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Acharis

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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"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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I like the idea of corporations as characters, even if it might seem like the space tyrant would micromanage and own everything, because to me it seems more original.  There are a lot of micromanaging games out there, but aside from overt enemies, they tend to lack engaging AI like this corporation based planet ownership seems to have the potential to be.

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I am new to this forum and this discussion is absolutely amazing. Discussing abstract concepts like this is so cool I love it.

 

I would consider planets in terms of their potential growth and how many are currently living on them. Using this abstract concept you could then simplify food to just units needed to sustain current and units needed to grow. Food units would be produced by each planet and shared equally throughout the empire, this will allow you to have farming planets (or even farming companies). Simplifying food will then allow you more focus on the production queue from your simplified corporations.

 

As Acharis mentioned using a simplified process of having factories dependent on the number of workers/population could help manage the amount of "items" produced by the planet. Corporations would then actively manage these queues based on their own specializations. 

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What you think about this:

 

 

Planets have farms and factories. Farms produce food (and also maybe luxury food?) factories produce consumer goods (default), heavy machinery and player ordered stuff.

 

Food and consumer goods are needed by the population. Food is used up each turn fully, while consumer goods are stored (by the population). There is an empire wide "food price" and "consumer goods price", it represents availability of these to the population. If the price food is too high there is starvation.

 

Heavy machinery are produced by factories and distributed between planets. These boost factories (additional machinery for factories, make those more efficient).

 

Factories by default build consumer goods, once there is a minimum sufficient availability of these empire wide it starts producing some heavy machinery as well. If the player wants something (made a contract with a corporation to deliever ships for example) it takes priority (which means if the player build huge fleet over several turns the consumer goods price will skyrocket). Always at least 10% of production is used for consumer goods.

 

Farms and factories are auto built, what to built is decided by the planet (if it's fertile it tends to build more farms, if food price is high more farms are built, also the player can decide agriculture/industry tax and those with lower tax are more likely to be built and lastly the corporation that has the charter over the planet has preferences).

 

 

 

I'm wondering about adding mines and refineries to the mix...

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My random thoughts on food:

 

An interstellar civilization would probably have perfected the engineering of closed ecosystems, so you can get away without modeling food system maintenance if you want, and just concentrate on food system growth.  (After all, no matter the kind of planet, we'll probably be producing our food in reliable, high-density hydroponic greenhouses, rather than throwing seeds at the ground and hoping for good weather.  Iceland's *already* managing to grow tomatoes in the long dark Arctic winter using geothermal.)

 

Realistically, the important variable for a future-tech planetary colony would be the accessibility of CHON volatiles (carbon, hydrogen, etc.)  That's "food", but not in the sense of 9 million loaves of bread, and when they're eaten there's no more bread.  It's just that there's some amount of volatiles tied up in the colony's food cycle, and the population can continue to grow until all accessible volatiles are utilized.  After that, the population can't grow any further unless they go to more extreme measures, like mining icy bodies (comets etc.) or importing volatiles from other systems.  That's very simple to model: there's just a variable for "available CHON" and over time that converts to population.  The speed of conversion, efficiency of conversion, and cost of CHON importation can depend on other things (corporate specialties, planetary system type, etc.).

 

Anyway, just an idea, but one that might make things seem more realistically high-tech.  ("Emperor, the Arkantau system is now utilizing 100% of its available CHON volatiles for food production, and population growth has stalled.  Grant a charter for Oort mining to the Co-Mine Consortium?"  Stuff more like that.)

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After all, no matter the kind of planet, we'll probably be producing our food in reliable, high-density hydroponic greenhouses, rather than throwing seeds at the ground and hoping for good weather.
Hmmm, you know, I like the "throwing seeds at the ground and hoping for good weather" :) You are right, it's more likely for a high tech scfi to have these hydrophonics and stuff, but... Personally I prefer a bigger difference in wealth, like there is the Emperor and high tech ships and everything, but there are also those poor settlers who carve the soil of frontier worlds with their bare hands while fending of some insectoid vicious aliens without much hope of help from imperial army regiments because these are busy subduing some rebelion somewhere else :) Also ocassional starvation (not due a big blunder of the player, but, well, a few planets got a bad harvest and the emergency food stockpile was not enough, so it happened).

 

High tech for the Empire, but rather low tech for majority of the population (it's not that these hydropharms are not invented, it's that these are too expensive to afford by everyone).

 

Also, I'm wondering about "food being too expensive to transport in high quantity", so the planet has a local food source and can import only from systems that are neighbour only (also it increases the local food price). The player can decide on longer range import, but that's expensive. Also there could be granaries with food stockpiles (and regualr disaster events that make certain planets have drastic food production decreases). I'm not sure if that's a good one...

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Ha, yeah, makes sense; space peasants gotta eat.  Maybe if you've got multiple species, either in harmony or in an occupation situation, they can break down and start trying to eat each other in times of extreme scarcity smile.png  "Emperor, due to several years of bad harvests, our occupying troops have been eaten by the locals."

 

It'd be neat to model starvation as a risk-enhancer for random bad events, rather than as just "population loss".  So maybe the peasants don't starve, but as the food gets scarcer it increases the planet's per-turn chances for revolt, plague, interspecies conflict, crazy religious conversions, and other bad news.

Edited by valrus

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Actually I do think the corporations make more sense. Just designating a planet to something and simply letting it go is kind of boring, while handling and moving forward a group of corporations creates much more interesting implications. There could be competition between the corporations, and they can be promoted in level/demoted in level based on the actions of another corporation. Anyway sounds interesting. May be interesting for the player to manage, but it is definitely an awesome concept to work with.

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I got with the corporations. Here is the topic http://www.gamedev.net/topic/662771-4x-corporations/

Thanks all.
 


It'd be neat to model starvation as a risk-enhancer for random bad events, rather than as just "population loss". So maybe the peasants don't starve, but as the food gets scarcer it increases the planet's per-turn chances for revolt, plague, interspecies conflict, crazy religious conversions, and other bad news.
Yeah, I don't like the stright population=food too. Revolts and uprisings are much more fun (and realistic). Food affects population growth, also at extreme cases causes population loss, but overall it's happines. Everyone likes a lot of tasty food (even through they could live on one meal a day of recycled fungus mass) and they would not think of disposing an Emperor that provides it :)

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