Specialized ships per planet

The objective is to increase the relevance of CXs. The way to achieve it would be to create a new type of inefficiency in the form of ship repair costs and shift a significant amount of the production chain consumption to repair costs.

Space stations have a big logistical advantage because the are not at the bottom of a gravity well. CX-CX transport is highly efficient because it doesn’t damage ships and wastes fuel getting all that mass in and out of the gravity well. My thoughts is this inefficiency isn’t strong enough until you get to extreme planets and even then barely justify it. By making it inefficient for a ship to go from a planet to another planet, the most efficient path will be to go from a planet to a CX, then transfer goods to another ship and have that ship go from the CX to the destination planet. Since you’re already doing a Planet-CX leg, your goods touch the CX and trading there carries no additional cost.

It’s important that planets have different optimal ship configurations or this wouldn’t work. Simply slapping a Stability Support System shouldn’t be enough, because once you have that, you can go to all gravity planets without any loss. It’s also important that even starter planets have their own requirements although these could be satisfied with lower tier materials. Since these planets have lower resource output, then the math should work out.

For example, we have Planet A which can pump out H2O like there’s no tomorrow and Planet B which has fertile grounds. A ship that isn’t suited to either would be taking 1% damage for every takeoff and landing. A suitable ship would be taking 0.1% damage.

There are 3 options at this point :

  • Take the 2% hit per flight and repair some cheap ship every week
  • Build a ship for either planet and take 1.1% damage per flight
  • Build 2 ships and have them exchange goods at the CX taking 0.2% damage

The transportation value of a ton of cargo is then equal to the damage the ship takes. If 1% costs 5K and a ship carries 500 tons, then it added :

  • 20 per ton
  • 11 per ton
  • 2 per ton + fuel + time

New players would have a starter ship based on their chosen starter planet. This means that settling a base on a starter planet would require you to build another ship and the low resources on starter planets wouldn’t justify it.

Players would be incentivized to colonize other planets because it would be more cost efficient to do it that way. Let’s say a non-starter planet can produce twice the materials and cause a damage increase from 0.8% to 1% compared to a starter planet. On top of requiring twice the amount of consumables and prefabs, the end product will have a higher damage cost per ton because you’re effectively damaging your ship by 1.6% for the same tonnage since you need to land twice as often.

It would also create a healthy transportation market because players will typically have less ships than they have bases. They could have a ship per base, but that’s going to slow down growth and they might fly empty most of the time, so might as well pay someone who built that ship every few days and increase turnover.


I think this idea has potential. I would do it like this:

The tech and build requirements for taking off and landing on a planet are quite different from that required to travel through deep space. This isn’t too far off real life - most real spaceship designs include at least one booster rocket which is discarded before full orbit is reached. So instead of having general purpose space craft, I would have two types - orbital shuttles, or launchers, which take goods from the base to orbit, and interstellar ships, or flyers, which transit between planets or systems.

Each base therefore has to come with a shuttle, which is relatively cheap and can be bought or made quite easily. Players fly goods up to orbit using the shuttle, and then transfer them to an STL/FTL ship for transport to the CX, or another planet.

This suggests several new gameplay features:

  • More intricate transport mechanics. “In orbit” is now a location, similar to the planet’s surface. You can fulfull contracts there, if two ships or shuttles are in orbit together.
  • An orbital warehouse as a planetary project. Similar to the planetary warehouse - players can rent space in orbit and use it to store goods.
  • A space elevator as a planetary project. Once built, players could pay a fee to use the elevator to replace the shuttle/launcher stage.
  • Varying tech requirements for the shuttle/launcher - just as bases on different planets require INS or MGC, the shuttle could need specialization, and wear out faster, requiring repairs much sooner than ships currently do.
  • Building a new base requires the shuttle as a component. In fact it would need to be assembled in orbit and then used to transport the base materials down to the surface. This may be slightly awkward - it’s not immediately obvious to me how the UI would handle this.

With a bit of work I think this concept would fit well with other proposed ship building and ship trading mechanics that have previously been mentioned.

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Orbital location and warehouses are definitively good thing to have. The shuttle I’m not sure, because the idea is to make starter planets unattractive for established players compared to a wild planet. Ships are kind of like shuttles already. If there’s a component that limits FTL damage that is incompatible with planetary hazard damage, then that ship has become a shuttle that isn’t suited for FTL travel, but could still do in a pinch. It also allows players to colonize new worlds at great cost temporarily.

Let’s say there’s a rich ore deposit on a nearby planet. It might be profitable to take the durability loss temporarily to profit from the extraction rate, then build that specific ship and then open that planet to other players by providing transportation services. That might only happen during early game phase though and that’s the desired outcome to seed colonial growth away from starter planets. Late game, these ship components would be mainstream and getting the ship before the colony would be a better plan.

I could picture players stacking their transport orders at the orbital warehouse and planetary warehouse and having a few players moving them around. If a ship costs 2M and can cover 20 players, then you have a cheap option as long as you’re willing split the costs by using this 1 player’s shuttle services. That’s 100K to cover a lot of cargo. Let’s say cost is 4 per ton, then you’re able to move 2500 tons of cargo for that 100K. Also that’s not counting opportunity costs of that 1.9M you didn’t have to spend.

Any consumable that gets cargo in space and on a planet is a good thing to have I would say, so long as there are drawbacks that are not tied to ship durability and that costs are not completely negated.

That space elevator would need to use other materials, otherwise one will always be better. For example, consuming energy+plastics instead of fuel+metals. If there’s a shortage of elevator materials in that location, then using ships is the better option. The elevator would also need to be capacity constrained to create a market. A good analogy is saturated blockchains like BTC or ETH during volatility events. If it’s free or instantaneous, then it defeats the whole purpose. Although by that time the galaxy is mature enough that I would expect starter players to be full or unattractive anyways.

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I like the idea too - but the implementation would then need to split your base storage into 2 halves: one on planet and the other in orbit.

Capacity constraints would have to be implemented - though right now you can sell into the CX and it effectively disappears from your storage. I think the best way would be to keep goods placed for sale in situ in your warehouse, greyed out or otherwise noted as “there but not there”. This would also encourage realistic sale prices (its not ebay!)

Shipping costs between orbit and surface would surely be the job of the station or planetary management, otherwise it gets awkward to micromanage. Just pay the fee and assume its part of the station infrastructure. Otherwise you massively impact newer players who don’t need much transportation and might not be into the LM yet.