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An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#1
Many space games feature a very odd idea, that of power distribution, and upon reading this forum, I note plans for such to be included in this game as well.

The simple problem with it is not that power does not need to be distributed, but that the ship needs a special command in order to facilitate such distribution.

In the standard implementation of this system, you have a key to divert power to the engines, weapons, and shields. This is all fine and good, were it not for the fact that you already have manual control over how much power those systems use

Consider:

Why should I need to divert power to or away from the main engines? I already have that capability. It is the throttle.

Same for my weapons. I can expend energy by shooting, and I can conserve energy by not shooting.


I would propose that, instead of power distribution modes, you use a common ship battery with somewhat small capacity. It stores X mwh of power, and is recharged at a constant rate by a reactor feeding it Y mw. Pulling the trigger draws power from the capacitor(either instantly, or as a drain to recharge the individual weapon capacitor when fired). Increasing the throttle also draws power from the battery.

Now, shields don't have a manual control associated with them in most space games, but they do in some, and it works quite nice. In EVE, for instance, you turn your shield boosters on and off, and such a concept would fit well with this system. In addition, you could make power automatically divert to the shields if you desired.

This, in my opinion, makes for a far more intuitive system, with power being diverted quite naturally based on how you operate your ship. If I want to conserve power, I throttle down and stop shooting. If I want to divert all power to engines, I simply throttle up to 100%. There is no fumbling with multiple keys, and you can't forget you are in the wrong setting.

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Now.. All that said, I'm not 100% against hotkeys to control power distribution, so long as they aren't concerned with distributing power, and instead restricting the maximum load that can be drawn. What I mean by this is.. Well, look at an old game such as Tie Fighter. If you had your power set up to 100% to engines, but set your throttle to 50%, you were wasting power. It was vanishing into the aether for no reason. This is clearly not an ideal situation. The game is restricting the power available to you for no reason.

Instead, the system should throttle the systems maximum usage rate. Systems by default always have 100% power to them if I open the throttle wide open/pull the trigger/boost on autorepeat, but I may decide to set the governor to 75%, so that I still have power available to other systems.

I suggest this because, going off the EVE shield booster example, I recall being quite annoyed that one couldn't throttle the boosting rate of it at all. I often wished for the ability to set it to something less than 100% draw in order to make a self sustaining setup.

However, I must reiterate that all this would be voluntary, that you could completely control the ships power without it if you wished, using the manual commands already at your disposal. You'd just have to exercise throttle/trigger discipline.
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#3
I've thought a good bit about this before, and am at least in partial agreement with you. It's definitely strange that energy should "disappear" even when not used, simply based on an arbitrary power setting. At the same time, I find myself wondering if I would like the effect of a perceivable drop in thrust every time I fire my weapons? Then again, perhaps this could be mitigated by having individual capacitors for each subsystem, such that momentary drops are smoothed over by local capacitors - meaning you'll only start losing thrust if you are firing continuously, and the effect will be smooth.

OTOH, I'm not sure I like the idea of throttling a system outright - again, the issue comes down to the case in which you have more than enough power. Why would I throttle my shield booster to 75% if it's the only system running? To me this implies that power distribution needs to be prioritization, not limiting. I should be able to say "prioritize weapons and thrust before shield booster." Then, if I'm firing, my shield booster may only get 75%. But if I'm standing still gazing into nothingness, my booster should probably be running at 100% so as not to waste available power.

Anyway, I would love to hear more thoughts and debate an this topic :) :thumbup:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#5
I quite like the power distribution ideas listed here.
JoshParnell wrote:At the same time, I find myself wondering if I would like the effect of a perceivable drop in thrust every time I fire my weapons? Then again, perhaps this could be mitigated by having individual capacitors for each subsystem, such that momentary drops are smoothed over by local capacitors - meaning you'll only start losing thrust if you are firing continuously, and the effect will be smooth...
JoshParnell wrote:To me this implies that power distribution needs to be prioritization, not limiting.
These ideas are also suggested by Gazz here.
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#6
JoshParnell wrote:I've thought a good bit about this before, and am at least in partial agreement with you. It's definitely strange that energy should "disappear" even when not used, simply based on an arbitrary power setting. At the same time, I find myself wondering if I would like the effect of a perceivable drop in thrust every time I fire my weapons? Then again, perhaps this could be mitigated by having individual capacitors for each subsystem, such that momentary drops are smoothed over by local capacitors - meaning you'll only start losing thrust if you are firing continuously, and the effect will be smooth.
Well, the concept of a battery is there to mitigate that. If you're consuming too much power, it will empty completely, and then systems start acting strange since there are more loads than power being generated. Presumably you'd have a nice view of this battery, and could take action to prevent it before it happens.
OTOH, I'm not sure I like the idea of throttling a system outright - again, the issue comes down to the case in which you have more than enough power. Why would I throttle my shield booster to 75% if it's the only system running? To me this implies that power distribution needs to be prioritization, not limiting. I should be able to say "prioritize weapons and thrust before shield booster." Then, if I'm firing, my shield booster may only get 75%. But if I'm standing still gazing into nothingness, my booster should probably be running at 100% so as not to waste available power.
Perhaps they could be conditional throttles, that are only valid if there is not enough power to meet all demands.

