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Xrati March 15th, 2010 12:29 PM

Planets and Resources
Let's talk going 'green' or 'red' planets here. Resources and planets go together!

Lets hear what you think! :eek:

Confused, ask here. :confused:

jars_u March 20th, 2010 09:57 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
I think there should be fewer Earth or otherwise species ideal planets and more emphasis placed on developing smaller bodies like moons and asteroids etc. Both strategically/logistically and from a empire management perspective I think it would be better for game play.

Xrati March 20th, 2010 01:39 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
It's preference jars_u. I think that the SL programmers will fit that into their game with a preference setup or mod capacity. Ask ten people how they like to play a game and YOU WILL get ten different answers... ;)

jars_u March 20th, 2010 04:07 PM

Re: Planets and Resources

Originally Posted by Xrati (Post 736434)
It's preference jars_u.

True enough - as long as the setup options allow me to configure the game to be played the right way I'm ok with it... ;)

Louist March 25th, 2010 04:34 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
Let me play the part of another one of those 10 people. While I'm not sure I want ideal worlds to be as rare as jars_u, I am with him in that I would like to see moons and asteroids in important roles, and not just hard or soft abstracted out. Whether to host small bubbled colonies, or secret laboratories where the really dangerous research takes place, I'd like to see them utilized.

I'd like to see variety and character in my planets, More like Moo2 and less like SE or Stars!. I'd there to be random goodies here and there to be found upon colonizing the planet.

I'd like to see some way to claim planets you cannot colonize, or at least some system to allow you to exploit them for resources.

Ah, yes, resources. I'm more of a fan of system used by SE/Stars!: a small number of different resources needed in variable amounts, and less a fan of the GalCiv/SotS/Moo2 system: planets pay taxes, and cash is the only resource.

Alternately, you could take it even further. Perhaps in addition to mining those ship-building resources, all that oh-so-precious star-ship fuel has to be refined from a gas-giants atmosphere as well.

On the other hand, it is certainly possible to take such things too far.

I think I can summarize it simply as: give us planets and resources with character.

Gregstrom March 25th, 2010 05:53 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
Now there's a set of interesting thoughts.

Secret asteroid research bases sounds nice. Asteroids or comets fitted with great big motors and aimed at planets sounds fun too. Domed mining bases on uninhabitable planets (with the option of accidentally releasing ancient evil presences trapped there aeons ago). Asteroid mining would be nice, for that matter. How about using super-technology to ignite and sustain a fusion reaction in a gas giant so you can create viable colonies in the outer solar system?

JThur March 25th, 2010 07:30 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
What about space ship colonies? I've always wanted to play a locust race in space strategy games where your race mainly live on ships and go from star system to star system and reap the resources as they go.

Game wise I guess it would be like a race with movable planets of varying sizes that either colonize existing planets and make them movable or build movable planets from scratch with lots of resources.
It would probably be a good idéa to give them organic or energy to matter tech so they can build some resources if they run out of resources to loot. Superb storage tech would also help to tone down the aggressiveness and blunt the damage if they get stalemated a bit.

InfStorm March 26th, 2010 11:27 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
Well, one think to ask, "What is the difinition of Planet?"

Is a planet one of those things that orbit only around stars, or do you include things like the "forest moon of Endor" or the "Pirate asteroids" as "planets" as well.

Then, do you have a colonize a planet to get resources off of it?
(can you build mining shuttles or the Red Dwarf style ships?)
Are you going to be able to grow food on your space ships/stations?
(Do we even care about tracking food?)

How many resources does the game have? Why someone would want a planet would vary greatly depending on the resources of the game.

What level of detail will you have on a planet?
Down to individual buildings, or build by 'cities'?

All these questions need to be thought of...

JThur March 26th, 2010 11:49 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
I would say a planet is where your population grow.

Resources is something you should be able to get from various sources. Shipwrecks, moons, asteroids etc.

Personally I'd like to be able to get resources from places without having to colonize them.

Food shouldn't be that hard to get. Growing food on ships, space stations or other places would be a nice feature.

