A Paradox Employee Contacted Me Regarding Current Backlash on Forum

A Paradox Employee Contacted Me Regarding Current Backlash on Forum

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salmaster

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In the last days I made few posts about the current state of Stellaris and discussed with other people that had same thoughts. I created a discord group, posted the link here and a Paradox employee joined asking what was going on

1601206694926.png


He wants to address our concerns about the current state of the game and to communicate them to devs/management. He asked me to get as many people as I can in the discord group to discuss about what are the top priority issues for us.

1601206893530.png


I post the link here, join if you will and we may write a list of top-priority things about what is wrong with stellaris.
Or if you don't want to join the group maybe write here your top priority "things-to-fix" list, hope the post doesn't get removed.
 
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I'm going to list these by impact factor (i.e. what affects every game)
  1. Late-game performance is _better_ but even so, performance isn't as good as pre 2.0 - which if you'll recall was actually one thing they said would improve by doing away with tiles.
    • Habitats and habitat spam are factors as they exponentially increase pops in the galaxy later on whilst bogging down wars.
    • This has been talked to death so I won't go further in to it. More optimisation is needed for huge galaxies.
  2. Gameplay
    1. Micro-management:
      1. Bring back the ability for sectors to automatically build mining stations and auto-colonise worlds in my territory (pre 2.0).
        • Finally add that ability to "nudge" planets between sectors so we can tidy up borders, too without remaking them, this was teased long ago in a dev diary.
      2. Biological pops will stop growing by themselves at 1.5x the housing limit, but there is no equivalent way of doing this for machines, you need to go to each world and suspend assembly, it's needlessly micro intensive, getting worse in large empires, particularly for gestalt machine empires.
        • Add a policy that lets assemblers stop building robots automatically if housing=0.
      3. Implement the "planetary build order" feature that was talked about what feels like years ago - let me specify what should appear in each building slot then "lock it in" and go away whilst pops grow/fill those slots.
        • This would also let us design better planets for AIs, much like we can design economic plans in mods.
      4. Remove the "Greater than ourselves" edict from the game, tie the code which lets workers swap jobs directly to the "migration allowed" policy for species (which does bugger all right now, as far as I know). There is zero reason to gate automatic pop migration behind the GC. I even made a 5min mod giving it to everyone and I shouldn't have to do that as this is a basic gameplay function that makes AI economies perform better.
        • Here is a link to the mod if you, the PDX guy or anyone else wants a look.
        • The AI all turn it on by the end of month 1 and it stays on permanently as it consumes 0 edict cap and costs 1 influence to trigger.
        • (I also disable demotion times so that unemployed pops become workers immediately and can be moved immediately - demotion times actively make the game worse for players by killing immediate feedback with job changes and worse for AIs as they can't project when pops will free up, slack unemployment is hard enough for real world economists to handle let alone a basic AI)
        • https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2227411863
    2. Pop growth is fundamentally flawed
      1. Pop growth hurts the game both in flavour and in mechanics.
      2. Right now pops grow one at a time, assemble one at a time and die one at a time,
        1. this means that worlds grow in really weird ways with refugee pops dwarfing domestic pops sometimes with the default weights.
        2. Purging is broken. Plain and simple, I can kill one pop every say 6 months, which is fine when there were only 25 on the old tile system but I can have 500 pops on an ecumenopolis. It also leads to the hilariously stupid purge world strategy and breaks crises (more below)
        3. There is literally 0 point in using non-extermination/non-forced labour purge types like neutering as they take so long to kill a pop (as they can only kill one at a time) that it'll take centuries to get rid of a species like that.
      3. Because of how important pop growth is, it exacerbates the issues with performance and pops, you're encouraged to have as many colonies as you can to grow stronger, but having more colonies to grow pops slows the game down faster.
        • I personally think that one of each species should be able to grow/assemble on a world at their own speeds, as was the case prior to 2.0, it would resolve, or at least lessen, many of the artificial balancing problems that currently plague the system.
        • Likewise purging needs to be done in parallel, no killing one pop at a time (the crisis issue below shows how bad this can get)
    3. Crises are broken in two ways - in military decision making and in purging.
      1. Crises military and construction fleets ping-pong around excessively when picking targets, there's something wrong with the crisis AI maybe it doesn't lock-in targets and keeps swapping or something, but we cannot see the code so it's pointless to speculate further, it leads to crises fleets locking up in place, paralysed by indecision.
      2. Crises NEED THEIR OWN PURGE TYPES.
        • Seriously, if a crisis fleet needs to purge a world to infest it and it's using extermination purges, it'll still take 6-12 months to kill a pop, on a world that will probably have hundreds.
        • What kind of 'crisis' gets stuck purging a world for 200+ years?
I could come up with other issues but they're all minor inconveniences when compared to the above list. If PDX could adequately (a subjective term, I know) address every point on this list I do not believe anyone could be angry at the technical state of the game.

