Feedback ramble and some ideas to improve gameplay

Hi everyone
Hi @molp and @Counterpoint

I finally took time to write down all my thoughts regarding PrUn. Some of these thoughts I have shared briefly before others are new.
I know it’s a lot of text, but the good thing is it’s not one big wall.

Some of these sections belong together, even reference each other while others are standalone.
I tried to group them as best as possible
Take what you want from it and if there are any questions, please let me know, so I have a chance to go into detail.


Trace Elements

  • allow Resource Extractors extraction of more than one material.
  • One Main Material at a time
  • all other trace materials (below certain concentration level) of the same type (Mineral, Liquid, Gas)

Universe layout

  • most of the universe seems useless.
  • more MCG/AEF, SEA, MGC, BL planets with useful material / trace element combinations
  • this would incentivize players spreading out after the initial settling of the core worlds.

Currency Injection

  • Waste Generation to replace regular MM Bids
  • every production generates Waste
  • Only MM Bids for waste generate Currency
  • Generates Logistical gameplay -> incentive for Pro license to issue shipping contracts
  • possible integration into future Energy System (Waste burning)
  • possible integration into POPI -> Waste Generation?
  • new industry -> recycling

Currency Ejection

  • Remove Market Maker Ask
  • Introduce more NPC fees that are realistic that at the same time counter excessive “misuse” of game mechanics. Examples: Store items as orders unlimited free of charge on CX. Store Items unlimited in contracts from CX. These things could be fined after x days.

Security of Basic Consumables aka keeping the universe alive (real reason why MM exist)

  • I recognize the intention behind the MM’s, but it feels this universe they were only needed in the first week, tops. After this they actually hindered trade.
  • Yes without MM Moria would dominate really hard. The Constructor profession would be “king” because no one else would get b-fabs. This points to a deeper design flaw and the MM is just a band-aid.
  • Regardless, how can some sort of security be achieved for new companies that they get basic consumables? Idea: HQ gets a function to request “Subsidies”. This safety net provides a support package for companies that went belly up. The older the company is the smaller this safety net is. Repeated use of COLIQ has an impact as well. What is provided: Basic Consumables for current workforce for x days. Either input material (point system “shop” from account creation, only materials selectable that current base buildings can process) or cash to spend on CX. The feature has cooldown or limited amount of uses. Abuse can be countered by imposing delayed taxes or disabling HQ bonus or efficiency reduction.

Adjust Start Packages

  • All start packages should have a variance in starting ships, fit for the package or chooseable by the player.
    • Example of options (if not mentioned different small SF/FF tanks and BHP):
      • 2x 250m³/t.
      • 1x 100m³/t 1x 500m³/t
      • 1x 500m³/t with medium SF/FF tanks
      • 1x 3000m³/1000t with LHP
      • 1x 1000m³/3000m³ with LHP
  • Resource Extraction Starter (could replace Carbon Farmer?). Package for extracting raw materials. Material for at least 2 Resource Extractors + 2 HB1, more basic consumables than the other packages.
  • Trader Starter. Option to start at a CX. No CMK, more fuel, 3rd ship or cash in two currencies.

Overhauled Company Start (replacement for fixed start packages))

  • Customizable start that allows an individual start package. Similar to EdB Prepare Carefully (Mod for Rimworld). Point based customization. With templates for recommend starts (Rat/DW Producer, Mineral Extractor, Gas Extractor, Manufacturer, Constructor, Smelter, …) new customizable items unlock with universe age or tech progression by other players. This would allow the introduction of smaller ships or bigger ships. For players to choose from for their start. Or simply more cash or consumables.

HQ

  • I don’t like it that we can “feed” a couple dozen or more materials to the HQ and then instantly transfer the HQ across the universe. It makes no sense and breaks the immersion.
  • Idea: The HQ is an actual “kit” that needs to be assembled and disassembled and moved as cargo. Its size and mass/weight grows based on the upgrade level. Changing the location of the HQ now comes with a cost, time and fuel. Remove the 30-day limit. This would give smaller but faster courier ships a meaningful job.
  • who, or what works in the HQ, and why do the need no material to work with? Idea: Boost HQ Bonus when supplied with materials. (UTS, OFF, SUN, SP, POW, …) Different materials give different boost or boost duration. They are not required for the baseline bonus. Just for a bit extra. Required material could even change depending on where the HQ is located (Planet type)
  • Have the Location of HQ actually matter besides for the type of Bonus. Idea: HQ allows to employ an extra expert. A high level HQ has loading vehicles, little tug boats, that allow loading from and to orbit but consume SF/Hull plates.

Thank you for reading.

