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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Economy System

With the design for squadrons/combat resolution basically finalized (not yet implemented, getting there...), I've been thinking about planets/systems.  The current system of managing projects and production just don't feel fun, it feels more tedious.  Since I want the game to be enjoyable to play, and not tedious at any phase (end-game or newly started), I'm re-vamping the economy design.

While thinking about the economy, I thought, why not separate the economy into three levels: Planet-wide, System-wide, and Empire-Wide?

Planet-wide projects will include buildings that enhances production output, terraforming, missile bases, planet surveys, etc.
System-wide projects will include starships/system ships, stargates, and other massive projects.
Empire-wide projects will include research projects, super-massive projects similar to Death Star from Star Wars, etc.

What this means is that I will need to re-design the project list screen, planet list screen, planet/system window in galaxy view, and research screen.

So here's my proposition, I would like your feedback on this, since this will be the final design for the game:

Merge the system view and planet view into one big screen the same size as other screens like ship design, and make it show after double clicking on a system.  In this screen, you will see a list of planets on left, as well as the star.  Selecting the star will give you the star system project management in right area.  Selecting a planet will give you the planet management instead.  In planet management, you will be able to handle outputs of each race individually, and select the current planet project.  In system management, you will be able to select which system project to build.

Revamp the planet list so that galaxy preview is removed, and planets are listed on left, with better filter options below the list.  On right will be the same screen from the planet management in galaxy view, so you can manage each planet from either planet list screen or system window in galaxy screen.  The "Production Sliders" for setting output of all selected planets will be removed, but this is offset by being able to manage each planet from this screen.

Replace the projects list with "Star System List" screen, this will look similar to Planet List screen, but instead of managing planets, you manage systems and their current project.  On left will be list of systems, with some filter options.  On right will be the same screen as system management in galaxy view.

Re-do the research screen so it's now "Technologies", basically an encyclopedia of researched technologies.

Add a new screen: "Empire Management" that allows you to handle empire projects and view your empire's operations information such as finances.

Now, the tricky part, where does the production for each of the three levels of economy comes from?  This is where I may need feedback on.  The goal is to keep things simple and easily understandable.  I don't want a complex economy system that's hard to comprehend like MoO 3 (heavy foot of government, planet/system/empire tax rates, etc).

Should resources be now on an empire-wide level, with the planet that both produce and consume them be the maximum efficient use of resources?  (numbers are made up, just giving an idea)  For example, if a planet produces 10 food, and requires 10 food, it is equal.  But if a planet requires 10 food and only produces 5, it has to import from another planet in the same system, it consumes 12.5 total (the extra 2.5 is from 25% penalty of importing it from another planet in the same system, 50% if different system.  So 5 * 25% = 7.5 food imported from same system, 10 if from different system)

If the resources are now on empire-wide level, then pollution management will have to be internalized similiar to MoO 2, by reducing the production output of all fields (not just industry) due to it not making sense to "import pollution cleanup".  Commerce will also need to be internalized due to the annoying disabled "End of Turn" button, so all production will output revenues automatically.  Industry will be introduced as a new output for planets, and production will consume industry in all three levels of economy, with planet projects taking first priority, systems second, and empire last.  Research will be removed since researching is now an empire-wide project.

So each planet will have five sliders: Farm, Industry, Planet Production, System Production, and Empire Production, with the productions consuming Industry points for projects.  Then in System, you can add projects, so it's possible to have more than one project, and you manage how much production goes into each project.  Same for empire screen.

The pros of this setup:
Less micromanagement with handling sliders/output
No more annoying disabled End of Turn button, if you don't generate sufficient commerce, the production will be penalized because it is used to pay off the debt.
Population growth is now mostly separate from food slider, it was confusing, so now if there's sufficient food it will grow normally, otherwise it just starve.  No fancy tweaking to maximize pop growth.
No management of pollution, it's now all internalized, and pollution reduction technologies will simply improve production.
Convenient screens for managing planets and systems
Able to focus all output into one research project, or spread them out across multiple projects.  Can research two items from the same field at the same time.
Resource handling are internalized so no need for supply ships (the 25% and 50% penalty are to pay for "shipping and handling" when importing either food or industry)

Cons of this setup:
A bit more micromanagement with handling projects - especially when buildings are added.  At this stage, there's only terraforming projects for planets.  But for mods that adds buildings, things will be different.

