Author Topic: Air shafts: Why can't they be in different columns from the surface?  (Read 4121 times)

Offline MichelGuenette

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I have an odd question about air shafts.

I know that a dozer on the surface has no choice but to dig down when placed beside a tube on the surface. When I am working on the subsurface level, I cannot use a dozer to dig down when it is placed beside a tube or the base of an air shaft coming from the surface. Looking through the bitmap of tiles, there is an image for a subsurface air shaft (TILE2.BMP, 447).

Right now, I am playing my v1.51 game. When I was playing this game in the 90's, I remember being able to place subsurface air shafts almost anywhere on the new level. I would have been playing with v1.1 at the time. Is this something that was "fixed" when the patches were released?

The reason that I am asking is because I was hoping to place an air shaft in the corners of the subsurface levels while placing a Comm. Tower on the surface to maximize their area of coverage. So, the first subsurface level would look like this, starting in the corner: Air shaft (DOWN) -- Tube -- Air shaft (FROM ABOVE). My notes below might provide more insights into my design concept for my colonies.

On a side note, I re-learned a few things about RoboDiggers and air shafts.
  • If you have a tube on the perimeter of your colony, then it is possible to dig an air shaft from the surface that is outside of the colony. (This is a great thing to know if you choose to colonize one of the small "planets" with only one subsurface level. The air shafts would not occupy a usable tile within the perimeter of your colony.)
  • If you attempt to dig a deeper air shaft to a new subsurface level AND the air shaft is outside of the perimeter of the colony, your RoboDigger is out of range of the Command Centre.
  • If you are trying to maximize the coverage area of your Comm. Towers, then place your air shafts two tiles back from the corners. A corner should look like Comm. Tower -- Tube -- Surface Air Shaft. That way, you still have a subsurface tube on the next level to use as a connection to a building in the corner. I will probably place Police in the corners of my subsurface levels. The Comm. Towers on the surface and the Police underground can act like markers that delineate the farthest reaches of your colony's Command Centre.
  • If you are trying to dig out the entire subsurface level under your colony, then try to get to the corners, following the suggestion above. (If you opted for a communications satellite when packing the starship, then you can probably place your air shafts in the corners.) Depending on which corner you start with, place your RoboDigger to continue digging in that cardinal direction. You want to reach the perimeter of the colony. When you cannot dig any further in that direction, bulldoze the tile that marks the corner. Working backwards from that tile, place your RoboDiggers so that they are pushing out to the sides. (If you started in the south corner, then dig to the east and to the west.) When you have a little bit of room to work with, you can return later and dig south again to reach the maximum distance from the perimeter of the colony. You will have a 2-tile buffer around the entire colony at the end of the effort. To make it easier to know where the diagonal edge of the colony is located, only bulldoze the tiles along that edge. It will be helpful when you are trying to place RoboDiggers that are continually pushing out the edges of your colony.

I just thought about this now while typing. If you have a enough colonists to support a fleet of robots, then after you have at least 10 RoboDozers, set up a Factory to assemble RoboDiggers. As their numbers increase, then you can use them to fan out underground.
  • Dig an air shaft from the surface, preferably near a corner, like suggested above.
  • Assume that you can follow the suggestion above to reach the outside edges by pushing out from the colony.
  • Assume that you started in the south. Place a RoboDigger in the NW corner of the 8-tile ring around the air shaft and dig north.
  • Place a RoboDigger in the NE corner of the 8-tile ring around the air shaft and dig north.
  • Continue placing RoboDiggers in the NW and NE corners of the newly excavated area, while placing a RoboDigger in the middle to cover the area that is missed by the RoboDiggers in the corners.
  • Because a RoboDigger can clear an area 3 tiles wide by 2 tiles deep, the leading edge working toward the centre of the colony will get wider by 2 tiles as you excavate. So, 3 -> 5, 5 -> 7, 7 -> 9, etc.
  • The resulting fan will be narrower than the right-angle triangle of the 30x30-tile diamond of the colony area. You will need to make sure to push out along the edges to make sure that there are no unexcavated areas.

