Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials, etc)

Discussion in 'Planetary Annihilation General Discussion' started by FunkOff, August 19, 2012.

  1. FunkOff

    FunkOff Member

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    Logistics is something that nearly every RTS game ever made has utterly ignored: Units have unlimited fuel, unlimited ammunition, electricity may be required but is transmitted wirelessly over infinite distance, as are building materials.

    I think some logistics are left out for good reason... nobody likes it when their tanks all run out of ammo... but in a game were battles are supposed to occur across planets, some short-cuts will be out-right ridiculous, like mining metal on a moon to build tanks on a planet far away, through "magic".

    Let's just go through them one at a time:
    -Ammo: Units should probably be able to run out of ammunition after a moderate time, and need to be re-stocked. Structures/mobile units that provide repairs could double as providing ammunition, to limit the needed extra work done by the player to provide ammunition.
    -Fuel: Fuel should last a moderate time, longer for large units, shorter for small units, and require re-stocking. Structures/mobile units that provide repairs could double as providing fuel, to limit the needed extra work done by the player to provide fuel.
    -Electricity: Units/structures shouldn't be able to use power they don't have access to. Give power generators a radius at which they can transport power. Structures/units that need power to perform a function will be limited by the power available from power generators within range.
    -Building Materials: Alright, this one, if done in a realistic way, is about the most technically complicated piece of logistics to implement and I have NEVER seen it implemented in an RTS game. Basically, it's the process of moving materials from a mine to a storage area, then a storage area to a construction/production site. It might be unreasonable to render this in-game, but at the very least, production/construction should be limited to the amount of building material available on that planet... unless there is a specific mechanism of transferring materials between planets, such as via rocket.
  2. DeadMG

    DeadMG Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    The problem with this is with the interface, mostly. It would have to be very smooth. The more of this you add, the more you end up like a 4X or SimCity. It's simply not something I really want to pay attention to.
  3. KNight

    KNight Post Master General

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    Not to mention developing such systems in the first place is likely outside the scope of the project to begin with.

    Overall, I like the idea of more realism......to a point, when it starts getting in the way of having a good time it starts to lose it's novelty.

    Mike
  4. knickles

    knickles Well-Known Member

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    ArchieBuld likes this.
  5. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    Actually even considering "realism", we just need to be a bit sci-fi about it:

    We are talking about TA: thousands of years of war, technology advanced high enough to travel through the galaxy and now even to throw planets at each other. Even today the basics for very long living batteries are known -just not used in customer electronics cause nobody wants a plutonium powered batterie- and one is actually used right now on the mars by curiosity. It would be a joke for if such technology were unavailable in the far future.

    Same with ammunition: At least lasers are just energy, which is produced within the unit.

    Maybe it is a good idea to separate ressource of different planets from one another. But if this is done, there definitely needs to be a way to quickly send packs of resources from Planet A to Planet B.

    oh btw I think the settlers did implement the whole process of transporting ressources.
    At least settlers 2, if I remember correctly.
  6. xedi

    xedi Active Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    Honestly, I don't think units running out of ammo or fuel is interesting. I find it just frustrating really. Of course it can lead to good tactics at times (cutting a large army off from supplies, etc), but I don't think it makes the game pleasant to play.

    I definitely agree with the economy side though. There could be some sort of interplanetary pipes that transfer resources which can be taken down, and this could be interesting without being frustrating. But, again, I think it has to be designed carefully, as it could just end up being an annoyance rather than truly contributing positively to the gameplay. In any case I think it would have to be something simple, e.g. the player has a different pool of resources for each planet.
  7. ghargoil

    ghargoil New Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    Given that mass / energy can basically be fabricated, maybe it just makes sense to just 'charge' the player for mass/energy used?

    In fact... wasn't that what TA often did?
  8. BulletMagnet

    BulletMagnet Post Master General

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    There's a simple way of having material (build resources) logistics without convoluted, messy, and tedious pipelines and caravans of trucks/engineers/SCVs.

    That's by manufacturing things where you extract the resources.

    There's a very natural consequence of this: you can only make armies where you have the resources. It means that if you want to BUILD MOAR TANKS you have to go out, blow up some stuff that the enemy owns, then build a base on top of it.

    This isn't territory control - this is territory ownership.

    It means that players can't turtle up in a corner, under fifty bajillion bubble shields, with more anti-air than Germany had on the Western Front. Instead, players will have dozens of actual, self-sufficient, bases. Each base contributes to the war effort. Spread these out over continents, planets, and moons, and you have a system to make combat and conflict spread out over a large area.


