Stellaris Dev Diary #33 - The Maiden Voyage

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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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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kmaj

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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?
 
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Magdaki

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51 hours of play so far so I'm clearly loving the game despite the launch issues. Stellaris is already the game with 17th most of of hours played (of my games on Steam). I am very glad to see what you have planned. I'm going to be playing Stellaris forever it seems (well, until Stellaris 2 anyway). :)
 
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Payens

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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.
 
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telge2

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The hype is real!

Also, I suppose savegame compatibility is not something I should count on? I am asking, because I intent to start a multiplayer campaign, and I would like to know how long can it be.
 
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Vincenzo_667

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I favor this a lot. Most major issues are being adressed, which is great. Especially joint war declarations and defensive pacts are going to make the game more dynamic and interesting, making it harder for blobs to blob and easier for smaller empires to defend themselves. I would like to see the vassal mechanic revised a bit more - they should be more rebelious if they hate you, right now it's way too stable imho. Big YAY! for sector AI upgrades. Also I rly hope one of the bug fixes adresses the 'inaccasable army' bug.
 
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Cauldyth

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This makes me really look forward to the next 2 months! These items in particular from your plans would really rock my world (galaxy?):
  • Border Access Revision: Distant Worlds was like this, and yes, it makes the galaxy feel more "open".
  • Joint Declarations of War
  • Diplomatic Map Mode
  • Diplomatic Incidents: Oh god, yes please!
  • Federation and Alliance Politics
  • Strategic Resource Overhaul
  • Mid-game scripted content
  • Living Solar Systems: Again, Distant Worlds did this wonderfully.
Can't wait!
 
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Pyoro

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Much good stuff there, whatever happens. Stellaris isn't bad, but it could be much better.

Also, for me personally, this:
Living Solar Systems: Little civilian ships moving around, etc.
is something I really missed.

Or rather, overall, the atmosphere of the game isn't quite there yet. I'm just gathering minerals, in a completely abstract way (what am I even mining? Salt?), races all feel relatively similar (even with different ethos the basic "gather minerals and produce energy" etc is the same for everyone), fleets in single player so far in my experience are pretty much "check who has the bigger number" with no distinguishing between different styles of ships, planet surfaces feel really weird (more like a village or something than a colonized planet with multiple cities and all), diplomatic interaction is always the same 3 sentences, events so far aren't too interesting, characters are just sitting in their slots with no personality to speak off, research "just" pops up and so on.

I'm not saying "make the game dreadfully complicated" but right now it feels a lot like Excel table simulator in space. With some nice visuals, but not too many.
 
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Illanair

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Could you possibly consider pushing resolution issues up? People on 1366x768 and such resolutions aren't seeing all UI elements.

Also exploits like the endless frontier post/sector one. (no influence cost in sectors)
 
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ck2plusdlacc

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At no point there do you seem address the fact that right now fleet combat is a joke, I'm not talking about "formations" which sound great, so much as I am the presence of a "power scaling" that makes 8 Corvettes worth as much as a single Battleship and then gives the Corvettes evasion high enough to win the fight without losing a ship.

Evasion needs an rework or nerf, and it doesn't even need to be that hard. Even just a small change to keep it at around 50% under ideal conditions (full thrusters+module modifiers and an admiral gives Corvettes 50%~ evasion) would be fine.
 
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Flush62

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In the future (after these planned updates) you should look to creating a dynamic trade system, as controlling trade could really become a major part of the mid game.
 
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Held der Arbeit

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While I found many flaws with the endgame, UI etc (see Arumbas analysis for example) I can still not deny being solidly addicted to this game.

So at its core, it defintely works!
Looking forward to seeing it grow
 
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znuzzo

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I was pleasantly surprised by most of Stellaris when I got my hands on it, and it seems that it will be even better by the end of the month/summer. Paradox, you guys are rock stars. Keep up the amazing work! Keep making space great again!
 
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Doomdark

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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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Strangeplz

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Yes, we are taking such reports very seriously. It's an ongoing project to optimize the game.
Well i am glad you are looking into it seriously. I can not even finish a full game as late game lag is too annoying to keep playing. I am just curious is if its game engine related as it seems other games that run on Clauswitz also have stutter issues and if so whats paradoxs long term goal to preventing it in future games?
 
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erkkijuusto

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I'm having a hard time deciding if I should pause playing Stellaris for at least the next two weeks, so that I can enjoy a (relatively) bug-free game or If I should just play right now and wait for the patch while playing:p
 
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Dayer

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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.

I'm glad for this. Personally, the game felt somewhat rushed and It's always a bad sign for the remainder of the development cycle if the developers do not acknowledge this. Looking forward to the upgrades, especially the bug fixes for some of the later game events.
 
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Payens

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At no point there do you seem address the fact that right now fleet combat is a joke, I'm not talking about "formations" which sound great, so much as I am the presence of a "power scaling" that makes 8 Corvettes worth as much as a single Battleship and then gives the Corvettes evasion high enough to win the fight without losing a ship.

Evasion needs an rework or nerf, and it doesn't even need to be that hard. Even just a small change to keep it at around 50% under ideal conditions (full thrusters+module modifiers and an admiral gives Corvettes 50%~ evasion) would be fine.

Instead, I would favor a rework of the armor mechanic. The % based damage reduction is truly underwhelming. If armor were to reduce a flat amount of damage, there would be a reason to get big weapons and big ships. Think of small corvette guns hardly able to penetrate battleship armor - way more elegant of a solution!
 
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