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Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets

 
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Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 5/1/2014 11:53:17 AM   
Osito


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I recently played a game with a 0.5 sector colonisation range, which posed some challenges to colonisation. At first, I thought I was going to be restricted to my home system for the whole game.

Anyway, to expand I was forced to colonise some low quality systems, which got me thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of such systems.

The big disadvantage I've heard is that a colony's revenue will be in deficit if you colonise a planet with a quality below 50%. This appears to be true, but there are some surprises over the exact effect.

For example, I'd expected that the lower the planet quality the higher the deficit. Not so. Why not? Because the size of the deficit appears to depend on population and on development. Colonies with less than 50% planet quality will have higher revenue deficits if their population is high and if their development is high.

However, planet quality also directly affects maximum population. This means that as quality goes down, the maximum population goes down, so the maximum revenue deficit also goes down. Also, if the maximum population is below 500 million (which will be true for any planet with a quality below about 10.7) the maximum possible colony development will go down, too.

The net effect of all this (established through empirical testing) is that the revenue deficit is maximum in the planet quality range of 30-40%. Once planet quality drops below about 30%, the size of the revenue deficit decreases. Some specific examples on a size 400 planet (which is as big a size as you can get for a colonisable planet):

Planet quality 50% - deficit = 0
Planet quality 45% - deficit = 6k
Planet quality 40% - deficit = 10k
Planet quality 35% - deficit = 12k
Planet quality 30% - deficit = 11k
Planet quality 25% - deficit = 10k
Planet quality 20% - deficit = 8k
Planet quality 15% - deficit = 5k
Planet quality 10% - deficit = 3k
Planet quality 5% - deficit = 1k
Planet quality 0% - deficit = 0k

************************
Edit: a few points I forgot to mention in the OP -
1. The planet development in the above tests was generally in the range 50-60, except in the cases where planet quality was 10%, 5% and 0% (where 50 development was not technically achievable). It was not really practical to test the effect of development properly, because it was a bit buggy to set it up, as noted in a post I recently made in the tech forum.
2. I did try to establish the maximum possible deficit by setting planet size to 400, planet quality to 35% and development to 105%, and it came out at around -25k. I guess that's roughly the worst case scenario. Obviously, you could up the development (and thereby increase the deficit), by building a wonder on the planet, but that's only going to happen if you're role playing a leader who's insane. Come to think of it ...
3. In the above tests, the planet population was set to the maximum possible given the planet size (400) and the quality. Hopefully, it's obvious that the population was lower as the quality was decreased.
************************

What this means is that you shouldn't necessarily worry about colonising planets with very low quality, as they will not have necessarily have larger deficits. In addition, if the planet size is smaller, too, the revenue deficit will be even lower.

The only negative effects of a very low quality/population planet are the lower colony build times (caused by the lower populations), but this doesn't seem like much of a negative, as these planets are not likely to be a main centre for space ports.

Thoughts? Have I missed something?

Osito

< Message edited by Osito -- 5/1/2014 11:15:01 PM >
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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 5/1/2014 2:19:56 PM   
CyclopsSlayer


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So, where possible avoid the 20-40% worlds, the rest why not?
Normally I only hit the low Quality worlds for special ruins and resources, this shows that the previously 'junk' worlds may have some value after all.

OT btw; I really wish the Terraformer actually improved a worlds quality, rather than just repair damage. As well there should be an indicator about Qual Damage remaining so you can scrap TFormers that have become just a drain on resources.

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 5/1/2014 2:58:20 PM   
Icemania


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Good observations!

This expands the options to consider depending on the situation. For example, when colonisation technology is still limited, electing to colonise that low quality planet to ensure other high quality planets (that you can't colonise yet) are within your territory, maybe a good option sometimes etc.

My caution would be games where there are plenty of pirates as to defend that world there is also the cost of troops and starbase/ship defences to consider.

Great to see some empirical testing back in the forum Osito. I hope some of the veterans no longer active in the forum return for Universe.




< Message edited by Icemania -- 5/1/2014 3:59:13 PM >

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 5/1/2014 7:15:10 PM   
Osito


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quote:

ORIGINAL: CyclopsSlayer

OT btw; I really wish the Terraformer actually improved a worlds quality, rather than just repair damage. As well there should be an indicator about Qual Damage remaining so you can scrap TFormers that have become just a drain on resources.


Yes, me too. I wish that would be moddable in Universe, but from what I've seen so far I fear it won't be. I'm hoping I'm wrong.

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/7/2014 1:11:37 AM   
Unforeseen


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I more recently stopped colonizing low qual worlds for the simple fact that the AI won't do it. I try not to take advantage of things the AI can't/won't do.

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/7/2014 6:14:23 AM   
warzer

 

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wow I must say thats pretty cool. could be to colonize would be cheaper than maintaining a mining station. I tend to make my mining station mine bases of capping so they are expensive.

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/7/2014 2:08:16 PM   
Werewolf1326

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Osito


quote:

ORIGINAL: CyclopsSlayer

OT btw; I really wish the Terraformer actually improved a worlds quality, rather than just repair damage. As well there should be an indicator about Qual Damage remaining so you can scrap TFormers that have become just a drain on resources.


