Stellaris Dev Diary #33 - The Maiden Voyage

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Doomdark

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Hi everyone!

Well folks, here we are again, one week later… The development team has mostly weathered the release jitters and nerves are starting to calm down. The ship we worked so hard on for the last three years has been successfully launched and is currently on its maiden voyage. The crew seems mostly happy but some of the inspectors have raised concerns about mid-ship structural issues. As chief architect, I am not entirely surprised, but the reports will allow us to commence upgrades as soon as HMS Stellaris returns from its round-trip to Alpha Centauri. Alright, enough with the metaphor, let’s talk about our future plans for Stellaris!

First off, for those of you who are unfamiliar with our post-release policies, we will release a lot of expansions over the coming years. Each expansion will be accompanied by a major update (for Stellaris, these free updates will be named after famous science fiction authors) containing a whole bunch of completely free upgrades and improvements to the game in addition to regular bug fixes. As long as enough players keep buying paid content for the game, we promise to keep improving the game for everyone, almost like an MMO.

Now, before we begin the expansion cycle in earnest, we will spend the rest of May and June only focusing on bug fixes and free upgrades to the game. We carefully listen to all your feedback, which has already made us alter our priorities a bit. As a veteran designer of our complex historical games, I was anticipating a fair amount of criticism regarding the mid-game in Stellaris compared to that of our historical games, but I was more concerned with the depth of the economy than the relative lack of diplomatic options, for example. I also find much of the feedback on the Sector system interesting; the GUI and AI concerns will receive the highest priority. One area I was not at all surprised to get flak for is the lack of mid-game scripted content, however. We simply took too long getting all the early and late game stuff in, and neglected a whole category of events called “colony events”, which were supposed to be the bread and butter of the mid-game for the Science Ships.

We’ve been digesting and discussing your feedback and how to best go about improving the mid-game to make it more dynamic, both in the short and long run. Let’s start with our short term plans. When the game was released, we had already proceeded to fix a lot of issues. Together with some other pressing issues that have been reported, the plan is to release the 1.1 update - “Clarke” - near the end of May. We will try to cram as much as we can into this update, but the more fundamental stuff will have to wait until the next update (“Asimov”), which is scheduled for the end of June. The “Clarke” patch will mainly be a bug fix and GUI improvement update. Here are some of the highlights:

"CLARKE" HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fixes to the Ethic Divergence and Convergence issues. Currently, Pops tend to get more and more neutral (they lose Ethics, but rarely gain new ones.)
  • The End of Combat Summary. This screen looks bad and also doesn’t tell you what you need to know in order to revise your ship designs, etc.
  • Sector Management GUI: There are many issues with this, and we will try to get most of them fixed.
  • Diplomacy GUI issues. This includes the Diplomatic Pop-Ups when other empires contact you, but also more and better looking Notifications, and more informative tooltips on wars, etc.
  • AI improvements: Notably the Sector AI, but also plenty of other things. This kind of work is never "finished"...
  • Myriads of bug fixes and smaller GUI improvements.
  • Late game crises bugs. There were some nasty bugs in there, blocking certain subplots and various surprising developments.
  • EDIT: Remaining Performance Issues. We know about them; they might even be hotfixed before Clarke.
  • EDIT: Corvettes are too good.

Stellaris_new_Diplo_Notification_Mockup.png

New Diplomatic Notification. This is a mock-up, not an actual screenshot!

Stellaris_End_of_Combat_Mockup.png

New Fleet Combat Summary. This is a mock-up, not an actual screenshot!


After that, we’re moving on to the “Asimov” update, and this is when we can start making some major gameplay improvements to especially the mid-game. As you might have guessed, we plan to add some new diplomatic actions and treaties. Another thing that struck me during our discussions is that the normal lack of access to the space of other empires makes the game feel more constricted than intended. It limits your options since you can’t really interact much with the galaxy beyond the borders of your empire, and you only tend to concern yourself with your direct neighbors. This is bad for your Science Ships too, of course, since they might not be able to finish some of the grander “quests”. Compare the situation with Europa Universalis, where you usually have access to the oceans and can thus reach most of the world, or Crusader Kings, where you can even move through neutral territory with your armies. We also intend to add as much mid-game scripted content as we can. Thus, this is currently the plan for “Asimov”, but it’s not set in stone yet, so please bear with us if something gets pushed or altered:

"ASIMOV" HIGHLIGHTS (NOT SET IN STONE!)
  • Border Access Revision: Borders are now open to your ships by default, although empires can choose to Close their borders for another empire (lowering your relations, of course.)
  • Tributaries: New diplomatic status and corresponding war goals.
  • Joint Declarations of War: You can ask other empires to join you for a temporary alliance in a war against a specific target.
  • Defensive Pacts.
  • Harder to form and maintain proper Alliances.
  • More war goals: Humiliate, Open Borders, Make Tributary, etc.
  • Emancipation Faction. We had to cut this one at the last minute. Needs redesign.
  • Diplomatic Map Mode. Much requested!
  • Diplomatic Incidents: This is a whole class of new scripted events that causes more interaction with the other empires.
Past “Asimov”, I can’t give you any kind of specifics yet, but I am currently leaning towards honing in on the following general areas for the “Heinlein” update (these are not promises!):

CURRENT "HEINLEIN" INTENTIONS
  • Sector and Faction Politics: We are working on a design for this. I always wanted to make Factions more closely tied to Sectors, for example...
  • Federation and Alliance Politics: As a player, you need more ways of interacting with the other members, push your will through, and get elected, etc.
  • Giving Directions to Allies and Subject States.
  • Strategic Resource Overhaul: You should need these and search for them far and wide. They should be extremely important.
  • Battleship Class Weapons. Some Battleship front sections will be repurposed for an XL size weapon slot. There are currently four ship sizes but only three sizes to weapons, creating an imbalance. Also, Battleships should have fewer small weapon slots and have to rely on screens of smaller ships.
  • Fleet Combat Mechanics: Formations and/or more complex ship behavior is needed.
  • Mid-game scripted content: Guarded “treasures”, mid-game crises, colony events, etc.
  • Living Solar Systems: Little civilian ships moving around, etc.
Again, remember that we need to be somewhat flexible when things don't work out or when something else takes priority, so please take these later plans with a large grain of salt. As always, we also listen keenly to your feedback, so keep it coming!

