Terraforming - Making a more interesting game loop.

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tinculin

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I don't think I'm alone when I say that I find the existing mechanics around Terraforming, Habitability, and Blockers somewhat underwhelming for a sci-fi game.

Terraforming is simply a click with no real interesting choices and habitability, a number that is easily worked around by other means such as taking techs with direct boosts to habitability or genetic engineering your species.

How to make this more interesting?

Give all starting species freely selectable options such as:
Preferred Gravity: Low / Medium / High
Preferred Temperature Freezing / Cold / Average / High / Superhot (non-lithoid species would be restricted to the middle three).

Planets
Every planet would have a series of 'planetary factors' and these factors could be changed by terraforming:
  • Atmospheric Oxygen Content: (Ranging from no-atmosphere / 0 and upwards) - If there isn't a breathable atmosphere then habitability would be set to a flat 20% for races who breathe.
  • Ocean Coverage: This would represent the % of a planet covered by oceans and you could have a mechanic whereby more ocean = more districts for aquatic species and vice versa when a planet is mostly land.
  • Gravity - Low / Medium / High If you're species has a different gravity value to the planets, then you'd suffer a large hit to habitability until it was terraformed to match.
  • Temperature - Freezing / Cold / Average / High / Superhot - Much like gravity, if these values differ then you'd suffer a hit to habitability until the issue is somehow addressed.
  • Planets would also have one or more Terraforming modifiers and this might range from things such as; extreme acid rain, volcanic activity, tectonic instability, extreme wind patterns, etc - All would have modifiers to planets overall habitability and all would be something that could be eventually resolved by terraforming.

Terraforming
Terraforming would then be a measure of selecting which particular Planetary factor you wish to begin modifying or what terraforming modifer you wished to remove. A terraforming unit would need to be built on the planet and it would take time to take effect.

For instance, if you wanted to make an unbreathable atmosphere breathable you would build a terraforming unit, select the unit to change the atmosphere to breathable, and then it would begin its process. Over time, the Oxygen content would begin to increase and the habitability penalty suffered would begin to reduce.

Some terraforming options (perhaps changing the gravity setting of a planet), would require higher-level terraforming technologies.
Terraforming could be accelerated by adding multiple terraforming plants onto a planet, however as each would take up a build slot, this would be a trade-off between productivity and how fast you want the terraforming features / planetary factors removed.

Robots and Lithoids
Robots and Lithoids would not be immune to all planetary factors/terraforming penalties but they would enjoy certain benefits.
i.e. While Robots don't breathe, and therefore would not be penalized by any Atmosphere (or complete lack of), they would still have a preference for the gravity of their homeworld, work best within a given planetary temperature, and would still be impacted by things such as acid rain, extreme weather conditions & other terraforming factors.

An equivalent to genetic modification (adaptation), should be included if robots wish to seek to mold themselves to the environment rather than terraform the environment to them.
 

Nexus Entity

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I don't think I'm alone when I say that I find the existing mechanics around Terraforming, Habitability, and Blockers somewhat underwhelming for a sci-fi game.

Terraforming is simply a click with no real interesting choices and habitability, a number that is easily worked around by other means such as taking techs with direct boosts to habitability or genetic engineering your species.

How to make this more interesting?

Give all starting species freely selectable options such as:
Preferred Gravity: Low / Medium / High
Preferred Temperature Freezing / Cold / Average / High / Superhot (non-lithoid species would be restricted to the middle three).

Planets
Every planet would have a series of 'planetary factors' and these factors could be changed by terraforming:
  • Atmospheric Oxygen Content: (Ranging from no-atmosphere / 0 and upwards) - If there isn't a breathable atmosphere then habitability would be set to a flat 20% for races who breathe.
  • Ocean Coverage: This would represent the % of a planet covered by oceans and you could have a mechanic whereby more ocean = more districts for aquatic species and vice versa when a planet is mostly land.
  • Gravity - Low / Medium / High If you're species has a different gravity value to the planets, then you'd suffer a large hit to habitability until it was terraformed to match.
  • Temperature - Freezing / Cold / Average / High / Superhot - Much like gravity, if these values differ then you'd suffer a hit to habitability until the issue is somehow addressed.
  • Planets would also have one or more Terraforming modifiers and this might range from things such as; extreme acid rain, volcanic activity, tectonic instability, extreme wind patterns, etc - All would have modifiers to planets overall habitability and all would be something that could be eventually resolved by terraforming.

