1. We've removed some functionality from SMD in preparation for a migration to new forum software. We expect to make the move before the end of August.

    Power System Overhaul Proposal

    Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by schema, Feb 11, 2017.

    Thread Status:
    Not open for further replies.
    1. schema

      schema Cat God

      Feb 17, 2012
      Thread has been closed now.

      This is a proposal; we're looking for feedback on this system so that we can develop the best power system with assistance from the community. We realise that we may have overlooked some aspects of gameplay, this is why we're sharing our idea. Let's work together to create something great. Posts that aren't contributing to the discussion here will be removed, let's keep it clean. - DukeofRealms


      The power system was a point of contention for as long as StarMade existed, and there was never a real consensus on a specific solution. We went through every possible way to rebalance the current system, but each of them would create a problem elsewhere. We realized that we would have to redo a big portion of that later and waste even more time on things we can resolve right now.

      Instead of trying to keep a broken system alive, we decided to make a cut and redesign it from the ground up. This solution would be drastic and would require you to refit power in almost all of your ships. However, in the long run this would still be better as changes in the new system would require a lot less adaption from this point on. So instead of frustrating players with small changes that likely wouldn’t fix the problems to begin with and would require players to refit their ships every time, we decided that it’s better to do one big change to solve the core problems once and for all. It’s important that we get this right from the start which is why we’re asking you for more feedback.

      Since a news post is probably not the best place to discuss it, we moved it to here. We will be making more of these threads to keep you in touch.

      Please keep in mind that everything is subject to change if there is a valid reason to do so. We kindly ask that you keep the discussions civil. These threads will be heavily moderated to ensure the most productive discourse possible.

      The way we went about designing this new system is a relatively straightforward procedure:
      1. Identify the problems
      2. Find out what causes the problems
      3. Try to eliminate those causes with new mechanics

      Problems with the current power system

      According to our own experience and player experiences shared on the forums, we have identified the following problems.
      1. Forced design choices
      2. Lack of complexity
      3. Too many blocks involved (number, not types)
      4. Focused on regen
      Some of these overlap a bit though.

      Forced design choices

      StarMade has a great build system with endless options when it comes to decorating your structures or creating complex interiors, yet making a ship functional with all our systems can take a while and is usually a less creative process.

      It’s not only the power system that suffers from it, but every other functional system that follows its design principles. Currently, most ships have a non functional ‘skin’ and everything else is filled to the brim with systems.

      Filling your entire ship with systems is the most optimal way to make a ship. Making any interior or extra decoration creates weaknesses on your ship. It also favours one ship shape over another, in order to fill it with as many systems as possible; Doom cubes.

      More systems and power means a better ship, and there is no incentive or mechanic that would ever make a pretty ship with interior as good as one filled with systems.
      Lack of complexity

      Our current power system has only 3 different block types which would be fine if it mattered more in how you placed them. That’s not always the case and usually there’s little to do besides changing the amount of a certain block when necessary.

      This gets very tedious at larger scales. Fitting a bigger ship with power blocks is just a matter of finding the space for it. There doesn’t have to be any thought about placement and possible consequences. Additionally there is no way to customize your ship’s power systems.

      The current system makes power and systems purely a game of ratios, which doesn’t offer much complexity and increases the total number of blocks.
      Too many blocks involved

      As the system forces you to balance the amount of blocks placed on your ship between 3 power block types, you constantly end up removing one type to replace it with another unless you calculate the amount of blocks needed for each type. Even then you have to roughly know how many blocks your ship can fit.

      This is fine for ships where only a few hundred blocks are involved. You usually remember where you placed them and changing ratios isn’t a long process. Each system block matters a lot more in this case.

      It’s not fine when your ship size becomes larger. Most ships have more than 100,000 blocks and it’s impossible to know where you placed all your blocks down. Filling your ship with the correct amount of blocks per type is a tedious and long process. Not to mention that changing it afterwards is even more frustrating where you have to dig for specific block types and you end up with a complete system mess.

