A new way to look at Habitability

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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby dazrand on Sun 30 May 2010 08:32

I like the second option. It simplifies the system while providing a good level of variety. You could extend it and add the cost (as noted elsewhere) to the habitability roll itself, but I am not sure the extra tracking and paperwork would be worth it. If you did modify the cost based on the roll, I'd use the roll itself added to a base cost:

Code: Select all
D10 roll   PTU cost    PTU H   PTU Qv  Environment
   1           6          4      10      Benign
   2           7          5      10      Benign
   3           8          6      10      Benign
   4           9          7      10      Harsh
   5           10         8      10      Harsh
   6           11         9      10      Harsh
   7           12         10     10      Harsh
   8           13         11     10      Hostile
   9           14         12     10      Hostile
   10          15         13     10      Hostile
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Sun 30 May 2010 08:36

LesMasters wrote:Crucis

One problem with your second option stands out immediately. For a target planet to be benign to the surveying race, the HFDs must be small. However: it is possible for some to get a THD below 9 (benign) even if one of the HFDs is 4 or 5. This means you are marking the world up as "benign" even though, in one respect at least, it is "harsh" or even "hostile". Looking back, this my also be a problem with your first option. As an example, just think of some of the hostile regions on Earth - Antarctica has mostly the same HFs as the rest of the planet, but is hardly "benign" for most of us.

========

Addendum: possible solution

Each HF should be considered separately, giving an HFD which is "benign", "harsh" or "hostile" for the surveying race. If one or more HFDs is "harsh", the planet is "harsh"; if one or more is "hostile", the world is "hostile".

If you want to go further down the road to "realism", modify the cost of colonising the world according to how many of the HFDs are "harsh" or "hostile". (See also the discussion on colonists accompanying survey fleets ("More CFN questions" - Ultra board, I think).

Les



Les, the problem that I see which your "problem" is that I'm trying to support the 33%/33%/33% split between habitable environments. In your addendum's suggestion, I suspect that that percentage breakdown would make Harsh and Hostile rather more common than Benign.

Also, I'm not really assuming that any individual HFD can produce a harsh or hostile rating all by itself.... mostly for the reason of supporting the "even split" concept... ;)
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby LesMasters on Sun 30 May 2010 09:17

Agreed. And while I cannot see any reason for benign worlds (however determined) making up one-third of the total, reducing this in the interests of (a probably spurious realism) would not be in the interests of the game, since it would decrease the attractiveness of colonisation as an option.

I also agree that something a little less simplistic than current formula is needed (for Cosmic & Ultra). Actually, if you were to include either of your proposals in Cosmic I wouldn't take a stand against them - I think any system arrived at which is playable is going to suffer from oversimplification and holes you could fly a couple of TNs through, side-by-side.

One other thing, though, in respect of your second proposal - I suspect many of the HFs are not as independent as you are implying.

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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Sun 30 May 2010 09:44

LesMasters wrote:Agreed. And while I cannot see any reason for benign worlds (however determined) making up one-third of the total, reducing this in the interests of (a probably spurious realism) would not be in the interests of the game, since it would decrease the attractiveness of colonisation as an option.


Honestly, I don't know if I could give your a good reason for the even 33% splits. It may just be an artifact of SDS creating the Benign, Harsh, Hostile ratings and using the wrap-around HI/HD model and so forth, dating back to SM#2. It may be entirely arguable that there should be a different split with fewer Benigns and more Hostiles... as long as all races had the same exact split.

Actually, it does occur to me that one reason for not reducing the # of Benigns to greatly is exploration luck. Right now, with the even 33% splits, it's already a relatively lucky outcome to find a Benign vs a Harsh or Hostile. Furthermore, there's the population capacity of each of those ratings to consider, which impact the relative value of those ratings. In SM#2, those ratings had limits of VLg, Medium, and Settlement, whereas in Ultra those limits were (very roughly) VLg, Lg, and Medium. In SM#2, finding a Hostile was downright wretched. In Ultra, finding a Hostile isn't nearly as unlucky. Anyways, my point here is that if Benigns are more rare, the impact of exploration luck is increased.




I also agree that something a little less simplistic than current formula is needed (for Cosmic & Ultra). Actually, if you were to include either of your proposals in Cosmic I wouldn't take a stand against them - I think any system arrived at which is playable is going to suffer from oversimplification and holes you could fly a couple of TNs through, side-by-side.


Yes, I agree with this final point. The greater the abstraction, the less realistic it's likely to be. It's the price that is paid for simplification.

I tend to think that the first and third options are not "unplayable". They're probably about as simple as possible while still retaining balanced results. But clearly, they're not nearly as simple as option #2.




