Stellaris Dev Diary #221 - Balance and Quality of Life Improvements

Hey folks, I’m @Alfray Stryke, a member of the QA team for Stellaris. As part of the Custodians’ work on the 3.1 “Lem” patch, as mentioned in Dev Diary #215, the team has done a balance and Quality of Life pass on various features throughout the game and we’d like to highlight some of the more harder hitting changes. This is not a complete list of all changes, and may contain some not-final numbers. As a reminder, the changes to the Necroids Species Pack were covered in Dev Diary #216, and all of these changes will also be included in the Lem update.

Void Dwellers

We’ve been aware that the implementation of Void Dwellers of having two separate traits, one positive and one negative resulted in behaviour that we weren’t happy with - in particular being able to gene-mod the negative aspects of the trait out of existence. To solve this we’ve made some changes to how the traits work:

  • There is now only a single Void Dweller trait, so it can’t be exploited via genetic modification of your species.
  • The modifiers on the trait itself have changed, previously it gave:
    • +15% Resources from Worker and Specialist jobs & -10% growth speed (for the positive version)
    • -60% growth speed (for the negative version)
  • The new version of the trait is now:
    • +15% Pop Resource Output on Habitats.
    • -15% Pop Resource Output on Non-Artificial Worlds.
    • -10% Growth Speed
    • -30% Happiness on Non-Artificial Worlds.

Void Dweller.png

The new, improved, Void Dweller trait with its modifiers.

What this means is your Void Dwellers pops are most productive and happiest on habitats, have their bonuses removed on ringworlds and have production and happiness penalties if they settle on planets (best to leave those for immigrants or robots!)

Shattered Ring

So before you grab your plasma-pitchforks (yes, plasma-pitchforks are canon now), rebalancing the Shattered Ring origin is something the team has been discussing for a while. We’ve gone through various iterations on decreasing the initial power of the origin, while keeping the player fantasy that it provides in mind and eventually settled on having the progression of the Shattered Ring resemble that of the Remnants origin.

Shattered Ring.png

The Voor Technocracy, showing off the Shattered Ringworld Segment as a homeworld.

The shattered ring itself supports the following district types:
  • City, Hive & Nexus - housing depending on your empire type.
  • Industrial - where valuable consumer goods and alloys can be manufactured.
  • Trade - where clerks turn a tidy profit and artisans run their workshops.
  • Generator (not pictured) - where hive-minds and machine intelligence power their infrastructure. Note that Generator and Trade districts swap depending on the owner of the Shattered Ring, much like Commercial and Generator Segments on a ringworld.
  • Agricultural - where food is grown for those that eat it.
  • Mining - more on that in a moment...

Once all the rubble has been cleared out, there’s space for 25 of these districts.

So you might be wondering, “Are those mining districts on my ringworld? What am I mining?”

Well dear reader, the answer is the ring itself!

Mining District.png

Mining districts, aka tunnels filled with valuable minerals and alloys.

As a civilization that has only known life on the ring prior to achieving spaceflight, the only resources available to you were those that made up the ringworld itself. Luckily ruined ringworlds are massive and can spare some missing broken materials without falling into their local sun.

As such your mining district on the shattered ring replaces the regular miner jobs with scrap miner jobs with a base job output of 2 minerals and 1 alloy per month.

Of course, as was alluded to above, we wanted the progression for the shattered ring to resemble that of the relic world from the Remnants origin. So once you’ve cleared all the debris from the shattered ring and researched the appropriate technology you can repair it into a fully functioning ringworld segment.

Repair Shattered Ring.png

Of course, sometimes a bit of home repair work needs to be done.

Upon completion of this monumental task, the districts on the shattered ring are upgraded into their respective ringworld districts at a 5:1 ratio - so 5 agricultural districts become 1 agricultural segment. Since fixing up the ring means you’ll no longer be clearing out material, the mining districts are removed and the ability to construct research segments is added.

Ecumenopolis QoL Changes

Something we’ve received a lot of feedback on is that when a world is transformed into an Ecumenopolis is the assignment of industrial districts.

Prior to 3.1, all of the industrial districts were assumed to be devoted to alloy production and thus converted into foundry arcologies. No more, in 3.1 industrial districts will convert based off of the planetary designation:

  • With the “Foundry World” designation, industrial districts will convert into foundry arcologies, at a 2:1 ratio
  • With the “Factory World” designation, industrial districts will convert into factory arcologies, at a 2:1 ratio.
  • With any other designation, including the “Industrial World” designation, industrial districts will convert into both foundry and factory arcologies, at a 4:1:1 ratio.

