While the abstractions present in Stellaris are obvious necessities I think the number of elements that reside in “stockpiles” or planets and quantum tunnel to their destination bypasses an opportunity to add interaction to conflict and breathe life into supposedly busy and densely populated empires.
Under my proposed system resources would be held on specific planets and stations would hold resources the sum of which would be represented at the top of the screen, rather than the top in a way being the storage. Planets would maintain minimum stockpiles of the resources available in your empire according to player or sector management, handled by sliders or something similarly uncomplicated. When a planet requires a resource that isn’t available or anticipates requiring such a resource a pull request sent to the nearest planet(s) with surplus above minimum stockpile (or at minimum stockpile when surplus runs out) and a transport ship or convoy of ships would be sent to deliver them. This is the crux of how I think detail and meaningful logistics can be breathed in to the game: Transports.
Transports would be small, semi ai-controlled ships who would spawn with the purpose of moving a set amount of a single resource from one place to another and would despawn after reaching that place; dealing with the logistics of building and managing the transports themselves would in my opinion be unnecessary and cumbersome. The player would not be able to directly give movement commands to the transport ships, but systems could be marked as restricted as to be pathed around (systems with known danger obviously being marked this way by default), or a convoy given a temporary halt order to delay their movement through an unpredictable area while it’s cleared out.
Every economic quantity in your empire, from batteries to migrants, would be carried on these transports and they would obviously represent a weakness in the player’s logistics systems and economy if they have to move through border territories or an empire is particularly snakelike and difficult to navigate. Naturally fleets would be assignable for escort duty for these convoys, and I would expect a player to assemble a moderately sized protection fleet before moving a large amount of supplies from the coreworlds to a planetary outpost which may be separated by neutral space. This system creates an obvious niche for pirates to opportunistically attack vulnerable border shipments and take food an energy meant for developing colonies, and any player who sacked a transport would naturally reap the spoils. Most importantly they would add life to every empire that sprawls across the stars, if your planets are even slightly specialized then there would have to be a constant buzz of transports shipping food from agri-worlds to ecumenopolii and mineral resources towards developing areas (I admit I’m not sure how this would affect game performance).
This logistics system can go on to interface with every other system in the game, trade and diplomacy have obvious use for convoys, and reports from agents on board your trade ships might give you valuable intel on your allies and partners. War and logistics go together with obvious repercussions
I’d like to throw out a few scenarios that might come about in an average Stellaris game that make me think this is a feature that might be necessary in the long term to add the kind of depth this game deserves.
- Sieges oriented around starving out an industrial world to surrender for the promise of relief supplies rather than use of a bombing campaign that might severely damage the infrastructure.
- Slaver Empires raiding convoys of migrants heading for an empire’s outer worlds for their own warships to transport back in chains.
- Empires which structure their worlds to carefully maintain supply chains, with agri-worlds tucked safely in the center of the empire, and generator world placed to best support nearby industrial worlds and ecumenopolii with minimum transport time
- Establishment of self-sustaining sub-economies in areas of the empire difficult to reach with convoys or vulnerable to piracy, capable of producing their own food and building materials as a beachhead for further expansion in that area
- Mid-game cold wars in which neither side is ready to engage in open conflict but will opportunistically raid each others convoys who stray in to neutral space
In my opinion this is a required step towards making stellaris an involved and tactically complex game in to the mid and late, as the complexity of your economy increases so does the burden of your logistics, until your space empire is a rolling economic hulk of activity and transport you don’t even fully understand. As it should be.
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