Stellaris Dev Diary #228 - New Content & Features in 3.2

Hello everyone!

For today’s dev diary we’ll be talking a little bit about a new wave of changes coming in the upcoming 3.2 update.

3.2 will feature some new content and features, some of which didn’t make it into 3.1, and some of which are new. The reason why I mention that is because I also wanted to shed some light on the process itself. With this new way of working, it’s fine if something isn’t done for a certain update, because it can simply spill into the next update. With our ambition of only having 3 months between the updates, it will not be long before the new piece of content will be out in the public. Speaking of which, the new Pompous Purists Civic is just such an example.

Pompous Purists Civic
This civic was designed to be added to the Humanoids Species Pack with our Buffing the Backlog initiative, but it didn’t quite make it in time to be released in 3.1. In 3.2 you will be able to try out this new addition to the Humanoids Species Pack.

The Pompous Purists Civic is a civic that allows for a diplomatic playstyle, but for xenophobes. The idea is based on an elven fantasy, where they are willing to negotiate with other species, but only as long as it's on their own terms.

1634205974017.png

Friends? Maybe if you keep a respectable distance.

Ship Browser Experiment
Back in dev diary 213 we briefly talked about the improvements to a part of the empire creation process – namely the part of the UI where you select your ship appearance. The experiment meant that only about half of you got to experience those improvements, while the rest kept the ship appearance selection as it has looked like since 2016. The reason why we ran this improvement as an experiment is because we wanted to measure how successful doing these kinds of improvements can be.

1634206012468.png

The Ship Appearance part of the empire creation screen allows you to browse different ship sizes and appearances.

The improved ship browser will be available to everyone with the release of 3.2.

Now I’ll hand over to Victor who will be talking a little bit about some new content for anomalies.

Anomaly Variety
Hello everyone! I am Victor, a Custodian Content Designer that you might have seen around on the weekly streams these past few months.

Back in 2018, we removed anomaly failure from the game. This meant that every single time you encountered the Gigantic Skeleton anomaly category, you would always get the Gigantic Skeleton anomaly, for it was the only one in the category. No longer! As one of my tasks for this patch, I decided to simply go through every single anomaly category and add new anomalies to orphaned categories that I could for the development cycle.

1634206063505.png

This is not only limited to new anomalies, but I also revisited some old classics adding options to events that previous designers created before a lot of the resources we now use were added to the game.

1634206085708.png

While this is not anything that will revolutionize the game, it is a great and interesting direction for a Custodian content designer to explore, which we are still establishing on the team. I do hope you enjoy your (slightly) more exciting and varied early game!

Terraforming Events and AI behavioral changes
Yes, hello, I am still here. My other task for this patch was to create a few varied random events for terraforming. These events vary in power and complexity and mainly break the monotony of pressing a button and getting a better planet. These bonuses vary from getting more districts of a chosen type to perhaps uncovering a dig site left by a species to enamored with war.

1634206115997.png

Before you start thinking, you will sit there and terraform a planet back and forth between two different types and fishing for events. Do know that you can only get events the first time you terraform a world, and it’s never guaranteed. Terraforming is quite the unexplored space for Stellaris events, and these were a lot of fun to create.

Finally, @Caligula Caesar has managed to restore the AI’s terraforming hunger! Previously the AI needed to gather an absurd amount of energy credits even to consider terraforming, but that has now been rectified. The AI has been spotted changing and creating optimal planets in our internal testing. They also are more likely to pick terraforming techs and appropriate ascension perks in certain circumstances.

----

That is all for this week folks! Next week we’ll be back with some exciting news!
 
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Not everyone has interest in min/max their empires -- many of us are just interested in the RP aspect of Stellaris. Everything else is just an additional bonus.
Yes and getting every civic to a similar strength helps those players out aswell. Especially new players who might run into bad choices, which might worsen their game experience.

I don't build strong empire builds all of the time and every single of my empires I write backstories for. I also don't do that much optimising while playing, I don't disable jobs that often or remove the weapons of starting ships. I however do make roleplay choices for my empire whenever I play. So generally I would put myself far more into the roleplay group than the min/max group of players. Still I want civics to be somewhat balanced and don't like that one empire is bad cause I made interesting choices.

So how about we strive both for interesting civics for roleplay and gameplay reasons, that are also somewhat balanced instead of shutting down people that ask for said balance?
 
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Yes and getting every civic to a similar strength helps those players out aswell. Especially new players who might run into bad choices, which might worsen their game experience.

