Fleet orders redux

General discussion for the game Anacreon
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Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:12 pm

A while back I suggested that it should be possible to give fleets a series of orders to perform in sequence (e.g. order a fleet to attack a planet upon arrival, rather than the current case where a fleet travels to a planet and then sit there until given an attack order). My complete suggestion is here on Ministry; now that jumpbeacons are in the game I think that starship combat is much more important and that fleet orders would be even more useful.

Since then I've thought about the issue more and I realized that queued fleet orders set to repeat could be a solution to unit consolidation issues too. Let's take a simple example: you are an empire with two infantry academies, a jumpship yard, and a sector capital. You fear an enemy attack and want to have plenty of infantry on the sector capital- more than it can build itself. Right now, the solution is to assemble a jumpfleet every time that you log in and move the infantry manually, a tedious and repetitive process. And forget about stationing infantry on other planets! It would take much too long. If you go AFK for a couple days, you are out of luck, your capital isn't going to get reinforced. If you don't have a jumpbeacon, this will all happen at 1/10th speed since the infantry have to travel with gunships. Will you even be around when the fleet arrives, or will you have to go off and do something, leaving your vulnerable transport fleet in orbit somewhere?

Here's an alternative. You create a transport fleet at the jumpship yard and give it this set of repeating instructions (warning:pseudocode:

Code: Select all

move to academy1
	transfer max core.infantry from planet
move to academy2
	transfer max core.infantry from planet
move to sectorCapital1
	transfer max core.infantry to planet
move to jumpshipyard1
	transfer 10% core.jumptransportReliant from planet 
	wait 30 periods
repeat
Now you have a self-sustaining fleet will go around every 40 minutes or so moving infantry to your sector capital. Nothing prevents you from extending the loop so that infantry get gathered and dropped off all over the place. You could also have a fleet that moves resources to Mesophon periodically- not as powerful as T&E trade routes, but giving non-T&E empires a way to accumulate a couple aes.

One issue with repeatable fleet orders is that people will get too creative and you'll have hundreds of automated fleets flying around which will be a massive load on the server. One way to prevent this was suggested by somebody a couple months ago as a possible solution to the jumpfleet problem (sorry, I don't remember who it was): it's to have non-attritioning hero units and only allow fleets containing one of these units to take orders. These units either are 'virtual' and do not participate in combat, or they can be replaced if destroyed, and each empire gets a finite number at any given time (maybe a dedicated planet designation supports them, or the number you can have is proportional to the number of worlds you control or something like that). Another way would be to put a cap on the number of fleets that can be receiving orders at any given time.

TheBugKing
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Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:51 pm

This sounds like something that could be an in-game like a Post Industrial gets an A.I. build option at the Capital. Each SC after gets to research it if that SC is at Post Industrial also. This A.I. allows one "General/Hero/A.I. computer" per Sector that can be attached to whatever unit with any sum of units in that fleet. Is that feasible? That way it is something to be aspired to and gives more purpose to Post Industrial and a major advantage if you can get it.
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Wed Apr 26, 2017 3:25 am

Interesting. It would definitely make managing a large empire easier. Making fleets perform actions upon arrival is useful, rather than have to log in and perform the action 2-3 hours after the fleet arrives at its destination.

Another useful feature I think should be introduced is the ability to set waypoints, for instance I want a starship fleet to travel from A to C, but not in a straight line (maybe because there's an enemy citadel in the way), so it should move to some world B first, then continue to C. Being able to shift-click on worlds to set them as waypoints would be infinitely useful. So we could select the fleet, shift-click on B, then shift-click on C without having to log in a few hours later to change its course.
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starxplor
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Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:00 am

Is that example taken from a previous version of Anacreon? That is literally how trade routes used to be, and the modern form seems to be much better than the script in that you cannot starve a planet since it takes what it needs before allowing any export.

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Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:54 am

There are a lot of features from old Anacreon 2 which would be really nice to see implemented. Ambrosia, fortresses, warp gates and star gates, minefields etc etc.

https://neurohack.com/anacreon/manual/index.html
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Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:00 pm

starxplor wrote:
Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:00 am
Is that example taken from a previous version of Anacreon? That is literally how trade routes used to be, and the modern form seems to be much better than the script in that you cannot starve a planet since it takes what it needs before allowing any export.
It is like old Anacreon, except it would not be replacing trade routes. Repeated orders would mostly involve the movement of units rather than resources. You can't send e.g. gunships through a trade route and have it be fair and balanced, since the trade route is instantaneous and protected from jumpmissiles, while the gunships normally take hours to get anywhere and are exposed to missile strike during that time.

With a repeat order, you could have an fleet that flies to a starship yard, pulls up gunships, then crawls back to a planet where you want to rally gunships onto like a sector capital, drops off the gunships, flies back, etc. forever. The capital gets continually reinforced with gunships but those ships are still moving legally as fleets. Now imagine that this fleet's orders are to visit every single starship yard nearby and bring back gunships, continually consolidating all your gunships on your capital. Now when you get attacked you have a powerful fleet ready to go, rather than having to wait a long time to consolidate it. And you aren't leaving small individual fleets on yards, which is a big problem because an enemy can swing in with HER consolidated fleet while you're AFK and defeat you in detail.

You could still move resources this way (via transports) and it would be useful (but risky) in a small number of cases. For example, you could use if to ferry resources to a beacon that is beyond your trade route network at the very edge of your empire, allowing it to build defenses without a trade route. If you capture a world with a gigantic resource stockpile, you could use a repeat order to have a small transport fleet gradually pull off all the hexacarbide and deposit it in one of your trade hubs. Non-T&E empires could use repeat orders for limited trade with Mesophon. If pulling components from stockpiles without a trade route ever gets implemented, you could use it to supply stuff like light jumpdrives to citadels and starship components to starship yards that are far away from your main production regions.

The motivation for these kinds of automation tools is mostly large empire size. If more people played or the galaxy was smaller there would not be a perceived need to automate to reduce tedium. But the need to give slow-moving fleets single orders to perform on arrival would probably still exist.

A partial alternative to repeat orders would be reinforcement routes, which would be trade routes that generated a physical fleet from a yard's output every couple hours or once a day or something, sent it to a destination, and then ensured that the fleet got merged on arrival. To prevent crazy numbers of fleets getting generated from this you could limit each yard to one or two reinforcement routes.

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