Exploration is an important part of the Stellaris early game, but towards the mid and late game, it can get annoying to have to manage your science ships while also trying to run a sprawling interstellar empire. We've said previously that we don't want the automation fully automated away, so the compromise we've settled on is to introduce a technology that will appear after your empire grows to a certain size that allows science ships to be automated (it will also grant some other bonuses so to be useful to the AI). Though we know that there are are people who want automation options from the very start, we believe that there is always a cost involved in automating core parts of the game experience. You will of course be able to mod the game to permit you to have it enabled from the start, if you so wish.
One of our most requested features since release has been a better way to manage newly built ships. After discussing the various options (such as a fleet designer) we decided to settle on adding Rally Points for your fleets. In Heinlein, you will be able to mark any planet or star in the galaxy as well as any warfleet owned by you as a rally point. When a new warship is built in your empire, instead of remaining at the planet that built it, it will look first for a fleet marked as a rally point. If it finds such a fleet, it will travel to that fleet and automatically merge with it. If something happens to destroy that fleet while the ship is traveling to it, it will abort and return back to its point of origin. If you have no fleet rally points, the ship will instead use the nearest planet rally point, traveling there and merging with any fleet present around that planet. In addition to changing how newly built ships behave, rally points also alter the 'return' order given to ships - instead of returning to the nearest spaceport, they will return to the nearest spaceport marked as a rally point. If no spaceport is marked as a rally point, they go to whichever one is closest, as before.
Another highly requested feature that will be coming in Heinlein is an expansion planner - an interface where you can see planets that are available to colonize or build resource/observation stations at. It is currently planned to be a tab in your empire screen, where you can filter by what you are looking for and easily see the best candidate planet for whatever it is you are looking to do. More details on this will come in a future DD.
Strategic Resource Rework
An area of the game that we feel didn't really work out as planned is strategic resources. They are at once too rare and too common, too varied and too bland. Most of all, we feel that they are far too fiddly to interact with, requiring you to keep track in your head of which spaceports have which particular modules. As such, we currently have the following changes in mind for strategic resources:
- Split strategic resources into strategic (living metal, lythurgic gas, etc) and local (betharian stone, alien pets, etc) resources. Local resource will only be found on colonizeable planets and will allow you to build a specific building (such as a Betharian Power Plant) only on the tile where they are present.
- Add more types of local resources to colonizeable planets, making certain planets more desirable for that powerful special building you'll be able to build on it.
- Have strategic resources have clearly defined civilian OR military use, instead of each being a mix of both.
- Make their bonuses purely global, either via the construction of unique buildings or simply by providing a passive bonus.
- Require you to have only a single unit of a strategic resource to get its full benefits, so the excess can be traded away (terraforming resources will likely be an exception here).
That's all for today. Next week we'll continue talking about the Heinlein patch, specifically about the big rework coming in it: Fleet combat overhaul and dedicated ship roles. Note that as I said, there will be a *lot* of bug fixes, UI improvements and QoL changes coming in Heinlein, so I will not be able to answer every question about which exact ones will and will not make it, but if you have something you feel should be addressed for Heinlein (and it isn't a major feature addition/overhaul), feel free to mention it here.