Edit: grammar and closing paragraph.

Edit 2 (2 Oct 2020) : i've created a small mod that will speed up crisis purges massively via a script, still needs testing but tacking it here for anyone who is interested: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/threads/faster-crisis-purges.1430510/
 
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salmaster

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For me its
  1. Military and crysis AI: It's disappointing passing hours building the empire, building the hype for the late game (huge wars, crysis, war in heaven, etc..) just to find brain dead AI that just sit in the systems doing nothing.
  2. Almost everything else is fixable by the right mods, so doesn't have as much priority as 1.
 
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MrFreake should make an official post on the forum and invite forum users to communicate their concerns.
 
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I have a 'conspiracy theory', you're the same guy who got banned recently (a ban I don't agree with), the one who made the 'let our voices be heard' thread. And while I generally agree with you on the fact that there are issues that need to be addressed I feel like you might be disproportionately intense on this subject.

I'm skeptical about a rogue community developer contacting you over Discord. Very.
 
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sillyrobot

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MrFreake should make an official post on the forum and invite forum users to communicate their concerns.

Official notice and apparent concern would be best from a PR and a dev perspective.. Unofficially approaching a small number of individual forum/discord users for private consultation would be the absolute worst way -- even worse than complete indifference, really.
 
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I find the idea that they need us to tell them what's wrong with the game extremely dubious. Not only have the various issues been discussed to death on the forums, they play the same game we do and think about it and work on it 5 days a week, and posts they've made in the past actually indicate that they're well aware of what the problems are (they've known the pop growth mechanics were dubious since before it became a major thing on the forums).

I see the value in the backlash as more giving the devs the ammo they need to go to management, who I generally picture as banging their fists on the desk and demanding more DLC like J. Jonah Jameson demanding pictures of Spiderman, and say they need the resources do more fundamental work on the game.
 
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I mean its quite obvious what the players want fixed.

1. The Crisis needs to get fixed, it needs to be able to conquer the galaxy.
2. The AI is utter garbage, it needs to be able to play the game properly. See Starnet AI in how it makes the AI able to have a proper economic setup. You can leave out the increased wars if you do not like it. But the key part is the fact that Starnet AI makes normal AI be able to challenge a player, just because its economy is good.
3. Fix the micromanagement! Add proper automation. Or give us planet templates. Or an ability to queue buildings, districts etc. Its no fun having to micromanage 50, 75, 100+ planets all by yourself. There should be a way to have the AI manage your planets for you. It does not have to be perfect. But the current automation is so terrible, you should never use it!
4. Fix the pop micromanagement and migration. Do not keep automated resettlement behind the GC and an edict. Just enable it once the planets are full. The game already has automated automation in the sense that pop growth gets added to migration. If the devs would simply take this feature and make it so growth gets properly funneled into emigration and immigration to other planets, then no one would have any issues with mass manually resettlement and edicts which move unemployed pops.
 
