Welcome back, Commander!

Good to have you with us one last time, we've got one more update for you about the development of the new Below and Beyond project. It's me again, Bart Vossen, design lead on the Below and Beyond planning and development team. Previously we went into the development of what lies below and what to find beyond. Today's briefing will focus on how to actually get there and some things we did to make life easier for all commanders.

As usual, let's start with an overview. The Below and Beyond project introduces a variety of new buildings, updates to existing tech, and a few new things that will help us explore the underground and exploit asteroids. This is a lot, and we don't want to overload our scientists with all this work. So, all these things are combined in the new Recon and Expansion tech tree. We recognize that managing a colony on Mars is a massive undertaking. For that reason, we also added a few new things for all players to enjoy, without having to be a part of the Below and Beyond project. These are primarily improvements to your UI and some extra control options, to help you build the exact colony you want and ensure you don't miss anything. Additionally, we made adjustments to a few buildings as some of them were being made obsolete. And in the process, we even found a blueprint for a completely new structure!

You will gradually unlock most Below and Beyond content through the Recon and Expansion tech tree. At first, we focus on getting access to both the Underground and Asteroids, giving you the basic tools you need to venture into these new environments. Underground, and especially Asteroids can be dangerous for colonists at first, so we thought it important to only introduce them after you've grown a bit more familiar with these locales. We'd want to avoid any unfortunate deaths, right Commander? In the later stages of the tech tree, we'll find techs that expand our options and opportunities, both on Asteroids and in the Underground. These advanced techs allow us to mine on multiple asteroids at the same time and possibly, under your well-orchestrated command, extract all possible resources from them.

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That said, we didn't want the Below and Beyond project to be a completely separated experience. Several old techs will also improve our abilities to visit asteroids and explore the underground, such as the Advanced Martian Engines tech, which now also reduces fuel requirements for our new Asteroid Landers. This also goes the other way around. The discovery of Exotic Minerals has led to a few new options on the Martian surface. Especially the Drone Hub Extenders will prove useful when an additional Drone Hub would add unnecessary resource management.

But I bet by now you are itching to learn more about these plans to make your life easier since they are completely free for everyone! Below and Beyond adds more places to manage in parallel with your main colony, so we wanted to focus on improvements that help all commanders manage their colonies. We launched an internal investigation to find some of the biggest pain points; cable and pipe leaks being hard to spot, no easy way to quickly have a look at all your separate power and pipe grids, and having trouble placing buildings outside the dust range of others were the biggest. It was most important for us to give you the tools to better handle these; clear feedback where leaks are, an easy way to quickly cycle through your different grids, an option to show dust ranges during construction as well as other relevant ranges based on the building you are constructing, and more information in the resource tooltips. It is important to understand what is going on in your colony so you can prepare and avoid future disasters.

Besides giving you a better overview of your colony, we also made improvements to let you manage your colony the way you want. There were again a few major points we wanted to address. Have you ever been frustrated with reordering your tech tree? Are you tired of colonists still making babies while all domes are already overpopulated? Do you also find it difficult to find that one celebrity on the resupply screen? We say - no more! We added new controls for you to reorder the tech tree, set a new birth limit policy, and added the "must include" filter option. In addition, we had a long and hard discussion with all the different sponsors and persuaded them to give commanders the rights to name their own colony. Please use this power responsibly.

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We also heard the many comments about too many geniuses coming from the School Spire and putting Research Labs and Hawking institutes across all colonies out of business. We had another good look at various buildings and their purposes and decided to make a few changes. We reduced the chance that School Spires generated geniuses to ensure your scientists and research buildings are still viable options. We changed smart apartments to function as a bigger version of smart homes, while still keeping apartments relevant in case you want to house as many people as possible. The medical post now helps fewer colonists but gives more comfort, making it a smaller alternative to the infirmary. Lastly, the Door to Summer event just gave bad rewards for all the effort you had to put into it, so we made that one much more lucrative.

