Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refueling

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Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refueling

Post by PM » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:28 am

NMS wrote:Nicholas Feinberg's talk was great. To boil it down to one sentence: If you want your game to be fun, don't allow players to improve their chances of winning via easy, repetitive actions.

Transcendence is better at this than a lot of games in its various genres, but there are some tedious ways of gaining an advantage, such as farming station reinforcements; waiting for friendly stations to restock their currency and/or reactors (in cases where you can resell them at a profit); and sitting on the sun with solar panels or armor to refuel.
Solar refueling is the biggest culprit, as it is unlimited and it enables other tedious actions like spamming Ingenuity or strip-mining entire systems of ore.

Instead of adding unlimited fuel, solar items could increase fuel efficiency (value varies by distance to star) so that fuel burns more slowly.
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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by JohnBWatson » Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:05 am

Similar to what I suggested in that thread. I think having them provide extra(free) power when near a star is the more interesting mechanic, though - it lets players use weapons and shields above their reactor level, but limits where that can be done. Creates a lot of interesting choices and strategies.

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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by PM » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:47 pm

FuelEfficiency in Transcendence is how frequently your ship consumes fuel. Normal fuel efficiency is 15, which is twice per second. With solar armor/panels increasing fuel efficiency, reactor would consume fuel less often, and they would act like items of slow digestion.

Solar items give free and unlimited food. This is more powerful than slow digestion. The closest thing I can think of in another game is Satisfy Hunger spell in Angband.
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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by JohnBWatson » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:51 pm

I agree that they could do with a mechanics change to make overuse less attractive, and fuelefficiency would be fine, but I think the auxiliary power would make for a more interesting mechanic while making the item more appealing(unique features make for more desirable items than raw statistical improvements, as I see it).

The current issue is that the mechanic rewards sitting still on top of a star for large amounts of time by giving the player fuel with no risk or cost, and this mechanic's only penalty as the game goes on is that it takes more and more time(of which we have an infinite amount). The good things about the mechanic(in my opinion) are that it provides something other than a stat boost(like increased damage, shields, speed), making the game more exciting, and that the player can prioritize shielding over armor despite balance generally favoring the latter heavily. I feel like giving the player some free power near a star(but not enough to run their entire setup, certainly) handles this best, keeping the feel of a unique mechanic that allows for some otherwise impractical equipment builds while maintaining balanced falloff with level and introducing more risk/reward(you can mount some much better builds without power or fuel holding you back, but your setup might overload when you need it most).

Come to think of it, someone should make a solar sailboat mod. Infinite fuel, but get too far from a star and you've got nothing else keeping life support online. Definitely something I'd play.

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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by DigaRW » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:54 am

I am disagree with that, other side I have alternative suggestion for solar items. I think we can make the items can recharge fuel, but not directly. When the players nearing the star, it can fill up power that ready to use. If we have low fuel condition, we can (use) the solar armor/ device so it can replenish the fuel supply.
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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by PM » Tue Sep 27, 2016 2:24 am

DigaRW wrote:I am disagree with that, other side I have alternative suggestion for solar items. I think we can make the items can recharge fuel, but not directly. When the players nearing the star, it can fill up power that ready to use. If we have low fuel condition, we can (use) the solar armor/ device so it can replenish the fuel supply.
That is still free unlimited fuel. Nothing different than what it is now except the free fuel is saved then given in one big lump when ship fuel is low instead of a trickle of fuel anytime on demand.
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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by george moromisato » Sun Oct 02, 2016 3:59 pm

I think changing fuelEfficiency is just an implementation detail (though a good one). The issue is whether or not solar energy can be "banked". Allowing people to store solar energy (essentially creating fuel by doing nothing) is what causes the problem.

One proposal I heard was to have solar power offset current power consumption. That is, if you're using 4 MW and your solar panels are generating 2 MW, then you would only consume 2 MW of fuel (integrated over time). But if you're using 1 MW and your solar panels are generating 2 MW, then the extra 1 MW would be wasted (not stored).

We could implement the above by changing fuelEfficiency, but I think the math might be easier if we just let the engine include the concept of power generation in addition to power consumption. For example, we could just have a device that has negative power consumption and where the value changes based on solar flux.

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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by PM » Sun Oct 02, 2016 4:51 pm

Power from solar items subtracting from powerUse sounds even simpler than improving fuelEfficiency; I like that idea too. Maybe always enforce minimum consumption of life support's 0.5 MW to keep the fuel clock going.
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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by gc2 » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:37 pm

I am very much against nerfing solar armor. If we liken the fuel mechanic in Transcendence to the food consumption of other roguelikes, the system we have is a lot harsher, in that:
The consumption rate is very high
Consumption increases as the player equips better items
Performing actions (e.g. attacking) burns extra fuel
Fuel is quite expensive and takes up a lot of inventory space
The result is that I don't want to bother with many parts of the game. There were certainly times in my experience where a quest's rewards do not even cover the fuel burned to complete it (all but certain if I'm required to cross the space between a binary system). For that reason, I go for solar armor whenever I can; and it's far from an easy solution. The armor's defense stats are abysmal, and with the existence of shield busting weapons, the trade-off is more than enough IMO. To use solar armor means I'll need to be experienced enough with the game to know how strong the enemies can get as the systems progress, and fly a lot more carefully as many of the nastier weapons can one-shot a solar-equipped ship even with a decent shield. This is the exact opposite of easy and repetitive.