Terraforming
Terraforming would then be a measure of selecting which particular Planetary factor you wish to begin modifying or what terraforming modifer you wished to remove. A terraforming unit would need to be built on the planet and it would take time to take effect.

For instance, if you wanted to make an unbreathable atmosphere breathable you would build a terraforming unit, select the unit to change the atmosphere to breathable, and then it would begin its process. Over time, the Oxygen content would begin to increase and the habitability penalty suffered would begin to reduce.

Some terraforming options (perhaps changing the gravity setting of a planet), would require higher-level terraforming technologies.
Terraforming could be accelerated by adding multiple terraforming plants onto a planet, however as each would take up a build slot, this would be a trade-off between productivity and how fast you want the terraforming features / planetary factors removed.

Robots and Lithoids
Robots and Lithoids would not be immune to all planetary factors/terraforming penalties but they would enjoy certain benefits.
i.e. While Robots don't breathe, and therefore would not be penalized by any Atmosphere (or complete lack of), they would still have a preference for the gravity of their homeworld, work best within a given planetary temperature, and would still be impacted by things such as acid rain, extreme weather conditions & other terraforming factors.

An equivalent to genetic modification (adaptation), should be included if robots wish to seek to mold themselves to the environment rather than terraform the environment to them.
To make this work you need a system that shows all interactions of mechanics and their predictability, link (work in progress)!

I wouldn't change the species to adapt the planet, I would change planet to change the species. Nature or live is energy transformation relative, as higher energy transformation costs are as lesser is the cognitive ability or energy left for it, e.g. for a high gravity planet means that, you will have bigger muscles and bones, equally a smaller ability to traverse distances, which makes hunting equally unlikely to performed with low energy costs.

Means, as better your specie performs in cognitive abilities as lower are they abilities to adapt on worse conditions.
Military approaches are solved once through technology, and for that we have three approaches or archetypes:
(Player psychological neo-solutions or opinions for superiority):
  • Materialistic
    • Machine
    • Biological
  • Spiritualistic
    • Mind
Just a fast write up for an example:
(its has possible some error in it, just to get the matrix)
There as two origin stages:
  • machine
  • biological
They can get three or four additional individualization, for three like:
  • machine | mach+mach+mach
  • biological | bio+bio+bio
Default cases are, cyborg:
  • machine+biological
    • biological as circuits
  • biological+machine
    • machine as tool cyborg
05a410653422360405ee8b5a162d90e4.jpg
Materialism
  • Individualism - lesser fusion with main substance - Individual
    • Biological+bio+Machine
  • Collectivism - higher fusion with main substance - Hive mind
    • Biological+bio+mind
ojkGBiCtYvorJIZP9wBpPSeherlriYTYMoDZ2x-4p9l5R-4qlZS8EiDa3td5Iu72EOevBESepLduMYeHDfcZPSqHCX4MrCf2zAjx

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1494415264-alien-prometheus-engineer.jpg

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thumb-1920-377820.jpg

collector+mass+effect+2.jpg
Spiritualism/Transcendentalism/Metaphysical
can represent both as they are defined by the individuals mind (software) and not hardware
  • Individualism - lesser fusion with main substance - Individual
    • Biological+mind+mind
  • Collectivism - higher fusion with main substance - Hive mind
    • Biological+mind+mind
Surpassing of materialism:
  • Biological
  • and
  • Machinal
For three + one, four additional individualization:
  • Fused entities like unbidden drones - Overmind - Nemesis add on
    • Biological+mind+mind+mind
  • Fused entities like unbidden drones - Overmind - Nemesis add on
    • Machine+mind+mind+mind
 
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Rodmar18

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Again, terraforming is incredibly cheap and fast, overall.
Easiest ones cost 2000 energy, that's only ten times a home world annual budget by 2200, and a ten years long process...
At worst, it's 10,000 energy, a joke mid-game, when you are at peace.

