Dev Diary #68: Residential Exploitations and Racial District Buildings

Dev Diary #68: Residential Exploitations and Racial District Buildings

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Eomolch

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Hi everyone and welcome to this week’s dev diary! I am Jakob aka Eomolch and working (mainly) as a campaign/narrative designer at Triumph Studios.

Today is truly a special day as you will finally get your hands on the third expansion for Planetfall: Star Kings! We would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you for your tremendous support and help in creating a fantastic experience that we call Planetfall.

Thank you!

In this dev diary I will be writing about something campaign-unrelated for once and shed some light on the new economy-related content, which we are releasing as part of the free Triceratops patch that drops alongside our Star Kings expansion.

When we set out to expand the economic gameplay, we had a number of high-level goals in mind, which were derived from our own observations and filtered feedback from the community:
  • Diversify the economic gameplay for different factions.
  • Make “going tall” a more viable (and interesting) option.
  • Allow players to build up an empire which is visually no longer dominated by the ruins of the past, but by their own racial colonies and architecture.
To which degree we succeeded in reaching these goals will remain to be judged by all of you. ;) But now, without further ado, let’s take a look at the concrete mechanics and content:

Residential Exploitation

We’ve added a new sector exploitation type, which focuses on the population of a colony. Not only does it increase the yield of each colonist slot, but it also enables a colony to annex more than 4 sectors and grow bigger and better than ever before.
  • Residential Exploitations are unlocked from the start of the game.
  • A colony can have a max. of 2 Residential Exploitations attached to it.
  • While having 1 Residential Exploitation, the 5th sector to annex unlocks at 20 population.
  • While having 2 Residential Exploitations, the 6th sector to annex unlocks at 24 population.
  • A colony can claim a sector further than 2 sectors away, as long as that sector is adjacent to a Residential Sector. When lining up residential sectors next to each other, this pushes the maximum potential sector distance of a colony to 4!
  • A Residential Exploitation can be leveled up twice. It generates +1/+2/+3 income for each colonist working in an energy, production, research, food or happiness slot, depending on its level.
    • The first +1 level building is unlocked by the new Residential Development tier IV economy research.
    • The second +1 level building is unlocked by the existing Virtual Hospitality Systems tier VII economy research.


The fair colony of Avalmill stretches from the southern seas all the way to the desert in the north.

Thanks to the new sector unlocks and the option to annex sectors further away from the colony core, the Residential Exploitation drastically changes the way that colony planning is approached.
  • Do I leave more space in between my early colonies? Or do I claim those precious resource nodes and landmarks now instead of waiting for my HQ to grow its last sector?
  • Do I try to keep my territory compact and sacrifice later economic potential? Or do I spread out to drop my claim on all the sectors that can one day become annexed to my empire, accepting the risk of them potentially getting annexed by my competitors before that happens?
Questions like these illustrate the many new possible options and strategies. Finding the perfect spot for a colony has never been more rewarding, but at the same time colonies have become more flexible when expanding their territory and can more often reach that one landmark that always used to be one sector too far away…

Urban Overlay

Alongside the Residential Exploitation comes a new terrain type, exclusive to the Residential Sectors. Where previously ruins of the old Star Union marked the landscape, the player can now spread the architecture of his empire’s races, where Urban houses fill a sector:
  • Building a Residential Exploitation terraforms the sector’s primary terrain type into Urban.
  • Units within a friendly urban sector regenerate an extra 6 hit points between strategic turns.
  • When razed, an urban sector turns into Ruins again, another testament to the rise and fall of overly ambitious empires :p
  • Amazons build their houses in an eco-friendly way, so their urban tiles count as Forests.
Our environmental artist Sara did an amazing job when creating the different racial visualizations of the Urban sprawl. Below you can see an example of a fully grown Vanguard colony:


Colony District Buildings

Alongside the Residential Exploitation, we are introducing new Colony District Buildings, which can be leveled up twice and are entirely different for each race:
  • All Colony District Buildings are unlocked by the new Residential Development tier IV society research. If you control colonies of different races, each colony can produce the District Building matching its race regardless of whether or not it was your starting race.
  • Colony District Buildings unlock racial colonist slots, which yield higher and more unique resource combinations matching that building’s and race’s flavor.
  • A Colony District Building can be upgraded twice to reach its full potential:
    • The (Basic) version can be built in any colony of the matching race. It unlocks two racial slots.
    • The (Fine) version can be built in a colony with at least 1 Residential Exploitation. It unlocks another two racial slots and increases the yield of those slots.
    • The (Immaculate) version can be built in a colony with at least 2 Residential Exploitations. It unlocks another two racial slots and comes with a unique repeatable reward that can be earned in the colony if the player performs actions matching the race’s playstyle or strengths.
Sounds complicated? No worries, it isn’t ;) Let’s take a look at the Syndicate Ambassadors’ Quarters as an example:



