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Space Colony quirks

Some oddities I've noticed while playing and making campaigns:


Lots of harvesting and mining action (especially with silicon miners, which make warehouse droids work particularly hard) requires many warehouses to keep up, else the droids will have no time for keeping restaurants and cybernetics labs supplied. But sometimes, an action just falls out of the loop. For instance, during a busy moment, the droids drop four electronics units into a cybernetics lab instead of five. The player may wait until the cows come home, that fifth unit is not going to be delivered! The only option is to delete the lab, along with its expensive components, and place a new one. Or a tube of green gloop sits endlessly on a nutrient harvester, waiting to be picked up by a droid. Chances are, it's not going to happen, and it's better to delete the harvester and free up the colonist/cyborg for some other job. The best way to avoid or, in the second case, mitigate this eventuality is to always have lots of warehouses (better too many than too few) and never let machine content accumulate. If the harvester is getting full, put a new empty one next to it and move the worker there. However, there is a caveat, see the next point:

If there is more than one miner/harvester in the same category, and the related resource is about to run out, every machine has to be manned at the moment when the game announces that the resource is depleted. If a machine that contains some unprocessed resource is abandoned at the moment of depletion, any later attempt to put a worker there to process the remainder results in: "This machine has no resources on visual." The only thing to do is to delete the machine and at least get a fraction of its original value back. As an example: there's a lot of GM bamboo and I place five harvesters because green glop tends to accumulate in them, and I don't want one single machine containing 99 units of glop, that would take forever to process; splitting it over five machines means that it will take one-fifth of the time. The GM bamboo is just about to run out and now I need workers on all machines, who will bring their harvesting bot back and permanently park it while they pump out the glop they've collected. Once the bots are parked, it's okay to leave the machines, but if a worker has left their post while the last of the bamboo is ground down, all the glop in the abandoned machine is now lost, since the game won't let anyone pump it out. Of course, this problem doesn't happen if there's only one of each machine type.

The announcement: "This machine has no resources on visual." is also made when a planetary scan shows up a resource, but it can't be reached by harvesting robots because, for instance, it's surrounded by rock or even encased in rock.

Cylincsus harvesting: there is a way of making colonists work round the clock at this without neglecting their needs. As soon as the little cylincsus-collecting rocket flies off - generally just after the warehouse droid has removed the canister from the machine - send the colonist to eat or sleep or whatever is necessary; the rocket will do its job on its own. Make sure the colonist is back just before the rocket returns and pours out the plant sludge, for uninterrupted production.

The bio research lab can seed both grass and GM bamboo. If there are two labs, they can seed two different things. If you want a nice green lawn to play golf on, seed all the grass you need before putting down golf holes!! If you put down golf holes first, any lab set to "grass" will only seed around the golf holes, and if there isn't room enough to seed around the holes (because they've been placed on a narrow strip of land or close to a canyon) the holes will remain invalid. Anyone playing golf will simply skip to the next hole or, if none is available, end the game; but the lab will doggedly try to seed that hole instead of moving onto the next, so it has to be removed and repositioned. Once all golf holes are greened, a "grass" lab will simply not seed any more.

The engineering repair facility will repair stationary structures and machines before it will repair the mobile mining and harvesting bots. In fact, it will not repair these bots at all if there is no, say, damaged light or lava plant to trigger a repair action, but even if there is, it may still ignore the bot, especially if said bot belongs to a currently unoccupied machine. When the only things damaged are bots, it isn't even possible to get anyone to man the engineering repair facility, because supposedly there's nothing to repair.

Likewise, the engineering repair facility will not repair damage to bots that happens under cover of a space defence field. The answer to working under volcanic activity is to position lots of repair facilities around the area and hope they will keep up with the falling rock damage. (I later discovered that it sometimes repairs damaged bots under space defence fields, but will tend to ignore all bots and structures damaged to near destruction, regardless of whether they are under shelter.)

Space defence fields protect anything under them from falling rocks, but don't seem to be very good at protecting themselves; the closer they are to a volcano, the sooner they're destroyed. Putting them some distance away from the source of falling rocks gives them a longer lifespan, while still protecting the machines and constructions under their umbrella, even if said machines and constructions are right next to the volcano.