Relic World.png

Earth, a bygone relic of a time long past, ready to be restored anew.

Ecumenopolis.png

Earth, restored anew! Note that the local governing algorithm did not assume all industrial capabilities should be focused on supporting the Custodianship Navy.

Another change we’ve implemented is the Arcology Project ascension perk and decision to restore relic worlds into ecumenopolises is now accessible to Rogue Servitors. In addition, the leisure arcologies that would normally be present have been repurposed for housing bio-trophies in luxurious towering arcologies.

Sanctuary Arcology.png

Pampering will be provided at Floor 314, Room 15 at 9:26 am.


Assorted QoL Changes

As mentioned above, the planetary designation for consumer goods has been renamed to Factory World, because we’ve added an Industrial World designation.

Industrial Designations.png

Multiple planetary designations for your various needs

The new Industrial World designation is ideal for planets where you don’t want to focus the Industrial districts on a single job type, instead providing a minor upkeep discount to both Artisan and Metallurgist jobs.

Industrial World.png

Industrial World Designation

Both Hive Worlds and Machine Worlds have gained an additional bonus to bring them more in line with Gaia Worlds. Hive Worlds now have +1 innate Spawning Drone job and Machine Worlds now have +1 innate Replicator job. The Machine World given by the Resource Consolidation origin starts with a blocker which will need to be cleared to unlock the Replicator job.

Hive World.png
Machine World.png


Subversive Cults (MegaCorps with both Gospel of the Masses and Criminal Syndicate) no longer have access to the Temple of Prosperity. Instead, they can now establish a Subversive Shrine in their branch offices - increasing both Spiritualist ethics attraction and crime on the planet.

Subversive Shrine.png

Subversive Shrine Tooltip.png

Subvert expectations with deals so good they’re criminal!

With that I’ll pass things over to @Gruntsatwork to discuss some of the changes we’ve made to civics!

----

Hello everyone. I am one of Game Designers currently working on Stellaris and on the Custodian Team. While we have been busy with radical changes here and there, new civics and origins, we also wanted to have some more tame but no less important balance changes for our already existing civics, specifically for our outliers and those we felt under- or especially over-utilized.

The following lists all the civics we felt needed a substantial lift up
Regular Empires
  • Beacon of Liberty: Gave +15% produced Unity -> Now ALSO also gives -15% Empire Sprawl from Pops
  • Imperial Cult: Gave +1 Edict cap -> Now gives +2 Edict cap
  • Idealistic Foundation: Gave +5% Happiness -> Now gives +10% Happiness
  • Environmentalist: Gave -10% Consumer Goods Upkeep -> Now gives -20% Consumer Goods Upkeep
  • Parliamentary System: Gave +25% Faction Influence -> Now gives +40% Faction Influence
  • Efficient Bureaucracy: Gave +10% Admin Cap -> Now gives +20% Admin Cap
  • Nationalistic Zeal: Gave -10% War Exhaustion Gain and -10% Claim Cost -> Now gives -20% War Exhaustion Gain and -15% Claim Cost
  • Functional Architecture: Gave -10% Building and District Cost, -10% Building and District Upkeep and +1 Building Slot -> Now gives -15% Building and District Cost, +2 Building Slots, Upkeep reduction removed
Hive-Minds
  • Subspace Ephase: Gave +15% Naval Capacity -> Now gives +20% Ship Speed and ALSO gives +15% Naval Capacity
  • Divided Attention: Gave +10% Admin Cap -> Now gives +20% Admin Cap
Machine Intelligences
  • Constructobot: Gave -10% Building and District Cost, -10% Building and District Upkeep and +1 Building Slot -> Now gives -15% Building and District Cost, +2 Building Slots, Upkeep reduction removed
We hope those changes, while strictly number tweaks, will give those civics a breath of fresh air and increase their appeal to the wider player-base because, “oh, shiny new numbers” is one hell of a drug.

Now sadly, only strengthening the civics we felt undervalued or under-used doesn’t solve all issues, so we also introduced some slight nerfs to the 2(3) biggest offenders in terms of being “must have” civics.
  • Slaver Guilds : Reduced enslaved population from 40% to 35%
  • Indentured Assets: Reduced enslaved population from 40% to 35% (Megacorp civic)
  • Technocracy: Added 1 Consumer Goods upkeep to Scientist Jobs that create unity because of Technocracy

As you can tell, for the slaver guild civics, this change is relatively minor, compared to the Technocracy nerf. The goal here is to make those 3 civics slightly less good. We have no intention of nerfing them into the ground. Our goal here is to move them from “the best pick, every time” to “could be best pick, depending on circumstances”.

