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Prototype Buildings, How to make Space Exploration fun


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Right now space exploration isn't terribly fun. It's a means to the end of getting from one asteroid to the next, with the actual fun coming from exploring the new environment. At the same time, there are multiple incentives to exploring the Space biome which are fully realized and the barrier to the vanilla late game has been lowered substantially. The player is provided a tremendous amount of "free" infrastructure between their first two asteroids which I think we can all agree is essential. However there have been some recurring complaints about the lowering of the bar for late game, and the overall lack of change in pace between vanilla & Spaced Out. Spaced Out feels as much like a Vanilla map broken up as it does something new & exciting.

The problems, as I see them

  • Space isn't rewarding in & of itself. There's not a good reason to build a rocket before building a SPOM, building a Petrol Boiler, developing Hatches & Dreckos, and half a dozen major projects from vanilla. Space is presented as an early/mid game option, but the rewards place it firmly at the end of the tech tree like in vanilla.
  • The Sucrose & CO2 rocket aren't good enough to make transit between asteroids reliable. Sucrose is a relatively limited resource, even with the advent of the Sulphur geyser, and Sucrose rockets just aren't capable of having a good enough weight ratio to be useful. CO2 requires infrastructure to work, infrastructure which is required to be fairly substantial and barely within the timeframe for a one-way trip with a dupe.
  • There are a lot of "free" resources on the Terra & Swampy asteroids, namely large amounts of renewable Oil, renewable Sulphur, and Glass. Sulphur is good because it is something new which makes the Swampy asteroid feel different than vanilla. Renewable Oil is bad, because it enables the full vanilla experience without exploring even a third asteroid. The Glass is a mixed bag, as it both incentivizes Space biome exploration but also puts the vanilla late game early.
  • The tech tree is so expansive at this point it often feels more like a chore than an actual system of progress. Additionally, so many essential machines (essential to exploit our "free" resources that is) are spread out across the tree in such a way that some branches are just flat out more important than others. It's not a choice between developing Liquid Management or Dupe morale first, the former obviously has to be the priority to allow the building of bathrooms & the conversion of Water to Oxygen. Likewise the rocket branch feels extremely unrewarding, and ends up being a quick series of techs post-Steel that have to be gotten through before the third asteroid.

My suggestions

  • Put resources on the space map, which can be picked up by rockets when they enter the same tile. Cargo Bays would allow multiple resources to be picked up, otherwise only a single bonus per mission. This system would reward early game space exploration, and take the pressure off "essential" mid/late game techs (such as metal refining or plastic production) by potentially providing an alternative way to make those late game resources renewable.
  • Building off the above system, it would also be good to incentivize exploration with a different sort of reward altogether. Vouchers can be found rarely in space capsules, or on asteroids buried in the rock. Vouchers can be redeemed at the printing pod for a specific choice (such as 3x Drecko Eggs or 3x Hatch eggs). After being redeemed, the Voucher "breaks" the Printing Pod requiring a dupe repair (an opportunity to make some high end skills more useful on the bottom half of the tree) before it can be used to print another thing. Making the Voucher a reward incentivizes exploration, making it a choice enhances replayability. Vouchers being semi-renewable (via space exploration) would also create an opportunity to rebalance the printing pod options so that "bad" options become more attractive. If I spend a Voucher knowing my Pod will break after, I'd definitely going to take something, even if that something is a Flatulent dupe who can't build.
  • Another reward that can be found in space capsules are Prototype Plans. These are special copies of existing buildings which can only be built the once (they are a prototype after all) and cost a different set of resources. Perhaps there's an Ore Crusher that has to be made of Sandstone and gains efficiency when in a Polluted Oxygen environment? Or a Steam Turbine that doesn't cost Plastic but requires hotter Steam? Or a Solar Panel which uses 2kg of Algae instead of Glass? Prototypes could be prescriptive, or perhaps somehow procedurally generated the goal being to add variety to the early/mid game and enhance replayability. A lucky Prototype might completely change the character of the base and encourage the player to explore an entirely new kind of build they never would have thought to otherwise. Additionally, Prototypes would allow late game technologies, such as Steam Turbines or Solar Panels, to appear much earlier in the game and take the pressure off sprinting through the tech tree to enable complex builds. The goal should be to make each game and each asteroid feel unique, even if the environments and basic resources are the same. The player should be encouraged to experiment and be creative with off the cuff builds rather than to go back to the same old SPOM & Petrol Boilers they've been using for years.
  • I'm honestly not sure there should be any renewable Oil on the first two asteroids. The rewards of a Petrol Boiler are just too great to make further space exploration worth it in light of multiple, relatively easy to access sources of renewable Oil. I don't feel that Petrol boiling needs a rebalance, if anything maybe more Sulphur can be produced from the Sour Gas to Nat Gas transition, rather I feel that Petrol Boiling should be pushed out to the third if not fourth asteroid. Maybe Slicksters could exist on the second asteroid, along with decent sized pockets of liquid Oil. "Oil Sands" could be a new type of solid which can be processed into Oil slowly and at great energy expense, providing a huge amount of difficult to access and non-renewable Oil.
  • An alternative route to plastic production that uses Sucrose. Sucrose can be fed into a Terrarium instead of Algae to reverse the CO2 -> O2 transition (providing a direct source of CO2 for CO2 rockets), which as a side product produces Cellulose. Cellulose can then be Refined or Crushed into Plastic. This would take the pressure off Oil refining and open up some new options with rocketry. It would also strongly incentivize development of the new Sulphur -> Sucrose chain, which in turn would make Sucrose Rockets much more likely to be used.
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4 hours ago, JaxckLl said:

