The Last Federation:Alpha Release Notes

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The Last Federation Post-1.0 Release Notes

Version 1.0!

(Released April 18, 2014)

  • The vote to join existing federation text was using skylaxian-sounding terminology for all races. Fixed.
    • Thanks to wyvern83 for reporting.
  • Added the last 28 achievements, bringing the current total to 52.

Slowing Of The "Out Of Your Control" Ongoing Racial Attitude Shifts

  • Thanks to jonasan for helping to inspire these. The idea with all of this is to make it so that things happen a little more slowly in terms of the passive attitude shifts of races. The goal being that you then gain more control via the active attitude shifts that you are able to directly initiate. Having the simulation be something that you cannot completely control is great. But having the feeling that it is spiraling out of control is not. We had slowed so many aspects of the solar map down already in order to avoid that feeling elsewhere, but the passive shifts to attitude and influence were never slowed to match. Now they are!
  • The speed at which you lose influence with races in a hostile alliance is now slowed.
  • The following monthy attitude shifts are now slowed 10x:
    • Burlust contempt for weaklings.
    • Thoraxian "The Fuzz" pacifism.
    • Planet envy.
    • Enemy of my enemy.
    • Friend of my friend.
    • Hates wimps.
    • We need to stick together
    • Impressed or annoyed at escaping POWs.
    • Impressed or disgusted at war crimes relating to POW deaths.
    • Disgusted at poor public order.
    • Pity and inverted pity
    • Resentful of intrusion into local space.
  • The following attitude shifts are now slowed 10x:
    • Warmonger
  • The following attitude shifts are now slowed 3x:
    • Invaded our planet
    • Destroyed our space installations
    • War
    • Ship kills outside of war.
    • Declaration of war.
    • Gas giant ignition attempt
  • The following monthy attitude shifts are now slowed 2x:
    • Fear Empire
    • Smuggler Empire
    • The Betrayed
    • Joint federation membership
  • The following monthly influence shifts are now slowed 10x:
    • Fears bullies.
  • Other "secondary effect" influence shifts that happen when you do certain actions now are slowed 2x:
    • Enemy of my enemy
    • Harming my friends
    • Abetting the enemy

RCI Value Improvements

  • Mind Reading no longer prevents negative RCI public order trends, it only doubles the positive ones.
  • All the various techs and buildings that previously caused either "floors" to be set on RCI values, or which caused a "permanent boost" to RCI values, now just provide a small monthly income to RCI instead. RCI now is internally stored as a floating point number, so this is possible to do much smaller increments, which is very useful for not making things get insane.
    • Why the shift? Well, some planets were just getting absolutely nuts out of the ranges we had originally desired them to be in, and while that is entertaining to a point it also causes some balance issues.
  • There are now a lot more RCI value named ranges, going up to very high and very low. Though you won't reach those as often anymore.
    • Thanks to Azurian for suggesting the names.
  • Any time a planet changes hands, its RCI values get absolutely _destroyed_.
    • First of all, if the RCI value is higher than 0, it drops to 0.
    • Then it loses another amount between -140 and -70. So if a planet that is already negative flips, then it just gets worse and worse.

RCI Values Now Affect More, Giving You More Control

  • The RCI factors now directly affect more:
    • The Medical RCI value now affects birth rates.
    • The Public Order RCI value now affects the skirmisher spawn rates.
    • The Environmental RCI value now affects the usable land area increase rates.
    • The Economic RCI value now affects the speed of construction on planets—including ship construction.
    • Are you feeling powerless because one race is just absolutely dominating another with their superior ship construction capabilities? Well, you can't completely stop that, but you can now put a dent in them by going and sabotaging their economy.

Improvements To Dealing With Huge Attacking Armadas Via Your Own Combat

  • The maximum number of armadas that can be involved in a "hold off overwhelming attack," "help invader armadas with attack," and so on has been raised from 4 to 20. This creates an enormous backlog queue of flagships that don't initially appear in the battle (via mechanisms already in place) which is fine, it won't eat your CPU because of that. It will create an insanely long battle if you are actually able to deal with all those enemies, but that is unlikely since you'll be running out of ammo on special abilities, gradually having your health whittled away, etc. You'll eventually have to withdraw if the enemy forces are just too strong, but what you _won't_ have to do is repeatedly try attacking _and winning_, which can be frustrating.
    • Thanks to IZTheJack for suggesting.
  • In long battles, things start heating up as time goes by, now. Specifically, after 50 turns, the attack power of _everybody_ starts creeping up slightly. Specifically, by 0.01x per turn.
    • What does that translate to?
      • Well, if you have a shot of attack power 100 at turn 50, that same shot will be power 101 at turn 51.
      • By turn 100, that same shot of attack power 100 will instead be power 150.
      • By turn 500, that same 100 power shot is now power 550.
      • And so on. The effect is very slight at first, but gradually becomes more and more of an issue. The longer a battle goes on, the more likely either:
        • a) If you are dominating, you will just go ahead and "get it over with, already!" rather than it being a grind. But at the same time, the risk of death from small mistakes is also increasing, so you really have to be on your a game, and something that was just tedious instead becomes tense.
        • b) If you are evenly matched, then the stakes go up and up, making a withdrawal rather than a continuous grind eventually the wise move.
    • Note that most battles are over far before this. But for battles that would go on interminably long, this helps to make them either more interesting or shorter; either way is fine.
    • Thanks to IZTheJack for inspiring this change.

Alpha Version .990

(Released April 17, 2014)

  • The RCI-trend-starting deals now list the current value of that RCI bar on that planet.
  • Fixed a bug where the Skylaxian senate's position on the various policies wasn't properly setup until the first month or so of the game had passed.
  • Made the races somewhat less likely to leave their outposts and such completely undefended, or fail to (eventually) respond to an outpost/planet come under attack, during time of war.
    • There's more that needs to be done here, but the AI model will need some reworking before that's possible, and there's not room for such a rework pre-1.0.
    • Thanks to topper for inspiring this change.
  • Most of the places the various RCI numbers are displayed now also display a name for the range that the value is in (similar to the names for Attitude and Influence ranges).
    • Thanks to Cyprene for the suggestion.
  • The Settings menu now responds to the Escape key (by closing).
    • Thanks to Admiral for reminding us that it did not.
  • Closing the Achievements window mid-game now brings you back to the escape menu, rather than all the way back to the game.
    • Thanks to Admiral for suggesting.
  • Fixed a bug in the edit-input-bindings window where the "Cancel" button wouldn't fully cancel your changes (indeed, they would often be saved).
    • Thanks to Cyborg for the report.
  • Dispatches can now last up to 60 months at one go.
    • For the ones where you select a number of months, this is just a convenience. Previously the max was 20.
    • For the ones where you are researching a tech or constructing a property, this actually lets you do more stuff on your own before you have huge amounts of science skill or scientist goons, etc. Previously the number was 30.
  • Fixed some bugs where it was possible to lose in Observer mode.
    • Thanks to Cinth for the report.
  • Put in further protection against null exceptions in the contracts/deals window (this time it was some that could happen the instant you closed the window).
  • Added a "(Random)" option to the crash-land-here dropdown on the Advanced Start menu.
    • Thanks to Mick for the suggestion.
  • Put in a fix so that the information box that explains your actions/deals/etc now becomes scrolling if it needs to be (which it often did if there were a lot of consequences of an action, or a lot of reasons you couldn't do it yet.
  • If a player is helping a race with a dispatch mission to improve their armada construction efficiency, that race automatically re-prioritizes the armada construction and improvement to be much higher.
  • "Lower Normal" and "Upper Normal" are now just "Normal" and "Hard" and "Hard" is now "Harder."
  • The armament of the burlust warlord ships is now... very intensely faster. If you still find it exploity, then we can make it harder, but goodness this should already be really frightening now.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290, topper, nat_401, and Foogsert for reporting.

Diplomacy Balance

  • The contracts for improving or harming the attitudes of races toward one another are now 1/3 as effective. All of the attitude and influence values are now internally stored as floating-point rather than integers.
    • Thanks to jonasan for reporting.
  • You now gain substantially less influence with races per month for doing most of the dispatch missions.
  • The monthly impact of two races being at a state of war with one another is now 1/10th as strong as it previously was.
  • "They Like Us" and "They Hate Us" factors are now 1/10th as strong as they used to be.
  • Wellbeing Admiration is now 1/5th as strong as it previously was.
  • You only gain 1/6th as much influence from gifting techs to races, now.
  • For having a race share a technology with another race, you now gain the same amount as you do when directly gifting (versus previously it was more), and the influence increase between the races is only 1/3 as high as it previously was.

Combat Exploit Resolution

  • The ranges on all enemy ships (except the lances that insta-hit you) have been substantially increased, such that even on normal difficulty they now almost always have the same range or a bit more than you. Their shots don't move any faster, but it does mean that you can't kite in the same way as before, shooting enemies before they even get shots off at you. For the higher difficulties, the enemies increasingly outclass you in range.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290, Azurian, topper, nat_401, Foogsert, Konqq, chemical_art, and Tridus for reporting.
  • The effect that adjusting your power level to weapons has on your attack range is now very very small, pretty much negligible.
    • Thanks to chemical_art, Professor Paul1290, and Histidine for suggesting.

After-Combat Summaries

  • To make it easier to understand what actually happened in a battle, the post-combat results window now displays (where applicable) :
    • Total turns taken.
    • A list (with count) of any special abilities you used.
    • An amount of much overall hull damage and shield damage you took.
    • How many total enemy ships there were, and how non-enemy (allied or neutral rolled into one).
    • How many total ships you and your forces killed.
    • How many total ships neutral and allied forces killed.
    • How many total ships your enemies killed.
    • How many enemy ships ran away.

Alpha Version .906

(Released April 17, 2014)

  • Fixed a bug where the "Trifecta of Superiority icons were named wrong and thus not showing up.
  • Fixed a bug that broke loading mid-combat saves in 0.905.

Vastly Lower RAM Footprint From Textures

  • The memory handling of large textures for the game is now _vastly_ better.
    • Previously it was loading all of the textures from disk in an uncompressed format. This leads to an absolutely-lossless representation of textures, but it requires... rather a lot of RAM. Gigs.
    • Now the game is loading a lot of the larger textures in a very high-quality compressed format—you won't even notice the difference, visually. The downside is that loading images now takes a bit more CPU power as it cross-compresses them, but that is pretty minor overall.
    • The upside is that, thanks to this huge reduction in the amount of RAM used, there is no reason to keep loading and unloading textures like we have been for the last while—that had a much larger CPU and IO cost, and may have been a memory leak as well (hard to tell; if so, it's internal to the unity engine).
    • Just how big of savings are we talking? Well, normally the game loads the images as it needs them, rather than all up-front. However, we toggled it under the hood to load EVERYTHING up front, and these were the results:
      • Prior to compression, just having loaded everything and sitting at the main menu: 2.689 GB used
      • Post compression, just having loaded everything and sitting at the main menu: 1.177 GB used
      • Holy cripes, that's a 56% reduction in RAM use overall, and and overall savings of 1.512 GB total!
      • Bear in mind that under normal loading circumstances, the memory footprint at launch is only like 0.9 GB in either case. But as people continued to play, in some cases they would get RAM errors. It was only affecting a handful of people out of 160, but that's still way too many people—and of course, once the game reaches a broader audience, it was going to be one of those things that affected a ton more people.

"Upper Normal" And "Lower Normal" Combat Difficulties

  • The game now has "Lower Normal" and "Upper Normal" combat difficulties. Lower Normal is what Normal used to be. Upper Normal is new, and is basically halfway between what Normal and Hard are.
    • There's also a new achievement related to this.
    • Thanks to Faulty Logic for suggesting.

