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Starsector 0.97a is out! (02/02/24)

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Author Topic: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline  (Read 6324 times)

Flying Birdy

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Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« on: August 31, 2017, 10:35:58 AM »

One of the more prominent things in the lore is that, things are getting worse, not better. Over the course of the post-collapse history, seems like there has been only events leading to further depopulation, and few leading to prosperity and growth.

I imagine Alex will eventually implement some planet killers or planetary conquest in some shape or form. But I think conquests in general should be extremely difficult if nigh-impossible. Afterall, the requirement of a takeover of a half-million-population planet should not  just beating a fleet, thats rather unrealistically. It should be a tremendous logistical undertaking - assault, and occupation by a groundforce of tens of thousands for an extended period.

Granted, 10^3,10^4 could be made to be easy targets, as it shouldn't be too hard to quell a thousand people station. But core faction worlds >10^5 should be made difficult to conquer. If conquest was too easy, the player could easily snowball out of control in strength. The sector would shift borders far too quickly as well between AI. However, if conquests were generally near impossible, then the sector would be stable and AI factions wouldn't just collapse.

That said, for the sake of allowing player impact, I think starvation and famine resulting from food crisis should be allowed.

First, each planet should have two population tracks. One is the standard population counted in 10^3 to 10^8. Next is the refugee population count, ranging from 10^3 to 10^7.

An extended food crisis (say a full 6 months) should cause a massive emmigration event to occur. Once a crisis occurs, the planet sees a massive out-flow of refugees via civilian convoys (and the planet loses 90% of its population). These convoys will travel to a nearby well stocked planet, and the planet will see its refugee population become equal to the emigrating planets.

For example, a food deprived 10^6 planet suffers a population crisis. Its population becomes 10^5. Transport convoys headout towards a nearby planet 10^7. That planet now has 10^7 population with 10^6 refugee population.

Refugee populations that are too large (10^(-1) of the native population), will cause a massive food and food production crisis (lowers production efficiency). If this one is not resolved, the same event occurs again and the sector snowballs with even more refugees.

Transport convoys can be destroyed. Planets, if weakened enough, can be conquered (though at which point the victory is largely pyrric in nature). If given enough time to stabilize (say two cycles), a planet will attract back whatever  remains of its refugee population via convoys. However, the back and forth journey of convoys has a chance of suffering too much from piracy, and the planet does not get enough population back and permanaently remains at a lower population level.

Now onto my reasoning for why I think the above system makes sense.

1. This makes blockade play a lot more interesting. Does the player opt for a large fleet that can block a planet for a long period from receiving any food shipments? If he does, does the player choose to engage neutral fleets, for the purposes of the blockade? What about those pesky 10 burn blockade runners and smugglers?

 Or does the player turn off transponder and hunt food mercantile convoys and relief fleets like u-boats, but risk failing the month long effort entirely when a well-armed relief fleet arrives.


2) Excessive negative actions could have lasting impacts on the sector. Excessive piracy by the player, especially on key resource production worlds, can cause a refugee crisis which would then cause a negative feedback economy loop that permanaently *** the sector. Its not profitable for the sector to become too depopulated.

Thus, , there are all of a sudden incentives to be both a morally grey pirate and a hero delivering food to relieve a planet.

3) Planetary management becomes a challenging task as a conquered planet would typically be starved out first. The player will need to make massive food shipments to stabilize the planet's markets. To prevent the sector from going to ***, the player needs to contribute to civilian needs.

Anyways, that's it. Let me know what you guys think.




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xenoargh

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2017, 08:00:42 AM »

These are interesting thoughts.  I'd like to say a few things here.

1.  While the lore has painted a moderately-grim tone, I think it's fair to say that what would make the game brilliant would be if the player's agency was largely responsible for how things turn out long-term.  Personally, I'd love to see a game where the player can struggle to attain success and then face some sort of Ultimate Boss Fight, whether that's the other Factions declaring all-out war or some new party entering the scene (perhaps the Tri-Tach AI starts going full Von Neumann, the Domain shows up and demands fealty, we find out that a nearby Sector has become full of nanotech-infected "space zombies" bent on destruction, etc., etc.- something to give the game a satisfying climatic coda).

I don't like the idea of the game being, by design, a nihilistic exercise in how-long-before-we-starve; I think it's offensive from a realism standpoint (future-tech societies are much less likely to starve than even modern ones are) and I think it's dreary as a game-design motif.  I'm just fine with other terrible endings (the player chooses genocide over integration of the conquered, for example) but I don't like inevitable endings in games, good or bad; it makes our agency worthless in the end.

2.  In general, there's nothing wrong with either blockades or using aggressive tactics to reduce resistance, but we're going to need some structural support in the end; I think that one of the biggest needs, post-Outpost development, will be some strategic-level control systems; for example, if we want to have a patrol run interception on a given Station in a particular System, there needs to be a control interface for that.  I've been thinking about maybe even coding one up as an interim tool but I think Alex is rolling quickly enough it's not necessary and I'd like to wait for the official version.

