Author Topic: Built on scrap  (Read 1126 times)

antibor

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Built on scrap
« on: April 24, 2015, 02:23:53 PM »
Star Ruler, the flagship of the Terrakin empire, had just finished the jump to the Yanfi Star. The president proudly looked at the world above. It was minute 82 and the mighty battleship approached Yanfi II, the first ringworld of the galaxy.

antibor

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Re: Built on scrap
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2015, 02:58:06 PM »
Vanilla game. Spiral galaxy, 300 systems and 5000 spacing, other values as default.
The Terrakin empire has the traits natural terraformer, fast metabolism and engine catalysts.
Six AIs (two defender, two researcher and two aggressive), hardest and cheating.
Technically this is not an AAR as all AIs live and prosper, but well, my Wolf combat cruiser is of size 4K, their current capital ships are of size 90-100.

A long time ago, when the design page was still working and I was still new to the game, I run into a design that was a scrap. I think even its name was that. It was a station containing mainly repair bays with attached quantum computers. Something I call 'scrap exploit'.
The idea was just great.
However the economy in Star Ruler is progressing exponentially so even a great idea becomes outdated. I spent quite some time on designing a sustainable (means auto updating) orbital economy from that idea that works more or less reliably. Then, when succeeded I considered it an overkill and first dropped the upsizing level by level (so capacity was increasing 1.4 * 1.4 each level versus the planetary 1.2 * 1.4), then the concept, returning to orbital refineries.
On the other hand I retained the approach for my central ship construction facility. Being focused, automatic update is not an issue here, albeit I still prefer to update the facilities instead of producing more and more.

antibor

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Re: Built on scrap
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2015, 03:13:44 PM »
Empire setup.
As you (might) know the planets are running out of ore, so metal production efficiency is decreasing to 20%. Asteroid fields can be mined but they are also not infinite. Normal solution is to have the planets focus on metal production and move processing (electronics and advanced components production) to orbit.
If you plan to go this way, then capitalist is an important trait for you. Slavery is also good to have as it can improve the speed of the colonies building up (or not to get into labor disadvantage with the Academics Campaign). Fledgling empire is a common trait to pay for the extras. It causes a 2-3 minutes slower start but after about 20 minutes it will not be noticeable.

antibor

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Re: Built on scrap
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2015, 04:19:03 PM »
Home sweet home(world)
Two tech levels advantage causes the same planet to produce approximately three times the common resources. It allows the planet to build twice as big ships in the same time carrying twice as effective equipment. Well, ok, not, but the point is that research is important. The homeworld should have as many cities as can be supported with a single farm and some industry as it is the first engine of your expansion. It is easy to overlook the morale, however its impact is significant. Do not think of goods and luxuries as a waste of space. Having enough goods and luxuries can double the production.

The Terrakin homeworld, D-9 I, was built up to have 5 cities, 5 labs, 3 mines, 3 electronics and 2 advanced facilities. A farm, a goods and a luxury factories ensured the well being of the citizens. Two space ports in preparation to ship the resources off world. The senate voted against dismantling the shipyard due to the expected unpopularity of increasing the unemployment.

Designs
Experienced players have their own designs. The first step in the design screen is usually the obsolete all and then import the custom designs. If you are designing your own ships do not forget to pause the game.

The enginers came up with many proposals to facilitate our adventure into space. While none of these made into the prototype stage, they helped to identify requirements for the Design Bureau. The requirements called for:
- A long range craft that can be produced en masse to explore the star systems and serve as surveillance. The practically unlimited range was achieved by using bussard ramjets which required no additional control. The decrease of acceleration was accepted without much objection. For cost efficiency the size was decreased to an absolute minimum.
- An orbital construction facility to supplement the existing planetary capacity. Far from being as ambitious as the
original proposal, a size ~4 normal hull solely for construction bays got approved and put into immediate production.
- An armed platform to control local aerospace. The mission of the platform was to show the flag, actual combat efficiency was removed from the criteria.
- Designs for a heavy combat frigate (size 10) and for a defense station (size 5) were approved to allow immediate production - would the need arise.
// In addition I also have an industry platform design. Entirely useless at this stage, with the auto update it helps to get rid of some micromanagement as the design is included in my quesues.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2015, 04:24:16 PM by antibor »

antibor

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Re: Built on scrap
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2015, 04:37:33 AM »
Colonization and governance

