Hydroponics Food Production

Polaris Sector is a sci-fi 4X game that offers exciting exploration, detailed resource management, unique research mechanics and intense tactical combat.
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Cassini
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Hydroponics Food Production

Post by Cassini » Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:21 am

The hydroponics advance only produces 1000 units of 'food', requiring 750 population to staff each 'module' (difficult level). This makes the hydroponics advance useless for attempting to support the 'food' requirements of a planet where agriculture cannot 'naturally' occur. To produce 15,000 units of food, 11,250 population must staff 15 hydroponics modules; in addition, 1.300 population must staff the 13 modules to 'house' themselves and the 11,250 population working the hydroponics. Then there will most likely be at least 1,000 police necessary to keep this whole group from getting restless....

So for a total supported 15,000 population (15 domes): 11,250 population working making 15,000 food. 1,500 population running the domes, most likely 1,500 police to keep things in control - for a grand total of 14,250 population to enable 750 to 'work' something else (factories, mines, other facilities). There's NO POINT in engaging in hydroponics - there is no net return for the side so choosing.

The 'productivity' for hydroponics needs to be increased.

Given the ratios of food productivity to population for other agriculture (difficult level) - about 8:1 for 'earthlike' and about 6:1 for 'oceanic' (working from memory), I think at least a 2:1 productivity ratio for hydroponics would be reasonable - 1 module requiring 750 population and producing 1500 units of food (NOT the current 1000 units of food). This would enable a rather fully developed domed world (say 45,000 population), to need 30 hydroponic modules to sustain its own needs; only requiring 22,500 of that population (half) to produce food for the other half. If you figure 4,500 population staffing the 'domes', and another 4,500 (average) police and other protection present (depending on proximity to hostile forces), this would leave 13,500 population to staff factories, mines and other facilities... of this 'self-sufficient' domed planet.

As it stands now, hydroponics are useless. To produce that 45,000 units of food, it currently requires 45 hydroponic modules staffed by 33,750 population. On this example domed world, that would only leave 2,250 population to do other 'productive' things... That's only 5% of the population freed from food production and habitation maintenance... TOO LOW. By changing the productivity ratio to 2:1 (one module producing 1500 food), there would be 30% of the population freed to do other things. Even that is too low, but it would be far better that the way things currently are.

And as far as 'reasonableness', I think a ratio of 3:1 productivity (2250 food production for 750 population per hydroponic module) for 'frozen' and 'desert' worlds would be reasonable. Then a lower ratio of 2:1 for the other worlds which support hydroponics. The current 1.33:1 productivity ratio is useless for anything other than 'survival' levels.

shawkhan2
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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by shawkhan2 » Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:19 pm

Astute analysis there. The game is constantly being improved. Thank you for pointing out this particular flaw. The developer(s) should pay attention to this.
Btw, enjoying this game immensely, especially the ship design process.

SilasOfBorg
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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by SilasOfBorg » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:43 pm

Your analysis is spot on. However.. there are a couple counter-points I feel you have overlooked:

1. Hydroponics does give you the ability to turn an otherwise useless planet into a fuel-stop without impacting global food production, which is nice (yes, you can do the same thing with tankers, but they're more easily shot down, and the planet can actually build stuff).

2. I don't know that making the returns better would be balanced; if you could produce enough excess food from useless rocks it would encourage settlement of all those useless rocks in order to allow your 'useful' planets to scrap farms and build more factories or labs or mines. Personally, I hate situations like this where 'optimal' play involves counter-intuitive, micromanagement heavy stuff (nor do I want to pollute my planet listings with dozens of useless crap farm planets).

So I can see why the devs might have very finely tuned Hydroponics so that they are *exactly* as useful as they currently are; that is to say, not very. ;)

GodwinW
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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by GodwinW » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:34 pm

1. Tbh, a fuel stop just requires 1 colonizer module or 1000 people. That's not going to impact global food production (in 99% of cases, and if so you have bigger concerns). In other words, I don't feel this is a good point.

2. This is a good point. Limits should remain in place. However, it feels a bit like a trap this way.. If you're a new player and you don't know the Hydroponics value you can easily make the mistake of prioritizing it as research and subsequently being frustrated with the outcome.
Wouldn't it be better then if it just didn't exist at all?
Maybe not.. but maybe so. I am not sure. I haven't ever built them yet :p

Cassini
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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by Cassini » Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:33 am

As it stands now, hydroponics is absolutely USELESS for doing anything constructive. GIven the other little 'errors' present in the program, I'm sure this was an oversight by the developer. When the program first came out in Spring of '16, it had so many bugs in it I stopped trying to learn it after 3 days. When I learned there was a patch that corrected many of the errors, I gave it another try. The major errors look to have been corrected, but there are still PLENTY of issues present that relate to game play.

For instance... AI 'cheat' behavior, creates ships and capability that the player simply CANNOT emulate (what I call a 'hard' cheat as opposed to a 'soft' cheat to make up for lack of AI on the 'computer's' part'), just plain oversights in how something works (Long Distance Scanning Array creates EXTRA population while building on domed worlds), players cannot 'attack' neutral ships with the 'fleet non grata' message - they just keep on sailing through your territory... cannot initiate an attack short of initiating war on these 'spies'. There are other issues in the program that have crept through the Beta play test it seems... At least the program hasn't crashed on me (there have been some issues with graphics becoming corrupted after an extended play session).

Back to farms...

The ratio of population to 'food' production on 'earth-like' worlds is 8:1 before any local modifiers. The ratio of population to production on 'oceanic' worlds is 6.67:1 before any local modifiers. These enable these planets to not only support themselves, but also a number of other worlds with modest populations on them. As it currently stands, the ratio of food production to population for hydroponics is 1.33 to 1 (1000 food to 750 population). This is simply not an effective return (put another way, I see it as an oversight, not design intent).

