// Energy System and Management

Here I ask your opinion and feedback on specific aspect of the game, or feature I am working on.
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MrBester
Pirate Lord
Posts: 7

Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:43 pm

Ok so from last night it was evident that a lot of people were in favor of modular reactors for ships. I have thrown together some "models" in game of how a modular reactor could work. i will link pictures below with a brief description of how it could work, I am not saying this is how a modular reactor should work, I am just trying to illustrate how a modular reactor could look.

I have placed docking probes on the parts to show connection points.

Overall look of how a reactor could be put together

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1st part Reactor Core

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The central part of any reactor the core is a 3x3x3 block, it has a average power output but is also fairly stable and produces manageable levels of heat. The core has a limited energy transfer distance and will require energy relays to transport the power to all areas on large ships.

2nd part Reaction Chamber

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The reaction chamber is a 3x3x2 module that attaches to the reactor to provide additional reactions, This provides much higher power output and the cost of higher fuel usage and heat generation. the heat created by the reaction chamber will not passive cool and will need to be actively cooled.

3rd part Reaction Bridge

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The Reaction bridge is a 2x2x3 module and will connect 2 Reaction chambers to each other, this will allow 2 or more reaction chambers to work as a larger unit, which will Vastly increase power/heat output and further increase fuel usage. be warned if you make one huge mega chamber by bridging the maximum of 4 Reaction chambers you will have serious heat issues.

4th part Heatsink

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Speaking of heat issues. The Heatsink a 3x3x3 Module will draw heat from the reactor and pump the coolant through cooling panels which will reduce the build up of heat. Heat will enter one side of the heatsink and exit through the other side, meaning you can link multiple heatsinks to each other to increase cooling. however if you have another Chamber in the chain that is not a heatsink then that chamber will heat up very fast and may become unstable.

5th part Power Booster

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The power booster is a 3x3x3 module that is attached directly to the core to a reaction chamber, the power booster increases the power and heat generation of the reactor by injecting More fuel in to the reactor, this of course will make the reactor run hotter and bun much more fuel but will output more power too.

6th part 6 Way Reactor Bridge

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The reactor bridge allows you to connect multiple reactor part together to allow for more complex and bigger Reactor builds, Note that every time you use a bridge you will loose some efficiency of the reactor and have more areas for heat to build up. This bridge is 3x3x3 also.

Last part the Power Relay

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Power relays would be essential in large ships, as mentioned above the reactor would have a limited transmission range for the power and you would have to place these relays within the power field of the reactor to extend the range of the power field by effectively creating a smaller power field around it. Note that power transfer over large distances will degrade, so you will lose power if you are along way from the reactor.

Summary

as I said at the start This is not how i think modular reactors Should work But one approach to how they could work. I'm Just throwing an idea out there, also I have made the parts in game just for illustration I'm sure that prefab models would be the better way to go with this than player build blocks that would have to be built in a certain configuration ect. in addition we would also need smaller reactors perhaps in a brick format for use on smaller ships such as fighters and drones.

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tsunamayo
Game developer
Posts: 201
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Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:17 am

Harlekin wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:45 pm
DWM wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:24 pm
I don't like all these complex systems. My idea is always, KIS, Keep It Simple.
I'd support that, but as logic is pulse based and every pulse activates (there is no way to deactivate or to lock from activation), there is no possible way to lock doors or to make something like a safety switch on weapons (and as i built hidden weapons i've more than once blown away quite some portions of the object i'm working on because a few weapons got activated as i did some wiring error in the objects logic center).
Actually you can and several people did safety switch on weapons. You just need to use a AND gate. Weapon activate only with 1 (otherwise it is a bug). But I will also provide a kill signal gate. But logic is a separate topic ;)

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tsunamayo
Game developer
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Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:22 am

Thanks you all for your contributions! A few comments:
  • By stacking I was referring to stacking block of a given type, not of different type (my sentence was not clear sorry for that)
  • To activate deactivate a group you would simply link a switch to a power unit. You will not have to link every single block, this block will activate / deactivate the whole block group.
  • Block spam: thanks for explanation. I dont see how and why I should prevent player from doing silly cube made only by systems. If it is the player definition of fun, then I am fine. Personally I prefer to give some personality to my build, and be proud of them. If you put more system, you ship will weight more, and will not be as maneuvrable. To allow player to make nice interiors I will give hull block a very low mass compared to any system block.