I understand that a game feature better has to be useful before end of game, but perhaps costs and duration could be factored by 3 at least. Also, duration could depend on the difficulty. Extreme terraforming (like the one from Barren to Inhabitable) could well take a century, or even be only useful in games focusing on development with a late victory date.
 

GOLANX

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Again, terraforming is incredibly cheap and fast, overall.
Easiest ones cost 2000 energy, that's only ten times a home world annual budget by 2200, and a ten years long process...
At worst, it's 10,000 energy, a joke mid-game, when you are at peace.

I understand that a game feature better has to be useful before end of game, but perhaps costs and duration could be factored by 3 at least. Also, duration could depend on the difficulty. Extreme terraforming (like the one from Barren to Inhabitable) could well take a century, or even be only useful in games focusing on development with a late victory date.
Terraforming is cheap and fast until you look at the other options for solving that problem, Migration Pacts, Machines, Synth Ascension, I would add gene modification if it weren't such a broken mess. I rarely terraform planets because there is rarely a need to, unless I'm playing Anglers but that's one civic.

I'm also torn because Terraforming is so separate from the rest of the planet that you can run it and do everything else unlike the Ecumenopolis project. I feel like the reverse would be true that Ecumenopolis decision wouldn't mean shutting down production and Terraforming would.
 

syneti

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Honestly , if you wish to make terraforming better add civics which give planet benefits like the new ocean civic. which can only be taken at start. But for me I absolutely love terraforming. I always have a goal in mind what planet type i wish for my species at the start. even if it's not Gaia , Machine , Ecunumopolis or Hive World and now Ocean.

I usually weep at the potential for terraorming at the toxic barren frozen and even gas planets, unless you have future plans for these pretty useless planets adding a terraforming DLC adding temperature like described in this suggestion and technology opening up colonisation of planets not previously usuable that way unless your in non iron-man mode which gets boring the urge to change to suit whims is staggeringly overwhelming
 

Rodmar18

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Terraforming is cheap and fast until you look at the other options for solving that problem, Migration Pacts, Machines, Synth Ascension, I would add gene modification if it weren't such a broken mess. I rarely terraform planets because there is rarely a need to
Chances are that we can't have the same game experience, as I don't own all the DLCs. However, I can and do use Migration Pacts, robot/droid assembly, and now Lithoid immigrants/refugees. Imho, a game's mechanic or subsystem should be attractive, robust and self-consistent with base game alone, already. Perhaps exposing my experience in this thread would be useful?

Usually, I only favor immigration until I get terraforming technologies for the reason I find the internal immigration mechanic still not satisfactory (although it was much improved): low adaptation pops keep being grown on some worlds they are not fit to. Then, I terraform planets before colonization, mainly for my founder species, but also for one or two minority species, so as to roughly keep a 3:1 ratio in population by 2300. Exception are those worlds where I don't want to loose a useful planetary feature. However, it's true that by end game, some terraformation processes are kind of a waste because of the numerous habitability bonuses I get from techs. I seldom use gene modding to increase adaptability because I find this mechanic also so crazy fast and cheap (4 months to vaccinate billions of people is okay, but adaptating them genetically?), and the species screen would become less user-friendly, the way it is implemented.

Increasing projects in time and cost, or even increasing tech costs, is not satisfactory, of course. This would only allow to postpone the date when I can spam terraformation projects. Such projects should be more complex, involving sustained founding (specialist jobs), a special building for atmospheric and tectonic maintenance, perhaps one or more blockers to make for surface-wide installations... this way, terraforming a low-value/small planet would be more of a waste, and disrupting terraforming installations by planetary bombardment would start becoming interesting. I mean, currently, the first building I built next to the Shelter usually is a Gene Clinic or a Robot Assembly factory (or a clinic then a factory). Figure if it was a Terraformation Plant, how early development would be impacted!

Also, terraformation could be a gradual process (with the same idea to increase the time needed for a full transformation), allowing and requiring to start colonizing a low hability world (once it gets to say 30%) and then, to work on the project, both from orbit, with reintroduced orbital terraformation stations, and from the ground, with building (whether manned or not).
 
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