One other thing, though, in respect of your second proposal - I suspect many of the HFs are not as independent as you are implying.


Yes, Les, you may be correct about that. But I also think that the current HI/HD model produces results that are too cookie-cuttered for me to believe. The second "HD-only" model may be a bit too random, but I like its simplicity and the apparent inconsistency of its results.
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Sun 30 May 2010 09:48

dazrand wrote:I like the second option. It simplifies the system while providing a good level of variety. You could extend it and add the cost (as noted elsewhere) to the habitability roll itself, but I am not sure the extra tracking and paperwork would be worth it.


I agree that the second option is simpler. The first and third options are aimed at producing a greater degree of visible realism, since the concepts covered by habitability factors are fairly easy to understand (gravity, climate, temperature, etc.). Of course, trying to use those factors requires a little bit of effort. Less than I've see in other ideas in the past, I think, but still more than the current HI/HD model (or the second option).

The underlying idea of the second option is that the underlying factors that determine habitability are too numerous and their interactions too complex for any single "Hab Index" to work the way it does in the traditional HI/HD model, and that it really shouldn't be possible for 2 races to constantly see the same worlds in the same way. Frankly, I think that just looking at how the the relatively simply first and third options show this should be proof enough that 2 races shouldn't be seeing the same worlds the same nearly so often as is the case in the HI/HD model.

Thus, rolling directly for HD's and not bothering with HI's, produces this complexity but in a dirt simple manner. The "problem" that some may have with the 2nd option is that it seems to produce inconsistent results. That is, 2 races might see 3 worlds in a row the same way (due to "lucky" random die rolls), but then see the 4th world vastly differently. And these people won't be able to see why. In the first and third options, you can actually see why there may be some apparent inconsistencies because you can see the underlying factors. But the second option abstracts those factors for simplicity's sake, and you have to trust the the apparent inconsistency would have a logical explanation if you could see past the veil of the abstraction to see the underlying factors.

Anyways, I have to admit that I like the 2nd simpler option for its simplicity, because I understand that the abstraction. I also like how it produces more random and less cookie-cutter results... and yet preserves a nice, even split of habitability ratings.


Another suggestion that's been made to me was that if I kept separate T and ST planetary types, that the HD die rolls should be modified by +3 when the race's planet type is different from the target planet type. That is, if a race from a Type ST planet surveyed a Type T planet (or vice-versa) this die roll modifier would be added. This is a good idea, though I have been seriously considering merging the T and ST types into a single type. Though I should say that I'd been considering such a merging so that I could put T and ST's on the same HI/HD scale ... but this "second option" could accomplish the same thing more easily and without a merging of the types.



If you did modify the cost based on the roll, I'd use the roll itself added to a base cost:

Code: Select all
D10 roll   PTU cost    PTU H   PTU Qv  Environment
   1           6          4      10      Benign
   2           7          5      10      Benign
   3           8          6      10      Benign
   4           9          7      10      Harsh
   5           10         8      10      Harsh
   6           11         9      10      Harsh
   7           12         10     10      Harsh
   8           13         11     10      Hostile
   9           14         12     10      Hostile
   10          15         13     10      Hostile



Actually, Dazrand, I had this same idea, though not strictly for this habitability model. You could also use this idea with the current wraparound HI, assigning a +2 MC to Emp Cost and +2 H per point of HD.

I'm not sure that there are any problems, per se, with doing it this way, vs. simply letting HD assign a Hab rating and then letting the Hab Rating determine the Emp Costs and # of H's. It does add a little bit of granularity to the Colonization costs for habitable environments, for better or worse, but I'm not sure that it's worth the trouble.

BTW, for whatever its worth, this idea is very ISF-like. ;)


Also, doing this, reduces the "value" of the Benign, Harsh, and Hostile ratings. IIRC, there are two basic things that those 3 ratings do... the first is control colonization costs, which the above idea would eliminate, and the second is limit population size. (There might be some lesser things that are also affected by these 3 ratings. But IIRC, colonization costs and population limits are the two primary things affected.)
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby mavikfelna on Sun 30 May 2010 11:40

For simple HI rating that gives you more variability, just use a d100 for the HI, with no HI wrap around.

Everything within 16 of your races HI is benign, from 17 to 36 is harsh and more than 37 away is hostile. And then recommend that players choose an HI between 34 and 66. Those wanting a more difficult game, say to balance an experienced player vs a new player, could choose outside that range. It makes things more challenging for outlier species, but it greatly expands the variability.

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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Sun 30 May 2010 12:59

mavikfelna wrote:For simple HI rating that gives you more variability, just use a d100 for the HI, with no HI wrap around.