When a mission succeeds while a solar flare is going on (which affects not just solar panels but lava plants, too) and the next mission reuses the map, the fizzing effect persists in the next mission, although it's harmless.

Also, a solar flare may destroy not only a lava plant, but the volcanic vent on which it rests.

When there are no better sources of nourishment, it seems the bugs of stripper mounds will attack podulus plants, sometimes erasing them before they hatch a crop of bees.

Colonists walk through lava. If there is lava in their path, they won't skirt around it, they'll walk straight through it even if it kills them. So do cyborgs, military robots and harvesting bots, but those are mindless machines. One would expect human AI to be smarter. (The answer is space bike posts. Lots of them.)

When I try to select a colonist by clicking on one of the row of heads, while another colonist is already selected, and I misclick and hit a tall structure instead, that other colonist utters a line of protest and then simply disappears. The only way to retrieve the lost colonist is to reload a save.

Getting two colonists with different walking speeds to socialize in a social area can be tricky, unless it's close by. If one's socializing action expires, or is cancelled by the shift clock, that one walks off, leaving the other to just sit in the chair and wait. In fact, both could have their actions expire by the time they arrive at the socializing area, so they just sit in their chairs silently until they both get up and leave. In that case, they rapidly have to be told to socialize again, in which case they'll sit down, often switching chairs, and start conversing.

The starting of a shift aborts whatever the colonist was just about to do: eat, socialize, get a training session in the training pod. In the last case, the training is cancelled, and you don't get the money back. (I thought the training slot was also used up, but this turned out not to be the case.)

If a colonist is training in the library when a mission ends, next mission sees the colonist with a "study" job, but this job is void and should be deleted. But if the colonist is then assigned to the library for the same skill again, training resumes where it left off, so the trainee doesn't have to start from scratch.

There is a general bug where a colonist who is, say, cleaning and training cleaning skill in the time left over, and who finishes training, is left with not the cleaning job, but an invalid training job. It seems the end of the training may erase the wrong job. This may be connected with the double training bug.

What is the double training bug: a colonist who is trained in a subject in the training pod gets another free training on the same subject in the library: just click on the library and a dialog will appear asking whether to continue or cancel the current training. Library training is free anyway, but by "free" I mean that it doesn't decrease the number of trainings authorized.

Addendum to the double training bug: I trained a colonist to 4 stars in pharmaceutical extraction in the training pod and then directed him to the library to train the first level of a different skill. The library told me: "Colonist is currently training in pharmaceutical extraction. Cancel current training?" even though four stars is the highest you can train to. Since the colonist was a fast learner, I allowed a library training session in pharmaceutical extraction just to see what would happen: would his skill level roll round and go back to zero stars? Nope, he burned through his learning session very quickly (meaning that he was training the skill as if at the first level) but at the end he still had his four stars, and since the library training was free and the result of the double training bug, so it cost neither money nor a training slot, the only thing wasted had been time.

A map can have only one tourist port. So what happens if I buy and put down a second one? The first one disappears.

It is also not a good idea to chain hotels. Each hotel needs a direct path to the tourist port, or the tourists that need to get to the second hotel which is behind the first hotel will dash from tourist port to hotel and back. It doesn't matter if this direct path runs through any kind of dome. Chaining hotels does work if each hotel is surrounded by a corridor so that the tourists can walk around the hotel rather than through it.

Tourists rate a colony by the stuff that is there, not the stuff they can get at. So to boost their Fun and Health&hygiene rating, I can just drop a large biodome, stuff it with a mix of recreational objects, personal hygiene pods and medi-bays, with no airlock so no one can enter, it can't get dirty in there, nor can things break down and need repair, and the ratings will rise.

In fact, if the tourist port and hotels have no airlocks, the tourists can't mix with the colonists and use their stuff. They can't use any stuff; but they'll love it anyway. To enjoy the tourist ant farm, one may connect a few domes with usable objects to their hotels; they will use the objects and wear them down, at which point it's best to sell the object and replace it, but any dome entered only by tourists and not by colonists doesn't get dirty. I locked a colonist (Babette, of all people) in with the tourists to clean and repair, with a counseling robot if she got lonely, but the only mess she had to clean up was her own. The only time a dome entered by tourists alone does get dirty is if the campaign editor is used to set a base litter level during the mission.

