Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

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Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby Gazz » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:01 am

Limited fuel and ammo has been a hot topic in many games.

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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. All ammo-using guns and all missile launchers have a certain magazine size.
    They are not reloaded directly from the cargo bay.

  4. 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.

  5. Smaller ships need to dock with their carrier or a supply ship for that.

  6. 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.

  7. 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*.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby ToreadorVampire » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:23 am

The only thing that jumps to my mind immediately here is how that makes multi-ship battles more complex for the player. By complex I mean "more information that they need to memorise" in order to effectively manage/direct their fleet.

With fuel/ammo not only do you need to make sure you're sending in the right ship configurations to effeiciently deal with the opposition but also you must beware of sending ships low on ammo/fuel (IE spent it already) and/or ensure that the ships you send include capability to resupply.

As a lone pilot I wouldn't mind having to manage ammo/fuel. On the other hand, when every one of the (say) 50 ships in my armada have ammo/fuel levels (even semi-self-replenishing ones), I would think that it would make too much impact to the game's learning curve to be worth having.

A replacement for ammo could be a sliding scale of the rate of fire for a given weapon system (that is constant for a given weapon system). With jump gates for long-range travel, the whole concept of fuel seems a bit of a non-starter (ho ho ho).

Having said that, ammo COULD be acceptable to me for a few very-limited-use weapons. It would be totally reasonable to buy "Station Buster XXL Rockets" by the individual rocket (and at a high individual price), since they would have a very distinct and powerful effect, such that they SHOULD be effectively oneshot items.

There's a balance to be had between "things that make combat rich and interesting for a lone pilot" and "things that make managing multiple ships a job only fit for for closet accountants". Did I ever tell you about my Shadowrun 4e drone rigger?
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby Gazz » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:30 am

Oh, I'm generally against any and all traces of supply management.
I'm just curious if we can come up with a system that might work without being a major PITA. =)
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby ToreadorVampire » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:32 am

I suppose what I'm saying is that "even if supplies were self-replenishing" (which is usually fine for lone pilots), that could still become a PITA for the player who tries to manage multiple ships.
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby DWMagus » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:10 pm

I'm quite against anything that is of a self-supplying type. Whether you have replicators, or a fuel generator, those just seem like a cop-out to the issue at hand.

From what I've seen, the consensus seems to be that ammo/fuel management only really becomes an issue if 1) They're very limited stores, causing the player frequent interruptions of their exploring/missions to refuel and rearm or 2) When you get a big enough fleet that dealing with such things turns into micromanagement. Even the idea I tossed up at one point of having a toggle to 'auto supply' if it is not more than X amount of your budget when landing/docking becomes a pain with larger fleets.

However, Gazz did bring up a valid point that makes sense on a fleet-wide scale; have someone else do it. This also spawned thoughts regarding the RTS aspect of LT. What do you do in most RTS? You have dedicated units that are constantly gathering resources (We require more vespene gas!). When taken from an RTS perspective, it then makes me wonder, why not have a dedicated ship in your fleet to handle supply runs?

At the same time, I'm assuming a couple givens; when you land a ship on a carrier you own, they automatically get resupplied, rearmed, and repaired as that doesn't 'cost' anything (cost relating to the small fighter, not to your fleet as a whole). In freespace, you still had a resupply ship that you could call on, and it would make sense to have one in your fleet on your carrier as well.

Though, the idea behind ammo and fuel isn't to have multitudes of missile types or bullet casings you need to worry about stocking individually or keeping track of individually, that's just asinine. At this point, I'd almost rather have hand-waving and have generic ammo for most of it. One type of bullet for any projectile type weapon, two types for missiles (homing and non) and one type of fuel for jumps (because like others, regular flying shouldn't use much fuel, if any that's noticeable so it should be better to just scrap that part).

Or if you want to take it a step further and say for missiles, you only buy the explosives and the engines, and they get assembled on-board to whatever missile type is required by your launcher. That way, you only have generic supplies you need rather than specific missile types.


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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby JabbleWok » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:18 pm

There seems to be a major divergence between the "lone wolf" approach where a reasonable amount of micromanagement is actually fun, and the "fleet manager" approach where it's not. The suggestion of auxiliary ships handling that is a good one i.e. the mechinism is automated. You could set the fleet supplies preferences once (loadout, supply priorities) and thereafter it is handled automatically until you want to change. It does mean that you'd need to stay within transport range of supply sources or else your stores will deplete, but arguably that's exactly the way it should be.
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby Gazz » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:44 pm

ToreadorVampire wrote:A replacement for ammo could be a sliding scale of the rate of fire for a given weapon system (that is constant for a given weapon system).

Also a possibility. That's a variation of what I suggested with the "slowly reloading" gizmo.

Once the weapon's magazine is empty, the rate of fire drops to the speed at which the magazine is reloaded from generic "supplies".


DWMagus wrote:However, Gazz did bring up a valid point that makes sense on a fleet-wide scale; have someone else do it. This also spawned thoughts regarding the RTS aspect of LT. What do you do in most RTS? You have dedicated units that are constantly gathering resources (We require more vespene gas!). When taken from an RTS perspective, it then makes me wonder, why not have a dedicated ship in your fleet to handle supply runs?

That's why I'm so hell bent on KISS. =)
That the player has to do this manually is not an option. If an AI ship is supposed to do a convincing job of it, it has to be a system of minimal complexity.

I just thought of another logical consequence.
What if all freighters could use their generic cargo handling equipment to supply ships?
Every freighter would be a potential supply ship.
If you're a Lone Wolf player, 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.

