part 1]: Brief Facility Analysis


#1

Facility Analysis

[CHP] Chemical Plant

Summary

The CHP does not find much use in T2. In fact, it’s only use for T2 is in production of [NS] Nutrient Solution. CHP seems to find a lot more use when the economy starts moving towards Technician buildings as it produces resources that are used in almost all Technician-specific consumables. CHP also produces [CL] Chlorine - used for [EPO] Epoxy production.

Cost

I feel the cost to produce the CHP is slightly too low. It utilizes only T1 prefabs despite not producing anything that can be used in T1. The cost must also not be set too high as there should be a lot of CHP being built. The inclusion of LBH in the construction requirements would incentivise [PP2] Prefab Plant Mk2 construction.

I feel that the cost should be closer to 4x LBH, 2x BSE, 2x BDE, 1x BTA, 2x TRU.

Improvements

The CHP could be improved by providing more recipes for use in T1, and T2 facilities.

Specifically, fertilizers for use in [FRM] Farmsteads could allow for faster cycle times. Fertilizers could come in generalist, and crop specific varieties. Also, see Note 1.

Production of precursor resources for use in fuel refining would also be viable way to introduce more output that is useful for Settler Buildings.

[CLF] Textile Manufacturing

Summary

The CLF is completely unnecessary until Technician and higher colonists are present in the galaxy. The CLF is not likely to be constructed in any great quantity owing to its production capabilities. The CLF can manufacture in a day enough clothing for 1500 Technicians, 5000 Engineers, or 2000 Scientists.

Cost

Owing to its current production capacity, the CLF seems remarkably underpriced. Taking suggested improvements into account, the CLF should be closer to 2x LBH, 4x BDE, 8x BSE, 4x TRU.

Improvements

Recipes should be added that enable production of clothing for Pioneers and Settlers.

Staffing should be modified to be closer to 20x Pioneers, 30x Settlers, 10x Technicians in order to allow for organic growth of productivity whilst maintaining accessibility.

[FF] Fermenter

Summary

The FF is not really needed until Technician, Engineer, and Scientist buildings are being constructed in greater numbers.

Cost

The cost is fairly low given the stage of the game it is currently designed to be built in. It should use only T1 prefabs if a greater range of staffing is used.

Improvements

Recipes should be added for Pioneer and Settler luxury drinks.

This building should have staffing requirements spread across all tiers to allow for organically increased efficiency. Staffing requirements should be on the order of 20 Pioneers, 30 Settlers, 15 Technicians, 10 Engineers, and 5 Scientists.

Recipes should be modified to require Plastic Bottles from a POL for Pioneer and Settler luxury drinks.

Recipes should be modified to require Glass Bottles from a GF for Technician, Engineer, and Scientist luxury drinks.

[FS] Metalist Studio

Summary

The FS produces parts that are utilized in the PPF and T3 and higher facilities. There is no output that is useful when the economy is in T1-T2 stage.

Cost

The cost is too low. BBH requirements should be dropped in favour of LBH. Cost should be closer to 4x LBH, 2x, LSE, 2x LDE, 1x LTA, 4x TRU.

Improvements

Staffing should be modified to include more technicians. Staffing should be closer to 50x Settlers, 10x Technicians.

[GF] Glass Furnace

Summary

The GF produces [GL] Glass for use in LTA manufacture. Until many PP2 are constructed, the GF will be idle for long periods. 2x cycles of the GF produce enough GL to make LTA for a colony. There is no other use for the GF in T2.

Cost

Cost seems appropriate.

Improvements

[RG] Reinforced Glass recipe should be moved from the POL to the GF.

Glass bottles should be produced for use in luxury drink manufacture.

[HYF] Hydroponics Farm

Summary

The HYF is a key player in moving to a T2 economy. It produces [HCP] Hydrocarbon Plants far cheaper than a FRM - though this is heavily dependant on [NS] Nutrient Solution prices. Many HYF should be constructed in order to feed growing demand for [C] Carbon throughout the galaxy.

Cost

Tangentially, MHL construction times should be reduced to allow for 3-4 full cycles per day. The HYF should not require 11 days of dedicated production from a [WEL] Welding Plant in order to be constructed. Especially so when the quantity of HYF required in the galaxy is taken into account.