The idea behind them was to avoid a situation where you drain yourself dry because in the heat of the moment, you forgot and left a system online at 100% utilization. It is not necessary for the concept, it is just a 'quality of life' aspect that may come in handy.

Prioritization rather does the basically the same thing, though, and may be a better method of enabling the desired behavior.
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#7
CutterJohn wrote:Well, the concept of a battery is there to mitigate that. If you're consuming too much power, it will empty completely, and then systems start acting strange since there are more loads than power being generated. Presumably you'd have a nice view of this battery, and could take action to prevent it before it happens.
The real point of having a battery is so that you don't have to make a choice. You can run all systems at perfect power levels. For a while anyway. And fights don't last forever.

That's why I'm anti-battery. =)
Why bother creating an interesting power balance when you allow the player to throw the whole system overboard by having a battery?
(Evidence #1, the player: Image)

CutterJohn wrote:Perhaps they could be conditional throttles, that are only valid if there is not enough power to meet all demands.
Ugh. Sounds alarmingly complex...
What did you have in mind?

JoshParnell wrote:OTOH, I'm not sure I like the idea of throttling a system outright - again, the issue comes down to the case in which you have more than enough power. Why would I throttle my shield booster to 75% if it's the only system running? To me this implies that power distribution needs to be prioritization, not limiting. I should be able to say "prioritize weapons and thrust before shield booster." Then, if I'm firing, my shield booster may only get 75%. But if I'm standing still gazing into nothingness, my booster should probably be running at 100% so as not to waste available power.
Prioritization is one of the options I listed back then because... not all systems are equally important at all times.

A priority setting basically supplies the system with an absolute power value while the regular setting supplies the system with a relative power value... with whatever power is left at that point.

This is something I intended to bring up when balancing and polishing are on the agenda.
It's not a huge change but allows for better overall control.

JoshParnell wrote:Then, if I'm firing, my shield booster may only get 75%. But if I'm standing still gazing into nothingness, my booster should probably be running at 100% so as not to waste available power.
IMO, that part is already solved by Delayed Energy Settings. (also from the linked post)

It already works like that in game. Well, in the prototype. =)
Maybe not to the degree I had in mind but that's just a number.

The point is that this makes min-maxing to optimise the overall power output largely pointless!
(Increase weapon energy while shooting, reduce it while not shooting.)
It takes time for the weapon to reach the new power level. By changing energy settings every second you would only be chasing the dials without changing anything.

That is intentional.
The player must not be forced to change power settings 60 times per minute just to keep up with an AI that can do these things at any frequency it desires.
Also, every choice carries a lot more weight if it will affect things for a longer duration.
Having choices that matter is critically important. The time delays you have in the prototype are the result.
(with some balancing tweaks pending)
There is no "I" in Tea. That would be gross.
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#8
JoshParnell wrote:I've thought a good bit about this before, and am at least in partial agreement with you. It's definitely strange that energy should "disappear" even when not used, simply based on an arbitrary power setting. At the same time, I find myself wondering if I would like the effect of a perceivable drop in thrust every time I fire my weapons? Then again, perhaps this could be mitigated by having individual capacitors for each subsystem, such that momentary drops are smoothed over by local capacitors - meaning you'll only start losing thrust if you are firing continuously, and the effect will be smooth.

OTOH, I'm not sure I like the idea of throttling a system outright - again, the issue comes down to the case in which you have more than enough power. Why would I throttle my shield booster to 75% if it's the only system running? To me this implies that power distribution needs to be prioritization, not limiting. I should be able to say "prioritize weapons and thrust before shield booster." Then, if I'm firing, my shield booster may only get 75%. But if I'm standing still gazing into nothingness, my booster should probably be running at 100% so as not to waste available power.