For colonization you will need colony ships. As with all designs the custom designs can be better in one or other aspects.
The first question will be: How big a new colony should be? The stock colony ship founds a size 3 colony. One size of the colony requires size 15 colonizer module (absolute size, so on a size 5 colony ship it is a size 3 module) and the game will not allow you to put a module smaller than this (even though you seem to be able to decrease the size, it will just be a visual effect).
The easiest/cheapest to produce is a colony ship for a size one colony. However mid and late game, as the resource cost of the buildings increases this will slow down early colony build up remarkably (at level 1 it takes around 70 seconds to build the space port, at level 17 it takes about 45 minutes). In fact mid and late game you are better to just send in a true colony ship and remove the planetary capital (evacuating the colony in effect).
Above 3 the fresh colony will have production buildings (starting with a mine). If you do not want your colonies to have those than it is quite a waste. Above 14 no new building is added to the colony = absolute waste.
At colony size 3 having a city on fresh colonies is beneficial in terms of population and labor. However for a colony rush that population consumes food, goods and luxury. Having many size 3 colonies which you cannot offer to develop right then can negatively affect your economy.
A size 2 colony is a compromise. It is still cheaper than a bigger colony, it can be left undeveloped and its delay in building up versus a size 3 colony is constant throughout the game, around 72 seconds.
The second question is: Which planets to colonize?
For industry a bigger planet is better. A twice as big industrial block (consisting production buildings and cities) will produce four time the resources. However the AI governors are not really good at utilizing this. This is actually your chance against cheating AIs as they get a healthy resource bonus that you cannot match just by doing the same. The System window can help you by selecting visible systems, uncolonized planets and sorting them descending by free slots. Do not forget to click on select all. Then left click on the planet to show it on the minimap (to ensure there are no remnant ships around) and right click and set it for auto colonization - or send a colony ship manually.
I have to admit I have no idea how to select the planets for the second phase - mass colonization. I am aware of two ways:
1, Selecting all systems for auto colonization by zooming out and then either try to exclude remnant guarded planets or accept the losses.
2, Going through the list of visible systems and selecting the systems for auto colonization one by one.
Both of these are a pain to do.
The third question is: When to colonize?
There is no hard answer. Your colonization should not jeopardize the expansion of your economy. First I build a colony ship only when the metal production is overflowing (metal would be wasted). Once I have at least one production planet set up (preferably two) I usually switch off import on the homeworld and set the dry dock to continuously produce colony ships. Later an other production planet might join the efforts. When the galactic bank has more then 100K in metal all idle planets should build a colony ship - or more. This is the true rush.

As mentioned above the stock governors are not as good in specializing as a human player can be. As there is no vanilla way to edit governors, without modding the recommended way is to set the governor of new planets to renovate only and create and manually apply your specialized queues. You can create queues by adding buildings and ships to the queue of a planet then saving the queue assigning a name to it. The limitation is that you can only add as many buildings to the queue as there are open slots on the planet. Ringworlds with 100 slots can help with this.  ;) The alternative is to edit the queue manually. As it can be done from within the game I do not see it as cheating. Usually the specialization includes a production (for bigger) and a research (for smaller) planets. It does not hurt to have an additional one for ringworlds.


After carefull assessment two colony ship designs got approved. Both were designed to establish a colony consisting the planetary capital and a space port. The bigger design (size 7.5) was for interstellar colonization with similar capabilities (albeit longer range) to the original proposal whereas the smaller one (size 6) was for intra system colonization starting from a foothold planet of the system. For the latter, speed was sacrificed for cost efficiency.
For the time being the Senate decided not to allow full independence to the colonies, but rather to have central governance with local governors being only responsible to build up following instructions and maintaining the planet.
Astronomers theorized that unstable stars might have the most ideal planets orbiting them. Rlac, within 64 AUs, was identified as a potential candidate. A specially improved high speed survey was built and launched towards it. Constructing the laboratories needed a lot of advanced components. It was decided not to consume the available stock so access to it has been limited but the advanced parts got mandated. Together with an academic campaign this helped to resolve the advanced part shortage so the mandate was put an end - and never ever used again.
The home system of the Terrakin empire was a miracle on its own. Apart from the homeworld it contained a true paradise (categorized as 26) and two smaller but still large planets (both 21). The beginning of the space era was surprisingly quiet. Apart from the orbital dry dock and the lone survey ship there was no space presence. It was not before the planetary storage went full of metal that the very first colony ship was constructed and launched towards the biggest planet of the home system. Soon all planets in the home system were colonized. The academic campaign was suspended to allow the first colonies to build up. The biggest planet was set as a production world - a template for many more planets to follow. The other two planets were individually instructed, one to provide additional goods, luxuries and food, the other to be the first science specialized planet of the empire. As Sociology was far from being a practical science, the first science planet was not made a template.

antibor

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Re: Built on scrap
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2015, 02:29:24 AM »
Explore and do not exterminate
Most guides focus on how to destroy the AIs quickly. However, if you are the lead in military, you can actually use the AIs to your advantage. To the level that the more AIs the easier (shorter) the early game is. The armed platforms can easily get you to that position - off course this does not work against human opponents. How to use then the AIs? Simple, offer them peace in exchange of whatever you are in need of. Do not forget to add the timer if you offer peace. It takes some typing but it is well worth it.


