// Energy Fuel

Here I ask your opinion and feedback on specific aspect of the game, or feature I am working on.
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tsunamayo
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Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:15 am

Luke Skytrekker wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:25 pm
I agree with others here that every fuel source should have its own niche. I think Void Energy, or any end-game fuel-less option, should be avoided, because it would effectively render all fueled options as worthless. If you can run your giant battle cruiser on no fuel, why bother running it on fuel, or having fuel in the game at all at that point?

Solar Sails could be awesome, though, if balanced right. Maybe they could be less effective than other options, and difficult to use (or maybe unfeasible) in a planet's shadow. The goal, I think, is to make a number of fuel options that all feel viable in their own unique way, with their own unique risks and challenges and advantages.
Solar Sail and Void Energy are both fuel-less power solutions. It all come down to balancing. Why bother running on fuel? Because it is more efficient compare to void energy. So if you have the supply chain to create anti-matter, and can plan a trip to one of your outpost every x hours, you might still want to go with anti-matter.

VIPMTHE2ND
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Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:02 am

My own two cents:

*I don't think fission reactors or tanks should explode when shot. Instead, it should spray radioactive material everywhere, contaminating the area with toxic-on-touch 'paint'.

This would help differentiate it from antimatter, as how you safely handle the two are different (You keep fissionables tanks in a strong casing to contain spills vs sticking an antimatter tank as far away from critical components as possible.)

*Niches, not tiers: As mentioned earlier, power sources should not become obsolete as you proceed up the tiers. A suggestion for a setup:

**Chemical fuel power is simple and compact, but fuel inefficient. Use it for smallish things where batteries provide too little capacity, but other energy sources are too big.

**Solar panels require proximity and LOS to a bright star, and are (usually) low power per volume, but they provide power for free. Use it for stations, or for ships that operate close to the sun.
***Note that you don't have to fabricate massive panels to make solar work in the outskirts of a system- concentrating mirrors are very cheap, and in zero gravity require no structural support. Although whether you want Mirrors of Unusual Size floating around the outer system is up for debate.

**Fission/fusion reactors have a minimum size and are complex and hard to maintain, but are reasonably fuel efficient with a high power volume and work just about anywhere.
***Fission reactors don't explode, but can contaminate the reactor room with radioactive material if shot. They also require rare heavy metals.
***Fusion reactors, on the other hand, DO explode if shot while under operation, as the stellar-hot plasma inside suddenly escapes. On the other hand, they consume common(ish) resources like heavy water or lithium deuteride.

**Antimatter has an even higher power volume, but tends to be...explosive. And needs massive amounts of power to make. (Or you go and raid a Precurser hulk.)

**Void Energy really should not be an option, unless as a very rare dungeon reward(and even then there should probably be an upper limit on how many VE reactors can be running around at any time.) Otherwise everything else becomes obsolete the moment VE becomes available.
***This is assuming that Void Energy just provides power whenever, whatever the conditions, at a power volume that is competitive with fusion reactors.
***A Possible Alternative Niche: Void Energy Extractors produce more the less tidal force is acting on it(that is, the further away it is from any celestial object). They cap out at the maximum power volume of a Solar Panel. This replaces Solar Panels in the "Free, but location dependent" niche in the outskirts of a system.

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AfterRebelion
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Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:56 am

tsunamayo wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:15 am
Solar Sail and Void Energy are both fuel-less power solutions. It all come down to balancing. Why bother running on fuel? Because it is more efficient compare to void energy. So if you have the supply chain to create anti-matter, and can plan a trip to one of your outpost every x hours, you might still want to go with anti-matter.
The difference is that for solar sail (Or more like solar panels, as we are talking about energy generation, not movement mechanics) you need a star to power your ship, but for void power is just.. nothing. I would only consider void energy a valid option if it was tied to something like void nodes, or other gameplay element. Not as a endgame infinite and efforless power generation.

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Talrey
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Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:18 pm

VIPMTHE2ND wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:02 am
***A Possible Alternative Niche: Void Energy Extractors produce more the less tidal force is acting on it(that is, the further away it is from any celestial object). They cap out at the maximum power volume of a Solar Panel. This replaces Solar Panels in the "Free, but location dependent" niche in the outskirts of a system.
Ooh, this is a cool idea. Basically an energy method that becomes less effective in gravity wells? I like that as a balancing mechanic. That way, you could cruise between planets with it, but you'd need something else to keep your ship powered if you tried to land or got too close to a sun / gas giant.