The special Syndicate colonist slot is called an Ambassador Slot and generates influence at the expense of energy when filled by a colonist. Syndicate players who want to focus on diplomacy and NPC Factions can sacrifice some of their economic potential to gain an edge in the diplomacy game, with up to 12 additional influence per turn coming from the 6 filled in Ambassador Slots.

When upgraded to “Immaculate” an entirely new dynamic comes into play, when an action outside the colony, namely the player using influence in a diplomatic PvP interaction, causes the colony to gain happiness. This way the upgrade rewards the player for a diplomacy-oriented playstyle as it often fits the Syndicate – Denouncing that snobby House Leader at the neighboring continent has never been more rewarding!

You want to find out the unique slots and gimmicks of all the other race’s Colony District Buildings? No problem, by the time this dev diary is out the Triceratops patch with the Residential Exploitation and all other features mentioned here has already been released. Just launch the game and check it out in the next play through of your favorite race!
 
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This is great, but i am really in need of patch notes. Patch notes are love, patch notes are life :D
 
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Cool, a nice big new feature that wasn't even announced before. You guys really work wonders and constantly expand the game! It's a shame this is probably the last such a big feature addition...

Btw, are there any new battlegrounds for residental areas?
 
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Yeah is so so good to see the continued work and upgrades made to an already incredible game
The example Syndicate Ambassadors quarters seems expensive to use, has anyone beta tested this and what's your experience? You have to spend a fair amount of time and production building it, then use colonists to populate it when they could be generating another resource... And then populating costs energy as well which late game is pretty vital. I love the concept, but the juice vs squeeze ratio for 1 extra diplomacy doesn't seem worth it
 
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Especially if you consider if you left a colonist in an energy production slot, the difference is plus 15 energy per turn, as a base. You could gift that 15 energy every turn to different commanders, and save the diplomacy points you're still generating for NPCs. Probs would be better off for it, and that's not considering the turns you could have the sector produce energy instead of making the sector upgrades and building the ambassador's quarters and upgrades as well. What's other people's thoughts?
 
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Sandman25DCSSS

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I agree, -10 energy for +1 influence seems like a trap for players who like roleplaying.
 
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Eomolch

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Cool, a nice big new feature that wasn't even announced before. You guys really work wonders and constantly expand the game! It's a shame this is probably the last such a big feature addition...

Btw, are there any new battlegrounds for residental areas?
Thanks, we try to do our best ;) And yes, there were new TC maps created for the residential exploitation.

Yeah is so so good to see the continued work and upgrades made to an already incredible game
The example Syndicate Ambassadors quarters seems expensive to use, has anyone beta tested this and what's your experience? You have to spend a fair amount of time and production building it, then use colonists to populate it when they could be generating another resource... And then populating costs energy as well which late game is pretty vital. I love the concept, but the juice vs squeeze ratio for 1 extra diplomacy doesn't seem worth it
First of all, thanks for the praise :)
With regards to the Syndicate building, pumping out influence in cities is a very powerful option. We knew from the get go that it had to come with a drawback if it shouldn't break the game. Remember that you can micro-manage how many colonists you want working in which slot type and that you can increase the yield to 2 influence for -10 energy with the second level of the building. In our collective tests the current numbers seemed to be sitting in a good, balanced spot. But of course it is not unthinkable to make balance changes to some of the colony district buildings in a later patch, should the consensus of the community drift in that direction.

Until then I would suggest you simply try it out to learn for yourself. Theorycrafting can be surprisingly misleading sometimes :p
 
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Honestly regardless of the future of AOW Planetfall, thankyou for all the work you and the rest of the team have done, I love this game, and it's a toss up for me between it and Battletech for my fav ever. If you guys go ahead with a season 2 pass I'll be pre ordering
 
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Amazing! Time to rebuild humanity! Thank you, Triumph! :)
 
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The example Syndicate Ambassadors quarters seems expensive to use, has anyone beta tested this and what's your experience? You have to spend a fair amount of time and production building it, then use colonists to populate it when they could be generating another resource... And then populating costs energy as well which late game is pretty vital. I love the concept, but the juice vs squeeze ratio for 1 extra diplomacy doesn't seem worth it
Take note that cities with double residential sectors will be much more productive overall, since one fully upgraded sector adds +3 to every yield per pop. While the opportunity cost is indeed high, you probably won't be hamstringing your economy by generating some bonus influence.
 
