Ultra and ISF Comparison

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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby szurkey on Sat 22 Nov 2014 04:06

Cralis wrote:The point being, of course, that unlimited expansion will eventually put you in a position where additional colonies provide no net income, or depending upon how you model it, are a net loss of income to the empire.

THIS will force players to consider colony emplacement and to build infrastructure.


But that infrastructure doesn't have a recurring monthly maintenance cost.

Cralis wrote:True, whether you choose to use ICC and/or some additional forms of infrastructure, the result is similar. If you require additional infrastructure you just raise the costs. Not saying that is bad, but you do have to answer the question "how much?"


The bottom line is that what is needed is some sort of limit. Stellar Conquest works just fine because there is a fixed game time, a time limit. Starfire's problem is the lack of a limit, not necessarily a time limit.

Cralis wrote:At some point if the cost is too high, then trade and other forms of income become better and more important. This goes back to that other question, "which seems more like a 4X space game? colonizing or managing the interstellar shipping corporation?"


Ideally, everything should drive conflict between players. You explore to expand, you expand to exploit, and you exploit so that when you meet other species, you can win the conflict with them.

Cralis wrote:Of course that is a simplification. But the point being, colonization can easily be supplanted by trade, CFN leasing, treaties, or all of the above. Kind of like how it was in CLASSIC STARFIRE.


Buying IU should be a far better strategy than it currently is, it should be better than colonizing O2's, but it isn't when you adjust the number for PU growth of the O2's.

Cralis wrote:But eventually all those costs will pencil out. You don't stop the snowball, you only delay it. That's what _I_ learned with GSF. If your costs aren't continuous then it won't stop the exponential growth.


Recurring costs, can make a huge difference. Reducing income by distance reinforces this.

10x SY paying 2% maintenance for 100 turns = 10x400x0.02x100 = 8,000 Mcr

100 Qv and 100 H in freighter leased to the CFN and used for colonization every turn for 100 turns prints 100x(1.6+0.8)*0.5*100 = 12,000 MCr because of the colonization discount.

Now let's just look at what you can do with the MCr's you don't pay for maintenance of those 10 SY if invested only in IU, which are rarely the best investment you can make, and reinvest the income of the IU back into even more IU:
Code: Select all
Turn   Amount to Invest   Ending Balance
      0.0333333333333333
1   80   82
2   162   167
3   247   255
4   335   346
5   426   440
6   520   537
7   617   637
8   717   740
9   820   847
10   927   957
11   1,037   1,071
12   1,151   1,189
13   1,269   1,311
14   1,391   1,437
15   1,517   1,567
16   1,647   1,701
17   1,781   1,840
18   1,920   1,984
19   2,064   2,132
20   2,212   2,285
21   2,365   2,443
22   2,523   2,607
23   2,687   2,776
24   2,856   2,951
25   3,031   3,132
26   3,212   3,319
27   3,399   3,512
28   3,592   3,711
29   3,791   3,917
30   3,997   4,130
31   4,210   4,350
32   4,430   4,577
33   4,657   4,812
34   4,892   5,055
35   5,135   5,306
36   5,386   5,565
37   5,645   5,833
38   5,913   6,110
39   6,190   6,396
40   6,476   6,691
41   6,771   6,996
42   7,076   7,311
43   7,391   7,637
44   7,717   7,974
45   8,054   8,322
46   8,402   8,682
47   8,762   9,054
48   9,134   9,438
49   9,518   9,835
50   9,915   10,245
51   10,325   10,669
52   10,749   11,107
53   11,187   11,559
54   11,639   12,026
55   12,106   12,509
56   12,589   13,008
57   13,088   13,524
58   13,604   14,057
59   14,137   14,608
60   14,688   15,177
61   15,257   15,765
62   15,845   16,373
63   16,453   17,001
64   17,081   17,650
65   17,730   18,321
66   18,401   19,014
67   19,094   19,730
68   19,810   20,470
69   20,550   21,235
70   21,315   22,025
71   22,105   22,841
72   22,921   23,685
73   23,765   24,557
74   24,637   25,458
75   25,538   26,389
76   26,469   27,351
77   27,431   28,345
78   28,425   29,372
79   29,452   30,433
80   30,513   31,530
81   31,610   32,663
82   32,743   33,834
83   33,914   35,044
84   35,124   36,294
85   36,374   37,586
86   37,666   38,921
87   39,001   40,301
88   40,381   41,727
89   41,807   43,200
90   43,280   44,722
91   44,802   46,295
92   46,375   47,920
93   48,000   49,600
94   49,680   51,336
95   51,416   53,129
96   53,209   54,982
97   55,062   56,897
98   56,977   58,876
99   58,956   60,921
100   61,001   63,034
And that is just 80 MCr a turn reinvested with compound interest on infrastructure you already build and track, but don't pay maintenance on. While having to buy only full IU's at 30 MCr will slightly reduce this, it is still a very ugly picture.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby PracticalM on Mon 24 Nov 2014 08:25