3.  Populations should definitely be dynamic, and I agree that a high-pop planet with an industrial base should be an extremely hard target to reduce by military means alone.  Conquest of a planet, where you want to keep the industrial base intact, should take a lot of time, Marines, and supplies, as well as keeping enemy attempts at relief away from your conquest.
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Megas

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2017, 08:58:46 AM »

Who rots and dies the last does not sound fun.  That sounds like avoid fighting until the big superpowers starve themselves to death.  Just hunker down in Hounds, run away from everyone and eat less than them, then when the superpowers die from starvation, you win.

If the Sector dies, I want it to die because my Godzilla-like fleet wades in the middle of everyone and shoots everything up.  Without me, the PC, killing everyone, superpowers would be locked in a stalemate in an otherwise very stable sector (despite lore saying otherwise).
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Drokkath

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2017, 10:39:01 AM »

I'm more of an idealist but I'm not much of a nihilist. If anything my beliefs probably fall on agnostic side. Life without meaning isn't life, it's death.. and by that reasoning it is indeed offensive.
Inevitable endings in games is something that I don't like either if the ending is a disappointment, anything with one ending only and if it doesn't even deliver then.. no thanks.

As far as in-game governments, politics, religion, warfare, agencies, corporations, money/credits and etc go... to be honest I am a fan of neither of them and by now I can finally tell that even in SS I end up as a nomadic jack-of-all-trades pilot-commando-captain and I like it, if my ship starts breaking and CR gets lower after another battle I just repair it with Console Commands or use  storage  command there. Most of my time in the game is looking for a next prey/victim/hostile and since I barely do math, I just take all of their stuff after the battle is over and keep going because I tend to fly my own alternate ships that can hold an insane amount of stuff and as for my Gazer-muton hybrid character (thicker bones and bone-structure and more muscle mass and muscle density too) such a being also has some high-tech backups and one of them involves being able to adapt a bit to other ships, turning interiors mildly into places that where he doesn't need to have lifesupport on, lifesupport that gives him whatever unknown element it is he keeps breathing.

EDIT:
'scuse me about going in-depth down or up a memory lane. Basically my point was about living like nomads in space along while also exploring, like some radar anomaly that is hard to track. Seems like a sane choice in an insane 'verse.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 01:50:55 PM by Drokkath »
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Mr. Nobody

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2017, 02:55:59 PM »

If people die there is less need for food. So now we have a surplus of food and population starts growing again till it reaches equilibrium.
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FooF

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2017, 02:36:46 PM »

The Sector is dystopian and in decline but the recent lore, in my mind, hasn't made things as bleak as was once thought. I don't think the Sector as a whole is a few years from total collapse: we're still decades if not centuries away from that point, barring outside influence or some catastrophic event.

As for player agency influencing the Sector at large, I'm ambivalent toward that. Part of the charm of the game is that no matter how powerful you become, you're still not a big fish. Megas' Godzilla-sized fleet crushing the Hegemony should be a possible end-game but not the only one. Whatever the end game is, there's a sense of normalcy to realizing that your actions will never have that much impact. No one is looking for realism, per se, but being the savior of the world is overdone and turning heel and crushing everything under your boot is likewise cliche. I'd like to carve out my own little empire and be independent of the major factions, sure, but killing them all and/or taking their stuff only works if there's a reason beyond my own bloodlust. If I felt that my faction poses the best chance for survival from an existential threat then I might think about wiping the rest of the factions out. I'd need an impetus though.
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Megas

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2017, 04:28:55 PM »

Killing everyone (and maybe saving the galaxy in the process) never gets old, cliché or not.  Killing everyone is like getting 100% kills in Doom - gotta kill'em all!

However, if I need to build and manage an empire as big as a major faction before I can start doing strategic level stuff, fine.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 04:31:58 PM by Megas »
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Drokkath

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2017, 09:37:12 PM »

-snip-

Aye, that's pretty much how I usually play but by both steamrolling a bloody path and/or be part of a faction for as long as I feel there's reason to it as I've sometimes changed my character's faction like turning into a pirate or otherwise gone Kharneth on almost all factions.. which is how I play usually anyway more-or-less because SS has always been more interesting to me in battlescape, when too much is stressing me out I'm more likely to find dark reasons to mowing down various factions.


I am not a business savvy person and I'm just no longer not that much of a big fan of strategy anymore neither as I was in the past and having a large fleet consisting of more than 2-4 ships has burnt me out because I can't deal with giving orders while also flying my main ship. I can either focus on giving orders or pilot my main ship, giving order feels like a strategy game to me and I'd rather just focus on one unit, that one unit being my main ship because it is more fun for me as it gives me more targets to turn into glass puddle.

When I have attempted to multi-task each battle with a hostile npc fleets, trying to mow down opponent's fleets gets more stressful to me after each battlemap to a point I just need to nuke them all with a super-ship and hence why I play as an omnipotent commando with Timelord tech to store vast amounts of cargo and me giving almost zero crud about if it's realistic or not, after all it is a game and by default it is supposed to be an escape and enjoyment to vent and relax, and this is how I do it in a more detailed form.