Anyway, I would love to hear more thoughts and debate an this topic :) :thumbup:
Looking back on my time as an EVE player, I think EVE handled energy distribution pretty well. I'm talking about the "dynamic" distribution, not the static power requirements that decided if you could mount a module at all.

A short overview:
  • Each ship had a certain influx of energy. Lets call it the power of the reactor. That could be boosted to some extent with modules.
  • Each ship had a "battery", where the energy was stored. The charge state was prominently displayed in the HUD. For X players, the closest equivalent would be the laser energy, which does the same but for lasers only.
  • Most systems did draw from the battery when active. The player had to manage energy consumption manually by switching on and off modules. Thrust was partially dependent on energy: "Normal" thrusters worked even without energy, but afterburners drew from the battery.
  • Edit: When the battery had less energy than the energy consumption of a module per activation, that module did not work.
I think that system worked pretty well and made for some interesting choices in fitting the ship. Of course, the size of the battery makes a difference too (more on that in response to Gazz).
Gazz wrote:The real point of having a battery is so that you don't have to make a choice. You can run all systems at perfect power levels. For a while anyway. And fights don't last forever.

That's why I'm anti-battery. =)
Why bother creating an interesting power balance when you allow the player to throw the whole system overboard by having a battery?
In EVE, the battery capacity was not all that large and some fights did last over several minutes. Such as whittling away a horde of enemy NPCs. At the same time, some modules were real power hogs and could empty the battery in less than a minute. Which made blindly relying on the battery a bad idea.

Overall, I'm in favor of cribbing the EVE system, but with two qualifiers:
  • Balance capacity vs. energy consumption so the battery provides a shortish power boost rather than sufficient reserves for large battles.
  • Add the option to "auto-run" modules when the battery is full and the module has something worthwhile to do. That would make energy management more comfortable, without taking away the tactical choices.
    Example:
    If the battery is full but the shields are only at 20%, run the shield recharger module. If battery and shields are at 100%, don't (there may be other systems that can use the energy for auto-run)
Last edited by Rabiator on Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#9
Gazz wrote: The real point of having a battery is so that you don't have to make a choice. You can run all systems at perfect power levels. For a while anyway. And fights don't last forever.

That's why I'm anti-battery. =)

Why bother creating an interesting power balance when you allow the player to throw the whole system overboard by having a battery?
I wanted something that lasts 10-30s at peak output. Its not an emergency reserve, its a slight storage volume that gives you a visual indication of use so you can alter your behavior accordingly.

I don't *want* an interesting power balance mechanic, because the idea of 'diverting power to phasers!' is quite silly. They take as much energy as they take.



CutterJohn wrote:Perhaps they could be conditional throttles, that are only valid if there is not enough power to meet all demands.
Ugh. Sounds alarmingly complex...
What did you have in mind?
The initial idea was just being able to set a max limit on how often the parts operate, since I remembered wishing I could set my shield boosters to pulse at a lower rate in EVE in order to make self sustaining setups. Josh pointed out it would be silly to continue throttling it if your reserves were full.



The point is that this makes min-maxing to optimise the overall power output largely pointless!
(Increase weapon energy while shooting, reduce it while not shooting.)
It takes time for the weapon to reach the new power level. By changing energy settings every second you would only be chasing the dials without changing anything.
That forces the player to actively divert power though, which is quite silly.

A weapon consumes X Mwh per shot, and charge at a rate of Y Mw, but they don't ask for any power if I don't pull the trigger. The act of pulling the trigger itself diverts power.

Same goes for the throttles. Opening them up asks for more power.

Theres no reason we should need to order a "Divert power to phasers!'. We can do that quite naturally by simply holding the trigger down, in which case you'd be using it at 100% utilization.
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#10
CutterJohn wrote:
Gazz wrote: The real point of having a battery is so that you don't have to make a choice. You can run all systems at perfect power levels. For a while anyway. And fights don't last forever.

That's why I'm anti-battery. =)

Why bother creating an interesting power balance when you allow the player to throw the whole system overboard by having a battery?
I wanted something that lasts 10-30s at peak output. Its not an emergency reserve, its a slight storage volume that gives you a visual indication of use so you can alter your behavior accordingly.

I don't *want* an interesting power balance mechanic, because the idea of 'diverting power to phasers!' is quite silly. They take as much energy as they take.



CutterJohn wrote:Perhaps they could be conditional throttles, that are only valid if there is not enough power to meet all demands.
Ugh. Sounds alarmingly complex...
What did you have in mind?
The initial idea was just being able to set a max limit on how often the parts operate, since I remembered wishing I could set my shield boosters to pulse at a lower rate in EVE in order to make self sustaining setups. Josh pointed out it would be silly to continue throttling it if your reserves were full.



