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Posted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:44 pm
by Almalexia
As I was building a train line around some lakes on the way to a veeeeeeeeery distant mining outpost, I thought it might be interesting to have steam-powered dirigibles be a late-game way to transport stuff over very large distances. Naturally, they would have to have certain characteristics that would prevent them from eclipsing trains altogether: to be worth bothering with at all they'd have to have a far greater carrying capacity than trains, but that could be offset by making them slow (plus that would be realistic: trains are quick, zeppelins not so much), and maybe the docking procedures at the airship landing pad/base/thingy would also be time-consuming, so it would be preferable to have hub-outposts fed by multiple trains from other outposts with one or two airships coming to a single landing structure to carry the large amounts of resources thus accrued to the main base (this would support the idea that airships be late-game material, considering how far-flung things would have to be for this to be the preferred setup); furthermore, not only should airships require great amounts of resources to build, they would also require maintenance in the form of buoyant gas (gas would slowly leak from the envelope over time and need replacing, as an airship with insufficient gas would be forcibly grounded and unable to move; at first, hydrogen would suffice, and it would easily (if also power-hungrily) be electrolysed from water, but it would have the disadvantage that it might cause a fire if the aircraft took damage, resulting in a forced grounding and quite possibly leaving it at the mercy of whatever inflicted the damage to begin with - the solution to this vulnerability would be helium, which would make fires impossible, but would be much harder to come by). Since there would be no rails for the "stations" to snap onto, airship landing structures would probably have to be large, and the airships would come into them for landing, turning them into effective interfaces between the airship and the factory with regards to the supply of fuel and gas and the exchange of cargo (perhaps they could have a number of loaders (the 2x1 full belt saturation alternative to inserters that the devs ended up not implementing) built in (with the landing pad GUI allowing the player to select what comes out where, and whether something's an input or output)?). I started writing this with only one airship in mind, but it occurs to me that this could simply be the culmination of an entire research tree:

-Hot-Air Ballon: small and relatively slow, with little to no cargo space, but requiring only fuel (no gas) - basically an early(ish)-game scouting and exploration vehicle. No landing pad required.
-The Conglomerate: larger but still slow, looking like a bunch of hot-air ballons strapped together like a raft (and indeed requiring several of them in its recipe), still requiring only fuel but now with a decentish cargo capacity. Targetting the midgame, this would be the first aerial trading vessel: using tier 1 landing pads (smaller, ramshacle versions of what I described above, would provide fuel but not gas), routes could be established for the automated transport of goods (it would be so slow compared to trains that these would be the preferred alternative unless you wanted to carry stuff across the middle of a very long and narrow body of water (and before you say landfill, some of us like our virtual procedurally generated landscapes in their natural form ;) ), so it would probably see use mostly as a way for the player to carry materials somewhere to establish outposts).
-The Scout: mid to late game exploration vessel: very fast but with little to no cargo capacity and without the ability to set automated transport routes - it would require gas as well as fuel, and so would occasionally have to dock with a tier 2 landing structure. This would allow for fast exploration.
-Almalexia-Class First-Rate Airship-of-the-Line (hehe): the top-tier vessel outlined in the first paragraph; significantly faster than the conglomerate but significantly slower than a train; massive cargo capacity but also far leakier than the scout. Possibly capable of fitting potent armament at the cost of cargo slots (maybe tank guns on the broadsides?).

The first two would only become forcibly grounded if they ran out of fuel (and thus of the ability to generate hot air); buoyancy loss for gas vessels is already explained in the first paragraph.
The hot-air balloon would be hand-craftable, the conglomerate would be built by a tier 1 landing station and the other two would require a tier 2.
In order for to allow finer customisability of routes (and, crucially, to avoid clusters of enemies), waypoints would be a useful thing to include, so the airships on automatic mode wouldn't just go blindly in straight lines (also: waypoints for trains, wouldn't that be neat?).

I realise the existing vehicles (car, tank, train) already allow for some of this functionality, but now all, and isn't veriety nice? ;)

Re: Airships

Posted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:48 pm
by aubergine18

Re: Airships

Posted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:27 pm
by ssilk
Added to viewtopic.php?f=80&t=17734 New types of vehicles (train, tank, car, plane, ship...)
There is already a thread with the same name.