Stellaris Dev Diary #205: Announcing the 3.0 ‘Dick’ Update

Hello everyone!

I hope the word about the release date for Nemesis has already reached you, but in case it has somewhat eluded your perception, here is a refresher:

Nemesis will release on April 15th, and here is the second story trailer:

As per usual, our expansions are released together with a significant free update, and this time is no different!

We’re happy to announce that Nemesis will release together with the 3.0 ‘Dick’ Update on April 15th! The update is of course named after author Philip K. Dick, famous for works which inspired, among other things, movies like Blade Runner and Total Recall (which also happens to be one of my favorite movies!).

Why 3.0?
We felt that the changes introduced with the new Intel system and the reworked First Contact system has enough impact on how different the game feels to warrant the change. Early- and mid game feel quite different now, in a very positive manner. Alien empires feel so much more mysterious, and charting the entire galaxy is no longer so easy. Changes like the pop growth system and the addition of industrial districts also felt impactful enough to want us to make the change.

Going forwards, we’re also gearing up to be able to be a bit more agile and deliver updates to the game a bit more frequently. I don’t want to make any grand promises quite yet, but 2021 is looking to be a very good year for Stellaris!

3.0 ‘Dick’ Features:
  • New Intel system
  • Reworked First Contact
  • Reworked Pop Growth
  • New Industrial Districts & some changes to production of Alloys/Consumer Goods
  • New Espionage system & Gather Intelligence Operation (other Operations will be a part of Nemesis)
  • Numerous bug fixes & improvements

Espionage Update
The Espionage system has undergone some changes since the Dev Diaries that previewed them. Based on playtesting and qualitative feedback, we simplified a few of the systems that seemed to be adding unnecessary complexity or were difficult or awkward to understand. The way Encryption, Decryption, and Counter-Espionage all interacted were one of these points of frequent confusion, so we decided to scrap Counter-Espionage entirely, renamed Decryption to Codebreaking, and apply standardized rules when using them:

Encryption is always used as "Espionage Defense"
Codebreaking is always used as "Espionage Offense"

In earlier iterations, which modifier was being referenced varied based on the exact circumstances, which muddled the stats a bit and made it difficult to tell which one would help you more when you're attempting to infiltrate an empire. We renamed Decryption in order to further reduce confusion. Relative Encryption is used often in the system, and will now always compare the "offensive" Empire's Codebreaking with the "defending" Empire's Encryption.

1616066569235.png

Relative Encryption tooltip. In this example, our Codebreaking is lower than their Encryption and their Codebreaking is higher than our Encryption.

1616066587607.png

The refined Operations UI. Envoy on the top left, Infiltration Level (current/max) as progress bar & value. Intel categories in the top-right.

We've streamlined the Operations UI significantly, reducing the sheer amount of numbers associated with a network and the Operations themselves. As part of this streamlining, we've removed the concept of spy power and bandwidth, so it's no longer possible to run multiple simultaneous Operations on a single Empire simultaneously - you'll have to run them one at a time. This change also alleviates a problem we had where it wouldn't always be immediately perfectly clear which mission random events were affecting, so the "mental burden" of running Operations is lower.

Upon completion, Operations will now almost always cause a significant hit to Infiltration to represent lost contacts and heightened security. Operations also used to have varying difficulty per chapter - we've standardized them so we can now list the Operation difficulty on the UI, and let you know if you have an Asset that is especially good at this one.

First Contact Update
Although not much has changed with the system itself since we first showcased it in dev diary #193, there’s still some changes that can be interesting to see.

1616066605514.png

The finished first contact UI. The silhouette in the bottom-right is supposed to be generic, and will reveal a portrait once you’ve progressed far enough into the first contact chain.

Early hostilities can now lead to pre-contact conflicts as well. If you anger a neighboring alien civilization, there’s the chance that they will come and visit you.

More aggressive empires like fanatic purifiers or devouring swarms are also less likely to take your encroachment into their lands very kindly early on.

1616066627081.png

Abducting aliens is no longer a risk-free undertaking.

1616066643790.png

It seems like they weren’t too happy about our abductions…

Outliner Update
We’ve added some small quality-of-life improvement to the outliner. One of these improvements lets you reorder planets in the outliner.

1616066662736.png

Planets will be reordered within the sector listing or planet listing, depending on which option is active.

1616066679716.png

The outliner can also be toggled to show the icons for the designations instead of the icon for the planet class.

With these two options it's now possible to list all your planets as you wish, and to show the designation icons. Our product manager, Simon, can now finally list his Mining 01, Mining 02, Mining 03 etc. planets in the correct, and fanatically organized, order.

---------

That’s all for this week folks! I hope you’re as excited for the upcoming Nemesis release as we are!
 
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We all knew that this name will come some day as a version name, they simply can't 'forget' one of the greatest scifi - author.

So, humor doesn't hurt Dick any more...
 
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Kadanz

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fair enough, I never meant it in a negative way, just in the sense that i have a hard time imaging a corporate board meeting where somebody proposes that something should be named dick
People who mind don't matter and people who matter don't mind.
 
