darbycmcd wrote:Well, one thing that jumps to mind is that they don't have to be handled the same way. Really Tech is more like Prod, it is the output of many processes that are abstracted into a game resource, which are then used to produce something else. So it should be handled like the basic resource production systems (Prod and Ag) but with an input of Census, so it just follows
input * facilities = per turn output
A good argument can be made either way about whether Tech should provide an intrinsic research benefit as Census work it; or, as Jimmy contends, an empire should have to actively fund the research with economic points in order to see any kind of tangible benefits. Over the course of this project I've played it both ways, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. The advantage to having Tech infrastructure generate tech points is that it gives a very convincing reason to build and maintain Tech infrastructure at your colonies. The disadvantage (and it's a big one) is that it leads to "set it and forget" syndrome where you build the Tech infrastructure and then can be assured of tech advances with clockwork precision.
On the other side of the coin, having to pay for every tech point you receives creates situations where your Tech infrastructure is left unused for extended periods of time without providing the player with any meaningful benefit. But it also means that the player only gets as much out of his Tech infrastructure as he puts into it, and empires have to expend some resources towards tech points if it hopes to conduct any research.
darbycmcd wrote:Intel is more like shipyard, in that it uses something produced by another system (EP) to create a specfic focused output. So it is used to create a per turn cap on spending. And that gets rid of the notion that points can be stockpiled (how would that work?) because you just buy a project.
The stockpiling of intel points represents the collection of intelligence data, training of operatives, bribing of informants, insertion of agents, etc. that an empire has done in anticipation of conducting an intel mission against a target. They are a quantification of these various intangibles that contribute towards a mission's success or failure.
Your interpretation of limiting the number of intel points that a player can purchase/spend per turn by intel capacity is a possibility, but doesn't sit entirely well with me for some reason, mainly because I am still wrapping my brain around possibilities where intel points may be earned freely each turn. For situations where this isn't the case (as in the current rules), that wouldn't be a problem; however, it also seems to put an arbitrary limit on how much intel an empire could hope to use. I think a player should have the ability to build up large intel reserves and then spend them all at once, as long as doing so cost the empire something in return.
That being said, perhaps the better way to look at all of the non-Productivity infrastructure as to what kind of comparable advantage they offer in lieu of the Productivity x RAW income that Productivity provides the player. The infrastructure costs the same after all, and all things being equal each infrastructure should provide the player with a tangible benefit of equal value. Agriculture fits this mold already, as it generates food. Shipyard doesn't produce anything, but it is required to actually build starships, which is central to the game. Its schtick is that it allows you to spend economic points for something else, the trend I have also applied to Tech and Intel infrastructure.
I do think some sort of hybrid solution is possible, where Tech and Intel both generic resources for the player, but at a diminished rate compared to Productivity or Agriculture, but retain the capacity concept so that economic points could be spent to increase their output. For example, a planet with 3 Census and 5 Tech would generate 5 TP per turn for the player, but he could buy up to 15 additional tech points at the colony using economic points. That would give an empire a reliable stream of each resource coming in, but still give them the opportunity for increase that should the need arise. The downside is that it would effectively take 50 turns to "recoup" the cost of the infrastructure, where it normally only takes 17 turns to do the same for Productivity on an average RAW 3 world. There is a good argument to be made that Productivity should be extremely economically efficient, however, given that it is obviously the source of that income, and an empire can't do much with the Productivity alone.
(Another interesting thought: what if Shipyards, Tech, and Intel all provided free points of their respective types that players could choose to use or not on the current turn, and any unused points would be lost? I don't think this works very well for a multitude of reasons, not the least being how it breaks the economic model by disassociating shipyard construction from economic points, but it was a novel concept that popped into my head.)
darbycmcd wrote:This is neither here nor there, but in my games of 1E, I wanted a more 'wargame' feel which includes more pressure on logistics and staff planning. So I created a production center "HQ" which produced Logistic and Planning Points, which were used to supply units operating away from base (abstracting the planning needed to send resupply over vast interstellar distances) and also pay for Intel ops. It worked well to put a bit of a governor on operations.
But the point is it treated Inel as a shipyard type of facility and worked well, imo.
