Author Topic: Considering Changes to Terraforming  (Read 3334 times)

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Offline sloanjh

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #30 on: January 05, 2017, 06:27:10 AM »
Yes, this is what I came here to say. A lot of sci-fi includes heavily over-populated planets that are important for production or resources etc and I would hate to see Aurora lose that as a possibility, both for gameplay and story lore.

Of course, living on an over-populated, industrialised world wouldn't be very pleasant so moral or happiness would likely be affected - in the current Aurora mechanics, falling wealth production would seem a good way of representing this.
[snip]

LOL - I was just getting ready to post that back in the very first days of Aurora, I really wanted overpopulation to result in "moral" penalties that eventually would lead to unrest and rebellion.  I still like that idea :)

Part of this was the idea that the colony cost shouldn't drop from 2.0 to 0.0 the moment some hard threshold is crossed; instead it should smoothly go down to 0.0.  Maybe carrying capacity could/should also be suppressed by how far your world is from "perfect" (dropping to zero at the colony cost=2.0 threshold), with moral/unrest/productivity impact if exceeded.

John
 

Offline Zincat

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #31 on: January 05, 2017, 07:09:03 AM »
By the way, I wanted to specify one thing. The reason I also suggest a bonus/malus to wealth generation based on planets, and the reason I suggest a malus to wealth generation in case a planet going beyond the normal population limit, is that it is the only real way to model these kind of things in Aurora.

Right now, colony costs revolves entirely around infrastructure. But infrastructure is a "shoot and forget" thing. Once you have built it, then there is no other penalty. It does not have a maintenance cost, it does not give any other sort of penalty. While I can understand the simplification, because Aurora is still a game, there has to be a difference between different type of worlds.

Consider the following hypothetical example. We have 3 candidates for colonies, all without TN minerals:
- Luna, as portrayed in Aurora
- Planet X, a small barren planet in the nearby system with breathable atmosphere but nothing else. Not even water.
- Planet Y, a paradise world with in the next system, with perfect atmosphere, bigger than the Earth and native flora.

Right now, besides the infrastructure cost for Luna, there is zero difference between colonizing the 3 planets. And in fact, infrastracture is a one-time cost. Once set down, you will never have to worry about it. And even worse, it's actually automatically produced by civilians.

I do not think this is enough. Most people roleplay on Aurora, there has to be something else. Realistically, which planet would you choose really? I don't think anyone would have doubts. I don't think any governemnt would have doubts about which planet to choose.

And how can you possible justify the same wealth production? Considering that wealth production is basically taxation, on the paradise planet you would have tourism, biological and chemical endeavours, art and many other things the other planets don't have. I think we can safely agree there are more opportunities to make money for the people who live on Planet Y, and so more taxes.


I do understand however that since Aurora is a game there has to be a simple way to handle things, else the game would be unplayable. Hence I propose a flat bonus/malus % to wealth generation depending on the situation. This is on top of the need of infrastructure, since I think that's not nearly enough of a problem in Aurora. To sum it up you'd have:
- A % malus to wealth generation of colonies with colony cost=> 2. Because that means a pressurized environment, and that means less opportunities, less chances to use the outside area, no ecosystem, no native biomes on the planet etc.
- A % malus/bonus to wealth generation of colonies that are terraformed, based on size of the planet compared to earth. Earth is the baseline, a smaller planet would have less opportunities/unique environments and so on, a bigger one more.
- A % malus to wealth generation of colonies who go beyond their maximum normal population, as the planet is "stretched thin" with both space and resources compared to population.
 

Offline byron

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #32 on: January 05, 2017, 09:57:46 AM »
Agreed on the rate formula being more subtle than simply the surface area (due to weaker pull at surface for lower density planets of the same mass).  But as I tried to say in reply to the post you're citing (although not nearly as clearly as I remember having been :) ), while the formula you're citing is correct density is not a good parameter to base the formula on because it's not directly tracked by Aurora.  A better formula to use is to stop at the observation that the rate is proportional to surface area and inversely proportional to gravity (the first thing you said above).  So the best formula for Steve to use would be:

time = timeForEarth*(AreaOfBody/AreaOfEarth)*(gravOfEarth/gravOfBody).