Later in the game (when the worlds with the real 'goodies' are able to be opened up), the ability of the oceanic and earth-like worlds to create sufficient food is stretched severely. Now... one would think the hydroponics advance would step in, easing the burden and allowing these developed (non-agriculture capable) worlds to achieve some measure of self-sufficiency - but only after CONSIDERABLE effort into developing many of those 50 available 'slots'. Not so.... if a player somehow managed to actually get 'farms' into those 50 slots, they'd produce 50,000 food, with 37,500 population working the farms, another 5,000 population working the habitation, and presumably a few thousand police providing 'control' to keep the population from rioting. Putting all that work into developing those farms and domes, only to provide an 'excess' of 5,000 units (or so) of food... simply a waste of time and effort for no return to the player. As it stands now, hydroponics is a 'white elephant' (only a burden to the possessor - or one who wants to possess it). I can't think the developer intended this to be the outcome. Therefore, I view it as one of the oversights that crept into the program.

As I wrote in original post, I think an alteration to the ratio for hydroponics to at least 2:1 (1500 food for 750 population working it) would be warranted, and I'd even up that ratio to either 2.5:1 or 3:1 for the frozen and desert worlds (they should be able to become self-sufficient without considerable effort).

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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by bjgrt » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:43 pm

There are a lot of errors (less than Cassini is saying though), but the Hydroponic Farms being pretty useless was intentional - that was said by the author (on the Russian forum). However it's relatively easy to fix by changing the BldInfo\HydroponicFarm.ini (just don't use the Windows Notepad for it). Here is the example of mine (the forum wont allow to upload):

Code: Select all

ID "HydroponicFarm"
  Icon "images/ve/buildings/hydropon_plantation.png"
  Info "HydroponicFarm"
  MaxCountByDefault 50
  Produces Food 1750.000000
  WorkersRequired 750
  AIValue 0.200000
  Requires Prod 75.000000
  RequiredTech "SCBLDHYDROP"
  ProdAmountModTech "HIDDEN_HYDROPONIC_FARM_BOOSTER" 1.2500000 
The Steam might reverse it if you are an unlucky Steam user (I am not). Than you'd need to do a proper mod.

Cassini
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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by Cassini » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:23 am

Thanks for the heads-up on the location of the 'initialization file'. I've already changed the data to suit my tastes in my installation.

Is there any program which allows users to easily modify data files for Polaris? I'm thinking something in line with what Matrix Games has for their 'Victory in the Pacific, Admiral's Edition" game. I've used that program extensively for scenario creation and some modifications of data files to improve the experience. While this program has a lot of promise, there are so many issues with how production is handled (costs, labor requirements, etc.), that I'd REALLY like to change things to suit my tastes. I still know the AI has the corvettes with the nearly infinite range (which most likely will never be fixed), but many other things can be fixed with a good editor.

GodwinW
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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by GodwinW » Sun Dec 24, 2017 5:39 pm

If it's intentional it seems a bit weird that radio-active species only have a food increase to 1250 for Hydroponics instead of 1000.. Radio-active species costs 10 points, and currently it just seems like a negative honestly..

I guess you can grab planets others cannot, but then again you start without (as Logans anyway) aquatic platforms, so meh..

I would say that IF Hydroponics is intended to be that low, fine, but Radio-active species should get a bonus not of 250 but of 750 at least, imo (I'd say 2000 food for Hydroponics for radio-active species would be good and still not make that easy or powerful).

Darvin3
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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by Darvin3 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:37 pm

I played around with Hydroponics on my most recent game and found that the austere foodstuffs control reduces food consumption more than it reduces food production, which actually results in a higher overall food surplus in most cases. This turns hydroponics colonies from just breaking even into moderately profitable food production centers. Obviously this renders the colony pretty useless for anything else, and you'll need to let the colony build up with normal food rations initially, but once established a hydroponics colony seems to work just fine. If you combine with a lower food consumption racial bonus (something I haven't tried yet) I think this approach could work quite well for devoting more of your earthlike and oceanics to innovation.

Haven't tried Radioactive yet, but I feel the primary benefit there would be in the early-game land grab. If you get cut off early by rival empires then it's a complete waste, but if it lets you bunny-hop forward and enclose a huge expanse of worlds then it's a huge advantage. Definitely an all-or-nothing trait whose value is entirely dependent on the map layout. The fact that it doesn't help with food production is a big bummer, though, and I'd agree that doesn't seem worth 10 points unless the galaxy layout was perfectly suited to it.

solops
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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by solops » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:41 pm

I play on the Challenge difficulty level. Hydroponics is a vital and incredibly useful tech that allows access to critical resources. It provides just enough excess to mine those inhospitable, resource rich planets. I even colonize contaminated worlds and farm them just for the tiny excess that cumulatively allows me to build more R&D on other worlds. Improving Hydroponics would seriously imbalance the game which, right now, is a delicate balance of trade-offs between food, research and production. The whole point is that you cannot have it all. There WILL be some unused slots on some of your worlds.

Try playing without the "useless" hydroponics plants and see how far you get.

Thrake
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Re: Hydroponics Food Production

Post by Thrake » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:04 pm

Cassini wrote:So for a total supported 15,000 population (15 domes): 11,250 population working making 15,000 food. 1,500 population running the domes, most likely 1,500 police to keep things in control - for a grand total of 14,250 population to enable 750 to 'work' something else (factories, mines, other facilities). There's NO POINT in engaging in hydroponics - there is no net return for the side so choosing.

The 'productivity' for hydroponics needs to be increased.
With racial food production it gets much better though, you get to feed from 750 extra dudes to 2250 up to 4500. Conversely you might just forget about hydroponics if your race is an hungry one.

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