If you have the level of detail for individual buildings on planets the scope of the game would have to be downscaled. Not something i'd like.

jars_u March 27th, 2010 09:04 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
I think in order to avoid being bogged down in any single aspect of a 4X game certain liberties will have to be taken to make the game fun. In that respect I actually like the SE4/5 model of only having a very small handful of resources to worry about - this is another aspect that can be "borrowed" from most RTS games that I think can work well in a turn based 4X game.

Xrati March 27th, 2010 11:20 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
In a game aspect, there are probably millions of asteroid fields, small planets and other entities. Strategically, they are unimportant and only important planets and places are brought into the game.

For every space station built, there is a great increase in trading and economic activity that occurs in the area of the station. Same with planets and some larger operations. It is not the case of some far off mining outpost! Positions of interest are brought into play for game mechanics.

Urendi Maleldil March 31st, 2010 09:59 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
We're going to be abstracting a lot of the smaller unimportant objects into zones of space. For example, we won't be modeling every single asteroid in an asteroid field, but there might be an area of the map that is considered to be the asteroid field, and only model special bodies in that area, such as colonizable asteroids, or asteroids with special resources .

MarcoPolo April 11th, 2010 03:20 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
There seems to be several ways to approach planets and resources. As some have suggested it can be planet focused or star system focused where the solar system itself is your playground; budding with exploitable asteroids, moons and gas giants.

I agree with having planets with character. We need resource building options that unlock the potential of a terrestrial world, moon, asteroid or even mining facilities that exploit gas planets or even the star itself.

The importance to each resources must be weighed up on the overall focus of the players objectives, whether it be to become an economic giant, to a warmongering empire. Its really dependant on the goals of the individual, and so he must pursue whatever avenues available to acheive this. But whatever he chooses there must be a resiliant, vibrant and flexible game dynamics to support such lofty pursuits.

I am excited about bubbled colonies, scientific research outpost orbiting some far flung gas planet. Or a military installation testing some potent new superweapon around an asteroid belt. I would like to see water worlds and volcanic worlds to acidic/barren planetoids to exploit for minerals or have bubbled domed habitats to expand ones empires reach and claim. All of these things seemingly make for a rich gaming environment, at least in my eyes.

I wish to know however how the Shrapnel guys will tackle allowing several species partake in the colonisation of one planet as I believe I heard mentioned before. This would be a wonderful idea, as I think it would add another level of diversity and realism not seen before. This would certainly lessen the repitituous nature of seeing dozens of colonised worlds looking identical to one another. But I believe if not using a slot based allocation system (each with an allocated amount of resources based on population size) of what I would call planet squatting then I really am interested in Shrapnels solution to many species on one world.

pydna April 17th, 2010 06:44 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
Stellar Legacy looks like it has tremendous promise.

These are just my musings so feel free to ignore them. Or if you want me to elaborate on anything just ask.

One thing I've been thinking about is each solar system is divided into zones. By that I mean each planet and it's moons asteroids etc are considered one zone.

For example in the Sol system is divided into 9 planetary zones (or is that 8.....)

Zone 3 consists of the Earth and the moon.

When the solar system is attacked players attack/defend these planetary zones. This reduces the micro management somewhat for both the attacker and the defender.

I do like the idea of players customising their races. I also would love to see a pbem function that would be fantastic.


jars_u April 17th, 2010 08:10 AM

Re: Planets and Resources

Originally Posted by pydna (Post 740919)
When the solar system is attacked players attack/defend these planetary zones. This reduces the micro management somewhat for both the attacker and the defender.
... I also would love to see a pbem function that would be fantastic.

I not sold good or bad but I would think having specific defined zones would increase not decrease the level of micromanagement as you have defined it.

Having zones that correlate for the tactical/combat map depending on how scales are implemented could add variety (debris, gravity wells etc.) but not entirely certain I understand what you are suggesting. Are there any games that have an analogous implementation that you can cite that might help us with a point of reference?

PBEM is a requirement - I think that is a feature pretty much everyone at this point has agreed they would like to see.

Xrati April 17th, 2010 10:29 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
SE4's system isn't broke. It wasn't all that bad and in some cases was pretty open for anything players wanted to do. Not all planetary systems are going to be uniform in design or layout. Keeping the sysytem 'open' as SE4 did was good.

jars_u April 18th, 2010 02:12 PM

Re: Planets and Resources

Originally Posted by Xrati (Post 740937)
SE4's system isn't broke.

