Stellaris (Fake) Dev Diary #138 - Donte's Inferno

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Welcome, to the new (Fake) Dev Diary, Donte's Inferno!

As you may or may not have heard, today's dev clash was postponed in favor of allowing the development team (the majority of the participants), to focus their time on the current work-in-progress patch.

We pride ourselves here at Paradox on having a bit of fun with what we do, and the streams are a large part of that, not only are they great for promoting our games and engaging with the players, but they are short moments of light relief form the normal tasks and duties of the staff. However, it is important for us to keep in mind that we're here to make great games, so sometimes we end up in situations like today where we needed to team to focus on the development of the patch, rather than participate in the stream. On top of this, Daniel has also had to focus his attention on the patch, rather than write you a dev diary, so here I am as a quick and dirty stand in!

These things happen, it's game development, it rarely goes according to plan, but it's still good fun at the end of the day.

As a quick introduction for anyone who doesn't remember the last time I did one of these, my name is Bevan, aka Dnote, and I'm a Product Segment Owner. Very fancy title, but essentially, I'm part of the Product Management team, responsible for the "business case" of a game, bringing together the various disciplines involved and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goal. This is usually broken down into two parts, Production (they make games), and Marketing (they talk about and sell games). In other companies, I'm the suit in the background controlling the money and making all the decisions you players usually hate!

On top of this though, I'm also responsible for the strategy games part of our portfolio of games. This means every strategy game that Paradox develops and publishes is my responsibility to some extent. I'm also responsible for growing that part of the portfolio, so I get a very large say in what games we make next. It's always fun to work with the talented creative leads we have and at other studios to come up with new ideas and opporunities, then do some revenue forecasts and cost estimates to determine if we can actually make it work or not.. so far we've been pretty lucky with that.

So, I want to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about where we are at and where we are headed. This isn't strictly a Stellaris dev diary, as I like to think I'm smart enough to leave the actual development of the game to the specialists in that area. Daniel, nor Martin before him, has come to me with an idea that was too crazy to do, so I feel a little confident in leaving them to it (though I still complain about how expensive it is to do everything).

Where we are at right now is pretty good, we have Europa Universalis 4, Crusader Kings 2, Hearts of Iron 4, Stellaris and Battletech, in what we call a live state. They are launched and have active ongoing development, focused on a mixture of free updates and DLC. The cadence and types of updates and DLC are things that are determined by the individual teams, but they all seem to have found a healthy approach that works for them and the players of those games.

Going forward, we do have more games in development, we break this down in various ways but out of those that we've announced, we have Imperator: Rome from PDS, Age of Wonders: Planetfall from Triumph and Stellaris Console from Tantalus. Whilst technically Stellaris Console isn't a new game, we do have a different development team on it, so we treat it as it's own thing. And I'm pretty sure this isn't a secret (I don't stay up to date on everything), but these three are all planned to come out this year too.

On top of this, we have other strategy games in development as well, both at our internal studios and at external studios, which we aren't ready to talk about. Suffice to say we're pretty confident you'll enjoy them and I don't know the exact timing of things but you'll probably want to make sure you attend or tune into PDXCon later this year. Our road map forward is solid and builds on the expertise we already have, with a focus towards delivering the types of games we know you, our current players, enjoy.

Then there is the theoretical part of the portfolio, which is the fun part for me. What are we going to do beyond that!

At this point, we don't really know (much to the annoyance of Management and Acquisitions). It can be quite hard for us, or anyone in this industry to identify new opportunities, as very few companies publish data about their games and the audiences (people that buy and play them). We need to find our own ways to figure this out, through a mixture of market research, player engagement (we do talk with you every now and then) and gut feeling.

So my question to you, is what would you like to see?

Now, I know you're going to say the usual things, but what I'm really curious about is the unusual things. What features in strategy games are important to you, what features in other games would like to see come to strategy games? Maybe you would like to see something that brings epic large scale wars to life, with tactical battles (imagine control the Khan's horde as it rampages across Europe), or a game where you unite the HRE but each of the major dynasties are fleshed out with personalities and story arcs beyond normal procedural content, or something else entirely?

Every year we look at what is coming next, its an ever updating plan and right now, in this moment, we're looking for something special, something that really stands out from the crowd.

Anyways, not a proper dev diary, and not really Stellaris focused, but Daniel and Jamie will be back soon with more info on the patch and the dev clash will resume next week if all goes well with it.

I also wouldn't mind hearing about where you would like Stellaris to go? We've made some pretty big changes to the game over the last 18 months, but what would you like to see added to it, flesh out, or changed?
 
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Dnote

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Victoria 3 with Stellaris' population and production chain mechanics.

You know you're doing it wrong.. you're not supposed to suggest changing anything from Vicky 2 when you ask for Vicky 3 ;)
 

Notho

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Should have called it 'Dnote's Inferno'.
 

Juboboman

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Welcome to the party, pal.

To answer your question: I always love flavor packs, more ships, more races, more traits! The more options to customize your empire the better. However in the intermediate future I would really like an extended bug fix/quality of life/balance pass though because things need to catch up and fit together from the 1.9>2.0>2.2 massive changes. So maybe get the artists working on fluff DLC to pay for it while the programmers deep dive into getting 2.2 in sync as a great base to build off of in the future.
 