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PedroLuiz

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Both ending in "cryption" was causing issues? Your audience should be sophisticated enough to delineate the meaning of those prefixes. My goodness, is this a Paradox game or what?
Perhaps it was giving troubles to the coders since encryption and decryption look very similar after hours of looking at spaghetti code
 
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The funny thing about this trailer is that there's no Galactic Community capital in the game and it seems the custodian ceremony is happening in it. I remember creating a topic asking for it when they revealed Federations.
 
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methegrate

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This sounds like a bad decision.

The reasoning behind the demands for the last couple big additions (Diplomacy, Espionage) has been the extreme limits of influencing other empires outside of war. (Ethics drift is workable for some builds and targets, and that's about all). In the diplomacy update the primary way to do that, ultimately, were the higher level Galactic Community policy changes, which were extremely limited by two issues:
  1. You can only do one of them at a time;
  2. Each of them takes a long time to do and has a cooldown.
The first makes sense here, but the combination failed to the extent you've had multiple patches (time shortening, change in policy prioritization) and paid features (Council, Custodian) to actually attempt to reach the intended design.

Now, the new espionage system, in which you influence another empire outside of war -
  1. You can only do one of them at a time to an empire;
  2. They have a long cooldown (significant hit of infiltration -> rebuild network) so each will take a long time to do.
Which is making the same mistake again, adding a new system and gutting its effectiveness. I could be wrong, having not played yet (for obvious reasons) but I can see this, very easily, falling into "you do trivial/minor damage that will be repaired by the time you do another operation or can take advantage" outside maybe taking out a single starbase then immediately declaring war.

My hope, having not seen a moment of gameplay of course, is that they'll address the issue on the "trivial/minor damage" end.

Don't get me wrong, I think everything you said here is correct. And you're particularly spot on when it comes to how hard it is to influence other empires outside of war, and how much that makes the game feel cramped and limited.

But I think part of the problem with diplomacy in general is that the options you do have generally feel insignificant. The Galactic Community has tons of resolutions, and that's part of the problem. There are so many that it's hard to keep track of them all. And none of them feel particularly important. They all amount to a 5 percent nudge here and there. It has a very breadth-over-depth feel to it.

That's why I'm fine with them paring down espionage. I'd be very happy with an espionage system that offers fewer choices IF each one of them is a big deal. Now of course this remains to be seen. But if I can only run one operation at a time, but that operation will create very real options and opportunities for me, that sounds great. I'd be very excited about that.
 
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The other thing I'd like with both diplomacy and espionage is for our choices to appear on the galaxy and system maps more often.

While Stellaris has lots of options, only warfare ever seems to really matter. I think one of the biggest reasons for this is that you play the game on the galaxy/system/planet maps, but warfare is the only way that you interact with other empires on these maps. Diplomacy is almost entirely abstract and behind the scenes. Your GC resolutions and commercial/research pacts combine with all your other stat bumps, and the result is your overall economy. It's all very out of sight, out of mind.

The only difference is immigration pacts, where aliens actually start showing up on your planets. It's not a coincidence that this is the only diplomacy option that actually feels significant.

On the other hand, warfare happens on the map. You move your ships around, fight their fleets and stations, change borders and take systems. You can see what you're doing and why it matters.

That's a big thing I'd really like to change. I'd like see diplomacy in action. Trade routes should populate the galaxy map. Resolutions should build and dismantle GC stations in star systems. My commercial and research pacts should set up trade buildings on my planets. Even when the result is no different, I should see how these relationships shape the galaxy.

The same with espionage. I really hope that espionage in practice feels kinetic and alive. It should take place on the maps where I play the game, instead of just adjusting numbers behind the scenes. I'd like to see my intelligence filling in the map as I learn about their empire, or be able to see the impact of various operations on planets and systems.

Of course not every operation can work this way. You steal tech or credits and that just sort of happens. But overall, espionage and diplomacy should start coming to the forefront instead of just working behind the scenes where I forget they're even there.
 
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methegrate

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Doubly so if you vary the outputs somehow with the countries involved.

Love this too. A trade agreement with lithoids could open up one set of options, while spiritualists could provide something else.

One idea might be to at least provide each ethic with its own variable outputs. Not only would you have a real reason to seek out trade deals with specific empires, but done right it could give you a reason to build relationships with your adversaries. The advantages from an opposite ethic might complement your own, or fill in for your weaknesses in some way.
 
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Those are absolutely fantastic ideas, they'd really help the galaxy feel more alive, more varied and make ethics, governments etc. actually matter beyond a handful of minor modifiers, which the game really needs.

Maybe trade routes could work a bit more like they do in some of the Total War games where there are actually cargo ships making their way across the map, I'd imagine it'd probably be hell on the AI and processing but it'd make pirates a lot more than just randomly-spawning fleets destroying things, you could have blockades, even capture civilian traders.
 
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I'd imagine it'd probably be hell on the AI and processing

I mean, maybe not. Honestly I think this could be 90% just graphical sprites that show you what's happening in a way that feels more real.