I don't build strong empire builds all of the time and every single of my empires I write backstories for. I also don't do that much optimising while playing, I don't disable jobs that often or remove the weapons of starting ships. I however do make roleplay choices for my empire whenever I play. So generally I would put myself far more into the roleplay group than the min/max group of players. Still I want civics to be somewhat balanced and don't like that one empire is bad cause I made interesting choices.

So how about we strive both for interesting civics for roleplay and gameplay reasons, that are also somewhat balanced instead of shutting down people that ask for said balance?
But take such a thing as the origins, some are very OP and that's okay because there are RP reasons why they should be. You can't make everything 100% even without destroying the point of diversity.
 
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But take such a thing as the origins, some are very OP and that's okay because there are RP reasons why they should be. You can't make everything 100% even without destroying the point of diversity.
Origins are definetly more difficult that to balance and some might be impossible. I am ok with there being outliers like doomsday, however I'd also like to be able to select interesting origins when playing online with my friends, without having to feel like I am cheesing the game.
For origins I think there could be done a lot more with starting pop amounts, tho I get it's probably not that easy due to pdx trying to have a balanced economy at start with buildings/districts.

And I don't buy the rp reason to be op all the time. There is so many things besides the few ones that are stated by the origins allow a lot of wiggle room. Above stated pop amounts being one.
 
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I prefer to trust that the Stellaris's game devs know what thye are doing than waste my time answering questions to someone complaining without any logical reason.
Your whole thing here hasn't been that you trust the devs to get the mechanics right, it's been that you think it doesn't matter if they get the mechanics right. And that this makes you in some way better than those filthy min maxers, whatever they are.

Most players, including those damn dirty min maxers, want to be able to just bang out a decent empire by picking intuitive looking options and calling it a day. What you're missing is that the better the mechanical implementation of the descriptive text the more likely you are to end up with an empire that actually plays like you wanted it to.
 
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And I don't buy the rp reason to be op all the time. There is so many things besides the few ones that are stated by the origins allow a lot of wiggle room. Above stated pop amounts being one.
I'd say it's more that some origins are impossible to implement in a completely balanced manner without fundamentally compromising the core concept. There should obviously be a good faith effort to stretch it as far as can be stretched, like how the Doomsday origin doesn't just blow up your homeworld but also dumps resources on you to help set up a new one, but I'm fine with "Your planet blows up" being less generally useful than starting with a bunch of robots.

This doesn't really apply to civics because it's a lot easier to fiddle the numbers into something good.
 
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That's underwhelming I was hoping for an acheology style progression for terraforming.
 
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How about every time you discover a tech there's a small chance you discover an anomaly on a planet in your space?
 
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Ferrus Animus

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And I don't buy the rp reason to be op all the time. There is so many things besides the few ones that are stated by the origins allow a lot of wiggle room. Above stated pop amounts being one.

OP is relative. Like a lot what is called OP relative to other things is just notably better for certain things than the alternatives, not necessarily meaningful in the overall picture. Like they nerfed Shattered Ring's ability to tech up and Technocracy and as far as anyone can see the tech-rushing meta has neither changed nor slowed down.

The issue is threefold. For RP you want to keep a concept intact. Balance wants the numbers to roughly work out the same. And symmetric balancing is much easier to do than asymmetric.
And that's basically where a lot of the anti-balance talk comes from. Game devs have limited amounts of effort to spend on balance, so they often go for the easier path and that often kills the concepts for the "OP is okay for RP" side as the numbers get nerfed so much there is no meaningful difference. It's like if Doomsday kept guaranteed habitable planets, gave +5% to minerals and the planet would explode after 299 years. Very balanced, not very Doomsday.

And that's before we talk about what to balance against.
 
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Your whole thing here hasn't been that you trust the devs to get the mechanics right, it's been that you think it doesn't matter if they get the mechanics right. And that this makes you in some way better than those filthy min maxers, whatever they are.

Most players, including those damn dirty min maxers, want to be able to just bang out a decent empire by picking intuitive looking options and calling it a day. What you're missing is that the better the mechanical implementation of the descriptive text the more likely you are to end up with an empire that actually plays like you wanted it to.

I simply don't care if my empire plays the way I intended or not -- all I want is that my in-game empires to be as much similat to how I imagine them as possible -- even if that means they will be useless in the endgame. I play my games as inspiration to a sci-fi story based not just in Stellaris, but in some of my favorite sci-fi universes -- universes like Destiny, Babylon 5, Mass Effect, etc. that I am writing (and yes, I am an amateru sci-fi writer). If my empires failed me in-game, all I need to do is to use the events for which my empire(s) passed in my story.