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Take note that cities with double residential sectors will be much more productive overall, since one fully upgraded sector adds +3 to every yield per pop. While the opportunity cost is indeed high, you probably won't be hamstringing your economy by generating some bonus influence.
Doesn't that just mean you're missing out on more production per colonist not assigned to a resource task if you're putting them into diplomacy?
 
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Doesn't that just mean you're missing out on more production per colonist not assigned to a resource task if you're putting them into diplomacy?
No, because Residential Sectors increase the yield from Specialists too.
 
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Doesn't that just mean you're missing out on more production per colonist not assigned to a resource task if you're putting them into diplomacy?
*shrug* as I said, opportunity cost. Supposing no energy exploitation and maxed residential, energy pop will grant +11 energy. Ambassador will give +2 influence, -10 energy, which basically means you can get +2 influence with two pops. Considering the game values cosmite and influence at 8 energy per unit, this may be considered a net loss, but late game I feel they are much more valuable.

Thus, while I wouldn't call it a default setup, I believe having an opportunity to drastically boost your influence income definitely has its niche.
 
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*shrug* as I said, opportunity cost. Supposing no energy exploitation and maxed residential, energy pop will grant +11 energy. Ambassador will give +2 influence, -10 energy, which basically means you can get +2 influence with two pops. Considering the game values cosmite and influence at 8 energy per unit, this may be considered a net loss, but late game I feel they are much more valuable.

Thus, while I wouldn't call it a default setup, I believe having an opportunity to drastically boost your influence income definitely has its niche.
% it has a niche... It's not just a net loss, it's a net loss after investing turns into the strat when those turns could've been spent investing into something else. I'm a huge fan of it's concept don't get me wrong, but I'm literally watching a 13 size capital with 2 level 2 residential exploitations and no energy exploits, moving 1 colonist into it costing me 19 energy per turn for 1 influence. Meanwhile a size 9 Amazon colony with a level 1 wildlife reserve is generating 6 food and 6 knowledge per colonist with no negatives... Which is so superior to the base gains, I might be crazy.. but I'd take the wildlife reserve every time. 2 colonists in the reserve > than a total of 4, 2 colonists in food and 2 in knowledge. I'm still finding it underwhelming especially considering the influence and energy bonus potential from noble diplomats. If what I'm saying isn't valid I really am open as to why
 
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"A colony can claim a sector further than 2 sectors away, as long as that sector is adjacent to a Residential Sector. When lining up residential sectors next to each other, this pushes the maximum potential sector distance of a colony to 4!"

This aspect doesnt appear to work. In both my game and a different game ftom my buddy we couldnt grab the 4th (landmark in this case) in a line going city, ???, residential, residential, and then a landmark. 3 away works everytime though.
 
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Have been playing with the Syndicate a little more and am now "pumping out" influence, and it is really powerful. The energy costs are kind of offset by the fact you're able to generate units and mods through influence, plus the diplomatic benefits, and it makes having a close NPC faction really fun and powerful. I still feel however the process of getting to this point was pretty average and could be tweeked, just cause I wouldn't bother with it again until I've maxed out my appropriate buildings. It would be nice to see a steadier progression curve for it
 
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i like that addition to the strategy layer.

it adds more depth but pretty much keeps the existing balance of meaningful decisions without excessive micromanagement. an aspect of the game i always admired.

you pretty much nailed it in my opinion. AI is a bit dumb at using the systems, but other than that the strategy layer is in a fine balance where it adds a lot to the gameplay but is still simple enough to not take away too much focus from the tactical battles
 
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252
33
Thank you MK1980 :) I'll make sure to pass your nice words on to my colleagues!


"A colony can claim a sector further than 2 sectors away, as long as that sector is adjacent to a Residential Sector. When lining up residential sectors next to each other, this pushes the maximum potential sector distance of a colony to 4!"

This aspect doesnt appear to work. In both my game and a different game ftom my buddy we couldnt grab the 4th (landmark in this case) in a line going city, ???, residential, residential, and then a landmark. 3 away works everytime though.
I checked it out and you are indeed correct. Thanks for bringing it up! We're aiming to put in a fix for this with the next hotfix patch.