Emphasizing The Uniqueness Of Races

  • The baseline science skill of the evucks and the skylaxians was already above normal, but now it has been cranked up substantially further to give them a really notable tech advantage at the start that also lasts the rest of the game. This was a case of just the old numbers that we had put in long ago (November?) not really making the races as unique in the current context as we would have liked.
    • Thanks to nas1m for inspiring this change.
  • The baseline skill of races in ground combat now have more of a spread. Previously the spread was important, but since the addition of the tech tree (a looong time ago) it was something where the differences would get kind of washed away by the late game.
    • Acutians: 2 to 3.
    • Andors: 1 to 0.3
    • Boarines: 1.2 to 2
    • Burlusts: 3 to 9
    • Evuck: stays at 1
    • Peltian: 0.3 to 0.01
    • Thoraxian: 10 to 50
    • Skylaxian: stays at 1.
    • Thanks to nas1m for inspiring this change.
  • The baseline construction speeds of the acutians have been tripled, accentuating their manufacturing prowess. For the Andors, it has also been doubled.
    • Thanks to nas1m for inspiring this change.
  • Once again, to emphasize the uniqeness of the various races, some more techs are now blocked off to various once who thematically should not be able to make use of them:
    • More Compact Living Quarters: now barred to Boarines and Thoraxians.
    • Graviton Gun: now barred to Andors and Peltians.
    • Bio Machinery: now barred to Peltians.
    • Laser Pistols and Vibroblades: now barred to Andors, Peltians, and Thoraxians.
    • Virtual Reality: now barred to Burlusts and Thoraxians.
    • Automated Personal Vehicles: now barred to Thoraxians.
    • Ecological Engineering: now barred to acutians and burlusts.
    • ALL of the Mark VI ship classes are now barred to the Burlusts, Boarines, and the Peltians, as this is passing the limits of their technological skill.
    • ALL of the Mark VII ship classes are now barered to every race except the Skylaxians and the Evucks, since they are the only two with the technological prowess to reach that level. It is worth noting that most games seem to be concluding before Mark IV ships are really a thing, so this is just for very long-running games and starts giving the science guys a late-game boost.
    • Synthetic fossil fuels: now barred to Acutians.
  • Fixed a bug in versions from the last few days that was ignoring the barred-races logic for the following techs:
    • Industrial automation
    • Digital Sentience
    • Gene Splicing and Super Splicing
    • Mind Reading
    • Passification Gas
    • Wireless Communications
    • Labgrown meat
    • Anti-grav suits
    • Personal jet packs
    • Vaccines
  • Peltians already had a 10x boost to orbital bombardment effectiveness, but that has now been increased to 100x.

Alpha Version .905

(Released April 16, 2014)

  • Engineers have been removed, and instead Scientists give double their normal bonus when researching the mark-level techs.
  • Fixed yet another place (in the surrender case, as opposed to the scour case) where the planet-captured logging entries had been moved to after the actual planet flip and were thus reporting the new owner as both the defender and the attacker; now it remembers the old defender from before the flip for proper reporting.
    • Thanks to topper for the report and save.
  • Fixed a bug where the stunner's range was considerably lower than the circle indicated.
    • Thanks to Histidine for the report and save.
  • Fixed a bug where ships with disabled steering (basically just those affected by the stunner) were ignoring that fact if they were in "hunt the player" mode.
    • Thanks to Histidine for the report and save.
  • Outposts that are under attack now show the icons and numbers for friendly armadas/power and attacking armadas/power.
  • Player outposts now always show the friendly armadas/power icons and numbers, and use the security goon count/effective-power for the numbers.
    • If under attack, also shows the enemy armadas/power.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug from 0.904 where a fleet autoresolving against a planet defenders could also bomb it the same day even if there were still defenders left.
  • Fixed a typo in the Orbital Bomber ability tooltip.
    • Thanks to nas1m for the report.
  • The Andor speech deals (for or against a party) are now better about:
    • Listing their maximum effect (in cases where there aren't 15 seats to take from the target party)
    • Specifying that thing changing is the number of ships, rather than some other concept of membership.
    • Listing the current number of seats held by that party, in the prediction area.
    • Listing the resulting number of seats held by that party, in the results screen.
    • Thanks to Darloth for inspiring this change.
  • Now if, after combat, you are not actually docked anywhere (because you just blew whatever it was up, or it was a deep space fight) the game automatically (and instantly) moves you to the nearest dockable node so you're not invisible out in the middle of nowhere.
    • Thanks to alocritani and topper for the reports.
  • Put in a ton more error-prevention code to try to deal with mysterious and intermittent null exceptions on the contracts/deals screen.
    • Thanks to Shrugging Khan for the report.
  • Added a new toggle to the Game tab of the settings window: Show All Planet Names
    • Normally you only see the name of the planet you're docked at (if any). If this toggle is on, all planet names will be displayed.
    • Thanks to doctorfrog for the suggestion.
  • Fixed a bug where the solar map viewport "clamping" (the thing that keeps you from scrolling off into deep space) was relative to your flagship's current location rather than the center of the solar map.
    • Also tightened up the bounds a bit to prevent scrolling such that you couldn't actually see any of the system, but still loose enough so that minimum resolution displays still have some wiggle room around the edges.
  • The armadas attacking and defending a planet are now on a separate line from the rest of the overlay stuff, to keep it so that the data is more condensed horizontally.
  • Now once combat is over a lot of the "ambient" modes of the bottom-left-corner "tooltip display" are suppressed. So no more telling you you're preparing to withdraw, or capture something, or telling you the rules of the combat you just finished, etc.
    • Thanks to Arnos for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug on the solar map where clicking on the node you were currently docked at would unpause the game.
    • Thanks to Pluto011 for the report.
  • Now clicking on the node you're currently docked at will try to open the friendly actions menu (if a non-destroyed planet or an outpost) or the black market menu (if, well, the black market).
    • Thanks to topper for the suggestion.
  • The Hire Scientist and Hire Construction Worker actions now tell you how many months each scientist/worker will save you.
    • Thanks to Misery for the suggestion.
  • Fixed a bug where the "This special ability has been completely used up..." messages were showing for normal weapons (which never run out of ammo and are never replaced; this is strictly for special abilities).
    • Thanks to Faulty Logic and others for reporting.
  • Fixed a bunch of bugs where trade routes used radically different logic for "is this proposed trade route valid to start?" and "is this existing trade trade route valid to continue?" which led to a lot of trade routes just brokered by the player to disappear on the next validity check (thus accomplishing nothing).
  • Fixed a bug where it was possible to broker a new trade route exactly identical (in which planets were trading and which resources were being traded) to an existing one.
    • Thanks to nas1m for the report.
  • Fixed several bugs where the political deals with non-skylaxian races (which normally copy most of the stats and logic of the skylaxian ones, for those deals which are common among a lot of races) were not actually inheriting that logic.
    • For example, the Boarine free-prisoners e deal was supposed to inherit the restriction which limited its numeric dropdown to those choices you actually had the prisoners to fulfill.
  • Fixed a bug where the Boarine prisoner-exchange and free-prisoners deals wasn't available because it didn't have its "which Regent Priorities allow this?" values set (now it just ignores that restriction).
  • Fixed a bug where the Andor help-other-colonize-moon deal was allowed to target an Andor planet.
    • Thanks to alocritani for the report.
  • Fixed a bug that could prevent you from gaining credit in an Attack Smuggler mission (because it wouldn't grant credit for killing ships of the same race).
    • Thanks to nas1m for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where the CV_NoUncolonizedMoonsToStrapRocketsTo reason-why-you-cannot-do-this was being displayed raw, rather than having its real string displayed.
    • Thanks to Histidine for the report.
  • The opportunistic attack-planet logic some races use is now restricted to never fire against a race which the opportunistic race has at least a +10 Attitude towards, to avoid making war on friends.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where the "IFF" coloring on the minimap and ship glows was not correct for ships actually friendly (rather than neutral or hostile) towards the player.
    • Also fixed a bug where a holdover from the non-action-autoresolve form of combat was preventing the IFF from working right for ship glows in some cases.
    • Thanks to alocritani and Mick for the reports.
  • Now when an in-combat Orbital Bomber kills planetary population or destroys planetary buildings these events will be reported in the post-combat results window.
    • Thanks to zharmad for the suggestion.
  • Now when a contract prediction/result lists the current (or resulting) value of your influence with a race, or a race's attitude towards another race, it now also shows the corresponding name of the influence/attitude range that value is in ("Venerated", "Favored", etc).
    • Thanks to Cyprene for the suggestion.
  • The Buy Informant action is now no longer listed when you already have an informant on a planet.
    • Thanks to Enrymion for the suggestion.
  • The achievements window is now taller, so that you can see more of them at once.
  • Fixed the first encounter's description being wonky.
  • The burlust longship was showing up with a transparent image, as we accidentally overwrote its main image with its glow image. whoops!
    • Thanks to topper, Darloth, and Foogsert for reporting.
  • The Post-Combat results screen now lists the number of squadrons, flotillas, and armadas lost in the fighting by each race.
  • The effectiveness of bribe items on evuck council members is now 3x higher, and on burlust warlords it is now 15x higher.
    • Thanks to Konqq for suggesting.
  • Fixed dozens of typos all over the place.
    • Thanks to Pepisolo for reporting!

Cross-Platform "Arcen Updater"

  • This is a really good milestone for us in general, because it now means that we can do updates on Linux for our games, as well as on the other platforms. Previously we had no way of doing this for Linux, so Bionic Dues was distributed as steam-only. Now that we have this new updater coded, we can do fully standalone versions for any and all of our titles on any platform.
    • Please note it will take us a while to get to the other titles, as we're slammed right now. And for some of the older titles like AI War, we'll also have to do a unity engine upgrade in order to add linux support. And that entails some potential legwork there, too.
    • But! This is also a really big improvement over the old updater that we had, anyway. It's faster to do the updates, by far. It also gives better error messages when you're not using it right or something else goes wrong. It also allows for smarter unpacking, which lets me package certain files once instead of twice (for windows and mac) or three times (for windows and mac and linux). For small updates, this will literally third the size of our updates, which is great for our bandwidth bill and your hassle of downloading.

Alpha Version .904

(Released April 16, 2014)

  • Fixed a rare exception that could happen related to cutscenes. Amazingly, this has been there from the start, and we just had the first instance of that today. So odd!
    • Thanks to Azurian for reporting.
  • Moved some of the settings around between their tabs to get some more important stuff on the main Game tab.
  • Got rid of the "Replay Intro Video" button in settings, as that is not actually a thing.
    • Thanks to Azurian for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug from 0.902 where I (Keith) made a really stupid edit that pretty much completely shut down auto-combat between NPC fleets/planets.

Alpha Version .903

(Released April 15, 2014)

  • Fixed a bug in the prior version that was removing the alliances from all races that were NOT performing outrageous activities, instead of all those that were, leading to insta-fails on any savegame where the federation had been formed.
    • Thanks to Foogsert for reporting.

Alpha Version .902

(Released April 15, 2014)