Ooma pets only stay with their owners for one mission. During this time, they are one particular colour. The mission after that, they are wild and scoot around the colony randomly, cycling through all colours. There seems to be no way to retame them, as no interaction with them is possible.

Feral oomas may be accidentally offed by an automatic laser taking aim at some pest, or by scooting into pyrocyns. They will let out one last indignant squeak before exploding.

Oomas will move through a forbidden zone, as will mining and harvesting bots - and even colonists, if the area is lit - if that allows them to take a shortcut. Sentinels and other weapons will fire into a forbidden zone, and bio labs will seed there. The only forbidden thing about forbidden zones is that you're not allowed to build there. However, they don't work like the accessible part of the colony; time is frozen there. Existing animals like rock hopper queens will do what they do in their present form (ie. produce rock hoppers) but no growth happens. Plants don't spread or produce insects, bamboo that is accidentally seeded there stays short and stubby, and eggs don't hatch. Nothing can be mined or harvested from a forbidden zone, but unlike, say, minerals encased in rock or locked inside a closed canyon, the resources in a forbidden zone don't show up on a planetary scan.

How much of a planet is lit up can determine the percentage of plant overgrowth detected, unlike the scanning for resources which ignore both light conditions and whether, say, the resource is inside a rock. An easy way to win a mission whose only goal is weed control is to not light up the weeds. This doesn't work for lupulus humulus, which is slightly luminescent, and can be used as an emergency free light source if you've finished building and don't have to worry about it overrunning your building space.

Unlike oomas, Venusian slugs or rodents moving through pyrocyns will not explode them. Being unstable, pyrocyns will explode by themselves from time to time, causing considerable damage to and possibly blowing up whatever structure, colonist, soldier or android is near them at the time. Since commandos are like soldiers with higher "health", a safe way to deal with pyrocyns is to have commandos walk through them while being repaired by an engineering repair facility. Soldiers and even dogbots will work too, but have to be stopped often to prevent them being destroyed. Androids are useless for this style of pyrocyn-clearing, but perfect for the other, far safer way: have a space bike post fly over them. Both colonists and androids can be used for this: make them walk to one side of a pyrocyn patch with a space bike nearby, then click on the other side of the patch - but far away enough that they don't land in it! - and the space bike will take them there, popping all the pyrocyns it flies over without damage to itself or its passenger. Since there is some risk (eg. space bike doesn't act fast enough, and prospective passenger walks into pyrocyns) and it may take many attemps to pop them all, it's best to use an almost expired android for this.

Don't bother letting your soldiers fire at baby Venusian slugs unless there are a lot of them firing at the same time, because if it doesn't die in baby form, it will, as soon as it plops into adult form, regain full health. This would probably work for baby hyracsus as well, but they don't mature as quickly.

If a colonist is tired, hungry, lonely, etc. a little picture indicating their sorely neglected need appears above their heads. Except if they are sitting at the oxygen desk, then the picture appears above the power desk seat (even if it's empty).

When two or more mining or harvesting machines have set their minds on the same clump of mineral or vegetation, it will be harvested doubly. I've seen a situation where the computer announced that silicon was depleted, after which the slower of the two silicon miners' bots did some scraping on completely empty terrain, and filled itself with a last load of silicon conjured out of nowhere. This also happens with hydromorphus, though less often, probably because whereas all other resources (with the exception of raptor eggs) are stable, hydromorphus seeds and dies off and so its total population and growing positions have to be constantly re-evaluated, which is why a nutrient harvester bot may walk up to a patch where a newly ground-up hydromorphus plant stood, go "oops, empty spot" and return.

This is both a playing and an editing quirk: on a planet covered in hydromorphus, there are some metaflaxus plants. One of the mission targets is "clear vegetation". All metaflaxus plants are burned and the target's picture should now disappear, but it stays where it is, even though going back to the briefing/targets screen shows a tick by that task to show that it was completed. Or, the map is full of hydromorphus but has no weeds at all, which should cause the target to disappear instantly: same thing, it just stays there. The reason is that both weeds and hydromorphus are vegetation, and if there is much more good than bad vegetation, the game can no longer register how much percent of the bad vegetation still needs to be destroyed, and so can't trigger the "all weeds destroyed" condition.


