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Stellar Sovereigns V0.92 EA
EA 0.92 Update
Stellar Sovereigns V0.92 update is live, introducing the long awaited Diplomacy feature. Diplomacy provides opportunities for interaction with other empires other than annihilation, and can be used to pursue none violent ways to attain victory.
Beside diplomacy this update also brings new features like orbital bombardment, degrade damage types, quality of life improvements; like the new planet explorer menu, star chart and UI enhancements, a new map generation type and finally the total rework of the opponent AI.
The core of the diplomatic system in Stellar Sovereigns is the relationship Scala that plots the current relation between two empires. The range of the Scala is in between -250 and +250 unlocking various diplomatic options away from 0 as the relation changes either in a negative or positive direction.
An earlier update introduced the Political Spectrum Graph and the ability to pick a government type based of political affiliation, which now plays a factor in the trend of diplomatic interaction between empires.
When interacting with other empires the inherent political difference of their chosen government type Federalist vs Liberalist and Socialist vs Capitalist factors into their diplomatic decision making.
Amongst other factors, this political compatibility sometimes the cause that hinders diplomatic cooperation or encourages it.
Envy and Fear Diplomatic Factors
The other factors are Envy and Fear, where envy is rooted in the two empire's differences in prosperity, while fear is in military and technological potential.
These three, the Political compatibility, Envy and Fear factors are what the AI uses to weigh when deciding on what diplomatic actions to take, how to respond to events and on the direction of their diplomatic agenda.
Various diplomatic interactions becomes available as relations either strengthen or weaken, each having a given relation threshold.
Send gift to boost or insults to degrade relations are however almost always available to use.
The cost of diplomatic actions comes in the form of political capital or credits, which is necessary to initiate them; but in the case of declined proposals credits are returned.
The receiver of any diplomatic interaction is notified and gets the opportunity to react either positively/negatively as appropriate or dismissingly.
For example, when a gift is received the empire can praise the sender, further boosting relations, and when an insult is received they may condemn such action further degrading relations or simply dismiss it in either case.
There are various circumstances that trigger diplomatic events to which the relevant parties can respond to, like first contact, government change, destruction of vessels, etc.
Response to such events is not mandatory but can benefit the empires diplomatic agenda since they are all about changing the relation.
Pacts and treaties on the other hand designed to provide benefits and their effect can be game changing:
- Trade Agreement: unlocks a foreign trade route with another empire gaining access to all their connected market's demand.
- Research Pact: for a limited duration the participant empires native research bonus becomes available for both empire.
- Joint Victory Pact: while the pact is maintained neither empire considers the other as a rival, hence to achieve victory their defeat is unnecessary.
- Demand Tribute: it is a demand of credits for a temporary cease of hostilities by the demanding empire.
- None Aggression pact: is a two sided agreement, where both parties halts hostilities indefinitely or until the pact is broken.
- Declare War: a formal declaration of war, which permits solar system sieges, orbital bombardments and planetary invasions until a piece treaty is brokered or one side is defeated.
- Piece Treaty: an offer of peace by either side, decades long unbreakable cease of hostilities for a large sum of credits.
Support for war by your population will decrease overtime and by loses in combat, increasing the negative approval of the population as wars drag on till peace or victory is achieved.
Where appropriate various break agreements options become available on the UI for the player to sever existing ties.
The diplomatic system also introducing an engagement rule that prohibits fleets from entering the orbit of another empire's solar system without declaring war unless the two empires are in the friendly zone of the Scala.
Meaning no surprise invasion attacks can be started until relations degrade enough for a declaration of war.
Combat in deep space or neutral territories are however allowed amongst none friendly empires, only solar system sieges and planetary assaults are restricted.
Since diplomacy introduced friendly empires the space battle system had to be updated to reflect such circumstances when multiple sides may trigger a battle.
Friendly Forces Support for Space Combat
The updated version now supports friendly forces to enter battle on the same side unless there is already a force in the mix that they are hostile with.
The exception to this rule is when Menace forces enter the mix in which case all forces fight the menaces forces regardless of their diplomatic relations.
NOTE: there can only be one battle at the same place in one turn, so out of three hostile nation's forces in the same orbit will lead to two of them facing off and the third waiting its turn.
The game has also been updated with a large set of high quality emblems just like the previous update's portraits collection.
I had also been inspired by them to take another crack at a feature that I had failed before multiple times to make, the solar system flags.
