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4X planet specialization vs corporations

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I want to automate planets (infrastructure building part).

 

I see two systems:

1) Each planet has a specialization (food/industry/research), you set it and that's it. From now on it auto upgrades itself (based on taxation level and time).

2) There are several NPC "Corporations" (like: "Heavy Industries INC.", "Customer Electronics Conglomerate", "United Mining Corp.", etc) and you "give" the planet to one (they get a monopoly there). Then the planets produce/upgrade based on the Corporation that runs it (some invest in factories producing warp engines, some build more hydrofarms, some make luxury goods).

 

Personally, I like the Corporations better... But I'm not sure how exactly these should work (different resource types they generate? is there some automatic trade system or supply/demand system?)

 

All random thoughts on this topic are welcome :)

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I wouldn't necessarily simulate a real economy -- it sounds like you want an invadin'-world and crushin'-rebellions kind of Emperor, not a wring-hands-about-why-the-volatiles-economy-is-stagnating kind of Emperor.  I would do something like (2), but abstract away from what they're doing other than developing your worlds for you and paying taxes.  But with a few twists, too, to make them more like real companies:

  • Companies will try to make money, but not necessarily do what they've done in the past or what's expected of them.  Like the British East India Company was intended to be in the spice trade, but ended up focusing more on textiles, saltpeter, and opium.  So if you give a company a charter to a ore-rich but barren world, they're gonna mine it even if they're otherwise in agribusiness.  
  • So maybe companies don't have fixed specialties, but develop specialties according to which worlds you give them. They'll slowly level up in mining, agribusiness, transport etc., becoming more productive as they develop new industry-specific tech.  This productivity then guides their future decisions of how to make money on a planet -- often, it'll be most profitable to build their "specialty", but it depends on the planet.  As their focus changes, they might change names, too.

So it makes sense to give ore-rich planets to the big mining conglomerate.  On the other hand, probably don't want one single entity doing all the mining in the empire!  If something goes wrong with them, it affects the whole empire, and if they revolt, you're pretty screwed.  (Psychic beings that make your corporations rebel against you would be a neat alien threat.)  There can be little disincentives to letting corporations get too big, as well, like corporate inertia or corruption.

 

Some other things to make them feel a little more like companies:

  • Companies split and merge.  If Mosari Biotech has an under-performing robotics division on Teegarden, they might want to sell all their holdings there to Harawir Robotics, whose higher productivity in that sector makes it more valuable to them.  Or a company might try to buy another outright.  As the Emperor, you have the final say on these things, because the charters are yours -- Harawir would need imperial approval to take over the some or all of Mosari's charters.
  • Companies who get big tech breakthroughs could try to patent them.  You can decide whether to grant that patent (preventing other companies from getting that particular tech boost for a period of some years), or not (any company can achieve that boost, but the company that invented it gets angry, and/or research slows down a bit across the empire as companies are less willing to spend big on research).

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I wouldn't necessarily simulate a real economy -- it sounds like you want an invadin'-world and crushin'-rebellions kind of Emperor, not a wring-hands-about-why-the-volatiles-economy-is-stagnating kind of Emperor.
Yes, very correct :)

 

Overall, I like the direction your post is going to. Some sort of companies, not too complex or too realistic since it's not the focus of the game. Just a nice fun addition and an indirect way for the player to affect the economy of the empire.

 

 

My thoughts:

Originally I wanted a button to change/select specialization of a planet (food/industry/research), but... The traditional food vs industry bothers me. I mean, you have fertile and non fertile planets and what kind of decision is that? You need to build hydrofarms on your fertile ones proportional to your population (not much to decide)... I don't know, I like food and everything, but...

(this also bring me to a question how food production is handled if we go for the corporations model? would these corporations decide and the player has no saying on food production ratio?)

 

Also research, I think this should be done more abstract. Instead of research labs on planets the Emperor funds an "Imperial university" (organization) and then builds/upgrades various facilities (like warp engines testing site level 1, then upgraded to level 2), these would not be in any particular place (assumed those scientists can be evacuated quickly if needed) but some sort Empire wide organization with assets and funding (there could be even a "counter of scientist" you have :)). Also, I would use a model more like in Victoria2: Empire Under the Sun (or other Paradox's games), you can invest in education of people in your empire and then you get research points (it's also easier to balance since the number of planets and size of population does not directly and drasticly increase research).

I think maybe corporations should not deal with research... They would just produce goods & deliever services (food/mining/production/commerce/transport).

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Companies will try to make money, but not necessarily do what they've done in the past or what's expected of them. Like the British East India Company was intended to be in the spice trade, but ended up focusing more on textiles, saltpeter, and opium. So if you give a company a charter to a ore-rich but barren world, they're gonna mine it even if they're otherwise in agribusiness.

Maybe like this: There are "industries" on a planet (agriculture, mining, factories, tourism) these have levels (how much developed these are, each separately). Then there are corporations and they get the "planetary charter" and then those corporations decide how much develop which industry. So a mining conglomerate would favour mining but if they get a very fertile planet they would invest in agriculture as well (but not as much as if the planet was under "Chips & Snack Corp." management).

