Lately I've become unhappy with this for a few reasons.
1. Getting energy in the early game to power weapons and evolves is really really difficult. I think this raises the skill ceiling to an uncomfortably high level
2. Energy and upgrades stay fairly tight until the moment you get your first adv generator. After that, it's a cavalcade of spamming adv gens and the evolve button.
3. It's fairly non-transparent to the end user/newbies.
I've had a few ideas on how to combat this. The first one, I will paste below:
/* Ignore this, I'm only adding it for the sake of history */
One of my current ideas is following along the lines of what AF has suggested, and that is using luageo to make Geothermal plants the main source of energy generation, and to make basic and advanced gens more supplemental. I hate to see units get made essentially worthless as the game goes on, but I don't see any way to avoid that for the basic gens.
Here is an idea I have come up with: Make basic generators cheap, but make them take up so much physical space that using them long term becomes unwieldy and unviable. This would also allow me to position geos in a sort of sweet spot; along with this geos would be upgradeable to mk4. Adv gens would still remain useful, but nowhere near as cost efficient as geos.
This has a few positive aspects:
Remaining on basics becomes a serious burden and becomes nearly impossible to properly protect
Adv becomes a luxury that is nice to have but is not as effective as upgrading your geos
And geos are in random positions meaning that they are harder to defend. It also makes geos a prime target, as well as making geos something very much worth fighting over
So functionally, how does this work out?
Well, first off, by making basic gens dirt cheap, but low producing, so you can get your econ up within a decent time frame, but it is not a level you want to stay at for any period of time. And then, raising the cost and output of adv gens to something truly significant. This allows you to have safe energy, but at a hefty price tag. I think that with enough testing and some balance juggling, I can make this work in a way that ends up being a positive for gameplay. Remember that lower cost means lower HP as well, so basics become prime targets for raiding again.
/* Stop ignoring now */
That was idea number one, which Stowtemid balked at. So without rehashing all of that, let me move on to idea #2, which is probably a bit more radical and sane at the same time.
Make all units cost energy as a multiple of their tier and tied to metal cost (so this would be all automatically calculated, basic econ structures like mex, basic gen and supply depot wouldn't cost energy).
Remove energy cost for units firing.
So, I spent about 4 hours testing this and playing test build games with myself. I didn't dial in the correct multiples, but I did prove to myself that it is viable and quite possibly the best way to go. This included an increase in the energy cost of evolves as well.
The way that I tiered cost was using metal cost as a base, then tier1-3 to apply different multipliers. I also applied this energy cost to units as well, so mk2 - 4 had tiered energy costs. Metal cost between the tiers stayed the same, and I feel like that is the best method as the metal economy is very good currently.
This makes energy easy to understand for less skilled and newer players and allows us to do more with the energy economy. And there is the bonus of not having to deal with an army that doesn't fire. It's not worth mentioning the older tactics of trying to dry out your opponent's energy right before a fight with drones or whatever, as that tactic hasn't really been valid for a while not, not really.
Getting the numbers right for this is key. I experimented for quite a while and found some numbers that I liked quite a bit. I am of course basing this on the assumption of luageo random being a thing, and geos being used as the stepping stones between basics and adv. Interestingly enough, in my testing, basics never became outright useless, mainly because of the way I did the cost, they were the most cost efficient, but wasted tons of space.
I think that since geos are limited in placement and number, evolving geos is definitely something worth considering.
It also adds a larger price tag to heftier units like the endbringers and the t3 weapons. But probably my favorite thing of all is that it scales up with your factory production (I.E. mk2 - 4).
The somewhat more tricky part will be getting the evolve costs right, although with some testing it should be pretty doable.
I expect some push back on this, and that's fine. However, currently I am very much not happy with the way that the energy econ works. Sure, it works, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it good or ideal. Worst case scenario I could set this stuff up for testing purposes and just revert it if it turns out to suck.