I agree I think systems and the ability to customize for games in SE4 was something that wasn't broke - just trying to fully grasp what was inferred or what might be possible with "zones". But as I picture it I think it leads to more micro-management possibilities which in this case for me I don't think would be a desirable game feature.

pydna April 19th, 2010 02:02 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
Well it depends on how you want to do your system map.

I've only played Stars! and SE V so I can't comment on SE IV.

the zone idea would reduce micromanagement in that instead saying, now I need to build 5 mines on the moon, 3 research stations on the earth, 12 orbital refineries at Jupiter etc.

Instead you would just order 5 mines and 3 research stations for zone 3, 12 refineries for zone 5.

I've actually been thinking you could simplify this even further by diving all solar systems into two zones (inner and outer).

I'd have to sit down and do some playtesting.

How many star systems were you planning on having in an average game?

Xrati April 19th, 2010 10:55 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
SE4 used to have about 200 systems available. Some could be empty and some could be a Black Hole where your ship is drawn into it with a movement modifier toward the center of the system. These are the things that made the SE4 system good, VARIETY! :p

jars_u April 20th, 2010 07:02 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
I see what you mean now - that is a further abstraction - one that I think could work - but I was thinking more along the lines of placing 5 mines at specific points around the moon instead of just "5 mines at the moon."

pydna April 20th, 2010 09:33 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
I suppose the two main reasons why I was thinking of zones are:

1. Micromangement - You could get through your economic management quickly.

2. Strategic Planning - Allows you to plan system defences around zones rather than individual planets.

On the other hand if you had invidiual planets/moons etc then this could be fun too. You could have multiple customizable AI scripts to run each worlds economy (e.g. Starter Colony, Mining World, Late Game Colony etc).

Also this could give the player some interesting strategic choices to make. Do I spread my system defences which will safe guard the system effectively against raids but leave me vulnerable to invasion. Or do I concentrate my defences at one or two key locations which will be far more effective against an invasion fleet but leave the outer worlds vulnerable to raiding.

I suppose it all comes down much time will it take a player to do their turn. Don't get me wrong, I personally like a bit of MM but I realise that it isn't everyones cup of tea.

Xrati April 21st, 2010 10:19 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
Late game micromanagement tends to get repetitive and really starts to take away from game play. Having the AI handle some of it helps out quite a bit.

MarcoPolo April 21st, 2010 11:13 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
I dont know about how complex or how simplified you guys want this game to look like. But if what one Shrapnel programmer said here is true about multiple races being able to colonise single planets... then how do you figure this will be done without too much elborate MM (Micromanagement).

I think that each planet should be zoned (for the purpose of sharing a world with several players), of course this addition in detail will undoubtly increase the level of MM, but I propose that it be handled in a multi-tier approach. Whereby the player has the choice to indulge in "said" MM planet functions (or tier 1), and also have a choice to retreat to another tier (tier 2)... ie interplanetary view where immediate moons, asteroids basic planetary region information is tweaked to the players preferences. Tier 3 could be the entire solar system view which enables a player to directly manipulate complete production for his entire solar systems output. It would be a summarised stats screen that allows for direct manipulation of science/commerce/production etc etc for every asset owned by the civilization in that star system. Tier 4 would be a galaxy view of all the stars within that persons acquisition. And each of these levels could be automated at the users behest.

I think the crux of this working or not lies with the focus of how resources will be exploited and in which way to have a significant bearing on gameplay. There is no point to having so many celestial bodies on offer if the game does not intend on having a resource based system of economics or advancements. If there will be no planet mining or finite resources then there will be little incentive to take over anothers territory (other than conquest alone which quickly becomes an empty exercise stilted in the tedious and repititous).

I would make certain resources more abundant on terrestrial planets than gas giants or asteroid belts but balanced enough to make it compelling to need to acquire control of a gas giant or asteroid belts too (by the same token some resources will be more abundant on gas giants and asteroid belts than terrestrial worlds). Otherwise it becomes a self defeating undertaking that offers no strategic benefits to moving an empire from rock to rock. Even stars should have research or defensive bonuses when exploited. Of course there can be star systems that maybe a barren choice for colonisation, ie a small red dwarf with maybe 2 or 3 barren worlds. But this should not detract from it having a strategic importance if its near the border of a significant civilization as it could be used to install listening posts or something that would gain the player a tactical advantage.