 

Psychic beings that make your corporations rebel against you would be a neat alien threat
There is no psychic powers strong enough to make a businessman think of anything else than maximizing profits :D I would rather say bribery.

 

There can be little disincentives to letting corporations get too big, as well, like corporate inertia or corruption.
Yeah... Like proportional (if there are 3 corporations total and one gets 50% of planets they start to be ineffective)

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Maybe you can treat the corporations as characters with various skills like (Mining, Refining, Construction, Farming, Food Processing, etc.) and you could see this on their "character sheet". Corps with higher skill levels will be able to develop related industries faster, and more efficiently. These skills would level up over time as they develop industries related to those skills. The final yield of whatever is produced would be modified by your government's technology level plus whatever related patents the corporation has.

 

I picture the skill level as a combination of knowing how to get the job done, having trusted contacts for necessary hardware and manpower, having ships configured for transporting the goods, etc. As such, I think there should probably be a decay rate on corp skills if they aren't in use. If they get out of the business of food production, they'll lose touch with their original business contacts and have to renegotiate planetary scale dealings. 

 

- Eck

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As much as I appreciate the realism that automating building, I'd be led to assume that a space emperor would somehow have state-driven total monopoly over infrastructures, and would be able to control them.

Corporations provide you with little control (thus lack of gameplay). Sliders may be overly simplified concepts, but at least they give you some tangible control, thus choice, thus fun.

Sliders could represent the % of your infrastructure budget spent towards a certain goal.

Now, if the gameplay is too simple (I need to increase food during food shortages, I need to increase tech to improve my building capabilities, and I must spend everything else in research 'cause otherwise I'll lose), that could be boring. 

 

Another way to look at it is to specify a project from a tech tree. Instead of spending research points on research, etc. you could just buy it outright.

 

Example:

 

"Hmmm I've got 5000$, I could probably improve something. 3 choices show up:

a - 4000$ - Improve agriculture empire-wide by 5%... not bad?

b - 5000$ - Improve construction speed empire-wide by 10%... yay!

c - 2500$ - Increase beam weapon damage by 5%... now ya talking!

"

 

You could possibly add time delays regardless, but that way they would at least feel like dedicated efforts.

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Maybe you can treat the corporations as characters with various skills like (Mining, Refining, Construction, Farming, Food Processing, etc.) and you could see this on their "character sheet". Corps with higher skill levels will be able to develop related industries faster, and more efficiently. These skills would level up over time as they develop industries related to those skills. The final yield of whatever is produced would be modified by your government's technology level plus whatever related patents the corporation has.
Yeah. Uniqueness/specialization of corporations is sweet.

 

I'm also thinking of simplifying the planets and making corporations more complex. Like no industries on planets, just generic factories. Then the Emperor (the player) grants a charter (monopoly) for a planet to one corporation. That corporation can use the assets on the planet (factories + resources).

You don't produce anything on planets (OK, almost anything :D), but instead produce "on corporations". So you have like 5 companies and 5 production queues.

To produce something (like ships) you need ONLY money (you sign a contract with a corporation to deliver it). But, the corporation require resourses, labour, etc and if they lack it they might ask for more money, do it slower or even fail to deliver in the worst case scenario. So, you care the most for the money, but also you care for your corporations because if they prosper you can get goodies from them cheaper and more reliably.

Corporation would have "technologies" or "assets", like if some have electronics factory and a shipyard they can produce space ships. I suppose there should be some way to influence how the corporations specialize.

 

 


Now, if the gameplay is too simple (I need to increase food during food shortages, I need to increase tech to improve my building capabilities, and I must spend everything else in research 'cause otherwise I'll lose), that could be boring.
You know, I like the food less and less. It's... I don't know, not so great.

Maybe like this: you need to care about food on strategic level only (how many fertile planets there are in the empire) and you  have some single slider saying if you subsidy the food production and how much (also research in agriculture can boost it too). Then there is "food price" variable which is the amount of food you have in the empire / by population. It affects the population growth (cheaper food = more population).

 

Another way to look at it is to specify a project from a tech tree. Instead of spending research points on research, etc. you could just buy it outright.
Research is yet another topic. I would disconnect it from economy (planets do not produce research points), instead some sort of Paradox style "base research + literacy + investments in education" would determine how much research you have (a great side effect is the research would not snowball at some point when you have tons of planets).

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Replace food and tech upgrades with actual mining efforts (I was just picking up from your first idea).

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Replace food and tech upgrades with actual mining efforts (I was just picking up from your first idea).

What do you mean?

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"Hmmm I've got 5000$, I could probably improve something. 3 choices show up:

a - 4000$ - Improve mining speed empire-wide by 5%... not bad?

b - 5000$ - Improve construction speed empire-wide by 10%... yay!

c - 2500$ - Increase refining process efficiency by 5%... now ya talking!

"

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