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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: Hostile Activity (09/01/22)

Author Topic: Player Owned Stations  (Read 1222 times)


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Player Owned Stations
« on: December 17, 2018, 06:31:38 AM »

This is something I've been thinking about for a while, and some talk in another thread re: metals and what to do with them has kicked me in the rear.

So, I would love to be able to own space stations floating out in the void like pirates and pathers do. But how would you go about doing that?
First off you've have to decide if they count as colonies or not. I'd like to err on the side of not, as 7 total is fairly restrictive to start with (if you're avoiding or otherwise don't have access to 'other' things).
But how do you then control how many the player can have so they don't spam them everywhere?
Maybe linking it to your actual colonies, first stab at it might be something like:
  • You can't have station without first having a colony to support it
  • You can build one station at first
  • Plus one additional station for every 2 levels of development of your largest colony

This would mean with your largest world at size 3 you could build a base somewhere.
Once the colony gets to size 5, you can build a total of 2 bases. Size 7, 3 bases. And size 9, 4 bases.
Maybe also size 10 unlocks another one for 5 total, as that's a fairly big milestone in it's own right.
Honestly I don't know, there's probably a better way of doing it.

But for the sake of argument, let's say we have our mechanic figured out and we want to build a base somewhere.
Where are we allowed to build it?
Again, first pass at some basic rules might look like:
  • Not allowed to build in hyperspace
  • Allowed to build anywhere inside a solar system
  • Bases built adjacent to massive objects will orbit/stay with said objects, and be considered close enough for 'easy' travel to & from said object

So we have a site for a base, let's say it's inside a clump of 'trojan' asteroids, so it will orbit with them and stay nice and hidden.
Now we have to build it. What with though? How about all those thousands of units of metals that routinely get tossed out of our airlocks?
For the sake of guessing at numbers, let's say that the bare bones of a station will take something on the order of ~5000 metal to complete. It wouldn't have to be present all in one chunk, deliveries by piecemeal would also work.
We'd also need some equipment to build things with, and eventually fit into the base itself. Let's say ~300 units of equipment.

This process might take several months to complete, and require some 'workers' (~200?) to build the thing, plus maybe an administrator to oversee it (giving a bit of extra purpose to those no/low skill ones).
And maybe right at the end, you'd need ~50 transmetals and 100 fuel to jumpstart the reactor or something.

So let's imagine that's all done and you now have what is essentially a 'colony' in space.
First off it might be a good idea to start it off smaller at size 2 (hundreds of people) just because living in space is harder, people don't like it as much etc etc. And the hazard would be 100% because it's literally made to accomodate people.
Let's also say that the room to create industries is very limited due to space constraints. So lets' say that a new station has only 3 industry slots, one of which will be the population. And one of which will be a port, because a space station essentialy is a port. In space.
Neither of these can be removed (like pop on planets).
That's small. Yes it is, but it forces you to choose the one thing you want this place to do, and encourages you to expand it further.

On to expansion.
I imagine that a station would not be able to grow it's population on its own like a planet would, due to a very limited amont of room available inside.
So you would have to do that exapnsion for them, by using more of those metals that keep getting collected.
As a first take of how you'd progress this how about:
  • Upgrade to size 3 - 2000 metal + 100 equip
  • Upgrade to size 4 - 4000 metal + 200 equip
  • Upgrade to size 5 - 8000 metal + 400 equip

I'd be tempted to stop there and limit stations to size 5 (hundreds of thousands of people), but you can see how the progression goes. Again, maybe there's another and better way of doing this.
As the station is expanded you'd unlock more possible space for population AND industry:
  • Size 3 - +1 industry, 4 total
  • Size 4 - +1 industry, 5 total
  • Size 5 - +1 industry, 6 total

So it's still very limited compared to a planet, but unlike a planet can always be in a convenient location.
Again, fine (or indeed any) tuning is required.

Above there was mention of station orbiting nearby massive objects, like a planet or moon.
And there was also mention that this would be considered to be within 'easy' travel distance.
This is to allow stations the ability to collect resources should any be nearby and the player is willing to use the limited industry slots.
Any collection industries would use the hazard rating of the host body for upkeep purposes, AND add half of any hazard above 100% to the population upkeep as a few people will (be forced to) brave all kinds of horrid conditions in order to enable your imperialist fantasies.
(You monster. :P)
For the sake of simplicity let us limit this collection ability explictly to the one body the station is orbiting.

The industries need some rules for them as well, to make sure things make sense:
  • Cannot build collection industries unless orbiting a body with collectable materials
  • Cannot build planetary shields due to not being a planet
  • Cannot build tech mining unless orbiting a body with ruins
Maybe there needs to be others, but that's all I can think of for now.

The player could also make similar use of the various abandoned stations that are found dotted about the sector.
Re-building a derelict station would, in theory be an easier job than building one from scratch and so should probably cost less in both material and time.
It would be nice if there was some variation on how much of a 'discount' you'd get from re-building a station, and maybe there's be a few that are so far gone that it would be pointless to even try.
Anyway, the trade off from re-building an old station is that it might not be in an ideal location. And probably more importantly, you won't be able to recover any loot from the salvaging.
Which would mean that literally no-one would ever do this....
So we need some way of giving the player at least something, a reason to do this instead of just collecting the swag.

We can't really use tech mining as that's just ripping things apart and picking out the good bits, and ripping out bits of the station people are trying to live in doesn seem all that sensible.
Maybe if a recovered station had an intrinsic 'tech mining lite' ability built into it, like a hidden industry in a hidden slot that can't be affected or interacted with at all. And this would end up giving the player the same-ish amount and quality of loot, just spread over a longer period with notifications like "During a cargo inventory several items were found...", or "During routine maintenance a technician discoved the following items..." and just have these items be limited to blueprints, equipment, cores, and maybe some map hints for undiscoverd places/things (should any still exist).

This is a huge wall of text full of all kinds of things which may, or may not be balanced or even fun.
It's just a big pile of guessing and whatiffery. Which is why it's not in suggestions.

It would be super if you could discuss this further and maybe come up with some better ways of doing this than I have.