Theoretically each new colony location requires sufficient defenses to hold it. This is where most empire go cheap and wait until there is a threat because in the nature of Starfire, you can't defend against a closed WP into your systems before it is used. And it will generally be used to invade. Depending on how you generate your universe each new system increases your risk that something hostile will connect to your empire.

It's the big gamble in Starfire. Every ship build reduces the player's income for expansion. When you use large unlimited universes then players will value expansion over defense.

This is why I use small universe generation for my multiplayer games. When there are only 50-75 systems per player, there is a limit and risking much to claim as many systems as possible is balanced against what happens when those other hostile players find you.

I disagree that IU should be better than colonization. Colonization spreads the empire's income out into areas that must be defended. IU get concentrated on highly defendable systems. It's better for game reasons to spread an empire's income out.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby Cralis on Mon 24 Nov 2014 19:06

szurkey wrote:
Cralis wrote:The point being, of course, that unlimited expansion will eventually put you in a position where additional colonies provide no net income, or depending upon how you model it, are a net loss of income to the empire.

THIS will force players to consider colony emplacement and to build infrastructure.


But that infrastructure doesn't have a recurring monthly maintenance cost.


There are two ways to arrive at a "maintenance cost" -- tell me, what is the difference between:

A. A colony that makes 60 MC per Month but pays a 30 MC maintenance fee due to being "X" distance from the nearest point of infrastructure;

or

B. A colony that makes 30 MC per Month because it is "X" distance from the nearest point of infrastructure.

The bottom line is that what is needed is some sort of limit. Stellar Conquest works just fine because there is a fixed game time, a time limit. Starfire's problem is the lack of a limit, not necessarily a time limit.


You're talking about a hard limit. I'm looking for a "natural limit", or one that is self-sustaining due to a balance of influences. Any game like Starfire that allows for an unlimited amount of time needs to find other, more realistic, methods of limitation. An infrastructure is only one possibility, but it is one of the easiest to implement in a fashion that doesn't seem so arbitrary as something like a hard value.

Ideally, everything should drive conflict between players. You explore to expand, you expand to exploit, and you exploit so that when you meet other species, you can win the conflict with them.


Limitations on space available will drive this soon enough, if not outright competitive play. But I see your point.

Cralis wrote:Of course that is a simplification. But the point being, colonization can easily be supplanted by trade, CFN leasing, treaties, or all of the above. Kind of like how it was in CLASSIC STARFIRE.


Buying IU should be a far better strategy than it currently is, it should be better than colonizing O2's, but it isn't when you adjust the number for PU growth of the O2's.


I have to disagree with this. It's economic expansion with almost no risk, no loss, and does not create any additional need for infrastructure or defense. More risk SHOULD equal more return, especially if it costs you to build and/or maintain it. Especially since riskier investments (like colonization) generally drive that "point of conflict" you were talking about earlier.

Recurring costs, can make a huge difference. Reducing income by distance reinforces this.


Whoa whoa... now you're taking my position. You've been arguing for up-front higher colonization costs while I've been arguing that recurring costs in the form of reduced income will be more effective as a natural limit.

Are you agreeing with me now?

PracticalM wrote:It's the big gamble in Starfire. Every ship build reduces the player's income for expansion. When you use large unlimited universes then players will value expansion over defense.


This is a pretty important point. That's why I think that finding natural limits is an important goal. You could do that through reducing the chances of finding WPs, for example, reducing the size of the explorable galaxy. That would limit the universe size naturally...

This is why I use small universe generation for my multiplayer games. When there are only 50-75 systems per player, there is a limit and risking much to claim as many systems as possible is balanced against what happens when those other hostile players find you.


I can't stress that PracticalM's point here is extremely important for competitive multiplayer games of Starfire. I've been talking about non-competitive multiplayer games in general, but for those games a hard limit of universe size is pretty much a requirement.

I disagree that IU should be better than colonization. Colonization spreads the empire's income out into areas that must be defended. IU get concentrated on highly defendable systems. It's better for game reasons to spread an empire's income out.