The point is that this makes min-maxing to optimise the overall power output largely pointless!
(Increase weapon energy while shooting, reduce it while not shooting.)
It takes time for the weapon to reach the new power level. By changing energy settings every second you would only be chasing the dials without changing anything.
That forces the player to actively divert power though, which is quite silly.

A weapon consumes X Mwh per shot, and charge at a rate of Y Mw, but they don't ask for any power if I don't pull the trigger. The act of pulling the trigger itself diverts power.

Same goes for the throttles. Opening them up asks for more power.

Theres no reason we should need to order a "Divert power to phasers!'. We can do that quite naturally by simply holding the trigger down, in which case you'd be using it at 100% utilization.
But what happens if you dont have enough energy to power shields+drive+weapons at full power simultanously? Engine cuts out if you fire? Shields go down? To solve that questions energy management is there. Sure, if you view every subsystem on its own and assume all other systems irrelevant for energy management, your approach is valid. But with multiple systems which draw power energy management is needed exactly where it is. (At least with the capacitor-less approach as it is in LT right now).

Insert "in my opinion" at approbiate places ^^
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#11
Cornflakes_91 wrote:But what happens if you dont have enough energy to power shields+drive+weapons at full power simultanously? Engine cuts out if you fire? Shields go down? To solve that questions energy management is there. Sure, if you view every subsystem on its own and assume all other systems irrelevant for energy management, your approach is valid. But with multiple systems which draw power energy management is needed exactly where it is. (At least with the capacitor-less approach as it is in LT right now).

Insert "in my opinion" at approbiate places ^^
Presumably you'd need a prioritization.

If all power is being asked for, engines get first dibs, shields second, weapons third.

So suppose your ship produced 1gw of power, and engines, shields, and weapons each took 600mw.

Once your battery runs out, and you still have the trigger held down, throttles wide open, and shields boosting continuously, you'd get 100% throttles, 66% shield recharge, and no weapons.
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#12
CutterJohn wrote:
Presumably you'd need a prioritization.

If all power is being asked for, engines get first dibs, shields second, weapons third.

So suppose your ship produced 1gw of power, and engines, shields, and weapons each took 600mw.

Once your battery runs out, and you still have the trigger held down, throttles wide open, and shields boosting continuously, you'd get 100% throttles, 66% shield recharge, and no weapons.
And you gain... what by this?
The same can be archieved with the current system with presets and hotkeys and greater control
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#13
Cornflakes_91 wrote:And you gain... what by this?
Simplicity.
Cornflakes_91 wrote:The same can be archieved with the current system with presets and hotkeys …
… which means much more effort on the player's part.
Cornflakes_91 wrote:and greater control
Admittedly, for the simplicity gain you lose a certain amount of control. But the question is whether this is a good or bad thing. At which point does "greater control" turn into "boring and fun-sucking micro management"? That's the $64,000-question.
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#14
Commander McLane wrote:
Cornflakes_91 wrote:And you gain... what by this?
Simplicity.
Cornflakes_91 wrote:The same can be archieved with the current system with presets and hotkeys …
… which means much more effort on the player's part.
Cornflakes_91 wrote:and greater control
Admittedly, for the simplicity gain you lose a certain amount of control. But the question is whether this is a good or bad thing. At which point does "greater control" turn into "boring and fun-sucking micro management"? That's the $64,000-question.
To the "more effort": you are willing to fly across the universe to minmax your equipment, build an multi-solar-system spanning empire and it is not worth the 50 sec to build 3-5 presets?

And to micromanagement: after managing said empire, coordinating trading, research and military its to much "in-detail" to drag 5 sliders around?

I do not get your overall intentions...

I, for myself, value the great control the current system provides. Even more if the menu would be "nested". An overall "weapons" slider which can expand through the different hardpoint sizes, weapon types down to the single hardpoint. And the same with the other subsystem types.
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Re: An alternate suggestion to power distribution modes.

#15
Cornflakes_91 wrote:build an multi-solar-system spanning empire … managing said empire … coordinating trading, research and military
I have no such intentions. At all. I want to be a lone explorer, not managing anything, just flying, probably trading, occasionally fighting (okay, maybe on many occasions ;) ), not bothering with which part of my ship needs exactly which amount of energy at any given moment.

(And if I wanted to manage an empire, I sure as hell wouldn't want to set the energy distribution for each single one of my 1000s of ships, stations, and whatever facilities manually at any given moment.)

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