Yes, me too. I wish that would be moddable in Universe, but from what I've seen so far I fear it won't be. I'm hoping I'm wrong.


Minor OT HighJack:
re:terraforming

Considering the time scale DW uses its seems unlikely that terraforming would really have all that much impact on an otherwise uninhabitable/less habitable planet. We're talking planets here. Short of using something like the Star Trek universe Genesis device (and I'd bet that many here know that story and where it lead) terraforming should take 100's if not thousands of years.

If I could turn it off in the games I play I would - can it be turned off by means other than just not using it?

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/7/2014 3:21:48 PM   
Osito


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The timescale doesn't bother me, because if you think about it the timescale is wrong in many respects in DW. Terraforming is essentially just another gameplay option which I would be happy to have, but it's not a big deal.

Incidentally, I'm not sure what you mean by turning it off. The only terraforming in the game involves repairing damage to planet quality caused by bombardment and the like. Outside of the game editor, there is nothing which can improve planet quality beyond it's initial value. So far as turning it off is concerned, well, you can't stop the AI from doing it, but you can avoid building terraforming facilities at your own planets, if you wish.

osito

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/7/2014 11:09:10 PM   
Unforeseen


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Terraformation is a tricky concept. Essentially the goal is to modify the atmospheric contents of a planet to suit whatever your trying to do. Like turning mars into earth by giving it our atmosphere, dumping tons of fertile soil on it and throwing seeds everywhere. BUT the whole thing doesn't take planetary local condition's into consideration at all. If a planet is too close to the sun, or too far away it won't be able to support our sort of life. Period. You also have to consider gravity. Too much gravity and you'll be crushed. Too little and your liable to float away. It's pretty difficult i'd imagine to permanently change this without the ability to create/move moons and planets and if you could do that why would you need to terraform? The earth would be a mess without our moon where it is, and our planet where it is in the solar system.

I believe this is why Matrix decided to limit terraforming tech to quality repair. Because it simply isn't feasible to do anything else.

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/8/2014 2:21:28 AM   
Spidey


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It's worth noting that the entire question of atmosphere is left out. All that matters is the abstract "colony type" and the equally abstract "planet quality". So, if any ocean planet can be colonized by any ocean race regardless of quality, it seems reasonable to conclude that there is in fact both an ocean and an atmosphere. And quality is then how good the atmosphere is, how many earthquakes there are, sea and land fertility, ferocity of the weather, and so on. Those things might certainly be affected by a sufficiently advanced race. If there's a pollution of some kind then design bacteria that eat the pollution and produce something more useful. If there's very little ecosystem then design plants and then design animals to feed on those plants.

What I'd say is much harder to change is whether it's a volcanic or an ocean planet. No matter what is done to Pluto, it's just really hard to imagine it being a nice, warm desert. And turning Venus into an ice world doesn't sound any easier.

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/8/2014 9:10:05 AM   
Osito


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Unforeseen

I believe this is why Matrix decided to limit terraforming tech to quality repair. Because it simply isn't feasible to do anything else.


I doubt that's the reason. Who knows what science will do in the future, and computer games don't have to be 'realistic', anyway? DW already makes massive compromises on realism in favour of gameplay. Furthermore, we've seen terraforming in plenty of previous space 4x, including the revered MOO2.

Let's not forget that almost all space 4x are predicated upon the idea that faster than light travel is possible. Understandably, we have a long science fiction heritage of ftl travel, but there is actually no certainty that it will ever be possible to develop such technology.

As others have said previously, it seems to me that the most likely explanation why terraforming of starting planet quality is not possible in DW is that it would encourage colonisation of far more planets. In a 'galaxy' which has maybe 50,000 planets and moons, that could be extremely challenging for our computers to handle.

Osito


< Message edited by Osito -- 6/8/2014 10:11:04 AM >

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/8/2014 11:02:55 AM   
feelotraveller


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Terraforming (=permanent improvement in planet base quality) already exists in the game in the form of the Ikkuro race event 'Natural Harmony'. Only colonised planets can be affected. It could be possible to mod the game so that the event gets a different trigger...

On the original topic: it is interesting data. Another way to minimize the costs is to set the immigration policies so that everyone who possibly can gets off world. Less people on a sub 50 quality planet = less deficit. I generally avoid colonising low quality worlds just on principle but use this tactic for low quality worlds with super-luxuries, for example.

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/8/2014 12:47:19 PM   
Unforeseen


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FTL is theoretically possible assuming you can develop an energy source capable of powering it. Whether it is safe to travel at such speeds is a whole different matter of course. But the concept is more 'realistic' than terraforming a planet which for reasons i stated above isn't feasible as the tools necessary to do so would self contradict their purpose as you could just create a new planet instead. Unless of course you have the presumably rare circumstance that the planet has nearly identical gravitational forces and solar local as Earth.

