Starmade Synthesis Thread

    Sep 20, 2013
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    Welcome all to the Starmade Synthesis Thread. This thread is a series of topics aimed to encourage specialisation in design and to add strategic thinking and theory behind designs, hopefully leading to discussion and thought provocation. This will be more useful to those who play for imagination in their designs or would like to follow a stronger roleplay aspect within the game, not to say it won't be useful to others, but will lend itself towards them moreso. I will be updating and adding topics over time when possible, so please be patient.

    This thread is not:

    • An argumentative forum for the current stage of the game (good or bad) or which direction it should go
    • A critique thread for designs
    • Laws set in stone on how to build (or a suggestion therefore)

    This thread is:
    • Theory for specialisation of ships
    • Guidance using strategy for designs
    • Going to be quite long winded
    I will split these topics into two types of sections; primary and secondary. The primary sections are core sections that will focus on design principles as an overall, these will provide explanation and thought processes on topics that are featured throughout the entire thread. The secondary sections are focus sections that will isolate specific examples and reference the primary/core sections within them, forming the general bulk of the thread.

    Topic One - Generalisation on Purpose, Roles and Performance

    Within the Starmade universe builders will come across different issues or problems and will lead to engineering a solution, exactly as you would in life outside of Starmade. Understanding these issues is a core aspect in the design of your constructions. Let's highlight some examples that you may be familiar with and may try to address:
    • Material gathering
    • Long distance travel
    • Bulk storage
    • Defences (Missile, Shielding, etc)
    • etc

    These examples are some of the basic issues that everyone will come across and recognise immediately. These issues are what I like to call core issues and the engineered solutions form the purpose of the construction. This is because these are the issues that are a primary focus on what you are building to solve. For example you are trying to gather as many materials as possible for further construction later, this is the core issue you are trying to solve and will require a salvage array. Building a ship without one and featuring a missile weapon system would not solve this problem and therefore would not fulfil the purpose.

    This does not mean that a construction is designed based on entirely one issue. In the construction of most vessels although you may be focused on a main issue you may need it to overcome other, smaller issues. These issues are not the primary focus and so I like to call them secondary issues. For example:

    Your salvage vessel is designed to collect materials and does this effectively however you require the specific material Matisse for some of your work and the local systems do not contain an asteroid for you to mine this. You have found an asteroid that contains Matisse 32 systems away. Your secondary issue at this point you have identified as travelling that distance to harvest those materials. You can travel to this slowly in your vessel that only has a salvage array or you can develop the systems on your vessel to jump and perform this travel faster. So you put jump mechanics on your ship and have solved the secondary issue.

    You have effectively changed your construction at this point to solve multiple issues and therefore the design is different. The purpose of the vessel has remained material collection but now has the ability to perform long range travel. It is a combination of core and secondary issues that are resolved that lead to the Role of a construction.


    The Role of the construction as we have discussed is based on it's purpose. You may now want to create something that resolves an issue that isn't related to the previous construction or the issues it was there to resolve. Rather than build onto the previous construction when you have no requirement for the purpose it was built you should make a new construction. Because the purpose of this new construction is to answer a separate issue it has a different Role.

    Role is useful for adequate fleet construction and more effective roleplay and group play. Not to say this cannot work outside of these constructs but it tends to lend itself more to these groups rather than strict PVP, one-size-fits-all constructions and "meta" gameplay. This is because assigning constructions specific Roles focuses it to a task, removing the "wasted" blocks. "Wasted" blocks are those that consume space when they cannot be used for the specific purpose. For example:
    • A salvage vessel containing a separate cannon array, the cannon array being unable to perform the task of salvaging is "wasted" and consumes space and mass within the vessel. Yes it can be a nice feature to have for defensive purposes, but if your salvage vessel is for local or short range mining it is not too far from safety and protection. Due to the size of efficient salvage vessels in general it will often not have a fast turning rate, making it difficult to both salvage and defend itself.
    Instead for this example you could have an escort vessel. This vessel could be geared towards light combat and defending the salvage vessel. It does not require a salvage array and could therefore provide a focus on weapons. It's purpose is defence and therefore it's role differs to being an escort. Both vessels would not require utilities the other might have, have less "wasted" blocks therefore and so more space can be utilised to improve it's ability to perform it's purpose.

    Examples of Roles:
    • Mining / Salvage vessels
    • Cargo hauler
    • Fighter
    • Bomber
    • Destroyer
    • Carrier

    Roles despite the examples given are not strictly for the use of ship construction and can also be utilised for station construction. For example:
    • Defence Outpost
    • Factory and Cargo storage
    • Shopping and Trade center

    The Role of a construction can be important to it's Classification, where you may have multiple constructions that perform the same purpose but are not built to deal with other purposes. Classification and the discussion around it will be continued in a separate Ship Classification and Fleet section of the thread.