      Although additional build tools could alleviate some of these issues, it would never be completely resolved and any new system we add here would inherit this fundamental problem.

      The current system makes power and systems purely a game of ratios, which doesn’t offer much complexity and only gets worse with a higher total block count. Also, the volume to surface area does not scale favorably for balance, and there is no incentive not to fill up a ship with systems. The larger your ship, the more volume you usually have compared to your surface area.
      Focused on regen

      Currently you will always care more about power regen than capacity, mostly because it’s scaled that way. In almost every case, you want to equalize your power regen with your total consumption during combat. Your capacity would be increased to have a small reserve that equals this consumption so that you can use all your systems at once and regen the power within a few seconds.

      This results in a boring way of building ships since there’s little difference in power systems for any ship you create, it’s a simple equation and can result in a lot of frustration to achieve that goal.

      Not to mention that it’s hard to make the AI use this system when their capacity is always too low to work with.​


      To get rid of the aforementioned problems, we need to turn the entire power system upside down. This will break most if not all current ships but to us, it’s a necessary step to continue on game mechanics without always having to find workarounds.

      As redoing the systems now will be easier, yet more complex, we hope you will find it a refreshing and fun building process. Additional build tools will speed up that process where you refurbish any of your ships.

      A short summation of what we’ll do:
      • Systems (weapons, thrust, power, etc) will take a considerably smaller amount of space on your ship. This could be ranging from 5% (large ships) to 50% (small ships) of your total block count. The way we will achieve this is described in the section below.
      • Due to systems being a lot smaller, there will be a lot more empty space the larger a ship gets. The player is free to leave it empty, or put in decoration and interior at a very low cost to mass.
      • We will also offer a block to serve as an “inner hull”, which will be a low mass, low HP block. You could use it to fill empty areas in your ship, or replace it with real interiors without making the ship weaker by doing that.
      • Normal hull (armor) will add enough mass so it would not be viable to fill your ships with it.
      • Making sure that most systems are usually clustered together and not spread out all over the ship in small amounts. This makes defending specific areas of your ship more important and could be incentive to add more inner armor to those locations.
      • As the amount of blocks involved is a lot less than before, we can add extra mechanics to the placement of system blocks. That will introduce complexity on a small scale since every block you place is equally important.
      • Provide context based information to the player and add “logical” mechanics to a ship to make it easier for players to get started. Also keeping the new system easy to use for small ships.
      • Change armor so that it scales accordingly for weaker and larger ships, without adding extra thickness to your ship.
      • Weapons will also be adjusted although that’s for another thread.

      Reactor design

      The new power system is of a modular design. Depending on your reactor size, you’ll have 1 or more components that influence the final result and define your ship’s capability:​

      • Reactor core:
      • Reactor chamber types:
        • Reactor rod system that requires built-in coolant
        • Heat shielding
        • Coolant Tanks
        • ...
      • Conduits to connect the chambers

      The reactor core (a relatively small cluster of blocks) defines it output. The bigger your reactor is, the more complex it will get. This means you will have to add and connect additional chambers to your reactor at certain points to keep it from producing additional heat. When considering new players, this ensures that building power for a very small ship is still easy. It’s complexity grows with ship size, so the learning curve for players will not get too steep.


      We remove “power regen” and “power capacity” as we know them right now and replace it with only one value you would see on your screen: Heat, 0% to 100%

      Anything that previously used power, will now generate heat instead. Depending on your reactor size and how you build it, the heat you accumulate will be manageable...or it won’t be.

      If your reactor is too small for the systems you want to use, they generate more heat than usual:
      • Reactor has X output depending on reactor core (optimally built reactor)
      • Needs Y power depending on systems (weapons, thrust, etc)
        • Y - X = deviation
      • Heat generated is deviation + defaultMinOfSystem
      If your reactor is too big, you would not generate extra heat, but you would be wasting power and space due to the new “heat influence area” or “hear boundary” system we will talk about below.

      Heat generation will be available to the player in percent by value. We will also break down for the player, what they can do to improve their reactor.