I will need to sit down with a sheet of paper and some colouring markers to try to figure out if there is an optimal digging pattern that can be used to clear the most terrain possible with the fewest number of turns.

* The idea above is assuming that your colony is in an area of black tiles, so that your progress is as fast as possible. Also, I will need to verify if a RoboDozer placed on a corner will excavate the tile in its "blind spot" (i.e., SW tile if the air shaft is in the SE tile). Maybe they are "excavating" all 8 tiles around them, instead of just those in the direction that they are pointing. [VERIFIED! RoboDiggers seem to dig around themselves.]
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 01:13:18 PM by MichelGuenette »

Offline HegemonKhan

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Re: Air shafts: Why can't they be in different columns from the surface?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2019, 08:53:08 PM »
max area for underground buildings per robodigger:

separate independent no-overlap of surface to UG1 airshafts/robodiggin: creates the 3x3 grid, allowing for 4 buildings

digging down to lower UG levels, makes the level above unavailable/unpowered/unresourced, until finished digging to the lower level (if you wait until turn 20 for your colonists: playing your colonist landers, you can use this time to get your air shaft to lower UG levels, as you can't build any structures until you got colonists landed, otherwise, otherwise, you have to waste a robodigger on building either another air shaft from the surface or from the underground level, so you don't lose power/resources to that entire UG level, as you dig to a lower level)

digging horizontally usually opens up only 2 buildings (1x3) initially, as you need the edge (the other 1x3) for another robodigger to keep extending horizontally


the limiting factor in expansion (more buildings) is resources and/or people (and this depends on difficulty of course, for example, on beginner difficulty its only people as the limiting factor), not land (dozing and digging), except at the very start of a new game (I like to get dozers first, so I got 6 of them, so I can clear the UG for 4 buildings, and then I switch over to diggers, until I got enough of them, then back to dozers again)

outpost does NOT really allow for "REX" (Rapid EXpansion) like in most turn-based games (like civ and civ-like games), due to waiting for more people/births (and/or defections from rebel colony) and/or limited resources, especially depending on difficulty level

I still have trouble with resource management (non-beginner difficulty levels), as either I use up all my people for residentials, to get the MPG to deal with resources, but then I hardly have any people for labs/research, or I get as many labs as I can, but then my resources get eaten up to nothing, as I don't have the MPG for it

as the limiting resources are:

metalA (due to trying to build as much as possible, despite it being a common and large quantity from mines)

preciousA - labs/factories/etc-special buildings use these resources
preciousB -  labs/factories/etc-special buildings use these resources

since mines are hard-coded to only give like 2 preciousA and 2 preciousB for each mine (I don't think you get more for more mine levels), it's better to building more mines than to build deeper mines, but more mines take more people, as opposed to having mines with more levels

I can't find the balance between resources needs and limiting people

how many residentials (MPG) are needed to support a lab/factory in terms of their resources, and how many people does that use up? pretty easy to test/figure out... but been to lazy to do so yet...

(I need to go through all of the buildings and get a list of resources and people that they require, both for construction and then for operation... sighs)

(lots of work: math work and testing... sighs... to get compiled...)


it must be a patch/version thing, as in v1.5: I can build airshafts (dig with robodiggers) on any (non-impassable) tile (surface or UG) that's next to a tube
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 09:19:21 PM by HegemonKhan »

Offline MichelGuenette

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Re: Air shafts: Why can't they be in different columns from the surface?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2019, 11:54:03 PM »
I went back to my v1.1 game to test whether I could create an air shaft from subsurface level 1 to level 2, without using an existing air shaft. I could not. It did not matter if the terrain was bulldozed or not, adjacent to a tube or not, adjacent to an air shaft or not. Any combination that I could think to test did not produce a positive result for a separate air shaft. Even bulldozing existing air shafts on one level and trying to replace it with one on a different level failed.