John
Good point.  I think in terms of radius and density because that's what most of my worldbuilding tools take, and I didn't bother to read that whole thread.  Use this one instead.
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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #33 on: January 05, 2017, 01:46:35 PM »
Judging by the responses I seem to be in minority of people who don't like population cap on bodies. This may be because I love creating atypical nations, like an asteroid belt one, where a dozen or so bodies are quite heavily colonized (more than fifty million people each). With the proposed changes making those will be essentially impossible. It also calls into question the very ability to colonize such bodies. What would be the point of settling Vesta or Pallas in the Sol system if each of those can house less than five million people, insufficient to man a mere hundred factories?

Having said that, if the population cap change gets through there are several things to consider. First I'd like this to be a game option that can be turned off. Second since we're talking about habitability, shouldn't tidal lock be included as well, further reducing possible population? The truth is in many campaigns half or even more potential colonies were tidally locked. In addition, what about bodies with infrastructure? Those are, in theory, completely closed and customizable systems, which would imply they can house a lot more people than open air planets. This is especially important in case of underground infrastructure. Also I'd like to point out that small bodies, which could house less than twenty five million, would create some problems for shipping lines, as they would be perpetually locked as destination for colonists, so some changes to that would be needed as well.

Last but not least a change like that just asks for some new technologies. One tree (agriculture maybe?) would serve to increase the planetary capacity for population. Another one (longevity treatments maybe? advanced medicine?) would increase population growth. This may also be a good possibility to add some new installations that result in similar things.

Making population caps optional would be straight forward.

I've been considering options for expanding beyond the population limits but I think this should be something related to a new tech line rather than just having extra infrastructure. It shouldn't just be a case of just crowing more people into a given space as a planet also needs room to grow food, etc, so perhaps tech that allow higher density farming methods (as you suggested) would create more living space. Another option is technology for utilising subsurface volume on small bodies to allow more living space.

The point regarding tide-locked worlds is a good one. Their capacity should be reduced significantly and it would actually mean the tide-locked status had some relevance.

The 25m limit for shipping lines would be adjusted for smaller worlds - perhaps shipping lines would only ship up to a specific portion of the max capacity.



 

Offline Haji

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #34 on: January 05, 2017, 03:08:52 PM »
Honestly, if you're cramming 50 million people and all the resources you need to support them into rocks that are not Ceres, they're basically Orbital Habitats anyway... :p

Well... yes. The way I would explain it, a typical orbital habitat has to be built from the ground up, so it's quite expensive. But if you're just modifying an asteroid, then you have a lot of materials on site, which you just have to turn into air filters and so on. So asteroids like that are in fact, in my campaigns at least, a ginormous habitats in all but name. Which is why they could house and support tens of millions of people (in one game Vesta and Pallas had over a hundred people if my memory serves).

Making population caps optional would be straight forward.

I've been considering options for expanding beyond the population limits but I think this should be something related to a new tech line rather than just having extra infrastructure. It shouldn't just be a case of just crowing more people into a given space as a planet also needs room to grow food, etc, so perhaps tech that allow higher density farming methods (as you suggested) would create more living space. Another option is technology for utilising subsurface volume on small bodies to allow more living space.

The point regarding tide-locked worlds is a good one. Their capacity should be reduced significantly and it would actually mean the tide-locked status had some relevance.

The 25m limit for shipping lines would be adjusted for smaller worlds - perhaps shipping lines would only ship up to a specific portion of the max capacity.


I'm glad to hear all of this. One note however - when talking about infrastructure, I was thinking more about whether or not the population limit will apply to bodies that haven't been terraformed yet. Or if the limit should even apply in such case.

