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Fun With Fuel (and some other stuff)

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Just an idea I thought I'd post--or rather one idea with a bunch of smaller sub ideas. But, I think engines and fuel types in the game are fine, but they're lacking variety and versatility that would make building ships more interesting and challenging. Not that we need changes now, but I think some additions and changes to the fuel mechanics would be beneficial later on in development. Anyway, here are my ideas:


Also, TLDR at the bottom.


1. Fuel Manifold: An element that allows multiple fuel tanks to be linked together and treated as a single larger tank (like a container hub) with only 1 HUD element--as well as allowing a large number of engine links. One fuel manifold can work with one fuel type which is assigned by the type of fuel tank that is first connected to it. And, for the largest of ships multiple Manifolds can be chained in a master/slave system for more engine/tank links. 


2. More fuels: Rather than just having the three main fuels, fuels could be split into several categories with different production needs, uses, and engine needs. I.e: liquid fuels (like the current atmo and space fuels, but also others), solid fuels (like the rocket fuel), cryogenic fuels (more efficient and powerful, but needing cryogenic tanks and power to keep them cool), etc. If you want more detail then here are a bunch of fuel types I cooked up:


Solid rocket fuel: Three versions; low medium, and high grade rocket fuel. High grade being the current recipe, medium and low grades using more common ores instead, but with reduced power and efficiency. (I.e. Low grade uses Sodium and Carbon ores).

Hydrocarbon Atmospheric fuels: Fuels such as Kerosene, ethanol, etc. These would be produced from carbon ores alone, or carbon ore with hydrogen sourced elsewhere. (I just find burning iron and salt as fuel kinda weird)

Hydrocarbon Rocket Fuels: These are the same as Hydrocarbon atmo fuels but are combined with an oxidizer (like liquid O2). Also, these should work in space as well as atmosphere, but with reduced efficiency/isp in atmosphere).

Cryogenic Fuels: These fuels will be extremely powerful but require special cryogenic fuel tanks, which themselves require constant power to maintain cooling. Without cooling the fuel will slowly boil off. This type of fuels includes liquid O2 (produced via electrolysis of water/ice or captured from atmosphere), liquid H2 (electrolysis of water/ice), liquid methane (carbon ore and hydrogen, or perhaps a byproduct of carbon ore processing), etc. Again, these would work in space or atmosphere with reduced atmospheric efficiency.


Other: Inert Fuels like Xenon for Ion engines could be added in game. And, depending on how reactors will work perhaps Fission and Fusion engines with appropriate fuels (uranium, deuterium, etc.) could be added in game.


2. Separate Engines and Thrust Nozzle Elements: Separate in game engines (or just the medium and larger sizes) into a main "engine" element, and a "nozzle" element. Different engines will have different features/benefits such as different thrust and efficiency ratings, spooling times, fuel compatibility, etc. While nozzles will have different roles, like vacuum nozzles (more efficient when in space), aerospike nozzle (good for both atmo and space), cryogenic nozzle (for cryogenic fuels), etc. Nozzles also coming in different versions with or without thrust vectoring/gimbal capability. (If you want an analogy then think of this being like picking the engine in your car and then picking the transmission and type of tires for it). Nozzles will need to be placed on the output port of an engine.


2a: IF NQ goes for this, then additionally some sort of "ducting" elements could be added that would allow exhaust from an engine to be channelled to a nozzle. Thus removing the need for both to be directly attached to each other and letting players put engines and the engine nozzles in different positions on their ship.


2b: Also, with a duct "Tee"/"Split duct" one engine could connect to multiple nozzles (Like one large engine connecting to an array of small/medium nozzles to make something like the very wide engine array of the Millenium Falcon without requiring a whole lot of small engines placed side by side).


3. Rotating VTOL Engines/Mounts: If sticking with combined engines and nozzles then the game could very much use either a rotating engine, or a rotating engine mount to allow ships to switch between vertical and horizontal flight modes. If engines and nozzles are separated then a VTOL nozzle could be added to the game. This would let ships save weight by only requiring one engine for two jobs, and also it would be pretty darn cool to have too.


TLDR: Add a 'container hub' type element for fuel tanks. Add more and more diverse fuels and fuel mixes. Make engines and nozzle separate elements so you can pick and choose which to build/use. Add rotating VTOl engines, engine nozzles, or engine mounts to the game.



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