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Thoughts on rocketry as of now


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Hello everyone,

As mentionned in the testbranch patchnote, Guys at Klei would like to have some feedback as far as the new rocketry systems are concerned. However, I'm creating a thread on general discussion because I think it is better when we can exchange thoughts. If you are just reading, or have the same opinion as some posts, feel free to use the reaction button so you can still say something !

The points I can think of are the following, but feel free to add some others : 
1 - Which system is currently working great, and as is nice for you, which feels boring ? What are your suggestions ?
2 - How are different engine balanced ? 
3 - How are things going to change ?

1 - I love the DLC rocketry (and I quite disliked the vanilla one to be honest) because it brings you to new challenges with multiple ways to solve them. The addition of plugs from cargos to rocket interior is very good and offers yet another choice. What seems still somewhat messy is the ladder system, with modules changing it would seem great to have ladders included.

2 - To me the balance between engines feels like the weak point of the rocketry system. The different choices do not seem to matter and make your rocket different from another one. For instance sucrose and CO2, I'd have no good reason to go for sucrose, it does not feel like the difference of modules is enough for the investment. Another thing that bothered me is the engines that need oxidizer + liquid fuel tank feel underwhelming because they have two modules that are forced.
In general I would expect bigger differences between engines in : number of modules supported, speed, and range. For instance you have your super fast but low range CO2 with almost no module, then the super bulky steam that carries alot of modules but slowly and mid-range, etc. I guess in the end you would probably have high end rockets anyway, but you could feel the impact of your choice of rockets more.

3 -  I am aware that there will surely be other engines such as liquid hydrogen, perhaps another one (nuclear... I don't know), and other changes, such as cartography module etc. My guess is there is going to be a split between small rockets with small modules and engine and solo spacefarer capsule, and big ones with big modules and the big capsule. This would be a great thing and bring more clarity in the system.  I am sure this is going in the right direction and I am trustful you have figured alot of this, it just needs time.

Please share your thoughts :)
 

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There are other factors at work - resources for progression are strewn across the destinations, so you have to plan for this type of thing.

I believe they have put emphasis on sustainable bases by providing us with multiple routes that resources can take through their life cycle. They have made some outright unavailable until you land elsewhere. 

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1 hour ago, The Plum Gate said:

There are other factors at work - resources for progression are strewn across the destinations, so you have to plan for this type of thing.

I don't think that affects the rocketry program. Just makes it's use mandatory for swamp start.

 

Answering the topic:

1. I also love the new rocketry and having to deal with more than just living in the asteroid (after xxxx hours of gameplay DLC feels like a fresh start). Rockets now need more thought/builds than just calculating how much fuel to put to reach x distance and come back (I know there are also many that resent that aspect..). Micromanaging rockets all the time though is not one of my favorites.

It is interesting when you are just starting to touch space. You can experiment and build some basics in order to survive for x cycles until reaching a destination (and there are some easy ones 1-2 tiles away) but it should also be possible to fully automate traveling as cycles go by and you build better rockets which reach further away. If distance is not the only aspect (like it was in the base game) to rocketry, shouldn't there be more to rockets now?  

After I found my go-to interior designs, a couple colonies/updates back, I still don't find a reason to change them. And even when better rockets (small petroleum/petroleum/steam engine) were added I didn't find a reason to scrap my first CO2 rocket (although it got a bit slower..).

Spoiler

1332756618_rocketspecs.thumb.JPG.7228b7400147f6a3d4aa0b61e1729745.JPG  895889836_rocketmodule.JPG.e635dd0d48a217b7bddc7fe819b6a260.JPG

1124452067_resourcesUranusII.thumb.JPG.7429131d8091e865e3e286af963b1637.JPG  2085527182_rockettravel_.JPG.f0875a61b211550124098cd3bbac8ff8.JPG

I think rocket engines need more (not only power or module numbers) in order to classify them as "better" than the last one built and I certainly need bigger command modules. It also feels like there are many diagnostics missing (how many cycles would the flight take? -why should I take my calculator out?!- . If roundtrip is considered a "must" -warnings when trying to launch "not enough fuel"- why the calculation says "x tiles range" and not "x tiles roundtrip"? Why isn't there a calculation for oxygen -or x amount cycles survival- in command module like there is for calories? Why isn't it clear which engine needs oxidizer and which doesn't?)

