Stellaris Economy Discussion (Resource vs Production)

Stellaris Economy Discussion (Resource vs Production)

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MichaelJanuary

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One of the things that surprised me (in this thread) is how few people understood how many other 4X games work, and just assume there is no way these systems (trade, localised production) could apply to Stellaris. I am going to take just ONE of those issues (production), and attempt to illustrate how it could have applied to Stellaris (in a different implementation).

What we are talking about here is the MODEL, or the CONCEPT, rather than specific implementations of it, but you can bring your experience of many different games to bear (total war trade routes, hearts of iron convoy system, hearts of iron factory system, or IC as people often refer to it). So please don't hang onto numbers, treat this as a conceptual model, for discussion. Also, the implementation does not have to be exactly the same as 'that other game'. Some of you might have seen variations in Ascendancy, Sword of the Stars, Star Rulers, or other 4X games.


THE CURRENT STELLARIS (RESOURCE) MODEL
  • All planets produce resources into a global pool.
  • When you order a construction, the cost is immediately deducted from the pool.
  • You cant order construction for something if you don't have the resources for it.
  • The construction proceeds at a standard rate (maybe modified by tech) until complete.
  • The location of the construction is irrelevant, it doesn't matter whether its a planet in your core systems, or a shipyard 200 light years away.


HOW A PRODUCTION BASED MODEL WOULD WORK IN THEORY
  1. You order the construction of a corvette that costs 100 alloys.
  2. The Shipyard, being on a Starbase, can work at the rate of 10 alloys per month.
  3. If the shipyard can only be provided with 9 alloys per month, it will work at 90% speed, and take 11 months to build the corvette.
  4. If it was building a battleship (1500 alloys) it would take 150 months to build the battleship.
  5. If you had ordered 3 battleships, and could only supply 9 alloys per month, only one of the battleships would be constructed (at 90% speed), while the other two shipyards waited for resources. (see hearts of iron production system).
  6. If you had 15 resource per month to spare, 1 battleship would be constructed at 100% speed, while the second would be at 50% speed.
  7. In other words, you can queue up whatever you like, but your shipyards are constrained by the rate at which you can feed them.

TECHNOLOGY AND INFRASTRUCTURE IN A PRODUCTION BASED MODEL
  1. A shipyard on an upgraded starbase (starhold, star fortress, citadel), would be able to work at a faster rate (say +20% alloys per month).
  2. So a starhold would construct a corvette in 8 months, and a battleship in 120 months.
  3. A fortress or citadel or mega shipyard would construct even faster, (and consume resources faster).


TRADE ROUTES
  1. Each colony or starbase could support a fixed number of trade routes in proportion to their development level.
  2. So a starbase might support 1 route. A planet might support 2 or 3 or even 4.
  3. A trade route can be established between any two points and you would earn taxes (energy) each month from the trade route.
  4. Thus a planet with 4 trade routes, would generate significant trade income every month.
  5. The 'trade route' would just be a statistic on the planet screen (import 9 food per month, generating 4 energy in taxes).
  6. You could use trade to supplement deficiencies, or to boost production.
  7. Example trade routes.
    1. Supplying alloys to a shipyard.
    2. Supplying food or consumer goods to another planet.
    3. Bringing in minerals to feed your forges (and earning taxes by the way).
  8. Not only would these trade routes be solving real problems this would accomplish the exact same thing as the current trade model. (generating energy from trade).

PLANET SPECIALISATION
  • Would still be a thing, and would even be encouraged.
  • You would be making producing resources on the best suited planet, AND making cash on the trade routes.
  • You might still have bottlenecks, for e.g, if you had 7 planets, and only 1 food specialisation planet with 4 trade routes, 2 of your planets could be going hungry, Choose which 2.
  • Probably, if the system was sophisticated enough, you could chain trade routes, so send a surplus to from Planet A to B, then send the difference from Planet B to C, and make cash on both legs.