  • Escape pod changes:
    • Player shots no longer kill pilots in escape pods. It was too easy to accidentally do this, before.
    • Escape pods now have a larger chance of appearing, making them not so incredibly rare.
    • Life support in escape pods now only lasts for 3 turns, meaning that you have to pick them up relatively quickly if you want to save them. A little countdown timer shows on top of them during the movement portion of your turn, so that also makes them easier to identify.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • Previously, you were not allowed to raid trader convoys or raid for technology against races that were in the federation.
    • Now you are allowed to, but you lose an additional 20 influence over the normal amount, this in the category "betrayal from within federation."
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for reporting.
  • The credits have been updated to include all of the players who have been added to the alpha thus far.
  • Did the last little cleanup on the settings and input bindings screens.
    • Thanks to Admiral for reporting.
  • Fixed one more oversight in places where you could get an exception on the planet/outpost summary screen.
    • Thanks to Volkira and Pallenda for reporting.
  • The tutorial-y notes on the first time you visit the black market or your flagship customization screen have both been removed, as they were kind of leftovers from before we really had true tutorials. These were now redundant and annoying.
  • Now when a planet is taken, the disease and/or event (if either or both were active) on that planet immediately end. Some might make sense to continue, but there were a ton of wonky behaviors that came from the continuation of diseases and events that didn't fit the new owners, etc.
  • Fixed a bug where an old rule that buffed armada production on a planet with high Order was actually nerfing (sometimes very heavily) it between 51 order and 99 order.
  • Fixed a bug where an old rule that buffed armada production on a planet with high order was totally uncapped, so if a planet somehow reached, say, 7000 order (as it did in one save we were sent) that planet turned into a turbo-death-machine of armada production. Now the most order can do for armada production is quadruple it (at 200 order or higher).
  • Removed some old "desperation" armada-production floors and multipliers that used to apply when a race had very small numbers of armadas on a particular planet or in the entire system. These led to "turbo speed" construction when a planet was swarmed and totally outnumbered by an attacking force, and artificially prolonged the time it took for planets to actually be captured.
    • Planets in dire situations still put all their effective budget (plus a decent desperation bonus, but no floor or multiplier) towards making ships to defend themselves.
  • Fixed another bug (in flipping from rebel activity) where a planet flip was being logged after the actual flip but still referring to the current owner rather than the previous one. The logging still happens after the flip, but now refers to the previous owner in the appropriate places.
  • The Race Relations bar graph screen has been fully cleaned up and made more functional. It's more attractive, and it is quicker to switch between races as it now uses icon rows rather than dropdowns. Additionally, it now allows you to quickly swap one side and the other by just clicking on an icon that is already selected.
  • Now after a successful defense of one of your outposts (by yourself or by your goons) that particular outpost will not be attacked again for a certain number of years (determined by strategic difficulty).
    • Thanks to madcow and others for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug where the tooltip on a specific race on a get-target-race-into-the-federation deal would list raw localization parameters ({0}, {1}, etc) rather than the values supposed to fill in for them.
    • Thanks to Foogsert for the report.
  • The mouseover tooltip for an outpost you own now no longer lists the defensive armada count/power (which are both zero, of course), but the number of security goons protecting it.
    • Thanks to Vinco and alocritani for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed an oversight where race ineligibilities for techs was not properly being passed down from prerequisites to their children.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where "Attack Another Race" deals were not actually targeting a race at all, and the race you'd made a deal with would just pick the most attractive target of anyone.
    • Thanks to zharmad for the report and save.
  • Now when you use the "Attack Another Race" deal to start a war, the one you paid off will continue the attack option for at least 2 years.
  • Fixed a bug with the improve/damage relations dispatches where a race could target itself. Some of the races might possibly be insane enough for that to have meaning, but we're just going to not go there.
    • Thanks to Foogsert for the report.
  • Buffed the speed of the Hydral Golem and Sentinel, and the shot speed of the Missile Outpost to make the hydral tech missions less trivial.
    • Thanks to Vinco and Shrugging Khan for inspiring this change.
  • The search-for-hydral-tech missions are no longer things you can just do whenever (and repeatedly) from nodes in the right part of the map. Instead:
    • Every several months (interval is randomized, and based on strategic difficulty) a new hydral signal will be detected (and announced in the notification sidebar).
    • When there's no such signal around, the search-for-hydral-tech missions don't even show up. When there's a signal you'll see the entry for the mission if it's the node's in the right part of the asteroid/ice belts.
    • Successfully completing such a mission deducts one signal from the remaining count. So if two new signals have happened since you last cleared them out you can run the mission (successfully) twice before it becomes available again.
    • Thanks to Shrugging Khan for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug where races that were in the middle of actions (like igniting a gas giant) which would normally kick them out of any alliance (other than Fear Empire, which is just the one race) were nonetheleless still considered eligible to join alliances like the Solar Axis Pact.
    • This could lead to situations like the Evucks bouncing in and out of the Solar Axis Pact every month as their ignition action kicked them out and their otherwise-eligibility brought them immediately back in.
    • Now in cases like that they'll be kicked out of the alliance, and not allowed to rejoin it. This may lead to the dissolution of said alliance (many require at least two living participants), which is permanent for certain alliances.
    • Thanks to madcow for the report and save.
  • Removed the mechanic where races that were at war would have your informant killed, and would prevent you from getting new informants.
    • Thanks to Tridus for inspiring this change.
  • A lot of the buildings had "1x" multipliers listed on them, which were just a graphical anomaly.
    • Thanks to Misery, ScrObot, and ElOhTeeBee for reporting.
  • Fixed a glitch where the larger "paused" indicator was not showing on the solar map except during dispatches and in observer mode. Whoops!

Alpha Version .901

(Released April 15, 2014)

  • The notations about a possible "score" mechanic have been removed, as this really isn't that sort of game. At least for now.
  • Fixed a bug where the vocal ending music was not playing recently.
  • Fixed a bug where in the last few versions, narrative page playback could cause some blinkiness.
    • Thanks to YukaTakeuchiFan for reporting.
  • The voice tracks for races gaining planets, losing not-their-last-planets, and becoming spacefaring have been re-enabled. These aren't too frequent as to be annoying, unlike in prior versions where planets changed hands a bit too often.
  • Sped up the rate of ground combat and orbital bombing, so that planets actually get captured more readily.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle, Histidine, and Professor Paul1290 for reporting.
  • The rate at which NPC vs NPC combat gets resolved in wars on the solar map is now partly dependent on the strategic difficulty you choose. On the hardest setting, it's now substantially faster than the normal one. On the easy one, it's slightly slower than normal.
  • In the Hydral column of the tech tree, there is now an empty-looking green checkbox for any techs that you don't have but that would directly benefit you (as opposed to the ones that have effects mainly/only for races).
    • Thanks to YukaTakeuchiFan for this awesome suggestion.
  • Fixed a bug in the prior version that was causing games that were saved in the middle of combat to not be able to be loaded.
    • Thanks to Cyprene for reporting.
  • Added a note on the Model T flagship tooltip that explains why it is constantly firing straight ahead, since otherwise it can seem strange.
    • And additionally, made it no longer show up until 2 years into the game at the earliest, to avoid new player perceptions if they miss the tooltip.
    • Thanks to Mick for reporting.
  • Rebalanced the amount of resources you get from raiding trader convoys to be 800 instead of 4000, as the other was OP.
    • Thanks to Konqq for pointing this out.
  • Previously, the research technology dispatch mission dropdown would just hide any options that the race already knew. Now it shows those options, and explains to the player that they cannot research that tech with that race because the race already knows it; and that they will have to either steal it or research it with a race that doesn't already know it.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for reporting.
  • The Adviser now makes it clear that you can only steal the techs from races that already know it, and then also lists the races that don't know but CAN research it with you.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for suggesting.
  • Fixed a bug where gifting a tech that also gave prereqs would give insanely too large amounts of influence.
    • Thanks to Misery, zharmad, and topper for reporting.

Alpha Version .900

(Released April 14, 2014)

  • Optimized out a huge performance hog relating to displaying the total number and power of armadas attacking each planet. Once there were hordes of armadas flying around this could bring the framerate way down.
    • In one test case the framerate on a fairly good desktop machine was about 8-10fps (maybe 12fps while paused). After this optimization the framerate went up to about 30fps (about 40fps while paused).
  • Now damaging a race's ships in combat generally causes influence loss.
    • This is very small for interceptors and whatnot, but gets near half a point for flagships.
    • The loss is applied at the end of combat, rounded down. So if you've only done a minor amount of damage to a specific race's ships (not enough to be at least 1 point) you won't lose any with that race for that combat (and it doesn't carry over to the next).
    • This doesn't apply to pirates, AFA, or assassins.
    • Thanks to alocritani for inspiring this change.
  • The hold-off-overwhemling-attack contract now has similar influence gains/losses as the normal help-defend-against-invaders one.
    • It also now shares the "requires a non-federation fleet among the attackers" rule.
    • Thanks to alocritani for pointing out the lack of normal influence changes on this one.
  • Fixed a potential bug that could cause an exception if a texture was unloading at the same time as it was trying to be drawn.
    • Thanks to Pluto011 for reporting.
  • Fixed a couple of typos of the word "Hydral." Sigh!
    • Thanks to nas1m for reporting.
  • Mousing over a special ability (not a normal weapon) now highlights the target(s) it will fire at. Particularly helpful for multi-target stuff like anti swarm lasers.
    • Thanks to alocritani and Darloth for inspiring this change.
  • Put in a new mostly-hard cap where if there are at least 10 squadrons deployed for a side in a battle, then more squadrons will progress incredibly slowly in terms of deployment until things clear up a bit.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Put in safety-checking code that should prevent the occasional errors that people were having on the planet/outpost summary screen. If you see it again, please do let us know!
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle and jonasan for reporting.
  • Fixed an intermittent bug that could happen on the actions/deals window.
    • Thanks to Misery and Hyfrydle for reporting.
  • Consequences of mid-combat actions (blowing up a weather satellite, etc) are now logged in the post-contract window.
    • Thanks to alocritani for the suggestion.
  • The Federation Progress screen has been revamped visually so that you can actually tell what is going on there fully, and so that everything fits on the screen now, it looks nice, etc.
  • Fixed a bug where the "how many armadas are attacking me?" and "what's the total power of the armadas attacking me?" logic was not using the same criteria as the "what armadas are attacking me?" for armadas that can actually, well, attack.
    • Alas, the poor trade fleets can no longer pretend to be on daring raids of their unsuspecting commercial partners.
    • Thanks to alocritani for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where you could get the tooltip of a "in orbit around a planet" (small-icon) fleet by hovering over the zone where the fleet was before it entered orbit (but which is visually empty of it now).
    • Thanks to alocritani for the report.
  • Added a new "Model T" flagship variant. It looks just like Model X, but has different weapons.
  • Fixed a bug where the dispatch prediction (and result) reporting of influence changes was not taking into account a bunch of stuff (notably, how each influence gain with the crash-land race is halved and rounded down).
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for the report.
  • Now when you've successfully attacked an outpost's defenders it cannot received additional reinforcements (its race won't send more fleets to it, and if it's a military outpost it will stop producing new fleets) for 12 months.
    • Previously it could be reinforced at least as fast as you could fight reasonable-length battles, making it very difficult to get to the actual capture/destroy mission (which requires no defending fleets).
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle, madcow, and Professor Paul1290 for inspiring this change.
  • Now when you attack an outpost's defenders it goes to much greater lengths to pull in all the defenders so that the battle can be decided in a single combat (unless you withdraw, of course) rather that multiple separate engagements.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle, madcow, and Professor Paul1290 for inspiring this change.
  • The units on the x axis of the graphs were way off—they weren't months or years, though they were labeled as years. Now they are actually years, and the old data has been transformed to be the proper scale.
    • Thanks to topper for reporting.

Adviser Screen To Help Provide Direction

  • The start of the "Computer Adviser" screen is now in place. Whew, it's tricky.
    • The first section that it has is "suggested allies," where it gives you some advice on the best three non-federation allies for you to focus on at the moment.
    • The second section that it has is "military and science technology you are behind on." This is a key category showing places where you are falling technologically behind, and thus are going to fare progressively worse in combat.
      • This really highlights the importance of the UNI mark-level upgrades in a way that has not been done up until now, and it also makes it clear the variety of ways you can get these techs.
    • The third section tells you what it thinks the top 3 non-federation races are, by power. These might be threats or opportunities, who knows, but it gives you a good set of people to look at. Anyone who is on both that list and the list of suggested allies is perhaps someone to REALLY take quite an interest in!
  • And... for now that's kind of it for the truly major generalized parts of adviser.
    • I can make it do some things like tell you if some planets have diseases; that might be useful. Planetcracker and gas giant ignition also probably need warnings there. A warning when a pirate or smuggler empire is close to forming would be good. I'll add those to my list of things to put on there, but those are all circumstantial (they show up when there is a specific case, and otherwise do not; they aren't a core part of helping someone play the game from the start).
    • So, that said: what other sorts of things would you like the adviser to tell you? This is another place where players truly are a great help to us in knowing where the questions are.

Attitude-Related Dispatches

  • Added new friendly dispatch: Improve Relations.
    • If you really need this race to get along better with another, you can spend a few months dedicating yourself to improving this race's attitude toward another (and vice versa). Note: if both races are in different alliances or either race has <= -50 Attitude towards the other, this cannot be done. Further, it cannot bring either attitude above 50.
    • Thanks to many players for pointing out how there often seemed to be no options to effective increase relations between races.
  • Added new hostile dispatch: Damage Relations.
    • Is this race playing too nicely with another? I'm sure some nasty rumors (or perhaps perfectly accurate war photography) will do the trick nicely. The catch is that an effective propaganda campaign takes months and you won't be able to do anything else during that time. Note: if both races are in the same alliance or either race has >= 75 Attitude towards the other, this cannot be done. Further, it cannot bring either attitude below -75.

Science And Techs

  • Fixed a bug where at least the science techs were INCREASING the amount of time it took to research techs, rather than the other way around. May also have been affecting property development.
    • Thanks to Billick for reporting.
  • Faster Satellite Communications now also has a 1.2x "multiplier to all" bonus, as well as the existing 2.3x bonus specifically for science outposts.
    • Same thing with photon mechanics, except it's 1.1 added and 1.5 for the outposts.
  • Advanced Sub-Atomic Theory now counts as a science category tech (which is just a display thing, not a functional one), and no longer has a delay of 9 years before it can be researched.
    • Basic Sub-Atomic Theory also made the display jump.
  • After year 9, you now gain the ability to hire a new kind of goon: engineers.
    • These are exactly like the scientists, except that they only work for helping you develop higher-mark ships. Scientists can still be used for that still as well, but engineers are twice as good as scientists at that specific function, and also cost only 4/5 as much. Engineers can NOT help on any other form of tech research, though.
    • Why add this mechanic? So that you can have an extra way to boost yourself into the higher-mark ship levels, which is important, without having a way to boost yourself into the other techs too much, which would be OP.