Put resources on the space map, which can be picked up by rockets when they enter the same tile. Cargo Bays would allow multiple resources to be picked up, otherwise only a single bonus per mission. This system would reward early game space exploration, and take the pressure off "essential" mid/late game techs (such as metal refining or plastic production) by potentially providing an alternative way to make those late game resources renewable.

I really like this idea. I was about to suggest something similar. I was still thinking about the actual implementation but this is just a simple idea. Free resources floating in space. First it gives the telescope a use outside finding the third planetoid after whih there is nothing to find until you put a telescope on the rocket. Second it makes space less empty so it`s more interesting to fly around. Finally it adds more possibilities:

Maybe a rocket without a cargo bay could push the space rocks towards your planetoid so they start falling down as meteors.

We could get nebulas which would allow to harvest gas using the gas transport module.

We could find broken satelites and either push them to crash into our planetoid or repair them for some benefits.

This would give us something to do with rockets without fully comitting to landing on a different world.

4 hours ago, JaxckLl said:

I'm honestly not sure there should be any renewable Oil on the first two asteroids. The rewards of a Petrol Boiler are just too great to make further space exploration worth it in light of multiple, relatively easy to access sources of renewable Oil.

I wonder how would that work with their future plans. If they make solar power harder we could run into an energy crysis since we`d have to rely on coal and plug slugs or jump straight into geothermal power. Well we could just get a large pool of oil without any oil wells on the second planetoid but it`s already small and i don`t know if enough oil would fit there. But i`d definitely like to see some resources shuffled up along the asteroids. I don`t like reed fiber being so hard to get in the swamp start, which makes half of the art tree unusable. I`d say put arbor tress on the second asteroid and limited oil pools instead of limited ethanol pools and abundant oil wells. Not like you need oil to get to the third planetoid anyway.

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  •  I like the Satellite idea! Perhaps that's how to make the tech tree more interesting, add in "Satellite Research" which requires a Satellite uplink on an Asteroid with the amount of science gained scaling with the number of Satellites in range. Satellites can be launched at great cost, or repaired out of broken ones found on the surface of Asteroids or orbiting out in Space.
  • I firmly believe rockets need to be able to gather resources with just a cabin & an engine. The cargo bay could allow a rocket to take 4 or 5 pieces of space debris. I do quite like your meteor idea, perhaps they show up as a special type of space debris which we can see steadily moving across the map towards out asteroids.
  • Solar should be easy, but limited with the Prototype system. I'd imagine the player would get enough Glass to make 2-3 Solar Panels, plus Prototypes for 2 more. That's enough renewable power to run two early game bases, allowing development on both the Terra & Swampy asteroid. Coal & Water are great power sources, using either Hatches or Electrolyzers (or best, a mix of both). Thermal power is available on both the Terra & Swampy asteroids (ton if you get plenty of Volcanoes).
  • The second asteroid should retain a large supply of Ethanol and renewable Sulphur. Ethanol is a great resource because it works as a good middle step towards true Petroleum, and has a great power density. I'd like to see an Ethanol Geyser or Ethanol Vent added, especially if renewable Oil is pushed completely off the first two asteroids.
  • One of my suggestions with removing renewable Oil is to replace the Oil biome with a massive reservoir of mixed solid & liquid Oil and a few dense pockets of NatGas (solid in the form of Oil Sands, requiring an extra step of refinement). This would still make Petrol, Plastic, and Nat Gas available but not make it automatically the go to. The issue I find myself in right now, and the one I see every streamer running into, is the lack of incentive to NOT make a Petrol Boiler. It's just the natural thing to do on the second asteroid (perhaps the first if your heat sources are in an awkward spot), and it makes far more sense to start boiling Petrol long before exploring the third asteroid with a rocket.
  • The need for alternatives to the Petrol Boiler is also why I say Sucrose & CO2 rockets need to be better. It should be possible to establish infrastructure on the third asteroid around the same time you'd be setting up a Petrol Boiler (70-100 days in). This puts attention on expanding & exploring Spaced Out, as opposed to just playing more of the same old Oxygen is Not Included.
  • Reed Fiber is in a weird state. It's an absolute necessity for the ExoSuit transition, but once a renewable source is acquired it tends to just pile up. It would be nice to have more uses that contribute to the function of the base, without being such a bottleneck as ExoSuits. Perhaps Insulated Wires which are more resistant to damage and are immune to heat? It would also be ideal to have more clothing, and some way to set up "clothing schedules" for dupes with their own personal lockers. I also wonder whether there should be minable sources of Fiber. Asbestos-like mineral deposits which provide the Fiber for ExoSuits but are not a sustainable source that can be used for carpets & clothing.
  • Plug Slugs are so terrible they hardly even count as a power source. A full stable of well tended, tame slugs produces the same amount of power as a well-attended-to Mousewheel. That's insanely bad, especially since there are no renewable sources of ore on the first two asteroids.
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17 hours ago, JaxckLl said:

