Power Creeps update

  • Here's my hot take:

    DISRUPT_SPAWN - Seems weak, but I say that with low confidence. Probably you have to get level 4 or 5 on this or not bother at all.

    DISRUPT_TERMINAL - Obviously powerful

    EXTEND_SOURCE - Gives me free energy. Do I need that? I don't understand why it has a high level cap. Seems weak. Possibly cheaper to just sell the ops for credits and buy energy (especially if you consider CPU).

    OPERATE_MINERAL - Underwhelming. I'm not tying up a level 23 creep to double the mineral output of one source. Ever. Even at level 5. Economically more efficient to generate ops and sell them with a bunch of smaller PCs.

    OPERATE_LAB - Seems pointless. I will never use this. For it to be good, the effect would need to last for enough ticks that I could boost several lab clusters with the same PC. Even then, I do not think the effect would be worth the CPU required to move that PC around to each cluster.

    SHIELD - Probably some good tricks you can do with this. Jury is out.

    OPERATE_STORAGE - I was pretty excited about this one, mostly for temple rooms. Unlike OPERATE_LAB the effect lasts long enough that I can buff several rooms with the same PC, so it can't be too bad.

    OPERATE_SPAWN - Seems weak, especially at low levels. I could see there being some edge case uses around bringing up RCL6 rooms to RCL7 faster. I find that I am almost never spawn-rate limited in Screeps, so this is a solution to a problem I don't have. If the effect lasted longer it would be more useful.

    DISRUPT_SOURCE - Utterly pointless. Only useful on attack. Only useful when attacking someone who only has 2-3 rooms (will not effect bigger players who can terminal in resources). Only useful when attacking someone with no credits. Basically it's only useful .00001% of the time and even then it does not unlock any new capability, since I can crush that person anyways. For this to be good, you need to increase the radius of effect to be 3x3 rooms at level 2-3 and 5x5 rooms at level 4-5.

    OPERATE_TOWER - Not sure about this one. If I can always scout enough to make sure my operate_tower PC is in whatever room is being attacked, then it seems like it could be good. I think probably most players don't get attacked enough to take this skill over one that provides constant benefit (as opposed to situational). I think if I take the situational skill, it needs to really pay off in that situation. Not sure this rises to that bar.

    DISRUPT_TOWER - If it lets me clear RCL8 rooms with unboosted creeps, then this might be worth it. Haven't done the math, so I'm not sure. Otherwise I'd rather generate ops, sell the ops, and buy the T3 boosts I need to crack the room instead, which is a lot less situational. The problem with this is I need to be attacking all the time to get value. In general, I'm not.

    OPERATE_OBSERVER - Would like to understand the use case for this. If it would let me scan other shards, then that might be a weird useful edge case. It sounds useless to me and I don't know that I will ever take this. I think it would be more useful if it upgraded my ability to get event-based intel. I.e. my observer raises events when NPCs, invaders, or other players enter my zone of control. This would be a CPU improvement over active scanning. Then I might take it. As designed, I don't think anyone will ever get levels 2-5 in this skill.

    OPERATE_EXTENSION - Maybe useful with OPERATE_SPAWN? Otherwise I'm never limited by how fast I can refill my extensions. It's not an exciting skill. For this to be exciting, a single low-level PC would have to be able to replace all of my extension refillers. Then maybe I could save some CPU if I had a bunch of these PCs in a bunch of rooms. Basically, if this is only useful when I'm being attacked, then it's a bad skill. As it is, it's probably more CPU efficient to sell ops, buy energy, and turn off some remote mines if what I want to get is CPU.

    OPERATE_TERMINAL - A skill that saves a little energy. That's what no one needs. Even if this made transfers free across any distance, I probably wouldn't take it, although it would at least be useful to some players if that was the case. To take advantage of this skill, I now need to queue up all my future transfers in a way that lets one PC do a circuit around a bunch of cities that want to send materials. Even just the CPU cost of running that PC around doing that is not worth the energy I'm saving, and that is assuming that those transfers exist often enough to get a good duty cycle.


    I'm probably only going to use powers that:

    1. Unlock new capabilities for my empire (i.e. DISRUPT_TERMINAL)
    2. Can create efficiency constantly (OPERATE_STORAGE?)

