Author Topic: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit  (Read 921 times)

Offline leeor_net

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Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« on: September 27, 2016, 11:14:10 PM »
So I'm going over colony and population management now, specifically in terms of landing colonists on the planet.

It occurs to me that when you arrive, your colonists are still in slow sleep until they're woken up and thrown onto a colonist lander. Which means that they are unavailable until they're dropped down onto the surface.

That being the case, that also means that they're not consuming food. Which is cool, this gives the player some time to start developing their colony before dropping colonists to the surface. You can't drop them down until the command center is built which is good as the CC acts as a temporary residence until residential units are built.

Many of the structures can't function without colonists so you can't leave them up in orbit indefinitely so I'm not too worried about balance issues in terms of free colony construction before dropping down colonists.

Anyway, before getting dropped they're sitting on the colony ship in slow sleep. But the colony ship isn't going to stay in orbit forever. In the original game the colony ship would eventually deorbit and crash land on the surface somewhere.

So here's the question:

How long does the colony ship stay in orbit before crashing? The first arbitrary number that comes to mind is 24 turns or roughly two years. This gives the player a little time to get their colony started before dropping their colonists down, but they can't leave their colonists in orbit indefinitely. Should this be affected by difficulty level? E.g., +/-10 turns based on difficulty? Should it only stay in orbit for only a year? Five years?

Thanks for your input!
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Offline Goof

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Re: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2016, 11:30:54 PM »
I do believe that the ship will take between 20 to 150 light year to access the destination. (based on OP1)
I assume that the ship isn't light speed capable and take 100 time the light speed.
This ends with  a 2 000 to 15 000 years of traveling time.
So, for me, 2 years is a bit short.

Offline leeor_net

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Re: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2016, 08:00:30 AM »
In the strategy guide it states that the trip is roughly 60 years (for the closer distances of like 20 light years or so). It's supposed to use an ion propulsion system of some sort, I dunno, but basically it would take a long time to accelerate and a long time to decelerate. Colonists are in a 'slow sleep', not cryogenic suspension so they would all be dead after a 2000 - 15,000 year voyage.

I'm not sure travel times are relevant here, though. Once the ship arrives in orbit, it's not really doing anything to maintain that orbit. The fuel has all been spent getting the ship to the new planet and inserting the ship into orbit (e.g. "Orbital insertion complete.").

I would think after a couple of years drag from the upper ionosphere would cause the ship's orbit to decay... but that's why I'm asking here for opinions. 24 turns may be a bit short, but I'm also thinking in terms of the colonists and the ability of the ship to maintain life support for the slow sleepers. This could still be left to 24 turns with the ship crashing later?
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 08:07:23 AM by leeor_net »
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Offline dave_erald

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Re: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2016, 02:14:16 PM »
I would use your difficulty level to determine orbit decay. Easy has your ship at high orbit with a progressive decay rate starting after 4 cycles ( which would be a geosynchronous orbit and would use only small amount of resources to maintain i.e. station keeping ) and then there is medium orbit and a low planetary orbit. If the mass of the vehicle was light enough and positioned correctly it could orbit at medium distance indefinitely (or very near) so just about any number of variables or directions could be used.

I would stick to high, medium and low, mass of your vehicle has already determined that without resources it will be a decaying orbit (even at a very high geo stationary orbit the mass of your vehicle is going to pull it into the planetary body) and set a decay start time. High after 4 planetary cycles if you wanted to be generous, medium after two and hard is immediately and fails inside of twenty turns or whatever.

Make sense? Good, I'm done yammering....
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Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2016, 05:41:35 PM »
That ship is moving fast then.

60 Years to travel 20 Light Years, means they'd have to be moving 1/3 the speed of light to accomplish it, which is quite the feat, which is quite unrealistic. I believe I had heard that for the game Alpha Centauri, it took the ship 20 years to get to the Alpha Centauri system which is about 1-2 light years away, with an Ion Drive. Which would mean that ship was travelling at 1/5 to 1/10 the speed of light which sounds a bit more realistic.
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Offline leeor_net

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Re: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2016, 08:37:02 PM »
I'm not sure travel times are relevant here, though.

Going to stick with this one; travel time is irrelevant here. I'm more concerned about what is a reasonable time for a colony ship with an exhausted fuel supply to remain in an orbit before atmospheric and gravitational drag causes a deorbit and crash.
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Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2016, 07:30:45 PM »
Well the two big questions are at what distance does the starship stop at and if the colonists knew it would come down eventually, would they have programmed it to crash land at a specific coordinates well away from their base? After all, colonists don't like a massive starship chunks raining on their roofs!
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Offline Sirbomber

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Re: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2016, 09:50:10 PM »
Regarding travel time, the original game always made it sound like you went from Earth to your new planet instantaneously, what with the newspaper article on the first or second turn about the Earth getting destroyed and making it sound like there was a two-way communication that suddenly died out.  I always got a chuckle out of thinking about how much research and effort went into making Outpost 1 a realistic simulation of the difficulties colonizing a hostile planet, but then everyone working on it forgetting that light doesn't travel instantly.

I would say that if you do allow the colonist and cargo landers to stay in orbit without draining supplies for a few turns, that you don't allow the turn to proceed if it's the last turn before de-orbit and there are still colonists/cargo aboard the ship.
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Offline leeor_net

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Re: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2016, 11:43:15 PM »
I would say that if you do allow the colonist and cargo landers to stay in orbit without draining supplies for a few turns, that you don't allow the turn to proceed if it's the last turn before de-orbit and there are still colonists/cargo aboard the ship.

I like this. Pretty simple to do.
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Offline Hooman

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Re: Initial Population & Colony Ship Deorbit
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2016, 09:43:12 AM »
I would say that if you do allow the colonist and cargo landers to stay in orbit without draining supplies for a few turns, that you don't allow the turn to proceed if it's the last turn before de-orbit and there are still colonists/cargo aboard the ship.

I like this. Pretty simple to do.

 :-\

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5aZJBLAu1E
 :P
« Last Edit: October 02, 2016, 09:45:01 AM by Hooman »