Alpha Version .862

(Released April 14, 2014)

  • Fixed a textual issue that claimed that science outposts were required for tech research, which has not been true for months.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Fixeed a localization error where you could not get descriptions for robot viruses properly.
    • Thanks to NullDragon for reporting.
  • The "Hire Bio Terrorists" description had the wrong speaker noted on it.
    • Thanks to NullDragon for reporting.
  • The "Unique" hull class research unlocks now cost half as many months, since you ALWAYS have to do those yourself.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for inspiring this change.
  • Shortened the way that it reports your current influence with races in the prediction screen on an action, to hopefully make that take up less vertical space and never overlap the bottom bar. If you see it overlap the bottom bar again, a save and instructions would be helpful.
    • Thanks to Pluto011 for reporting.
  • Fixed a goodly number of typos.
    • Thanks to alocritani, nas1m, ElOhTeeBee, Pluto011, and wyvern83 for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where the DPS projections for weaponry was still showing your special abilities in missions where your special abilities were disabled by the scenario itself (as opposed to the mechanic-gating). Right now this only applies to Burlust Duels.
    • Thanks to topper for reporting.
  • Fixed a null exception in the race-attitude-bar-graph window.
    • Thanks to Tormodino and alocritani for the reports and saves.
  • Fixed a bug where the planetary-takeover notifications would use the invading race's name for both parts of the text (so the thoraxians taking planet from the thoraxians, etc), caused by a previous bugfix in the order of operations there.
    • Thanks to nat_401, Aklyon, and topper for the report.
  • Toned down the coloring of the "blasts text" on abilities, to make that less central.
    • Thanks to alocritani for suggesting.

Tutorial-Related Stuff

  • Fixed the tech unlocked tutorial to properly refer to the basic info tab instead of the detailed intel one.
    • Thanks to nas1m for reporting.
  • Added some clarity in the intro story text that the hydral speaking in the first person is YOU.
    • Thanks to rallythelegions for suggesting.
  • The tech tree mechanic is now delayed by one more mission before it shows up.
    • Thanks to chemical_art for inspiring this change.
  • Now new mechanics are only unlocked by completing either dispatch missions or combat missions, not just general politcal deals or whatever else. This prevents early political deals or buy/sell actions from speeding you through the tutorials uncomfortably fast.
    • Thanks to nas1m for suggesting.
  • Fixed a bug with the first mission where the survey platform was not an invincible ship, which could lead to oddities.
    • Thanks to NullDragon for reporting.

Combat-Related Stuff

  • Previously, automatic power management would reduce your shields automtically if your shields were already at full. This made (mostly) sense when all the shield power affected was how fast shields recharged, but now that it also affects shield damage resistance, it's definitely not a good thing. So power is never automatically diverted away from the shields anymore.
    • Thanks to Konqq for reporting.
  • Pirate Interceptors were crazy OP. They had 2.5x as much attack power per shot as normal interceptors, AND 3x higher firing rate. Now they just have 3x higher of a firing rate.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Gravity Missiles are no longer unlockable until 18 years into the game (2 hours). By this point things have escalated to the point where they are a really welcome addition, rather than something that is a completely-OP one-shot-win sort of situation like in the early game.
    • Their ammo has also been reduced from 5 to 3.
    • Thanks to madcow for reporting.
  • No ships (player or otherwise) will ever autotarget civilian posts. Previously that was happening mostly by oversight.
    • Note that this does not include escape pods—those were never autotargeted to begin with; they just die from stray shots.
    • Thanks to nas1m, Kingpin23, Darloth, Arnos, and Mick for reporting.
  • Nukes are no longer unlockable until 9 years into the game (1 hour). Just seems appropriate.
  • The "an ability gets replaced after its ammo is all used up" feature has been toned WAY back for balance reasons.
    • For most abilities, there is now a 30-turn cooldown timer on them before they get replaced.
    • For operation-slot abilities, they do not get replaced at all during that battle.
    • Thanks to Misery and Professor Paul1290 for suggesting.

Alpha Version .861

(Released April 13, 2014)

  • "Smuggle Spacefaring" missions have been renamed "Deliver Spacefaring" instead, since that's really what they are.
  • Also fixed some outdated text that claimed some mission types were disabling your special abilities when really they were not.
  • The bar of key information over each planet now includes the compatibility of the current race with that planet. That's... actually pretty critical info.
    • The description of this factor has been rewritten to be clearer.
  • The RCI numbers are once again shown directly on the solar map by default (though the option to turn them off is available). However, their icons are a bit smaller, their font is even slightly smaller, and their little bounding area is now very snugly up against the bounding area of the other icons above them. This really reduces the feeling of clutter all over the map, while still letting you get at what is increasingly important information.

New Quests

  • Added a new quest that is now available right from the start of the game (and which can recur a couple of times):
    • The basic gist is that whatever race has the best racial compatibility with their planet, AND has at least about 13 minutes left to go on their spacefaring clock, will hit you up for an alternate way of giving them spacefaring tech: namely, destroying some flagships of some spacefaring races that are in their orbit.
    • Destroy at least one flagship and you win, the race becomes spacefaring, AND you don't get any negative influence with any other races. Destroy them all, and you ALSO get a free hydral tech, which will be a weapon unless you already have all the weapons.
    • This is a quick way to identify a really strong ally.
  • Added a new quest that is now available right from the start of the game (and which can recur a couple of times):
    • The basic gist is that whatever race has the worst racial compatibility with their planet, AND has at least about 13 minutes left to go on their spacefaring clock, will hit you up for terraformer specs. You can drop those from orbit just like you do normal spacefaring specs, and the race will gain 0.5 compatibility with their planet (which is huge), and really love you a lot more. But if you ignore their request, they get a bit annoyed with you and stay weak.
    • This is a quick way to shore up a weak party. However, it almost always is going to come at the expense of the other new quest for the alternate way of giving spacefaring tech (at least the first time it happens in a game).

Tutorial Improvements

  • The black market descriptions for each of the goons have each been greatly expanded to include the context of when you'd want to buy them, a better explanation of what they do, when you can safely ignore them, if they expire after a certain amount of time, etc.
    • Thanks to chemical_art for suggesting.
  • The player no longer starts out with any raw resources in their inventory.
  • Fixed a bug where planets were showing infected counts even when there was no disease (just showing zero), and AFA memberships before the federation was formed.
  • Planetary resources and things that are related to them (trade routes, moons, gifting resources and selling resources) are now all gated until much later in the tutorial, after everything else solar-map-related is revealed. These persist in being one of the most confusing subjects for players, so letting people get a firm grasp on everything else before introducing these seems wise.
    • And of course, along with this, there is now a new tutorial to actually explain properly what they do!
    • Thanks to chemical_art and others for suggesting.
  • The property development dispatch mission type is also no longer available until raw resources are introduced, because they rely on that.
  • All of the buildings now have proper descriptions that actually say what they do, what they cost, how many can be built per planet, and all that stuff. Before they were very vague and general, which was not helpful.
    • The 7 unique "ultimate buildings" that each of the races (except for the Andors, who aren't in to that kind of thing) have are also now properly documented. Interestingly, no alpha testers have run across these yet; you have to have a game that goes on very long for these to start appearing; they raise the stakes rather dramatically, preventing stalemates that last a super long time (there are several other mechanics like that, too).
  • The "RCI tutorial" has been rewritten pretty much from scratch, really changing the emphasis from "don't obsess over these" to "opportunities shift at high and low values, so experiment with both."
    • Thanks to Mick and others for suggesting changes here.
  • The Detailed Planet Stats tutorial has been tightend up a bit.
  • Raiding trader convoys is also now gated behind the raw resource tutorial, since that's what that is completely concerned with.
    • These also now grant you 4000 of a resource, rather than a piddly 100. They were totally not worth it before.

Alpha Version .860

(Released April 13, 2014)

  • A new tutorial element has been added for the first time you reduce an enemy's shields to zero. This clarifies that now you're attacking the hull and thus the best weapon for the job probably just changed.
    • Thanks to ExMudder for suggesting.
  • Fixed an issue in the prior version where if you got back to the solar map while there was time that the game was supposed to quickly fast-forward, you wouldn't be able to pan or click or anything until it finished.
  • Fixed an issue where time would not jump forward a few months after political deals and other non-combat scenarios where it said it would.
    • Thanks to Darloth for reporting.
  • The game now automatically unloads unused large textures when it is not using them, in order to keep RAM usage lower. This was previously causing some issues on some systems.
    • Thanks to wyvern83 and Hyfrydle for reporting.

Alpha Version .859

(Released April 13, 2014)

  • If you have special abilities unlocked, they now are available on all mission types again, EXCEPT for the burlust warlord fights.
    • So if you're not playing with the tutorials on, then that means you do get them in the first battle.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • If you play the game on Misery difficulty, it now immediately unlocks the flagship power management and the combat special abilities even if you have the tutorials otherwise turned on. You simply can't do without these, but you might want other tutorial bits.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.
  • In combat tooltips, for non-squadron-bearing, non-deactivated-hydral-tech ships, the line that previously just showed the race and disposition has been merged into the top line.
    • In those same tooltips, for any squadron-bearing ships, it now uses that race/disposition line to ALSO show how many not-yet-deployed squadrons the thing still has, out of how many total squadrons.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.
  • Put in a fix for an intermittent exception that was being raised for some folks on the "location summary" screen.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle and madcow for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug in the Pacify Pirate Base racial action of the Andors that could result in an exception and definitely resulted in it not being available when it should have been.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for reporting.
  • Put in a couple of fixes that should prevent the exceptions that a few people had on the race relations bar graph screen. If you do see that again, please let us know!
    • Thanks to alocritani and Tormodino for reporting.
  • Put in a fix for a bug that could cause an exception during battles when the battle background that popped up was the same one used on the main menu (incompatible loading modes, whoops).
    • Thanks to topper and alocritani for reporting.
  • Put in some better error handling for the actions/deals window population-from-dropdowns section, so that a) if an exception happens when populating those, it won't crash the game, but will still show the error; and b) the error will tell us which part it was trying to populate when it failed.
    • Note that if it has this error but then keeps on trucking (which it will), you may get funky results in the deal or mission that comes after.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.

Alpha Version .858

(Released April 12, 2014)

  • The distance you can pan to the sides in the solar map is no longer so extreme that you can go where you can't see any planets.
    • Thanks to topper for suggesting.
  • Fixed an unhandled exception that could happen when the races had no techs that they could expend resources on.
    • Thanks to Mick, Pluto011, wyvern83, madcow, and topper for reporting.
  • Fixed an issue where you could accidentally be panning the screen invisibly in the background while the full-screen tutorial-type messages were up, and also fixed an issue where the combat speed text would bleed through it.
    • Thanks to Pluto011 for reporting.
  • By popular request, hovering over the race icons above planets/outposts in the solar map once again shows you the information about that race. Although now it also shows you what alliance they are in and what your influence with them is, so it's actually better than before.
    • Thanks to doctorfrog, madcow, and others for suggesting.
  • Fixed a bug where hovering over the black market said that race wasn't spacefaring, heh.
    • Thanks to nas1m for reporting.
  • On the tooltips for outposts/planets/race-icons on the solar map, the last line in there now tells you that you can right-click to view the detailed info about that location. A lot of people don't discover that, otherwise.
  • Fixed a bug where right-clicking the black market would give you a black screen (though you could hit escape to get out of it).
  • Fixed a bug where you could open hostile acts toward your own outpost!
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where on a lot of logged actions, it did not actually say who performed the action! Whoops.
    • Thanks to topper, Mick, madcow, Kingpin23, Nubbify, and Enrymion for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where some profiling code was left on, and was really bogging down performance in the solar map, and possibly causing a memory leak as well.
  • Fixed a bug where simulation logic on the solar map tried to partly run even while paused. It didn't actually do anything, but it did cause a CPU churn that was unneeded.
  • Put in some performance throttling on the armada logic on the world map that makes it run far more smoothly when there are hundreds of armadas flying around. It makes them a bit slower to figure out new targets, but we're talking a couple of seconds here versus instantly, and that makes almost no practical difference to actual gameplay, while it has a huuuuge positive impact on performance.

