This post is basically like my old post(link below) but some of the ideas below were outdated and had to be refined, so here we are.
Firstly, before I present any new ideas, I want to say that I am supportive of bast's focusing on game quality over content. I also don't expect any of these ideas to just be copied and pasted into the game as is, although it would be nice. The main reason for why I create these posts full of ideas is so that bast has a lot of ideas to think about and gain inspiration from when developing his own ideas for mc. I'm going to try my best to generalize my ideas without trying to name specific buildings and units to be added, as it's bast's job to think of the specifics. Now with that out of the way, let's begin.
The rigidity of MC's atmospherics:
My colony is one of my favorite games to play, so I mean no offense in saying this, but I have to say it. My colony is very rigid when it comes to how the planets respond to terraforming. For most planets, you get from 0 to 5 mil atmosphere and then the planet is fully terraformed, and stays that way even if you run out of atmosphere or accumulate 500 mil atmosphere. There's no consequence for failing to manage the atmosphere, and the terraformation process is very short, in fact, it's so short that you can terraform the planet relatively quickly just with industry alone. You should not be able to do that, and the journey of terraforming a planet should be much much longer than it is now, especially for regions. In real life, it takes hundreds of years, an unimaginable amount of money, and countless workers to terraform a planet. While I'm not saying it should take hundreds of years to terraform a planet in mc, I do think a significantly larger amount of effort, resources, and time should be required than what is now. Also, another way that mc is rigid is that it only takes into account atmosphere when there are other factors to consider, like heat, moisture/sea level, gravity, radiation exposure, Planetary core condition, ozone level, etc. This thread will discuss all of these factors as well. Now, with all of that out of the way, let's talk about some general atmospheric dynamics.
Step one: In order to get a good start on smoothing out the rigidity of mc's atmospherics, we need to start by raising the atmosphere requirements for each atmosphere stage.This elongates the journey of terraformation. For instance, stage -2(microbial stage) could be at 1.25 mil atmosphere, stage -1(plant stage) could be at 5 mil, and stage 0(earthlike) could be at 25, so we would be making the process 5 time longer. Now some would say "but that's boring, if it lasts longer, we'd just be doing the same thing for much longer," and I would agree with you. That's why I've come up with some ideas of different features to add to each stage to make each stage feel like a giant leap for your colony, but we will talk about those later.
Step two: We need to add upper limits to each stage that must be met in order to be in that stage. The upper limit for each stage is equal to the lower limit of the stag above it. This ensures that if you drain your atmosphere, you will also digress through the stages until you eventually end up with a barren planet, no matter what planet you start on. if you have any buildings that require a certain stage greater than -3, those should deactivate once their requirements are no longer met. This is what I was talking about regarding consequences for not managing your atmosphere, but since industry always aids in increasing atmosphere, and since the stages are much further apart, it would also be 5 times easier to maintain that it currently is, and currently it's very difficult to keep atmosphere between 5-15 mil in end-game, however, keeping atmosphere between 25-75 mil is a different story.
Step three: add the upper stages. These stages determine what happens when atmosphere get's too high. Stage 1 could start at 75 mil and would cause any buildings with stage 0 requirements to shut down. Stage 2 would be at 150 mil mil and would cause any buildings that require stage -1 requirements to shut down. Stage 3 is the highest atmospheric stage and could start at 500 mil and would shut down any buildings with stage -2 requirements. So think of the stages as a bullseye, with nested rings. the closer you get to the center, the more buildings you can build and the more earthlike a planet is, but the farther away you are to each side, the more barren a planet is. So all buildings will have 1 out of the following four requirements: -3 or 3(barren stages), -2 or 2(microbial stages), -1 or 1(plant/fish stages), and 0(animal stage/earthlike). Additionally, the upper stages could add haziness in increasing density to simulate a dense atmosphere. So you could tell the difference between a barren planet with no atmosphere and a barren planet with too much atmosphere.
Step four: add in special effects. Each stage should look different that all of the others. In a way, mc already does this by changing the ground texture, but I believe that more differences should be added. For instance, the dry lake-bed terrain that I've spoke of several times could come in handy here. in stages -3 and 3, these tiles will resemble dry lakebeds, but in any other stage, these tiles turn into water. it's the same for water that is already added to some planet types, if you were to drain waterworld of its atmosphere or overload it with atmosphere, the entire map should dry up and leave you free to walk about and build where the water used to be. In stages -2 and 2, plants cannot exist, so trees would disappear and most farms would become inoperable. upon entering stage -1 or 1, trees could be generated around the map and would be left to spread around the map. That's really all that I have for this step for now, but I have an even bigger idea coming up soon.
This section discusses ways that we could implement a heat aspect to the terraformation process to make reaching an earthlike state more challenging. I'd like you to remember the bullseye example that i talked about earlier, but now instead of a 1D line, going from left to right(atmosphere), add a second line going up and down(heat). This system creates an imaginary grid that your planet's status is on. Not only can your planet be hot and high and low pressure, but it can be high heat with low pressure, or low heat with high pressure, or vice versa. This greatly increases the factor of choice when it comes to terraforming your planet. This illustration is just to show you how these two factors of terraforming can be tied together.
The combination of heat and atmosphere exponentially increase the possibilities for new planet types. There would be consequences for not maintaining heat as well, along with rewards for keeping heat and atmosphere at an optimal medium. New structures would be needed in order to manage heat levels, as well as buildings that take advantage of colder or warmer climates. In fact, heat could also be a biproduct that's released by all buildings that release atmosphere as a biproduct. This would simulate a more accurate global warming effect. As for special effects, I wouldn't go too far out, but maybe give the lighting a dark red hue that grows denser as heat increases, and a light-blue hue as heat decreases. Obviously these should have limits, or else the entire screen could turn opaque red if too much heat is gained. Maybe some black particles for ash can be seen falling on hot planets at a certain heat level, while snow, which already has its own particle effect, could fall on cold planets at a certain heat level.