We will be following your feedback here and over all other platforms very closely as well as our own telemetry and we will keep adjusting and tweaking the civics as we go on.

As an extra note, we know that there are several other civics that definitely need a pick me up, we will be looking into them as well, but not for the Lem update.

That’s everything from us this week! Thanks for reading and we’ll be back next week diving into more changes in the Lem Update.
 
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Dev Replies from @Alfray Stryke:

joe9594 said:
Do Ecumenopoli count as artifical worlds?
No, that only includes habitats and ringworlds (both shattered and repaired).

Bignucciox said:
Are Gaia worlds considered non artificial?
Artificial worlds are ringworlds and habitats.

NHunter_rus said:
Is that a strict list or something that depends on a scripted trigger for habitable megastructures (for happiness non-penalty part)? Would be really nice if the latter since it would be nice to have void dwellers still-happy while living on modded megastructures

The void dweller trait uses the following:

Code:
triggered_pop_modifier = {
potential = {
exists = planet
planet = { is_artificial = no }
}
pop_happiness = -0.3
}
modifier = {
habitat_jobs_produces_mult = 0.15
non_artificial_planet_jobs_produces_mult = -0.15
pop_growth_speed = -0.1
}

and the modifiers are defined in the economic categories file

Code:
triggered_produces_modifier = {
key = habitat_jobs
modifier_types = {
mult
}
trigger = {
exists = planet
planet = { is_planet_class = pc_habitat }
}
}

triggered_produces_modifier = {
key = non_artificial_planet_jobs
modifier_types = {
mult
}
trigger = {
exists = planet
planet = { is_artificial = no }
}
}

Arithmetician said:
Will Scrap Miners benefit from the mining techs?

They count as miners for all purposes, so they'll even benefit from the Mining Guilds civic.

Numkelis said:
I was hoping for Agrarian Idyll to get some buffs or at least lift the shattered ring exclusion so we can take it. I agree that it sounded overpowered to get tons of amenities for almost free, but with these tweaks shattered rings become similar to regular planets in terms of districts.

As for the contents of the DD, it's an amazing job. I welcome them tweaks. Very nice stuff are in there. Love you guys and gals.

Cheers~

Glad you like the changes. Will bring up removing the restriction on Agrarian Idyll to the rest of the team.

Don_Quigleone said:
For rogue servitors, could it be made possible for bio trophies to auto resettle? With rogue servitors now having access to ecumenopolis with a special district for trophies, the optimal way to play would be to grow them on each of your planets, and then move them to the ecumenopolis. I could see this being rather tedious. If it could be made automatic, it would be a nice balance change.

If you change their species rights from "Migration Controls Enabled" to "No Migration Controls" they should auto-resettle in 3.0 if I recall correctly; if not drop a bug report.

Zoomy said:
Just had a thought: now that Shattered Ring has been nerfed into the stone age, does it still remove guaranteed habitables and change habitability? Because I'm not sure either of those are necessary given that the ringworld start is now basically just another planet.

LystAP said:
What about Feudal Society, which is one of the worst civics that doesn't really work right now? Is there a way to make it so that vassals under this Civic regain the AI resource boosts that they normally lose when they become a vassal?

Coconut_Cookie said:
So some of the values of the most used civics are changed again. This is good, but when are the worst civics and traits ever gonna get some buffs? All the civics and traits related to ground combat are bad picks and have always been bad picks because they are too situational. There are also traits that have always been bad picks and too few negative traits so you constantly see the same negative ones.

The Custodian team will be keep an eye on balance going forward as well, I'm pretty sure this won't be the only set of changes.

LystAP said:
I don't think turning off migration controls work. There's an issue in that they occasionally immigrate/resettle to worlds without Biotrophy jobs, tomb worlds (or other unsuitable worlds that your trying to industrialize), or are actively undergoing terraforming into a Machine World (which kills them).

If you've got bio-trophies auto-migrating to places that don't have bio-trophy jobs can you file a bug report with the save please and we'll get that looked at.

stilgarpl said:
I see what you did there.
I'm glad someone did!

Carl_Bar said:
Care to explain please?
314, Room 15 at 9:26 am.

The first 8 digits of pi are 3.1415926

TheHelmar said:
That must be some resistant crop that is handled with those plasma pitchforks...

Sorry, the xenocompatibility experiments to combine lithoids and plantoids into a single livestock got out of control.

Dragatus said:
Xenocompatibility requires Xenophile ethics.
Livestock slavery requires Xenophobic ethics.

