Author Topic: Why Build Terraforming Installations?  (Read 1320 times)

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Offline gpt3 (OP)

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Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« on: May 25, 2022, 10:29:38 AM »
Aurora generally has a clear trade off between industrial options. The classic example of this is mining facilities:

FacilityLabour CostMaterial CostValid LocationsCargo Tons
Mine50,000 (workers)120Everywhere25,000
Automated Mine0240Everywhere25,000
Orbital Mining Module50 (crew)120Asteroids and comets5,000

However, ship-based terraformers appear to be better than ground-based terraformers across all dimensions.

FacilityLabour CostMaterial CostValid LocationsCargo Tons
Terraforming Installation250,000 (workers)600Everywhere125,000
Terraforming Module100 (crew)500Everywhere25,000

Why have terraforming installations at all? I can only think of a few edge cases where they would be useful:
  • The player inherited a bunch of prebuilt terraforming installations from an NPR colony or ruin.
  • The player is in a super low-tech game; they can't spare 5k RP to research terraforming modules.
  • The player is asset-rich but cash-poor; they desperately need to maximise their tax income.
  • The player is trying to roleplay a race that doesn't use orbital industry.
 
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Offline skoormit

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2022, 12:14:32 PM »
I pretty much never use surface terraformers, for the reasons you cite, but I'm actually using them some in my current game.

I'm playing at 30% science rate and with the 20% admin rule, so, as you suggest, tying up those labs for that long just hasn't been an attractive option.

On top of that, I'm playing with a random race in a random system.
This race just happens to have a Population Growth modifier of 2.2, and my home system has three bodies (besides the HW) that could be terraformed completely (in a reasonable timeframe).

In other words, the labor cost is irrelevant (because I'm swimming in population) and the transport cost is irrelevant (because these colonies are so nearby), but the tech cost to go orbital is substantial.

It took this perfect storm to get me to use surface terraformers, outside of occasional very-early game use for a home-system body that I want to terraform before researching the orbitals.
 

Offline Cobaia

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2022, 12:22:23 PM »
I like to colonize everything, even LG bodies.

I use terraforming installations:

1- Terraforming installations are free to move around (Civil Transports)
2- There is the hidden cost of other components on modules since you need to place them on a ship or a station, if station you need to build a Tug and factor ir the fractional cost of that Tug to move the stations.
3- Modules also cost you crew and commanders.

I also use modules to some extent but mainly for large systems with several planets and then dismantle them when the job is done.
I tend to use installations to systems with fewer colonizable bodies.
 

Offline nuclearslurpee

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2022, 12:37:39 PM »
As it stands, the ground-based installations are almost strictly inferior to the orbital modules once the latter are researched. If the costs were the same, there would be some edge cases where the ground installations are useful but this is not the case.

As far as the suggested use cases:
  • Using captured NPR infrastructure is not really an argument for why one would ever build TF installations themselves.
  • Research cost is a valid point, but still once the tech has been researched there is no need to ever go back. There's not really any other technologies which work this way, some tech systems become more or less dominant than others over time but strictly eclipsing one system with another is not typical.
  • If cash-poor, the best investment is financial centers, not overpriced other installations.
  • Roleplay is a fair cop but isn't an argument in favor of poor balance.

In my 1.13 submod I have doubled the cost of the orbital module, however I think maybe a better solution is just to swap the costs of the ground and orbital facilities so the ground-based installations are cheaper. That should be sufficient to create a balanced, interesting decision while not changing the overall game balance of terraforming very much.


1- Terraforming installations are free to move around (Civil Transports)

Actually a fair point. However, I don't think this even comes close to justifying the +100 BP cost difference though, especially since it is easy enough to find things for the civilians to do anyways, and late-game usually sees a need to cull the shipping lines to reduce slowdown so the benefit for growing shipping lines is questionable.

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2- There is the hidden cost of other components on modules since you need to place them on a ship or a station, if station you need to build a Tug and factor ir the fractional cost of that Tug to move the stations.

I don't think these costs are substantial. The extra cost for a station is minimal, certainly much less than the 100 BP difference at hand, and the cost of a tug isn't really a problem since tugs are very generally useful anyways. If you have OMPs, FHSs, fleet support bases, etc. you already build tugs, so tugging terraforming stations is just another job they can do while they exist.

Quote
3- Modules also cost you crew and commanders.