Agreed, as stated above. But I think you said it more succinctly.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby szurkey on Thu 27 Nov 2014 07:47

Cralis wrote:There are two ways to arrive at a "maintenance cost" -- tell me, what is the difference between:

A. A colony that makes 60 MC per Month but pays a 30 MC maintenance fee due to being "X" distance from the nearest point of infrastructure;

or

B. A colony that makes 30 MC per Month because it is "X" distance from the nearest point of infrastructure.


Quite a bit actually. In option B, a player doesn't have it in his face just how much his lack of infrastructure is costing him every turn. Think of it this way, if instead of having income taxes and social security taxes automatically pulled out of your paycheck every time, you instead had to write a check to the government every three months for the amount due. You would care far more what your government did with your money if you had to write the check.

Cralis wrote:You're talking about a hard limit. I'm looking for a "natural limit", or one that is self-sustaining due to a balance of influences. Any game like Starfire that allows for an unlimited amount of time needs to find other, more realistic, methods of limitation. An infrastructure is only one possibility, but it is one of the easiest to implement in a fashion that doesn't seem so arbitrary as something like a hard value.


You misunderstand me. I'm using it as an example of how most games work. The best natural limit idea I've heard of was a few days ago discussing StarFire with a guy I used play grand campaigns with. He's feed up with StarFire's economic engine and won't play a grand campaign any more, but just the odd tactical battle.

Cralis wrote:I have to disagree with this. It's economic expansion with almost no risk, no loss, and does not create any additional need for infrastructure or defense. More risk SHOULD equal more return, especially if it costs you to build and/or maintain it. Especially since riskier investments (like colonization) generally drive that "point of conflict" you were talking about earlier.


Not expanding is a far bigger risk than expanding. I realize this is paradoxical logic, but most of strategy is paradoxical. If you don't expand, the opponents you run into (or more likely, they run into you) will be higher tech than the other wise would, and they will have much greater defensive depth. Defensive depth is one of the most important features of StarFire.

Cralis wrote:Whoa whoa... now you're taking my position. You've been arguing for up-front higher colonization costs while I've been arguing that recurring costs in the form of reduced income will be more effective as a natural limit.

Are you agreeing with me now?


I've been arguing for higher colonization costs for 10+ years.

Nice how you avoided mentioning my example of how much money 10x SY with free maintenance gives a player over 100 turns what he can do with it if he invests it in the poor investment of IU's.

As for colonization costs, what I want is simple:
Redo habitability so T species treat ST planets as non-habitable, and ST species treat T as non-habiablt.
Substantially increase the colonization costs of Desolate and Extreme planets and moons.
Get rid of the colonization discount for renting Qv and H from the CFN, so you can no longer print money by colonizing.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby darbycmcd on Thu 27 Nov 2014 15:46

Szurkey, I agree with many of your thoughts, but you are taking it a bit personally man. I don't really get the confrontational attitude, Cralis is being really polite and explaining his thinking on the subject. It is really hard to win the 'should be', 'shouldn't be' type of arguments. So is there a reason why you feel like you can't HR your game? That is what I did, for many of the reasons you pointed out.

Here is what I did
gone is the colonization rebate, I don't like it for the same reasons you don't
I like IU as a great investment (it is good for empires that are trapped without access to good colonization sites) but with diminishing return. so for me, IU up to 5% of planetary income are normal (well, I actually improved the return somewhat), then 1.5 cost 5-10%, 2x 10-15% ect. So what that means is they are a great investment initially, but less so past the initial rush. This incentives more colonization, as more sites means more opportunity to get that first 5% bonus.
I also dialed down growth rates... a lot. And I tied it to planetary type and colony size, so those barren world outposts actually get a slight negative growth rate (who would really want to move there?) until you push up the population to settlement. And at the same time past medium population the growth slows down a bit more. At some point marginal productivity slows and at the same time more is being turned inward to support larger populations.
What this has also done is make invasions much more attractive, which is something I really wanted! GFFP is now a valid but very wasteful strategy, as those PU are more like gold. For me it is more interesting.
I actually did lots of HR with the game, maybe I will post in Solar and you can comment. But that is one of the greatest things about SF, it is very amenable to modification, I mean seriously, I doubt that even 10% of games are played as multiplayer competitive, and even then just have the game master change it by fiat if everyone agrees.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby Cralis on Thu 27 Nov 2014 15:47

szurkey wrote:
Cralis wrote:There are two ways to arrive at a "maintenance cost" -- tell me, what is the difference between:

A. A colony that makes 60 MC per Month but pays a 30 MC maintenance fee due to being "X" distance from the nearest point of infrastructure;

or

B. A colony that makes 30 MC per Month because it is "X" distance from the nearest point of infrastructure.


Quite a bit actually. In option B, a player doesn't have it in his face just how much his lack of infrastructure is costing him every turn. Think of it this way, if instead of having income taxes and social security taxes automatically pulled out of your paycheck every time, you instead had to write a check to the government every three months for the amount due. You would care far more what your government did with your money if you had to write the check.