One last mechanical question - what about alien races? Will they have the same population limit? In my opinion there should be a numeric value for this that can be modified in game, like gravity tolerance, which would allow us to customize density for humans or aliens.
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #35 on: January 05, 2017, 03:37:58 PM »
Well... yes. The way I would explain it, a typical orbital habitat has to be built from the ground up, so it's quite expensive. But if you're just modifying an asteroid, then you have a lot of materials on site, which you just have to turn into air filters and so on. So asteroids like that are in fact, in my campaigns at least, a ginormous habitats in all but name. Which is why they could house and support tens of millions of people (in one game Vesta and Pallas had over a hundred people if my memory serves).

I'm glad to hear all of this. One note however - when talking about infrastructure, I was thinking more about whether or not the population limit will apply to bodies that haven't been terraformed yet. Or if the limit should even apply in such case.

One last mechanical question - what about alien races? Will they have the same population limit? In my opinion there should be a numeric value for this that can be modified in game, like gravity tolerance, which would allow us to customize density for humans or aliens.

I think the limit should apply regardless of colony cost. That is simpler and for larger worlds, running into the limit will be unusual anyway. For small bodies (sub 0.1G), they won't be terraformed anyway.

Good suggestion about the racial tolerance for crowding. I think it should vary by race (allowing Starfire-style Arachnids for example).
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #36 on: January 05, 2017, 04:09:36 PM »
I've been thinking further about tidally locked worlds. I agree they should have much less available living space. However, the major issue with tidally locked worlds is that they have one side very hot as it faces the sun and one side very cold and always dark as it faces away.

That raises a few questions. For example, if one side is very hot and the other very cold, does that mean there is always a narrow, 'Goldilocks' zone which has liveable temperatures even if it is close to the star. In other words, should tidally-locked worlds actually have perhaps 10% normal capacity and no colony cost penalty for temperature? The colonists would live in that narrow band between light and dark.

Another consideration is that a tidally-locked planet that is normally too cold, might actually become more habitable by being tidal-locked because one side is heated up into the habitable zone.

Interested to hear opinions in this area. I want to keep it relatively simple though :)

Tidally-locked moons are a different issue as they always face their parent planet but effectively rotate with respect to the star so are treated as a normal world. Also, in VB6 Aurora all moons are tidal-locked for simplicity. In C# Aurora, there is a calculation and some of the outer moons are not tidal-locked. All the major moons in Sol are tidal-locked, but with my current formula a few of the small outer moons around the gas giants are not tidal-locked.

 

Offline 83athom

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #37 on: January 05, 2017, 04:42:02 PM »
~snip~
Interested to hear opinions in this area. I want to keep it relatively simple though :)
I think the idea is interesting. I think that when calculating the livable area of said planets, you would need to consider the hottest extremes, the coldest extremes, the average temperature, and the temperature of the "narrow band" of land when figuring the percentage of area that may be habitable. Like you said, in an orbit zone similar to Earth one side would be too hot and the other too cold with ~10% area that might be habitable (albeit somewhat uncomfortable to be in either constant twilight). However, a planet farther out may have the entire half facing the sun in the habitable range of a species.


Tidally-locked moons are a different issue as they always face their parent planet but effectively rotate with respect to the star so are treated as a normal world. Also, in VB6 Aurora all moons are tidal-locked for simplicity. In C# Aurora, there is a calculation and some of the outer moons are not tidal-locked. All the major moons in Sol are tidal-locked, but with my current formula a few of the small outer moons around the gas giants are not tidal-locked.
While on this subject, is there a calculation for tidal stresses when dealing with moons and planets (for the sake of temperature)?
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Offline bitbucket

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #38 on: January 05, 2017, 06:57:36 PM »
That raises a few questions. For example, if one side is very hot and the other very cold, does that mean there is always a narrow, 'Goldilocks' zone which has liveable temperatures even if it is close to the star. In other words, should tidally-locked worlds actually have perhaps 10% normal capacity and no colony cost penalty for temperature? The colonists would live in that narrow band between light and dark.