Pausing Improvements

  • The pause function has been RE mapped to spacebar, but also is still on P. Not having it on spacebar was just... not right. It's not a super important function during battle, but it sure is during the solar map.
  • Loading a savegame now starts you out paused if it is to the solar map.
  • Entering the solar map after any sort of mission or deal or whatever (including the first one) now pauses you automatically.
    • Thanks to Entrenched Homeperson for suggesting.
  • If the game is paused when you issue a movement order, it re-pauses again as soon as you reach your destination.
    • Thanks to Enrymion for suggesting.
  • When you are paused on the solar map, it now shows the larger text overlay thing over to the left, making it a lot more obvious that you are.
    • Thanks to madcow for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed an issue that persisted where if you wanted to switch to fast forward or super fast forward from pause mode, you had to unpause first.

Solar Map Panels Usage Optimization

  • There are never three panels on the solar map anymore, but now the two that do get shown are taller.
    • Likewise, on the main panel, there are now only two tabs rather than three, but each one is taller.
  • The main panel has had its buttons majorly rearranged to put the most-common stuff one click away.
    • The "Basic Info" tab now has your logbook (as before), WILL have a new "advisors" button, and then now has the following moved from what used to be on details: federation progress, racial power grid, race relations, and tech progress.
    • The "Detailed Info" tab now has your inventory and customize flagship on its top row (previously from the basic info tab, but frankly these are used WAY less frequently than the other things), and then the overlay stuff has been combined into here.
    • Thanks to Enrymion for helping to inspire these changes.
  • When at a planet or outpost, now instead of having two panels that show planet/outpost details on it on one, and then "local actions" on the other, it just has one column of buttons.
  • The Federation Progress button no longer shows until you have unlocked the general federation stuff.
  • The overall effect here is... a bit more information-dense, to be sure. That said, it's also something that is VASTLY more usable if you're actually an even moderately-skilled player, because you don't have to click back and forth all the time between basic and advanced details, which was super irritating. Now you only very rarely need to pop over to detailed info, which is the idea, and the rest of the time you stay on basic info. This also really helps to highlight the information that is truly critical, versus that which is delving a bit more into minutia (or infrequent acts, at least).

Alpha Version .857

(Released April 12, 2014)

  • A lot of the voice tracks were playing too frequently to be enjoyable. We've cut it back substantially so that you hear fewer of them, and more rarely. It makes them a welcome addition for really important events, rather than something you hear over-frequently for common events.
  • It is now possible to disable voice tracks independently of the other sounds.
  • Fixed a bug in recent versions where looking at a contract that would change one race's attitude towards another was actually causing the attitude shift rather than simply predicting it.
    • Thanks to Darloth for the report and save.
  • A race suffering an actual ground invasion (not merely an orbital bombardment) from another race now gains one negative point of attitude towards the invader each day.
  • Some missions that let you gain Credit from ship kills now let you gain it at a higher rate than usual.
    • The most key example of this is the Attack Local Armadas On Your Own versus Attack Local Armadas With Help. Previously, people wondered why you would ever do the former. Well, if the latter were not available, then sure... otherwise, why indeed? I guess you could keep more of the ship kills for yourself? Well, anyway, now the former gives you 3x the Credit reward of the former, so there is a clear incentive. Still not an obvious choice, but now it at least makes sense what options you are weighing.
  • The race-relations-screen now displays the name of each race under its crest (if it's still alive, and not the Hydral).
    • Thanks to Castruccio for the suggestion.
  • After one of those tutorial-y scenes has gone by, it unloads the images that it loaded for that, to save on RAM. Useful for lower-RAM machines, particularly since those same images often won't be needed again anytime soon that session, if at all.
  • The following contracts now constrain the numeric dropdown to those values that would actually be allowed (by what you have on hand), aside from always showing the minimum value to avoid weirdness:
    • Sell Bribe Item
    • Sell Raw Resource
    • Gift Raw Resource
    • Sell Prisoner
    • Prisoner Exchange
    • Release Prisoner
    • Note that it didn't previously actually let you sell more than you had, etc, but the interface was a bit confusing about that.
    • Thanks to windgen, nas1m, Professor Paul1290, and others for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug where failure predictions on quest display was accidentally causing RCI values to shift if there were RCI penalties for a failure. Sigh. ;)
  • Fixed a bug where opening the andor political screen for the first time in a game could sometimes cause a missing localization error.
    • Thanks to Aklyon for the report.
  • On the Technology screen, clicking one of the column headers now sorts the grid:
    • Clicking the name column just does the normal sort as before.
    • Clicking on the hydral column sorts it with techs you have first.
    • Clicking on one of the race columns sorts it with the techs that race has first.
    • Thanks to nas1m for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a tooltip that still referred to doing flagship customization at the black market.
    • Thanks to nas1m for the report.
  • The ability to have the game automatically stop running when you exit the window, and thus not have your screen go panning way off, has unfortunately had to be removed. It was causing all sorts of errors—music restarting, potentially corrupted textures, and so on.
  • The chatter scroll no longer pauses while the combat is paused.
    • Thanks to Enrymion for reporting.
  • When the fast forward buttons are visible on the solar map, the tooltip slides over to not cover them.
    • Thanks to Pepisolo for reporting.
  • Fixed a visual glitch with the actions/deals screen showing the bottom bar at very odd offsets on any resolution that was not 1280x720!
  • Fixed a bug where the "research a tech by expenditure of raw resources" AI mechanic was not respecting all conditions that would prevent the race from learning a tech. Among them, the min year for the tech.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where quests and observer mode could both be activated during observer mode.
    • Thanks to alocritani and Enrymion for reporting.
  • The pause key is now P or Pause, rather than being spacebar. Now that this is not realtime, there is no reason for pause to take up that prime of a location.
    • Thanks to madcow for suggesting.

Four New Dispatch Missions

  • Added four new dispatch missions:
    • Aid Local Economy
    • Improve Local Environment
    • Provide Medical Assistance
    • Assist Local Law Enforcement
    • Each corresponds to one of the RCI bars, and is available when that planet has a negative value there. This allows you to increase that value and earn credit and influence while doing so. On the other hand, races which hate your client won't be pleased.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring these.

Combat Interface Improvements

  • During the movement phase of your turn, when the little tracers are drawn behind enemy shots, it also now dims all non-enemy shots quite substantially. This lets you plot courses through complex battles much easier when there are allies in there.
  • There are now special cursor underlays for when you are in autofire or hold fire mode, so that it's obvious that where you click doesn't matter—clicking confirms your order, and that's it. Some folks were confused when they were in autofire mode in their first battle, and then clicked an enemy ship, and their ship then fired somewhere completely else. The tutorial was updated a while ago to help with that, but hopefully this also helps those who skip around.
    • And frankly, even for those players who are really expert already, it's a really nice bit of visual feedback that just makes errors less likely in general.
  • Updated the tooltip for the pause button in combat, which was severely outdated and still referred to things as if it was not only the realtime combat, but actually the RTS style of it!
  • Updated the speed controls for combat so that they now are a slider that you can drag at the bottom of the screen, with much finer control than you used to have.

Early Tutorials (And Very Much Earlier Unlock Of Power Management)

  • During the first combat, on the sixth turn it now gives you another popup, this one explaining about how there are multiple objectives.
  • During the first combat, on the twelfth turn it now unlocks power management for your subsystems. This is something that really should be introduced sooner than it had been, and it also includes info about waypoints, which is useful. Hopefully this is not too much information overload for the first combat, but it spreads it out so that it's not constantly in your face at least, and tells you that you can review it in your logbook when you need to.
  • Several of the early-game dispatch missions are now gated until you have unlocked specific mechanics:
    • Property development, outpost construction, and technology research are all now gated until you have unlocked the black market, since you can't hire any goons before that.
    • Tactical support for resistance fighters is now gated until you unlock the federation and other alliances, because frankly it's a bit nuanced for early on, and the distraction isn't needed.
    • Harvesting space junk and mining uncolonized moons are now gated until you get the detailed planet stats, for similar reasons.
    • Naturally, the new RCI dispatches are gated until the RCI unlocks open.
    • What does this leave you with, dispatch-wise, at the very start of a non-advanced game? Dispatching to assist with armada construction. So, not much, but the idea is that mostly you will be doing quests at this point, and the the confusing "why would I do this, exactly" dispatches are hidden away until that is considerably more clear and the player has adjusted to the game.
  • The black market is now unlocked notably earlier than it used to be—2 actions after the tech tree, rather than 5.
  • The RCI data is now unlocked substantially earlier than it used to be—2 actions after the black market, now coming before the notifications sidebar, rather than after the notifications sidebar AND graphs.
    • Too much stuff uses the RCI data, and with the new dispatches in particular, we want to make those be available sooner.
  • The intro mission no longer includes turrets, which means that when you start out there are now only three ships visible at all, and all of them are objectives.
    • Thanks to chemical_art for inspiring this change.
  • Removed the research years requirement on "wall turrets," which create those streams of bullets, and added a research years requirement of 8 for taser turrets, which are those things that cause you to stop moving. The latter confuse a lot of new players, so it's best to keep them until later.

Combat Balance

  • The baseline speed of your flagship is now 1/3 what it has been recently. This means that in order to get up to a really good speed, you either have to take several turns doing so, or crank up your engine power. This shift is one of the big reasons for unlocking power management earlier (aside from the fact that people really like that sort of thing).
  • The shield power bar on your power management interface now has a second purpose: increasing or reducing the amount of damage that is applied to your shields when stuff hits them (note that this does NOT affect any damage that "bleeds through" to your ship).
    • At pow 1: 30% more damage.
    • At pow 2: 20% more damage.
    • At pow 3: 10% more damage.
    • At pow 4: normal (default).
    • At pow 5: only 90% of normal damage.
    • At pow 6: only 80% of normal damage.
    • At pow 7: only 70% of normal damage.
    • At pow 8: only 60% of normal damage.
    • A lot of folks felt that the shields were something that could be safely ignored compared to the more obvious benefits of attack and movement. Well, no longer.
  • Fixed an oversight that caused your disruptor shots to be incredibly slow compared to your other weapons.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • On hard difficulty, the speed of all shots except yours now goes up by 30%. On Misery difficulty, they go up by 60%.
  • The firing rate of enemy gravity weapons (except the megalance) has been dropped substantially, and their attack damage has been cut in half.
    • Thanks to Tridus for inspiring this change.
  • Smarter autotargeting for player energy blasters and gravity lances:
    • If an unshielded flagship is nearby, gravity lances of the player will prefer to strike them. Otherwise the logic continues to be "hit as many targets in a line as I can," which often means smaller ships.
    • If a shield flagship is nearby, the energy blasters now prefer to hit whichever one has the lowest shields, and then go back to their normal logic of finding the ships they do the best DPS to in general.
    • These two changes make it so that a lot less manual targeting is needed when you are using the pair of these weapons to take down some flagships. It was really frustrating to have them fire at something "stupid" when the choice of what to fire at is generally obvious. The exception cases are something you should manage manually, rather than the normal cases.
  • Fixed an issue where it was possible to have an unwinnable battle when there were a lot of flagships, because of the flagship throttling making it so that a given side had no flagships able to spawn, but you had to kill those same flagships. Ugh!
    • The game now ensures that if a side has any remaining flagships, it will ALWAYS have at least two of them visible, no exceptions.
    • Thanks to Histidine for the report.

Alpha Version .856

(Released April 11, 2014)

  • Put the "You Are So OP" difficulty level back in the quick start options.
    • Thanks to Tridus for inspiring this change.
  • The amount of time before a new hive queen grows after one is killed is now 4 years rather than the approximately half year it was before.
  • The "Research Specific Technology" political deal with the andors now has a different cost structure and also gives you the technology.
  • The amount of time that truces last is now 3 years rather than 9 months (which is less than half a year).