In the immortal words of another military tactician...

We can ill afford another Klendathu :P

pydna April 21st, 2010 06:56 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
It really depends on how you would like to design your overall planet/colonisation rules.

How many star systems would the biggest game have?

How many objects were you planning to include in each system?

Is there a limit on the number of player manufactured objects in a system? (e.g. minefields, space stations etc).

Xrati I never considered two or more players colonising the same planet. It could be interesting, perhaps some rule that only allies could do this? Ofcourse this could lead to conflict down the track if one player wanted to terraform the world and the other didn't, or they stopped being allies :-)

MarcoPolo April 26th, 2010 01:42 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
I was also intruiged by multiple races colonising one world. It is an intersting concept. I would do with allies only, but also having the option of underground colonies if the civilization in question has the technology to do so. Basically allowing a free for all, enemy, ally or neutral to grab territory in a big way and perhaps causing disputes and minor planetside skirmishes that could be resolved peacefully too if more diplomatic avenues are available.

I also hope pre space faring worlds and civilisations are an option, they could offer valuable commodities, like slaves if one is a very draconian society hellbent on conquest. I would also ask that pre space faring plants be allowed the option of joining an advanced civilisations empire, as a means of guaranteeing it survival and for rich commercial opportunities too. Or one could even colonise the planets rock strata, ie underground levels if possible, or perhaps even some underwater sea colonisation that is rich in resources and will not alert the younger civilisation to it.

All in all this game should allow for some very enticing gameplay options.

jars_u May 1st, 2010 09:43 AM

Re: Planets and Resources

Originally Posted by MarcoPolo (Post 742376)
...I also hope pre space faring worlds and civilisations are an option...

I think that an excellent idea that I would also like to see implemented in some fashion in SL - could add some real depth to the game on a number of levels.

MarcoPolo May 1st, 2010 03:45 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
If theres one other thing that I would like to see in this game. It has to be a wider variety of stars and terrestrial or gas planet types as in games like Hegemonia, and maybe include the different orbits if there are binary or trinary systems. The models used in Free Orion Planets and stars are inspiring but i would enjoy orbits displaying habitable zones and the like. Adding more of a realism not yet seen in games of this type.

I think adding these levels of realism can create a new game dynamic that could open other tactical considerations akin to Civ4 terrain types, where each planet type has its advantages/disadvantages, whereby resources and production are balanced on these properties. Hopefully creating a richer game environment that adds another consideration for planet hunting other than just seeking the richest earthlike planet and hording such worlds willy nilly.

Without a balance in place of resources vs habitability the game would quickly become a mad dash for earth havens. By this I mean some players may have a huge number of habitable worlds but very little mineable resources, because it could be feasable to say all the rich mining and resource gathering for a space faring civilisation would happen outside terrestrial worlds. Primarily on asteroids belts and gas giants. Of course this doesn't negate the importance of terrestrial worlds offering sufficient resources at least to get your civilisation off the ground and onto the next rock. But if its abundance and a strong economy that the player is after then one can surmise that the rest of the solar system is where these riches are to be made.

Xrati May 2nd, 2010 10:42 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
Ever play SE4 with the finite resources turned on? :confused:
Entirely a different game, requiring a different build strategy. :sick:

pydna May 2nd, 2010 08:42 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
On the other hand MarcoPolo, I could design my race to live on Gas Giants. Hey let those hooomans have their rocky water worlds. I'll take Jupiter :-)

Gregstrom May 3rd, 2010 03:57 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
That could create interesting dynamics. Your colonists aren't going to be arguing over real estate, but there's some potential for serious disagreements over mining rights.

MarcoPolo May 3rd, 2010 03:58 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
Yeh hehe. I was also thinking the same thing. I believe I posted something about having 15 races split up into 5 distinct types, each type being able to have different more favourability to living in hostile barren or acidic or as you put it gas giants, so that not every race will be seeking the same world types. Kind of like a Starcraft-esque feeling to having that diverse dynamics allowing for completely different conditions for victory and conquest. According to my little list your race type would probably fall closest to my race 5 denomination, being methane worlds and hot jupiters as a habitat.