    I'm probably never going to use powers that:

    1. Provide marginal or sporadic benefit (ex marginal: OPERATE_LAB. ex sporadic: OPERATE_TOWER)
    2. On the attack are situational but not significantly superior to regular T3 boosted creeps (lol at DISRUPT_SOURCE)

  • Dev Team

    A quick note on some skills like OPERATE_SPAWN. We had this case in mind when we were designing it: if you consider Power Level an alternative path competing with Control Level for your energy, then you may choose to control less rooms (and have less spawns) but operate them with power creeps to achieve the same amount of creeps doing economy/military tasks. OPERATE_SPAWN is not very useful for people who already invested in Control Level and got a lot of rooms/spawns; but is useful for new people who decide to go power instead of control.


  • @shedletsky

    EXTEND_SOURCE - Gives me free energy. Do I need that? I don't understand why it has a high level cap. Seems weak. Possibly cheaper to just sell the ops for credits and buy energy (especially if you consider CPU).

    K, lets consider the CPU real quick. The only requirement for this power to work, is to have a power creep with it reach a source (any source) in your room every 100 ticks. Lets assume that this then costs 0.2 move intents every tick because the power creep has to keep moving. You also need to increase the size of the miner at that source to something like a 31W15M4C instead of whatever you are currently using.

    What does this benefit you? It means that you have 6 sources being mined by a single miner being transported to your storage by links directly from the miner. If your 5 remote mines plus haulers can somehow beat the CPU efficiency of this setup, I would be very curious how you are doing it.

    Rough table:

    Item Cost Item Cost
    6 miners 1.2 CPU 1 miner 0.2 CPU
    5 haulers 1 CPU 1 PC 0.2 CPU

    A key thing here is that the power creep is able to spend 100 ticks away from the source, so it could walk ~50 tiles away, take a few actions and walk back. This power creep may be dedicated to economy, but it will not be tied up to the EXTEND_SOURCE power. In theory, a level 25 power creep with this setup could maintain a lv5 extended source, a lv4 extended mineral, operate 8 lv5 labs, generate enough ops to be self-sustained and then be around this base in case it needs to throw some ops at some other powers (I just chose some random powers here) in case of emergency. It's worth noting that I probably would use a lv5 EXTEND_MINERAL though, rather than EXTEND_SOURCE

  • @artch Hmm. What are the benefits of focusing on power level instead of GCL?

    GCL has a lot of passive benefits:

    1. I control more rooms so I get more resources
    2. I am bigger and harder to wipe out
    3. I have a lot of control over my spawn density (I can go build closely together in contested areas and spread out more in uncontested areas)

    Since a Power-focused empire is harder to manage (since it relies on actively using powers instead of just being large), it seems to me that there should be some kind of payoff if you actually manage to make it work. Also, some of the powers need to help you secure/farm/process power banks, possibly fighting with larger neighbors. It seems like the obvious missing power in this design is OPERATE_POWERSPAWN that makes processing power not require a huge amount of energy that you need high GCL to collect.

    It's possible power empires will make more sense once the commander/executor comes out (the one that makes raiding profitable? I forget which it is).

  • @artch Okay, so OPERATE_SPAWN ... 🤔

    You are probably going to need to explain it better than that because you cannot just level power as an alternative to control level. That's just not how the rest of the game is setup. CPU doesn't increase with power... does it? Not to mention levels in either GCL or Power are exponentially harder as your progress, so if I devote all my energy into one, someone who is doing them equally probably has more total value than I do

    Spawn capacity only matters if I have something to use it on, which requires land (sources/minerals/victims) and the CPU to move the creeps. Not to mention that there is a range limit here on a room that tends to be more limiting than spawn capacity.

    There might be some situation where you can use an excessive number of power creeps to achieve what several rooms could with a single room, but other limitations are going to come into play before spawn capacity. Limitations such as: locations around a source, link throughput, mineral type diversity, traffic jams, power banks spawn rate, etc etc.

    Hey wait a sec... is this an attempt to get us to agree to reducing the number of spawns we can build per room like the original power creep doc? 😂


  • @gankdalf

    I think the optimal case is that I have a pair of rooms with at least 3 sources total that are adjacent with every source within 100 ticks walking distance to each other (so a level 5 EXTEND_SOURCE PC can make a loop around boosting the sources every 100 ticks when EXTEND_SOURCE is on cooldown)

    Instead of mining 1500 * 3 (4500) energy every 300 ticks, I now get 6500 * 3 (19500) energy every 300 ticks from these mines. Let's assume miners/carriers/links/whatever are free and this is pure profit.