Different points of view. While I seriously doubt that a player is going to "gloss over" or "miss" that his colony is producing at 50% normal income, there is a completely different concern.

I have in fact had to pay my own social security and income taxes. It's called self-employment. I had to cut quarterly checks to the government based on my projected income. It's a tremendous pain in the butt.

So let's see what happens in Starfire. You make the player account for the "added maintenance". He earns 60 MC per colony and then pays 30 MC per colony. You've added an extra line for each colony to his costs record-keeping, and you've added an extra calculation for each colony. Bottom line? (A) makes more paper work and takes more time to process. The only advantage? Players are a little more likely to see what is going on.

Not worth it IMHO. In a paper game it saves a lot of time. And having played games that use this mechanic (Civ III and Civ IV for example), you absolutely notice it. At least, if you're any good at the game.

Cralis wrote:You're talking about a hard limit. I'm looking for a "natural limit", or one that is self-sustaining due to a balance of influences. Any game like Starfire that allows for an unlimited amount of time needs to find other, more realistic, methods of limitation. An infrastructure is only one possibility, but it is one of the easiest to implement in a fashion that doesn't seem so arbitrary as something like a hard value.


You misunderstand me. I'm using it as an example of how most games work. The best natural limit idea I've heard of was a few days ago discussing StarFire with a guy I used play grand campaigns with. He's feed up with StarFire's economic engine and won't play a grand campaign any more, but just the odd tactical battle.


Not everyone likes every game. That's why there's more than one game on the market. If you'd like to discuss his issues though, please go ahead. Even if I don't agree with them, knowing what other people say is a valuable tool for me when I make decisions going forward. If there is enough of a problem with something I will try to find a solution.

Not expanding is a far bigger risk than expanding. I realize this is paradoxical logic, but most of strategy is paradoxical. If you don't expand, the opponents you run into (or more likely, they run into you) will be higher tech than the other wise would, and they will have much greater defensive depth. Defensive depth is one of the most important features of StarFire.


Strategically that's very true. Depending upon how the economy is working, that may or may not be true economically. I've seen modded games where that was absolutely not true (for example, one game where they made IU the best investment and put no limit on how much you could have).

Cralis wrote:Whoa whoa... now you're taking my position. You've been arguing for up-front higher colonization costs while I've been arguing that recurring costs in the form of reduced income will be more effective as a natural limit.

Are you agreeing with me now?


I've been arguing for higher colonization costs for 10+ years.


That wasn't my question. YOU said that recurring maintenance costs are the only solution -- and that is exactly what I'm talking about.

Nice how you avoided mentioning my example of how much money 10x SY with free maintenance gives a player over 100 turns what he can do with it if he invests it in the poor investment of IU's.


I didn't have anything to add. Where you looking for validation or something?

As for colonization costs, what I want is simple:
Redo habitability so T species treat ST planets as non-habitable, and ST species treat T as non-habiablt.
Substantially increase the colonization costs of Desolate and Extreme planets and moons.
Get rid of the colonization discount for renting Qv and H from the CFN, so you can no longer print money by colonizing.


#1 is easily modded into the game.

#2 and #3 shouldn't be done without adjusting the ROR of the other investments, unless you're intention is to totally bomb colonization as an investment. Of course, if that is your intention, no adjustment is necessary.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby szurkey on Fri 28 Nov 2014 05:32

darbycmcd wrote:Szurkey, I agree with many of your thoughts, but you are taking it a bit personally man. I don't really get the confrontational attitude, Cralis is being really polite and explaining his thinking on the subject. It is really hard to win the 'should be', 'shouldn't be' type of arguments. So is there a reason why you feel like you can't HR your game? That is what I did, for many of the reasons you pointed out.

We're going to have to disagree on this one. I'm not taking this personally, I'm just one of those very direct people. If you think this is bad, you really don't want to be any where around me when I'm working on a math/engineering/physics problem. By the way, there have been numerous studies that conclusively show that the farther away you get from face-to-face communication, the more often the message, intention, etc., is misunderstood. If I remember correctly, email and bulletin boards are at least 50% misunderstood.