If it were upto me I would offer those different race advantages and disadvantages in order to spice things up and have a richer universe of alien types. Can you imagine how that throws a spanner in the works for players? Just think, if your human in the sol system, you not only have to think about safeguarding your homeworld and colonies, but perhaps also routinely making sure your gas giant planets that are primarily only used for mining with orbital platforms... suddenly infested with low orbit settlements from some gas entity. Would make for some interesting tactical considerations in the game :) Or 2 gas planet dependant species vying for the same jovian worlds in some titanic battles.

Good idea dude. To this point I had only considered terrestrial worlds and their variations from hostile acidic, barren, volcanic, water worlds, to artic ice worlds as variation enough to get aliens vying for their preferred rock types :P

Well keep the ideas coming people.

pydna May 5th, 2010 08:58 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
Perhaps rather than hardcoding the definitions of 15 races maybe each race is based on 3 or 4 hab range characteristics, this determines the type of planets they like.

These have are not absolutes, for instance lets say I find a world that meets most of the criteria for being habitable by my race with only one criteria just outside what I need. I could colonise the world and aim to terraform it to make it fully habitable.

Ofcourse some other race may have liked just how it was...gee I wonder how wars get started??

Gregstrom May 6th, 2010 04:41 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
That'd be pretty much like the system Stars! used. It's good, but I'd like to see the differences between rock worlds and gas giants represented better.

MarcoPolo May 8th, 2010 11:19 AM

Re: Planets and Resources

Originally Posted by pydna (Post 744480)
Perhaps rather than hardcoding the definitions of 15 races maybe each race is based on 3 or 4 hab range characteristics, this determines the type of planets they like.

These have are not absolutes, for instance lets say I find a world that meets most of the criteria for being habitable by my race with only one criteria just outside what I need. I could colonise the world and aim to terraform it to make it fully habitable.

Ofcourse some other race may have liked just how it was...gee I wonder how wars get started??

Thats precisely what I was hoping for mate! And you made a solid point that wars could in fact start this way. Imagine competing races with different habitat requirements laying waste to a pristine earth world in order to turn it into a volatile volcanic planet.

Of course we would in turn see ourselves turning a mars type/barren planet into a lush rainforest as a "good thing!" maybe not so to a lifeform that thrives on low temperatures and low pressure atmospheres. Or an Earth type planet completely flooded by an aquatic race in order to submerge the remaining land masses to open up more areas for population.

Naturally all these terraforming options would not be an easy thing to accomplish overnight for any particular race. Many of which would take some heavy investing in infrastructure to get the ball rolling, so the habitat requirements being initially met is what would draw races to certain planet types. This would guarantee every new game remains unique and interesting. As any game would unfold completely different to the last one depending on how many race types you allow into your multiplayer or single player scenarios.

IMHO Its difficult to come by such elaborate systems in this type of genre. Lately I been playing Armada 2526, it seems to offer some diversity and certain race types seem to have some habitat requirements unique to themeselves alone. Stuff like living in spaceships as a natural means of civilisation or preferring cold desolate worlds for the more bizarre lifeforms. Maybe its one to take a look at for fans of these type of games. At least until the illustrious and eagerly anticipated "Star Legacy" hits the scene.

Anyways food for thought.

NiknudStunod August 22nd, 2010 05:20 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
It has been a while since someone posted on this so i figured i would pipe in with what I think.

I think there should be several categories of planets and resources for a good 4x space game. There should be a reason you are plopping down a colony on a lifeless barren work or asteroid. The reason should be rare resources. I hate to make a comparison but if you look at a planet like dune {hostile, waterless, nearly lifeless world} the reason it was fought over was the spice. These resources could be anything from Bonus to fleet armor to increasing the distance your ships can travel. You could also add in bonuses to controlling these planets over long periods of time. I also think resources should not be limitless. You need to have a reason to keep moving out exploring and expanding.

jRides August 23rd, 2010 12:51 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
I would prefer at least some control over the planets. I would agree with the idea put forward to scale it up into zones. Either the player selects or the planet defines the zones. These zones then increase in effectiveness with population and tech - limited by the amount your willing to spend on planetary improvement.

