The "Never!" faction of players usually remembers horrific implementations like in 80's games, where you would buy/produce every single stupid pistol magazine by clicking an up-arrow. That would be unplayable with the theoretically unlimited number of owned ships in LT.
I say that there can be fuel and ammo management without turning the game into a micromanagement hell of trying to stock 3 brands of fuel and 50 different ammo and missile types that are compatible to your ships bought from 13 different factions.
- All ships slowly generate power / fuel as a side effect of their power generator.
You can use it for an afterburner or with a bigger ship, for a jump drive.
Either way the fuel that you can use in an engagement is limited.
However, you are not ever going to be stranded if you're out exploring and make a jump into a dead system without a gas giant.
- Fuel tankers / supply ships may be vulnerable in a battle but they can refuel your ship (and themselves) quickly.
Landing a fighter on a carrier would refuel it as well.
- All ammo-using guns and all missile launchers have a certain magazine size.
They are not reloaded directly from the cargo bay.
- Ships of a certain size can install a Star Trek replicator gizmo and slowly refill their gun / launcher magazines from a generic "Military Supplies" resource.
That way a "navy oiler" only needs to carry X fuel and Y military supplies and can resupply every ship type in the game.
Equipment or not, docking even a capital ship with an oiler would reload it's weapon magazines more quickly.
- Smaller ships need to dock with their carrier or a supply ship for that.
- What if all freighters could use their generic cargo handling equipment to supply ships?
Every freighter would be a potential supply ship.
Long before you can even afford a second ship you could buy supplies / ammo from any passing traders.
If you're escorting a convoy, you can fly a fighter without running out of missiles after the first fight and/or could get resupplied for free as part of the contract.
Would take a lot of sting out of the "Must Have Supply Ship" issue.
- Micromanagement is pretty much eliminated and ships don't get stuck in odd places while the tactical importance of both limited fuel and ammunition remains fully intact!
That models several things at once.
If you are the Lone Ranger type with a single ship, the amount of different ammo types is too small to be concerned about. May just as well roll them into one.
If you are a fleet admiral commanding 5 carriers along with their screening elements, you will have a staff who deals with all the minutiae of supply, translating it into one "supply level" that an admiral can work with.
Both make sense and both have the same result: Don't bug the player with this *bleep*.
- Strategically you only need supply ships at all if you're big on ammo-using armament.
The entire supply issue would be optional!
If your ship is a long range scout / explorer, chances are that you use energy weapons almost exclusively.
Granted, energy weapons are probably less efficient on a per-ton base but it's still a choice.
- This is a level of supply complexity that the AI could manage, making the universe that much more consistent and believable.
No more need to cheat away the supply issues of AI ships!
And yes, you can raid military supply convoys to influence a war.
And then you could probably get a great deal if you offered your services to supply their ships. At Special Emergency Rates.
Try to start a war, then supply both sides. Be a war profiteer. Be an arms dealer like Nicholas Cage in Lord of War. =)
I'm not saying that there must be fuel and/or ammo in the game, just that it doesn't automatically lead to Much Mighty Mad Micromanagement. =)
While some threads have touched the supply issue, I don't think there has been a dedicated thread about it.