      Heat cooldown will be constant and independent of how big your reactor is. What changes is the speed in which a ship accumulates heat depending on how optimal their reactor is built. Accumulating too much heat will affect your systems, and if you keep pushing to the limit, systems would even shut down completely. We could introduce all sorts of ways to have Heat influence your ship, or even have Stars influence your Heat if that would be a nice addition.

      With this system, detach the system from large numbers since your Heat levels will always be between 0% and 100% and your heat dissipation will be a % per second.

      You are not limited to only one reactor core on your ship though, you can put down more of them but the heat generated by your systems would be increased per additional reactor. Putting additional reactors down will ensure that you have backups running if one or more reactors get damaged or destroyed during battle so it’s a nice balance between efficiency and sustainability that you can define.
      Heat Influence Area

      Each reactor core has their own “Heat” influence area or boundary box, which takes the shape of your ship’s dimension box and its size is determined by the reactor core block amount. If this Heat boundary box overlaps with any other system, or another reactor core, extra heat generation penalties are added. This forces you to think twice where to place your reactors and it limits the amount of blocks you can use in your reactors. Your weapons/thrusters/etc cannot be within those heat boxes or you will suffer a large efficiency loss.

      This does create a lot of empty space between your systems, space that can be filled up with something that isn’t systems like interior.

      The designer is of course free to chose if they want to have an interior. We will also offer a“Inner Hull” block which will be cheap, have low mass and no armor, with a few block hp to not directly expose your inner systems on a hull breach.

      Their collective mass would be negligible compared to what your systems and armor add to the ship and they would also not add enough protection to where it’s better to fill up a ship instead of having an interior.

      We will also have some extra build tools to help you out with filling/removing that particular block type.
      Other systems

      Shields could be their own “reactor” with its own chambers etc and we could do something similar to thrusters.

      They could also just be a few chambers that use a Power reactor.

      We’re not sure about that yet though, it doesn’t matter too much as long as those system’s block count is kept small. Both are limited by their Heat generation so we don’t need to do anything besides buffing their values per block and adjusting the heat generation to make them work for now.​

      Reactor mechanics
      The bigger your reactor gets, the more requirements it will get to keep heat generation to a minimum. This means that you could build a small fighter without having to worry about reactor placement at all. Also, building the iconic core + power + thrust stick will still be possible.

      When you build medium sized ships, not only will the heat influence area already affect the placement of your systems a little, but you will also get more heat generation in general. To keep this heat generation low, you can add an additional chamber to your reactor. And the more core blocks the reactor gets, the more chambers can be added to keep heat generation low.

      The Core and Chambers each have their own local heat area which is only relevant to the reactor design. The size of those areas will be its groups dimensions multiplied by a factor depending on balance. If this box overlaps with other local boxes, you get a rather big efficiency loss. This means each chamber will have to be independent.


      As this is the base component, its size defines the base statistics/output of your ship. Currently there’s only one block type for it right now so you just end up placing them together as a small group.

      A bigger reactor core group can be connected to other chambers in order to combat growing heat generation, add additional output or achieve a different effect. We haven’t fully decided on the specific types of chambers yet.

      A chamber is essentially an upgrade to your reactor. Each chamber will only be effective at a certain minimum size of reactor. It could combat heat generation, amplify output, redirect that output to another system (shields?) or just be a necessary component to be there or else a Reactor core wouldn’t do anything.
      To keep your reactor optimal, you’ll require more chambers the bigger your reactor core goes. The specifics aren’t fully set in stone of course.

      The base mechanics stay the same however, each chamber type has its own build restrictions and requirements in order to be valid.
      Example: A reactor chamber could be reactor rods, to maximize output for a mid-sized reactor core. It would generate heat, if water is touching them that heat would be less. They have to be in a single group or there would be penalties.

      The total heat versus the total amount of rod blocks determines its efficiency, stability, heat radius, throughput and more… It doesn’t matter too much what we do with this since we can easily change it between updates without messing people up.