Is there some change you haven't told us about? Because when playing as a xenophobic slaver I'd actually appreciate being able to cross-breed the chattel.
'twas a joke.

ankitkumar29 said:
1. Introduce research districts for this origin. If the restored ringworld will have research segments, but the player has already built many labs, then what's the point of getting the research segments anyway.
2. Reduce the restore cost - even without the tech requirement, 10000 alloys would be a massive investment. Or look at Stefan's perfectly balanced mod and do something similar.
3. Give bonus to ringworlds in general for pop growth and job output etc, so that there is some utility for the investment of 10000 alloys ( +15000 alloys for someone building it from scratch)

One of the goals of this redesign was to remove the research districts that shattered rings started with. Regarding the other points, we'll be keeping an eye on balance and player feedback. I've got some suggestions in mind to the rest of the team if this ends up having been too much of a nerf.

blahmaster6k said:
Any chance on a fix for synth auto resettlement? If you have synths in your empire, you don't have the option to turn off migration controls, so they can never auto resettle (except for your main species if you synth ascend).

Having 50+ levels of repeatables in shields/armor/damage over your potential enemies is pretty strong.

Drop us a bug report please.

HFY said:
These jobs do get the bonus from those +20% mining techs, right?

Do they also get +20% alloys from those techs? The techs currently say "minerals".
Minerals only. Though the purification hub building does give them additional alloys (+0.5 per scrap miner instead of the +1 mineral per miner).

Ketrai said:
For those who are curious about scrap miner efficiency. here's a spreadsheet.
(Check the second page for comparisons!)
docs.google.com

Stellaris Alloy spreadsheet.

Main file Job Legend + Information,Alloys %,Minerals%,With civic bonus% This spreadsheet aims at comparing alloy production between different job types. And the cost-benefit analysis of certain bonuses. 1st page = late game jobs with modifiers. 2st page = cost-benefit analysis,Alloys with alloy ...
docs.google.com
docs.google.com
Significant benefits early game. And surprisingly well rounded late game. You'll be a little better at alloy rushing, gaining effectively 20% more alloys, give or take the build.
Click to expand...

Cheers, will give this a look. Lemme know if you end up making a similar sheet for Catalytics ;)

Ferrus Animus said:
And pretty boring. Also completely pointless given the current (and past) AI.



Would you please also elaborate why? What was the issue YOU perceived with them that warranted removal?

Right now we can only guess at your (the entire paradox Stellaris team) thought process, the basis for changes and even if you paly a game that in any way resembles our experiences.
Frankly I think adding motivations behind the changes allows us as the people playing this game to gvie much better feedback where it helps.

And also please consider that a lot of the complaints aren't about the power of the origina, but the fun, differences it introduces to the gameplay and the story flavor of the origin.
Click to expand...

I'll quote the dev diary were we first discussed our ideas for balance changes for the future, since our Game Director did a far better job of explaining than I would.

grekulf said:
Game Balance
We’re going to take a look at reworking some of the major outstanding balance issues that we’re having.

One example that I want to talk about is the issue with Research Booming, where power players can essentially outpace other empires due to focusing a lot on research. What enables this is usually Districts that provide Researcher Jobs, which is relatively easy to gain access to early on through Origins such as Shattered Ring or Void Dwellers (the latter not being nearly as strong).

For Shattered Ring we are looking into changing the start from a pure “end-game” Ring World, to be more of an actual “Shattered Ring” that you need to repair before you gain access to the powerful Districts of the Ring World. Putting additional emphasis on the fantasy of restoring this ancient megastructure to its former glory can be a fun addition to the Origin itself. Although we haven’t decided exactly what we’re doing, changing the start to be a Shattered Ring that you can restore with the M
 
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Could you go into detail on how the clone army origin functions in the previous dev diary? More specifically on how portraits work and if there is a specific event chain tied to it?
 
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As an extra note, we know that there are several other civics that definitely need a pick me up, we will be looking into them as well, but not for the Lem update.

I really appreciate that the team is looking to re-balance the civics. Are you also looking at the Feudal Society civic? It definitely needs a pick me up, and there are so many ways to build content around it.
 
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Did you do a look at the ascension paths? 90% of the time synthetic ascension is the best. They have the most productive pops while also having the pops with the least upkeep.

If I am not mistaken synths still have their innate 5% resource output for all resources. Which makes robots the best pops even if you don't take synth ascension.
 
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So glad to see Beacon of Liberty and Idealistic Foundation buffed, albeit slightly. I like those civics from the roleplay perspective, and Beacon has such a cool icon, but always felt underwhelmed by the bonuses they gave.
 