Edit - I think this has a lot to do with the complaint that the Stellaris galaxy doesn't feel very "alive." Except for building and dispatching warships, very few of your decisions ever actually show up on the galaxy and system maps where you spend almost all of your time. If domestic, political, diplomatic, espionage, etc. decisions had associated graphics on the galactic and solar system levels, all of this would feel more alive and real.

That would take virtually no processing power. The lag issue comes when the computer has to make decisions, like how to move a ship or plot its course. If the "trade ships" weren't actually units but were just map graphics, I doubt it would be an issue at all. (Someone with more tech knowledge please do correct me if I'm wrong here.)

Of course you're absolutely right. From there we could really start to build an involved trade system if we wanted to.

- Inter-empire trade routes could generate pirates.
- Diplomacy and GC deals could address piracy and build bases to fight them.
- GC Resolutions could establish specific systems for trade traffic to route through.
- Empires could tax trade routes going through their systems.
- Other empires could blockade and intercept trade routes, siphoning off the route's value for themselves.
- Neutral space could provide a wilderness for trade routes to pass through
- Attacking someone's trade route in neutral space wouldn't require a declaration of war, allowing for low-grade hostilities

I mean, it all depends on just how complex we want to make it. (And where the balance would be between complexity that makes the game more fun, and complexity for its own sake.) But like above, the first step is that this stuff needs to start appearing on the galactic map instead of just operating as modifiers on a spreadsheet.


And more than anything else, I definitely love @Pancakelord's idea about having trade buildings provide different results based on who you make the trade deal with.
 
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FiddleSticks96

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This is actually an interesting idea. Unlocking buildings - or jobs via planet features - could make research and trade agreements or federations quite spicy. Doubly so if you vary the outputs somehow with the countries involved.
Sounds like front page mod material. Still less important than making Wormhole Drives a thing again.
 
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Mímisbrunnr

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I saw from the Stream that there is now Crisis Type selection in game setup.

This is wonderful. I have NEVER gotten to see the Scourge. Now maybe I can.

Perhaps in the future we could also have options (if you have the DLCs) to force the Khan and the War in Heaven to occur (or not occur) if desired so that players really hoping for these events don't have to go 10s of hours only to find that they didn't trigger this campaign.
 
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Sounds like front page mod material. Still less important than making Wormhole Drives a thing again.
Unfortunately, until I (or anyone else) finds a way to render rings or some kind of radius on the galaxy map, it is going to be quite frustrating to play with once you have more than like 3 wormhole stations, so it's going in my "shelved projects" folder until I see the full 3.0 list of changes, incase there's anything else that could be used.
Inter-empire trade routes could generate pirates.
- Diplomacy and GC deals could address piracy and build bases to fight them.
There is this weird icon i've never seen in-game before (pirate bases and marauders dont use it), which has been in the files since release. I wonder if this was actually a plan at some point, to have pirate bases spawn from hidden, possibly unclaimable, systems in between empires, or maybe inside nebulae (essentially the central 'star' would be some kind of deep space asteroid with an Omega style pirate city).
pirate base.PNG

There isn't any way to delete a star-system once its spawned (short of save-editing) - if there was, these systems could pop up in game and vanish once destroyed/ships leave the system.
 
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Koopa

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after seeing parts of yesterdays stream the only thing i find weird is to know enemies capital planet location. i could see some species telling you to stay away but the option to "hide" your capital for a time just belongs into such a system i think. also the size of enemies emblem still gives away a lot of information.

also knowing the traits and planet preference is a bit weird. not game breaking but something i would hide in the beginning.
 
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Tamwin5

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after seeing parts of yesterdays stream the only thing i find weird is to know enemies capital planet location. i could see some species telling you to stay away but the option to "hide" your capital for a time just belongs into such a system i think. also the size of enemies emblem still gives away a lot of information.

also knowing the traits and planet preference is a bit weird. not game breaking but something i would hide in the beginning.
Knowing the traits and planet preference might be connected to knowing the home system: if you can see an arctic planet in their home system, three guesses as to if it's their origin or not.
 
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Unendingfear

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I saw from the Stream that there is now Crisis Type selection in game setup.

This is wonderful. I have NEVER gotten to see the Scourge. Now maybe I can.

Perhaps in the future we could also have options (if you have the DLCs) to force the Khan and the War in Heaven to occur (or not occur) if desired so that players really hoping for these events don't have to go 10s of hours only to find that they didn't trigger this campaign.
One thing I hope this leads to is more build up to the crisis over the length of the game. Rather than abruptly dropping them on us as soon as the end game year hits, it would be cool if there could be smaller events and dig sites that lead up to it, giving a deeper sense of dread and build up to when the galaxy finally gets hit.
 
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after seeing parts of yesterdays stream the only thing i find weird is to know enemies capital planet location. i could see some species telling you to stay away but the option to "hide" your capital for a time just belongs into such a system i think. also the size of enemies emblem still gives away a lot of information.

also knowing the traits and planet preference is a bit weird. not game breaking but something i would hide in the beginning.
I've already started to point this out in a special thread (again).
Maybe more complaints like ours will convicne the devs to reconsider this and adress it in an upcoming patch.