Hydromorphus will not respawn on type 3 (red) planets. Not even if I set the regrowth rate to high. I haven't tested what happens with lupulus. (I have since tested this with lupulus, and not only does the lupulus spread like crazy, the hydromorphus seeds itself too; but since hydromorphus also dies, the total hydromorphus population remained largely stable, which gave the impression that it doesn't respawn. So it seems that red planets do inhibit growth rate, although it might have been a fluke.)

The colour of the planet is not decided by the map, but by the campaign. It's possible to create the impression of plant growth on a previously barren planet by having two or more missions, setting the planet type to 1 (grey) in the first mission and to 2 (green) in the next. The planet type also affects the shape of the canyon rocks, so this won't work (or at least won't look convincing) with canyons on the map.

Once I put a canyon on a map and found I had accidentally sealed off a corner of the map. So I tried to erase bits of it. I couldn't, even with the largest size brush. Apparently, canyons can't be erased. Another time, I brushed a bit of canyon over some iridium crystals, making them unharvestable, although they still showed up on the planetary scan. Lesson learned: create the canyons first, then test the map before doing further editing.

Similarly, I can't seem to erase Fribulan eyes. All other Fribulan structures are easy to erase.

For chained missions taking place on the same planet, "Reuse map" doesn't apply to the planet map as a whole, but to the situation the planet was in when the last mission ended. So map2 should use map1, map3 uses map2, map4 uses map3 etc. Thinking the map was the number of a planet map, I let every mission reuse map1. Result: from the second mission onwards, at the start of each mission all added buildings were gone.

Again in chained missions: briefings seem to follow a chain of their own. Finding that reusing map1 every time was a bad idea, and that it was not possible to change the map for the resulting bad missions, I added missions on the end that did use the proper map sequence, with the idea of copying the briefings from the bad missions to the good missions, and then deleting the bad mission briefings. When I did that, briefings showed up in a strange order. So I reloaded the campaign and deleted the bad missions, and the remaining missions automatically ended up with the correct briefings. It seems that briefings belong to step 1, step 2 etc. rather than to the missions individually.

Old briefings are also offered as default text for new briefings. If making a second campaign and adding, say, the third mission, the default briefing text for that mission will be the same as that of mission 3 in a campaign made earlier. The old text is loaded into the briefing as soon as the new mission is created.

Very long "words" (strings of characters with no space in them) that are wider than the briefing window will be shown twice in the game, each line followed by a hyphen. I made a briefing that was meanth to be undecipherable static, and it came out like this:

It was fixed by breaking up the line with spaces.

Every map in a chained mission points to either the next map or "Victory" (meaning, the end of the last mission). I once accidentally pointed a map at itself, and the mission became a loop, restarting each time it finished.

When a map points back to itself, all added buildings and changes in the map will be gone when the next mission starts. And so, I noticed, will any new androids made in the previous mission; apparently they are part of the map, rather than existing from it independently like the colonists. Supplies do seem to exist independently from the map, since, once sold, they don't reappear in the next mission.

It is possible to replay the briefing at a set day and time in a mission: this shows the briefing screen, followed by "colony activated" when the player goes back to the game, suggesting that the mission starts over when in fact it continues where it left off. When I added the line to replay a briefing in the campaign editor, it gave me a choice of a row of buttons numbered 1 to 12. Both button 1 and button 12 replayed the mission's own briefing, so I don't know what these numbers stand for. (It's not the mission numbers themselves, in a 17-mission campaign I'll still get twelve buttons. Maybe these buttons are for the different bits of composite briefing, like the tutorial briefings where Blackwater says something, then VEnus says something, then the computer says something.)

The editor allows me to play computer announcements through the action "Messages", which lets me choose a soundbyte. I'd already read online that this is unreliable, and when I tried it, it didn't work, showing the swirly image that accompanies the speaking computer, but producing no sound.