1x LTA should be included in the construction costs.

Improvements

No immediate improvements are apparent.

[PPF] 3D Printer

Summary

In T2, the primary use for the PPF is to manufacture [PSL] Polymer Sheet Type L. PSL is used in the foundation of new colonies. Other goods manufactured by the PPF are used in T3 and above facilities.

Cost

The pricing for the PPF is far too low for its utility. PG is required for all recipes which is manufactured in a POL that requires T2 prefabs. It is absurd that the PPF would not require T2 prefabs. The facility cost should be closer 6x LBH, 2x LSE, 2x BDE, 4x TRU.

Improvements

PPF should be staffed entirely by settlers and a smattering of technicians. Perhaps 50x Settlers, 10x Technicians.

[POL] Polymer Plant

Summary

The POL’s primary purpose is the production of [PG] Polymer Granulate. PG is required in many T2 recipes and as such will be demanded in high quantities. [EPO] Epoxy Resin will be required for prefab manufacture in the [PP3] Prefab Plant Mk3. [SCN] Multi-purpose Scanner can be manufactured in sufficient quantity to fill the needs of 3600 Technicians.

Cost

The cost to construct the POL should be reduced slightly to use 6x LBH rather than the preset 8x LBH.

Improvements

The cycle time for PG should be reduced to allow for 4 cycles per day rather than the present 3.

The cycle time for EPO should be reduced to allow for 2 cycles per day rather than the present 1.

Plastic Bottles should be produced for use in production of luxury drinks.

[PP2] Prefab Plant MK2

Summary

The PP2 creates light prefabs for use in construction of facilities. [AEF] Aerostat Foundation can be manufactured for use in settling gas giants. [ALF] Aluminium Ground Cover can be produced for settling additional planets.

Cost

The cost for this facility is reasonable.

Improvements

No immediate improvements are apparent.

[REF] Refinery

Summary

The [REF] Refinery is a facility that really should be accessible without any T2 prefabs. Fuel scarcity due to inability to manufacture fuels in this test run has been a major concern for many players. Lowering the barrier to entry would help. Many refineries will need to be built to allow for trade to flourish. The refinery should be the focus of a starting package.

Cost

I feel the REF would be best served by not requiring T2 prefabs. The cost should be in the ballpark of 2x BBH, 12x BSE, 2x BDE, 4x TRU.

Improvements

The REF should be staffed by more variety of workforce, perhaps 20x Pioneers, 50x Settlers, 10x Technicians, 15x Engineers, and 5 Scientists. This will allow for additional organic growth from simply accessing more highly-educated staff.

Many more recipes should be provided so that fuels can be created via a variety of methods and utilising a variety of supply chains. [HCP] Hydrocarbon Plants could be turned into hydrocarbon fuels with a recipe like {1x HCP => 40x SF} to provide a T1 recipe. Various precursor materials manufactured at other tiers could be incorporated into new recipes that have larger output batches.

[WPL] Weaving Plant

Summary

The first, and only, use for the WPL in T2 is the production of [NL] Nylon. NL is required for production of LDE in the PP2. Fabrics are produced for use in the CLF and also for MED production in the CHP. In all likelihood, players who have constructed a WPL will aim to also construct a CLF.

Cost

The cost seems fairly reasonable for now, even when taking suggested improvements for the CLF into account.

Improvements

No immediate improvements are apparent.

Additional Notes

  1. Recipes should be reword to allow names to be set for them. Rather than having 6-10 recipes in the [FP] Food Processor simple called “Ration”, the recipes could be given names such as “Meat Ration”, “Paleo Ration”, and “Low-Carb Ration”. [FRM] Farmstead recipes would likely benefit a lot from this process using names such as “Fertilized Carbohydrate Grains”.

  2. It is important to note that recipes using higher tier inputs should not automatically be more cost-effective. If you have a triangle with each corner labeled {time_efficiency, input_quantity, output_quantity} T1 recipes would best be described as sitting an equal distance from the corners. Subsequent tier’s resource outputs should allow for improved recipes that move the indicator away from the centre and thus “specializing” the recipe towards one or two of the corners, whilst moving away from the remaining corner/s.