      A chamber will orientate on the size of the reactor core. That’s easy to adjust if needed.

      Chamber shape and placement could also be an important factor to keep in mind. A “Thruster” chamber (if we’re going to use that) could be great for rotation when placed near your Center of Mass. And great for a particular thrust direction when placed the furthest away from your Center of Mass on that axis.

      The block you use to connect chambers with other chambers, or connecting them back to the reactor core is done by using Conduits. A single conduit block has a fixed throughput but the longer a line is, the more throughput loss you get.

      You would prefer to have these conduits as short as possible.​

      Kupu made some info graphics of this current system and how it might look like if implemented:
      • Example of a reactor

      • Below is an example of how it could look like in-game for a ship. Any not used space would either be inner hull or interior. You could also make interior within the heat boundary boxes since those only affect systems.

      • Keep in mind that the heat boundary box doesn’t go out of the ship dimension box. Putting your reactors on the edge of your ship will make the heat boundary box move till it’s not overlapping with the edges. It’s basically forcing the heat boundary box to be more inside of the ship than the reactor itself.
      #1 schema, Feb 11, 2017
      Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2017
      • Like x 60
      • Agree x 18
      • Informative x 5
      • Friendly x 4
      • Creative x 3
      • Funny x 2
      • Useful x 1
    2. MrFuz

      Aug 28, 2013
      Great idea!

      Could you interact with systems like you interact with thruster ratios?
      Interesting to see reactors in turrets.
      #2 MrFuz, Feb 11, 2017
      Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
      • Agree Agree x 5
      • Funny Funny x 1
    3. The_Owl

      The_Owl Alpha is not an excuse

      Jan 3, 2016
      Looks and sounds very cool. Sounds like it could be a pain to fit in small shuttles
      • Like Like x 1
      • Useful Useful x 1
    4. schema

      schema Cat God

      Feb 17, 2012
      small reactors don't have to worry about placement and chambers much. Small ships pretty much function with just a few rector core blocks. Also, the heat boundary will only start to really grow past a certain size of reactor. This means that a fighters/shuttles are not restricted in any way.
      • Like Like x 8
      • Informative Informative x 3
    5. therimmer96

      therimmer96 The Cake Network Staff Senior button unpusher

      Jun 21, 2013
      Tha's a lot of text :/
      --- Updated post (merge), Feb 11, 2017, Original Post Date: Feb 11, 2017 ---
      But also, thank you for the wall of text, is schine really starting to be open? :O
      • Agree Agree x 6
    6. Fellow Starmadian

      Fellow Starmadian Oh cool so thats what this is

      Jun 7, 2014
      so... what the hell is this? If there's only going to be heat, how can we tell how much power we're using for our weapons, and how much we can give to them? Seems a little silly, honestly. I don't see what people are on about saying this is going to be awesome.
      • Agree Agree x 9
    7. IronDusk33

      Jun 27, 2013
      This looks amazing, something I've been waiting for a long time to make ship building more interesting.

      I would also recommend adding in some gui element to allow players to easily see the heat boundaries when building.
      Also, is this system going to work the same on stations?
      • Agree Agree x 2
    8. Sachys

      Sachys Hermit.

      Nov 30, 2015
      So this system wont be replacing block placement with 3d models, but instead favour patterned block placement (say a diamond for the reactor core for example)?

      - I'm not massively awake, so its not clear to me entirely.
      • Like Like x 1
    9. MrFuz

      Aug 28, 2013
      Am curious, instead of coolant tanks and dedicated systems, will there be an option to use large heat sinks like solar sails?
      That would be practical and be cool.
      • Agree Agree x 5
      • Like Like x 2
    10. TheDouser

      Sep 6, 2013
      Reminds me of Big Reactor and Mekanism reactor mods from Minecraft, would be nice to have a build system for reactors like that instead of just having one type of block for a reactor.
      #10 TheDouser, Feb 11, 2017
      Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
      • Agree Agree x 6
    11. NuclearFun

      Sep 27, 2013
      Very interesting indeed. I kind of like it...