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In the order of importance, for me (ymmv):

1. The military AI is bad, going to and fro, struck in loops...
2. The Crisis AI is bad and is unable to expand properly partially because of 1), partially because its armies seem bizarrely reluctant to invade planets, and partially because of reliance on construction ships - the fleet conquers a system, then waits for the ship to arrive... the easy suggestion is to make Crisis convert starbases, not destroy them, just like any other AI (same with Crisis starbases, for consistency).
3. Pop migration. Greater Than Ourselves edict needs to be available to everyone from the start, for a largely symbolic cost.
4. Planet templates are a good idea, as mentioned before.
5. Awakened Fallen Empire aggression seems off, they rarely make attempts at expanding, although they occasionally attack genocidals.
6. Empire Sprawl needs to be harsher - right now conquest is just too good. It still needs to be the better choice, but not to the extent it is now.
7. Economic AI is mediocre, rather than bad, but still could be improved.
 
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MrFreake should make an official post on the forum and invite forum users to communicate their concerns.
Or, you know, read the pages and pages of posts about it already. To imply that the issues haven't been communicated to the development team seems surprising to me.

Having said that... One of the big issues for me is that the separate systems just don't seem to really hang together or use each other very well (or in fact have enough depth). I suspect this is due to the dlc model but if they could make them work together more that would be great.
 
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I'm going to list these by impact factor (i.e. what affects every game)
  1. Late-game performance is _better_ but even so, performance isn't as good as pre 2.0 - which if you'll recall was actually one thing they said would improve by doing away with tiles.
    1. Habitats and habitat spam are factors as they exponentially increase pops in the galaxy later on whilst bogging down wars.
    2. This has been talked to death so I won't go further in to it. More optimisation is needed for huge galaxies.
  2. Gameplay
    1. Micro management
      1. Bring back the ability for sectors to automatically build mining stations and auto-colonise worlds in my territory (pre 2.0).
        • Finally add that ability to "nudge" planets between sectors so we can tidy up borders, too without remaking them.
      2. Biological pops will stop growing by themselves at 1.5x the housing limit, but there is no equivalent way of doing this for machines, you need to go to each world and suspend assembly, it's needlessly micro intensive. Add a policy that lets assemblers stop building robots automatically if housing=0.
      3. Implement the "planetary build order" feature that was talked about what feels like years ago - let me specify what should appear in each building slot then "lock it in" and go away whilst pops grow.
        1. This would also let us design better planets for AIs.
      4. Remove the "Greater than ourselves" edict from the game, tie the code which lets workers swap jobs to the "migration allowed" policy for species (which does bugger all right now). There is zero reason to gate automatic pop migration behind the GC. I even made a 5min mod giving it to everyone and I shouldn't have to do that as this is a basic gameplay function that makes AI economies perform better.
        • Here is a link to the mod if you, the PDX guy or anyone else wants a look.
        • The AI all turn it on by the end of month 1 and it stays on permanently as it consumes 0 edict cap and costs 1 influence to trigger.
        • (I also disable demotion times so that unemployed pops become workers immediately and can be moved immediately - demotion times actively make the game worse for players by killing immediate feedback with job changes and worse for AIs as they can't project when pops will free up, slack unemployment is hard enough for real world economists to handle let alone a basic AI)
        • https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2227411863
    2. Pop growth is fundamentally flawed
      1. Pop growth hurts the game both in flavour and in mechanics
      2. Right now pops grow one at a time, assemble one at a time and die one at a time,
        1. this means that worlds grow in really weird ways with refugee pops dwarfing domestic pops sometimes with the default weights.
        2. Purging is broken. Plain and simple, I can kill one pop every say 6 months, which is fine when there were only 25 on the old tile system but I can have 500 pops on an ecumenopolis. It also leads to the hilariously stupid purge world strategy and breaks crises (more below)
        3. There is literally 0 point in using non-extermination/non-forced labour purge types like neutering as they take so long to kill a pop (as they can only kill one at a time) that it'll take centuries to get rid of a species like that.
    3. Crises are broken in two ways - in military decision making and in purging.
      1. Crises ping-pong around excessively when picking targets there's something wrong with the crisis AI maybe it doesn't lock-in targets and keeps swapping or something, but we cannot see the code so it's pointless to speculate further, it leads to crises fleets locking up in place, paralysed by indecision.
      2. Crises NEED THEIR OWN PURGE TYPES. seriously, if a crises needs to purge a world to infest it and it's using extermination, it'll still take 6-12 months to kill a pop, on a world that will probably have hundreds. What kind of crises gets stuck purging a world for 200 years?
Do I have your permission to tweet this out? Won't mention you ofc will keep it anonymous. Very solid outline of some major problems
 
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Seems he is legit.
 