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I really appreciate that the team is looking to re-balance the civics. Are you also looking at the Feudal Society civic? It definitely needs a pick me up, and there are so many ways to build content around it.

In addition to the Feudal Society civic, the army civics need work, as Armies are currently underpowered in the meta, in that naval ships are needed to dominate wars and armies just involve "build a deathstack of your best quality troops [for lesser war exhaustion] and win by numbers".
 
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Tryor

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Does adding mining districts in shattered ring origin mean you remove the interloper and we can finally have a ringworld without a hole in late game in our home system? Because I was always hoping of being able to make it look perfect without mods to repair all 4 sections.
 
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Alfray Stryke

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Weren't the assembly job changes to Hive/Machine worlds already implemented? Or am i missing something here.

I've just doubled checked and so they were! My apologies, turns out the tools we use picked up these changes as well and these been so much added in 3.1 I've lost track. :D
 
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Tech Noir Synth

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Oh wow the +2 Edict cap is a massive buff. This means non-Gestalt empires can start with 4 Edict slots. And don't forget the raw ressource edicts are extremely powerful, a flat +50% ressource output for a negligible upkeep increase. What about Gestalts, why do they not have access to more Edict slots? The first 3 edict slots all represent a 50% increase to either food, minerals or Energy. Yet for some reason non-Gestalts get these easily, while Gestalts don't have civics which grant them Edict slots. And non-Gestalts also get one from their government, which is an insanely powerful bonus.

I'm happy to see some nerfs to the dominant civics. But I do fear that again non-Gestalts are getting way more buffs due to these new civic buffs. You add some +20% Ship speed for Hiveminds, but non-Gestalts get +1 additional Edict cap on a civic. This isn't even remotely comparable in power level. Yet again, Hivemind civics are much worse than many non-Hivemind civics.

I would have liked to see changes to some more Hivemind civics. What about the Army civic? Army buffs are universally considered almost worthless. Why pick a civic which buffs my armies if I can simply pick a civic to buff my economy or my research? Atleast non-Gestalts get some duelist jobs. But Hiveminds got nothing special. We all know both civics used to be identical. But the Hivemind civic was not updated.

The buff to Divided attention is nice. You talked about the fact that Empire sprawl is somethign that we can no longer ignore. So maybe this will be better in a new patch.

So you're talking about balance changes, how about finally giving Gestalt Empires Ruler traits and Agendas back? Because not having access to 10% Additional Mineral Output or 10% research speed from an Agenda is huge difference.

Ruler traits are random, however many of them are quite powerful, especially the ones which decrease ship costs. We have talked about this numerous times in the past, so when are Gestalts going to get their ruler traits back? We know they used to have them, but you just removed them at some point.

Why not go further and add some gameplay difference aswell? Make Gestalt players be able to choose the ruler traits themselves. After all we are playing the same Ruler throughought the whole game. We should be able to customize our ruler as we are able to customize our whole empire, because thats basically the same thing as a Gestalt empire, is it not?

Overall, having improved balance is great and much appreciated. But yet again, it seems like the power gap between non-Gestalts and Gestalts is increasing. This is worrying and I had hoped for the exact opposite.

Talking about balance changes, how about adopting some changes from Stefan's perfectly balanced mod regarding Origins? For example Tomb World start Origin, which is extremely lackluster. But the bonuses in this mod make it a good Origin.

And what about balance changes regarding the galactic community? See Stefan's perfectly balanced mod again. Thanks to this mod, the galactic community has a much bigger impact at influenceing pops. For example, adding more pop growth speed to biological pops and nerfing pop assembly speed. A much needed change and buff for Spiritualists vs Materialists. This enforced even more rivalry between Spiritualists and Materialists, basically a "battle of diplomatic weight". Even if you are not at war, you can directly buff your empire type and nerf the opposing empire type by using Laws in the Galactic Community.

Nevertheless, balance is extremely important in this game and I am very happy to see that you keep improving it. I hope you will take more feedback and will do more changes in the following patches.
 
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DarkSafire

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As somebody who never plays Void Dwellers, Shattered Ring orgin, Gestalts, MegaCorps or builds Ecumenopolis - good changes anyway, keep up the good work. :p

PS - I know you mentioned than army/ground combat overhaul ir pretty much at bottom end of content update barrel (and i can live with it even if i am not happy about it), but could you at least entertain idea of creating Army Manager UI so we dont have to click 1000 times each time we want to rebuild assault armies.
 
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