Combat Balance

  • The attack range and shot speed on all the direct player weapons have been bumped up a bit in response to the prior version's balance changes, in order to make it so that the player shots aren't missing the new faster enemies.
    • Thanks to Mick for inspiring this change (incidentally, I did the first combat in
  • The sine turret, aoe turret, and sniper turrets now have more range than they previously did. The sniper turret has MUCH more.
    • This helps make them a lot less ineffectual as defenses now that ranges of ships are higher in general.
  • The health boost to flagships that was granted a couple of versions ago has been backed off in light of the recent AI changes that made them more interesting in general (along with the tech changes, too, that make things tougher). For about the last day, they were just feeling too buff to be satisfying to kill.
  • The starting number of flagships in the first combat have been reduced from 4 to 2 on normal difficulty mode, so that it is not frustratingly long or hard. There's kind of a fine line there.
    • Thanks to Mick and Tridus for inspiring this change.
  • NPC ships now make an effort to approach at not-dead-on angles when attacking a target, while still being within range of it. Except for interceptors and cutters, those continue to work as before. This makes a notable difference in how the flagships behave relative to you, however (it looks so much cooler, and also is more effective as a tactic).
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for suggesting.

All Actions And Political Deals Now Have Proper Descriptions

  • ALL of the actions and political deals and so forth now have descriptions. This explains some mechanics that previously were completely opaque, such as:
    • What do moon colonies do?
    • What do trade routes do?
    • What do tariffs do?
    • Why kill a hive queen?
    • What are raid ships and why would you recall them?
    • Why kill an evuck council member?
    • Why kill a boarine regent?
    • Why attack the skylaxian senate?
    • The specifics of why you would help build Acutian industrial buildings.
    • The sheer power of a lot of the andor "busybody" deals.
    • How all that stuff with the burlust warlords works.
    • The case-specific incredible awesomeness that is smuggling resistance fighters (and why/when it should otherwise be ignored).

Alpha Version .855

(Released April 11, 2014)

  • The starting RCI value range for races is now -30 to 10, not -10 to 10.
  • The difficulty of the first combat now varies enormously based on your chosen difficulty level. The number of starting flagships that spawn goes up quite a bit as the difficulty goes up. The baseline difficulty is also now higher than before on normal mode, too.
  • Fixed a bug in the first combat where only the first flagship was ever given any squadrons!
  • Your influence with races is now shown directly on the solar map, as an icon with the other icons on each race's icon row. It's definitely important enough to warrant being there!
  • On the population graph window, now when you mouseover a legend item (the race name/icon) it hides all the graph series lines except that of the hovered race.
    • The idea is to help make the graphs more usable fore people with colorblindness that prevents distinguishing 2 or more of the line colors.
    • Thanks to Kingpin23 for inspiring this change.
  • Added a Defend Outpost action that allows you to attack fleets that are trying to destroy an outpost (whether owned by you or someone else).
    • Thanks to Histidine for pointing out the lack of ability to do this before.
  • At the end of each turn where you're still trying to dock with something, a time-left-to-dock bit of text will show over the thing you're docking with.
    • Thanks to Arnos for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug that was preventing the Property Development dispatch from basically working at all.
    • Thanks to windgen and GenScorpius for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where doing Property Development once enabled you to do it again (on the same planet, with the same type of building) in just 1 month, over and over again.
  • Fixed some outdated tooltips for science outposts, manufacturing outposts, and military outposts.
    • Thanks to Mick for the report.
  • The influence and attitude plusses from getting a race to share tech with another race have been substantially reduced (from 30 => 8 and 20 => 6, respectively.
    • Thanks to nas1m for the suggestion.
  • The inflience gain from gifting a tech has been reduced from 10 => 8.
  • Fixed an issue where if a beam was emanating from your ship when it warped off, the beam would remain after the ship left.
    • Thanks to Pepisolo for reporting.
  • At the start of combat, players will no longer ever be closer than range 3000 to any of those nasty activated-already-and-your-enemy hydral tech ships.
    • Thanks to nas1m for reporting his horrible death.
  • Made some adjustments to the flagship-staggering logic such that:
    • Any flagship that was previously visible won't become hidden over the course of a battle. So, for instance, ships that get called in later, like the mercenary hotline, will always appear properly.
    • The cap of flagships is normally still 10, or it is 3 times the number of sides, whichever is greater. So if there are 5 sides, the max is actually 15.
    • Thanks to Histidine for suggesting.

Combat Becomes More Aggressive

  • The funny thing about making a game is that you tend to design it with a certain mode of play in mind. In this particular case, Chris was thinking of players weaving in and out of bullets with their shots, firing at the ships, etc. Did he stop to think much about how the AI would act if you just hung around way on the periphery and took pot-shots at it? Not really.
    • As a complete aside, this is probably why a lot of the RTS AI is so bad against players who turtle. The developers know just what they are doing and are coding the AI to counter rushes and so forth. This is a new thought to us, but it seems like it might be true, at least in some cases.
    • At any rate, this just goes to show you the benefit of testers. Keith and some of the testers were noting that you could use the potshots approach to trade a lot of turns for encounters that could be won more easily simply by doing that. Oh-HO, so we need some AI response to that. The AI was so busy guarding itself from players like Chris that it forgot to go murder players like Keith. So here we are, now it does both.
  • First of all, the AI ships were simply too slow. This was a relic of when the game was realtime, and we needed the ships to be slow enough that you could get some breathing room. Now that is no longer an issue, because we want the ships to be on top of you more of the time. Note that we're not talking about interceptors or (god forbit) hypersonic pods. Those were already fast enough. But things like claymores moved like they had tires stuck in mud.
    • The speed of _shots_ was still perfectly appropriate, and important to stay the same so that players can dodge them, etc. But for the slower enemy ships—and pretty well all their flagships—they could never catch a kiting player. Now they can.
  • Next up, the AI itself has been changed so that more of the AI flocks focus on you at a time, and try to surround you if you let them. This puts you "in the middle of the battle" whether you want to be or not. The game design was expecting you to put yourself in the middle of the battle aggressively, but now if you do not, it brings the battle to you.
    • Granted, there are still some advantages to the kiting method—you keep away from turrets, for one, and you can draw off stragglers and let allies take care of main forces, and whatever else. You can also buy a turn or two of breathing room between enemy ships making passes at you. This is great, because we like to support diverse playstyles. But when a player can trade time/boredom for easy wins, that's a broken mechanic, not a playstyle, so we fixed that bit. ;)

Arms Race In The Tech Tree (And 60 More Techs)

  • Fixed a bug that was causing ship unlocks to actually prevent the ship power upgrades from taking effect properly in recent builds. Facepalm.
    • This was literallly making all of the ship power upgrades completely pointless. Uh... whoops.
  • The strengths of the ground attack and space attack/defense numbers that were increased so heavily last version have now been scaled back to more sane values, because they were leading to ships that had literally like a 200k DPS. One passing minor bullet would implode your ship if you weren't as upgraded as them.
    • Now you will still die a horrible death pretty fast if you are not as upgraded as your foes, but not in one shot. So the upgrades are really important, it's just a matter of prioritizing them.
  • There is a new branch to the tech tree: ship hull and attack power upgrades by ship scale. This is something that Chris has been wanting to do for a while, but just has figured out the optimal way to handle it.
    • There are overall 7 "mark levels" (ala AI War) in terms of upgrades, split between offense and defense, for each scale of ship: SM, MED, LRG, GI, and UNI. Overall this provides 60 more tech, although many of them don't become available until very late in the game (if it lasts that long without victory or defeat), and kind of hastens to cause things to come to a conclusion past a certain point, heh.
    • The higher mark levels only become available after 1, 2.5, 4, 5.5, 7.5, and 10 of relative hours, respectively. So they aren't exactly something you or the AI fly through, which is the idea.
    • This marks the first time that the enemy ships can get hull strength upgrades from techs, or that players can get attack strength upgrades from techs. As long as both do both, then things stay roughly even.
      • However, the benefit to shields goes up at a slightly lower rate than the benefit to hulls does, so the effectiveness of shields winds up diminishing over the course of the game. Not by a huge margin, but definitely some.
      • Additionally, AI races will not naturally research the upgrades for UNI ship scales—which is what your flagship is. So you can't steal that tech from them, you have to research it with someone, or get progressively more outclassed.
    • The overall thing here is that it provides another form of arms race—and of course, having many of those going on at once and bouncing off one another is always great—and it provides one section of the tech tree that is exclusively for the player (the 12 UNI hull and attack upgrades).
      • That said, whichever AI player you research the UNI tech with will of course get it as well, and then other races may steal it or be gifted it.

Voiceovers

  • Eight voice cues for when each race becomes spacefaring have now been integrated.
  • Four voice cues for when bad alliances form have now been integrated.
  • Nine voice cues for when diseases/viruses start.
  • Another 25 voice cues have been added into the game for when various races go to war. There are 3 versions for each race, except for the thoraxians, which have 4.
  • Five voice cues have been added for when wars end.
  • Seven voice cues have been added for when a race loses a planet that is not their last one. Andors don't get one of these since it's not possible for them to have more than one planet.
  • Sixteen voice cues have been added for when a race loses their last planet (two versions for each race).
  • Ten voice cues have been added for when a race captures a planet (one for most races, none for andors, two for burlusts, three for thoraxians).
  • Nine voice cues have been added for when your flagship blows up and you die.
  • Three voice cues have been added for when you lose via the federation falling or other similar circumstances to that—you lose, but you didn't die.
  • Two voice cues have been added for when you are first starting a new game.
  • A voice cue has been added for when the federation first forms.
  • Five voice cues have been added for when inescapable battles are starting.
  • A new voice cue has been added for when you first reach the solar map if tutorials are on.
  • A new voice cue has been added for when you first open your logbook if tutorials are on.

Alpha Version .854

(Released April 11, 2014)

  • The mode glows that show whether a ship is an ally or an enemy have been made vastly more prominent. However, for enemies this only shows up on flagships, to make things less cluttered (and easier on older GPUs).
    • Thanks to Arnos for suggesting.
  • New settings option: Show Red Glow On All Enemies
    • Shows a red glow on all enemies, rather than just enemy flagships. Normally this is not needed, as allies have a blue glow that lets you tell the two apart just fine.
    • Thanks to Arnos for suggesting.
  • New settings option: Allow Game To Run In Background
    • Normally the game gets halted by the underlying Unity engine when it loses focus. However, this may cause graphical artifacts on some computers, so this option allows you to disable that.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for inspiring this change.
  • Made a number of changes to the physics of how the smaller enemy ships move, to keep them in motion more and make them look a little more interesting when they have nothing much to do in particular.
    • What with them not attacking you in the prior version, the need for that became quickly apparent!
  • Fixed a bug where no ships were able to hit "unique" size ships, which included the player ship, sigh.

Alpha Version .853

(Released April 10, 2014)

  • Added a new "Detention Facility" structure that is to be used in some specific quests.
  • The "freighter distress call" quest now works properly.
  • Searching for hydral tech now gives you two abilities, rather than just one.
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting.
  • Fixed a bug that was incorrectly calculating the year for special hydral tech unlock availability, and which was thus causing abilities to no longer be gatherable after a certain point into the game.
  • Fixed a bug that caused fast armada production rates (from high tech levels, etc) to be hard-capped at once per month.
  • Fixed a bug that caused races to sometimes be completely unable to produce buildings through normal industry (because it was trying to fill up a minimum number of defensive armadas but either it was already at the armada-cap or was instantly sending away all new armadas on non-defensive missions).
  • Fixed an issue where weapon switching was saying "skip turn" when it should not have been.
    • Thanks to several players for reporting, including Penumbra, topper, and ru_disa.
  • In the tooltip for your ship's weapons, it now says "Damage Per Second (DPS)" rather than just "DPS." That way in other places it is used there is a key for people who don't know.
    • Thanks to ru_disa for suggesting.
  • Fixed an issue where before your special abilities were unlocked, it was still showing you the DPS they would do when hovering over enemies.
    • Thanks to nas1m and topper for reporting.
  • Added the following text to the end of the "first time you're in attack mode" explanation popup:
    • IMPORTANT: [#b38dff]You are currently in autofire mode[#ffffff]. Unless you change this, then your ship will always pick its own targets to fire at (best ones based on your selected weapon) regardless of where you click. Clicking just confirms your orders. [#b38dff]If you want to attack a specific ship, switch to Select Targets mode[#ffffff] (it's one of the buttons in the bottom left).
    • Thanks to topper for inspiring this change.
  • The "cancel dispatch mission" popup has had its wording redone to make it really clear what is being said. It says "abort" instead of cancel, and "yes and no" instead of "ok and cancel."
    • Thanks to ru_disa for suggesting.
  • Fixed the issue with the dispatch stuff at the top of the screen interfering with the quests stuff—the dispatch stuff now slides down.