Modules should not cost any crew as you would use the Conscript checkbox for any commercial ships. Commanders will not be a problem in 2.0 as we will be able to disable auto-assignment for classes.
 

Offline Andrew

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2022, 01:01:03 PM »
Quote
3- Modules also cost you crew and commanders.

Modules should not cost any crew as you would use the Conscript checkbox for any commercial ships. Commanders will not be a problem in 2.0 as we will be able to disable auto-assignment for classes.

Further as far as I can tell crew grade has no effect on terraformers (I could be wrong) so you can use conscript crews with no penalty. Some of your commanders have good terraforming bonus and often will not have other useful skills so assigning them to the terraformers is just a bonus to your terraforming abilities
 

Offline ArcWolf

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2022, 01:04:39 PM »

1- Terraforming installations are free to move around (Civil Transports)

Fair enough.

Quote
2- There is the hidden cost of other components on modules since you need to place them on a ship or a station, if station you need to build a Tug and factor ir the fractional cost of that Tug to move the stations.

I don't see this as a valid reason, I use tugs a lot, military station, supply stations for my explorers, Fuel Harvester stations. I'm going to have built the tugs anyway, and most of the time they sit idle above one of my worlds.
Quote
3- Modules also cost you crew and commanders.

They cost 1 commander for the entire ship, which you don't even need to assign. Additionally, between the fact that by the time you can build massive terraformer stations, unless you do not build any academies, you will have more crew then you will ever need, even on training  lvl 5, not to mention there is no (discernable) penalty to making the terraformed stations crew "conscripts" over trained navel crews, which are for all intent and purposes free.


The only time i ever use ground based terraformers is if i get them for free from a ruin, and even then i usually ship them off to an uninhabited rock shortly there after, the man power is more valuable to me in science labs or mines then in a single station, especially when i usually play with 20/20/20 rules (20% Research, Surveying, Terraforming).

I think either Station Terraforms need to be nurfed or ground based need a buff. Easiest in my opinion would be to make Space based Terraformers less efficient. Since space based ones are 1/5 the size of ground ones, making them 1/5 as efficient would be a good place to start (as a test) and then see from there.
 

Offline Cobaia

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2022, 01:29:08 PM »
Thank you for your inputs, I was just trying to assert that such costs exists and should be factored.
If we are discussing min-max I agree that they are more efficient but we need to account all costs related to both parties, and we are also excluding the cost of workers and the underlaying infrastructure when using installations.
 

Offline Demetrious

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2022, 02:41:21 PM »
Thank you for your inputs, I was just trying to assert that such costs exists and should be factored.
If we are discussing min-max I agree that they are more efficient but we need to account all costs related to both parties, and we are also excluding the cost of workers and the underlaying infrastructure when using installations.

Seconded on the infrastructure to support workers on a planet being terraformed. Given their large population requirement and the fact that your cargo lift capacity (both empire-owned and civilian contracted) will already be heavily tasked moving the terraforming plants themselves, it's a real pain. Manufacturing it doesn't take that long; and the costs are also pretty affordable - especially since the civilian industry will start manufacturing it "for free" and as far as I've seen, that infrastructure isn't tracked separately (I believe it was in VB6) so you can just pick it up and redistribute it later. No, it really is the logistical challenge of getting that stuff to its destination that causes an issue. Oh, AND you have to move the population, as well! (Though the opportunity cost issues here are highly situation as they depend on how many colony ships you've built and how heavily you typically task them.) Doing this within Sol is annoying, but not difficult. Doing it even one system over can be an issue. Doing it two or three jumps out? It can take years. Cheap terraforming stations that are towed into place are stupidly superior.

There's two caveats to this:

If cash-poor, the best investment is financial centers, not overpriced other installations.

I tend to under-build compared to the average Aurora player (or at least compared to Steve, judging from his AAR's) because I consistently find my biggest crunch isn't minerals, but wealth. So it's not a matter of "do I need more wealth or more terraformers?" because I always need more wealth - and I also need the terraformers anyway. So the fact the terraforming installations Create Jobs™ is significant to me. Birds, stones etc.

