It’s been exactly 100 dev diaries since we introduced the Custodian initiative alongside the Lem update. With that milestone met, and 314 being funny math number, I thought it would be a good time to review what the Custodians have accomplished, some of the process they use, and where we could go from here.
To review, the original idea behind the Custodians Initiative was to do some of the following:
- 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
So what have they accomplished so far?In my view, the Custodians have been a pretty solid success.
We’ve done a few things:
So how do the Custodians work?
Ideally, a third of their tasks are dictated by my directives, a third are taken from community requests, and the remaining third are individual developer passion projects. In reality, these segments overlap quite a bit, since we all share many of the same desires.
Before each release, we hold a “Custodian Pitch” meeting, where everybody on the team can write up proposals, give a two minute presentation on what they want to do and why they want to do it, and then a brief but spirited discussion is held debating the merits of the pitch as well as highlighting any concerns or suggestions.
Photo from a recent Custodian Pitch Meeting
Accepted pitches go onto a team board, get prioritized, and eventually end up on the schedule. Unlike tasks slated for DLCs, Custodian tasks are intended to be able to slip to a later release if they’re deemed not ready to go live yet, and sometimes accepted pitches wait for a while before getting worked on. Rejected pitches sometimes resurface at a later date, revamped to resolve whatever problems the original pitch had.
Part of the Custodian Team Board
As you can see, far more things get pitched and approved than we can actually do, so prioritization is extremely important. More things will move into 3.10 and 3.11 over time.
The Development Oubliette off to the side is for things that we started working on, but had to pause for various reasons.
Following Overlord, we instituted a rule that expansion work cannot absolutely depend on Custodian work, since we intentionally want Custodian work to be able to slip to a different release if necessary - the Situations system came in a little hot and that had negative effects on some of the systems we planned on using them with.
So what are some of those notes?From the “In Progress” section under 3.9 Caelum, we have the Diplomacy and Trust changes that we’ve mentioned a few times. We’ll have a dev diary dedicated to this next week, since these have been accelerated to be included in the 3.9.3 release.
Two weeks from now we’ll be providing more details on the Leader Consolidation that we’ve also talked about in the past. Currently these tasks are in the To Do and In Progress sections of 3.10 Pyxis, grouped by dark blue dashed lines that you can barely see in this image.
Other things on the board without planned release dates include a variety of possibilities. Some are larger scope tasks that involve a large number of Custodians, while others might be the type of thing that can be knocked out quickly.
A handful of them include:
- Espionage enhancements
- Make Espionage more impactful, but have systems in place to prevent “dog-piling”.
- Continued work on concepts and nested tooltips
- Provide information in a clearer way, avoiding walls of text.
- Improve tutorials
- They’re really not good at introducing the concepts new players need to learn the game.
- Improve the outliner
- Make the Outliner easier to use during different phases of the game.
- Do somethingwith the Megastructures UI
- As the number of large space constructions grows, it gets harder to find the ones you want to build.
- It’s also very confusing to have things that require Mega-Engineering alongside constructions that don’t.
- Continue after losing
- Pop up the Select an Empire UI from Multiplayer if you lose a Single Player game, in case you want to continue your galaxy’s story, even if your first empire’s has ended.
- Improve species modification
- Address micromanagement and tedium in species modification.
- Pop performance
- Pops are one of the greatest sources of late game performance issues. Find ways to reduce their impact.
- Ship performance
- Ships (and fleets) are another performance issue to investigate.
- Investigate number of habitable worlds (and rebalance if necessary)
- As more scripted systems get added to the game, the habitable worlds slider becomes less accurate.
- Make AI personalities matter more
- Review the existing personalities, make them show up in AI weights more often, and differentiate them more.
Next weekHaving come full circle, next week will be about Diplomacy and Trust.
See you then!