What are your thoughts on this economy system?  Suggestions for improvements?  This isn't final, but I feel that it will be a lot more fun and less tedious in many areas.


  1. "While thinking about the economy, I thought, why not separate the economy into three levels: Planet-wide, System-wide, and Empire-Wide?" Now you are just plainly copy pasting my project :P

    This is how I simplified things:
    Stareater (Zvjezdojedac) is somewhat simpler than Beyon Beyaan when it comes to the number or resource types, only two types of resources are used in multiple layers, industry production and research. Planets produce all resources but their amount is determined by both planet-wide "slider" and system-wide "slider".

    Planet-wide slider determines portion of industry that planet shares with the star system. If slider is set to 70%, the colony will assign at most 70% workers in planet-wide projects (industrialization, MoO-like housing, terraforming). 30% or more are available for system-wide projects such as ships.

    System-wide slider divides available work force between industry and research. If slider is set to 60%, at most 60% of workers will build stuff while the rest will do the research.

    To keep things simple, there is no check which planet yields the most industry per worker. For example, let's say there is a system where every planet is using exactly 70% workforce to develop itself and system wide project is using exactly 60% of available work force. That means that each planet in that system will assign 70% of workers to planet-wide project, 18% (30% available for system-wide projects times 60%) and 12% to research.

    Thing is that there is no wasted worker, planetary excess is propagated to the system-wide pool and system-wide excess is redirected to research. That way player can peacefully set all sliders at 100% in most cases and optimize when necessary. Also players focus more at system-wide management than at micromanaging planets.

    Back to Beyond Beyaan. You can make two planet-wide sliders, for food and industry, one system-wide for industry from planetary excess and one empire-wide slider for planetary excess industry that is not used planets and systems. All workforce that is not used by either of three levels go to research labs.

    Reducing the number of sliders (and decisions making in general) at lower levels reduces unnecessary micromanagement. Propagation of excess resources from lower level to the resource pool on the higher level is a great way to reduce the need of fine tuning sliders.

  2. The thing is, I want to separate industry (which includes mining and dirty work) from production (big projects that are assembled/uses parts made by industry). The reason for this is that a rich planet can produce a lot of industry, which enables a poor planet in the same system to be a powerhouse in building stuff.

    You've got a good point, I can reduce the number of planet sliders to 4, with the fourth being "extra production" that are assigned to system level. Then at system level, there'll be a permanent "project" that I can assign production to, this will be the empire level production.

    The goal is to make planets more important individually.

    I didn't realize you has similar ideas :) my ideas were inspired by MoO 3's tax system. It sounds like this kind of system will work (or at least better than my current system which requires a lot of tweaking due to the annoying disabled end of turn button)

  3. I can tell you what I'm planning for my game and see if that helps at all:

    There is no planetary build queue, only a system queue that combines the production of everything in-system. Buildings on planets are constructed via this queue, as well as starships and system-level structures such as stargates, etc. No need for sliders to allocate between planets vs. system, just add to the build queue.

    There is a slider to allocate spending between military vs. infrastructure vs. research at the system level. I may do something at the empire-level to effect these sliders overall, but I'm not sure how to do it yet--my main concern is giving the player the option to not have to go through to each system and tweak too much.

    There is a universal empire tax that skims money out of all economies equally (as a fixed %) before any spending on their own construction.

    The revenue from the empire tax is held in a treasury and may be spent at the player's discretion on empire-wide projects, special research spending, etc., or may just be accumulated in the treasury.

    In summary: No planetary build queue, there are system build queues (which cover everything in the system), and there is a single empire build queue for special projects. Spending is divided at the system level between infrastructure, military, and research (I have no farming). An empire treasury is filled via a universal tax levied at each possession equally and anything in the empire build queue requires spending out of the treasury to do.

    Regardless of my approach, I think your approach above has too many sliders for each planet--I would recommend that the planet shouldn't have a slider for system and empire spending. Instead, the system and empire level should have their own sliders for how many resources are pulled out of the planets and up to their level. Or something like that. Switch it from mandating a bottom-up approach where each planet directs its resources upwards to something where those "upward" entities such as systems and empires take their resources from below. Instead of 100 empire sliders on 100 planets, you could potentially have 1 empire slider to cover all 100 planets.