Cute ideas with IU's. But here's another idea, PU do not have any construction complexes, but they do allow you to build IU, and each 50 IU (or more or less if you would prefer), is a construction complex. Forces you to build 50 IU if you want to do build anything on the planet. IU aren't that good of an investment because there is no growth, and compound interest that PU get is very powerful. IU's priced at 30 MCr deliver an adjusted ROI of about 1.83% (PU growth + EL bonus overtime is equivalent to about 1.5% growth rate). I've looked at zero PU growth for non-habitable planets & moons. Do you let them get the EL bonus?
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby szurkey on Fri 28 Nov 2014 06:04

Cralis wrote:Different points of view. While I seriously doubt that a player is going to "gloss over" or "miss" that his colony is producing at 50% normal income, there is a completely different concern.

I have in fact had to pay my own social security and income taxes. It's called self-employment. I had to cut quarterly checks to the government based on my projected income. It's a tremendous pain in the butt.

As it should be. We've made taxes "fun" for most people, but letting them get rebates when their taxes are due. It gives them little concern for what the state does with their money.

Cralis wrote:So let's see what happens in Starfire. You make the player account for the "added maintenance". He earns 60 MC per colony and then pays 30 MC per colony. You've added an extra line for each colony to his costs record-keeping, and you've added an extra calculation for each colony. Bottom line? (A) makes more paper work and takes more time to process. The only advantage? Players are a little more likely to see what is going on.

Not worth it IMHO. In a paper game it saves a lot of time. And having played games that use this mechanic (Civ III and Civ IV for example), you absolutely notice it. At least, if you're any good at the game.

Considering that I actually display information in my StarFire spreadsheets so that it is a graphical representation of the system, I don't seen this as problem. I've looked at the official spreadsheets, and I am so NEVER using them. It does take more time putting all the data in, but I consider it worth it.

Cralis wrote:Strategically that's very true. Depending upon how the economy is working, that may or may not be true economically. I've seen modded games where that was absolutely not true (for example, one game where they made IU the best investment and put no limit on how much you could have).

Sounds like Stellar Conquest with Robotic Industry. It so breaks the game if someone gets it early enough and stamps out Industry on that MR 30 planet.

Cralis wrote:That wasn't my question. YOU said that recurring maintenance costs are the only solution -- and that [i]is exactly what I'm talking about.

I've been arguing for a multiple approach to the problem. Because the problem is compound interest, lowering ROI by both increasing up front costs, increasing maintenance costs, and reducing the abundance of habitable planets, is far more effective at delaying the onset of the economy blowing up and get too big than just tackling the problem with just one method. There is only one simple alternative I've heard of, and I doubt you will like it.

Cralis wrote:#1 is easily modded into the game.

#2 and #3 shouldn't be done without adjusting the ROR of the other investments, unless you're intention is to totally bomb colonization as an investment. Of course, if that is your intention, no adjustment is necessary.

No it won't. It will slow down the pace of the game a bit. In 2nd and 3rd edition scenario products (I just love Gorm Khanite War), and the novels, most Desolate and Extreme planets & moons are NOT colonized. Why should it be economically viable in Ultra to colonize most of them?
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby szurkey on Fri 28 Nov 2014 06:11

szurkey wrote:You misunderstand me. I'm using it as an example of how most games work. The best natural limit idea I've heard of was a few days ago discussing StarFire with a guy I used play grand campaigns with. He's feed up with StarFire's economic engine and won't play a grand campaign any more, but just the odd tactical battle.

And I completely forgot to say what it is. The only simple solution to reduce or eliminate Starfire Ultra's exploding economy problem is (drum roll, please): CORRUPTION!

It's not my idea, but maybe I played GDW's Imperium too many times with that guy. The Imperium player could so crush the Terrans if his economy was even half as efficient. He's probably right. A non-linear equation so that larger your economy gets, the smaller the percentage of income you get.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby darbycmcd on Fri 28 Nov 2014 10:26

I cobbled together a population morale/corruption system mostly using the social satisfaction rating system from Fire on the Suns. At some point I would like to turn this into a sort of hidden/mafia/shadow empire system like from VBAM. I totally agree that it is important to limit growth, but I now sort of think the only real way to effectively do this for a game that still works is with limiting number of systems to a somewhat smaller number.
Anyway, I am going to post some thoughts in the HR section of solar is you want to take a look.
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