Also... more opportunities for interaction with the game world instead of just flying around, shooting stuffs. Space games are always in danger of appearing empty and sterile. Image
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby DWMagus » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:50 pm

Gazz wrote:I just thought of another logical consequence.
What if all freighters could use their generic cargo handling equipment to supply ships?
Every freighter would be a potential supply ship.
If you're a Lone Wolf player, 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.


Believe it or not, I actually thought that this was a given. Considering you (in your infinite wisdom ;) ) hadn't yet thought of it made me realize I should have mentioned it.

It makes perfect sense. A mobile ammo store. Hell, I'd like this a LOT more than any of the other suggestions (even mine with a dedicated supply ship). I'll bring along a cargo train that's holding extra ammo.
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby Gazz » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:08 am

DWMagus wrote:Believe it or not, I actually thought that this was a given. Considering you (in your infinite wisdom ;) ) hadn't yet thought of it made me realize I should have mentioned it.

I'm good but I'm not that good. =P
Part of the reason for my posts being occasionally... lengthy... is that I try not to assume and imply. There is no such thing as "obvious" or we wouldn't need this forum in the first place.


DWMagus wrote:I'm quite against anything that is of a self-supplying type. Whether you have replicators, or a fuel generator, those just seem like a cop-out to the issue at hand.

It depends. Not all kinds of supply are equal.

If not having immediate access to a particular resource is a serious and unforeseeable problem, such as being suddenly stuck for hours in an unknown sector while you search for the only jump point out of it, then I'm clearly in favour of infinite regeneration of fuel. It may be a slow regeneration that isn't helpful in a combat encounter but it will be enough to cover for serious gameplay issues.

If you build a ship that is bristling with missile launchers and then run out of ammo - that's your own damn fault because you wanted maximum awesomeness and included the weakness of ammo-dependance in the design.
No infinite regeneration in that case.
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby DWMagus » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:23 pm

Gazz wrote:If not having immediate access to a particular resource is a serious and unforeseeable problem, such as being suddenly stuck for hours in an unknown sector while you search for the only jump point out of it, then I'm clearly in favour of infinite regeneration of fuel. It may be a slow regeneration that isn't helpful in a combat encounter but it will be enough to cover for serious gameplay issues.


This is definitely the biggest downside. I realize this point, and the only remedy I could come up with is something similar to the hearthstone in WoW. You can use your hearthstone but then it takes an hour cooldown before you can use it again. I don't want something that takes an hour to cooldown, but maybe something like 15 minutes to "recharge the batteries". That way, if you do happen to get stuck in a far-off system, or you get lost, you can simply warp home at the push of a key.

Let that feature be a hand-waving gimmick employed specifically for that reason. I don't feel there is a need to allow something as game changing as regeneration just for a single instance like this. Let the single instance be handled specifically since it is a very specific case.

And speaking of warps, I also like the idea of an "emergency warp" that also abides by the recharge time moniker, but in this regard, it is instant and has no spool-up time. You're in the middle of pirate territory and you find yourself suddenly boxed in by a couple of destroyers, you're out of ammo, and you're badly damaged. Use the emergency warp and it will warp you randomly somewhere else (maybe within the same sector or outside it).

Of course, both of these can be rolled into one, I just like the idea of one being instant but random, while the other be to prevent gamer rage.
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby JabbleWok » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:43 pm

How about a single-use jump module, which takes you back to the last system you came from? Maybe you should you start the game with one.

It makes sense that you have to charge it up for an while before you can use it, and/or the jump damages your ship to some extent. That would discourage you from using it unless you really have to. I don't like the idea of a "quick escape" as that could make you reckless about getting into combat. Plus, how would you feel if, every time you are about to kill an enemy and pick up a lucrative booty, they just disappear in a burst of shiny spacetime bubbles?

If you use it up and fail to replace it, then it's your own fault if you get stranded!
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby Gazz » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:47 pm

JabbleWok wrote:If you use it up and fail to replace it, then it's your own fault if you get stranded!

That's the kind of thing I would file under "chore".
Easy to do and no decision of any kind required but you have to do it every single time. Make Gazz angry.
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby JabbleWok » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:57 pm

Gazz wrote:Easy to do and no decision of any kind required but you have to do it every single time

Then don't use it up! It's really only for use as an escape, so if you fly responsibly :!: you won't need to use it at all. And if you do, replace it.

It's like the idea of moral hazard - if you make problem behaviour have no cost, then there's no incentive to avoid it.
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby The Hedge Knight » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:55 pm

I don't see how it's a chore to stop by a space station and buy a ton of fuel for the trip.

Honestly the game sort of needs stuff like this, else the player will just keep getting an income until they buy the next ship without ever losing any money.
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Re: Limited fuel and ammunition and the supply thereof

Postby NikoDG » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:06 pm

The Hedge Knight wrote:I don't see how it's a chore to stop by a space station and buy a ton of fuel for the trip.

Honestly the game sort of needs stuff like this, else the player will just keep getting an income until they buy the next ship without ever losing any money.

Exactly, adding expenses to the game adds a whole new level of strategy. Instead of just stockpiling credits until you can upgrade your ship, you have to take into account the expenses, whether it is fuel, or ammo, or any number of other things. After taking that into account you may realize that a trade run doesn't have a large enough profit margin after fuel cost, or a mission may not offer a large enough reward, mining in an uninhabited system may not be worth it unless you can find a more efficient way to transport the ore. This in turn will lead to people needing to re-evaluate the rewards they offer for missions, it will add to the need to be constsntly developing new infrastructure, and most importantly it will add a measure of conscious decision making to the game most other games lack (no one wants to do things "ad nauseum").
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