    That does sound pretty good. This power seems to be worth 50 energy/tick, or (at current rates), .45 credits/tick. If you are displacing remote miners for the same energy, it's definitely more CPU efficient since there is less hauling.

    Basically I'm getting ~5 rooms of energy for free.

    Now that I have thought some more about it, that seems pretty good. I suspect that most of the other powers do not rise to the .45 credits/tick value threshold.


  • Dev Team


    Spawn capacity only matters if I have something to use it on, which requires land (sources/minerals/victims) and the CPU to move the creeps. Not to mention that there is a range limit here on a room that tends to be more limiting than spawn capacity.

    You can leverage other powers to extend your available tasks list (e.g. EXTEND_SOURCE) without claiming more land and using more CPU.

  • Dev Team


    It's possible power empires will make more sense once the commander/executor comes out (the one that makes raiding profitable? I forget which it is).

    Absolutely. The Operator is just the first part of the big picture.

  • @shedletsky Uh, the biggest benefit with focusing on CL not PL... You get more CPU. Constantly. And in this game, CPU is the single most valuable resource because you can just plain do more stuff.

  • Dev Team

    @davaned Our intention is to tune powers in such a way that they allow to achieve the same economy/military goals doing less actions, hence using less CPU. Control Level is about quantity, Power Level is about efficiency. Extensive vs intensive growth.

  • @artch Could we see some numbers on this? The way I see it, even a player who only owns one room, can easily support ridiculously high numbers of EXTEND_SOURCE power creeps without the need for OPERATE_SPAWN. Like... +200 levels of power creeps just using EXTEND_SOURCE, and then mining it.

    Give them a more realistic 5-7 rooms and I don't think there is a player in the game that has enough power to create enough lv5 EXTEND_SOURCE creeps to need that extra spawn capacity to function. A single room can support something like 5 level 5 extend sources by itself if they are used locally on sources with enough open positions for miners.

    Could you explain when a player actually needs this spawn capacity, not just naming things that can increase it? And even if they did need it, why does it cost enough ops that it would prevent other functions on the same power creeps, such as labs?

  • Dev Team

    @gankdalf What do you mean? EXTEND_SOURCE increases body parts count needed to harvest sources before they regenerate, how can you do this without increased spawn capacity?

  • @artch Because the spawn capacity of a 3 spawn room is ridiculously high. You can maintain 1500 body parts (slightly less in reality) from a single room. You need 25 WORK parts per EXTEND_SOURCE along with the MOVE/CARRY to operate it. This comes out to aprox 50 parts per EXTEND_SOURCE to mine it. If we assume about 100 capacity for safety reasons and 200 capacity for management creeps, we have 1200 capacity to use on miners.

    That's 24, 50 part miners. We can drop 4 of them just in case someone wants to count spawn/travel time overlaps. So we have 20 50 part miners that each can support a power creep each. That's 520 power levels.

    Wait... there aren't 20 spots open around the sources or not enough energy throughput on links? No kidding? Okay, so lets remote mine these instead. Remote mines up to 75 tiles away can be managed by a single 48 part hauler creep without any issues, so lets assume we can only have 1 power creep per 100 part for remote mined super sources.

    safety = 100 parts
    management = 200 parts
    2 in house sources = 200 parts (4 miners), 4 power creeps
    8 outsources = 400 parts (8 miners), 400 parts (8 haulers), 8 power creeps
    100 parts extra for spawn times and other safety

    ... You are still looking at 12 copies of EXTEND_SOURCE lv5, which is 312 power levels

    Once you get into this range, it even starts becoming an issue whether containers can even hold the energy you are outputting, since they hardly can hold what they did before. This is another limitation to this efficiency over quantity issue. It's one of the reasons harvest boosts don't work too great even with the addition of EXTEND_SOURCE. Links and containers are quite limited on what they can do.

    I am obviously not counting invaders, defense, mining minerals, and a few other things, but then.... why in the world do you only have one room. This is the calculation for ONE room. Just reaching RCL 8 should give you 2-3 rooms worth of GCL, so why do you only have one room?

    The point is that you will hit so many other limits ages before you will hit a spawn capacity limit in any situation that isn't war, and even then it is very likely only for a brief period of time.

  • Culture

    @gankdalf Your calculations are wrong.