The second consideration is commander bonuses. Unless I am mistaken, ship-based production benefits from the ship's commander and any parent naval admin command(s), but not the civilian governor of the planet. This can be significant because generating enough commanders to fully fill out your orbital terraformer platform fleet(s) can be a real challenge - in fact Steve is upping the number of naval commanders produced next patch to address this issue overall (with multiple officers per ship due to modules the overall tax on the officer pool is higher.) If you have a civilian administrator with a decent to high terraforming bonus (and by the time you get out of Sol you'll probably have at least the guy who used to be in charge of Mars leveled up a bit from experience) you can get more out of each terraformer, and that's important because time is a precious resource unto itself, one you can't always quantify like minerals, etc.

I call these caveats because they don't, in any way, shape, or form, begin to make terraforming installations competitive. The logistics are the killer. Yes, orbitals tie up tugs and those are always in short supply (no matter how many I build I always need more) but they're tied up infrequently as they move the fleet to the next target planet and there they will sit, for months, usually for years. Production speed - since you can crank out the terraformer component with construction factories (or the entire finished product if you always use towed space stations as I do) there's no real difference in production, except that the installations are a bit slower (because they cost 100 more minerals) and because you have to build an initial investment of infrastructure to go along with them! And then you get to tie up a lot of your empire's cargo lift capacity to move the whole shebang any serious distance past a single jump out of Sol!

Humbly, I submit that the cost of ground-based Terraforming Installations should be significantly reduced - to 300, if not even further. Maybe 150-200. It'd not just be balanced, but also more lore-friendly; explaining why what takes one million workers on the ground can be done by a crew of a few hundred in space - automation. And automation costs. So if you have the lift capacity and spare population banging at the window to get into the new upper-class of the "TN economy," you have real incentive to go the manual route; plopping down "shake-and-bake" colonies so you can start Building Better Worlds.™
« Last Edit: May 25, 2022, 02:43:35 PM by Demetrious »
 

Offline xenoscepter

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2022, 08:31:38 PM »
 --- So uhhh, I'm going to chime in here for a second. Planetside Terraforming Installations derive a benefit from the Governor, while the Orbitals derive a benefit from Naval Officers instead. I actually tend to use both to maximize the bonus, however I've never sat down to math out if this works properly or not. However, it works in my head and AFAIK it works in game too, so... for your consideration I suppose.
 

Offline bankshot

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2022, 09:30:23 PM »
My terraforming ships tend to be large and slow.  I'll sometimes use terraforming installations when I have a colony on a fairly small world  (terraform speed 10x or greater) that is far from the primary.  Sending a fleet of 5 freighters on a long journey can be more convenient than typing up one of my tugs to pull a terraforming ship tens of billions of km.  But it's an edge case and I'd never use more than a handful. 

I've also once used them for drying out an ocean world.  As long as I'm increasing the population cap faster than they are making new colonists the speed of doesn't seem to matter much.  But in that case I usually just leave one or two terraforming ships in orbit when the fleet moves on. 
 

Offline xenoscepter

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2022, 09:37:44 PM »
My terraforming ships tend to be large and slow. ~~Snippy Snips~~

 --- This. They only need to be fast enough to catch a planet. I typically make them with obscenely large engines relative to the payload and use 'em for years and years, until engine tech gets a good way further. Then they're replaced with more efficient vessels.
 

Offline Garfunkel

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2022, 12:48:40 AM »
Yeah, this has been discussed before and, from pure mechanics POV the installations are strictly inferior.

I tend to build some early in my conventional games that I use on Luna and Mars before I've had the time & chance to research the module and start building the TF stations.
 

Offline xenoscepter

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2022, 01:48:10 PM »
 --- Fringe benefit, they're easier to defend with STOs and ground forces than an orbital might be.
 

Offline Destragon

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2022, 02:20:11 PM »
The only reason I use terraforming installations is, because I don't really like how the modules don't require any workers from the population. The installations require such a massive amount of workers, but when you put the same stuff on a space ship, it suddenly needs basically no workers. It feels too cheap to me.
 
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Offline Zincat

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Re: Why Build Terraforming Installations?
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2022, 09:59:52 AM »
From a minmaxing point of view, installations are worse in every way. Even moving them to a different world can be troublesome. I don't know you, but I'm often using the civiians to move my stuff, especially in the early game, so they are rarely free.

Of course I will use installations that have been captured or found from alien ruins. But building them is not convenient

Now, roleplay reasons do of course exist. And I am always for roleplay. But mechanically they just won't cut it. A simple orbital stations with 10 modules can be quickly tugged and will be a much better investment...