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/8/2014 3:04:30 PM   
Osito


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Terraforming is also theoretically possible assuming you have an energy source capable of powering it ;-) Whether ftl will ever be practical in practice, I have no idea, but I don't see it as fundamentally more likely than terraforming. In fact, I see terraforming more as an engineering problem, whereas ftl is something which may simply never be possible as a practical means of transportation. I would agree, however, that certain terraforming objectives would also require technology which may not be developable. For example, with our current understanding of science, there would be no way of retaining an atmosphere on a low gravity planet or moon (short of building an enclosure around the whole planet).

From the DW perspective, 'terraforming' simply means increasing planet quality (and hence maximum population). It doesn't necessarily require movement of land masses, or creation of planet-retained atmosphere on low gravity planets. It may entail a more efficient way of building cities on the planet, so that more people can survive. Perhaps you'd be happier if we dropped the word 'terraforming' and changed it to something like 'city containment tech'.

Leaving the word 'terraforming' to one side, my only real point is that it's perfectly possible to envisage the development of technology that would allow a greater number of people to live on a planet.

< Message edited by Osito -- 6/8/2014 4:17:02 PM >

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/8/2014 6:28:25 PM   
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That is a very interesting observation!

It means that if you only need an "outpost" to claim the system and no real colony planet is available, it is actually beneficial to go for the low qualities first.

Very useful indeed. I wish max pop in regards to quality/type was dependent on tech. Would be a priority for me to mod ;-).

< Message edited by Locarnus -- 6/8/2014 7:28:58 PM >


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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/9/2014 2:35:12 AM   
Unforeseen


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On the subject of FTL my personal opinion is that it will never be practical for human transportation. I believe that we will find a way to send an object through space FTL, but only use it to transport inanimate objects such as supplies. Possibly using some sort of super high powered mass driver at the edge of the solar system.

The only reason why i say terraforming isn't practical is because..as i stated above..you would have not only the task of modifying the planets atmospheric contents but also manipulating it's gravity which is already going to be affected by any number of things such as moons, other planets, it's star, asteroids etc. We also have to consider it's temperature. There is only so much we could to do a planet to increase it's temperature AND make sure there is enough sunlight to grow plants. To do this without moving a planet... i'll use Pluto as an loose example. It is far enough from the sun that in order to grow any kind of vegetation on it's surface post changing it's geological contents entirely...we would either have to completely encase the planet in a structure capable of shining artificial light on the planet or somehow amplify the sun's rays likely using a massive combination of reflective lenses that would have to be constantly readjusted to compensate for Pluto's erratic orbit. All this would take A VERY LONG TIME to complete even with advanced engineering technology, it would be extremely expensive and terribly unreliable. I don't think ANYONE would want to live inside of a huge greenhouse for their entire lives, or an icebox in the case of a planet like mercury. Much less raise children there.

I'm not saying it isn't possible, it just isn't reasonable unless the conditions are just right. Like one of those planets we've found that is in a suitable position already to host life like ours. It may not have grown the proper vegetation or developed the proper atmosphere. This is something we could reasonable fix and i can see us eventually doing so.

< Message edited by Unforeseen -- 6/9/2014 3:38:04 AM >


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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/12/2014 2:37:21 PM   
Valectar

 

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There happens to be a game called Aurora which is pretty similar to Distant Worlds in many ways, as it is also a 4x space conquering game, and it has a pretty interesting terraforming mechanic. Players can build a Terraformer unit, which can be used to add or remove .001 atmospheres of gas from a planet / moon / whatever per year. This means that a single terraformer would require 1000 years to create an earth-like atmosphere from scratch, but you can install more than one terraformer in addition to being able to add terraforming modules to ships. Since aurora is a significantly more detailed, to get a planet into a habitable zone you need to raise the oxygen pressure (or methane for certain races) to a certain amount, along with the total atmospheric pressure, and in addition to removing any harmful gasses from the atmosphere. To change the temperature you can add either green house or anti-greenhouse gasses, depending on the direction in which you want to change the temperature. As far as gravity, you have no real way to change it, though on very low gravity bodies you can build underground infrastructure which can provide artificial gravity for your inhabitants.

Additionally, each race has a tolerance for differences from their main world, in terms of gravity, atmospheric pressure, and temperature. In order to colonies some worlds you can use genetic modification to change the base values to different values, so that you still have the same tolerance for variance from the base, but the base value of the genetically modified portion of your race is different from that of your homeworld.

While these mechanics would could not be directly applied to Distant worlds due to mechanical differences between the game (control of multiple terrestrial structures on planets in aurora, different timescales, etc.), some of the ideas could probably be utilized to add realistic and hopefully balanced terraforming.

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/14/2014 11:37:58 PM   
BlueTemplar


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So, under 50% planet quality, income just becomes negative?
So the more you grow your population, and the higher your culture/development is, the more you will pay?
Then, it would seem that the only reason you would want to colonize such planets is for increasing your colonization range, since they will drain resources for negative effect, and their own resource extraction rates will be very poor compared to mining station.
BTW, those figures are for private deficit, right? Do you get negative taxes then?

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RE: Some thoughts on colonising low quality planets - 6/16/2014 10:02:01 AM   
Tcby


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As previously stated, another reason is for gaining the bonuses of the unique ruins. Usually that's a pretty big deal.

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