I am with you when it comes to running into limitations. I started to reach a limit with my people. I had a total of 80 workers and scientists for the longest time. Also, there were 14 retirees, yet it was my infants and my students that were dying when my colony was losing colonists. Luckily, I had just started to build Humanoid Robots, so I was able to supplement my workforce until the students started to graduate. Now, I have between 20 and 30 workers available most turns, if I do not go crazy with my first ever monorail. I am trying to reach the Rebel colony that is on the east side of the map, while I am closer to the middle. I think that I am 4 Comm. Towers away according to their maximum coverage. I still have a long way to go and I have a nearly clear path. (An untapped mine lies in my path, so I will need at least two Monorail Intersections to skirt around it.) Also, when I finally had enough unemployed workers, I was able to build the Nanotech Facility. Now, I have unlimited resources. I think that my expansion is limited by how many Humanoid Robots that I can build with my factories. (I think that I have three assembling Humanoid Robots at the moment.) I even splurged and placed a second Nanotech Facility, even though I do not expect to have a disaster on beginner difficulty.

It would be nice to have resource values for the construction and operation phases of all the buildings. I want the same thing as you, because then I can plan out how to expand my colony appropriately. I am trying to leave the square in the middle of the diamond as a reserved spot for the TerraForm Facilities. I could have as many as 416 tiles dedicated to them. That means that I have over 500 tiles for the rest of the colony's surface buildings, like AgriDomes, Storage Tanks, and Warehouses, to name a few. For the subsurface levels, the two right-angle triangles on the east and the west sides of the square would be reserved for everything except for Residential buildings. With nearly 600 tiles dedicated to Residential buildings, I could have 15,000 colonists to start, if we assume only 100% occupancy. And that is per level, if I happen to colonize a planet with multiple subsurface levels. I would need at least 600 colonists per level just to operate the Residential buildings. That does not include any other buildings.

Returning this discussion to air shafts, my colony design has been a few years in the making. I put the original plan aside over 3 years ago and it is only recently that I have returned to it.

  • When placing the original Seed Factory, make sure to count the distance from the edge of the map. (I forgot to do this in my current game and I lost the top 10 tiles at the north end of the colony.)
  • Start digging an air shaft immediately, so that the colony can expand underground.
  • With enough surface tiles bulldozed, prepare the layout so that the Command Centre is eventually surrounded by Tube Intersections with four air shafts aligned to the cardinal directions spreading out from the Command Centre.
  • Surround those four air shafts with Tube Intersections. (That will give you a cross with a footprint similar to the old city grid of Civilization before hexagons took over.)
  • Working out along the cardinal directions, continue to bulldoze terrain in a straight line. (Add new buildings as your needs dictate.)
  • At 15 tiles away, mark the tile by ringing it with bulldozed terrain.
  • At 28 tiles away, mark the tile by ringing it with bulldozed terrain, IF you choose to place a Comm. Tower in the corner. IF you have a communications satellite in orbit, then you can place your air shaft in the corner.
  • Repeat the two steps above for the other three cardinal directions.
  • At the 15-tile markers, bulldoze north and south (or east and west) until you reach the middle of the edge of the diamond. Mark that tile by ringing it with bulldozed terrain.
  • As the number of RoboDozers continues to increase with the number of Robot Commands that can be operated at the same time, bulldoze all of the terrain within the area of influence of the colony.

This pattern will place air shafts and/or Comm. Towers at convenient distances within the colony. All the air shafts at the 15-tile mark delimit the edges of the square within the diamond. Also, this provides a lot of redundancy to the colony's life support system because all the edges are connected through a grid of Tube Intersections. As well, this opens up 16 areas for underground excavations. This is where having a fleet of robots comes in handy.

This raises a question that I have not answered or thought of before: how long does it take a RoboDigger to complete its digging action?
  • Is it based on terrain type?
  • Is it based on the number of previously excavated tiles?
  • How does digging through mixed terrain affect the dig time? (Right now, I have only a few impassable terrain tiles within the coverage area of my main colony.)

Waiting on my RoboDiggers is the limitation to my ability to expand underground. I recently finished excavating and bulldozing the colony tiles for level 1. (I bulldozed outside of the colony coverage area by accident because of the coverage that I have with my Comm. Towers.) I started on the second level, but I stopped once I started to test some other theories. If I can determine the best way to excavate a new level quickly, then I will try that out with the rest of level 2 and later level 3 and beyond, if I colonize planets with four subsurface levels. Once I spend the time and resources placing my grid of Tube Intersections, then it becomes a waiting game for my colony population to expand to the unfathomable size of 15,000 per level. Then you have to wonder if it is possible to produce enough positive morale to keep a population of that size happy.

