Colonies, Resources, and Production

Time to go over how colonies and manufacturing will work in STL.

As we discussed before, the core of the economy in Slower Than Light is energy — it is the basic resource that is converted into everything else.  Converting energy into other resources, though, has a couple of steps.  The first step is converting that energy into raw materials, usually metals, radioactives, and organics.

Here we see the metal resource curve for a planet.  At the left is the amount of easily collected metals.  At the right are the metals that require considerably more energy to collect.
Figure 1: Here we see the metal resource curve for a planet. At the left is the amount of easily collected metals. At the right are the metals that require considerably more energy to collect.

Each planet has a resource curve for each resource it supplies.  The curve provides different amounts of the resource that are available for differing amounts of energy used to recover it.  In the example in Figure 1, we see the energy requirements collecting metal using 3 different kinds of facilities.  A Surface Mine requires very little energy per ton of metal created.  A Mountain Mine requires more, but has a higher capacity.  A Mantle Mine, which goes deeper than any mine we have today, has the potential to reach colossal amounts of metal, but is extremely expensive per ton to access.

This Nuclear Engine is being assembled on a planet where Metals and Organics are relatively cheap to acquire, but Radioactives are expensive.  By multiplying each ton of material by the energy cost, and adding the factory's energy requirements, the total cost of producing the nuclear engine is found.
Figure 2: This Nuclear Engine is being assembled on a planet where Metals and Organics are relatively cheap to acquire, but Radioactives are expensive. By multiplying each ton of material by the energy cost, and adding the factory’s energy requirements, the total cost of producing the nuclear engine is found.

At each colony, some fraction of the energy produced is dedicated to consumer goods, and some is dedicated to strategic projects the player or their ministers initiate.   When a project is being budgeted, the system breaks it down into components, finds the cheapest method of getting each component, and presents the player with the optimized price.  If the player is so inclined, they can drill down to see why the cost of each option is what it is, or they can just make their decision based off the summary numbers.

Figure 3: Despite the considerably higher cost of Metals and Organics in the airless and harsh environment of the Moon, it can be cheaper to build spacecraft there because of the low cost of launching those spacecraft from the Moon's shallower gravity well.
Figure 3: Despite the considerably higher cost of Metals and Organics in the airless and harsh environment of the Moon, it can be cheaper to build spacecraft there because of the low cost of launching those spacecraft from the Moon’s shallower gravity well.

Because the energy requirements for different materials varies depending on the planet and the facilities available, it can make sense to build different components in different places.  In our final image, we can see that despite the fact that it is much more expensive to get metal and organics on the Moon than on Earth, it can be cheaper to build on the Moon, because the extra cost is made up for in the launch of the spacecraft.

The numbers shown in these examples were just for the sake of illustration — they shouldn’t be taken as final game values.  The complexity shown here will also be obscured by default.  When a player takes an action, they will simply be told the final amount of energy it will cost the colony footing the bill.  The drill-down to find out why the cost is what it is, and how they could theoretically reduce the cost by building new facilities or choosing a different construction site will be present, but not shown by default.

One thought on “Colonies, Resources, and Production”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *