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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Deployments and Reserves

Ever since I made the decision to put ships into reserves when they are built, I've been gnawing on one problem: Balanced deploying of ships.

I don't want players to be able to deploy ships anywhere they want, because they could deploy in middle of an enemy terrority, making defense impossible.

On the other hand, I don't want players to be restricted to one central production center where all ships originate.

Then there's the problem of sending ships back into reserve. I don't want the MoO 3's approach where you can disband a taskforce anywhere, and it's back in your reserves after 5 turns. I've used this to recall ships from opposite edge of galaxy because that was faster than having them travel back.

So what to do? I do like the idea of building mobilization centers, but the problem with mobilization centers are that they're one price, and with my empire-wide production, it'd be easy to just conquer one system, then have your massive empire build a mobilization center at that system in one turn.

I needed something like mobilization centers, but something that can scale with the game's scope, and I happened to see a screenshot of MoO 1 with a stargate on one planet, and realized that there is indeed a solution to this dilemma!

How I envision Stargates working:
You don't have to own planets at a system, just merely have a fleet there, requiring you to actually hold the system. This will allow space-based races to create stargates without planets
Stargates will come in different sizes. The bigger they are, the exponentially more expensive they are to build. However, the upkeep cost will be very low compared to the construction cost, depending on the size, so you don't bankrupt yourself by building a bunch of small stargates.
Different sized ships will require stargates of at least their size to be able to be deployed.
Stargates not only act as a mobilization center, they also perform similar to stargates from MoO 1. There won't be lines connecting different systems because a stargate can connect to any other stargate. The pathfinding code will automatically find the quickest path, with or without stargates.
To travel to another system with a friendly stargate (either yours or an ally's), both stargates must be of the same size or bigger than the biggest ship in your fleet.
To put ships back into reserves, they must be adjacent to a system with a stargate big enough for those ships before you can disband them. This will prevent the "5 turn from anywhere" exploit in MoO 3.
Terraforming and planet building projects can only occur in systems with a stargate. This allows players to build planets in systems with only asteroids or gas giants. It also allows space-based races to terraform planets that they've devoured (replenishing their food source)

This will allow players to build one or two very expensive "Leviathian" sized stargates to be able to mobilize ships of that size, but they can't really travel through stargates due to the cost of the huge stargates. However, a bunch of small ships can more easily travel around. Of course, it's very possible in a huge galaxy to have a lot of Leviathian-sized Stargates due to the number of planets that can support such cost and construction efforts. I think this will do very nicely in balancing reserves/deployment. You can't build a leviathian sized stargate on a system you just conquered in middle of the enemy terrority unless they're stupid enough to leave you alone there for a while. But the smaller ones will be cheaper so it's possible for you to establish a beachhead there.

What I'm unsure about is how Stargates should look in the galaxy map. Should they be a 32x32 icon next to the system similar to fleet icons? This may be confusing because the stargate will be accessible from any position that is adjacent to the system. Also, how to show which size a stargate is? Ideas, suggestions, and feedback are welcome on the whole concept of stargates!


  1. First thing that came to my mind is putting the stargate icon withing stars rectangle. Like an arrow in the corner on Windows shortcut icons.

    For the size indication, how about different shapes? A triangle, square (axis aligned or diamond), pentagonal, hexagonal and round. Those should scale well with zooming.

    And a few questions. Will stargates be available as the game starts (not researchable, no intermediate jump gates)? What if somebody build a ship bigger then the largest the stargate in possession? Will there be a way to put that ship in service?

  2. That's actually a good idea about the stargate icon like the windows' shortcut arrow!

    However, the thing is, I plan on implementing the ability to give each race their own ship sizes and parameters such as location of the ship graphic in the race graphic file. So it won't be limited to the sizes that comes in the default. The default races will have 10 different sizes, using 5 different graphic art sizes (Size 1 uses the same art as Size 2, but scaled down a bit). I want to make it possible to define your own sizes, along with the names for those sizes.

    I could add an icon to show that the system do have a stargate, then add a pop-up info that shows the summary info about that system that includes the stargate size.

    As for the stargates being researched or not, that's not set in stone yet. This will require playtesting to see if I should add the bigger stargates to research or not.

    If a person builds a ship that's bigger than any existing stargate that he possesses, he have three options:
    Build a stargate big enough
    Use an ally's stargate if the ally have a big enough stargate.
    Scrap the ship and build a smaller one :)

  3. Why don't you draw the stargate around the star?
    Size could be color-coded, or just shown with different graphics.

  4. I don't like that stargates are required for deployment.

    I think any ship should be able to be deployed from the capital or another planet that has been owned/occupied for X amount of time.

  5. The reason why I'm using stargates for deployment is due to the space-based races. They don't own planets, so how to have them deploy ships as well?

    If just based on fleet dominance, then they have an advantage because they start with motherships (production ships). If just based on planet ownership, then they're crippled from the start, being unable to deploy anywhere. So Stargates are a compromise between the two types of races.

    Stargates will require that a system be occupied long enough for them to be built, and provides strategic points of interest for invasion forces. Want to cripple an enemy by stopping him from being able to deploy his biggest ships? Destroy the one Leviathian sized Stargate that he has!

  6. I really like how Stargates will work. It will add a nice strategic touch since you'll have to protect your Stargates in order to keep you ships being able to reach the galaxy. However, I think reserves over simplify the strategic management of where you might choose to build ships. I would rather have ships appear near the planet on which they were build, and then go to a nearby Stargate in order to reach some far away destination. If I remember well, the decision to implement reserves was made to make it easy to implement ship trading, but not for gameplay reasons. In any case, thank you so much for all your posts, they are very interesting to read !