Do I have enough patience to try to do this with multiple colonies on the same planet? Can the game handle it? What is one more test of a theory?!

Offline HegemonKhan

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Re: Air shafts: Why can't they be in different columns from the surface?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2019, 01:48:14 AM »

clear: 1 turn surface, 2 turns underground
rough: 2 turns
hostile: 3 turns
impassable: N/A



clear: 7 turns surface, 8 turns underground (turn: 8, 16, 24, 32, etc)
impassable: N/A

horizontal (underground):
clear: 7-8 turns
impassable: N/A

surface impassable: 1 (or 2?) turns
underground impassable:



surface and undeground: 7 turns (turn: 8, 15, 22, 29, 36, etc)


I don't have outpost open at the moment, so I might be off a bit on the turns, and I can't remember the names of the different terran types, argh (edit: I think I jsut remembered the names of the terran types, but might be wrong on them, meh)
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 01:51:08 AM by HegemonKhan »

Offline MichelGuenette

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Re: Air shafts: Why can't they be in different columns from the surface?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2019, 08:57:09 AM »
[I lost my original reply because my session timed out. Now, I need to try to remember what I wrote and do it again.]

Thank you for the information. It is very useful.

I know that it is easy to verify the number of turns to bulldoze different terrains. I did it while playing, but I did not record the numbers anywhere. It does seem odd that underground clear terrain takes longer than the surface to bulldoze, while the rough and hostile terrain remain the same. I will need to verify this for my own knowledge.

Regarding RoboDiggers, before falling asleep, I was thinking about how to test the different terrains. Start with a special map, like I refer to in the Cheating with the map thread. Place 3x3 squares of clear, rough, hostile, and impassable terrain within the colony's zone of control (ZOC). Bulldoze my way toward the centre of each square. For the impassable terrain, at least one RoboDigger will need to be destroyed to reach the middle. Place Tube Intersections so that the RoboDigger has something to connect to. Count the number of turns required to dig through the column of 3x3 tiles. Record what type of terrain surrounds the air shaft. According to information that leeor_net shared, the resulting terrain will be the same as on the surface. For an air shaft dug through impassable terrain, it should be surrounded by impassable terrain. It might be necessary to bulldoze the new air shaft in order to continue digging horizontally. Also, verify where it is possible to place a RoboDigger that is set to self-destruct needs to be verified.

Once the air shafts are in place, then I will verify two more situations. Place the RoboDigger in the middle of the 3-tile wide edge AND place the RoboDigger in the corner of the 8-tile ring around the air shaft. It should take two re-loads of a saved map to verify both conditions. I am especially curious about the results with the impassable terrain.

This is the kind of information that needed to be part of the manual, instead of forcing the player to learn this through trial and error. I know that discovery is great, but with a little bit of knowledge, you can plan out the development of the colony much more efficiently.

I will return to testing when I have a new map and a new game to work with.

Offline MichelGuenette

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Re: Air shafts: Why can't they be in different columns from the surface?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2019, 12:57:46 AM »
My testing came early. My current game is throwing an error on turn 397 and for the moment, I keep closing the game on purpose. Hopefully, I will be able to continue playing after that turn without any problems when I click "Ignore". I do not want to lose all of my progress.

I was able to verify HegemonKhan's values and to add to them.

  • Clear = 1
  • Rough = 2
  • Hostile = 3
  • Impassable = N/A

  • Clear = 2
  • Rough = N/A (Not a valid terrain type)
  • Hostile = 3
  • Impassable = N/A

Now, if you place a RoboDozer on a tile that was originally passed over by the RoboDigger, the number of turns to bulldoze drops.
  • Clear = 1
  • Rough = N/A (Not a valid terrain type)
  • Hostile = 1
  • Impassable = N/A

This is where things get interesting.