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ImaTomato

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Being able to build extra mining and energy buildings(reactors....) instead of just having districts so that I can actually specialize a planet to produce basic resources like I could in pre 2.2.I can understand that minerals are limited but energy?Why do I have zero point reactors if I can't build them on a planet?
 
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Pancakelord

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Do I have your permission to tweet this out? Won't mention you ofc will keep it anonymous. Very solid outline of some major problems
By all means, screenshot it and post it/send it wherever you like as I don't use social media (I'm going to tidy up a few bits of grammar now, upon re-reading it).

There are ofcourse other issues I could come up with (minor stuff like UI and lack of map filters), but if PDX could resolve that checklist there would be very little technical debt left IMO.
 
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For me the core problem that the game faces is the same-ness of empires and play throughs. Stellaris is built on the idea of providing a diverse universe full of aliens and wonders to explore and discover..... but they all feel the same. One alien species is no different than the other. They behave the same, have the same tech, want the same things. There are marginal differences with some through special civics or species but even then it is hardly noticeable during gameplay. You have to dig to find the modifiers of an alien species and then tell yourself a story about them to have any concept that empire X is unique in some way - it is in no way obvious just through gameplay, which it should be.
 
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Zaacplot

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1. Fleetmanager still breaks if you have incoming reinforcements and then decide to upgrade the fleet resulting in "ghost ships"
2. The "magic" market doesn't belong in the game, the player should use diplomacy to trade
3. Strategic resources should not be used as a maintenance cost for anything, can still be used as build cost
4. Refineries should be limited to slots that have that resource, being able to refine them at will makes the resources not strategic
5. Megastructure tech that enables you to fix megastructures should be available imediately when you take a system with a megastructure in it (as a fixed option not random)
6. Endless habitats and megastructures make those not special, there should be somekind of a limit, esp habitats are a problem due to low cost
7. Nothing should be able to cross borders without permission and without having to fight (e.g. shards). If theres a starbase there or ships they should be able to engage the intruder
8. Population growth needs to stop when the planet is full and possibly redirect that growth to a planet that isn't full. Overpopulation is a terrible mechanic.
9. Remove buildings that serve only as a middle step in a production chain, it's a waste of a building slot
10. Building slots should be tied to regions on the planet and have corresponding bonuses or building limitations (see point 4)
11. Have all building slots unlocked from the start, independent of population or give the ability to plan buildings ahead
12. The population strata mechanic needs to go, probably best to let the player prioritize buildings they want populated first
13. Reduce pop amount overall and the number of jobs per building to 1, this should help with performance issues
14. Edicts should not expire unless the player can't afford them also the player should be informed of an upcoming renewal
15. Sector automation needs to work and should not tank the economy - should be fixed by removing strata (see point 12)
16. Too many sectors with too many governors to take care of, increase maximum sector size to a decent number, say 10-20 jumps
 
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Apollo1784

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Solid points in here. I encourage everyone to join the discord so we can organize events to amplify our voices instead of posting on these radio silence forums
 
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Cat_Fuzz

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The only thing I would add to @Pancakelord 's points above that has the same level of urgency is is planet and sector automation needs more time spent getting it working effectively.

In a recent playthrough, my economy crumbled as the automated planet AI decided I needed more luxury housing when there are 20 unemployed pops. Other examples are where amenities are around -60 and yet despite having 3+ empty building slots and 8k of resources in the bank, no amenities buildings are being built, thus subjecting the planet to instability and crime.

TL;DR sector and planet automation needs to be smarter and more reactive with what it's building and when. Biggest offenders seem to be housing and amenities.
 