That's an interesting concept. To make sure I'm understanding this correctly, these logistics points were being allocated to cover the maintenance costs of units operating outside of colonial supply ranges and intel missions, correct? Or were the points being used to cover maintenance for units that just weren't at friendly colonies altogether, as in they were still in supply but not in orbit of a friendly colony?
I could see where having a fixed number of intel points available that a player could use each turn could work, but when I tried something similar in prior 2E drafts I ended up with the problem of the players having no reason not
to conduct as many intel missions as possible just to use the points because otherwise they would just be lost. That ended up creating a problem for the CM, as every turn you ended up with tons of intel missions to resolve and it slowed down the game for little real benefit. That's when I discovered that there has to be a cost associated with intel use, otherwise it becomes a game of "whack-a-spy".
darbycmcd wrote:Now thinking about it, how about considering using Tech points to buy Intel missions? I know it is different, but I think it makes sense (in that Tech is more human capital and intel missions would be more dependant on that than on industrial output) and it gives the player choices for tp rather than just having them always be tech advance.
The biggest existing mechanical problem with that is that the tech advancement cost is a fixed threshold, and there is the expectation that when that threshold is crossed you achieve your next tech advance. It could be made non-automatic, true, but there is something to be said from having a binary "is there enough tech points to purchase X, yes or no?". Tech and intel are two very different beasts in my mind, too, and intel already gets double use between covert intel missions and public diplomatic missions.
darbycmcd wrote:I was surprised when upthread someone said that tech was the best facility to dismantle. Usually that is suicide in 4x games but he is right for a shorter game. Because there is only one thing to do with tp, if you don't think the spread will become too great in tech level, these become a bit expendable. Giving them another function would up the value of research in shorter games.
That's very true. Usually tech is still very important in most games, but definitely not in shorter ones that you don't expect to last long enough for you to get a tech advantage. Providing players with free tech points from Tech infrastructure would help, but it would be nice for there to be another use for Tech. The real solution here is probably going to be to increase the effect of tech advancement and make it easier for players to upgrade their existing units to the new tech levels so that they can actually use them.
In considering unit refit rules, what I'm currently looking at is to allow players to create specific variants that would have a special ability note like "Refit (Lexington)" to indicate that any ship of the Lexington class or one of its derived variants can be upgraded to that class. Then you stat out the new ship, increasing TL if desired. At the end of the process you calculate the mass costs of the statistics that were added or removed form the design between, divide it by 3 (round up), and add the result to the upgraded unit's maintenance cost. A simple refit that upgrades a class by +1 AS is going to add +1 M$, but a class the exchanged 6 AS for 6 Carrier (12 MU) would have +4 M$. The cost to refit a unit is then equal to its repair cost, but takes its full build time to complete.
The process illustrated above would allow a player to fairly easily upgrade units to take advantage of new technologies, but these refitted units would be less maintenance efficient than a new unit built at the same tech level. Major unit conversions also become very expensive to maintain, but they also don't have to be prototyped -- you're paying for that versatility over the long term via high maintenance costs. That carrier conversion from above is a good example: the player quickly got a carrier into service, but the ship that probably cost 6 M$ before now costs 10 M$.
darbycmcd wrote:Tyrel, I also think that tech should really be worth having even if it 'only' goes for tech advance. if a 5% bump to ship mass doesn't seem worthwhile, then maybe it really should be upped to 10%. if the advance itself doesn't seem worthwhile, there is a problem, imo. but i am not sure 5% is not worthwhile. see what the playtest shows.
The issue I see with tech advancement is the question of whether tech advancement should take longer but be more worthwhile or come quicker but have less real impact. The current rules scaled back down to +5% from +10% to fit a once-per-year tech advancement rate, but the playtest will show whether or not that's for the best or not. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the other changes I've recently implemented will actually make it better to increase the tech advancement costs to make it a bit harder to get tech advances, as otherwise it becomes very possible for players to research one tech level while its still prototyping units from the previous ones. In and of itself that is fairly realistic, but from a player's perspective it would probably get frustrating pretty fast. The once-per-year tech advancement rate is also partially being retained because of the psychological conditioning from 1E where that was the norm. In a way I would like to keep that just so if you are playing with historical tech advancement that the costs all remain the same, but the cost of upgrading the tech level of a large number of colonies could become extremely burdensome...
By the end of this playtesting cycle we should know one way or another.