Combat Balance

  • On different difficulties, the number of flagships per flotilla no longer goes up. Instead, the health of the NPC flagships is raised by the corresponding amount. This keeps the scale of battles from getting CPU-breakingly crazy on higher difficulties.
  • The "energy vulnerable field" that is on many ships now only increases the damage from energy attacks by 2x, rather than 3x. This keeps the energy blaster in particular from being quite so mandatory all the time.
    • Thanks to zharmad for inspiring this change. NB: The set of following changes are from combat balance suggestions compiled by zharmad, from various feedback up to this point by all alpha testeres. - Z.
  • Structures now have a concussive-vulnerable hull instead of an energy-vulnerable field on them.
    • Thanks to zharmad for inspiring this change.
  • The flagship bounty hunter colossus now has a concussive-vulnerable hull in addition to an energy-vulnerable field.
  • Spy probes, freighters and troop ships, pirate ravens, and thoraxian exterminators no longer have energy-vulnerable field.
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting this change.
  • All gravity lances now fire 3x less frequently, but do 3x more damage. So their DPS is the same, but they do much worse against swarms and much better against large targets.
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting this change.
  • Fixed an issue where shot-leading was not enabled for any of the player weapons. This in particular will benefit the minigun.
    • Thanks to zharmad for reporting.
  • Cutters, and the thoraxian exterminator, no longer have the ability to dodge piercing shots. Piercing shots have also had their attack power reduced to 60% of their prior value.
    • Thanks to zharmad for inspiring this change.
  • Burlust flagships (including warlord ones) no longer have armored hulls resistant to regular bullets.
  • The spreadshot now has 6 more bullets per salvo, and 6 more intermediate angles that it sprays at. This makes it so that it is a lot more effective at just absolutely spraying and area, making it a much more interesting option.
  • The boost to attack power (and penalty to it) when using power management has been reduced so that the effect is not so extreme. The boosts to attack range are still the same.
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting.
  • The movement speed bonuses and penalties for adjusting power to the engines have been reduced in severity in both directions. The boosts to the turning radius are still the same.
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting.
  • The max ammunition of nukes has been reduced from 5 to 1, and their base attack is now up 8x. They also now have an AOE effect that is very nontrivial.
    • Thanks to zharmad for inspiring these changes.
  • The max ammunition of gravity missiles has been reduced from 30 to 5, and their base attack is now up 4x. They also now have an AOE effect that is very nontrivial.
    • Thanks to zharmad for inspiring these changes.
  • Mobile ships no longer have firing cones. Previously only snipers and claymores did, anyhow. This caused some issues with AI that are not worth trying to solve, and visually it was also confusing some folks.
    • Thanks to zharmad for inspiring this change.
  • Operation zero was previously letting off 60 zero interceptors per salvo; now it lets off 20.
    • Thanks to zharmad for inspiring this change.
  • The penalty for using mercenary hotline has been reduced from 20/10 influence loss with allies/enemies to 4/2. It was definitely too high.
    • Thanks to zharmad for inspiring this change.
  • A new rule has been put in place that prevents more than 10 flagships of not-including-you being in a battle at any given time, for performance reasons. However, any flagships that WOULD have been in the battle instead come in waves as others die. This keeps the scale/difficulty, without making it so that your CPU dies a fiery death.

New Technologies, And Tech Balance

  • The ship attack/defense and ground attack values in techs are way way higher now, making them a lot more valuable. Before they didn't have enough of an impact.
    • Thanks to nat_401 for suggesting.
  • Added a new "Unique" (UNI) scale that is larger than Giant (GI), and which is assigned to the player-only prototype flagships, a lot of the AI buildings, and a few other things. From a functional standpoint, hull health and so forth, these are identical in terms of stats. The change is going to come when it gets to some specific techs that will use these as the game progresses.

RCI Adjustments

  • The RCI floor on planets is no longer clamped to -100 (and the positive already was effectively not clamped to +100 for quite some time). The techs that increase the RCI floor to certain values now have much lower floors that they set it to, making it so that the game has negative RCI potentials for a lot longer period of the game.
  • The various things that cause a negative drop in an RCI value from one planet to another now cause much more severe drops, and if there is influence involved, also a much larger loss of influence. This applies to political deals, hostile actions, usage of nukes, and destruction of the various civilian things.
  • In general, negative RCI trends now go down twice as fast as they go up. Which is still not very fast, but you know—adds a bit of tendency toward entropy, which is good.

New Quests

  • Added a new quest type that involves amoral scientists wishing to defect both to be your goon temporarily and more importantly to bring you two pieces of tech, when the economy RCI on their planet is really really bad. See? Sometimes having a bad RCI on a planet is actually a _good_ thing for you. There's no consequence if you don't take this particular kind of quest.
  • New quest involving a terrorist planning to escape from a high-security detention facility. A prison guard knows about this, but his government won't listen. If you fail to act, half the population of the planet will die in a biological attack. If you do act, you'll attract the ire of the government for a seemingly unprovoked attack. Ingrates!
    • Only happens on federation planets of certain races with very low public order.

Solar Map (And Related) Interface Improvements

  • The tooltip area that would replace the bottom bars on the solar map is gone and will not do that anymore; that was actually incredibly frustrating, and moreso the longer you played (in Chris's view). It also led to some text simply not fitting down there and hanging off the bottom of the screen.
  • The tooltips for the notifications on the sidebar now show up directly to the left of the bar itself, so as to make it really convenient for you to read them rather than your eyes having to do "ping-pong" across the screen, as one player noted.
  • The advanced planetary sidebar now uses the new style of tooltips to its left.
  • The tooltips for the quests now show up nicer directly under their window, rather than anchored to the mouse cursor and getting in the way.
  • The tooltips for planets and armadas have been _substantially_ reworked from pretty well every angle, and include more and better information, but still without taking up a ton of room.
  • The quests header moves over to the left if it would otherwise be underneath the advanced planetary details window.
  • The advanced-details sidebar now lists all building and armada construction, with a % completion (and an explanatory tooltip with the budget % put towards that category).
    • Thanks to Vyndicu for inspiring this change.
  • When you have the planet/outpost summary open, it now also shows the advanced details pane to the right side of that if you have unlocked that.
  • Fixed an issue where spy probes were showing twice in the advanced details sidebar.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • Whether or not you have an informant is now shown in the advanced details sidebar.
  • In the advanced node details window, hovering over the value column now also shows a tooltip.
  • The planetary budget info has moved to the advanced node details window, and there are now tooltips explaining what the heck those things actually do!
  • The RCI values, and their tooltips, are now shown on the advanced node details screen.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for helping inspire this addition.
  • Rewrote the planet type descriptions to not reference the old resource model.
  • The advanced node details screen now includes the location type, the owner, your influence with the owner (if it's not you), and (if it is you) what it is outsourced to do (if it is).
  • The advanced node details now also includes the alliance the owner is in, if any.
  • The race summary window has now been removed, as it was really an outdated sort of thing and all its information is better-displayed elsewhere now. Specifically it was a subscreen of the node summary screen. The node summary screen now wraps the functionality of that and the advanced node details all into one package, so the duplication is no longer needed.
  • If there is an event at a location, the advanced details now shows it. Same with diseases.
  • The racial compatibility with the current location is now shown in the advanced details, and an explanation of the racial compatibilities is in the game fo rthe first time.

Alpha Version .852

(Released April 9, 2014)

  • Technologies now have a minimum year before they can be researched, which was not the case before. This prevents races with a huge amount of science skill, or with a huge amount of help from you, from just being a runaway exploit. But it also let's us balance some things that negatively affect you against the amount of time it takes you to get better hydral techs, etc.
    • Also also, it lets us start the tech tree out with a ton of items dimmed way out, making it clear that they just aren't options at all, yet. That way the tech tree isn't so overwhelming from the start, and it gradually grows as time passes.
  • The tech progress screen now tells you how many techs there are in general, and how many of those are currently unavailable because of the current year (which it also shows you, since that's particularly relevant on this screen).
  • There is now a mild explanation note that pops up when you first go into your logbook, letting you know that the solar map automatically pauses when you're not looking at it. Because, yes, some of you are that paranoid. ;)
  • The black market (and by extension all the other tutorial-related things that come after that), is now triggered by being 5 actions of any sort after the tech tree unlock, rather than being after the flagship power management unlock, which requires combats. Basically, if you played peaceably and did not do a bunch of combat, then the rest of the non-combat-related tutorials were not showing up for you. Whoops!
    • Thanks to nas1m for reporting.
  • Fixed a longstanding minor bug where particle effects were not reacting fully to sped-up simulations.
  • The race relations screen has gotten a major visual upgrade to its backgrounds, to look a lot more attractive.
  • The population and armada graphs have had visual detailing added to them to make them look snazzier.
  • The racial power grid has been snazzied-up now as well.
  • The technology grid has gotten a substantial snazzying-up.
  • When looking at a race or location, the notifications log is now a lot prettier, giving you a great view of the race or planet portrait without sacrificing readability.
  • The actions/political deals screens are no longer these big dark affairs. They now show a much smaller bounding area around just the pieces of the screen that are relevant to content, and then let you see the background behind the rest.
  • Fixed an issue where a whole slew of background art was never actually being used (!!), and somehow we didn't notice this all this time. The hostile and friendly action screens are supposed to be using the city backgrounds for the planets, and the exterior backgrounds for the outposts, and now they do. Part of it was you couldn't really see the backgrounds too well before, but with the shifts this version now you can!
  • Previously, the tooltips over buttons in the bottom bar of the solar map would annoyingly get in your way. This has been changed such that they now instead anchor above the bottom bar in a way that is still close by but not in your way of viewing the buttons themselves.
  • Updated the look of the freestanding tooltips in the game to be more in keeping with the rest of the GUI.
  • The "assist orbital bombardment" mission type has been removed, as it was all kinds of broken and also niche enough not to be worth fixing.
  • The two events "bounty for resource type" and "desperate need for resource type" have been removed, as they were not things that made too much sense in the new model of resources. They were holdovers from older versions of the game.
  • Fixed a number of typos.
    • Thanks to Darloth, alocritani, Cyborg, doctorfrog, and nas1m for reporting.
  • The text after missions where X number of months of relative time were spent (generally very short) no longer claims to show a replay, because it zips by too fast.
    • Thanks to Arnos and Darloth for reporting.
  • Now when a contract will result in starting a new econ/medical/etc trend on a planet, but that planet already has a trend, it also lists the result that the previous trend will end.
  • Fixed several bugs with contracts where you select a related race and then something else (like a tech, for tech-sharing deals). This was allowing, for instance, having the Peltians give the Acutians Basic Subatomic Theory over, over, over, and over again.
    • Thanks to Mick and nas1m for the reports and saves.
  • Contract consequence prediction/result text for influence and attitude changes now also includes the current/resulting value, for context.
    • Thanks to mrhanman for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug that was preventing the following racial actions (so the races doing it themselves, not via your dispatch) from doing their completion logic:
    • Building any kind of outpost.
    • Building a planet cracker.
    • Igniting a gas giant.
    • Researching a new hull type.
    • Infecting an enemy planet.
    • Evuck spy probes (tech stealing).
  • Fixed a bug where doing a Smuggle In Resistance Fighters mission was not actually putting you into the combat.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where starting a duel with a burlust warlord would bring you back to the main politics screen and keep it open despite being in combat now.
    • Thanks to alocritani for the report.
  • Expanded the help-against-invaders and help-invaders actions to also work against/with attacking pirate fleets.
    • Thanks to alocritani and Darloth for pointing out that there wasn't actually a way to intervene in a pirate-vs-planet conflict.
  • Now when an outpost is destroyed, it is logged in the sidebar event log. If it was player-controlled at the time it uses a special type of entry.
    • Thanks to alocritani for pointing out how there could be no particular indication that this had happened during a dispatch fast-forward or whatever.
  • Assassin fights no longer pull in nearby fleets, to avoid various logic interaction problems.
    • AFA fights still pull stuff in, as they don't have the kinds of special logic the assassin fights do.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for the report of the oddities with the assassin fights.
  • The defend-against-splinter-factions action previously just chopped a certain number of months off the remaining duration of the splinter-faction event. Now it reduces that remaining duration to zero (causing to end promptly).
    • Thanks to Kingpin23 for inspiring this change.
  • The Outpost Details screen now includes a note if it is under your control, and includes a second note if that outpost is currently outsourced (saying for what and for how much longer).
    • Thanks to alocritani for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug where the gift-outpost action always gave 20 gifts influence for the outpost's original owner (the one you stole it from) in addition to 20 gifts influence for the race you're giving the outpost to.
    • Thanks to alocritani for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where the raid-planet-for-tech influence penalty could trigger even when failing the mission.
    • Thanks to alocritani for the report.
  • Fixed a bug with the andor speak-on-your-behalf deal where it wasn't asking you to choose race (for the andors to increase your influence with), and thus couldn't actually work at all.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for the report.
  • Previously the help-defenders-against-invaders action was specified to only make an invading race hostile to you personally if your influence with them was below a certain point. This led to some cases where the combat would be over before it started (due to there not being any hostile-to-you ships at all), so now all the invading sides will be hostile to you in that type of combat.
    • Thanks to Cinth, alocritani, waylon531, and Darloth for bringing this to our attention.
  • Fixed a bug where the consequence prediction/result for selling raw resources (at the black market) would always list 100 as the quantity, rather than whatever you'd selected.
    • Thanks to Mick for the report.