Everything within 16 of your races HI is benign, from 17 to 36 is harsh and more than 37 away is hostile. And then recommend that players choose an HI between 34 and 66. Those wanting a more difficult game, say to balance an experienced player vs a new player, could choose outside that range. It makes things more challenging for outlier species, but it greatly expands the variability.

--Mav


Mav, I've considered using d100 scales (and heck, even d20 scales), but I'm not really sure that I'd say that it provides as much variability as you might think. Oh, it provides greater granularity... but I tend to think that (whether one used wraparound or not), the variability really isn't all that great. I tend to think that you end up with pretty much the same degree of cookie-cutter relative habitability as with a d10 scale, with the one advantage being that greater granularity allows for a more even split between the 3 environmental ratings. Also, a non-wraparound model isn't compatible with split T and ST planetary types, since ST's should be placed at a considerable "distance" on the scale from T's... which without wrapping would place them at a serious balance disadvantage. But putting them too close would feel unrealistic.

Short of using Ultra's solution for dealing with T vs. ST habitability (which while functional and elegant, is also far too cookie-cutter for my taste), trying to produce a balanced solution for T vs. ST environments seems to require either a highly complex solution, or a highly abstracted solution.... and obviously the latter is preferred for game play reasons... except for those who thrive on super-complexities... ;)

So, I'm tending to think that the best solution for producing a simple but balanced solution that also avoids extreme cookie-cutterism in habitable environments is to merge T and ST, and use "option #2" ... directly rolling for HD's, and not using HI's.


EDIT: BTW, in a merged T/ST type using option #2 model, how would one know which merged T's were really Type T and which ones were really Type ST's? I think that the answer is that you probably couldn't know. The Option #2 model is too abstract to make any judgements about which worlds might be lower mass/gravity T's vs higher mass/gravity ST's vs. anything in between. Option #2 allows for a very simple determination of relative habitability with a considerable degree of variety and good balance, but without any ability to know what each world is like.

If one cared more about the details of each world, it would be necessary to use something more like option #3... In option #3, you could simply say that Gravity HF values of 8-10 represented ST worlds, while Gravity HF's of 1-7 represented T's. Of course, option 3 comes with a rather higher level of relative complexity. Not super complex. But certainly not as simple as option #2.
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby drakar on Tue 01 Jun 2010 11:10

Personally I am fond of the first Idea of looking at Habitability. I wouldn't mind the extra complexities to have more variation in the planets and how races will view them. Plus for those who write fiction it will make adding flavor just that much easier, especially should things have to be written about a ground war.
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Tue 01 Jun 2010 11:25

drakar wrote:Personally I am fond of the first Idea of looking at Habitability. I wouldn't mind the extra complexities to have more variation in the planets and how races will view them. Plus for those who write fiction it will make adding flavor just that much easier, especially should things have to be written about a ground war.



Thanks for the reply, drakar.

The problem with the first option is that while it looks like it says a lot, in a way it doesn't really. The problem with wrap-around scales is that they're actually very, very unrealistic. After all, how do you wrap-around a racial preference for low-gravity around to a high gravity situation. Or a race from a hot (relatively speaking for T/ST) world looking at a rather cold T/ST world?

That's the beauty of the 3rd option. It's similar to the first option, insofar as it uses the same basic HF's, but with the lookup table, the HF's are not wrapped around, but have real meaning. Races from low grav worlds will look at high grav world poorly.... and so forth.

A look up table may not be as mathematically elegant as a wraparound model, but it does mean that the HF's have some attachment to reality.


Note that in the 3rd model, the way that I countered the lack of wraparound balance issue was to just assign the same relative number of HD values for each column. In a normal wrap around model, you'd have 1 instance of 0 HD, 2 instances each of 1, 2, 3, and 4 HD, and 1 instance of 5 HD. So I just made each column reflect these numbers. If you wanted to describe it in more "physical" terms, the races with HF values of other than 5 or 6 would simply have a bit more tolerance thru the HD scale than their "wussy" moderate HD cousins... ;)


Anyways, for raw simplicity, I prefer option #2, but for realism, I prefer option #3. Option #2 will produce plenty of variety and avoid cookie cutterism, with a maximum degree of simplicity.... while option #3 produces a goodly measure of realism, but at the cost of some added complexity (though not so much that it couldn't be managed without a computer, or even a calculator).
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby drakar on Tue 01 Jun 2010 11:56

I myself prefer the added realism and have so far never had a campaign spiral to the point of being unable to manage it on a pnp setting. My only preference to the first over the third is the fact that if you need a table in order to do it in comparison to the point of just being able to execute it with a couple rolls and some simple math.
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