  3. A new, shared Habitation should be available to provide 20 of each type of colonist to allow for easier staffing of buildings that have increased range of staffing requirements.


#2

Adding a broader range of staff for buildings is not a good way to encourage advancement. Either the efficiency hit for not having the higher tier workers is negligible (5 out of 100 missing is still 95% efficiency), or the efficiency hit is large enough to make a material difference. The former case provides no incentive (it turns into a “freebie boost” for players who are advancing anyway). The latter case violates the “triangle” idea because buildings operating with higher tier workers are inherently superior to those without.

At its core, the notions of “progression” (A enables B enables C) and “sandbox” (do anything) are at odds. Until the developers decide which is more important, there’s not much point in analyzing and attempting to balance the game.

Furthermore, there are many basic design decisions which are not mutually compatible and which (as far as I know) have not been shared with the player base. Some examples:

How many active players is the game universe expected to support? This is critically important when balancing recipes–e.g., at present, one WEL seems to need >400 active players, 1 CLF can provide for a very large high-tier population, 1 POL can provide more PG than 3+ consumers can use, etc.

Why are there so many different resources? More resources can create opportunities, but can introduce economy-killing bottlenecks or even circular dependencies that break the game, and makes balancing the game much harder overall.

Why do so many recipes have deep dependency chains? Deep dependency chains could provide incentives for specialization, but can also require that some players undertake unprofitable efforts just to prevent the game from breaking. (this is already happening even with the short chains for fuel and many T2 buildings)

What is the expected role of a player who has been playing for 1 month? 3? 6? 24?

What is the expected role of a new player who joins the game right at the start? After 1 month? After 3? After 12?

Should a player who specializes have an advantage over one who does not? At present, there’s negative incentive to specialize, as the more one specializes, the more one becomes captive to both one’s suppliers and one’s customers, without any real ameliorating gains in efficiency. (the “experts” are far too easy to obtain and have too little impact, as-is)

Should players be able to adapt to changes in the game without having to COLIQ? At present, the incredibly high cost of retooling makes COLIQ the only answer. The ease of adapting to changes impacts specialization tradeoffs, economic stability, and has implications for any notion of “progression”.

How quickly are players expected to be able to expand? This has critical implications for pricing, game scale, the experience for newer vs older players, and on whatever forms of progression may exist in the game.

How many bases should a player have after a certain amount of time? Resource distribution must take this into account, and it has a critical impact on the experience of new players entering an established game.

Should players have basic knowledge about the game mechanics? This is unclear, given that the current client fails to show a lot of critical information yet the servers still push out far too much information. What documentation there is omits critical details, forcing players to spend a lot of time reverse-engineering basic mechanics, resort to data mining against the ToS (e.g., the old planetary dump), or fail and have to restart (with all the negative implications for the game economy and player retention).

Based on what I’ve observed in chats and in game, I think some of the answers to these questions are contradictory. Players should be able to do anything (“sandbox”) but resource distribution creates hard gates (“progression”) or even prevents certain actions (need resource X to obtain resource X). Players should have a lot of flexibility, but are expected to throw everything away and COLIQ fairly often as they learn more or as the game progresses. Players must not be able to be self-sufficient, but the game description repeatedly emphasizes “you” not “your guild”. Specialization is important (the “roles” in the starter packages) yet there’s no to negative incentive to do so (fragile supply chains, resource distribution inequality, non-exploitable market disparity). The economy will die without a steady inflow of new players, but the new player experience is incredibly unforgiving and many of the planned features will likely make that much worse.

Given how quickly the current test run fizzled out (fuel shortage, T2 failure, player dropoff), I think it’s very important for the developers to have a clear idea about what roles there are for both new and old players over time. It would be enormously helpful for the devs to share their design stories for what some of the expected old and new player experiences are at various points in the game’s lifecycle. Until then, we as players can keep suggesting random things or engage in elaborate theorycraft, but it’s not a productive use of anyone’s time. Few things are as discouraging to an enthusiastic player than to be told “that’s a great idea, but it violates unstated design principle X” after they’ve spent a lot of thought on a design, and developers have spent a lot of time reading it.