The area of habitability of a tidally locked planet would depend on a lot of circumstances. There are ways a dim star can have a habitable world despite tidelocking.



One, a moderately dense atmosphere that can circulate heat and thick clouds to block the worst of the sunlight (like a permanent subsolar storm) can even out the temperature somewhat, so all the light side and even possibly the dark side are tolerable; though without sunlight to power it, life on the night side will be problematic.  Venus, while an admittedly poor example, rotates slower than it revolves and yet the night temperatures are only a few degrees cooler than the day side.



Two, if the planet has an elliptical orbit it would induce libration in the visible position of the star. For modestly elliptical orbits (e = 0.2 or so) up to a third of the planet would experience both day and night. Significant axial tilt can have a similar effect with areas around the poles.



Three, if a planet is distant enough from its star, the permanently lit side just might not be hot enough to preclude habitation (though the night half is then certainly a lost cause). This is probably a more likely case for worlds around K and G class stars.

On the topic of tidelocked moons, I've seen some instances of randomly generated literal double planets where the "moon" is over 90% of the mass of the "planet." In instances like this, both objects should be mutually tidelocked to one another, though...this is often not the case. I recall one instance where I found an Earth-like planet with a Venus-like moon barely outside each other's Roche limits, and yet the planet still wasn't tidelocked. A sufficiently large moon can prevent tidelocking to the star, though this does seem to be the case in version 7.x already, just not to the degree one might expect.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 07:05:42 PM by bitbucket »
 

Offline MarcAFK

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #39 on: January 05, 2017, 11:23:35 PM »
I have a suggestion related to genetic modification centers. Could they be retooled in the next version to raise population growth if desired? Maybe your population doesn't want to breed anymore but if the government wants clones to fill its hive worlds then the government will get clones to fill its hive worlds dammit.
Perhaps they are a little cheap for this however, maybe the added growth should be less than the 250k per center that can be modified.
A default start gives population growth of 12.5 million per year, this could be doubled with only 50 modification centers if they produced 250'000 per year. Maybe in cloning mode reduce that to 100,000? Then 125 centers would be needed, requiring the same population level as the same number of ordnence factories. Though I still think maybe the population required to run the centers should be doubled.
Who actually uses gene modification centers? I've only seen a few examples mentioned and would like peoples thoughts on the suggestion.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 11:27:41 PM by MarcAFK »
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Offline Haji

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #40 on: January 06, 2017, 12:43:19 PM »
Interested to hear opinions in this area. I want to keep it relatively simple though :)

For simplicity sake I'd use what I've seen most often in SF books - tidally locked worlds located in the water zone of the parent star have habitable zone on the terminus (the twilight zone) with the ever sunny side being too hot and the ever dark side being too cold.

For a more detailed answer I'd say bitbucket covered all the angles although from what I understand the giant, never ending storm on the sun side is pretty much given for any planet with sufficient amount of water and sufficiently dense atmosphere, which may make sun side unsuitable for colonization in any case. For more information you may want to read http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/4922e224a740d which is an article in a world building site dedicated to very, very hard SF.

In addition you could go ahead and create a new technology tree dedicated to increasing habitable range of tidally locked planets (they are fairly common in Aurora after all) such as artificial agriculture on the night side or something similar. Unlike the technologies which rise total population cap on all planets, those would merely help the nation to use larger part of a specific type of a planet.

I have a suggestion related to genetic modification centers. Could they be retooled in the next version to raise population growth if desired?

I'm always looking for new ways to increase population growth, so I'm all for it.
 