If atmosphere is low, heat will slowly decrease, if atmosphere is high, heat will slowly increase.
This section talks about a sea level feature. This third element adds a 3rd dimension to the bullseye diagram, creating yet exponentially more options and outcomes. Bast can choose how to display or organize these three factors. It really doesn't matter how they are displayed, even if it's just in the form of three separate status bars, the bullseye illustration is just to show you how all three of these elements tie together
The basis for the effect that sea level has on a planet revolves around 3 additional terrain types, high ground which is mountainous territory, middle ground for hilly territory, the main mc ground that we build on now would be known as low ground, which is optimal sea level. And finally, when sea level depletes, a new lower level is revealed, called the dry lakebed level, and the water eventually disappears, leaving a ground of dried lake bed in it's place. However, if sea level grows too much, it'll become level with middle ground, then high ground, and then eventually the entire map/region will be covered in water. When water covers a level, everything on that level is utterly destroyed except for any buildings that are supposed to be in the water, and vice versa, if a water building is built on water, but then the sea level recedes, and the tile that it was built on becomes land, it will also be destroyed.
Obviously we would need buildings that can manage sea level and buildings that can take advantage of high or low sea level. If heat is low, water will become ice, if heat is high, sea level will slowly boil off and recede.
Gravity should be a less-important feature to mc, but I still think it would enhance the terraforming system. Each planet starts off with the same atmosphere, heat, and sea level depending on planet type, but regardless of planet type, gravity should be randomized upon planet generation, creating a different result for each new game. This simulates how planets can be of the same type but vary greatly in size and mass. Too much gravity reduces colonist tolerable commute distance and increases heat due to more volcanic activity, not enough gravity will lower colonist maximum health and slowly drain the atmosphere. Certain buildings cannot be built when exposed to certain gravity levels, and some end-game solutions to undesired gravity level should be available.
radiation, core condition, and ozone levels:
Radiation should be fixed in it's amount depending on the planet type. This could allow for more planet type varieties. Radiation isn't like all of the other factors; instead of there being a happy medium for radiation, no radiation is good, so in perfect conditions, a planet has no radiation. Radiation at any level will damage colonists over time. Now, there are two ways to solve the radiation proble, and both methods are naturally used on earth:
Raise ozone level: In real life, the ozone layer of our atmosphere protects us from some radiation, but not all types of radiation. Perhaps you could add buildings that consume atmosphere and other resources to produce ozone, and then the higher the ozone layer, the less radiation exposure you have.
Secondly, in real life, our molten iron core creates a magnetic field that gaurds from most kinds of radiation. You can accomplish this in mc simply by adding more buildings that benefit from the deep digging tech and consume heat and steel to increase core health. The high the core health, the lower the radiation level.
Whichever way is simplest to you. Just know that certain buildings shouldn't be available when radiation goes over certain points. higher radiation should leech away atmosphere and increase planetary heat.
This section will be more complicated than the former sections. Biospheres adds a very dynamic feature to terraforming, and this feature makes each stage of terraforming feel like it's an accomplishment. First off, let's do a quick description. Biospheres is all about living organisms and how they interact and support each other and the environment. This system would allow you to create and customize(to an extent) the appearance and abilities of the organisms and have them spread over the map. The system would have two main categories, land and sea, and would have four sub-categories under that for microbes, plants, herbivores, and carnivores. Each organism produces support for the next tier of organism based on the abilities you give it, and can also be given abilities to affect the environment in certain ways. Each creature has a maximum amount to the abilities that you can give it, and the more abilities you give to an organism, the more support it requires from organisms from the tier below. Some organisms will be hardier than others, and some will need more support than others. The support system goes like this:
Microbes don't need to rely on support and provide support for plants.
Plants need support from Microbes and provide support for herbivores.
Herbivores needs support from plants and provide support to carnivores. Carnivores need support from both herbivores and other carnivores., as their support adds to the same type as herbivores.
The way that we will apply this system to each stage will be by requiring different atmosphere, heat, and sea levels for each catagory of organism. Seeing unique looking trees and grass spreading across the map and seeing creatures roam about the land would be amazing, especially if it happened in stages.
In stage -3 and 3, the planet is barren, but in stage -2 and 2, you can start utilizing microbes to produce many different resources and terraform, and in stages -1 and 1 you can start using plants, which opens up many different possibilities for resource production, since you should be able to farm your own custom plants for different resources. Then in stage 0, you gain access to animals, which you should be able to farm your own unique animals for different resources.
each organism, whether on land or in the sea, needs to be maintained. You must have enough land slots in order to create a new land organism, and the same applies to sea organisms and slots. Slots are given by structures that maintain the organisms, and more advanced structures have more slots. This prevents a player from easily amassing creatures that can quickly produce a certain resource or terraform the planet quickly. Each organism also has a health percentage that determines how well it's species is doing. If the percentage reaches 0, the species goes extinct and it's slot is freed up for another organism, but the higher the health percentage, the more support a species produces, the more effective you can be at exploiting it for resources, and the more effect it has on the planet. The health percentage has no upper limit, but it depends on how much support it has and how suitable the environment is for it.
Hopefully I've described this system well, but i believe that this system can bring life to mc and make it a more dynamic game and should increase it's value as a game.
To wrap this up, I think we all have witnessed how rigid mc's terraforming system is and I think that these ideas would expand the possibilities for more planet types and would make the game more of a journey to terraform than just a waiting game. I hope everyone else feels the same, but once again, I don't put these ideas out there just for people to agree with me or for every detail to be copied and pasted into the game, I do it to provide ideas for bast to think about when he runs out of them.