Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. Today we will once again be talking about the Asimov 1.2 patch, that is planned to be released before the end of June. Last week's dev diary covered most of the diplomatic changes, here we'll be covering a variety of other changes and additions, though it will by no means be an exhaustive list. Full patch notes will be posted at some point before the patch is made available to the public, and include a large number of balance changes, bug fixes and UI improvements.
Better Looking Battles
One thing we were not quite happy with in the release of Stellaris is the way battles look - when small numbers of ships are engaged, it generally looks fine, but large fleet battles turn into disorganized heaps of ships, or 'beeswarms' as they have been described by players. A number of mods (such as the Beautiful Battles mod) emerged quickly to tweak this part of the game, and we've been looking at them for inspiration on how to improve the battle visuals. We plan to look more in detail at ship roles and fleet engagements in the future, but for Asimov we've made the following changes:
- The range of all weapons have been increased, so that fleets will engage at longer ranges and spend more time advancing at each other before close-up engagements happen.
- Combat computers were changed from Aggressive and Defensive into Swarm and Bombardment computers, to better describe their roles. Ships with Swarm computers will move in closely and engage, similar to old combat behaviour, and have bonuses to damage, speed and evasion. Ships with Bombardment computers will advance into weapons range and then slowly drift towards the enemy until they have range with all of their weapons, and have bonuses to accuracy, fire speed and weapons range.
- The default combat behaviour of ships was changed from that of orbiting 'swarm' mode into one where they make passes at the enemy and attempt to engage with 'broadsides', which should help make large battles look like less of an angry beeswarm unless all ships involved are using aggressive computers.
A highly requested feature ever since release has been the addition of more map modes, so that players can more easily keep track of things such as who their allies are, which empires they are at war with, or who has a positive attitude towards them. For Asimov, we've added a map modes feature with fully scriptable map modes that let modders at their own map modes, with three new map modes coming as part of the patch:
- Diplomatic Map Mode: Shows diplomatic relations with other Empires, such as whether you are at war, are allies with them, or are blocked from entering their borders.
- Opinion Map Mode: Shows their opinion of you.
- Attitude Map Mode: Shows the AI's attitude towards you.
Another feature that we decided to expand on for Asimov is Space Nomads. A rather rare encounter in the base game, all they do is share contacts with other empires, and we felt they're an interesting concept that can be used in far better ways. Nomads are now a roaming fleet that can enter the galaxy sometime during the course of the game, and will then plot a course through the galaxy, visiting a variety of locations before they leave it again for destinations unknown. If they pass through your space on the way, they may interact with you in a variety of ways, such as offering to sell you some ships, or requesting permission to settle some of their people within your borders.
As you likely know if you've been reading these forums, slaves were not intended to be as docile as they were in the release of the game, but rather we had to cut slave revolts for lack of time because slaves were completely unmanageable and threatened to make the feature entirely useless. For Asimov, we've reworked the Slaves faction into a pair of factions called the Docile and Malcontent Slave Factions. As the names imply, Docile Slaves are slaves that are relatively content with their lot in life, and will at most demand that regulations are placed on the worst excesses suffered by slaves, while Malcontent Slaves are far more riotous and will demand their freedom. There is also an Aboltionist factions that can be joined by free pops who are sympathetic to the plights of the slaves.
Something that has been frequently requested is more variety in the wargoals you can use on others, so that war can happen for other reasons than simply to transfer territory. This is an area we'll be looking at fleshing out long-term, but for Asimov we've added at least a few new wargoals to spice things up:
- Make Tributary: You can now take tributaries in war. Tributaries is a type of subject that pays 20% of their Energy and Mineral income to their overlord, but do not join their overlord's wars and are free to declare their own wars and colonize planets.
- Abandon Planet: If you have Purge policies allowed, you can force an enemy to abandon a planet, killing all pops on that planet in the process.
- Humiliate: You can humiliate enemy empires, making them suffer a negative modifier and giving you a chunk of influence.
- Open Borders: Forces the other Empire to open their borders towards you for 10 years.
- Stop Atrocity: Forces the other Empire to ban slavery and purging.
A big part of the aim with the Asimov patch is to make the diplomatic game more interesting, and have more interaction between neighbouring empires. Diplomatic Incidents is a series of events that can occur between empires which shake up relations, usually related to the actions of one empire towards the others. An example is that an empire might suspect that a foreign science ship surveying inside their borders is there to spy on them, and will demand humiliating assurances from the owning empire that their secrets are safe, or else close their borders to the 'transgressor'.
That's it for today! Next week will be the last development diary before we all disappear on vacation, and will talk about what the future holds for Stellaris.