    The performance or efficiency of a construction is it's ability to perform the purpose it was designed for. This can be measured on varying factors, common factors include:
    1. Time Requirements
    2. Volume of Output
    3. Capacity
    4. Ease of Use

    Time Requirements refers to the space of time required to perform a specific task. The less time that you need to input to achieve the task the more effective a system is. For example, you have two vessels designed for gathering materials and salvaging asteroids. You have infront of you an asteroid containing approximately 150,000 blocks. One of these vessels (Miner A) is able to harvest all of these blocks within 30 seconds whereas the other vessel (Miner B) is able to harvest all of these blocks within 25 seconds. From this we can determine that Miner B is more efficient than Miner A. They are both effective as they are able to perform the purpose of mining the blocks but on Miner B can perform the act faster. Exactly how much faster? We can measure the speeds of salvage rate using a formula of blocks salvaged per second (speed = total blocks/total time)
    1. Miner A salvage rate: 150,000 blocks / 30 seconds = 5000 blocks per second
    2. Miner B salvage rate: 150,000 blocks / 25 seconds = 6000 blocks per second
    From this we can then find the difference between the two values, divide the difference by Miner A's salvage rate and then multiply by a value of 100 to find the percentage difference in salvage rates.
    • 6000 - 5000 = 1000
    • 1000 / 5000 = 0.2
    • 0.2 * 100 = 20%
    From this we have determined that Miner B is 20% more efficient than Miner A in terms of time requirement or speed of salvaging. This is a significant difference and will favour the use of Miner B as it performs its purpose to a better standard.

    Volume of Output refers to the size of the result or yield. Specifically the higher value will be more fit for purpose. Examples of this may include the amount of damage a cannon can achieve, the amount of blocks a factory can create or the amount of material gathered by a salvage vessel. Referring back to our previous example you have the vessels Miner A and Miner B. Miner A has been installed with logistics chambers where it has Mining 2 equipped, Miner B does not have this. With this Miner A can harvest 3 times the materials from a block and Miner B cannot. Let us assume in this instance that the 150,000 blocks of the asteroid are all useful and can have this bonus applied. The total volume of output for each vessel is as follows:

    1. Miner A volume of output: 3 * 150,000 = 450,000
    2. Miner B volume of output: 1 * 150,000 = 150,000
    Again we can work out the difference between the two values and then divide the difference by Miner B's volume of output as it is smaller. We will then multiply the value by 100 to to find the percentage difference in volume of output.

    • 450,000 - 150,000 = 300,000
    • 300,000 / 150,000 = 2
    • 2 * 100 = 200%
    From this we have determined that Miner A is 200% more efficient than Miner B in terms of volume of output or yield of useful materials. This is a huge difference and favours the use of Miner A for performing the purpose of material gathering.

    Capacity refers to the total volume that can be held upon the construction. The higher the capacity, the better suited the construction is for the purpose. For this we refer to the storage capacity created through cargo container blocks in Starmade. These can be used in both factory production and for general storage. Using the previous example, both Miner A and Miner B are going to have the same capacity or volume for storage. In this instance we will say that both have a capacity to store 200,000 of the useful material. Because both have the exact same capacity, they are equally efficient in regards to total capacity.

    Ease of Use refers to the ability of the construction to perform the purpose without complication. The more actions required to perform the purpose the less efficient it is as it is more difficult to use. This generally is a performance marker seen in the automation of constructions. If you have an automatic miner used to gather materials, you would rather press one button to activate and achieve the purpose than press a button to prepare the position of the salvage array and then another to actually perform the salvage action.

    These performance markers although worthwhile individually are not necessarily exclusive of each other. Lets look back at the previous example using Miner A and Miner B and what we know of them so far.

    Miner A:
    • Salvage rate of 5000 blocks/sec
    • 3 times volume of output
    • Capacity of 200,000
    Miner B:
    • Salvage rate of 6000 blocks/sec
    • 1 times volume of output
    • Capacity of 200,000
    • Contains 150,000 blocks
    General observations:
    • Miner B is 20% more efficent than Miner A in terms of speed of harvest
    • Miner A is 200% more efficient than Miner B in terms of volume of output
    • Miner A and Miner B are equally efficient in terms of storage