P.S: when I said I'm amateur, I was serious about it! So, if one day you read my story -- don't be surprised with the less-than-stellar writing.
 

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Fair points all. I was overstating it as my first thoughts went towards how it'd compare to regular xenophobes but let it bleed to xenophiles. Definitely not as ideal for deiplomacy as being a filthy xenophile, but at least you're not being a filthy xenophile with their Mercantile trade value stacking and hyper-attractive faction that's trivially easy to keep super happy and grumble grumble grumble...

That said, while it's definitely not 'as good', the real question is whether it's good enough to let xenophobes play at the Xenophile diplomacy play house, by which I mean the real standard of comparison isn't the Xenophiles of themselves, but other empires who'd also have to be investing civics into diplomacy. As long as it's good enough to get your Federation up and running, then that's all it really needs to do, even as

The influence economy bit is... I don't think wash is the right word, because it's what the envoys can also be doing that also matters, and the Xenophobe's own expansion savings. Xenophobes can't get the extra first-contact influence, but they also get a influence cost savings per system they expand to- another way of looking at the dynamic is that everyone else needs proactive first contact influence to dump into their starbase expansion influence cost, while xenophobes have a safer and quicker first contact cycles. Not sure off-hand what the exact influence savings is- something like the influence savings of 2-3 xenophobe influence savings?- and the estimated First Contact time is a big ambiguous. I've heard the player gets a hidden advantage against the AI regardless, but xenophobe 'cautious' stance making others take longer does give them the chance to have tighter turn-around cycles, ie finishing one first contact and then finishing a second before the second target could finish their own first contact. That beats them to the punch, giving you more influence and denying them theirs. Stack on two additional envoys to do that with...

I suspect it'd be north of positive, but the other gameplay dynamic change would be the competitive advantage of a safer and start. Xenophobes are already an early-expansion/growth advantage empire- using influence savings to snap up more chokepoints and systems sooner, letting the pop-growth modifier get colonies up and running faster- but this is restrained by the fact that early expansion is alloy-intensive and makes you 'brittle'. If you're spending your early alloys on expansion and colony ships, you're not spending them on the fleets to defend against your enemies.

Envoys getting relations into the positive are your best defense against that against anything but purifiers, but with your early-game first contact also needing envoys, that creates a tension that usually is resolved by xenophobes not mitigating their unpopularity, and then being rivaled as soon as they have the military strength to be worth rivaling. This has been the dynamic that has made xenophiles so safe by constrast. By being popular and with the extra envoy to spare, they don't need to build those defenses early on, meaning that while they can be limited by the influence needs, they can usually spare the alloys to afford the outposts and expand at equivalent rates.

Giving xenophobes more envoys and faster-growing trust will enable them to better exploit their intrensic early-game expansion/growth advantage. That may not be meta or necessarily viable in competitive co-op, but it's certainly a significant change compared to their current dynamic where they're often forced to stop expanding and turtle in the early game as they build fleets to defend against being unpopular, even as the galaxy fills up and their system expansion advantage goes away.

Once the spying system has been given a pass, I suspect the extra envoys will also be desirable in early-game multiplayer, too -- assuming that envoys remain the spy-masters.
 

Tamwin5

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But take such a thing as the origins, some are very OP and that's okay because there are RP reasons why they should be. You can't make everything 100% even without destroying the point of diversity.
There is a difference between perfectly even and balanced. I don't think anyone is asking for Starcraft levels of balance, where they tweak attack speed from 0.86 to 0.87. But something like old technocracy or clone army is clearly overpowered, while options like Barbaric Despoilers or galactic doorstep are clearly underpowered.

If you gave barbaric despoilers a modifier of -10% ship cost, does that destroy it's diversity? I'd argue it does the opposite, and helps it lean into its niche more. Similarly, if you lowered clone army's admiral modifier from +25% fire rate and -10% upkeep to +10% fire rate and -5% upkeep, or lowered the production on ancient clone vats from 15/10/7/5/2 to 10/8/6/4/2, Clone army would still keep everything that makes it unique and interesting. Balance and diversity are not opposites.
 
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There is a difference between perfectly even and balanced. I don't think anyone is asking for Starcraft levels of balance, where they tweak attack speed from 0.86 to 0.87. But something like old technocracy or clone army is clearly overpowered, while options like Barbaric Despoilers or galactic doorstep are clearly underpowered.