#3

In a capitalist market, an increase in efficiency directly correlates to a a competitive advantage. A broader staffing range allows for:

  1. Materials that were once only available to more educated staff are now available earlier, though at a cost to efficiency. The REF is a prime example of this, it currently requires settlers, and fits in to that portion of the game. Giving the REF a Pioneer staffing requirement allows fuels to be produced earlier in the game, when the diversity of resources is lower.

  2. Players with access to a larger variety of resources (later game) have increased production capabilities.

  3. An incentive to pursue resource diversity in order to eek out a competitive advantage over one’s peers. If we can all produce something with a break even price of $100, and I can gain even a 1% reduction in my break even price, then I have a competitive advantage. I can sell my products for less than you can, and long term, my company is more likely to survive.

It is important to remember that an instance of a facility will ever have an inherent superiority to another instance of the same building. Rather, a specific instance can gain a competitive advantage over another by means of location (shipping costs, resource availability), colony infrastructure, other facilities in the colony, and meta-gamed inter-player alliances and trade agreements.

I think you are taking very narrow views of “progression” and “sandbox”. Localized progression, such as in an RPG with player levels, is vastly different from a more galaxy-wide progression due to economic diversification that I feel the developers desire. I believe this game is being designed to allow players to do anything within the scope of resource availability. This is, fundamentally, the definition of a survival sandbox.

You forget that players are encouraged to have multiple colonies, thus reducing the number of active players required. The measure you needed to use here is “consumers”.

Your estimates for the WEL and the POL are entirely incorrect. The WEL indeed requires a substantial player base to support it - if you only make TRU. However, the WEL also manufactures MHL - which is needed for the HYF. HYF will likely be built in large numbers due to its utility. Presently, a single WEL must run for 11 days just to produce the materials required for a single HYF. This is far from needing 400 active players.

The POL cannot even provide enough PG for a single PP2 to remain active - let alone a PPF. Our galaxy has ran into issues with the POL only because the few players who do require it have no market for their wares. This is a balancing issue, but not with the POL.

Resource diversification creates market opportunities. You are correct in asserting that it makes balancing far more difficult. Circular dependencies are fairly easy to detect when designing recipes.

Any form of supply chain promotes specialization. And supply chains that require multiple steps within the same field of expertise promote diversification. There will be no clear cut idea of specialization I feel. This topic could warrant its own post and has the potential for some incredibly deep conversations.

I must point out that at no point have players been required to undertake unprofitable exercises. The only players who are unprofitable are those that produce goods for which there is currently no, or insufficient, consumers. AL is required for a lot of settler buildings, however, AL has been profitable for all players until recently - solely because supply has outstripped demand.

I don’t think there are designated roles with expectations of advancement. Players will fill opportunities where they have capital and availability to do so. New players will likely have, on average, less available total capital, however, are not bound to their starting package (eg… manufacturer). It is totally reasonable that a player could expect to start with resource extraction, and continue providing that service in a profitable manner until the end of the game.a

Absolutely, which is why so many people are floating the idea about regaining resources when a facility is decommissioned .

This is a good point to raise, and I feel it warrants an answer from the devs.

I used to think this also, conversation with HumAnt revealed some flaws in my reasoning.

Yes, there are many things that we as a community, and the developers need to digest and learn from this test run. Chief of which, I feel, is resource availability and recipe diversification. Blending of the “tiers” such that growth is more organic is something I feel is very important also.

I also feel I am starting to side with the player, I think it was Hootless, who stated their desire to have all MM removed. Perhaps they are necessary whilst basic production capabilities are bootstrapped, but they should likely be removed fairly soon after.


#4

Thanks a lot for your feedback, guys. I’ve finally found some time to go over it and I’m happy to say that most if not all of the items you addressed are also being discussed internally both by Alex (our game designer) and Michi and myself (the people with the vision :wink:).

I would love to touch on each of them now, but I’m afraid my schedule demands my presence elsewhere. So if I don’t get around to it before the 19th I suggest we chat about them during our next livestream :slight_smile: