Spaceports are permanent off-world installations that, depending on size, may support thousands of crew and inhabitants, acting almost as a city in itself. As the main hub for anything moving planetside it becomes a natural focus for interstellar trade and production as well as a vital strategic point in any conflict. All types of ships are built and serviced in the spaceport, from smaller vessels like science ships to enormous battleships. As it is too large for a construction ship to build, the spaceport is instead constructed by an established colony. When finished, the spaceport orbits the planet offering basic off-world defenses and the ability to construct and repair ships. The spaceport starts out small and can be upgraded in steps, a total of five times, where each upgrade adds additional toughness, damage output, the ability to build larger ships and most importantly additional module slots.
Modules are attachments that can be added to spaceports, allowing further specialization or utility. Like many other things in Stellaris, some modules may only be available to empires of a specific ethos while others may be the result of a rare scientific breakthrough. Their effects can range from additional defenses (Reinforced Hull Structure for added toughness, Fighter Squadron to combat raiders), benefits to economy (Hydroponic Farms to grow additional food, Solar Panels to gather energy) and ship support (Crew Quarters for lowered upkeep of ships while docked) as well as refining and utilizing different rare resources. This all comes at a cost of course. A fully upgraded and equipped spaceport is a huge investment and the loss of one may alter the course of a war.
A rare resource is any resource showing an abnormal or useful behavior when processed. The uses can range from financial to destructive and some resources offer multiple effects depending on their use. A source of Engos Vapor could either be used to boost the thruster speed of all ships built within the spaceport or be pumped into the local atmosphere to soothe the local populace. Monopolizing a few of these resources offers great potential for a trade empire to flourish, or a warlike one to take whatever else they desire.
We’d like for spaceports to be something players customize and develop according to their playstyle, either by covering weak areas or further enhancing their strengths. The decision where, when and with what modules to build a spaceport will also be heavily influenced by the planet it orbits and how close it is to potential danger.
The rare resources should ideally provide a source of power and tension in the game. We’ve seen some players go for strategies based on controlling specific resources while some players prefer a more opportunistic approach, adapting to whatever they might happen upon. Others simply prefer to grab everything they can to better control where, and by who, they are used. Why risk the uncertainty of war when supplying both sides with the means of destruction ensures profit regardless of outcome?
(We’ll discuss further details on trade at some point in a future dev diary.)
P.S. I forgot to mention, next weeks dev diary will cover the technology system!