That aside, being a hero in every game has kind of gotten old to me as well and I like playing as an unknown eldritch horror in the shadows, ready to wreak havok brutally with proverbial fist of a dwarf star alloy and let a faction scratch their heads, unable to explain what has just become an unknown hostile anomaly with no sign or trail other than wrecked fleets it has left and no survivors.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 10:10:05 PM by Drokkath »
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TrashMan

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2017, 11:42:18 PM »

Who rots and dies the last does not sound fun.  That sounds like avoid fighting until the big superpowers starve themselves to death.  Just hunker down in Hounds, run away from everyone and eat less than them, then when the superpowers die from starvation, you win.

If the Sector dies, I want it to die because my Godzilla-like fleet wades in the middle of everyone and shoots everything up.  Without me, the PC, killing everyone, superpowers would be locked in a stalemate in an otherwise very stable sector (despite lore saying otherwise).

That doesn't sound possible.

If people starve, they die. If they die, there's less people to feed. Meaning it would stabilise.

Also, in case of famine, wouldn't a faction move to produce more food goods? Like a planet getting a "orbital burns" market upgrade or "extra farms" or something?
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Megas

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2017, 07:27:39 AM »

@ TrashMan:  Plausibility has nothing to do with it, only game mechanics matter.  It is nice if the plot makes sense, but remember that games do not need a coherent plot or even be realistic, only enough to guide game design.  There was talk about Sector death (i.e., everyone, or at least interstellar travel, dies), and before some lore was retconned, it seemed quite possible that the finished game could be preventing or delaying death.  With original lore, much of the industry (such as autofactories) was irreplaceable technology, and when someone destroys one, production takes a permanent loss.

With some of the retcon, it seems less desperate, and matches current gameplay.  Now, it feels like the U.S. vs. Soviet Union Cold War instead of (Mad Max) Road Warrior post-apocalypse.  If I look at how the game plays, the Sector is very, VERY stable, and the Sector has more or less recovered from the Collapse.  They may not be able to make more shiny pre-collapse XIV ships (though XIV lore seems very flimsy at best since the game can spit out as many XIV ships as it wants, and they can be farmed), but they (at least Tri-Tachyon) seem to be building new things.

A game where the world progressively decays until it collapses does not sound fun.  For example, you start in your Wolf and find a few clunkers.  As you play, sector decays, and by the time you level-up and can afford your first capital, oops... sector decayed too much and there are not enough resources to maintain your bigger ships.  It might be okay if that was the point of the game - score as high as you can before time runs out (because we want to kick the player off the arcade machine so the next player can play), but Starsector is not that kind of game.

Starsector has many elements of a classic combat RPG - look for things to kill (and not die in the process), take their loot, get stronger, repeat against bigger fish until end of campaign.  Fast Starsector decay and death interferes with that formula.  People who play RPGs get attached to characters growing and hoarding treasure.
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DatonKallandor

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2017, 10:17:32 AM »

The Sector is dystopian and in decline but the recent lore, in my mind, hasn't made things as bleak as was once thought. I don't think the Sector as a whole is a few years from total collapse: we're still decades if not centuries away from that point, barring outside influence or some catastrophic event.

Yeah the recent fluff dump has really painted the Sector as something that isn't going to just collapse over the course of a year or even ten years. The factions are more fragile than I thought, but the overall human population of the sector and their tech level seems pretty solid. Solid enough for people to still screw around with AI fleets and planetkillers without dooming everyone at least.
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isaacssv552

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2017, 03:09:09 PM »

The Sector is dystopian and in decline but the recent lore, in my mind, hasn't made things as bleak as was once thought. I don't think the Sector as a whole is a few years from total collapse: we're still decades if not centuries away from that point, barring outside influence or some catastrophic event.

Yeah the recent fluff dump has really painted the Sector as something that isn't going to just collapse over the course of a year or even ten years. The factions are more fragile than I thought, but the overall human population of the sector and their tech level seems pretty solid. Solid enough for people to still screw around with AI fleets and planetkillers without dooming everyone at least.
My interpretation was that the decline would take place over centuries rather than years or even decades. My impression was more of a "In 1000 years at current rates of decline the sector will be nothing more than pirates and savages," than "In 10 years everyone will starve to death."
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TrashMan

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2017, 01:46:35 AM »

To me such a decline makes no sense.
In the entirety of human history, such a state was always short-lived. Humanity bounces back.

Sure, after some apocalypse, everyone is too busy merely eeking out an existence. They don't have time for high-particle research. But it stabilises over time. Centers of stability prop up - weather they re run by warlords or are democratic enclaves. And with stability comes prosperity and advancement.
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Gothars

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2017, 04:37:50 AM »

To me such a decline makes no sense.
In the entirety of human history, such a state was always short-lived. Humanity bounces back.

That's Survivorship Bias. Every civilization in history could always look back and truthfully say "we always bounce back", until they finally couldn't.
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DatonKallandor

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Re: Famine, Depopulation, and Sector in decline
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2017, 06:45:58 AM »

Plus you can't compare it to civlization on earth - we're on a planet that, for the most part, likes us. It made us - we evolved to live on it. The humans living in the sector don't have that advantage.
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