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

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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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.
I think it would be extremely helpful for both us and the devs if your team was able to make a shortlist of 5-10 popular community suggestions throughout the year, depending on how feasible they are to implement.

Something that would be good to consider would be allowing modders from the community to have the option to put their content up to be voted on it being a 'community pick' mod that Paradox officially sanctions, allowing achievements for it in single player or something along those lines. A good example would be the Real Space supermod, which is *heavily* focused on adding astronomical realism to the game, with things like Wolf-Rayet stars, class O supergiants, etc. Mods like that that integrate well without destabilizing game balance are great because of how much depth they can add to gameplay without taking anything away.

I don't know enough about the legal intricacies with this or with Steam's TOS for its Workshop, but making special exceptions for certain popular mods that get voted on after having their potential gameplay impact vetted would be *wildly* popular, since it involves the larger community in a fun contest. Other games like EVE online have had a lot of success with community-sponsored content or art, and tapping the near-limitless creativity of your loyal modding community could lead to great things...
 
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I am definitely looking forward to this, especially the expanded tradition mechanics. It always felt weird having to pick traditions that often rewarded contradictory playstyles. Having a team focused solely on balance and "quality of life" changes should also help straighten out some mechanics which don't always play nice with one another. It is also nice to see previously released DLC getting some love and attention.

This is awesome, and hopefully it cuts down on the endless litany of naysayers that seem to plague every single gaming community.

I know it probably won't, though
 

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but I would like to express a worry that it will result in uncorrectable mistake issues if choices can never be changed.
What's the point of having individual traditions if you can just swap them at a moment's notice?
 
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Kayden_II

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No longer will your empire have to suffer the mediocrity of artisans.
By the way, stop this game-"design":
Is it in the mind of anybody that this situation is BS that POPs ( like these artisans ) can't really "decide" what they are ( craftsmen, traders and researchers ?! ) and produce ( consumer goods, trade and engineering-points ?! ) !?

Ever thought how something like this screws up any convenient colony-planning and colony-specialization ?
 
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wthree

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Just wanted to say how much I love what the stellaris team has been doing all these years.

It's seen constant refinement, and each patch and expansion have really added. This looks like another step in that direction and I am well excited!
 
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Oh, big request:

Do a pass through ALL of the scripted event chains and adjust all of the weights. Every DLC adds shiny new chains but the older ones become very uncommon. For example, I see the 42 years event almost every game, but I've seen the Mardok Vol once in the last year.
 
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Just stopping by to say this sounds awesome!

It sounds like bug fixes and DLC will be partially separated going forward, which is good in its own right, but the content updates for older stuff is fantastic. I've wanted actual gameplay mechanics for the species packs for ages now, really hope the base game species will get some stuff to differentiate them from each other too though and it's not just the DLC species.

Extra tradition trees will be great too, really looking forward to that. Right now they're too predictable, the same 7 trees every game is a given, but typically the order I take them in doesn't really change either. Even if the best early choices don't change, having additional options should still result in a lot more variance in the mid-late game.
 
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if this and vicky 3 is what imperator died for, as sad as it still is, i consider it a worthwhile sacrifice
 
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i just want to join a crowd and say it is the best thing that happened to any PDX title in a long time, good job!
 
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This is an amazing news)) Finally it happen, I am really glad to read it.
 
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On the paper, i think, this is something the community, and i include myself, has been asking for quite a time. I should be happy for this, but because it's something we have been asking for a time i don't have any hope. So, please, surprise me, make me love this game again, make space great again, if i can ask for that. Give me hope and joy. Thanks for your work and thanks for at least trying to improve the game :)
 
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Just popping in to say that a team like this is exactly what I have been looking for in Stellaris for awhile now. It shows a serious dedication to making sure the quality of the product is high, not just a continuous DLC train reaching ever further into our wallets.

I will look forward to following the work of this team of developers closely. Thank you.
 
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By the way, stop this game-"design":
Is it in the mind of anybody that this situation is BS that POPs ( like these artisans ) can't really "decide" what they are ( craftsmen, traders and researchers ?! ) and produce ( consumer goods, trade and engineering-points ?! ) !?

Ever thought how something like this screws up any convenient colony-planning and colony-specialization ?
You are being a bit too hostile. The team might not be perfect, but the fact that they are listening to the community and fixing their mistakes should warrant, if not praise, then at least cold tolerance.
 
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You are being a bit too hostile.
No ?

The team might not be perfect, but the fact that they are listening to the community and fixing their mistakes should warrant, if not praise, then at least cold tolerance.
We should really begin to count how often Paradox had written to the community sentences like "we listen to you" or "we will TRY to fix our mistakes" since everytime they do, there're people that act like A. as if it's the first time that Paradox promises something like this and B. as if it's already set in stone that Paradox will deliver significant results.

Sorry to say that, but at the second glance, I've only got that they've splitted the Stellaris-Team so that the expansion-staff ( for DLCs ) hasn't to be bothered with patch-stuff ( completions, fixes, optimisations and balancing ) anymore. Whether this will work or not depends on how the "custodian"-staff ( for patch-stuff ) gets treated in the future and if I consider how Paradox handles anything related to this / QM then I'm not that convinced right now.
 
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Pillage

Sergeant
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Apr 20, 2021
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Big fan of the custodian initiative. Planning to post a thread concerning pop assembly, mostly within the context of Machine Empires and Synthetically ascended empires, but also touching on the new organic assembly. Hopefully those suggested changes will be considered.
 

Masked Ermine

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Apr 26, 2021
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First give some special traits to plantoid and fungoid plz!

No fix the AI and basic game first....then start dicking around and breaking it again....

Like I am excited about this, but largely because I see the custodians less as 'innovators' as they are you know data janitors that keep the whole thing running and working....which currently if my current (and several recent games) have suggested that the AI has some aggressive issues.....and it still doesn't quite work, in the sense that the AI just can't keep up, either because they've been lobotomized or because they still logistically don't understand the economic system and don't have proper scripting/templating/learning to at least make them appear functional. I'm in a game now at just the turn of the century, and I think I'm the only 'nonFE' government with more than 100K empire....and someone tried to open the L Gates already (fortunately a benign or less hostile version) some twenty odd years ago.
 
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