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Le minaw
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Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:19 pm

Talrey wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:18 pm
VIPMTHE2ND wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:02 am
***A Possible Alternative Niche: Void Energy Extractors produce more the less tidal force is acting on it(that is, the further away it is from any celestial object). They cap out at the maximum power volume of a Solar Panel. This replaces Solar Panels in the "Free, but location dependent" niche in the outskirts of a system.
Ooh, this is a cool idea. Basically an energy method that becomes less effective in gravity wells? I like that as a balancing mechanic. That way, you could cruise between planets with it, but you'd need something else to keep your ship powered if you tried to land or got too close to a sun / gas giant.
Agreed : this can be a really rich game mechanic.

Frosth
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Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:51 pm

As others, I agree with the notion of "side grades" or situational fuel types.
Factoring availability, weight, efficiency, volatility, ease of storage and so on, but also throughput of energy available vs overall energy that can be generated.

The price of the generator is also an interesting factor.
For example a fuel can be very efficient and light to carry, but if the generator that consumes the fuel is complex/expensive to craft/maintain or has a maximum size limit, it gives another thing to consider.
For example: in the case of a fighter/drone meant to operate out of carrier, you will perhaps use inefficient fuel but cheap components as they would often be destroyed.
Or a long range exploration vessel would have a very expensive generator to be able to operate longer without civilization.

"Refining" is also another factor that has been mentioned but that I find very important.
Can the fuel be found in space and refined on the ship itself? An exploration/survival vessel would use that even if it isn't outputing much energy by comparison, and it would favor batteries.

One thing others mentioned is to have different fuel source for FTL drives.
I would even suggest to have different FTl drives too. A warp/hyperspace kind, but also a jump kind.

And finally, maybe some generators or engines may come at the cost of engineering complexity and size/weight.
Having to pipe the fuel, or use a system of coolant with exhaust ports that can be a weak point (especially on space stations ;) )
There should be easy to build with systems, and some that are more complex to setup/take more room in the ship.

So many factors possible to make really interesting builds that depend on what the player favors or what the ships purpose is.
Fuel is a great idea.

And when you do the universe generation, think of localizing resources, so that on PvP/Community based servers, trade and freighters would make sense.

PS: love the latest idea about the "reverse solar panels" that works better away from suns/gravity wells. :D

Balijana
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Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:02 pm

my thought about energy:

I like the idea of having a fuel to move the ships and being able to upgrade/mix it with another fuel/ressource to get a bonus, this would allow to have the possibility to upgrade a ship without being obsolete after some time, the best upgrades would be rare enough to have to fight in some zone to get them.

low budget fuel (hydrogen) would be really interesting because easy to get (ice) but less interesting for biggest ships because of the tanks needed, an upgrade for expensive ships would be interesting to diminish the consumption and propultion, other gas would be usable with the same engine but with better performances because rarer.

I'd like to see energy generators without fuel too like solar panel, solar sails.
they would be:
- really breakable and would have to be protected if fighting (panel to close for example), solar sails would be better for civil ships.

- this kind of energy generation would be for internal system and emergency propulsion (with a low speed in case of a ship out of fuel, to be able to go to the first gas station :D))

- they would be really effective for space and terrestrial stations as they don't move they could get a bonus because of the better orientation, ships could have a bonus too if not moving ?! (and because it's boring to refuel a station each time you visit it ^^ and having it being attacked when out of fuel).

about hyperdrive block I'd like it to not be too small size, to not have little fighters to be able to jump easily and/or not have a too long range, so we would have to build carriers to replenish the drones/fighters tanks or build mid size ships more versatile (with crew quarters ?).

it would be interesting to have a ratio between size/speed/mass/weight/consumption/maneuverability.

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Amazigh
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Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:26 pm

Had a read of this thread, and was thinking about how different power sources could be balanced while remaining distinct, and here are my thoughts:
(One assumption i've made is that radiation will be simulated to some extent in the game, if it isn't then nuclear power sources could instead be very heavy to represent radiation shielding as an alternate downside.)

Gas combustion
The simple starter power source
The hydrogen/oxygen fuel-mix is refined from water/ice
Positives: Very easy to get more fuel, fuel refinement is very low-power
Downsides: Burns through fuel pretty fast, fuel storage tanks are explosive
Power: 4/10
Summary: Gas combustion is a cheap power source for small civilian style vessels that can deal with constant trips to refuel, or carry large amounts of fuel, the fuel itself would also be very easy to mass produce, with the raw materials being common and the refinement being very simple and low power cost.

Solar Panel
An early-game fuel-free power source
2*1*0.5(?) size panel segments
Positives: No fuel required
Downsides: Panels are somewhat fragile, panels must relatively close to and facing a star to generate power, very poor power output for size
Power: 1/10
Summary: Solar panels are a very cheap way to generate power, as long as you don't mind having to build masses of them, or wait ages to do anything, making them perfectly suited for use on planetary bases, space stations, refinery rigs and such things.

Fission
A "compact fuel" power source
Fuel has to be mined from planets or asteroids and then refined.
Positives: Fuel requirements are pretty low, good power output
Downsides: Radiation shielding is required, reactor is explosive if damaged
Power: 6/10
Summary: The fuel for Fission power is not the easiest to come across, but once you have some it's likely to last you a long time thanks to the good fuel-efficiency, making this a very appealing power source, but the radiation risk and volatility make it more interesting to use.

Metallic Gas Combustion
Improved version of the basic power source
Fuel is skimmed from gas-giants then refined.
Positives: Burns fuel slower than standard gas combustion, fuel is not volatile
Downsides: Power generation rate is not much greater than standard gas combustion
Power: 5/10
Summary: The easy to find fuel, pretty simple refinement, and decent efficiency make this a solid all-around power source, but it lacks the raw power other sources provide that might be required in high-end combat ships.

Fusion
Relatively low fuel requirements, high power output
Fuel is skimmed from gas-giants then refined.
Positives: Fuel requirements are reasonably low, good power output
Downsides: Radiation shielding is required, reactor is highly explosive if damaged
Power: 6/10
Summary: While the fuel is common it takes a good amount of power to refine properly, add to that the risks inherent with a nuclear power source and this sits on a similar level to fission, but the advantage it has is that you'll basically never run out of fuel sources in exchange for having to carry notably more fuel around.

Solar Sail
A mid-late game fuel-free power source
A block which houses a large (10+ block long?) retractable sail
Positives: No fuel required, can be further from a star than a solar panel, can be retracted when in combat
Downsides: Even more fragile than solar panels, must be facing a star to generate power, limited power output, sails are bulky and it can be hard to mount multiple (maybe unusable in-atmosphere?)
Power: 3/10
Summary: In some ways a flat out improvement on solar panels, but the fact that you can't just stack them together and have to fit them in a space that they can unfurl while still being able to face a star limits their massed use on a station somewhat, but this same retractable nature makes them an interesting option for combat vessels on a "low-power cruise" mode

Anti-matter
A late game high-energy power source
Fuel is manufactured in a specialised method, very power intensive manufacturing
Positives: High power generation, minimal fuel requirements
Downsides: Fuel is expensive to manufacture, reactor and fuel storage are both Extremely explosive
Power: 10/10
Summary: The king of power sources for high-energy applications, downsides being that the fuel itself takes a lot of energy to manufacture, and if it takes any damage then it is likely that your entire ship will go up in smoke.

Void
An end-game fuel-free power source
The low power output and requirement to not be near a gravity well would be the key balancing factors for this power source
Positives: No fuel required
Downsides: Below average power generation, function is severely impaired when inside a gravity well.
Power: 4/10
Summary: Arguably the best choice for an exploration mothership that carries smaller ships to visit planets, or for a deep space station, but otherwise this power source has limited uses due to the loss of generation when inside a gravity well.

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ZachZent
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Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:47 am

A bit late, but for standard gas tiers, I would go three levels

Tier 1 - Nebula: This tier of gas is the easiest and cheapest gas in the galaxy. Extremely common and easy to mine from any nebula though it is the worst of the three. Using a chemistry module, you can modify it to improve its stats, though you can't improve it to make it better then the next tier

Tier 2 - Gas Giant: This tier of gas is a bit harder to mine and in turn costs much more. This base gas can be mined in any gas giant; however, the tech for doing so is harder to build. Like a shield powerful enough to withstand the gravity, a better refinery, etc. Like the first, it can be modified with chemistry, but not up to the level of the third tier.

Tier 3 - Sun: This tier of gas is the hardest to come across and the most expensive. It is mined from the sun making it extremely difficult to mine requiring the most powerful shields just to get close enough. Therefore the amount available is generally lower, but it is the best fuel you can get. Again it can be modified

Though adding solar sails and a few others is fine, I'd personally recommend sticking to only a few types of fuel and power. Helps with the balance and with the chemistry module, players will have the opportunity to modify their gas to suit their needs, or get a higher price. Plus all these mining equipment can be crafted and used by the player and all the other equipment needed to keep everything running would be great additions. Like the shields allowing one to go into a star or a gas giant.
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Vrmithrax
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Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:03 pm

I'm a bit late to the party as well, but I really like the thoughts on fuel throughout this thread.

My one thought was on the void energy topic, and potentials to add to the pros/cons of a "free" energy system like this. I wondered if requiring specific items to take advantage of void energy might be useful to create limits and balance to it, like requiring external "scoop" systems be used to gather the void energy. In this way, you are creating a potentially fragile system needed to acquire the power, and the volume of your scoops determines the power you can gather.

I also considered having void energy perhaps increase in power density as you increase speed (essentially the scoops would be gathering more faster at higher velocities). Could make for some very strange and interesting configurations to harness the void power.

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