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Soilnar July Update Part 3: Bitaeli

Continuing from the previous post, the mighty Git log continues through an another untamed land of fixes, tweaking and rework and leads to... the Sand Drive stuff.

Sand drive equipment is produced by Taelians in the Taeli star system. It uses a proprietary technology called the Cseleco Mechanism and a proprietary fuel-lubricant combination "Bitaeli".

It was time to implement the Sand Drive fuel as a resource in the game. There were two things to keep in mind: It needs to be tradeable as a resource, and ships consume arbitrary amounts of it.

Soilnar handles resources simply as bunches of identical items, so there usually needs to be a "unit amount" of a resource, which the item represents. This is nice because it simplifies things, but because the unit size has to be quite large in order to avoid too large amounts of items, I needed to figure out a way for a ship to consume any amount independently of the unit size.

So, how it works now is like this:

  • You can carry any amount of Bitaeli like any other items in your cargo hold.
  • Additionally, each ship capable of sand drive has a Bitaeli fuel tank, which it uses as the source of fuel when travelling.
  • You can fill up this tank from the Bitaeli you have in cargo at any time.

Like most externally supplied resources on this mining moon, Bitaeli can be bought at Interplanetary Hubs.. As usually, the game relies on players trading the stuff further.

Fuel Stations

However, because this substance is so crucial to gameplay, I decided to define a small facility called the Bitaeli Fuel Station, that are spread around in the world. These are containers that store 60 tons of the fuel and auto-trade it at higher prices than the Interplanetary Hubs.

I've played around a bit with this, and the balance ended up quite interesting. I first tried if it is viable to start supplying Bitaeli right at the start to these stations. Right at the start, you don't have enough money to buy even a single unit - but if you mine enough for that, it turns out that transporting tiny amounts with the lightest ship is usually hardly profitable. You're better off by mining.

Once you increase the transported amount to >3 units, it starts to be profitable. Being such a simple task, the profit starts to grow exponentially and it doesn't take long until you have a lot of cash, assuming there are a few stations to fully fill up. Even with the smallest ship, you're money-bound for a long time, as the stuff costs a lot per weight.

With larger payloads, it's also easy to overcome the Bitaeli consumption of your own ship even for large distances. However, you start to get limited by the amount of fuel you can sell to each station.

Future Considerations

I'm not really satisfied with the current way of placing facilities in the world mainly at world generation time. I think there are very interesting game dynamics to be gained by making most facilities purchaseable by players and minimizing the pre-generated infrastructure. I'll probably post more on this once I've experimented a bit with it.

- A of 8Dromeda

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