Stellaris Dev Diary #214: Announcing “The Custodians” initiative and the free Lem Update

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grekulf

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Greetings!

Today I am here to announce some very good news! Stellaris is not slowing down, but rather picking up the pace! We at PDS Green are very happy to announce our new “Custodians” initiative as well as the next free update, coming sometime after summer.

The Custodian Team
Stellaris as a game has been very exploratory, and the game has seen a lot of big changes over the years. I want to start by giving some insight into why we’ve chosen to focus on this initiative.

As we’ve released more expansions we’ve had to take longer and longer between each release, as we’ve needed to spend more time on focusing on quality, making sure each release is as stable as possible. Paradox Development Studio also looks very different today vs. how it looked just a few years ago. Things take longer, there are more processes in place, and there are a lot more people involved. Because each release is now further apart, it makes it harder for us to address some of the outstanding issues that might be affecting the community between DLC releases.

As we’ve added more content it's also been harder to polish and maintain all of the amazing existing content that we’ve added over the years. We want to keep creating new cool experiences for Stellaris, but we also want to be able to maintain a high quality for the base game itself, and for older content.

What we have done now is that we’ve staffed up, and split the Stellaris team into two teams that focus on different aspects of the game. One team, that we call “the Custodians” team, will focus on free updates that we aim to release every 3 months, while the “expansion team” will focus on creating new content for the game.

Examples of what “The Custodians” could be working on:
  • Tweaking game balance
  • Adding new content to old DLC
  • Polishing existing content
  • Bug fixes
  • Performance improvements
  • AI improvements
  • Multiplayer stability
  • UI and quality-of-life improvements

This does not mean that the game will suddenly “be fixed” or done (whatever that means). Together with you, the community, we now have a better opportunity than ever to keep improving the game. In fact, I think working with the community is going to be crucial to really make this work well. We are going to need to improve how we communicate with each other, so that we can better understand each other.

What “The Custodians” initiative is not
It is very important that you understand that “The Custodians” initiative is no magic bullet or quick fix. We’re in this for the long run, and we hope you are too.

We will need to manage our expectations and small, incremental improvements with more regular updates should be our approach.

Honoring Stanislaw Lem
The first free Update, the Lem Update, will be named in honor of the Polish sci-fi author Stanislaw Lem, whose 100th anniversary is being celebrated this year. Stanislaw Lem is famous for works such as Solaris, which has already inspired the Stellaris you know today. The Lem Update is currently scheduled for release sometime after summer.

To set expectations more clearly, the Lem Update will be a bit more ambitious and larger in scope compared to what you can come to expect from “Custodian” updates in the future. The reason is that we’ve had a longer time to work on it than what is planned for future updates. It’s also important to note that as of now, the Lem update is scheduled to be a standalone free update, and will not be associated with a paid DLC.

The Lem Update planned features:
  • Buffing the Backlog: We’re reviewing some old DLC to revitalize them with some new content. Humanoids Species Pack and Plantoids Species Packs will now feature some new gameplay features. By the way, did anyone say Necrophage Hive Minds?
  • Selectable Traditions Trees: You will no longer be locked to the same 7 tradition trees, but you will instead have 7 slots that can be filled with a tradition tree of your choice. The number of tradition trees will be expanded, and previous tradition-tree swaps will be broken out into their own trees (Adaptability will no longer be a swap of Diplomacy for example). Some new tradition trees will also be added to existing DLCs.
  • Balance Pass: We will be doing a balance pass on some existing gameplay systems and features.
  • And more..!: Quality of life improvements, bug fixes, AI improvements...

We will go into more detail about these features in future dev diaries, but for now I will leave it at that. We’ll be back next week to talk a bit about some thoughts regarding game balance.

1622707516974.png

No longer will your empire have to suffer the mediocrity of artisans.
 
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grekulf

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Lmao EU4 fell so hard that it's rumble even reached space
Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with EU4. I've been trying to get this going for a good while.

I just hope the devs don't reform themselves into the Galactic Emperor team.
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Custodian Team is a good name for this. What do we name the team that comes in every DLC cycle and leaves a huge mess everywhere? The Poo-flinging Monkey Team?
We'll name that team "Team Cymsdale" obviously. Duh.
 
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grekulf

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Finally! This step was much needed since 2.2 and Megacorps.

What are the chances that the Custodian team will inspect the various big community fixes/mods that address some of the major issues in the game?

For example:
Ariphaos Unofficial Patch (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1995601384) for bug fixes.
Aggressive Crisis Engine (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2268189539) for Crisis fixes and improvements.
StarTech AI (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2494712590) for major AI improvements in tech advancement, economy management/recovery and alloy production.
Improved Planet and Sector Automation (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1764704051)

I think your team @grekulf @Eladrin could gain a lot of insights/inspiration from these mods, that would make the game better in the long term.

My hope is that the community and the Custodians can have a good dialogue and together figure out what is good to fix. We also need to set the proper expectations.
 
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grekulf

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Perhaps introducing who these custodians are and encouraging a presence on the forums would help with all of this.
Yes, that is a very good idea and its something we'll discuss how to do in a good way.
 
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grekulf

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Will there be a Custodian roadmap that tells us what the team wants to fix/improve soonish?

I will most likely share some thougts regarding a roadmap before summer vacations. After that, we'll see how the roadmap for the Custodians will look like. It's important for that the Custodians themselves can drive what they are passionate about, and work with the community to make the game better.
 
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grekulf

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It would be nice for the community to be able to highlight (via upvotes, or whatever mechanism) the highest priority issues in terms of things like quality of life, AI, and even areas of gameplay that could be improved / enhanced.

Exactly so. To be effective, we can't have the Custodians showered with all kinds of balance feedback, suggestions or requests for improvements. If we could get to a place where the community can discuss those issues among yourselves and come up with a prioritized list its easier. I'd really want to be able to have some sort of voting for issues, similar to how Minecraft has an open issue log. We're not quite yet there tho, so we'll need to together figure out how to proceed.
 
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Enfield_PDX

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If you have two development teams working separately what will be done to ensure their work doesn't conflict and the two teams communicate? Does each team have its own QA resources or do they test separately? I would think two separate teams is a recipe for bugs and design issues if they do not closely collaborate.

To be clear I like the ideas behind this arrangement, I'm just concerned about the potential management headache.
There is a QA subteam dedicated to the Custodians work, but they still are part of the general Stellaris QA team headed up by myself.

We've thought long and hard about this, communication won't be an issue :)
 
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Alfray Stryke

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Swedish people go on mass strike during June and July, as they belong to a sun cult. Those two months are the time of the year that the mighty orb deigns to visit their country.

Swedish summer is far too sunny and makes me miss the grey of Britain.
 
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Alfray Stryke

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That's very nice to hear! Didn't want to sound rude if that came across the wrong way, I always just wondered if people actually go look in there because I never saw responses or anything.

Don't reply to as much as we'd like to, but we do read the suggestions.
 
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I would be open to it, but moving to Sweden might be way outside my personal bank account / willingness to be away from my nieces and nephews. :( If I had assurance that I could be able to get back to my country of origin if things went sour, I might consider.
In my case, the relocation package offered as part of being hired covered my flight to Stockholm and gave assistance with finding an apartment in advance, along with guidance in getting a set up with the Swedish tax office.
 
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Was a bit easier beeing a EU-citizen (then)?

For me personally, yes - though Brexit was a concern. For the company, I don't think so, we've got folks from all over the world here including countries outside the EU.
 
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