Lastly, we know you love to add even more unique buildings to your colonies. That’s why we’re happy to introduce the Amphitheatre. A building where both colonists and tourists can relax after a long day of work. It gives you an early game alternative for colonists with the luxury interest and more diversity in buildings that increase tourists' satisfaction.

It has been a real pleasure giving you these tours, Commander! Unfortunately, it’s the last one we can offer you for now, but the launch of Below and Beyond is just around the corner. In the meantime, we've got one more instructional video for you to watch. Now, if you'll excuse me, I could use a vacation after all this. I’ve heard that Asteroids are all the rage these days. Maybe I'll see you up there. Until we meet again.

 

OxfordNik

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THANK YOU SO MUCH for finally giving the ability to reorder research without having to reselect stuff. Really needed.

And, naming rights?! That's really cool, too.

Looking forward to building my first Amphitheatre! :D
 
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adil3tr

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Honestly I think the tech tree being added to with entire new columns was a bad idea in Green Planet and I'm not sure it's a good idea here. I realize it's logistically difficult to not do this, but it kind of forces players to really pick one or the other sometimes. That was a bigger issue with green planet, and I still hope you can add the missing replayability/depth to terraforming, but the best expansions to PI games are ones that don't feel like an added vertical slice but are instead integrated into the game. Especially since there's only one added resource in this expansion.
 

Dragomir7

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Here are some quirks about the game that have been bothering me for quite some time, and I believe it would greatly improve the game experience if these changes were undertaken:

  1. The Hotbar is currently a large unordered mess, and it tends to clutter very quickly when there are many items. What's more infuriating is that an item would change its position when it has been away (e.g. on some expedition).

    My suggestion would be to allow some sort of (a) sorting button that can quickly sort all the hotbar items by type (commanders & variants, explorers & variants, transporters & variants, drones, domes, special colonists) and then internally by name, at any point if it has been wrongly reordered, so I can always know that the leftmost transporter icon corresponds to Transporter #1, the next is #2, and so on. Or alternatively (b) have some sort of horizontal tab that automatically groups these items, and can quickly open & close to declutter the hotbar.

  2. The number of drones controlled by each rocket can be displayed on the hotbar as well, just like commanders and drone hubs.

  3. The display of durations at the School and Martian University; it would be a great help to know, for any Colonist, as to about how long more they would be staying there before they graduate with the desired skills/profession.

  4. The display of maintenance level of buildings; currently this is shown in hours, which seems to be counterproductive when I have to manually calculate how long 187 hours is in Sols & hours, for example -- so it should be displayed in Sols and hours. Alternatively, simply show the date (Sol XX) when it was last serviced.

  5. Building maintenance currently (a) does not show how many repair resources have already been contributed, and (b) only allows one drone to send in resources at any one time, both of which are seriously irritating (particularly if the building is far away from any resource depots).

    Suggestions would be (a) to show the contributed or remaining needed resources (e.g. 3/5 polymers for the Mega dome), and (b) remove the restriction of only one drone at a time.

  6. Drones currently cannot be ordered (by click) to remove demolished buildings from the map, and something ought to be done such that they can be manually ordered to do so. Waiting helplessly for a drone to remove the last building in the old dome is a huge pain.



    (Minor ones below)

  7. De-label Magnetic Field Generator and Carbonate Processor as "Wonders" in the Research screen. On the other hand, the Capital City may be labelled as a "Wonder".

  8. For the AI Mystery, standardize the pronoun between "it" and "she / her".

  9. For the Power of Three mystery, allow Transporters (& variants) to transport black cubes to depots.

  10. Additional Steam achievements for completing mysteries (Beyond Earth, Philosopher's Stone, St. Elmo's Fire, The Last War, Wildfire, Metatron), and possibly additional challenges for Japan, Brazil, Paradox Initiative and Terraforming Initiative.

I posted some suggestions recently, can I briefly bring them here for attention? I understand and appreciate that the DevTeam is working hard to get the update out, but this can always be a quick and fine touchup thereafter :)
 
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