    We can agree that both ships have their advantages, although not equally in the difference of their advantages. Now let us make some more observations based on what we know, particularly with Miner B; the volume it can collect 450,000 useful material is much larger than the 200,000 capacity it can hold. If we divide the volume of output by the capacity we can determine that it is 2.25 times larger than the capacity it can hold.
    • 450,000 / 200,000 = 2.25
    Now, let us say that we want to completely harvest the asteroid until nothing is left and store all the materials at a nearby station. This nearby station is roughly 15 seconds away from the asteroid if we assume both vessels travel at exactly the same speed. We will assume that both Miner A and Miner B start at the asteroid. We know that Miner B's volume of output is less than the capacity it has for storage and so can store all the materials it gathers in one trip. If we add the time it takes to harvest the materials to the journey time to the station for Miner B:
    • 150,000 / 6000 = 25
    • 25 + 15 = 40 seconds
    Miner B takes 45 seconds to completely harvest the asteroid and store all of it's materials. This leaves us with the amount of materials stored per second for Miner B:
    • 150000 / 40 = 3750
    On the other hand we know that Miner A's volume of output is larger than it's capacity by 2.25 times. We know that you cannot have 0.25 of a trip to the asteroid and back to the station and so we can round this up. The first trip from the asteroid to the station and then two of these trips will be from the station to the asteroid and back:
    • Asteroid to station: 15 seconds
    • Station to asteroid and back: 2 * 15 seconds = 30 seconds
    • 15 + 30 + 30 = 75 seconds
    Now we can work out the total time required to harvest the asteroid (blocks / blocks per sec):
    • 150,000 / 5000 = 30 seconds
    The total time to store all of the materials gathered for Miner A is therefore 105 seconds:
    • 30 + 75 = 105 seconds
    Miner A will harvest 450,000 materials in this time and store it. So the materials stored per second for Miner A is:
    • 450,000 / 105 = 4285.714... (4286 rounded)

    Now we have deduced that Miner A stores more materials per second than Miner B. We can work out how much more efficient it is by finding the difference and dividing this by materials stored per second for Miner B and multiplying by 100:
    • 4286 - 3750 = 536
    • 536 / 3750 = 0.1429...
    • 0.1429 * 100 = 14.29%
    We now know that Miner A is 14.29% more efficient than Miner B for the purpose of harvesting this asteroid and storing all the materials, despite taking over twice as long to do so. This makes Miner A the clear winner for efficiency.

    We have now been able to highlight which is the better Miner for the purpose and also to expose the flaws in the design of Miner A (the size of the Capacity). To improve the efficiency of the design to allow for the exact same amount of trips we can increase the Capacity of Miner A by 2.25 times as much so that it could all be gathered and stored in one trip to the station. This would increase the efficiency to:
    • 150,000 / 50 = 30 seconds
    • Asteroid to station = 15 seconds
    • 15 + 30 = 45 seconds
    • 450,000 / 45 = 10000
    • 10000 - 3750 = 6250
    • 6250 / 3750 = 1.66... (1.67 rounded)
    • 1.67 * 100 = 166.7%
    By making that adjustment, we have found an efficiency increase on Miner A of:
    • 166.7 - 14.29 = 152.41%

    Now these aren't the only categories to test performance and efficiency with, but they make a good starting point for this example. When building multiple constructions for the same purpose, to improve your designs it is better to compare them against each other. Producing new models and updating fleets and constructions for specific Roles benefits greatly from testing the performance. Make use of testing such as this to compare constructions, improve designs and to make sure that the construction built fits the Role it is intended for.
    Last edited:
    Dec 5, 2015
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    • Community Content - Bronze 1
    Impressive level of detail and thoroughness. I'll be sure to follow this thread as it evolves
    Jul 7, 2013
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    • Legacy Citizen 5
    • Legacy Citizen 6
    This thread is a solution in search of a problem.

    Hobby mechanics use an adjustable wrench. Professional mechanics use a set of wrenches. Professional/Hobby isn't a judgement of effectiveness of repairs, but of the human social structure supporting the individual.

    Professional mechanics have Customers. Specialized vehicles have a resale market. Specialists have an Opportunity Cost by not being able to capitalize on diverse benefit streams through limited focus and tooling.

    Starmade doesn't simulate society very well because it doesn't simulate PEOPLE well. Think about it. If you are stuck in the woods with no food, then being efficient with your water supply and the time you use to gather it becomes important. But with no food, fuel, air, aging or reproduction requirements, the need for efficiency goes out the window.

    Top down central management of ship design through romantic elevation of large scale military specialization isn't fun and I haven't seen it in the sandbox without A LOT of role play enforcement from a dedicated server staff. (RIP STARMADE 40K)

    The Starmade Autonomous Zone (SAZ) lacks creative invested "game master moderators" and owners (Police) so every game becomes warlords and homeless people stomping on gardens. Creative Utopians simply get ground down and can't feed themselves, because artists need patrons.
    Warlords turn the game into a pinewood derby where they race blocks of wood down ramps at new players and calculate the speed and efficiency of their murder.

    Until there is a resource you need to consume in order to survive, specialization lacks the tie that binds cooperative society; and the need to mirror military specializations or any other, for that matter. Murder hobos with Swiss Army knives survive early game and they keep adding new blades as they need them to the same knife. That is until they join the 4 on 1 warlord group against the new login...then they get a miner.

    Change my mind?
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