Besides the staples like Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, Mining and Research you could get more defined with zones like Shipyards, System Capitals, Religious Centres, Military Bases and so on.

As you research and unlock new building types, they are just added to a zone as a bonus as it builds up increasing the output of the zone with multipliers. Refinement could come by allowing you to focus specific zones - like a research zone into a military research complex giving bonuses to weapons research or adding second slipway to a shipyard (can now build two ships of the same type at the same time and ofc doubles its resource use).

You could get quite deep into it, optional choices like amount of focus a specific zone gets: percentage of improvement budget, percentage of workforce assigned etc. if you wanted to change it from your empires default.

As to the resources - again I agree that SE's three resources worked well, it would be nice to see a few more maybe as a second tier in that they are rare and would only be used in such things as trade, luxuries or some weird weaponry type. It would mean systems/planet abundant in this rarer tier of resource might become more desirable, or research focus into better extraction/refinement of these resources an option, just not a required one.

MattII May 3rd, 2011 04:27 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
What's going to be the smallest object that we can colonise? Something around the Size of Pluto? Or is it going to be smaller, around the size of 2-Pallas/4-Vesta, or 31-Euphrosyne, or, hells how about 13-Egeria (still over 8 million cubic Km)?

As for resources, 3 works well, although I wouldn't say no to having some rarer ones in as well.

Gregstrom May 11th, 2011 02:56 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
Well, why not have a generic 'asteroid base' colony that can be fitted into unused parts of a solar system? That way, the game only has to represent planets, gas giants etc. You could have colonisation zones for the Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud and so on (whatever use that might be).

MattII May 14th, 2011 06:13 AM

Re: Planets and Resources

Originally Posted by Gregstrom (Post 777068)
Well, why not have a generic 'asteroid base' colony that can be fitted into unused parts of a solar system?

Fine by me, I'm just looking for size thresholds.

How many facilities for those asteroid bases do you think, just 3 or 4?

Gregstrom May 22nd, 2011 02:18 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
Realistically, a pretty large number. A hollowed out asteroid of decent size (20+ km radius? The solar system has thousands in this size bracket, I believe) could readily hold a population of some millions and employ them all usefully. It'd be pretty vulnerable compared to a planet, though.

MattII May 24th, 2011 06:50 AM

Re: Planets and Resources
So if we're sticking 2-3 facilities on an asteroid*, how many on a planet the size of Pluto (~55 times the surface area)? How many on a planet the size of Earth (~500 times the surface area in land alone, ~1700 times if you include the seas)?

* Personally I wouldn't go for anything much smaller than 150km across, our asteroid belt has about 75 of that size that we know of, and an asteroid of that size gives a rough land area of 100,000/150,000 Km^2 per facility (for 3/2 facilities)

Gregstrom May 24th, 2011 03:50 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
With asteroids, surface area would presumably include the interior - thus the possibility of fitting a whole lot of stuff inside an asteroid. They're easier to hollow out than planets are :)

Gregstrom May 24th, 2011 04:15 PM

Re: Planets and Resources
After further thought, why not abstract asteroid belts somewhat? Treat a beltas a single location with effectively unlimited space, but with costs being very different from planets.

They'd start out ferociously expensive to build facilities/colonies in, but as tech levels improve (artificial gravity, cheap tech that lets you hollow out and reshape rocks, etc.) costs reduce. Eventually, asteroid belts end up holding most of a system's production etc.

MattII June 1st, 2011 05:31 AM

Re: Planets and Resources

Originally Posted by Gregstrom (Post 777840)
After further thought, why not abstract asteroid belts somewhat? Treat a beltas a single location with effectively unlimited space, but with costs being very different from planets.

Nah, if you treat it as a single location how are you supposed to attack any particular asteroid?


They'd start out ferociously expensive to build facilities/colonies in, but as tech levels improve (artificial gravity, cheap tech that lets you hollow out and reshape rocks, etc.) costs reduce. Eventually, asteroid belts end up holding most of a system's production etc.
There's only a fraction more volume in a 100km diameter asteroid than in a 50m deep (a height/depth that was nothing to people even half-a-century ago) subterranean complex with the surface area of the USA, and said complex wouldn't need to provide its own air or food either.

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