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So my thoughts on things in order
Trace elements: I like it, but with the caveat that we can intentionally supress extraction of trace elements to reduce clutter (especially for remote, vertically integrated bases)
Universe layout: I have a lot of thoughts about this, maybe I’ll get around to actually writing them up some day. In any case, I agree that the distribution of resources and planet types needs to be more motivated
I’m not touching the market maker and waste generation stuff, I have very mixed feelings about market makers.
Starter packages: Again, I like the idea of giving a broader range of starter package options and customization. The varied ships I like, though I have lots of thoughts about ships as a whole which, again, I should probably write up some time.
HQs: I like the idea for how moving HQs could work. The resource based boost I’m also on board with, but think it could be expanded on. A range of boosts (with a greater range of boosts and more active at a time with higher HQ levels) that require a continual supply of resources to gain, with some being planet or system specific, others across all of your bases. Local bonuses would naturally have a more pronounced effect for the resource cost than global ones.

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Thanks @Gladi099, there are some interesting thoughts!

I[quote=“Gladi099, post:1, topic:3157”]
allow Resource Extractors extraction of more than one material.
[/quote]

A couple of alpha tests back we had it implemented that way: a resource building did always produce all the available resources of a specific type. Unfortunately that meant that unwanted resources piled up in the storage and it was hard to get rid of them. I know you only refer to trace materials here, but I have to ask, what is the underlying motivation?

I agree, creating a universe that is more interesting is something we need to focus on! We started on writing tools for this last fall and stopped in favor of the EA release, but we’ll continue …

Personally I think we should model changes in money supply more after the real world using taxes and central banks. Why doing it using an indirect mechanism again?

I really like the idea of having subsidies for young companies. If we manage to restrict the subsidies to effects that are executed immediately (and thus do not create money or commodities) it is hard to use them to cheat.

That is true, I like the idea of packing up the HQ and re-build it someplace else. I just mentioned it in last week’s game design call: I could also imagine that the HQ is stationary and the higher levels require some space flight materials, effectively creating a flying HQ that can be sent to another location.
I think we’ll see some changes to the way the HQ works in the future!

The underlying motivation is, that we then don’t need some poor souls on the edge of the galaxy extracting AR (and then COLIQ) or other materials that are usually only available in higher concentration with more advanced construction materials. (This of course would need a universe that has some handcrafted planets besides the starting worlds)

I do like the idea of this being an optional setting that the player can choose to enable, to avoid the issue you mentioned.
Ideally only trace amounts (Less than x% concentration) of the same viscosity would be extracted.

If I were to give examples (I use 10% as treshold) with the current universe:
Montem: No effect
Vallis: Extracting O would also yield H
Prism: No effect
Katoa: No effect
Umbra: No effect
Gibso: Extracting O would also yield H
Proxion: No effect
Phobos: Extracting SIO would yield FEO
Deimos: No effect
Promitor: Extracting O would yield N
Hortus G: No effect
Nova Honshu: No effect
Berthier: No effect

Notice: directly extracting the trace element does not yield any extra

Maybe for starting packages, go to a points system? Keep the current packages, but allow a custom package (similar to how a lot of 4X games allow custom players). Say 25 points. Two ships cost points, but maybe experts too? Money and buildings cost points. It would be a massive kill to try and game out before selecting, but so many options.

“I’m going one ship this time, but with the extra points I’ve got extra experts and three extra COLs”

“Full trader, three ships, no experts and lots of cash”

Your part about the universe design is spot on, and the devs have obivously recognized the potential of it. I hope someday we see a better Katoa, Montem and Umbras - just scattered along the rim. That with proper trace elements would do wonders to spur shipping and trade.

MMs have been discussed ad nauseam, but I think there are enough ideas here and elsewhere that maybe they can be removed. However, the appeal of killing MMs and replacing them with something else can’t just be to kill MMs. Maybe MMs aren’t that elegant but they work. I know we all talk about them daily, but universe design and end game seems more important to me. Right now we keep talking about DW MMs but what we really need is something to spur T2+ beyond making T1 stuff cheaper.

I really think the universe design is a big deal. Without those sweat spot outer rim worlds, we are all going to end up on the same ten planets again. I’m glad Molp spoke to it as well.

Trace Elements:
On the fence about this. On one hand, it makes sense, but can indeed create clutter. If you’re extracting a specific resource, you would expect that the rest would be considered refuse from the process. One might argue for the different resource collection mode where all available materials are collected at a lower rate or over longer periods of time, but I don’t think that complexity is beneficial.