Solar System Flags
These flags coloured in the empire's colours and displaying their emblem and if close enough the name of the system for better readability.
These are also handy since they act as proxy selectors for the system when clicking on them or can even be used as the target of an action.
The flags can be turned on/off or limited to highlight only empire held systems by toggling the flags icon as shown above.
During the development of Diplomacy features and AI rework to keep myself sane and motivated; I occasionally implemented new game mechanics, features that I hope will add to the experience and remedies some of the design concerns.
Degrade Damage Type
First of these features indented to add gravitas to space combat by introducing a Degrade Damage Type that can only be fixed at a shipyard.
The chance of sustaining such damage depends on the degree of damage a ship's internal integrity suffered during combat.
There are multiple different degrade damages, each effecting a particular aspect of the vessel.
These debuffs are modifying the ship's stats ensuring that even if over time the vessel is repaired the ship performance will still be effected until the degrade damage is removed.
To remove a degrade damage the ship has to be repaired at a shipyard, paying the cost of the repair in resources and time, just like a retrofit.
Up until now the hull damage suffered in combat often repaired before the other side of a conflict gathered its forces to counter attack, leading to the invader to gladly take the attack.
But now, an invasion force can be worn down, forcing them to fall back after repeated counter attacks, even if they were not destroyed.
In redesigning the AI I have took a look at its logic of picking colonization prospects and find myself difficult to confirm, whether its choice was what I would have go with.
Realizing that individually checking each system and its planet is cumbersome with current tools, so I designed something that should help players with that.
Explorer menu for Colonization
The solution was all too simple but powerful, an Explorer menu with sorting and filtering features displaying all the data useful for the player to decide what planets to colonize.
The menu displays all the known planets along their solar system, indicating their ownership if any and their distance from the players home system.
Shows each planet's environmental factors regarding population growth, agricultural and industrial potential as well as all of its exploitable resources.
The collection can be filtered for resources and sorting them by environmental factors or distance.
A design concern that bugged me for a while was that although unemployment is part of colony management, but under employment is not.
Meaning that can be a situation where a planet has a more developed industrial sectors then population that can work at it without output of those sectors being effected.
Hence I amended the sectors output, reflecting underutilization reducing gains from Agriculture, R&D, and Industry if the colony has not enough work force available.
The need of various sectors are taken into account in the priority order of agriculture, R&D and Industry to ensure food production followed by the utilization of the most expensive research sector and lastly industry.
NOTE: underutilization reduces output while the upkeep cost of underutilized sector still burdens the empire's finances.
For the player to provide a way to counter underutilization the colonial tech tree had been extended with an additional branch.
This new technology called automatization, it replaces underutilized work places with robotics, but doubling its upkeep cost until workers can take their place.
The other two new colonial technologies are:
- Augmentation: increases trade goods crafting rates.
- Cloud Factoring: 2x colonial resource extraction rates.
Although the main focus of my effort was completing the diplomatic update I also begin work on the second playable factions assets, mainly the models of ships and stations that will slowly start to showcase in the coming weeks.
Vessel Paintjob Picker
My work on the new faction assets provided me with a dilemma born from the fact that the new models come with some very nice texture themes, which would be a waste not to take advantage of.
Hence I had to devise a way for selection of such paintjobs as well as had to create appropriate textures for existing assets.
The result of this is the above showcased paint job selection interface along with the existing stripe colouring.
Disc Shaped Star Chart Generator:
Added a long awaited star chart generator that was and is one of my all time favourite from Sword of the Stars the disc shape.
Disc Shaped Star Chart
It dials down the 3D Z axis dominating the other generators, handy for those that are less comfortable with 3D or just fancy something different.
And it is different indeed, I found it awesome especially when made the solar systems flags work for the first time, which happened on a disc star chart.
I hope that you will find it as fun as I had, and it just looks pretty! Isn't it?
Another feature that was sourly missing, the ability to bombard a colony from orbit, either to soften its defences before an invasion or to eliminate it entirely from the face of the planet.
Orbital bombardment requires ordnance to be equipped onto ships which are then being used to bombard a target colony.
The type of ordnance equipped and used may be Kinematic, EM or Chemical, each having different effects and come with long term consequences to the environment and the population.
You can chose the kind of ordnance being used at each time according your availability and your needs.
There can only be one round of bombardment or invasion conducted each turn per system.
EM bombs effective against the shield dome and the guard turrets shield, chemical weapons against the population and the troops, while kinematic bombardment against structures but also decimates all ground forces and the population.