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Shadowstrike

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I think the lack of clear communication about issues raised by the community is a huge issue. I think the devs are concerned that they feel like they are committing themselves to solving a problem, or even just a certain solution to a problem, by talking about it. But the lack of communication about these issues, particularly combined with a lot of dev diaries about superficial updates, is breeding concern that they aren't addressing the issues at all.

I'm also wondering if the addition of communications positions is exacerbating the situation. I mean back in the day, Wiz or Jamor had to post all the updates, whereas now, there seem to be Paradox staff whose jobs are to communicate these things on social media. While Wiz or Jamor could definitely say something off the cuff like "yeah, sure we are working on Crisis AI", I'm betting that the communications people can't make promises on behalf of the team, but they also need to post enough new content, which leads to a lot of really fluffy content that leads to a sense that we aren't being heard.

I felt the team actually did a great job on communications in the leadup to the Federations release. They acknowledged there were clear issues, and then had specific DDs where they talked at length about the technical side of those issues. I definitely felt way better after Moah went into depth about how they looked at performance, or the DD about the economic AI plans.

To put things more concretely about what the team could do now, it would be great to have the next DD be the team lead just saying "yeah, we hear you, we are working on these issues: crisis AI, micromanagement, narrative sameness, etc. We can't tell you what we have done yet, or when it'll be out, but we are working on them. We are also looking at fleshing the game out in these aspects over the next few years, again no promises about when it'll be finished." And then a series of DDs where the topic is just "discussion on issue X", where the community can talk to the team about one of these issues, and the team responds with more or less concrete ideas/solutions about what they're thinking about, are working on, or currently have implemented in the internal build, with a clear caveat that nothing is set in stone, and nothing is a binding promise.
 
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Garfazz Steamfang

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Really like the answers i see in this thread.

I can add my point of view too even if it's a bit outside of the topic:

- Ethos need real diversity between each others. Opposite ethos should really be differents from each others. More events, more polities, more choices unique buildings and options.

- We need planetary diversity. 9 planets types is too few we need more planets types or more subtypes (planetary diversity and new frontiers mods are one of the more played mods on the workshop for a reason). We need more valuable planets in general with more unique modifiers, ressources and maybe districts. Right now all the planets are bland and feels the same.

- We need more events in general. It can be colonization events (and it would add to planet unicity) but more archeological sites (and relics) and story events would be welcome.

- More unique origins and civics that really change the feeling of a game (like clone nation etc...) would really be appreciated for roleplay and playing diferents games.

- organic hive minds, in particular, need some work and identity.

-Ascension perks (and especially ascension paths) need some rework. Right now the biological one is clearly inferior to the psi or the synth one. Moreover why can't we build some cyborg/latent psi or genetic/cyborg? (2 first path would lock the second one or something like that) it would clearly add to roleplay value. Synth/psi path doesn't need to make materialist/spiritualist ethos shift either. What if i want to play a religious cult that want to turn into machines?

- More traditions and meaningfull traditions. Right now they doesn't really serve to nothing and don't really offer much of a choice. Any mod availible in the workshop do a better job than vanilla.


It's totally another topic here but I would add that midgame feel empty. The game doesn't offer anything outside of war. those things would need some rework:

. economic (more valuables rare ressources, the possibility to sell/buy planets for expand, embargos, hiring mercenaries/pirates and the possibility to really matter in the galaxy using your economical power)

. diplomacy (better first contact, more federations types and succession law, better galactic senat laws instead of +5% or -5% modifiers, more diplomatic events and incidents, the possibility to expand culturaly on neighboors empire and the possibility to matter on the galactic scale using your diplomatic influence on votes like denounce empires)

. internal politics (better revolts, meaningfull factions that are threatening and can change your empire ethos, political events and ethic shifts on planets, leaders being hated/loved leading to some modifiers/events. Leaders in general needs to feel more alive)

. Intel and espionnage (possibility to push empire to revolt, sabotage, tech stealing, assassination and the possibility to be impactful on the game when focusing on espionage)
 
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