Stellaris Dev Diary #58: Habitats

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Wizzington

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Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. Today's dev diary is going to cover a feature coming in the (unannounced) expansion accompanying the 1.5 'Banks' update: Habitats. As before, I still can't say anything about the release date of the update/expansion other than that you're in for a bit of a wait.

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)
2017_01_26_2.png


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.
2017_01_26_1.png


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.

Very big.
 
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Wizzington

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Love how we get a good and interesting dev diary and the biggest hype is what the next one will be about :p.

Also, will there be different "levels" of habitat? So that when you first get them you can maybe only build 8 tile habitats but later on you get better tech and can build 12 tile ones?

Right now there is only a single size of habitats.
 
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Maybe my definition of Tall strategy is different than others, but to me it seems like this is substitute for a planet, with the same malus in terms of Research costs. With no additional benefit to production of any kind, in fact it may be less given the lack of tile bonus and planetary effects.

They sound like a nice addition to the game all in all, but to me it does not address having a Tall empire, meaning, relatively few systems/colonies but very advanced/highly developed ones that can compete with many smaller colonies.

Did you miss the part about having their own buildings and being good at research/power production?
 
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So what's to stop 'wide' empires from building their own habitats and outpacing the 'tall' empires anyway (other than the ascension perk, of course)?

Wide empires can do it, of course, but there are other tradeoffs and balancing levers (such as consumer goods) that make it more worthwhile for a smaller empire.

And again, as I said, this is more about ensuring that small empires don't run out of options. Big empires *should* be stronger than small empires, the question is just how much and in which ways.
 
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To clarify, so they will have buildings unique to habitats only?

Yes, they have their entire own building set completely separate from the normal planetary buildings.
 
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This is very good to hear not to much micro involved with the habitats.
Are there separate techs for these buildings? or they included with the techs of normal planet buildings?

Right now unlocking habitats also unlocks all habitat buildings. There might be a new tech or two for some of them.
 
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Thank you for clarifying. I wish you had talked a bit about them in this dev diary.

Quoted directly from the dev diary: "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."
 
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Size 12 feels too much. That is as much as a big moon. Would feel suitable as long as this is the (not mentioned) level3 of habitats - I thought of 8, 10, 12.

And mineral production seems weird for me. At least it sounds not being a mining network...

Their mineral production facilties are called Astro-Mining Bays, the idea being that they mine resources from nearby planetoids and asteroids. They're pretty inefficient though.
 
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Two questions!

Firstly, can we build ships from habitats without having to construct a separate spaceport? (If we could be developed to be more efficient at ship production than regular spaceports, that would be nice for tall empires since they won't have as many planets to spread their ship production over)

Secondly, if we build a habitat over an orbital deposit tile, can we improve the efficiency of resource extraction with buildings? (so, boosting a +3 energy deposit to generate +6 energy)

We are currently playing around with the balance of Habitats and Spaceports, so I'm going to have to come back on that later, but I'm leaning towards habitats having an integrated Spaceport.
 
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Habitats are not armed and can not be destroyed, since we do not yet have mechanics for planet destruction. When we do, they'll be destructible along with normal planets.

They can be conquered, cleansed, liberated etc like normal planets.
 
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A small question: How is a habitat settled? Do you have to choose a starting POP like with colony ships, which appears directly after the habitat is finished, or you build an empty habitat to be settled later?

Right now, you colonize it like a normal planet. We're discussing changing it so you pick a pop on construction instead.
 
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Simultaneously honoring and slapping Ian M. Banks in the face by adding orbitals to his update and then charging for them.

Hey now, the man did charge for his own books. We're not living in The Culture yet.
 
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About habitats being destructible: Yes, it would make perfect sense for a habitat to be able to be bombed to pieces. However, it would also make perfect sense for a planet to be able to be bombed to pieces, particularly since pre-FTL civilizations are capable of this in-game. The reason you can't do this right now are purely gameplay related, it's not a question of realism.
 
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@Wiz Just wondering how come we can only build them over planets and not over moons or asteroids? I can guess that it would make it overpowered and overexploitable, but just wondering the reasoning.

Really just so there isn't 25 habitats in a single system.
 
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Wizzington

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Does this mean we get a new mechanic to import food from planets to the habitats, or will we simply have to live with crappy food production on the habitats

Also, from what you wrote it sounded like habitat-specific buildings are unlocked alongside with habitats. Doesn't this make conquering habitats extremely bad, if you haven't unlocked them yourself?

The buildings aren't tech-gated at all, actually, but can only be built on habitats so are effectively tech-gated by that unless you conquer one.
 
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Population growth in 4x games makes no sense. This is why we don't show numbers. It's like trying to explain how regenerative health works in shooters: you don't.
 
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Do you think a 4x game that does have realistic population growth could be interesting (not saying Stellaris should have that, but a hypothetical game)? I.e. population would grow quite slowly and therefore becomes a really scarce resource?

You'd have to build the game around that conceit from day one but sure it could be done.
 
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