    Ultimately, I think funnelling resources into one place is a bad idea for gameplay.

    When you allow that, there's only ever six places of interest in a game:

    • your base,
      your commander,
      your giant tankblob o' the apocalypse,
      foe's base,
      foe's commander,
      foe's giant tankblob o' the apocalypse.

    And half of the time, commander's will be sitting in their respective bases, so it cuts it down to four!
  9. KarottenRambo

    KarottenRambo Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    Well at least some units should (and propably will) use a variation of ammunition. If you think of a nuke launcher or any other unit that has a very high damage potential, that it simply need to be limited somehow.

    However, I would like to some sort of ammunition in mobile units too. For example an unit with a laser weapon(pew pew), which empties its battery after some seconds of constant shooting and once it does it shoots with a lower rate of fire. It could recharge the battery itself automatically when its out of combat. But you would need to use the unit differently, because it can only fight in quick battles effectivly
  10. JWest

    JWest Active Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    I always liked that TA and Supreme Commander took into consideration things like ammunition and fuel. In order for certain weapons to fire, you had to have a certain amount of energy. Certain weapons would drain your energy, and you had to be careful of that. In Supreme Commander (I don't recall if this was the case in TA), you had to build refueling stations for aircraft. This even made it necessary for large maps to have naval cruise ships with refueling stations, etc. It was pretty cool, and relatively automatic. I thought it worked pretty well to make things a bit more realistic (I know, we're shooting for awesome and all...). It was a feature I really missed in SupCom 2... one of the many features...

    Anyway, I think that's something that could be worked into the logistics aspect you're talking about.
  11. xedi

    xedi Active Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    I agree, but how do you transfer resources? How do you build a forward-base on a moon with no resources of its own? Can you transfer resources from a newly-found resource rich planet back to your starting planet with dwindling natural resources?
  12. BulletMagnet

    BulletMagnet Post Master General

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    You don't.

    While I love being a libertarian when it comes to games (ala. give players the option to do/play however they like), I really can't see a viable solution to that.
  13. xedi

    xedi Active Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    Hmm. Wouldn't you at least need to be able to bring some resources along with you to start up a forward base? I suppose you can fix the problem somewhat by making sure that even asteroids have enough resources on them to allow you to set up a forward base, but you'll still need some trivial amount to actually put down the first buildings.

    Plus, as much as I agree it deepens the strategic aspect, how on earth do you make it clear what resources are available globally (i.e. when zoomed out), especially with a rate based economy?

    We know how important it is to know when we are stalled for metal/mass, so this needs to be visible in the UI when fully zoomed out, providing information for all planets at a time. It seems a bit overwhelming to me, and the solution of only displaying resource information when zoomed into a particular planet irks me somewhat. But then I guess I don't know what the UI will be like, so maybe it could work.
    Still honestly seems like it could easily put people off at first, not that that argument is necessarily relevant. I'd rather something whose mechanics are clear from the start, even though hard to get around using properly.
    Last edited: August 19, 2012
  14. JWest

    JWest Active Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    What about building trade stations and resource refineries to share resources, ala SoaSE? Something like that would maybe allow you to fortify other planets by building trade stations next to them, giving you certain bonuses, etc. It would sort of be a way of sharing your resources without having to really do anything other than build a few structures.
  15. johnnyhuman

    johnnyhuman New Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    As far as ammo and fuel go, I say let it be infinite for each unit. This game is about scale; we shouldn't worry about that kind of minutia for individual units. In a game where you need to think about how you position and move massive armies from a planetary perspective, we shouldn't be focusing on whether individual units are running out of ammo of fuel. Strategic gameplay on a massive scale should be more important than the micro of individual units in order to keep them stocked with fuel or ammo.

    However, the idea of needing proximity to power to perform certain functions, that is very intriguing. I could see this leading to scenarios where this would force you to build forward bases as you expand into an opponent's territory, for example, which requires more strategic play.

    Building materials, hmm, that's a tough one. It could be quite interesting to restrict construction based on what resources a player has available in proximity to what is being built. If you want to build something far away from a resource you'd need some kind of supply line or resource transport. The trick of course would be to implement a system like that which would make sense and not be too intensive to oversee.
  16. thornley

    thornley New Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    Neither did Homeworld: Cataclysm or Homeworld 2. Both removed strike craft fuel consumption originally in Homeworld. There never was a Homeworld 3.

    Removing limitations is intended to make a game easier, fun and less annoying. I think, in hindsight for this particular case, this design change also unintentionally removed this-away and that-away in favor of protracted indeterminate battles all over the place. Better prepared was exchanged for who showed up with a bigger fleet.