Offline ryuga81

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #41 on: January 06, 2017, 06:14:14 PM »

And how can you possible justify the same wealth production? Considering that wealth production is basically taxation, on the paradise planet you would have tourism, biological and chemical endeavours, art and many other things the other planets don't have. I think we can safely agree there are more opportunities to make money for the people who live on Planet Y, and so more taxes.


I'd also like to see "anomalies" expanded in that sense. Most barren planets would be simply barren and unprofitable, but I'd like to see the occasional exception, a barren world that has a unique natural resource (some kind of weird beneficial radiation, good soil composition for agriculture once water is provided, large amounts of non-TN mineral resources or simply amazing views for tourism) that kinda offsets the "barrenness malus" and makes for a perfect candidate for advanced terraforming (turning the reduced malus into an actual bonus). Of course the concept could be further expanded (not only to wealth but also pop growth, production, terraforming speed etc.), but it would deserve its own thread.
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #42 on: January 07, 2017, 06:09:20 AM »
Thanks for the responses on tide locked planets and the link to Orion's Arm.

I've been considering how to represent the various tide locked scenarios in a simple way. Essentially, the scenarios all involve more limited habitability than normal and a way to avoid the worst extremes of temperature, either through avoiding heat by living in the twilight area or through avoiding cold by living on the permanently sun-facing side. Therefore, for tide locked worlds (not moons) I am going to reduce both the temperature factor for colony cost and the max population capacity by a factor of 5. This gives these worlds a unique flavour that captures the essential differences without any complex rules.

For example, Mercury is normally colony cost 16.94 with a population capacity of 1,756m. With the new tide-locked rule this would change to colony cost 3.39 with a population capacity of 351m. Any colonists would be living in the twilight area of the planet. BTW I know Mercury isn't truly tide-locked but I am definitely not getting into rules for 3:2 resonance worlds so they will be treated as tide-locked. Bear in mind, it will be much harder to reduce this colony cost than normal because you would need to reduce the temperature five times more than a normal planet to achieve the same colony cost factor reduction.

On the subject of colony cost, I am also changing the cost of atmospheric pressure. At the moment it is a simple 2.0 if greater than species maximum. For C# Aurora if the pressure is greater than species maximum the colony cost will be (Pressure / Species Max Pressure) with a minimum of 2.0. For example, if species max pressure is 4, a world with 5 atm would be colony cost 2.0, a world with 12 atm would be colony cost 3.0 and a world with 50 atm would be colony cost 12.5.

In most cases, this type of pressure will also be accompanied by very high temperatures with similar or greater colony cost and the change will make little practical difference. However, with the new tide-lock rules I want to avoid a tide-locked Venusian world having a much lower colony cost than would be realistic.
 

Offline bitbucket

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #43 on: January 07, 2017, 11:56:34 AM »
For all the talk of terraforming, I still feel some consideration needs to be given to biospheres. Even with a breathable atmosphere, a planet that's nothing but a ball of barren regolith is going to be far less valuable than one covered in a self-sustaining ecology. Since this topic has come to the forefront I'm going to dig up an old post of mine from the suggestion thread and tweak it a bit:

You can give a Mars-like planet an Earth-like atmosphere, but you're still going to have a planet of nothing but dead regolith and barren rock unless you gradually introduce life to it.  Building an ecosystem from scratch would have to start with basic pioneer plants that can grow on bare rock; like algae, mosses, and lichens; to build up soil for more complex plants to grow in. Once plants are established, the way is open for animals.

To keep a biosphere simulation fairly abstract and not become another SimEarth, we can break planetary biospheres down into a few basic categories:

Lifeless - The system body has never had life.  If left as is, it never will.
Microbial - Only single-celled lifeforms exist, either because conditions are too hostile for more complex forms, or there hasn't been enough time for it to develop further.
Simple - A limited biosphere of simple pioneer plants and small hardy animals exists.
Complex - A diverse, fully developed, self-sustaining biosphere exists.

