I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about how everything should work in the game, and some design issues that I've been facing for a while. I finally finalized how things will work. I'm writing this down for two reasons; People can see what the game's end gameplay will be like, and for future reference in case I forget something.
First, let's start with waste management. This has been bothering me a lot. The problem is that when you get improved construction bonuses from technology or whatever, the waste output increases on a linear basis on how much you've allocated to construction. It's kinda like a chicken/egg situation. If you increase construction output, it should increase waste management as well. But if waste management increase forces construction decrease, the cycle starts again. While thinking about this, I hit on a simple yet elegant solution: Make the waste management handle last turn's waste output. That way, you can increase construction output a lot in one turn if you need to hurry up the production of a ship, then clean up afterwards.
Waste will be stored until they're finally disposed of. There will be a limit on how much waste can be stored before it start making people sick and die, and the more waste there are, the quicker people will die off. If everybody dies off, and there's still waste left on the planet, then the next people who settles the planet will have to clean it up. This way, I can add events for accidents that overloads the waste capacity of a planet, and technologies that increases the holding capacity.
Planets won't be terraformed through waste management output as originally mentioned. They will be terraformed through the global production screen along with other ships. Terraforming will be very expensive, and will be accomplished one stage at a time (Barren -> Arctic for example) Constructing planets from gas giants and asteroids will be accomplished in the production screen as well.
The fleet icons in galaxy screen will be reworked a bit, because right now they're confusing with three different fleet icons (system, starship, and transport) overlaying each other. It will show only one of the three icons. If all three exists, only transport icon will be shown. If starship and system ship exists, only starship icon exists. Otherwise system ship icon will be shown.
Planets screen will provide a way for you to manage more than one planets at once. Here you can specify different outputs for different types of planets, similar to MoO 3's development plans. This should reduce micromanagement a lot in large galaxies.
The last finalized design is the space combat. I've been trying to think of a fair way of doing turn-based space combat. The problem is that the first player to move has an advantage because he can kill some ships before they can even shoot back. So I discussed this with some people over in www.spacesector.com, and I've reached an decision. The space combat will be quasi-turn based combat. If you've played Frozen Synapse, you might understand the concept.
At each turn, you issue movement and firing commands. Once you've finished issuing commands, you hit "Done" and you will watch the ships move and fire at each other. Ships will fire at their designated targets as soon as they enter firing range. This will look similar to Imperium Galactica 1's space combat. Once all commands are done, the turn ends, and you're back to the command issuing stage for the next turn.
One problem with attacking star systems is the number of planets for each system. It'd be very tedious to attack one planet per turn, and this gives the defender an advantage due to the ability to call reinforcements to defend other planets. So planets and stars won't be featured in space combat. If you're invading a star system, you can't bomb or invade planets until after space combat phase. However, your troop transports will be a part of combat, and they'll be top priority for the defenders to destroy.
When the combat phase is done, you will be presented with a screen showing planets, and your firepower amount. If you have two ships equipped with a planet destroying weapon each, you can destroy two planets that turn. The amount of population that you can kill is determined by the amount of bombs you have total. For example, if you have 10 ships equipped with 2 nuclear bombs that kills 5 population per bomb, you can kill up to 100 population that turn. So if there's three planets, each with 75 population, you bomb one planet, killing all 75 population. Then you bomb the second planet down to 50.
You will be able to control how many bombs to drop, as well as how much of each transport to land per planet. You can try invading first, and if that fails, bomb the planet. Or the other way. There will be technologies that reduces the damage that bombs do.
The ultimate bomb will be the "Black Hole Generator". It targets stars, and if you decide to use it, it will annihilate the entire system, leaving a black hole. There won't be a way to turn black holes into star systems, so this is "end-all" weapon. However, everybody will hate you for using it.
One other thing that you will be able to do, if you have a fleet next to an system that isn't owned, is to destroy planets/star. The window will come up if you have the ability to do so. This can be used as an offensive or defensive measures. Offensive by preventing them from colonizing more planets since planets are destroyed. Defensive by preventing them from establishing footholds in your area if you see transports incoming escorted by armadas.
Whew, that was a lot of stuff to cover. Tonight I'm going to work more on the galaxy screen, finalizing the UI stuff!