Logistics & Fleet Management

In a previous post, I’d talked about combat readiness. One of the benefits of that system is that it makes it easy for other mechanics to tie into it, whether they’re in the combat or the campaign layer. I’d like to talk about what’s more or less an overhaul of the various fleet management mechanics, both fixing some long-standing issues and streamlining the approach without oversimplifying it. First, though, a brief recap of how things currently work.

The player character has a “fleet points” stat that determines the maximum size of their fleet.  (So do the AI fleet commanders, but never mind that for the moment.) The fleet has a cargo, fuel, and personnel capacity, based on the stats of the ships in it.

These are all soft caps – you can go over them, but doing so costs extra supplies every day, and there’s a risk of accidents when any of these is exceeded by too much.

Overall, this works well; there’s no reason to throw out the system and start from scratch. I’d actually started writing out the issues with the current system, but since it does work fairly well, it’s hard to build a compelling case against it. So instead, let me outline the new approach, and point out how it’s better.

The general idea is to replace fleet points with something based on supply consumption, and since supply consumption already plays a role in other places, it can all be rolled together to clean things up. Enter the new stat, “logistics”. It’s a measure of how many units of supplies per day your character can manage to distribute efficiently. So, supply consumption up that limit is fine, but going above it introduces penalties.

The things that consume supplies are:

  • Ship maintenance – ships have a new stats that indicates how many supplies per day they require for maintenance. More on that later.
  • Crew and marines; marines consume more to reflect the cost of keeping those armored suits in good repair
  • Ship repairs
  • Combat readiness (“CR”) recovery
  • Being over-capacity in fuel, cargo, or personnel – a fixed supply cost per unit

The daily supply expenditure on all of that is added up, and together with the logistics stat, is used to produce a logistics rating (“LR”), which is a percentage value. Use up to the logistics value results in an LR of 100%, and it goes to 0% when supply use double the logistics value. For example, if your logistics stat is 50, and you’re using 75 supplies per day, the LR is 50%.

LR has the following effects:

  • When below 100%, reduces the maximum combat readiness of all the ships in the fleet by up to 50% (at 0% LR)
  • When at 0% for more than a day, there’s a chance of an accident happening (note that simply being way over capacity in something is not enough to cause one now)

So, what does all this actually do, and why is it a good thing?

First of all, the logistical situation in the fleet is reduced to a single number. How it got there is another matter, but it’s very easy to see how you’re doing at a glance. Accidents are also simplified, as there’s just one cause to watch for (well, two, since running out of supplies will also cause them, but that’s very much related.)

Fleet points are no longer used in the campaign, which means they no longer have to do double-duty in expressing both the combat strength of a ship and its logistical requirements.  This means the fleet point values (now renamed to “deployment points”) can be more accurate – particularly for ships whose value lies in their non-combat stats.

With ships having a maintenance cost and it being a limiting factor on fleet size, supply use takes a central role – instead of being something to keep track of in addition to fleet points.

Second, the effects of LR give the player a dynamic choice between having a smaller, elite fleet, and a larger, less organized one – if they decide to run close to 0% LR, and accept the combat readiness penalty. What I mean by “dynamic” is the player can make this choice at any time. They can already make it by spending skill points to increase the fleet size, but that choice is only made once when the points are spent. Choosing what LR level to go with allows for a range of approaches within the same skill point distribution.

Issues & Solutions
But there’s a problem, you say! What if I’m running at 100% LR, get into a battle, and now my supply use goes up to recover lost combat readiness – but now there’s a penalty to the maximum CR because the logistics rating went down from the new supply use, so it’s stuck at the lower level. Right, that’s not good.

The solution here is that recovering CR doesn’t actually cost any supplies. Rather, being at maximum CR reduces the ship maintenance cost dramatically, but the full value still counts against the logistics rating. So, CR changes have no impact on the logistics rating.

What about repairs, then? You can already suspend repairs on a ship, but that might not be enough. Say you’ve got a battleship that can consume 50+ supplies per day to repair – you’d have to choose to either repair it at the full speed and taking a massive logistics hit, or not repairing it at all. That’s no good; so the actual amount of supplies spent on repairs can be set explicitly, and these supplies are distributed evenly between all ships that need repairs. There’s also a maximum amount that can be spent on repairs every day, and it can be changed by skills and such.

Fleet Member Controls
There are a number of fleet member controls that go hand in hand with these changes and/or address existing issues.

Suspend Repairs
Repairs on the specified ship are stopped completely.

A mothballed ship has its maintenance cost reduced by 90%, and that includes its impact on logistics. So, you can have lots and lots of mothballed ships in your fleet without taking much of a logistics hit. On the downside, while mothballed, a ship provides no cargo/fuel/personnel capacity. Restoring a mothballed to combat readiness is a time-consuming task – the ship starts at 0% CR.

Logistical Priority
Any ships flagged as a “logistical priority” receive first pick of supplies for repairs, and crew. Any leftover crew and supplies then go to the rest of the ships, which in the case of repairs often means nothing until the priority ships are done. Both supplies and crew are distributed evenly among the ships in each group. (With the addition of CR, not having a full crew complement just reduces the effective & maximum CR for a ship, and unless there’s not enough crew to maintain the minimum CR level, it can still be deployed in battle.)

Maximum Crew Level
The maximum level of crew to use on a given ship can be set. If no low-level crew is available, higher level crew will then be used. This should be useful for civilian ships you don’t want to use elite crews on – especially if you need to designate them a logistical priority to get repairs done quickly, since they’d get first pick of the crew then. It could also come in handy to achieve a specific crew distribution, though I wouldn’t expect this control to be used all that often.

Overall, the new system is both simpler than the current one and allows for more expressiveness, both for the player and for the game design. The new fleet member controls allow for a flexibility that’s lacking in the current system, but don’t require excessive micromanagement.


Discussion thread here.



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This entry was posted on Saturday, May 25th, 2013 at 5:53 pm and is filed under Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.