Now, I am sure you are full of questions about the details, but hold your horses; it will all be explained in the coming dev diaries!
 
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You should be ashamed releasing in current state
No need to be a douche about it...

I like this dev diary and am glad paradox are taking the Valve approach with patch names so people realise when they are getting free content as opposed to just bug fixes!
Any DLC plans we can hear about or is that all still super top secret ;)
 
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Doomdark

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May I ask if Paradox is aware of the late game stutters/lag that many players are still getting? I love Stellaris, but I'm simply unable to enjoy the game right now as long as I keep lagging whenever I get 200 years into a game. I'm playing on a large galaxy with 28 ai if that's relevant. And this is still happening despite the fact that 1.0.1 was supposed to fix it.

Yes, we are taking such reports very seriously. It's an ongoing project to optimize the game.
 
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Doomdark

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This is cool! I like this kind of thing.

You should make it a forum rule (and moderate it) so that all posts just complaining or requesting something on one of these lists I closed. Kerbal Space Program do this really well.

I'm a little concerned about the "future" task of...

There's currently an imbalance between corvettes and larger ships... I hope that's resolved first.

Yes, we are looking into that, it's a priority for our QA department.
 
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I noticed you're using the "old-fashioned" term expansion rather than DLC now. Perhaps it has to do with the thread that was just locked?

Hmm, we've always viewed paid-for gameplay features as expansions. At least I have. :)

With "Clarke" containing GUI revisions and bugfixes, can we expect some earlier hotfixes for the really broken stuff (prethoryn swarm can't be purged for example), while leaving GUI overhauls/sector AI fixing for the end of the month? Some bugs are truly gamebreaking and deserving of hotfixes, notably the crisis.

Yes, I only mentioned the highlights. Hopefully we can post full patch notes soon!
 
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Hey doom (remember Bolt!). It's not the GUI afaik that needs work, it's the optimization routines, or the granularity of control over them. IMO.

The optimization is being worked on. The granularity of control will have to wait for a later update.
 
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Here's an idea, I heard a complaint that the AI empires lack character and aren't memorable to some players, so why not have them interact a bit more? Say for instance a trader personality empire trying to actively give you a (most likely much less favorable) trade when you're in a war and need those resources to keep it going. Or a small isolationist nation really wanting to get a peace guarantee from you if you're the big bad neighbor? Or the capitalists threatening war but being willing to be bought off if you comply to their demands? Things like this I think would certainly go a long way to make the AI empires more interesting.

Yeah, I'd love to do more stuff like that. :)
 
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Hi Doomdark! The game is really good, as in how much fun I'm getting with it. It lacks polish though and- if you want to polish it a lot as everybody wants and make it a GREAT game- you should work a lot in performance issues. I understand the game has lot of stuff but if you're going to add more stuff through the years, it should run relatively fluid.

It is basically the highest priority for the programmers. It really helps when we get laggy saves from our players to test with. I didn't mention it in dev diary because it should be a given (we've already hotfixed some other performance issues.)
 
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I haven't bought the game. But if it's as incomplete and full of not just missing mechanics but placeholder text as the Steam reviews say, if it's just a barebones skeleton setting up another DLC black hole like I've gotten stuck in with EU IV, then this guy is spot on. So I guess you're saying the Steam reviews are wrong and this is a completed game with just a few kinks that need to be worked out, in which case yes his comment was over the top.
It is not incomplete imo, is it lacking in depth in some areas yes but they work perfectly fine and you will still probably enjoy playing them.
I hate how so many people view paradox DLCs, they are adding content years after the game releases and people get annoyed about that. If you do not want to spend any more money on the newer features on EU4 or Stellaris when it gets DLC then just do not buy them. EU4 and Stellaris base games are both complete games, the DLCs just add more and more on top that was not part of the original plan for the game.
Also what you mean the steam reviews are wrong? As of me checking right now there are just over 5,560 reviews with 89% positive reviews, what reviews have you been reading saying it has place holder text?
 
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Quick question: do the DLCs usually cost something?

Just curious. This is my first game with DLCs so I was wondering about that.
Yes they cost money. Sometimes a DLC may be released for free but that is very rare, in EU4 they released a Women in History dlc for free and in both EU4 and CK2 they released a Songs of Yuletide free DLC. The other ones all cost money.
 

blackninja9939

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Ah okay. Thank you for answering that for me.

How much do DLCs usually cost?

Just want to budget myself that's all.
It depends, Paradox sells two types of content.
What they call expansions which are the big ones which introduce new game mechanics and features that cost like £10 or your regional equivelant. Then there are the minor DLCs like song packs, unit packs, or portrait packs which indifudually cost £1/2 but sometimes come in something called a content pack which would be some of all those three types bundled together for about £5. The content packs usually tie in to a major expansion such as for CK2 they had the Horse Lords expansion with the Horse Lords Content Pack DLC.
The expansions are the more important ones to buy as the smaller ones are all just cosmetics.
 
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