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tsunamayo
Game developer
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Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:32 am

MrBester wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:43 pm
Ok so from last night it was evident that a lot of people were in favor of modular reactors for ships. I have thrown together some "models" in game of how a modular reactor could work. i will link pictures below with a brief description of how it could work, I am not saying this is how a modular reactor should work, I am just trying to illustrate how a modular reactor could look.
As much as I adore your block design, I would prefer something simpler than that. If I ever do sub-components I would prefer to explore the add-on possibility, in order to make them not mandatory, but to also add extra depth or possibilities, not just simply requirement.

As a few people mentioned Tiers and the fact that they dont want to see all lower tiers completely replaced by the higher one: this is also something that I want to achieve. Higher tier will have better stats for sure, but not 10x better (or 1000x like someone suggest ;-) ) . Also they will have some constrains, like anti-matter goes boom really fast if damaged, and cannot be crafted easily without the need to build massive factory. We could also said that in case of energy depletion the containment of anti-matter is no longer working and it will also explode, making them weak against energy draining weapon (that could be added for the meta). This are just ideas obviously - the goal is to have several valid options. (Maybe the first Tier would be crap though)

Harlekin
Pioneer
Posts: 29
Location: Germany
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Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:47 am

As of today we are able to transmit energy in various forms (foremost electricity of course, but heat or pressurised steam and even cinetic objects too) over a few hundred km without notable loss (okay that's not right for cinetic objects, but even these will travel over a few dozen km if treated correctly and with support of electromagnetism and vacuum these could travel unlimited or only limited by electricity usage). What i want to say is that a massively limited energy transmission is not logical at all if skywanderers is in fact a sci fi game.

How about hovercars and mechs, how should they be powered?

Another thing: heat production is a realistic problem for most power plants, but if implemented the way you mentioned it one couldn't get rid of it else of getting a steady supply of coolant, which would be a second fuel needed, as heat needs some matter to be transmitted, sure hot matter emits infrared light which is cooling it over time, but not in a way that is relevant for cooling a i-don't-know-what-kind-of-reactor?
What kind of reactor did you want to show? it's clearly not nuclear nor chemical, as then the cooling (or better the flow of the coolant) would provide the energy output, possibly matter-anti-matter or some other explosion based "reactor" type (kind of a car motors cylinder) but for that there needs to be relatively massive mechanical parts (they must withstand the explosion after all) which than move other mechanical parts which then power a generator.

If you really want it that complicated, just make the parts of the reactor provide heat only which than is collected through heatsinks that propel coolant through a generator, could be shortened to reactor->heatsink->generator. reactor only generates heat, generator needs heat(ed coolant) to generate electricity that way the coolant may "circulate" (even if we do not need to build the pipes for that) and ideally wouldn't be needed to be refueled. a generator could be able to only process a certain amount of heat at a time, which would become the possibility to implement higher tiers of generators (which just are able to process more heat). Bigger reactor -> more heat; higher tier fuel -> more heat, more generators or higher tiered generators -> more processed heat in other words more energy.

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Ultragamer2000
Newbie
Posts: 11

Sun Dec 03, 2017 7:25 am

tsunamayo wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:22 am
Thanks you all for your contributions! A few comments:
  • Block spam: thanks for explanation. I dont see how and why I should prevent player from doing silly cube made only by systems. If it is the player definition of fun, then I am fine. Personally I prefer to give some personality to my build, and be proud of them. If you put more system, you ship will weight more, and will not be as maneuvrable. To allow player to make nice interiors I will give hull block a very low mass compared to any system block.
The thing is a system cube would be better then a non-system cube ship, that speed/manuevrability may not matter if its unkillable. Modular reactors are more fun for everyone, even ask the minecrafters with big reactors, everyone is sick of "power cubes". Just saying.
-Ultragamer2000, Commander of the Neutral and Free sovereign state, the Free Commonwealth of Stars (FCS)
#KeepTheCommunityClean

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JRL101
Pioneer
Posts: 65
Location: Australia
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Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:55 am

Im liking the idea that system blocks apply mass more than hull. That actually might help with balance.

I was using a cube as an example, i just basically mean that when system block spam is better than a cool looking ship it makes for an "un-fun" game. It's hard to describe without experiencing it.
But those games usually have no mass or less mass on their system blocks. So i feel swapping that dynamic might be a good idea.

So back to subject
Summary:
Modules - good
Linking systems from control block - good
Linking systems blocks one by one manually - not good
System blocks with more mass - good
"Addon" extra system blocks - good
Interesting system device interaction - good
Complex custom system set ups - good (similar to making large complex stacking laser deathstar cannons)
Overdrive power generation system - good
Risk reward to different setups - good (having a positive and negative outcome for being greedy for too long with system resources is a fun idea)
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Dr_Poulpy
Explorer
Posts: 2

Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:23 am

These are some interesting ideas you have here.