The survey ship reached Rlac, the system with the unstable star. Good news, three planets (28, 28, 27) to be taken. Once the warehouses were full with metal the first big colony ship was constructed and set course towards Rlac. Program 'Great Survey' was approved with the goal of exploring the whole galaxy. As the other planets of the home system were still building up, metal overproduction on the home world was to fuel the program. One after the other three batches of 100 scouts each were launched. The intention was to colonize 25 or better planets in the vicinity and colonize all 26 or better planets found anywhere. These were to become industrial worlds settling the other planets within the same system then to contribute to the overall advance of the empire.
Nearing minute ten the homeworld also took its share in building up military presence constructing two armed and two industrial platforms (also armed at that time). It was around this time that we made contact with the first alien civilisation. In fact with four of them rapidly. Relying on the projected (but actually nonexisting) military might the Senate opted that diplomatic relationships should be established and negotiations should be conducted from a position of power. The representative of the Admiralty registered an official protest against such a risky bluff. Regardless, the approach was taken and those civilisations were offered peace for ten minutes in exchange of sharing their research with us. As they were expected to increase their research over time, periodic re- negotiations were planned and carried out.
At minute 12 the Terrakin realm consisted 6 planets with 520 million inhabitants. Four colony ships were on route. Research was flipping through metallurgy, economic and general science, expectation was to soon invest in hunches and guessing in order to get insight into biology then improve that to the same level as the others (5). Out of 9.28K research, 5K was provided by the four alien races.

antibor

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Re: Built on scrap
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2015, 11:12:03 AM »
Building scrap
The basic principle of the scrap exploit is rather simple: Salvager can extract metal from an abandoned ship and a ship can be repaired. This creates an infinite source of metal.
The catch is about repairing the abandoned ship. External repair is not triggered for abandoned ships and even if manually instructed to start will stop once the target reaches full hitpoints. So, the repair is better to be internal. The repair bays need control but the primary factor to get a ship abandoned is not to have control. The design I saw back then solved this by attaching quantum computer cores to the repair bays. The first improvement was the realization that nano armor can do the same with only energy input - so AI paranoid races are not completely excluded from using this exploit.
Designing an abandoned ship is quite easy, if there are key components that require control (like power generation) but there is not enough control, the ship will be immediately abandoned once built. So, the simplest scrap design should contain a size 4 nano armor, optionally some repair bays with attached quantum computer core and enough solar panels to feed them. Then add a size .25 repair bay and a size .25 bridge. No crew quarters and no life support. If it is only the nano armor its hitpoints will go down to 90%, I do not know the reason.
Sustainability
My aim was to have a scrap design that can be regularly (and potentially automatically) retrofitted with the latest technology. A boarding ship (or station - just use a specialized station instead of adding a boarding party and appropriate orders to a say, refinery station) is not a big deal to design. Getting the scrap not to immediately loose control is a bigger challenge. The obvious solution is to let it run out of energy, but without energy everything stops. If there is no energy the quantum computer stops and without the quantum computer the repair bay stops as well. Or so I thought. I experimented with different approaches (like using bridge and crew quarters but no life support or using an external computer and a ship with a big gun to blow it off with one shot) without ultimate success. Then I found an additional exploit. When a ship loses energy/control the modifiers, or more specifically the effect of the modifiers remain active. In other words the quantum computer and emergency power will be listed as inactive but the repair bay and nano armor linked to those modifiers will remain active. So an upgradeable scrap contains nano armor with emergency power, repair bay(s) with quantum computer core, control and capacitor (boarding re-energizes!) to keep the control running for some ten seconds to a few minutes. It also needs something that uses that control, this can be for example an ion engine or even a jump drive, just don't forget to attach emergency generators.

Undisclosed location in interstellar space
The primary shipbuilding facilities of the Terrakin empire consisting a dozen giant ships. A rare moment, two 1M sized constructors have just completed refit and are approaching their half sized counterparts. Those ships went dark and motionless a minute ago but this is only the surface, with the main control switched off they prepared to convert pure energy to hull materials - only to be extracted by the ever hungry, vampiric cousins. Some distance from the huge vessels small crafts are waiting, carrying technicians ready to bring the hulls back to full life if needed. In case of evacuation jump readiness is just under a minute. Of course evacuation is rather theoretical with one constructor alone being able to roll out more than a hundred 4K sized cruisers during the same time.
Unseen to observers the plans for the new constructor and hulk generation were downloaded again doubling the size. Even the capacity of ringworlds can be surpassed ...