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Space Game: Fuel Mechanic

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Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008

I'd like to bounce some ideas around.
In a somewhat casual space game (though my design has been slowly creeping away from 'casual'...) I am looking for an alternate fuel mechanic.

The way it works now:
Each ship has an allotment of fuel points. When you want to move, you spend a point and move as many spaces as your speed allows. When you land at an inhabited planet your fuel is replenished.
• You don't have unlimited range.
• Different ships have different fuel capacities.
• Some weapons/items can be activated by using fuel points.
• It is possible to run out of fuel and become stranded. (other players can help you and gain victory points)

It just seems a bit clunky to have to pay a fuel point every turn, and then sometimes get filled right back up again because you are going planet to planet.
I'm thinking about eliminating fuel for moving altogether, and just let it be used for special weapons and stuff.

Right now, I'm finding that players have plenty of other incentives to frequently visit planets, such as trading commodities and buying ship equipment. And about the only time a player can reasonably run out of fuel is from combat - and there are still other ways to become stranded from combat.

However, I wonder if anyone has some other ideas?

apeloverage
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Joined: 08/01/2008
I think in real life

spaceships would use fuel when they set out, and again when they arrived (to slow down, and to correct their course), but not during the journey.

Using more fuel at the start would make a ship go faster, and require more fuel on arrival.

Range would be based on how accurately the ship could plot its course - or all ships would have infinite range, but with an increasing chance of going off course the higher the distance.

Range would also be based on how long the ship could support its crew (this is obviously related to speed as well as distance).

Range wouldn't be based directly on how much fuel it had.

Another model is that ships 'warp', or teleport, from one location to another, which being fictional can work however you want it to work. This allows you to ignore the effects of huge distances between planets (journeys taking hundreds of years).

Most of the time it seems that people's science-fiction universes are imagined as if the planets were islands and the spaceships were actual ships, in pre-modern times: journeys from one planet to another are possible but dangerous, and take a 'normal' amount of time without any strange relativistic effects: there's inter-planetary trade and colonisation, spaceships can be marooned, they can battle each other, there's the possibility of piracy, there are uncharted planets, and so on. It might be easier to just set it on a series of islands...

adagio_burner
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Joined: 07/30/2008
Leaving ships stranded?

Leaving ships stranded might not be a good idea, even if it's just for a couple of turns. What will a player whose ship is stranded do? Go fetch himself a beer? Start telling jokes, or bitch about how boring the game is?

Maybe fuel can be used for gaining additional speed, as well as for special weapons? If you also make it less abundant, so that only few planets have it, it will be less of a chore to track, and will become a valuable resource?

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
automatic movement

Perhaps each player should be allotted a certain amount of movement each turn "for free" - and can spend fuel to move extra.

brisingre
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Joined: 01/21/2009
brisingre

If a player cannot accomplish their own goals, but can sabotage others, that player will try to form alliances. If a stranded player has, (and bear in mind that I don't have the first idea how your game works) a card that can be damaging to another player, that player will probably find two players having a war, and say that they'll screw over whichever one of them doesn't come to their rescue. This can be a good thing (backstabbery, diplomacy, alliances) or a bad thing (kingmaking.) This post contains no advice.

Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008
Better without normal fuel

apeloverage wrote:
[snip - stuff about realistic space travel]

Another model is that ships 'warp', or teleport, from one location to another, which being fictional can work however you want it to work. This allows you to ignore the effects of huge distances between planets (journeys taking hundreds of years).

Most of the time it seems that people's science-fiction universes are imagined as if the planets were islands and the spaceships were actual ships, in pre-modern times: journeys from one planet to another are possible but dangerous, and take a 'normal' amount of time without any strange relativistic effects: there's inter-planetary trade and colonisation, spaceships can be marooned, they can battle each other, there's the possibility of piracy, there are uncharted planets, and so on. It might be easier to just set it on a series of islands...


My image of the game is to mimic the sort of things commonly seen in retro space stories. Space opera type material. This can be further imaged as very cartoony, or like a child's imagination, or perhaps more like the era of sci-fi pulp. More whimsical, less hard-core.

