What happens when you lose a space station?
This thread started by asking a more narrow question, about your homeworld station when it’s your only station, but to answer that we need to look at the whole mechanics of space-planet travel.
Galactic Ruler introduced a new game mechanic to the series – capturing. Units with sufficient crew will show an icon in their unit blueprint. They are able to capture units that have run out of ammunition or have no attack capabilities. They can also capture orbital stations. For the player, the Corvette is usually the first combat ship useful for capturing. The pirates run larger crews on their smaller ships, so even their raiders and enforcers can capture your ships if you let them run out of ammo. Space stations can be protected by Orbital Defense Platforms or by any combat ship.
Small side note, the potential for capture is one of the reasons for the new “self destruct” order available to space units. I’ll blow up my battleship before I let it fall to the enemy…
When an orbital station is captured, the new owner controls the space above the planet and any facilities built there. They have no direct influence or effect on the planet below. The planet, however, might notice the loss of the orbital station. Trades could be interrupted if that planet was depending on an orbital storage as the delivery point for Merchant AI, but a spaceport can bypass that need. Merchant AI ships move through everyone’s territory freely.
Planets without orbital access
I will eventually get to the homeworld, but that’s not the only situation that can occur. If my enemy takes the station at my colony, I still control the colony. They won’t gain anything from the colony until they invade and conquer it. If the planet is an outpost, it’s actually possible for multiple people to be exploiting it simultaneously. Take the example of an ice moon with energy deposits. I could be operating power plants in the north while 2 other players are competing in the south. Who owns the station is secondary since we can all ship things through the Merchant AI. The key limitation for a planet without a station is the obvious lack of spaceship building capacity.
To regain control of the orbital area, players have a few options. They could bring ships in from another system and capture the station. An ally could capture the station for them. If they go to peace with the enemy, they could trade for the station (which is done by trading the colony). Ultimately they could destroy the station then replace it, either by sending a new engineering ship or by launching one from the planet using the Orbital Station Launch Pad.
Planetbound races, options for Breakout
So what if your homeworld station is captured? It’s more significant since that represents the majority of your resources, but it is just another planet. You could solve this as described above – you or an ally capture or destroy/replace the enemy station.
Yes, I know, I avoided the issue. What if I don’t have an ally? What if I don’t have any colonies with ships on them? What if that’s my ONLY planet. How do I get out?
Short answer – you can’t. The game should be sending you a message when this situation occurs, telling you that you’re now trapped. I know we tested for that before release and it should still be working.
The long answer leads to the next question – what should you be able to do about it? We had many discussions about this before release (and we still discuss it occasionally). I know the initial responses here and in other threads make it sound like we just left out a piece of the puzzle, but it has bigger implications
The obvious first answer is “give me a weapon to destroy the enemy station from my planet”. That’s still being considered for future updates, but that’s a limited solution. If another player forced you back to your planet, they likely still control a wide area around your planet. If I destroy the station and send up one of my own, the player who beat me before will just take it again.
Often this leads to the next suggestion of “give me a weapon on planet that can hit ships outside of my planet’s hex”. Oookayyyy… we’re starting to really change the game here. You only solve this issue if you create a weapon that can shoot far enough to match long range ships. Now you’ve turned a space game into WW1 trench warfare as every planet becomes a bunker.
Another common idea is “let me build ships on my planet and launch from there”. This again significantly alters the reality the game creates. If you can build/launch fleets from the planet’s surface, why ever build facilities in space? If you can launch from planet, why can’t you fly ships back into the atmosphere? Why can’t my spaceships fight in the air at planet level? This also massively changes the game balance, since you’re no longer limited to 5 ship building per planet.
So why don’t I get defeated when I lose my homeworld station?
Fair question, but the game doesn’t always know the “full situation” the way a player sees it. In multiplayer we certainly wouldn’t want to force the loss since other players might help you out. Even in single player, with your last orbital station lost, you might have things in motion that you think could save you. We opted to notify the player, not force them to conceded immediately.
We might have more to say on this at a later date, but this is already a huge wall of text. Hopefully this gives some insight into the design process. We continue to evaluate the overall game systems and consider what we might change in future updates or mods we might publish ourselves. Let us know if you have more questions.