I'll begin with the experience of Starmade :

Starmade had a power system were block generated power without consumable with a weird dimension grouping and a power storage block. The power storage blocks were so inefficient that a ship without its own power generation system (drones tied to a carrier ...) wasn't an option. Like said in a previous post the meta was to put as much power generation in the ship as possible and try to circumvent the soft cap using power transfer between docked ships.
They are currently changing their power system. They totally discarded the power storage mechanic. They are trying to tie the power generation to ship size in order to balance big ship vs small ships.


Before entering the detail of the power system you have a number of question you need to answer :

1. Do yo want ship to be mostly autonomous or rely on station for replenishment ? This will impact the efficiency of power generation vs power storage and power storage vs fuel (plasma, uranium, etc …)

2. The same question as before but with small ship and big ship : Do fighter are easily long range or they need a carrier ?

3. How do you prevent the block spam ?

4. You will have only power generation that use consumable so will rely on resources storage (fuel tank, etc). What will the point of power storage ? Will they be more efficient in their energetic density ? Will they be equivalent but lighter ?


Now here is my idea :

Have a heating mechanic :
Power generators, power storage produce heat
The use of power produces heat
heat sink blocks dissipate heat
excess of heat induce system failure, explosions (especially in the power generation system)

So the heat sink determine the power your ship can output (and it's) and tie ship power to volume. A ship that wants to produce a lot of power would need a lot of heat sink and so will be bigger (slower ?). A ship that wants to be an alpha strike (make a heavy burst damage) will need heat sink thus being bigger.

Have different building rule for different systems. For instance :
 liquid system (oil, plasma) have a grouping mechanic for their power generation blocks
fusion system use closed lines (circle, square, triangle, ...) for their power generation blocks
long line for antimatter. power generation blocks

and some remarks :
The tier idea is not a necessarily a good idea. If the higher tier is better in every ways to others this will be the meta. The other will be useless and discarded after a grinding phase. It is better to have niche system that are efficient in their particular field.

For instance :
have system that efficient in small scale (fighter, bomber) but not on bigger scale (having to have to much heat sink to compensate the power generation so reducing power/volume ratio)
system that are much dangerous than others when there is fire (radioactive leak)
system that have a minimum size/volume to work : fusion reactor needing to have minimum x blocks that constitute the closed line
system that are to heavy to be used in something other than stations or titans

A priority list for the power distribution is in my opinion the best option to handle power failures.

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AfterRebelion
Explorer
Posts: 8
Location: Spain
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Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:54 am

I agree with what other people said on this thread: don't make power blocks a "you got a new tier, so you need to destroy all your built power plant, and start over"

An addon system sounds better, in my opinion, were you start with a simple frame, and add things on top to match your necesities.
You have a basic reactor, that produces a max off X energy every second per reactor block. Then you can add coolers to add to the max energy production per block, but needs space/coolant. Then you can add a fuel injection device, that requires 2 fuel sources, but makes the energy generation more efficient. And so on.

Then I dislike the "reactor tier tied to fuel tier" thing. Fuel should be something simple: "amount of energy per weight unit". So when you upgrade your fuel tier, you gain in fuel energy density, at cost of the rarer required materials to make it, factorization work, etc.
For the people that says it would make endgame players only go for the "best" tier, I have a proposal here (I will traslade it to the forums once I complete it)

The only fuel tier requirement that I seem reasonable is tied to movement type. To do normal speed, you can use any tier, to use hyperdrive you need at least tier X, and to warp, you need tier Y or more. This doesn't even need to be a hard cap, but a logarithmic curve "you need X amount of energy to warp, but with your current fuel tier, you can't even compensate the weight it adds to move the ship at normal speed"

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Luke Skytrekker
Newbie
Posts: 6

Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:08 pm

JRL101 wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:12 am
Felix wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:54 am
For my part I really like the overload idea, maybe a combination, like you can have the systems that don't have enough power stop functioning, or you can flip a switch to take the safeties off the reactor and go into overload mode, like if the enemy is getting ready to flee and you want to get those last few parting shots in. :D
I love the risk reward idea too. It makes getting that little bit more power, risky but in some situations necessary.
I really like the switch idea, myself, too. Sort of combining all the ideas for when the energy runs out sounds awesome to me.
"You’re Thringmar of Lickimus 13, ruler of Litticrankafranks and Blongmaster of Kralafranghamor."—Crow T. Robot, Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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