I would like to discuss a concept/mechanic I had for a while (it's full of holes and questions). It's for some sort of space empire building strategy (like 4x, but not necessarily, anyway, that's less important, I think this concept can be used in various games).
The whole premise is that the player should make only important/interesting decisions and all/most micromanagement should be either eradictated or automated. This topic is a question how to achieve it.
1. Fleets organization
I thought like this: the player can have around 6 fleets (each colour coded (red, yellow, blue, orange, etc) and individualized (history, banners, special abilities), also each fleet has an admiral). Each fleet is made of 2-6 flotillas, these are numbered and colour coded (example: 1st red flotilla, 2nd red flotilla, 4th blue flotilla).
Fleet is an administrative/organizational unit only, it does not appear on the map, only flotillas are the units the player can move around.
The fleet decides of the composition of the flotillas, all flotillas (within same fleet) share the same ships composition. Flotillas are also identical in size (within same fleet, red flotillas can be smaller than yellow flotillas for example).
So, basicly the player decides on the ships composition, upgrades, etc on fleet level. And decide tactical/operational stuff (where it should be, whom to fight, when to retreat) on flotilla level.
2. Imperial decisions (the player)
Generally, I want the player to be able to say "I want red fleet to be made of the best ships with elite crew; the blue one should have all ships with ionic shields because I want them to fight with Xelthars who have these nasty ionic weapons; the green fleet should be made of average ships and it should be the biggest fleet since it will serve as my standard fleet; and the yellow fleet should be made of all leftovers we have". Then the game should act accordingly and build ships and allocate these between flotillas and reinforce and maintain until player's wishes changes
As I see it, there would be two "fleet standards", the one the player asked for and the one that was delivered at the moment (just like in a real life, fleets constantly under change/rebuild/upgrade).
3. Crew as the bottleneck (assumption)
I feel that this system would need a limit of total ships that are active (produced and assigned to flotillas). Like based on population of the empire (100 pop = 1 ship manned). And the ships probably should be treated more like "weapons" that you "equip to crew" (typically the player would have quite a lot outdated ships that are not put in any flotillas and just are stockpiled). But that's just my light assumption, feel free to ignore it.
4. Construction of ships (most of the questions are here)
Now the harder question, how to handle construction of ships for the setup in 1)? Obviously, the traditional "click a factory/shipyard on planet X and set a queue of ships to build" would not work here.
Probably this system should have these properties:
- the player decides a total budget for military
- the player decides what to build in what proportions and in what priorities and which fleet should get it
- the game should build all these ships as desired by the player (most likely not ideally what asked for, just overall similar) under the budget constrains and then deliever it to flotillas
- the game should handle all replacements (units lost in battle) and upgrades (replacement of old ships to new models)
- the player should have some saying in form of important decisions like "obsolete this ship and don't include it in any fleets even if we have these already stockpiled" or "start producing the Dreadnought MK75 now" or "do not produce this model of the ship yet, even through we have it researched" or "produce first destroyer class ships because we need these the most"
So... how exactly such auto ships build system (algorithm, UI, etc) should work/look like?