    I know PA wants to be light on the space aspect, but direction and distance effectively serve as terrain in terrain-less space. Finite or exhaustible resources lend a lot of structure to games that can too easily grow chaotic without such considerations. Since PA wants scalable universes, this-away and that-away becomes that much more important.
  17. PKC

    PKC New Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    nope, not liking most of those ideas funk. an RTS as crazy and over the top as this shouldn't weigh itself down with say, ammunition concerns.
  18. Regabond

    Regabond Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    Big no to ammo. Earth 2150 had a huge amount of logistics and on average it wasn't fun dealing with (The game was fun to mess with though). Having to worry about mechs and tanks only getting 20 shots and keeping track of who needs what was a big pain. Even though that game had a great supply system with vtol resuppliers. And if they have a large amount of ammo, then whats the point of them even having it.

    "Fuel" would be ok if units could just be recharged while within your base's energy grid or something. That way you can have your nice localized resource system, which would now encourage or maybe require that you build small firebases on the front line to keep your army charged up. That'd need to be able to last for long enough that it wouldn't become a chore though. So 5 to 10 minutes before needing recharge. Being out of energy could just shut their weapon systems down so you'll still be able to get them back to a base or supply line to get recharged. Recharging units wouldn't have to actually require resources, but could. If so, that would create a sort of upkeep for standing armies.

    For the above fuel system to work you'd need to be able to create power grids of sorts. This could be as simple as the something similar to the Protoss phylons. You build these transmitters which link up everything that requires resources in some radius. These transmitters would then become great targets to temporarily cripple a base. It would be cool if all these smaller base transmitters could be packed up and relocate themselves as well. That would make it easier to set up new bases as you could just send a few of these transmitters out with your army to set up a supply line to some other new base you want to link with.

    This grid could be used for a local resource system. Meaning you could build bases across the planet and link them together. Then build a big transmitter to beam resources up to your moon. But if someone wants to attack your moon, they could first focus on destroying your orbital transmitters so you'd be more limited in your resources to fight back. This could turn fights with planets and moons more into serious sieges. Where knocking out supply lines could give a large advantage.

    I LOVE the idea of each planet being their own separate base in regards to resources. If you want to go colonize a new moon, planet, or asteroid, you'd send up one of those rockets and maybe use a little slider or a button to give them 500 mass and 500 energy or something like that. So if you really wanted to build up a base on a new planet quick, you'd need to build multiple rocket sites and send them all. These rockets would of course be the same rockets carrying your engineers or commander.

    This seems like a pretty easy way to handle building new bases off your grid as well. Maybe that option to fill up on resources would actually be an engineer and commander option. This way if you want to go build a new base else where on the planet, you'd just click that one button to load your little guy up with a bit of resources (enough to build a few starting structures) and send him off. To represent the commander/engi stored resources, they'd just have two little colored bars showing what their storage levels are. You could also unload their resources back into your local base storage just by being within the base resource grid and click that same button again like a LOAD/UNLOAD M/E.
  19. gnats3

    gnats3 Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    I'm not convinced by the idea of ammo and fuel. I imagine keeping track of logistics like that in a game of SupCom would be painful enough; doing it across multiple planets would just be frustrating. I think a repair system that was more efficient and effective than in SupCom would have essentially the same effect without being as complicated. Repair stations near the front lines, for example, could cheaply fix up your units during lulls in the fighting. You'll still be restocking, but you'll only be filling up one bar (health) instead of three (health, ammo, fuel).

    Managing building materials also sounds like it might be too complicated to be worthwhile.

    I like the idea of local power grids for buildings though. Each generator could have a power radius, and any generators that overlap could be considered a contiguous power grid. A building can only use power from that grid if it is in range. Power transfer is much easier to hand-wave than mass transportation - a wireless electricity-transfer dish or something could connect grids from different planets, and wires could be used to connect grids on a particular planet. If everything is connected, it'll function just like SupCom... but if a forward firebase gets cut off, it'll lose radar and shields, etc. This would also force you to choose between building all your energy infrastructure in your main base (with fragile, harassable wires leading to your forward posts) or building power generators at the forward bases (where they can be overrun and destroyed).
  20. Regabond

    Regabond Member

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    Re: Logistics (ammo, fuel, electricity, building materials,

    Mass transfer is pretty easy to handwavium as well. It just has to be acknowledged as that. It's effectively some sort of limited teleportation system to transfer mass to another location.

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