Universe layout:
I think planets overall should have a greater variety of resources, but with a more noticeable effect on extraction rates.
I also would like there to be Compound natural resources, which are specific combinations of elements (such as Sulfuric Acid or Carbon Dioxide), that can be separated into their components with a Refinery building. And yes, Water is a Compound resource, that should be separatable into H and O in the intended day and age.
Finally, I think that it should be possible to increase the abundance of extractable ores and liquids by surveying the given planet. Whether it is already planned and how exactly that function should be provided (government service?), I have no idea, but I think there should be a sense of the development of the planet or even the player’s particular land plots. Naturally, each survey would offer diminishing returns and the bonuses would be temporary as the found deposits are exhausted.

Currency & Market Makers
Don’t really know and couldn’t care less. Probably haven’t played enough yet to understand the pain point.

Start Packages
Generally agree, but with a slight spin.
Starting packages should definitely remain. It’s just a simple way for players to start the game without excessive fiddling, BUT you should also have an option to customize your start with the mentioned point-based system. Nevertheless, I think that such a system also should not be oversaturated with options, such as many different ship options as an example. Given selection should reflect the intended starting professions either way and nothing on top of that, in part to prevent many possible failed starts that can emerge from too many misjudged choices.

Both systems can be used to balance each other to keep both premade and custom packages fair regardless of the chosen option. The point-based system can be designed with current start packages as a general reference. Then the adjustments can be made to the starting packages to make them equal in value if discrepancies were found.

The main improvement to this (great) game I would like to see is the addition of ship trading. Currently everyone starts with two 500t ships. This is far more than you need at the beginning, and then later as you grow, it’s not enough. Rather than forcing everyone to become ship builders, you could let players trade ships at the shipyard, similar to how it works in other space trading games.

I think this would also simplify the starting package issues mentioned previously in this thread, since if we can trade for starting ships then you wouldn’t need to create a points based system to allocate them, and the starting packages could remain largely the same.

My proposals for ship trading are as follows:

  • Everyone starts with one 100t ship, plus the usual base and materials.
  • Except… there is a “trader” starting package, where you start with one 500t ship and no base or materials.
  • You can fly a ship to the shipyard, and sell it, or buy new ships. This does mean that low-level ships would have to be cheaper, e.g. the 100t ship costs maybe 50k. A 250t ship could cost 75k - so then to upgrade your starter ship to a 250t ship, you trade in your existing one and pay 25k on top.
  • It also means that the trader start package ship has to cost no more than the 100t ship plus all the materials and goods for a base, otherwise everyone will start as a trader and sell their ship as the first step.
  • The shipyard would work like the LM, but for ships, with permanent MM bid/ask adverts for the 100t, 250t, and 500t basic ships, but all other types of ships listed by players.
  • I expect there needs to be a ship limit per base, to prevent people from buying lots of low level ships, which are likely to be priced “too cheap” relative to their actual gameplay value. A ship limit per base is plausible in-universe, since ships need parking spots.
  • For the ship limit, you could just say “max 2 ships per base”, but a more sophisticated method would be to say that in order to land a ship at a base, the base needs to have a landing area for it, which is a building, taking up space, etc. Each base would come with one landing area or parking spot built in, but you can build extra landing areas. This wouldn’t limit the number of ships that people could buy, but it would limit the number they could effectively use for base transportation at a time. It would also mean that there was now a point to having ships in orbit - they are queued up waiting to land. And traders could still operate without a base.
  • If you allow ship buying and selling, then it means a viable production path is ship building. In that case, you may want to have some lower tier buildings able to produce BHP, or similar. This is so that aspring ship builders can start on their career right away and don’t have to produce other things at their base before they get to the ship building tiers.
  • Some ideas for the above - perhaps SEA could be used for ship repairs below a certain damage level, and the WEL could make BHP, though with a less efficient recipe than the HWP.

In conjunction with the above, I would also suggest that some changes are made to the flight model. If ships weighed less, and cargo weight affected fuel usage more, then you wouldn’t need a weight limit on the ship. e.g. If the starter ship itself weighed 20t, then with 100t of cargo the fuel cost is 5x more than if it were empty. This means that making low-weight journeys could be more cost effective, and FE/FEO wouldn’t be quite as awkward to transport. FEO would still cost a lot of fuel to move, but the number of units are now only limited by volume rather than weight, so you can fit more than 16 units of FEO in the starter ship.

This means that it’s not a 100t starter ship, it’s a 100m3 starter ship instead, and so on, but I expect everyone would adjust to that.

In fact, if there’s no weight limit on ships, then the weight of goods may not even matter - it’s always seemed odd to me that there’s a weight limit for goods stored in the base - isn’t everything just sitting on the ground? Having everything measured by volume alone, except for fuel costs, might simplify things.

Hope some of this is useful. :slight_smile:

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