 

2. For me rocket engines at the moment are a mess... You would only need a CO2 engine (easy to fuel, very fast) between the inner 3 planetoids. After that there is no clear path. I was testing rockets to find the golden ratio but everything other than the CO2 engine seems pointless...

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.a51c293fb54dd458dbbabc652ea12e92.png

 

image.thumb.png.7a822707dd0e4959d05d140682974ee1.png

 

ssot: small solid oxidizer tank, llft: large liquid fuel tank, sm+bn: spacefarer module+basic nosecone, ssn: solo spacefarer nosecone

-Sugar engine takes too much sucrose and is too slow and low range to be valuable.

-Steam engine is toooooo slow to be of any use at all (even having the 600w energy boost doesn't help much).

-Small petroleum engine gives only 2 more tiles range compared to CO2 with no renewable fuel source.

-Petroleum engine is HUGE! It takes too much space to cover the same use as small petroleum engine. If larger maps are not going to happen, height is a disadvantage. I also think petroleum engine should have a storage fuel capacity.

 

3. Who knows...? Only Klei. :D (If I should guess... Things will probably change very very much, many many times)

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1. I didn't have enough time to play with recent test branch update. What I have tried in sandbox environment makes me believe that rockets became much more convinient. Before the addition of internal rocket ports the whole minibase challenge part of the rocket system felt like one big inconviniece. Right now I'm exited to try different setups, and I hope I won't be dissapointed with results.

However, one area that is still not covered is rocket automation. Personally, I'm missing automation in navigation and crew management fields. I want to have an ability to use automation to set the destination of a rocket. Idealy it should be a flexible system that would allow rockets to use multi-stop chained routes, and to conditionally switch between multiple preset destinations. But, for starters, simply being able to automate flights between pair of platforms would be nice. It would also be awesome if different cargo modultes/platform input ports would have automation outputs, signaling when they are empty/full.

Lastly, I'm worried about the bug with free steel and diamond after nosecone deconstruction.

2. With newest additions, it feels like carboon dioxide engine is too weak. In most cases it is restricted to solo nosecone, which IMO has little benefits from rocket ports, and probably should be still oxidized with canister emptifyer. It is also very slow now - a full cycle for a trip to the closest asteroid and back is really bad for such restricted engine.

3. I'm sure that we would get some automation additions at some point. Probably lots of engine and tech tree balancing. Overall it feels like things are moving in the right direction, and I hope it stays that way.
 

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Knowing they plan on moving planetoids out makes this discussion a little odd, particularly in light of how effective some of the engines are now.

Carbon dioxide I think is good. It's a solid early game option. Even if it can't carry much, I used 3 of them to send 2 trailblazer modules and a third with the large crew cabin. The crew ship would wait in orbit while a platform was built by the trailblazers. It required a lot of time, manual investment to get everything right but it works well. Planning can result in taking materials necessary to refuel and come back. Before the update I used this strategy to get to every planetoid and back, even the niobium planetoid. This probably won't (should not) work once they push planetoids back out, but it will allow adequate early game rocket options.

Sugar and steam I found no real use for. Sugar carries more, sure. But it's too weak and results in extremely slow travel times. My last test build resulted in 20 cycle one way travel time to the closest planetoid. Not worth it at all. And that's not considering that it's a production limited resource that's also used for the grubfruit preserve that I prefer to dedicate to space travelers and early setup on planetoids with not enough production to make it useful for both a fuel source and a food source. Steam was similar in that the speed is too low to be useful. It's very setup intensive to get a refuel station going on a new planetoid colony. I just don't see it as a viable method with the hassle and speed limitations.

Petroleum engines are quick, great step up from carbon dioxide. Doesn't require (at this point) refuel to make a round trip. I like the speed. Good mid game engine.

That's regarding general use, speed, etc. Now, the max module discussion is entirely different. The system feels really bad right now, like a double penalty that's entirely arbitrary. Engines already have a burden system that dictates how effective they are with the 'weight' they're carrying. And with that system 2 of the 4 engine types seem worthless already and that's disregarding that they're far more resource/time intensive to get going as an effective source of fuel than carbon dioxide. Petroleum engines can use 7 modules, however 7 is actually 3 because engine, liquid fuel, oxidizer, and solo nosecone or 2 using a crew cabin and nosecone. Carbon dioxide feels fine limited because it's early game and it shouldn't be able to use much. There are all these different modules and it would be fun to utilize in a system built around burden and intended function, but I can't. I think the system loses a lot if we can't actually take the tools we have in game and come up with builds that suit our needs because max module limit basically cripple the entire rocket system. And I don't see the addition of higher tech rockets as a fix to this at all because the problem exists already in midgame.

