Planets vary enormously in their planetary populations, from the trillion on Coruscant to the airless uninhabited moon of Folor, and this now becomes the key economic driver for determining planetary income and industrial output. In general, heavily populated Core Worlds outclass anything else in terms of economic and military output (with a few notable exceptions), while some of the Outer Rim planets are so poor, one wonders if they are worth the military effort to take them. More on this later.
The second major change is fleet populations. Every unit now requires galactic population to build it. The more crew in a ship, the greater the Unit Population. Why? An Imperial-class Star Destroyer has 37,000 crew and requires consumables for 2.5 years. That's over 100 million meals stuck somewhere in the hold, and all this food, together with all the other consumables and parts required to cover every possible eventuality of running a Star Destroyer from spare rank cylinders to deflector shield parts has to be supplied from somewhere. Each planet you control will contribute to Galactic Population, and each land or space unit that is built consumes Galactic Population.
From a Campaign design perspective 2 points are immediately obvious. Firstly, while frigates and below have low crew requirements, the Clone Wars-era cruisers such as the Dreadnaught and the Acclamator Assault Ship are ridiculously crew-heavy designs, and it is not surprising that these designs were relegated to crew training and planetary defense roles out during the Imperial Era, especially with the advent of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer. While this certainly has a high Unit Population, a single Imperial is less demanding on Galactic Population than 2 Dreadnaught Heavy Cruisers, and with considerably more firepower. Yet another example of the technical breakthroughs achieved with the Imperial-class. It's not just a raw demonstration of firepower – it's also more efficient in crew requirements. Population is shown in yellow for negative numbers, such as unit population costs, and green for positive values, as per most planets.
So what defines Galactic Population?
Clearly food surplus is a key requirement to building a large fleet/army, but in addition a vibrant trade network is required to allow fleet supply to move goods around the galaxy to support front line military units wherever they are.
The current system of 10 population per planet is too uniform and simply was not going to work. But what do we replace it with? Answer – a full demographic model of each planet giving a picture of its food production, economy, trade network and industrial output that can then be used to determine a realistic figure for its weekly income and Galactic Population.
Actually this isn't quite as bad as it sounds as I had already started on a planetary demographic model during V1.2 development, but the model has grown and grown and is pretty complex. I'll attempt to break it down into manageable chunks.
The first step in creating a picture of a planet and its economic output is food production, the mainstay of most civilisations. Planets are not just lumps in space, terrain is critical to food production, so we listed a set of primary terrain types, all with different features: Grassland, Oceans, Forests, Temperate, Mountains, Volcanic, Desert, Swamp, Urban, Arctic, Barren, Ruined urban and Primordial and Asteroid. To this we add the civilisation factors: Technology Level, ranging from Neolithic/Primitive through to Super-High Tech. I also wanted a measure of Industrialisation and Pollution, which I call Harmony. Planets with high Harmony scores are pretty, grow lots of food and are good for tourism, while planets with negative scores are increasingly polluted.
Both Tech and Harmony have significant impact on food production and industrial output. Low Tech worlds take big penalties for both economy and food production, while the polluting worlds are penalised on food production but have bigger economies and greater industrial output.
Now we apply the Agricultural Level (which is a separate but related concept to the Advantage of the same name) , which acts as a multiplier to the terrain type. While the normal level of Agriculture is set at 1, some harsher worlds (where the planetary description indicates a subsistence level economy) this may drop to 0.5 or 0.25 depending on the local conditions. High levels of urbanisation will also reduce the Agri-level. Planets with good food reserves increase to Agri-level 2 or 3, while 4 or 5 is reserved for the Agriworlds, where the entire planet is turned into a giant farm. The scale of food production varies enormously, with Tatooine's moisture farmers producing 2.3 units of food, up to the giant of Ukio's world farms producing over 200 food units.
We also decided that planetary diameters will have an impact on food production, so large planets have their food output increased, while small colonised moons with lower surface area produce less food. As a bonus, we've taken the planetary diameters and re-scaled the planets visually in Galactic Mode so you can see size differences now, where known.
And finally, we deduct a measure of food that is eaten by the planetary inhabitants, so that big urban worlds are net food importers, with Coruscant's trillion beings eating over 100 food units worth of population.
The other side of the credit chip is galactic trade. This is based on several areas of industry. First, we take the trade generated by industrial output, which includes mineral resources, general industrial output (with positive modifiers for factory worlds), art & tourism, crime, and population-based civilian demand, so urban worlds score well here. Furthermore, this is intrinsically linked to the galactic trade network, and each planet gets a special "Commercial" ranking depending on its galactic position and access to major trade routes. The Comms rank ranges from 1 to 8, with position on the Big 5 Hyperrroutes (Hydian Way, Perlemian etc) rating an automatic 4. Remote Outer Rim worlds may only rate 1-2, while the super-hubs are scoring 6 or more. This makes a massive difference to the trade created by a planet, and has a major impact on both planetary economy and Galactic Population.
Most of this data remains hidden (actually in a massive spreadsheet used for mod development), but the result is a very personalised planetary economy. Having gone this far, we decided to complete the task by calculating all the important game considerations using this data.
Land and Space slots are now calculated using all the information gathered so far. To build a base you need solid terrain and a local technological culture to build and maintain the base. Key factors for Base size are terrain type and planetary population. Harsh worlds reduce the base size, high populations increase base size. The number of space slots is a combination of local shipbuilding – ranging from general technical skill of the population to specialist shipyards as noted in the planetary advantages, with additional slots for high trade requirements and large colony size. The number of Turret mounts for Planetary Turbolaser Defenses are now biased towards urbanised centres, and low population worlds tend to have fewer turbolasers than high tech worlds. The number and frequency of build pads is often also linked to urbanisation, so don't expect too many build pads to help your troops if you invade a barren planet! And finally, when you capture a planet, you get to steal/plunder all the goods awaiting shipment, so trade planets, mining worlds and planets with medical exports will have higher capture values.
Planets by numbers
If this is confusing, let's illustrate with a few examples; Firstly we collect all the data we know about a planet: Diameter, Population, Terrain types, Atmosphere type, Description. From this we can determine a range of 18 data points that describe the planetary demographics and from with we calculate the number of Land and Space Slots, the weekly income, Galactic Population, Capture Value, Destroy value and a rough guide to the number of possible towers for all those planets with unique maps.
Overall, with 300 planets in the database that's over 5000 data points to determine that describe all the planets in the mod, and 2500 critical data points used by the mod data files. This has then been tested (hence the call for Alpha testers) and re-balanced. While both the economic and population systems worked, the initial scale estimates were a bit high and a quick scalar applied to all values. Incomes now range considerable from negative income scores for barren moons to thousands of credits for the key industrial and trade centres.
Changes to the Campaigns
So what does this mean for the campaigns? Firstly, fleets end up a bit smaller, and Capital-class warships just got a bit rarer as all the campaigns are re-balanced for the population cap. This also has the added benefit of improving game performance due to the reduction in fleet size. Unless you have a large number of Core Worlds or agri-worlds under your control to boost your population limits, those early Clone Wars-era cruisers will end up being unpopular and will put pressure on your research planets to develop more modern and more efficient designs. Overall, the dynamics of play should become even more interesting with this extra challenge.
Edited by Phoenix Rising, 21 December 2012 - 02:34 PM.