Satellites can be launched at great cost, or repaired out of broken ones found on the surface of Asteroids or orbiting out in Space.

Eventually we could launch satelites as a module, similar to how we deploy trailblazer modules except in open space. They just need a high cost. It would be cool as space would start wild with tons of debris and meteors floating and would get more "civilized" with satelites and maybe refueling stations.

17 hours ago, JaxckLl said:

The second asteroid should retain a large supply of Ethanol and renewable Sulphur. Ethanol is a great resource because it works as a good middle step towards true Petroleum, and has a great power density. I'd like to see an Ethanol Geyser or Ethanol Vent added, especially if renewable Oil is pushed completely off the first two asteroids.

I`m ok if the second asteroid has no renewable oil but it needs like a nat gas vent then as that one isn`t exploitable. I`d like to see arbor trees there as well so that you can renew the ethanol supplies. That will allow you to farm nosh beans. Then there could be a large supply of non renewable oil so you can get some plastic going but not long term sustainability via the boiler designs.

17 hours ago, JaxckLl said:

Reed Fiber is in a weird state. It's an absolute necessity for the ExoSuit transition, but once a renewable source is acquired it tends to just pile up. It would be nice to have more uses that contribute to the function of the base, without being such a bottleneck as ExoSuits.

I really wish the atmo suit recipie was addjusted. Then reed fiber could be an early game decor/clothing item available on the first or second planetoid. Imo the atmo suit should require plastic so you can get them as you start refining the oil on the second asteroid.

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3 minutes ago, Sasza22 said:

Eventually we could launch satelites as a module, similar to how we deploy trailblazer modules except in open space. They just need a high cost. It would be cool as space would start wild with tons of debris and meteors floating and would get more "civilized" with satelites and maybe refueling stations.

I`m ok if the second asteroid has no renewable oil but it needs like a nat gas vent then as that one isn`t exploitable. I`d like to see arbor trees there as well so that you can renew the ethanol supplies. That will allow you to farm nosh beans. Then there could be a large supply of non renewable oil so you can get some plastic going but not long term sustainability via the boiler designs.

I really wish the atmo suit recipie was addjusted. Then reed fiber could be an early game decor/clothing item available on the first or second planetoid. Imo the atmo suit should require plastic so you can get them as you start refining the oil on the second asteroid.

  • I love your image of the space map! Perhaps not every tile, but most tiles should have something. I'm imagining a Satellite would cost somewhere in the realm of 2000kg Refined Metal & 4000kg Glass. It's a big beefy boy that would be able to provide Telescope range, Satellite research data, and meteor direction.
  • I agree, 1-2 Nat Gas Vents, 1 Sulphur Geyser, 1 Chlorine Geyser/Rust Spewer, renewable Ethanol (either as a Geyser or Arbor Trees). Perhaps Arbor Trees but no Pips?
  • I second this suggestion with AtmoSuits. Putting them after Plastic would make Oxygen Masks + Cooling Clothing a viable middle step for cutting into hot rock.
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