Moreover,
... If you want your game to be fun, don't allow players to improve their chances of winning via easy, repetitive actions.
I don't agree with this statement at all. A game can certainly let players improve their odds of winning through easy and repetitive tasks, it just can't be the best way. No one plays a game to do the repetitive stuff, but if a player deems the grind can improve the chances that he'll get to the more interesting parts, the game should definitely not prohibit that. I remember mining asteroids when I was new to the game; it was low risk, low reward, and quite boring, but with that I can reliably advance through the game and gradually learn the more advanced stuff and that you don't really need to mine. Nevertheless, it's a nice fallback if none of the more exciting opportunities present themselves, and the game should not dictate if the player should or should not exploit it.

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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by george moromisato » Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:15 pm

gc2 wrote:I am very much against nerfing solar armor...
You make several interesting points, so I should clarify some stuff:

My goal isn't to nerf solar armor, but rather to make the mechanic more interesting. For example, imagine that solar armor+solar panels allows you to fully power your weapons/shields as long as you're at an average distance from the star. At the edge of the solar system, you may need to supplement your power with fuel (or maybe a battery?) That would make solar power more than viable while adding an extra wrinkle: you have to be strategic in which how much time you spend in the dark.

Moreover, the fact that solar armor produces fuel prevents us from introducing additional solar mechanics. For instance, it would be great to introduce more powerful/capable solar armor. We could also introduce batteries, as long as we add some kind of decay system.

In general, the goal isn't to make the game harder, but instead more interesting. Mining, for example, should be a viable mechanic for earning money; same with trade. But we should make mining more interesting!

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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by PM » Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:13 pm

What makes solar refueling from armor and other stuff "easy and repetitive" is the player can sit at the star at any time, safe from harm (especially now that stars are orbs instead of sprites), and get free fuel. It takes a long time to refuel even a midgame reactor, let alone a Hyperion (which I have done before 1.2). When I rely on solar refueling for most of the game, much of the time is spent waiting for fuel (and powers, if applicable) to recharge.

Many of the other easy and repetitive actions require fuel. Remove free and unlimited fuel, and those other repetitive actions become harder to sustain, at least player will pay a price if he cannot get free fuel. Solar refueling is the primary way to get free fuel until lategame, then CSCs take over. Sisters can be a very cheap way to get fuel, if player has a jumpdrive and the adventure features Elysium.

Yes, solar armor is fragile, which is why player should get the biggest, baddest shield he can use, and a fast enough engine if player does not use the Wolfen, and play like an utter coward, which other roguelikes like Angband (and Nethack for non-warrior classes) already encourage. Roguelikes in general encourage player to keep easy escapes and avoid difficult battles when possible.

I do agree fuel drains quickly and gets expensive. This is why I always equip solar armor in every game quickly (and if I cannot find any, I consider game lost and restart).

Recent versions gave bigger reactors more capacity, but all that does is delay when you need to refuel - it is no cheaper.
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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by JohnBWatson » Tue Oct 04, 2016 12:54 am

george moromisato wrote:
gc2 wrote:I am very much against nerfing solar armor...
You make several interesting points, so I should clarify some stuff:

My goal isn't to nerf solar armor, but rather to make the mechanic more interesting. For example, imagine that solar armor+solar panels allows you to fully power your weapons/shields as long as you're at an average distance from the star. At the edge of the solar system, you may need to supplement your power with fuel (or maybe a battery?) That would make solar power more than viable while adding an extra wrinkle: you have to be strategic in which how much time you spend in the dark.

Moreover, the fact that solar armor produces fuel prevents us from introducing additional solar mechanics. For instance, it would be great to introduce more powerful/capable solar armor. We could also introduce batteries, as long as we add some kind of decay system.

In general, the goal isn't to make the game harder, but instead more interesting. Mining, for example, should be a viable mechanic for earning money; same with trade. But we should make mining more interesting!
That's definitely how I see it. Adding an extra layer of depth to the game that's more extensible than what we currently have is worth doing. It's also self - balancing: the loss of an economically vital money sink is made up for with increased difficulty in plundering the enemy stations on the outer edge of the system, making solar armor a new playstyle, favoring less loot, but less need to spend money on fuel and larger reactors, and a competitor to the presently unsurpassed strategy of killing and looting every enemy in the system before moving on.

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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by Shrike » Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:48 am

On a technical level, banking energy does make some sense. For gameplay....not quite so much. I'd love to see some tweaks and changes around it to see some diversification of an old mechanic.
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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by george moromisato » Tue Oct 04, 2016 2:12 pm

Shrike wrote:On a technical level, banking energy does make some sense. For gameplay....not quite so much. I'd love to see some tweaks and changes around it to see some diversification of an old mechanic.
We can allow banking energy (e.g., storing in a battery) as long as there is a cost. For example, batteries could lose a tiny bit of capacity every time they're used. And the cost of replacing a battery can approximate the cost of fuel it replaces (it can be less, since a battery takes up a slot, which is a cost all by itself).

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Re: Solar items increase reactor efficiency instead of refue

Post by Shrike » Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:06 am

george moromisato wrote:
Shrike wrote:On a technical level, banking energy does make some sense. For gameplay....not quite so much. I'd love to see some tweaks and changes around it to see some diversification of an old mechanic.
We can allow banking energy (e.g., storing in a battery) as long as there is a cost. For example, batteries could lose a tiny bit of capacity every time they're used. And the cost of replacing a battery can approximate the cost of fuel it replaces (it can be less, since a battery takes up a slot, which is a cost all by itself).
To be fair, battery technology in the Transcendence universe could also stand to improve (cough analysers). This sounds like a good solution though.

The main problem with solar armor isn't so much that it makes things "easy"...it's that it encourages people to stay with an armor that's obsolete. THen they die a lot because solar armor, while pretty decent for level 4 armor, is still level 4 armor. CHanging solar mechanics is one side of the solution. Having more innovative "support" armors at later levels would also help in the longer term.
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