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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exin

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Best Paradox game ever. And best lead designer ever! Hail Stellaris and Ave Doomdark!
 
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DMFan

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I really hope Stellaris will get the same after-market support EU4 and CK2 had and are having, because if it does, it will become the most beautiful strategic game based on space ever created.

I was deeply disappointed by Colossal Order and Cities Skylines, but I'm sure with Paradox my trust is well placed.
 
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tbhayward

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I'm so hyped for map modes. I spend so much time trying to figure out things like who is allied to whom right now. I never really realized how much time I spent outside of the political map mode in the other Paradox games.
 
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QDI

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I was more concerned with the depth of the economy than the relative lack of diplomatic options, for example.

I'm really happy to hear so soon about positive evolutions for the game. Please keep your initial concerns in mind: the economy needs some improvement too! I hope a day comes when we can play trade-based empires!

It is a distinct experience which adds replayability :)
 
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WiseGreen

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Sorry, but I have to say this...

Folks, you're awesome. There's no other way to put it. You're awesome.
 
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Marcus Stark

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Addresses all the issue I have had with the game. Fix them it will remind me of a modern take on space empires 3. Really enjoying it as it is however the border access and lack of diplomatic options were killing the game for me at this point. I stuck between two powerful empires, not enough resources remaining n my empire to build an army and no hope of defeating them. Really just stuck with nothing to do in mid game. These changes should fix this.
 
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Stripes

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"Good, good... Very good." (c)

Looks like in a couple of months Stellaris will feel like whole new game - Paradox continue to deliver.

Yet, I cannot shake the fear that RTS Fleets and Combat will prove to be, in retrospect, An Very Bad Idea (tm) from Performance point of view...
 

Jorgen_CAB

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Everything in this list seems just awesome to me and I look forward to each and everyone of these changes.

The game is fun and I understand that time is a precious resource for any development team, the game certainly is playable in its current state (bared some annoying bugs), but with the focus on changes in the direction discussed this game will become so much more interesting.

Looking forward to it... ;)
 
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Kaiser Timo

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What about the imbalance of corvettes being overpowered and you just can employ corvettes instead of bigger ships?

Make bigger ships more rewarding in combat!
 
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RisingSun

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Only things that bother me is that nothing can do about the cease fire when forced peace. Some species out there doesn't recognize this and they do whatever they please. And too bad those planets around the sun, doesn't orbit around the sun like they should while time goes by.

I think Distant World is the king over Stellaris for now, but Stellaris have good tech tree and graphics over Distant Worlds.

Hope you guys do put more effort into this project so others that aren't happy with it, will be later on. Least giving them a second chance.
 
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agentyoda

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I'm amazed. Y'all directly addressed a *ton* of the things I've been hearing people talk about, even down to small details. That's a great commitment to making space great again, haha.

Really, though. That's amazing dedication to your players. Definitely looking forward to Stellaris' future!
 
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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.)

So long as my freedom to close borders is maintained this sounds like an improvement.

But is the implication that this is for just science ships? Or for all ships? Or perhaps that is still under debate.

Either way this will help make espionage-less war better if I am allowed to spy with my science ship.
 
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Wrymn

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Amazing guys. This really shows that developers are listening and deeply care about the game.

I`m really happy where this is going.
 
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Marcus Stark

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Concerning the people complaining about lag.

Well not everyone has this issue either. I had some FPS drops in late game never below 40. Game is very CPU intensive not GPU. Most ,not all, of the people that I have seen posting specs complaining about lag have sub par CPU's. I am sure they will nail it down but it may be a harder issue to peg than most think when there is such a wide array of hardware in use by players.
 
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