The condition "Acquire resources" was clearly meant as a winning condition, because when I use it as a losing condition, it doesn't show onscreen. That doesn't mean it won't work, though! Moreover, the number entered means "greater than or equal to this", so if I use "Acquire resources 0" in a mission to mean that all of this resource must be cleared, the mission will be won instantly because there is more than 0 of the resource available.

The condition "No more training programs left" is not triggered, probably because of the double training bug.

If there is a condition (up to four are possible) for any colonists to train in any subject up to any number of stars, all training programs for all other colonists are blocked until the condition is met.

There is a handy-dandy way of incorporating changes made after starting a campaign without having to play the whole campaign from scratch. Say, I've saved in the middle of mission 3, and I've changed the map, campaign and/or briefing. The option "restart mission" reloads map, mission and briefing. Presumably this would still work if I changed missions 1 and 2, but then I'd have to play the whole campaign again from the beginning to test them anyway.

In a forbidden zone, eggs won't hatch and plants won't blossom. I made a "nature reserve" with some nasty plants in it, the idea being that the plants would keep spreading insects and the colonists would not be able to eradicate them. As the plants were frozen in their first growth stage, this didn't work, and I had to fake it by putting an invasion marker among the plants and having it release swarms of bees and/or burnflies during the mission.

In the campaign editor, the action "Invasion" shows a list of invading beasties to choose from (more than one can be chosen, but the game only announces the first of the species when the attack happens), a Repeat count (how many subsequent invasions, maximum 10), a Repeat time (how many days before each re-invasion) and the number of the invasion marker where the invaders appear. A species is chosen by setting the slider behind its name to 1 or more; the slider determines how many of that species materialize at the invasion marker. I was puzzled by the fact that only half of the set number appeared - I programmed six Venusian slugs to appear, but only three appeared in the game - then realized it was because of the difficulty setting. There are three settings, Easy, Normal and Hard; the Easy setting halves the number of invaders, and the Hard setting presumably doubles it.

The action "Place rodents", which I used when I was too lazy to add rodents to a map, makes them appear inside the base.

There is something funny about the action "Fribulans attackable". Like Target rodents", this should only have the On and Off choices, but has three choices: Off, On, High. When looking at the scenario overview, what shows in the relevant line for each choices is Off, On, Scenario editor. It's safe to assume that the third option is a coding mistake and should not be used.

To the action "Alien pets", which delivers an ooma to each colonist's bed, always add the condition "Number of beds assigned" followed by the total number of colonists. My initial condition was only "Happiness 100%" and so the oomas were announced delivered as soon as the first colonist entered the base - because that first colonist's starting happiness was considered high enough - but were not delivered at all, because no beds had been assigned.

In the scenario editor under "buildings available", it is possible to set every placeable structure to Off, On or Later. This determines if and when the building will be buyable from the sidebar buttons during the game. Each sidebar button is for a category of structures, and if, within one category, all structures are set to either Off or Later, so the button is blank in the game, then the structures marked Later will not appear even when the conditions for the action Extra buildings available are met. So, to have mining and harvesting equipment suddenly become available halfway through a mission, at least one structure from this category - say, the weeding post - should be available from the start of the mission. (NB. The fact that this mission was Free Build rather than Military or Economic may have an effect on this.)

Oh, those tourists! In the planet editor, I put down a tourist port and hotel and connect them to a dome with a luxury bar in them. While I'm still working on the map, tourists descend though the tourist port, go to the hotel and have drinks at the bar. Cute. I then use this map in the campaign editor to make a game and load the game: those tourists are still there, drinking in the bar, and the bar's health has already been reduced, right at the start of the mission! But they'll go away and new tourists will come, right? Nope. I have to quit the game, reopen the map in the planet editor, and delete the tourists, then center the map where I want it and save really fast, because new tourists are already descending. And when the map is used in the game, those new tourists will emerge from the tourist port, and even (unlike the previous ones) pay for their stay, but they, too, will never leave to make room for new tourists. So, in the map editor, I delete the tourist port for the colonists to add later, leaving only the hotel; in the game, tourists arrived but were stuck forever at the hotel. Finally, I did the only possible thing: edited the map to only contain a tourist port, and let the colonists add a hotel. From then on, the tourism part of the campaign worked smoothly.

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