    8000 energy/300 ticks = ~27 energy/tick 1600 carry/150 tick travel = ~11 energy/tick moving

    You'd need about 2.5 carriers/haulers per single mine at a distance of 75 one way to handle that volume of energy. Take 100 parts off for the two miners at home (who need slightly larger carries to not waste ticks transferring to the link). That leaves you 1100 parts for remote mining. With the numbers above, you can mine 7 sources, assuming a miner with 25 work/1 carry/13 move and a carrier of 32/16.

    I'm also not sure what you're doing with your power creep calculations. 1 PC should handle 3 mines with 100 distance between them. You need 23 levels to reach level 5 EXTEND_SOURCE. I have the highest power in the game at 329 levels and that's still only 14 operators capable of doing that. That gives me the potential to have 42 extended sources (assuming I do nothing else with these guys), giving me a whopping 210000 energy extra per cycle, or 1.05million per generation (roughly 800k/hour)

    So I'll agree with you, I don't really see how this can compare with just getting more rooms.

  • @artch I'm curious about the design choice that led to "ops"

    It seems weird to me that it would only exist for one creep tree, and that its a resource that's tradeable storable etc. It's like its a secondary balancing mechanic for some powers thats not an actual limitation.

    Was it a variant of the classic "mana" resource? How did you guys settle on it? I think that having mana with regen could have the same effect with a fluid implementation. It would allow commander creeps have things like "energy aura" that makes your power creeps regen faster or an overload that burns up all of a power creeps mana.

    So from an interesting game design: what are the gameplay patterns the ops aims to enhance? It gives some consumer vs producer market, but I'm curious to the rest.

  • @hernanduer Sorry I was in a bit of a hurry to explain some of that.

    It was already asked and answered that you could use EXTEND_SOURCE on the same source multiple times, so the thought experiment involved having power creeps camp a source and flood it with the entire 15,000 per regen period. This takes 25 WORK parts to mine (before the default 3,000), which takes 30 WORK parts to mine the full 18,000 before the regen period. I had then allowed for 4 CARRY parts, transfering every 3 ticks because quite frankly I see no reason to care about CPU when I am harvesting 6 sources with a single miner and some links.

    I fudged the math a bit for the remotes because quite frankly I think that the whole equation is trivially solved by "own 3 rooms". The fudge was the fact that the 75 range only applied to 3k sources, and is set by the container size and mining speed (which is obviously much higher with super sources), which I did mention, but didn't go into detail on how it was wrong, since again, the scale and proportion are not even in the ballpark for OPERATE_SPAWN to have any type of a chance.

    Personally, I would like to see how many operators I can get extending the sources in a single room just to see, since in theory if you can fit more miners around a source, you can throw more operators at it. You lose some of the efficiency, since you don't have more +3ks from a new source, but gain the ability to transport it from extremely short range or with links.

    With how it was stated, it doesn't matter if you use your power creep on the far source or the near source. Both will, in theory, net the same total. As long as you can harvest all of the energy before it regenerates, the near source will be more efficient, even if it already has power creeps boosting it.

    ** reference https://screeps.com/forum/topic/2183/power-creeps-update/87

  • @artch Actually another big flaw in the whole GCL vs. PL choice is that PL rate is directly gated by the number of RCL 8 rooms you own. Obviously it is also gated by energy production after a certain point, but if you only have one room, you aren't going to be generating power as fast as the owner of two rooms because you only have one power spawn.

  • I still believe that operate_extensions works better as a power that increases extension capacity so that your creeps can fill fewer bigger extensions. This would result in fatter claim creeps, but in most cases extension capacity isn't a limitation for an RCL8 room's spawning size.

  • Dev Team

    Of course nobody will choose having just one room literally, it was just an example, all players will try to find some balance. But higher Power Level extends your capability of doing more with less rooms. You choose between having more rooms (and spending more CPU), or having less rooms and boosting them with power. Math and numbers are still under discussion and can be changed while testing on the PTR, but that's the idea.

    Commander and especially Executor should be included in this equation to make it work.

    And Power Levels don't correlate to Control Levels 1-to-1, they are not equivalent replacements to each other, but different assets aiming at the same goal - making you more capable to make an impact on the game world.

  • Dev Team

    @davaned The game economy needs more tradeable resources to maintain healthy market, and upgrading capabilities of your base seems like a nice match for such a resource. It won't be a major limiting factor, it's just another simple mechanic that makes this process deeper and more social.