      Although: there will be a lot of refitting to be done (especially Saber and Criss with the Trade Guild etc)
      • Agree Agree x 4
    12. Gasboy

      Gasboy BLRP

      Aug 11, 2013
      Will radar jammers and cloaking devices see some love along these lines? And perhaps weapons?

      This sort of change will help big and little ships the most, I think, while still leaving middling ships viable.
      • Agree Agree x 1
    13. Spartan4845

      Spartan4845 Master of Chimichangas and Star Trek Shells

      Dec 14, 2014
      I'll have to reread because I'm so excited... but can we have eject able reactors?


      also can they overheat if they take too much damage... ... ...


      • Like Like x 7
      • Funny Funny x 3
      • Friendly Friendly x 3
      • Agree Agree x 2
    14. rex


      Jun 19, 2013
      I am loving this prospect, however I do see one potential exploit. In between the first two photos you talk about the ability to add interior inside the heat zone since quote "those only affect systems." Unless you have some way around it, wouldn't this mean you could place a reactor in the middle of the ship, fill the heat boundary around the reactor with the entire ship's interior/ fill something like 75% of the heat boundary with interior and circumvent the heat boundary's effects to your systems?
    15. AWildSylveon

      Dec 26, 2016
      Nice! I b am tired of the power reactors being in huge blocks
    16. Kimiro

      Kimiro Metacreative Construct / Existentialist

      Jun 10, 2015
      I'm inclined to disagree with the implementation, as described, on a few points.
      It seems exceedingly complex on one hand, and somewhat nonsensical on the other.

      While I do approve of a more centralized reactor system, something which serves as a critical weak point in the system, it unfortunately means that some of the largest ships are going to have to have enormous reactor systems with redundant backups of rather obscene complexity just to function. It also will sort of force its own shapes, since optimization would force you to prevent chamber heat areas from overlapping.

      And it's nonsensical in that a reactor would produce heat, not mitigate it. I would think heat should be a separate meter from power, as power is a very reasonable means to convey the capabilities of a vessel, where as heat seems to be more of a... Waste product.

      I dunno. Heat on spacecraft is something I actually know a hell of a lot about, as I've had to do a lot of research for my writing on the subject. I agree that the power system needs to change, but this sort of implementation doesn't strike me at the way to go about it.
      • Agree x 12
      • Like x 6
      • Informative x 3
      • Useful x 3
      • Funny x 1
    17. UndeadPotato

      Nov 17, 2014

      Is the primary coolant material going to be water? If so, will we have a better way of obtaining it than mining planets or buying small amounts from shops?​
      • Agree Agree x 4
      • Funny Funny x 2
      • Informative Informative x 1
    18. Mariux

      Mariux Kittenator

      Jun 20, 2013
      Nice. Needs to be simplified a bit but the main idea is very good, especially the part where we can dedicate most of the ship's space for interior without a large penalty.
      • Agree Agree x 3
      • Like Like x 1
    19. TrickyNicky27

      TrickyNicky27 Blarg3437

      Jan 28, 2014
      Will other ships be affected inside this boundary? Will fighters parked inside a hangar bay that is just down the hall from the engine room or the turrets docked above get negative effects on systems?
      • Like Like x 7
      • Useful Useful x 3
    20. Zaphord

      Jun 10, 2015
      I like it, and maybe cloakers will be viable again :).

      So, basics of it are that your reactor generates all the power you need to run any and all systems on your ship, but these systems now generate heat when used, which needs to be vented/cooled to keep your ship from shutting down. I'm thinking MechWarrior; when a mech overheats from firing all of it's weapons at once, it shuts down in order to cool off.

      Maybe we could even work in an override, keep fighting while in overheat but take damage to blocks in the heat influence area? I also like the heat sync idea, and could influence more ships with big sails or external syncs.
      • Like Like x 11
      • Agree Agree x 5
    Thread Status:
    Not open for further replies.