Bebop Cola -> RE: Private sector atrophied (6/14/2012 6:58:16 PM)
Finally, maybe it's a good thing. Because, seriously, why the hell does an empire of only 70 planets need THOUSANDS of ships, anyway? I've often wondered that, and most of the time when I look, it seems like those thousands of ships are just dawdling around or flying aimlessly with empty cargo bays.
Well, it seems like it would be reasonable in a "real world" scenario assuming building/purchasing a ship that can travel FTL with any profitable level of cargo capacity is not impossibly expensive, reflecting individual entrepreneurship and corporate commerce.
That said, with DW's relatively simplified trade/shipping system of moving about a limited selection of raw resources wouldn't appear to need that level of shipping. There needs to be a certain over-abundance so as to approach a constant, or at least just-in-time, delivery schedule, but at times the flood in civilian shipping in DW does appear to be excessive.
I suspect it is a design workaround to problem with the AI making efficient decision in civilian shipping. If you're struggling with getting the AI to choose the correct sized freighter at the correct location to transport the correct resource to meet some demand queue somewhere else, it makes a certain sense that one dodge to the problem might be flooding the system with freighters so as to ensure that something is available wherever needed, preventing the job queue of a more limited set of freighters from growing too long from inefficiencies. Sure, it introduces problems of its own, but excess freight capacity will use up resources(strategic and fuel), and can be "pruned" by pirates or enemy empires. Of course, whether those systems are beneficial/effective is open to debate as well.
I'd suggest giving some consideration to the trade system being revamped to make more efficient use of freighters, and in so doing hopefully reduce the need for so many of them. My thinking would be that shipping jobs assigned to a freighter size are determined by the volume of trade between two or more points, the regularity of that trade, or the distance involved.
1. Negligible or intermittent trade volume between two points or one-off jobs as required, reflecting a potential new trade route.
2. Resource gathering from in-system or mining bases near their drop-off point. Shorter travel times mean smaller loads are not particularly inefficient, and the resource site is not as likely to be depleted when the freighter stops by again.
1. Moderate regular trade volume between two points.
2. Resource gathering from mining bases an average distance from the nearest drop-off point. Longer travel time gives the mine time to re-build its stockpile before the next visit, so a larger load can be taken at a time.
1. Large/regular trade between two planetary stockpiles.
2. Resource gathering from distant mining bases.
3. One-off large resource requests, ie. new colony resource stockpiles or new ship construction needs.
Of course, given the relatively minor difference in cargo capacity between each freighter type a system like this might be unnecessary. If even small freighters are often flying around with their cargo mostly empty, then there's really no point in building larger freighters except as visual fluff. It would be nice to see the private sector have an idea of how much cargo capacity it needs before requesting a new freighter so it builds the smallest freighter required. Small empires and those just starting out might only build small freighters as they just wouldn't utilize the cargo-capacity of larger freighters.
In other words, when the private sector needs to build a new freighter, it needs to have a better idea of what would best meet the given need. If my empire has no foreign contacts and consists of just my home system and maybe the next one over, I likely don't need a large freighter yet; I can get by with small freighters. If I start to see supply pressures my private sector needs to efficiently decide if I just new more small freighters so I can hit my existing sites more often, or if I need a medium freighter to deliver larger loads.
Honestly, I'm not sure how much of that the current system does or if it's even a feasible suggestion. Just throwing ideas out there.