Orbital Habitats (Paid Feature)
One of the things we have stated that we want to address is the lack of options for building 'tall' in Stellaris: Even if you're playing pacifist xenophiles that have no interest in conquering others, sooner or later your empire is going to have their borders closed in on all fronts, all the habitable planets in your space will be terraformed, and your only option for further expansion is to grow your space through conquest. When we say that we want to enable building tall, however, this doesn't mean we're going to make being a five-system empire just as good as being a fifty-system empire: There should always be an incentive to expand your borders, but for those who do not want or simply cannot do this, we want there to options other than just stagnating.
Orbital Habitats is one of our solutions to this problem: Instead of expanding to new systems and colonizing new planets, you create new, artificial 'planets' for your Pops to live on. Orbital Habitats are massive space stations that function like small (currently size 12, though this may not be the final number) planets that (like Gaia Planets and Ringworlds) have 100% habitability for all species. They can be built around any non-habitable planet (not asteroid or moon) in your space, and there is no limit to the amount you can build other than the number of such planets you have to build them around. Habitats function exactly like a planet: They can be colonized with whatever Pops you want to live there, they can be worked for resources by constructing buildings there, and they count as a planet for the purpose of empire research costs. In order to build a habitat, you need to have researched the maximum level of spaceport technology and picked the 'Voidborn' Ascension Perk (for more info on Ascension Perks, see dev diary 56)
Habitats mostly do not have tile resources with the one exception that if the planet they are orbiting has a resource that could otherwise be worked by a mining or research station, that resource will be present on one of the Habitat's tiles. Instead, Habitats have their own, unique set of buildings distinct from the normal planetary buildings. Overall, Habitats are efficient when it comes to research and energy general, but do poorly when it comes to food and mineral production. These buildings are 'single-stage': they have a fairly large upfront cost and high immediate research production, but cannot be upgraded. The reason for this is to allow for easier management of systems with several habitats in them.
Graphics-wise, Habitats use different models depending on which ship set you have selected, and each ship set (including Plantoids) has its own habitat model. They also have their own planet icon and will get a unique planetary graphic and tile set (that is still a work in progress and thus not shown below), emphasising the ways in which they differ from regular planets.
That's all for today! Normally, this is where I'd tell you what next week's dev diary is going to be about, but this time I have to keep it a secret for the time being... so all I'm going to say is that it's going to be big.