Sigma 582

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would you like to see?
What about CK/HoI in space? I haven't played either CK or HoI but judging by what I read about them it could be fun to see their mechanics implemented in space/sci-fi setting.

Tactical warfare (at least Rome: Total War level) in either historical, space or sci-fi settings would be awesome but such a concept is hard to make MP-friendly.
 
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Mr Thursday

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Espionage and Hats...
 

Dnote

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Welcome to the party, pal.

To answer your question: I always love flavor packs, more ships, more races, more traits! The more options to customize your empire the better. However in the intermediate future I would really like an extended bug fix/quality of life/balance pass though because things need to catch up and fit together from 1.9>2.0>2.2 massive changes. So maybe get the artists working on fluff while the programmers deep dive into getting 2.2 in sync as a great base to build off of in the future.

The team is focused on the existing content right now, we'll see what they accomplish in the time they've been given, but I'm confident in them.
 

Dnote

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Xentropy

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The team is focused on the existing content right now, we'll see what they accomplish in the time they've been given, but I'm confident in them.

"...the time they've been given..." scares me a bit in this context. What if the "drop-dead date" comes and goes and the AI is still pants-on-head with incredibly slow lategame performance? Will extra time be budgeted or are we just left in a continual spiral of tech debt as the team is forced to move on to the next DLC? Just how long are you prepared to spend polishing the existing state?
 

Duuk

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A 4x style (Stellaris-engine) game using Majesty's concepts. I love Majesty's world and would love to see Majesty 3 but I know it wasn't financially amazing for you folks.

Build your initial city and send out your builders and heroes to conquer and expanding into new cities and regions as you expand to paint the map while the other factions try to do the same! Choose your factions! DLCs of faction packs, item packs, building packs, adventure/story packs, region or map packs! It'll be glorious!

You can do it!
 

Arrowkill

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A strategy game that has less of an emphasis on war, and more of an emphasis on politics and subterfuge. Personally I always thought a cold war era game would be fascinating, but it could be any post-nuclear time period where the prospect of war can lead to mutual destruction of everybody.
 

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I'd like to see non-player states in your GSG have more personality. I play CK2, EU4, Stellaris and I'm really looking forward to Imperator: Rome, but in the games I have played I really wish each individual count, duchy, kingdom, or space empire stood out more, that there was more engagement that made them feel more like unique. I think CK2 is the best in this regard since each area is ruled by a character with clear stats and traits, ect, but I'd like to see more engagement there. What I'm looking for is there to be more engagement with me as a player, to feel something towards the non-player states I am dealing with. When I think about something like cracking a planet in Stellaris I would like it to be something that is a real point of contention other then just a heavy opinion malice, that it becomes something the victim state rallies around and uses as an excuse to do what damage they can to the enemy that did it. Or on the flip side maybe a state can do something that makes me feel some affection towards them, that makes me want to protect them and make sure they don't get wiped out.

Another aspect is difficulty. I find with all of Paradox's GSGs a little lacking in the difficulty department. It's been a long time since I was worried about losing a war, either on the offensive or defensive. I don't ever worry about losing territory or from not gaining my goals. I'd like games to be more intense, that the outcome of each war I wage not necessarily inevitable and will end in my favor.
 

tradetem

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-Space religion/culture mechanics (so you can influene other empires ethics without war)
-diplo rework (more options during talking, diplo crisis which require negotiations)
-expand federations (HRE like reforms, political posts for leaders etc)
-espionage (though i agree it would be hard to make it fun and not irritating)
-allow to create a teleporter to Extradimensional invaders home dimension for payback!
-expand on Leaders: make them have ambitions, more interactions, lead coups if the situation is right
-Galactic economic collapse crisis
 

BlackholePD

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Heya!

With regards to Stellaris, and passing over the current bug issues, I'd really like to see some more viable ways to gain territory from other empires without resorting to war. At the moment it's pretty close to impossible to vassalize empires diplomatically, and I've yet to see an AI empire willing to trade a system!

I imagine that that sort of thing, more diplomatic/pacifist playstyle detail, would be the sort of thing covered in the mythical diplomacy update/dlc.

Also, more megastructure depth! And events/flavour :D
 

Andrzej I

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I'm going to second the call for CK2 in space.

I strongly feel that the pseudo-RPG elements of CK2 are what makes it such a brilliant game in my eyes. Every game of CK2 for me has its own story, even if I'm not actively looking to make the playthrough into an AAR. I'd love to see more story-conductive elements make their way into other Paradox games - things that make the game feel more alive, rather than just a map-painting simulator.

When it comes to Stellaris in specific, further fleshing out leaders and rulers to have their own personalities and motivations would be a great boon to the enjoyment of the game, creating more deep internal politics beyond just setting policies at game start and rarely adjusting them.

Also:
<...> A game where you unite the HRE but each of the major dynasties are fleshed out with personalities and story arcs beyond normal procedural content
Yes. Just... yes. Either that or the ERE with (literal) Byzantine politics.
 
Last edited:

BlackholePD

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I've actually never played another Paradox strategy game other than Stellaris. What would you guys recommend?
 

Fampat

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bugfixes, smart ai, new stuff -> heroes (rpg element) and espionage are my favorites!