And some special cases for when things go wrong:

Degraded - The system body's biosphere has been significantly disrupted, perhaps from a natural disaster, minor xenoforming, or bombardment.  The biosphere may adapt and recover with time.
Dying - The system body's surface environment can no longer sustain its former biosphere, either due to stellar evolution shifting the habitable zone away, or because significant xenoforming has occurred.
Extinct - The system body once had life, but it has been extinguished.

On a lifeless world, once terraforming reduces the colony cost to, say, below 1, have the biosphere category change to Simple as organisms genetically adapted to the colonists' preferred environment and the planet's unique conditions are introduced.  After enough time at zero colony cost, further increase the biosphere category to Complex, simulating the colonists adding more advanced lifeforms to bring about an ecological succession. This would take centuries on its own, but TN technology has ways of making the impossible probable. Humans are an impatient and woefully short-lived species that like to see the things they start get finished within their lifetimes, so certainly ways of speeding along natural processes would be developed as part of the methodology of terraforming processes.

Handling alien ecosystems would be...somewhat less simple, if we're even up to the task. One species' ideal environment is another's horrible gasping death. We can see just from the examples our own Earth provides that life can take hold almost anywhere with an energy source and a fluid medium.  Perhaps the planet's native biosphere could have tolerances and ideal conditions in the same way randomly generated NPR races do, tuned to the planet's unique conditions. If the environment is changed too much, the native life dies off, going through Degraded > Dying > Extinct as you terraform the planet away from its original state. It would make for some delightful ethical dilemmas such as "that vital strategic planet full of minerals with the methane/ammonia atmosphere is full of exotic life, would you go ahead with terraforming and kill everything on it?" Conversely, finding a rare natural zero-colony-cost world would be all the more special if it also had a Complex biosphere on it, a true Earth analog garden world (though it would likely also be an alien homeworld). A native biosphere might even give a research bonus for Biology/Genetics.

We might also consider Degraded, Dying, or Extinct worlds occurring naturally too, with Dying/Extinct particularly around B/A/G-class stars nearing the end of their time on the main sequence, and Extinct worlds around post-hydrogen-fusing red giants and white dwarfs.

Again, whether or not this is even worth bothering with this depends on how far the terraforming process is intended to go. If the intent of terraforming is literally to create new Earth-like worlds, this is relevant. If all we're after is just eliminating the need for closed-cycle life support, and having colonies become open-air arcology complexes surrounded by lifeless barren wilderness, instead of completely sealed self-contained bases, this is all moot.
 

Offline Zincat

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Re: Considering Changes to Terraforming
« Reply #44 on: January 07, 2017, 12:07:03 PM »
For all the talk of terraforming, I still feel some consideration needs to be given to biospheres. Even with a breathable atmosphere, a planet that's nothing but a ball of barren regolith is going to be far less valuable than one covered in a self-sustaining ecology. Since this topic has come to the forefront I'm going to dig up an old post of mine from the suggestion thread and tweak it a bit:

... <snipped for legibility>

Again, whether or not this is even worth bothering with this depends on how far the terraforming process is intended to go. If the intent of terraforming is literally to create new Earth-like worlds, this is relevant. If all we're after is just eliminating the need for closed-cycle life support, and having colonies become open-air arcology complexes surrounded by lifeless barren wilderness, instead of completely sealed self-contained bases, this is all moot.

Personally, I rather like this suggestion. I'm not sure on the exact implementation, that could be discussed. It would tie to my suggestion of different wealth generation per unit of population based on planet type and atmosphere. I don't know if Steve likes the idea though.

I do feel however that the process should be rather simple to handle for the players. Which is why I feel that flat bonuses/maluses to basic characteristics, like wealth generation, or morale, work best rather than too complex systems.
The entire thing could be visualized as simple planetary "traits", like anomalies are now. These traits could be innate, or they could possibly change or be added  if you do something specific, like terraforming.
 

 

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