Now, as a possible solution to that as I don't like to just complain, here's what an end system I would like to see looks like using current systems already in place with the expectation that some of the planetoids will be farther out. Carbon dioxide is good. Sugar and steam should be better but not as good as petroleum. Of the two, sugar should be weaker. Petroleum either needs +2 max modules to account for the required modules necessary to even run the engine or the liquid fuel and oxidizer need to be built into the engine like how all the other engines have fuel storage built in. Leave the modules in for use later when extra fuel/oxidizer is necessary for round trips to farther out locations. I'd prefer the former option as I think rocket height restrictions on some planetoids necessitating alternate rocket types for early colony setup is a neat 'other' factor that influences when certain rocket builds are used. Like cracking the niobium planet once it's moved out might require steam/sugar to build the basic infrastructure and make room for taller rockets.

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@RageLeague Totally correct, didn't notice sorry, I'm editing this ! 
@Meltdown Just curious, what do you feel you cannot yet automate with rockets at the moment ? I mean a practical example ?
@Niil945 Isn't steam the only rocket that can support battery + liquid cargo + Gas cargo + capsule + nose ? This feels like an endgame "setup and forget it luxury rocket" I think the petroleum cannot because you need liquid fuel tank + oxidizer.
@Gurgel I think you can automate trade routes, but it is kind of tricky at the moment indeed. You may even find some videos of it, 

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4 hours ago, Gurgel said:

Unless we can automate regular deliveries to colonies (can we?)

I desided to re-check my claims about lack of automation and found "Toggle Roundtrip" button next to destination selection, so it seems like we actually can make rocket remember it's previous rocket platform and keep it selected as destination when it lands. I think that's enought to setup regular cargo flights.

3 hours ago, Hokaeru said:

Just curious, what do you feel you cannot yet automate with rockets at the moment ? I mean a practical example ?

For example, we still can't use single rocket to setup regular deliveries to two or more destinations. In this situation, we have to use 3 rockets to setup regular deliveries from starting planetoid to these planetoids:

Spoiler

pe6mrCx.png

With more advanced automation, we could use 1 rocket that would constantly rotate between destinations.

We also cannot setup a chain delivery route. For example, imagine starting asteroid has centralized production of reed fiber, and you need to supply it to multiple asteroids. With chain routes, you could periodically load export share of production to a single rocket, make it go to first asteroid in the chain, unload it's part of cargo there, then fly to second asteroid, unload the second share of reed there, and move that way to all asteroids in the chain, then return back to starting asteroid and wait for the next export:

Spoiler

sNjS8ic.png

Admitting my mistake, roundtrips do exist and IMO it makes system much closer to being complete. However, I still wish for some complex navigation designs.

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48 minutes ago, Meltdown said:

I desided to re-check my claims about lack of automation and found "Toggle Roundtrip" button next to destination selection, so it seems like we actually can make rocket remember it's previous rocket platform and keep it selected as destination when it lands. I think that's enought to setup regular cargo flights.

Well.... there is a button... but I don't think it is "automated" actually. Dupes get trapped in the rocket and wait till the launch button gets pressed again. Also auto launch signal doesn't check (last time I used that..) if cargo module finished unloading/reloading

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15 minutes ago, sakura_sk said:

Also auto launch signal doesn't check (last time I used that..) if cargo module finished unloading/reloading

Well, I assume that checking that everything is loaded/unloaded is on the player. As I mentioned in my initial post, not everything is perfect, and

14 hours ago, Meltdown said:

It would also be awesome if different cargo modultes/platform input ports would have automation outputs, signaling when they are empty/full.

Interpretation of green signal to launch platform input shouldn't depend on loading/unloading cargo. It gives a freedom to create complex setups with partial/conditional cargo unloading (or shot youself in the foot, because you made a mistake while building your setup. Which is just different kind of fun.)

21 minutes ago, sakura_sk said:

Dupes get trapped in the rocket and wait till the launch button gets pressed again

Well, that might be an issue. I guess crew management system could also use some polishing.

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17 hours ago, Hokaeru said:

1 - Which system is currently working great, and as is nice for you, which feels boring ? What are your suggestions ?

