Today’s Dev Diary will be about Multiplayer and what makes it so great in Stellaris.
Let's start with the basics. Players are able to host games with 32 player designed empires and optionally, several extra randomized AI empires. If you have a new person who would like to join an ongoing campaign they can hotjoin into an already existing empire. This also allows the players to leave or take a break from the ongoing multiplayer campaign and leave their empire in the capable hands of the AI. The host may also choose to host a multiplayer game from a save game allowing players to play grand campaigns lasting several weeks.
One of our longstanding issues with multiplayer is that clients desynchronize, which is usually solved by having the host rehost the game, but this can be quite a menace when playing multiplayer with 20+ people, so we’ve decided that this is an issue we should prioritize higher in Stellaris. Thanks to persistent testing and fixing of out-of-syncs as soon as they happen, we’ve managed to make Stellaris our most stable multiplayer experience yet, allowing us to run stable multiplayer with up to and probably more than 32 players. We test our multiplayer stability weekly by playing multiplayer with our betas and the developers on the project, and it’s loads of fun.
We’ve designed Stellaris with a couple of things which affects the multiplayer experience which you might want to know.
One of them is that empires have a relationship value of other empires, but the value doesn’t decide the options a player can take against another empire but decides the responses AI controlled countries gives to your requests, demands and offers.
Another thing which Stellaris has that our other grand strategy games don’t is a symmetrical and randomized start, this means that in a multiplayer game everyone starts on more or less equal terms. This makes the game, in our experience, more competitive and a lot of fun. Will you be able to claim ownership of that specifically resource rich system before your neighbor? Or should you enter an alliance to stop a specific neighbor from expanding in your direction?
One more thing which affects the multiplayer experience on an early stage is that players are anonymous until you have established communications with their empires, making you unable to know whether the first aliens you meet will be your greatest allies or your worst enemies.
Next week is all about the AI.