To do any damage to ground assets the shield dome must be damaged enough that your bombs gets through.
Kinematic bombs damage the planet's environment adding a negative EV factor debuff, while chemical attacks applies a negative population growth effect to the colony.
Each of these modifiers stack with every subsequent bombardment and increase in severity based of the amount of ordnance used but also decreases and eventually disappears over time.
Minor Changes and Fixes:
- Consumable & Delicacies resource now contribute toward food even when exported.
- Increased vessel's module slot count.
- Added research risk popup to research project slider.
- Fixed the case when battle would start but the enemy is only spawned minutes later.
- Added minimum battle duration, to avoid very short battles, it is 30% of the max battle duration.
- Buffed defences internal integrity across all platforms and stations.
- Fixed trade menu hanging due to inefficiently traversing larger trade chains.
- Increased the negative effect on population growth of the colonial overcrowding factor.
- Fixed the opponent spawning algorithm, now should spread them more equally on the star chart.
- Reworked prompts Zoom function to open relevant menus, taking the player directly to its subject.
- Fixed planetary event durations issues as well as added random chance to the spawn algorithm.
- The transparency of many UI elements has been reduced, for better visibility.
- Replaced engine techs with 3 new power management upgrades in engineering tech tree.
Power Management Upgrade Techs
In order to integrate Diplomacy and to fix the myriad of issues noticed over time, I ended up reworking the AI systems one by one.
Fleet command got most of the love out of the rework, It become organised taking down menace forces and responding defensively to threats.
Added alternative ship designs for the AI to diversify its forces, as well as gained the sense to make use of menaces technologies.
The AI gained the ability to seek out wreckages and salvage them.
Then, since I was in the neighbourhood I took a look at colonization prospect picking, and made picking population worlds and industrial worlds as the need arises.
A new system for construction management been implemented, with a persistent demand queue complemented by a dynamic filter designed to construct things sensibly in line with the situation; for example during war focus on combat and defensive forces.
Improvements to Colony management were substantial, increasing its ability to fully utilize its resources with as little waste as possible.
I am particularly happy, that I managed to make it stay ahead of population growth with Housing development, given available founding.
Coming out of debt also got some attention, making use of the markets, taxation adjustment, and growing trade as needed.
The final addition to AI was its ability to play the Diplomacy game, weighing Political compatibility, Envy and Fear factors against current relations to decide on its agenda and to respond to events and requests.
Thanks for getting this far...
Completing this version of the game was a massive undertaking, no stone was left unturned in my efforts to polish the empire management aspects of the game in preparation for vanilla release.
Next task is similarly going to be massive with the introduction of the second playable faction and a close look at the combat system.
I also plan to work on a couple of additional features like Wormhole Travel, Pioneer Endeavours, Hangar Tech Tree and others that I have been thinking about for awhile.
I hope you like the new developments
and look forward to what is to come!
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Das ist Fantastisch ^^ THX
Sehr schön, dass es weitergeht!
Wann bekommen wir wieder die Hilfe?
Good to see development is continued!
When will we get the help again?
Danke, ja, die Entwicklung ist im Gange, ich arbeite an der nächsten spielbaren Fraktion.
Bald werden einige Bilder fertig sein, um sie zu zeigen.
Ich helfe immer gerne! Haben Sie ein Problem gefunden?
Sie können Probleme melden unter: https://itch.io/t/969942/bug-report
Thanks, yes development is underway, I am working on the next playable faction.
Soon will have some pictures ready to show them off.
I am always happy to help! Did you find any issue?
You can report issues at: https://itch.io/t/969942/bug-report
Ich habe kein spezielles Problem. Mir ist nur aufgefallen, dass die Ingame-Hilfe deaktiviert ist, und dort angezeigt wird, dass dass die Funktion überarbeitet wird.
I don't have a specific problem. I just noticed that the in-game help is disabled, and it is a message shown that the function is being revised.
Ah, I see, sorry misunderstood your question!
Indeed, the in-game wiki had been disabled.
The reason is that there has been so much change since I first made it and that I never been very satisfied in the way it was working so I decided to get rid of it.
I plan to create a new one from scratch, but I think it will only be available for the vanilla release with up-to-date details and may be in a different format.
In the meantime, I tried to provide guidance in the form of tooltips for the newer features.
Creating any form tutorial for 4x is difficult but I will do my best :P
But do not hesitate to ask: https://itch.io/t/969950/comments