Fabricator - Making New Inventory

Alex Anderson 🚀Alex Anderson 🚀, May 2, 2024
Fabricator - Making New Inventory

As I was building the Torpedo system, I had a vision that players would be able to build ever more complicated and powerful torpedoes using parts that they scavenge, purchase, or acquire. These parts fall into three categories:

  • Warhead, or the thing that goes boom. This determines the yield and damage type of the torpedo.
  • Casing, or the thing that moves. This determines the forward and turn speed of the torpedo.
  • Guidance module, or the thing that tracks. This determines how well the torpedo follows its target.

The goal is that you can mix and match different types of parts to produce torpedoes that match your opponent. This is certainly an advanced player feature that would only be used with larger, more elaborate sims. But it's also novel and some players might find it fun. (Naturally, for smaller sims, the inventory would be pre-stocked with some basic torpedoes that would last the duration of the mission.)

Naturally, these parts would be inventory based, so all of the parts must be in the same room to be constructed into a full torpedo. And naturally it would take some time to fabricate them, maybe allowing some concurrency, so you can construct multiple torpedoes at once. And then once the torpedoes are built, they would have to be transported from the construction, or fabrication, room to the torpedo launcher room to be fired.

And all this got me thinking, what other things would the crew want to build during the course of a flight? Not much comes to mind offhand, but there are some interesting possibilities:

  • Countermeasures, like we have in Thorium Classic.
  • Probes would also be constructed in this manner and then moved to the probe launcher.
  • Damage Teams would need specialized tools or repair parts to be fabricated.
  • Security Teams could fabricate more effective weapons or tools.
  • Other consumables, like fuel and coolant, could be improved and made more efficient with additives.

There's a lot of interesting possibilities here that could provide more work to do (though hopefully not busywork), while amplifying the crew's ability to fly their ship.

Also, I do want to know that this kind of feature has been suggested by members of the community before. You know who you are. Thank you, and sorry it's taken me this long to think it through.

Fabricator Recipes is a new type of plugin that lets you determine what inventory items can be combined. There are a couple of ways this could be implemented.

Inventory Type Combination

One option makes it so you can configure how different inventory types combine. So for torpedoes, you would create a recipe that combines torpedoCasing, torpedoWarhead and torpedoGuidance inventory types into a single inventory item that includes the properties of the three inventory types, like yield, speed, and guidanceType.

This gets a bit weirder for more complicated combinations. For example, how would you define the additive which improves fuel efficiency? It would likely have to be another inventory type. But now we need to figure out how the additive's properties combine with the fuel's properties. It would probably have to be hard-coded, with some programming that says "when these two inventory types are combined, here's how their properties mix." That makes it so flight directors don't have to worry about weird edge cases and just say "these two inventory types can mix."

There are still a few weird things with this though. Combined inventory should have a name that identifies what it is. So mixing a quantum warhead, a torpedo casing, and a magnetic guidance system should produce an inventory item called "Quantum Magnetic Torpedo" or something like that. Which means there would need to some kind of templating system to generate those names. It could get really messy and unpredictable.

Inventory Item Combination

An alternative, which is a bit more work for the flight director, but also more predictable, would mean making Fabricator Recipes for every specific combination of items. So assuming there were 2 torpedo warhead items (photon and quantum), 3 torpedo casing items (Type I, Type II, and Type III), and 4 guidance items (visible, infrared, gravitational, and magnetic), the flight director would need to create recipes for

  • Type I Photon Visible Torpedo
  • Type I Photon Infrared Torpedo
  • Type I Photon Gravitational Torpedo
  • Type I Photon Magnetic Torpedo
  • Type I Quantum Visible Torpedo
  • Type I Quantum Infrared Torpedo
  • Type I Quantum Gravitational Torpedo
  • Type I Quantum Magnetic Torpedo
  • Type II Photon Visible Torpedo
  • Type II Photon Infrared Torpedo
  • Type II Photon Gravitational Torpedo
  • Type II Photon Magnetic Torpedo
  • Type II Quantum Visible Torpedo
  • Type II Quantum Infrared Torpedo
  • Type II Quantum Gravitational Torpedo
  • Type II Quantum Magnetic Torpedo
  • Type III Photon Visible Torpedo
  • Type III Photon Infrared Torpedo
  • Type III Photon Gravitational Torpedo
  • Type III Photon Magnetic Torpedo
  • Type III Quantum Visible Torpedo
  • Type III Quantum Infrared Torpedo
  • Type III Quantum Gravitational Torpedo
  • Type III Quantum Magnetic Torpedo

That's 2 * 3 * 4, or 24 recipes. And adding a new warhead, casing, or guidance module would require adding the new permutations. It ends up looking an awful lot like recipes in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which has 228 different recipes that you can make with up to 5 ingredients.


The good news is that each of these recipes can be configured with the exact output inventory item, adding, removing, or changing inventory type properties at will.

Also, I imagine most inventory combinations won't have three combinators, like torpedoes, so there will be fewer combinations to make.

I have no intentions of working on this feature now. It's way too complicated and advanced to be worthwhile for the first version of the game. For now, I'll make it so ships start out with a handful of torpedoes that cover the basics and save the Fabricator for after the v1 release.

But this adds yet another thing that gives the Tactical officer more things to do, enables some interesting gameplay patterns, and adds some potential easter eggs (which is the best kind of feature). I definitely would love to see it implemented some day.

What do you think? How would you want to build Fabricator Recipes? Is this too complicated and not worth adding, or would it deepen the simulation? Let me know on Discord!