The Phoenixian wrote:
Part of it is that people are naturally drawn towards being efficient, what one might call "laziness" is really just letting us focus our limited time and attention on more important issues. The downside of that, if you have a boring, powerful system in a game then another, more interesting but less potent system might see less use, even if it's much more fun, simply because it's less efficient.
I guess my main take is that choosing your own adventure is a big part of sandbox games. I certainly won't deny that many players go entirely solar to make things easier -- perhaps simpler is the better word -- or even just because they're not experienced enough to understand all the issues and tradeoffs. I don't see any problem with that. Games are about having fun, and how that's achieved varies greatly between players. Having power "just work" or not be an ongoing risk seems like a reasonable decision players may like to take, especially in their first bases.
That's part of why I suggested Solar-thermal.
Given your particular perspective, I'm actually quite curious of what you'd think of the proposal I made earlier
for Solar thermal, in particular the concept of efficiency scaling with complexity. In your analysis, would it work as the sole form of Solar Panels, as well as a means to let players choose their own difficulty? (Certainly a system with a subtle invitation to ask players to challenge themselves but one that is not meant to be pushy, and still works in its most basic form no matter how late in the game you are.)
I like it, but I have some concerns and comments. I don't think they're particularly serious, and the system could be a fine fit. I wouldn't want photovoltaics gone though. (I'm fine with essentially any linear readjustment of build cost or output of photovoltaics to incentivize the more complex systems, but I think the inherent reliability and trustworthy functionality needs to be preserved.)
First, I think it adds a really good quality logistics chain, and that importance shouldn't be understated. By my count, there's up to five different types of non-transport entities involved (offshore pump, solar heater, steam engine, pump jack, and heat exchanger with the latter two optional). I think that's a good balance of depth and feasibility.
My biggest issue is oil. It simply doesn't make sense as a working fluid due to low critical point (water is +100K and 11x pressure), which is the primary consideration for any major heat transfer liquid where high pressure is feasible. I'm willing to let that slide to some extent in a game, but it throws a major wrench in the player discovery aspect. Unless there's a big flashing light saying that oil is much better, I would never even think to try it because that's not how physics works. Second, consuming oil doesn't make sense. There's no way it'd be used in an open system. The pollution would be far more substantial than burning it. Oil contains carcinogenic and toxic compounds; at least burning oil destroys them, but boiling it into the atmosphere (the only explanation for where it goes)? Biters gon be mad. I guess my point is that, sure, bend reality to use oil, but it either needs to be a one-time fill-up (like people do with water in Uranium Power mod) or a build-time cost for the fabricating assembly plant (obviously that hurts some of the logistics complexity you're seeking). I spent some time last night reading and watching Uranium Power mod info, although I haven't tried to build my own. To me, having a pressurized water resource and recipe makes a lot more sense than oil -- at least it's intuitive and more congruent with reality.
The only other gameplay issue I have is pipes. Pipes are annoying and boring after building. Yes, they present very real routing challenges, but afterwards, there's nothing. At least belts look cool and very obviously do something. Pipes are mostly obstacles, and pretty much the only ongoing interaction with them is to figure out how to get around them.
One issue with increasing the importance of water is that players must be cognizant of that when selecting a map. That's true for any of the settings, but if more and more power systems require water, "water only in starting area" means power generation is tied there -- at least without unreasonable piping. Not a blocking issue, but it is something minor to consider. I think some other suggestions have this same problem where water layout can put the player into a corner. (That being said, I use the water well and landfill mods, so I wouldn't be affected.)
Can you explain nighttime power in your system? I feel that you're implying hot liquid storage, but I'm neither totally sure nor what they means for accumulators. For hot liquid storage, a couple of things. First, it creates a hard dependency on the night time sensor/circuit break to detect when to use hot liquids. I'm not usually a fan of ideas that require new functionality outside their specific parts because I recognize how scarce development time is and how that reduces the feasibility of the idea. It seems like the devs are already planning, to some extent, to include this functionality, so maybe it's not a big deal. Second, fluids are simply not as approachable -- mostly because it's hard to see what's going on with a pipe or pipe system. Belts, on the other hand, are really easy to tell if there's problems (backwards, misaligned, capacity issue, etc.). I think players may have a difficult time setting their night time volumes if it's just like normal tanks. Compare that to the accumulator bar and joules remaining status on the power screen. A similar thing would need to be done for hot liquids, but there's some added complexity if efficiencies are variable and there's piping limitations, too.
Edit: I want to reiterate that I like the idea overall. My tone may have been more severe than I intended. I think my complaints are relatively minor or correctable.
Go play with Bob's Mods God Modules and tell me that balancing isn't important. Balancing is making a challenge that's just difficult enough to be interesting, but not so difficult as to be not-fun.
I put the quotes around there for a reason. People keep saying "balance" as if there's some objective criterion. However, it's pretty clear that "balance" just means pushing players -- whether they want to or not -- towards more complex and management intensive production methods. The suggestions are not really about balance at all; it's about increasing incentives (of varying degrees and methods) to force people away from the current PV solar. I think your second sentence illustrates the problem of forcing players. Not everyone wants power to be a big challenge or take much time. They only care about power insofar as it helps them build the factory, and so power, even "plop and forget" PV arrays becomes nothing more than an obligation.