In this regard, yes, I suppose you could re-brand this to take place in the days of sail. But as you said, you could probably re-brand all of retro space opera sci-fi this way as well, the very genre I'm paying homage to. Do I detect a hint of disdain for such material?

At any rate, I tried some solo testing with and without fuel for normal movement, and I have to say it is much improved saving fuel (energy) for special situations. I also like the idea of spending energy to move extra spaces, but then I realized that I already had that mechanic! However, it wasn't a default ability, it only appeared on certain items as a special use.

As to being stranded, game turns are pretty quick. Getting stranded hurts more because someone else probably got points for stranding you, rather than missing a lot of play time.

sunday silence
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Joined: 06/08/2009
Unlike a lot of game ideas

Unlike a lot of game ideas here, this one I feel there is enough of a description to venture a comment. Lots of threads have these descriptions that are impossible to understand what the designer is envisioning from reading it.

I've thought a lot about this supply check/logistical issue in a lot situations and here are some ideas:

1) Make intermittent, random checks that only occur when some event occurs. In one sense, the actual science/physics might be violated because "Hey you cant fly to Venus w/o stocking up on Lithium crystals, that violates..." But on the other hand it might speed game play up and if you do it right the supply check will come up precisely at a crucial moment. E.g. "Okay now you want to make a three pt. landing on Calisto inside a volcano in the middle of a magnetic storm... are you holding any extra fuel cards?"

Right? So you can fly around the universe as long as you like w/o really doing the actual every day nuts and bolts of filling up and driving and maybe you really wouldnt have all the fuel, but every now and then you have to make a crucial check that if you fail you die.

2) In a similar vein you could sort of promise to pay the fuel later and if the voyage goes as planned then the actual payment does not really have to be made. Sort of like landing on income tax right after passing "Go" in Monopoly. The net effect is a wash, you dont have to actually do the "take cash, now pay the cash back thing." Everyone knows it's not worth counting it out, so just forget the supply step in that case.

But if the voyage doesnt go smoothly you have to spend more fuel to get around a rogue asteroid, then in fact, you do actually have to make a calculation and you might not have it on board.

3) Rather than pay for fuel, per se, perhaps certain situations could call for certain spot checks for certain items. Like in Sirens of Titan their spaceship lost a sprocket or something so they had to wait 10 million years for a replacement to come from the other end of the galaxy.

You would go through the universe on a normal voyage, and you had no problems so no checks. But next time out you are hit by a gamma ray, your radio is out and did you elect to stock a spare radio card, among the thousand other spare cards you might have been carrying? Or did you elect to just forget that one to save on time and costs ?

cyril957
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Joined: 06/05/2009
Fuel Mechanisms

I'm not sure how your board is set up or your planets are placed in relation to each other, but here's an idea:

Having the board be like the trivial pursuit board where there's the middle and the bigger tiles with the smaller tiles connecting them. In this case the bigger tiles would be planets which would be different distances away from each other and all of the "space" tiles would be in between planets x and y.

Then instead of fuel markers different ships could have different fuel tank sizes. And if planets x and y are 5 lightyears/AUs/what-have-you away and you only have a fuel-tank rating of 4, then you can't do that. You'll have to accept missions between planets A and B, which are only 3 whatevers away from each other.

That would work building from scratch, but I'm not sure how compatible it is with what you already have.

devin
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Joined: 05/03/2009
play

i played a game alot like this your ship had fuel and your goal was to get the most points as possibal it was fun and it was old

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
WW2 Game

In my world war 2 game, I simply removed any fuel considerations but I added movements restrictions.

While playing some WW2 video games, I realize that on a very high level, both nations send out ships, fights then get back home to repair, refuel, etc.

So I decided that each turn, you can move up to 10 space to attack, at the end of the turn you can move up to 10 space to get back on a city you own to refuel, resupply, repair, etc. So this is more an abstract way of considering fuel.

In the master of Orion Video game they somewhat did it the same thing. Getting better fuel tanks increased the maximum distance you could be away from one of your colony. You could also build outpost to increase this range. Which prevented you to cross the whole galaxy. If a lost colony placed some of your ships out of range, the computer sent automatically all your ships to the closest planet. So your ships could never end up in middle of space with no fuel, but it made you lose time to get back.

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