If you gave barbaric despoilers a modifier of -10% ship cost, does that destroy it's diversity? I'd argue it does the opposite, and helps it lean into its niche more. Similarly, if you lowered clone army's admiral modifier from +25% fire rate and -10% upkeep to +10% fire rate and -5% upkeep, or lowered the production on ancient clone vats from 15/10/7/5/2 to 10/8/6/4/2, Clone army would still keep everything that makes it unique and interesting. Balance and diversity are not opposites.
I'd just like to note that while that would be a good buff, Barbaric Despoilers' main problem is their unique wargoal is trash because it's a flat energy and minerals per planet as opposed to just claiming and taking planets wholesale, and they get an opinion malus from every other empire plus no migration treaties (which really doesn't make thematic sense), so the civic basically only hurts. It would probably be good if the opinion maluses were removed from non-pacifist authoritarians and non-egalitarian militarists, migration traties were allowed, and the wargoal gave you resources based on the yearly positive production of planets.
Clone Army meanwhile is just too good at pop growth. They already did tone down the admiral bonuses a little in 3.1.2.
 
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PlasticFacecrops

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But take such a thing as the origins, some are very OP and that's okay because there are RP reasons why they should be. You can't make everything 100% even without destroying the point of diversity.
Origins would be a partial exception to my 'everything should be balanced' philosophy. That said, any intentional imbalance should be a clearly established and labeled feature of the game.

'Hahaha turns out these civics/origins/traditions I picked are absolute garbage but that's fine because I guess I can roleplay as an empire of useless idiots.' is terrible game design.

"[This Origin is very strong, and might be prohibited in some multiplayer games.]" or "[This Origin is more challenging than most, and is not recommended for new players.]" are both fine.
 
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jc_madden

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Pompous Purists Civic
This civic was designed to be added to the Humanoids Species Pack with our Buffing the Backlog initiative, but it didn’t quite make it in time to be released in 3.1. In 3.2 you will be able to try out this new addition to the Humanoids Species Pack.

The Pompous Purists Civic is a civic that allows for a diplomatic playstyle, but for xenophobes. The idea is based on an elven fantasy, where they are willing to negotiate with other species, but only as long as it's on their own terms.

View attachment 764982
Friends? Maybe if you keep a respectable distance.

I can finally achieve my vision of my Xenophobic species that feels like everyone would be better off letting them be in control!
 

MonzUn

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As there is some work done about the ship browser (sorry, but IMHO that's a really useless thing to do) can we hope to have some improvement for the disaster of ship designer and fleet manager in the near future?

Because yeah... It's nice to put some efforts into a menu you spend like 7 second into at best per game, but having a fonctionnal fleet manager seems kinda like more important, maybe?
These experimental features that are rolled out to only a subset of our players are generally not made by the game teams themselves, so there is no tradeoff like that.
I'm actually one of the devs that made this before I moved from the experiments team to the Custodian team.
Even if it was made by the Stellaris team, there is nothing saying we can't work on both things for the same patch.
 
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Lidhuin

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People can complain about min-maxing all they want, but it's easier to RP when civics in particular aren't absurdly unbalanced. For example, boosting functional architecture and simultaneously boosting the mercantile tradition tree/commercial zones, while apparently only considering non-habitat civilizations ends up meaning that anyone who doesn't pick functional architecture as a void dweller is just shooting themselves in the foot.

Min-maxers and RPers alike would have more fun if things were more balanced, because then RPers don't have to feel like they're purposefully playing vastly sub-optimal choices just to get a certain flavor, and Min-maxers can feel like they actually put effort into their choices (rather than one choice being obviously superior to all others).

Indeed, you don't have to pick any particular civics to RP anything you want. That's the whole point of RP. Which means if one civic is miles ahead of any other, it becomes challenging not to pick it if you know it's just that good - and if a civic is completely useless (Feudal Society vs Hegemony or Megacorp) or even downright worse in every aspect than an equivalent civic (Aristocrats vs Memorialists, Shared Burden or Police State) then it's just disappointing.

Why would I build an empire with Feudal Society to RP a feudal society when I just pick Authoritarian ethics and still RP a feudal society? That tells me the civic has failed. If you need to pick particular civics to roleplay, then you may want to look up what the word "roleplay" means.
 
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Sunny_Shaman

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Awesome news. I do also hope we get a change to how anomelies can appear so it dosn't only feel like a thing of the early game, I miss spending time on just exploring the galaxy with science ships.