SUGGESTION: REFUEL AUTOMATION.
You will say, "but the AI already automates refuel, here, just click this button", at wich point I will repply, yes, but the "automation" is not just for fuel, there is a package of automation activities, including missions.
So this suggestion, comes with the intention of separating refuel automations from the other automations:
A refuel only automation option.
Playing in full manual, the only thing that I cant still get over it is having to manual refuel each one of my ships every "the very limit time frame that take them to use all the fuel".
"Oh, here is a tip: use energy collectors on your ships then, its the current style!" I use energy collectors, but this forces me to stand my ships still, preventing me from manually assigning them missions all the time without the hassle of having to refuel them again and again. This problem gets exponentially worse, depending on the ammount of ships one player has. In other words, if I want to actually give them missions manually, then they will end up "fueless" anyway and I will end up having to micromanage "this manual activity that doesnt actually require human brain activity". One could even try to make an argument that deciding when and where to refuel does require some human brain activity, to wich I would repply that 99% of the time its more of a boring hassle that detracts from what the player actually wants to spend his time and attention on, than anything else.
Now Im going to explain the side effects of "automating ships" for the sake of automated refuelling through the views of a "manual player":
If I automate the ships, just so I can have automatic refuel, guess what? I get a full package of other AI automations, functions I dont want.
Construction ships, once automated will refuel, great! But they will also decide to build gas miners far away from my defenses and when I need a constructor to build something manually, where is he? Occupied far away, building a gas station that I dont need or want for various situational or "play stylistic" reasons!
Explorers ships, once automated will refuel, great! But they will also decide where to explore, and since the AI doesnt have a crystal ball, it doesnt know where I want to explore, when and why. If I want to explore in an specific direction only, or only explore nebulas, or inside an another races boarders or far away from them, etc. Thats why I set my explorer to manual, to control them, but guess what, this way I have to deal with refueling too, wich is a major hinderance, I dont want to have to keep pausing the game and checking each one of my explorers all the time to see if they need me to manually tell them to refuel (this is what I call "baby sitting", I think at the year 2760, they should be able to do that by themselfs without the commander telling them to, automatically). And to get the automated refuelling effect, I inside into the undesired above mentioned effects of "AI mission automation".
Military Ships is the same thing. There are so many side effects I dont know where to start describing why Military Ships automation "just for the refuel" is a problem... No, I dont want to manually-individually tell each of my military ships to escort/protect a PRIVATE ship (freighters, passengers, miners). Then you say "Oh, but thats when you automate your military ship then!", to wich I repply, "But for Private ships I use my "freedom of design" and design them in a way that they can take care of themselfs without "baby sitting". And Let me tell you, that my custom designs for Private ships are very effective at taking care of themselfs". So what side effect do I get this time? If I let my ships automated so they can refuel themselfs (and spare me the pain), the AI assign them missions! Unecessary escort missions. Unecessary patrol missions. Missions that I judge unecessary, or in inadequate places, with inadequate targets and so on. The point Im trying to make is that AI Military Ships automation is an insult to players inteligence (dont mean to offend, just stating a fact through an effect sentence).
AI Military Ships automation creates a chaotic mess of ships scathered around, doing all sorts of unecessary/unprioritized missions. "Everything stops now!" I say "Let me handle this" and then I turn Military Ships automation for once and for all. No more "Oh, where did you go Frigate 007?" "Oh, I see, I automated you so you could refuel by yourself, but the AI sent you far away..." and other unexplainable "AI phenomn".
So its like this: I assembly a fleet, let them inside a star system and tell them to stop. Once they get full energy, tell them to refuel, they go and refuel using the energy on the reserves for engine/thrusters/etc, once they are refueled, you have to tell them to stop again, or else start using all energy reserves and then the fuel they just "refuel'd". That way, you can have that fleet "READY". Wich is the current best solution for "manual players". There is an obvious side effect to it, your ships have to stand still all the time.
If you want to manually give them missions like: "Protect this construction ship! Its going to build a mine station in the Planet Viance03 that has a high priority luxury!" or "Patrol this system, because another race is just about to set its foot here!", or another specific mission, me, as the player, defined its important for the current situation, strategy or it fits my play style. Stuff I thought many steps ahead.
So, if you want to actually use your military ships, giving missions to them manually (aka, playing the game by yourself), you also get the side effect of having to refuel every single ship manually.
Im one of those that refuse to automate stuff, because automation is not deep and complex enough as my intectual capacity to fine tune everything, I might not get the most effective results, but I still get to exercise my freedom, experiment, suffer consequences and so on... If I automate stuff and they lose efficiency (like I said, construction ships, explorers, military ships automated do everything I wouldnt want them to do and I cant specifically control each facet of automation), then whats the point of actually playing the game? To me the whole point of the game is using my brain and thinking, automation is important when it is not for choices/decisions (thinking), but boring tasks such as retrofitting, mass upgrading (those two gloriously fixed in the next patch, thanks again) and refueling (hopefully it gets noticed by my post), wich is becoming the most annoying thing for "Manual players".
I like to play manual, not because I like doing boring and repetitve stuff. I like to play manual because I like to use my "human factor", what makes me different from artificial inteligence. Right clicking a hundred ships and telling them to refuel everytime they get out of fuel is not the type of "manual" activity Im looking for in this game.
That is why Im propose a specific "refuel automation".
Allowing the player to select a ship and toggling on and off a "automatic refuel" option. Separated from the other "automated functions" (THE ONES I DONT WANT/NEED, because I want to manually set their my missions I choose, using my brain).
Specific Feature Suggestion:
This automatic refuel option, could then have sub options:
"refuel after mission" some kind of queue, to prevent my ships stopping their missions to go refuel, ignoring the my mission, that I dont want as well.
"after refuel, come back here" (if stationed waiting for another manual mission) or
"after refuel, resume current patrol" (if they are doing a patrol and run out of fuel, I want them to refuel and keep doing what I told them to do, otherwise I would have to manually set the same patrol every few minutes, I dont want that too) so prevent the automatic refuel thing to disrupt
I think manual players and those who like epic games with "1400 galaxies and 50.000 planets" will be very thankfull of that, you give them time to do what they want, like originally intended, right?
Thank for reading, I will be accepting feedback on this suggestion. Help me make it better. A further suggestion would be able to toggle by ship, based on role, all the individual automated functions:
(Check this if you want to this ship to automatically repair. Check this if you want this ship to automatically refuel. Check this if you want the AI to assign this ship escort missions. Check if you want the AI to assign build missions. And so on, but I guess this would be too much to ask.)
< Message edited by Interesting -- 4/6/2010 6:06:24 PM >