As I explained previously, I needed to create a special map that would allow me to perform my tests quickly and easily. I increased the area for each terrain type to 10 tiles long by 5 tile wide. The air shaft was dug 1-tile in from the edge along the middle of the rectangle. The different terrain tile areas were separated by a 1-tile border of Clear terrain. For the Impassable terrain, I needed to self-destruct two RoboDiggers in order to have the proper terrain necessary for digging the air shaft.

Surface - Dig Down
  • Clear = 7 + 1 intermediate step of a construction tile
  • Rough = 9
  • Hostile = 10 + 1 intermediate step of a construction tile
  • Impassable = 11 + 1 intermediate step of a construction tile
* For some reason, the Rough terrain automatically flipped over to an air shaft when the RoboDigger was finished. For the other three terrain types, a construction tile appeared with 0 turns to completion before the air shaft appeared on the next turn.

Underground - Dig Horizontally: middle of the 3-tile edge
  • Clear = 8 (reveals 6 tiles)
  • Rough = N/A (Not a valid terrain type)
  • Hostile = 10 (reveals 6 tiles)
  • Impassable = 12 (reveals 3 tiles)
The RoboDigger's direction indication tile remained visible for 1 turn for Clear and Hostile terrain. For Impassable terrain, it remained visible for 10 turns. When the direction indication tile disappeared, it revealed the same terrain type that is on the surface.

There is a special feature about using a RoboDigger on the same tile when it is Impassable. If you place a RoboDigger for a second time to excavate the same Impassable tile, it will only take 8 turns and it will leave behind a bulldozed tile.
  • RoboDigger placed on bulldozed tile to dig West on turn 170
  • RoboDigger finished digging on turn 182
  • Direction indication tile disappeared on turn 192 to reveal an Impassable tile
  • RoboDigger placed on the same bulldozed tile to dig West on turn 192
  • RoboDigger finished digging on turn 200
  • Direction indication tile disappeared on turn 201 to reveal a bulldozed tile
So, it will take at least 30 turns to clear one Impassable terrain tile if you do not set the RoboDigger to self-destruct.

Underground - Dig Horizontally: south-west corner of the 3-tile edge
  • Clear = 8 (reveals 7 tiles)
  • Rough = N/A (Not a valid terrain type)
  • Hostile = 10 (reveals 7 tiles)
  • Impassable = N/A (Cannot dig while on/inside an Impassable tile)

Underground - Dig Down (i.e., extend air shaft to next level down)
  • Clear = 8
  • Rough = N/A (Not a valid terrain type)
  • Hostile = 10
  • Impassable = 12
* For some reason, the underground construction tile appeared for the air shaft dug in the testing areas for Rough and the Hostile terrain. When the RoboDigger was finished in the Clear and Impassable terrain areas, the air shaft appeared immediately. What is even stranger is that for the Rough terrain area, both subsurface 1 and subsurface 2 had the construction tile. However, for the Hostile terrain area, only subsurface 1 had the construction tile. The subsurface 2 displayed a completed air shaft. There appears to be some differences between the terrain types, even though both areas are treated as Hostile terrain when underground.

Before I forget, it was interesting to note that Rough terrain on the surface becomes Hostile terrain underground. Looking over the bitmap images for the different terrain types, I do think that I have ever seen "dug" after my RoboDiggers finish working an area. I guess that we chalk it up to another feature that was not implemented in the game.

I am not going to verify the digging time for the RoboMiner. For the number of mines that need to be dug over the course a game, you just need to plan ahead by about 10 turns, so that you are not caught short when a level is mined out.

Also, whether the RoboDigger is used on the surface or underground, it takes only 1 turn to self-destruct and to reveal a Clear terrain in its place. But, as the manual says, underground structures located within the 8-tile ring around the RoboDigger will be destroyed. I can confirm that my air shaft in the Impassable terrain area was destroyed after the RoboDigger self-destructed.

I believe that we have exhausted this topic. I am not going to test RoboDiggers in mixed terrain areas. With the numbers above, it should be possible to gauge how long it will take to excavate room for expansion for the colony.