I really like pretty much everything in new rocketry systems:

  • I hated that in vanilla it took 100s of cycles to setup meteor defences before I could scan the space - now it is gone, yay!
  • I really like that other asteroids feel fresh and unique, I love exploring them
  • I love how dynamic and challenging colonisation is, I cannot just leave dupes on their own only because I have my main base automated
  • I love that colonisation is really stressfull for dupes and at last I must watch the stress levels
  • I love how easy it is to re-design my rockets
  • I love rocket interiors designing, but I can understand if people find it repetitive after X rockets with the same desing
  • New fitters are super cool, really good addition
  • I think more engines give more options to the player, good thing
17 hours ago, Hokaeru said:

2 - How are different engine balanced ? 

Didn't use them enough to have opinion about balance.

17 hours ago, Hokaeru said:

3 - How are things going to change ?

I hope we will get:

  • Possibility to fully automate rockets
  • Automation signals sendable to another planets
  • Unique plantes with unique rewards
  • More reasons to explore space
  • More reasons to setup recurring space travel system
  • More reasons to colonise (build habitable base) other asteroids
  • More reasons to use caro modules
  • More endgame rocketry goals and challenges
  • Restored space artifacts
  • Mass calculation including nosecone contents (to avoid infinite storage exploit)
  • Reasons to keep telescope after scanning whole space hex-map
  • Exotic fauna and flora on distant asteroids

From another feedback on the dlc, what I wish for the future:

  • Second thought and redesign of durability system (maybe something like overheat for the suits?)
  • Deconstructable POI (rly KLEI...?)
  • Pliers
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Unpopular opinion, but I like the sugar rockets. I've found the one extra module compared to the CO2 rocket is very valuable with the new updates and it is my rocket of choice to colonise the radioactive planet. The 100 kJ battery module is great to provide some power while dupes set up the infrastructure, and it can also carry some sucrose and fertiliser to easily refuel for a return trip. Sure it's slow, but it's great as a freight rocket, like the steam one.

Then again I'm super not fond of the infinite storage exploit so YMMV. Really hoping they fix that one next.

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10 hours ago, Gurgel said:

Unless we can automate regular deliveries to colonies (can we?)

In the original iteration of rocketry, my dupes were flying daily transport missions, delivering supplies and bringing back metal.  I had permanent colonies everywhere but the niobium asteroid.  I was using the cargo loader/unloader modules.  The rocketry changes breaks all of that, mostly on account of how much slower the rockets are now.  For the nearby asteroid, my dupe would make the round trip in a day.  The outer asteroids they would spend the night and make their return trip first thing the next morning.  Now, I'm reexamining how we do all of this.  With slower rockets, the cargo bays are too small to be useful.

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I have 2 main problems with rocketry. First it feels clunky. It takes a lot of time to set up, requires a lot of management to be done right. Even the rockets that are supposed to be earlygame require a lot of thinking and take a lot of time do do stuff. Ideally the basic rockets should be simple and allow a fire-and-forget approach. I like that it takes time as it gives more challenges but for close range rockets it gets tedious. I`d love if it was faster so you could just put a dupe in a rocket without any setup and he could survive the trip to the nearest planetoid. Save the long sustaining setups for distant planetoid travel.

This leads to my seond issue. There is no room for mistakes. You do something wrong and dupes are dead. You can`t save them. I`m not sure how to fix that one. Maybe allow gravitational assisted travel (basically a slow drift without fuel) to recover the stranded rockets. Also some emergency oxygen so the dupe isn`t insta dead if you miscalculate something (with a loud warning that the emergency reserve is being used), it could be build into the pilot seat.

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34 minutes ago, Sasza22 said:

There is no room for mistakes. You do something wrong and dupes are dead. You can`t save them. I`m not sure how to fix that one.

Maybe an emergency ejection button? If rocket is stranded, it would become available and you may eject all your dupes in some sort of escape crew capsule (which should be embeded into crew modules). The capsule flies towards the nearest planetoid and lands in random location. After ejection, the rocket is lost. That way, stranded rockets are still potentially dealdy, but dupes may be saved, and cost of mistake may be reduced to rocket's materials and cargo.

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9 hours ago, MiniDeathStar said:

Sure it's slow, but it's great as a freight rocket, like the steam one.

Then again I'm super not fond of the infinite storage exploit so YMMV. Really hoping they fix that one next.

I will say I don't like using infinite storage which is why I tried to build a freight rocket. Except when I tried to make a freight rocket with sugar it moved .2 tiles per cycle. 20 cycles just to get to and from the aluminum/gold planet which is 2 tiles away. That carrying capacity was 8100 kg, not even half of a standard storage container for 20 cycles. That's not acceptable to me to use for the closest possible planetoid, let alone things farther out.

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@MiniDeathStar yes those were the large cargo storage modules intentionally. I was looking to assess max capacity in relation to 2 tile crew cabin storage option of 20000 kg and comparing it to other rocket engine options. I absolutely could go smaller but that reduces the capacity even further and it misses the point of the post. Sugar/steam rocket are not great freight rockets. That was the point I was responding to. Unfortunately they're not really great at anything. I can foresee a point where the sugar rocket is good for specific tasks, like getting setup on the niobium planet when it's moved out of range of the CO2 rocket and a petroleum rocket is too large to initiate the colonization efforts there. But if the goal was to increase resource return rate I could do that by using a single large cargo on a petroleum rocket and simply not using steam/sugar. Hell, I can get 3 storage and a solo nosecone and forego all the extra stuff that makes it easy (which aren't really needed on a short trip anyways) and ferry the same amount 10 times over (roughly, not counting cargo loading/unloading time) in the same number of cycles to the 2 tile distant planetoid, and it gets worse for steam/sugar the further away it gets. To your point about resources though, I'm not sure how looking at base game metrics is a valid comparison. Resource nodes are being split across 6 maps with no infinite metal options on the starter map that necessitate transport of those materials. I've never while playing the base game ever tried to farm refined metal. Any that I got while farming rare resources was just a bonus. It's just not the same thing at all between the base and the DLC.

That said, it's all a WIP and it's better for them to start small and increment up than it would feel to start big and reduce capacity. And each rocket engine doesn't need to have a necessary function as part of progression. It can just be for fun for those who want to build them, just with the drawbacks I personally don't see much of a reason to ever use them currently but that's me. And I can progress through the game by skipping over them easily. The things I actively dislike about rockets atm are things like not having a in rocket temperature control system of some kind (resulting in deconstructing and reconstructing the rocket to zero it back out), not having a minipump/filter built into the intake to rocket storage, not being able to build an atmo suit checkpoint into the solo cabin, the cumbersome nature of cargo loading/unloading and overall rocket automation, etc. Most of these are things I expect they will address at some point so I'm not really sweating it. 

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I guess one way to make them feel different (and I think is going to happen eventually in an udpate) is the split between small and big rockets. You can already tell visually the big command capsule doesnt quite fit on the CO2 module and vice-versa, the solo spacefarer seems tiny on a steam engine. This would make quite a difference between being able to have big modules (with more capacity) or not. At the moment burden and speed loss doesn't seem to be a real factor.

image.thumb.png.0ea2de69c0901b1fb3b7e9d1c8c14cc2.png

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34 minutes ago, Hokaeru said:

You can already tell visually the big command capsule doesnt quite fit on the CO2 module and vice-versa, the solo spacefarer seems tiny on a steam engine.

I also thought they would eventually let only small-small/large-large modules to go together but then they updated designs to fit small-large/large-small so ... I don't know anymore...

Spoiler

Previous fit of small CO2 engine

528323708_rocketCO2.jpg.8e9220bbb65e7d6165940c777876a867.jpg

 

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Well, I finally launched a rocket and had it return to the platform after a rover drop. I only went to drop a rover on the home planet so that it could start collecting some ore and set up some semblance of a deck for me to work with once I got up there.

Heat was not as much of a problem with the co2 engine as I thought it might be but I insulated the whole area pretty well and launched in nearly a vacuum and right on the edge of open space, so, that much seems to have helped dissipate hot gasses rather quickly.

The solo space farer is too cramped for the current equipment. I disregard hygiene in this and just send an iron-gut dupe pilot.

The feedback about flight time, the notifications, ...status, return trip? they're all a bit non-cohesive at the moment. They need to give us some more room or I'll always be sending the iron guts into space with sludgeberry laying on the floor and bottles of oxygen strewn about :lol:.

If anything it would be nice to be able to move the command module - or have it where it hangs off the side or pokes out the top like sun roof or an observatory ( another module they should probably add is a radar system ).

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