TAXES AND SHIPS
  • In most games, such routes earn cash in proportion to distance and volume of goods traded. You could probably adjust volumes by assigning convoys to a route.
  • So IF the trade system was supplemented by a convoy resource (off-map counter), you could assign two convoy ships to a route to double the trade capacity.
  • In HOI, the model is that trade routes deal in fixed increments, and as you increase the volume traded, convoy ships are automatically assigned from your "pool" until you run out of ships.
  • A 'nice' system would be that convoy ships are auto-assigned from your pool of convoy ships in proportion to the number of resources AND the distance involved. So a route trading 10 resources per month over 4 jumps would require 4 convoy ships, while a route trading 20 resources per month over 3 jumps would requires 6 convoy ships.
  • Not saying you MUST have convoy ships, but it serves as a cap on how many routes and how much resources you can ship, so it seems like an overall positive.
  • Blockades would destroy a percentage of the ships each month, forcing you to replenish your pool, or see trade volumes drop.


BLOCKADES AND PIRACY
  1. Blockading a star system would earn you a percentage of all trade in/out of that system, and destroy a percentage of the convoy ships assigned to that route each month.
  2. If a planet was importing 10 food per month, and you had a fleet in the system, you would earn 5 food per month (varied by ethics, stance, diplomacy, whatever).
  3. The planet would be flagged as blockaded, and you wouldn't be able to edit/cancel the trade routes.
  4. Similar system would work for piracy.
  5. The food you are 'borrowing', could go to your nearest planet, or be converted into energy at market rates, or to designated planets to boost pop growth.

POTENTIAL ISSUES - DISCUSSION POINTS - VARIOUS SOLUTIONS POSSIBLE
  • Personally, i would only have ONE global resource - energy. Minerals, Alloys, CG, Food, would be stockpiled at the PLANET level.
  • Physical resources would accrete at the level of the PLANET up to local storage limits, and then be LOST.
    • You can increase storage through the usual means. (Resource Silo)
    • Remember, under the current model, resources above your cap are lost anyway. Now they would just be lost at source.
  • For mining stations, the resources would automatically be added to the nearest planet (highest population if two planets in the system).
  • Starbases would just be another node in the trade network.
  • I would probably set starbase trade levels to fluctuate with demand, ie., bring in only what is needed, or nothing when idle. This may affect tax rates.
  • In some games, you have to maintain a volume of 'freighters' or 'convoy ships' as an off-map resource in proportion to your trade volumes, but I wouldn't hang my hat on this either.

IIMPACT ON PERFORMANCE
  • These mechanisms (trade routes which are basically just stats on the city/planet/province page) are quite common in strategy games. See Total War. See Civilisation. See Endless Space.
  • In many games you can trade with foreign powers too, with a positive effect on relations.
  • The trade routes do not have to be visually illustrated on the map or animated at all. They are just a new stat on the planet screen, replacing the existing trade income.
  • Blockades and piracy would still work, as all you would need to do blockade a system, is to have a fleet in that system. "Blockading" developed planets with multiple trade routes could be quite lucrative.
  • Personally, its optional to me whether this trade network should be contiguous. That is a detail.
    • In theory, having a navigable route between the endpoints could be a requirement for trade but I wouldn't hang my hat on it. It would probably be more 'realistic' but its also preference.

Note: This is not a NEW model. Many games have systems like this, and they have been around in 4X games since the early 1990s. Yes, its possible to make a complete hash of it. But it seem also to work really well and be a major part of some very well known strategy games, so its all in the implementation. You could even have an auto-suggest system, where planets running a CG shortage might 'request' a trade route to another planet that has excess production.


SIDE ISSUE
The way I have set up shipyards here, is that construction could be accelerated by higher level starbases (so a citadel would build a battleship much faster than a starbase or starhold). This is in general another area that Stellaris has missed a few opportunities in. i.e., Specialising shipyards for building battleships with energy weapons, and another shipyard for building cruisers with missiles. it used to be that you had modules you could add to Starbases to customise the stats of ships (boost energy damage, increase armor, etc.)

Another way to offer a choice to players would be to give them the option of building dozens of starbases, versus a handful of citadels. i.e., do you want a handful of super-fast shipyards, or a number of low level shipyards building dozens of ships simultaneously, but at a slower rate.


COUNTER-ARGUMENTS
One of the arguments AGAINST a trade and production based system in other thread was .... "well i don't want to wait 6 months for the freighter arrive". The response is that there is no freighter. The trade is abstracted. Also, you are waiting six months under the current system to save up for the battleship. With a trade/production model, you can order the battleship NOW, not wait 6 months, the only difference is the battleship might be constructed at a less than optimal speed if you have a resource shortage.
 
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