Quests System

  • A new "quests" system has been implemented. This system responds to the underlying simulation gamestate, and in particular the RCI values actually, and provides up to two quests at a time that are up at the top of your solar map. These quests tend to involve combat for some sort of large solar map payoff.
    • The catch is that when you take one quest, it prevents you from taking the other. And if you let quests pass, or fail them in general, then something "negative" happens. Negative is in quotes there, because actually you may find that whatever bad thing happens is happening to someone you hate, so actually it's a good thing. You'll still lose influence with them, but maybe you just don't care.
    • The idea with this system is to do a few things.
      • Firstly, it adds another more personal thematic level to the game, making you feel closer to an individual level (you get appeals from individual aliens, typically, with these—rather than full governments like usual).
      • Secondly, it provides an obvious sort of hook for "what should I do next." You won't always do the quests, and obviously you won't always do both since you can't -- and there won't always even BE any quests. But even so, it gives more direction to have two options up at the top of your screen rather than 200+ (literally) options throughout... let's see... well, at least 24 different screens, but really a little more than that.
        • That said, this doesn't remove or replace any of the pre-existing stuff. And in fact it is leveraging a lot of the pre-existing stuff, just tying it in more thematically and giving you more overt plusses and minuses rather than the mini-steps that were often there before. So this sits alongside everything else that came before, and while it may take center-stage by the time this is fully built out, it's definitely not replacing the older stuff.
      • Thirdly, from a balance point of view, this provides more ways for you to keep the game clipping along at a brisk pace, while at the same time providing more opportunity costs that are in-your-face. And more severe in general. That was always a favorite thing of Chris's about AI War is how overt those opportunity costs were at the most-macro scale, and this now provides that.
    • A really important thing to note is that right now there are hardly any quest types, and there is a gap between when quest types are allowed to repeat, as well as a bunch of restrictions on when quests can happen in the first place. We will be adding a ton more quest types very soon, but in the meantime you won't be seeing very many quests, just as an FYI. More are coming!
  • The first quest is now complete: it involves scientists of a race being "almost done" with a technology that they refuse to tell you the name of. They can complete it if you show them a bit of the hydral tech on your ship. If you accept, you have to fight through an armada from an antagonist race to the first race, which comes up to blockade you (if there are no available antagonist races with armadas available, this quest just doesn't come up because it would be pointlessly easy). Anyway, you get to fight them with the aid of the client race's turrets and defenses, but not their armadas.
    • If you win, they and you get the tech.
    • If you lose, or ignore the quest or take another quest instead, then the race gets a bit put off by that (influence drop), but otherwise nothing happens.
    • Oh, this also only happens when the medical score for the race in question is really high.
  • The second quest is now complete: it involves a distress call from a freighter that has been set upon by pirates. The race in question must have an Economic RCI that is at least 20 for this to happen, and there has to be a pirate base of another race out there. The battle here is immense—a lot of pirates are descending upon 20 freighters in a convoy. You win if at least one survives and all the enemies are dead.
    • If you win, you get between 1000 and 1500 of a random resource per freighter in gratitude, plus some influence with the race.
    • If you lose, or ignore the quest or take another quest instead, then the race gets a bit put off by that (influence drop), and all their planets take a 20-point hit to Econ.

Combat Stuff

  • Previously, the rules for shield recharge were just way too friendly. As soon as you got hit, your shields were already quickly recharging. Now your ship does not recharge its shield for the remainder of any turn in which it is damaged.
    • This makes it so that you can't just bull through defenses like you used to be able to; you'll die.
  • Fixed a bug where races were never researching new hull types, which meant the racial flagships were never showing up.
    • Thanks to Histidine for reporting.
  • The spreadshot no longer tries to react to where your "mouse is" or says anything about that in its tooltip, as that was an outdated thing from the old realtime combat mode.
    • Thanks to Mick, Darloth, and Histidine for reporting.
  • Your hull health bar now does a sort of fading glow when you're under 40% health.
  • Now in missions where the objective is to capture a ship: when you get within 1000 range of the capturable, all hostile ships go after you.

New Civilian Structures In Combat

  • Added two new civilian structures (the last two that will be added pre-1.0):
    • Zero Grav Hospital
      • If Destroyed: Fully heals your hull health and shields via neutrino tachyon awesome-beams.
    • Security Station
      • Careful not to shoot this, as it's made of duct tape and kindling, and flies apart in the slightest breeze. If destroyed, lets off some angry squadrons you then have to deal with.
    • This is embarassing, but due to time constraints Chris didn't have time to test these at all. So if they don't work, please let him know and provide a save if you can. Things are just nuts right now. :/

Improvements To The First Mission

  • The first mission is no longer remotely so simplistic. Fine, so it's demoralizing to lose the first mission—that's understood. That said, waiting to actually show what the game is capable of is... deadly, when it comes to the press in particular, but players as well. The first mission now does a much better job of showing off what the game is capable of in terms of interesting battles.
  • The first mission now has two possible victory conditions: either kill the two flagships, like you always have, or now you can dock with a survey platform instead.
    • Survey Platform
      • Docking with this is a way to make some amends for stealing their first flagship. You'll give them 8 techs and gain 60 influence in return. Worth it? Hard to say—it makes them much more friendly to you, but also makes them much more dangerous.
  • There are now three constellations of turrets in the first mission, with defensive structures inside them. These provide a substantially greater challenge, and introduce the player to turrets right away.

SFX Additions

  • 140 new sound effects added to the sound banks of the game, although not all of them will be used immediately. And a great many of these are variants off of one another, to give variety when the same sort of sound would otherwise be playing over and over.
  • Space battles on the solar map are now full of all sorts of sound effects, with things exploding, ground fights booming, the laser fire of ships hitting one another, etc.
  • When the chatter or tips windows are opened, it now plays a mild sound effect.
  • When you confirm flagship customization, there is now a sound effect.
  • When you move your flagship between planets, there is now a "flyby" sound.
  • When a new notification appears on your sidebar, a low sound now plays (as a general case; unless something more specific is noted for the given action or event type).
  • When a race becomes spacefaring, there is now an audio cue.
  • When a war is declared from one race to another, there is now an audio cue.
  • When something really bad happens—usually a planetcracker or gas giant ignition starting or ending or the evucks infecting an enemy planet or a space installation being sabotaged or a race catching a disease or an informant of yours dies, there is now an audio cue.
  • When a race loses a planet, there is now an audio cue.
  • When a race loses their LAST planet, there is now a different audio cue.
  • When a race joins the federation, there is now an audio cue.
  • When a bad alliance forms, there is now an audio cue.
  • There's now quite a bit more noise when your ship is taking shield or hull damage. :)

Solar Map Visual Enhancements

  • Now when you move to a different spot on the metamap it briefly animates a ship hopping from point to point for visual feedback. The movement itself is still instant, this is just an animation.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for inspiring this change.
  • Armadas that are engaged in combat in the solar map now draw little gravity lance lines periodically as they damage one another. These are colorized by race so that again you can see who is doing what in kind of visceral way. This is really just eye candy, because the numbers are right above there and are easier to interpret. But it does make things feel more alive, AND it makes it clear when ships are actually engaged in combat as opposed to just loitering around, which was definitely not clear before.
    • Thanks to _K_ for suggesting.
  • There are now actually visual explosions when armadas and outposts explode, rather than them just disappearing.
    • Thanks to _K_ for suggesting.
  • When planets are bombed, they now shudder a slight bit, and actually show the bombs hitting the surface of the planet, lighting it up. Now you can tell when a planet is being bombed just by looking at it, versus when hostile fleets are being engaged.
  • When the ion cannons from a planet fire at an armada in orbit around them, they now show a graphic indicating such.
  • When there is ground fighting going on at a planet, you now see roiling clouds of black smoke puffing up on the planet's surface to indicate this.
  • The RCI Values for planets now only show if you are hovering over them with your mouse cursor, even if the show planet overlays option is on.
    • Thanks to Darloth for suggesting.
  • Added a new settings option: Show "RCI Values" On All Planet Overlays
    • Normally you only see the "RCI Values" in the tooltip of a planet you are hovering over. This keeps the solar map from getting too cluttered; but if you want to always see this info, then by all means turn this option on.
    • Thanks to Darloth for inspiring this addition.

Alpha Version .851

(Released April 7, 2014)

  • The smuggle spacefaring tech missions have been rebalanced heavily, with the player starting further away and the spy drones starting waaaay more spread out. This makes the early spacefaring tech missions pretty easy, by design, but later ones will still stack up enough drones to be... really hard.
    • Thanks to zharmad and Misery for suggesting.
  • There are now WAAAAY more constellations of turrets in the smuggle spacefaring techs, so that they aren't completely trivial when the probes are more spread out.
  • When you run a "smuggle spacefaring tech" mission, it now gives you variable negative influence with other spacefaring races based on the race you are giving it to. This is baked into each race, it doesn't react circumstantially. Everyone freaks out when you smuggle to the Thoraxians, for instance, but the Thoraxians hardly bat an eye when you smuggle to anyone else.
    • This also fixes the issue of races being angered at the giving of spacefaring tech to themselves (whoops!).
  • Removed a rule from the raid-freighter missions where the player was specifically not allowed to shoot the freighters (in other words, the shots would do zero damage).
    • Note: this won't apply to old saves that were made during a fight with such a freighter, as the flag was applied to the ships themselves rather than the ship type, being scenario-specific. But future raid missions after that would be fine.
    • Thanks to Mick for reporting that it was expecting you to destroy them but not letting you.
  • To help avoid flagships stacking on top of each other:
    • In a constellation fight, enemies of the constellation side now seed considerably further out (rather than on top of the defenses), and then move in.
      • Ships friendly to the constellation side seed 1 flagship per constellation (instead of packing them _all_ on constellation patrol, major stacking there), and then seed the rest along an inner ring that moves outward (to the same distance as the enemies are closing to, actually)
      • Ships neutral to the constellation side seed on a middle-distance ring.
    • In a non-constellation fight (which are actually somewhat rare, aside from special scenarios that use totally different seeding rules, iirc) a similar setup is used but instead is relative to who is friendly/neutral/enemy to the player.
    • Constellations are more careful to not overlap each other.
    • Turrets seeded so as to actually overlap any other unit are now removed from the game before combat starts.
  • Most general forms of multi-party conflict no longer consider it a mission failure when you withdraw. Instead it's just "indeterminate." You're there to help some and then get out, not stay and get slaughtered. Some of these battles are literally unwinnable, and that's supposed to be A-OK. That's not a balance bug, that's you doing a hit and run.
    • If there are places where you are still being penalized in situations that sound like they should be covered under this, then please let us know. We have not yet remotely tested all of the affected cases, as there are quite a few.
  • All of the operational abilities no longer slave the weapons of their ships to yours (finally got around to that!).
    • Also, all of the operational abilities now spawn 3x as many ships as they did previously. But they all also now only have 1 use per battle, too.
  • The Kamichi Interceptors no longer do that thing where they speed up insanely too much and go off on their own to die.

More Tutorial-ish Stuff

  • The little intro story to the game when you first start a campaign has been expanded slightly to give a slight bit better view of the backstory and in particular your overarching goals. The idea is to get you going into the game as quickly as possible without having to make you watch the 4-minute story video first. This lets you skip that entirely and still know what's going on, and we'll later be including the "story video" as something that you can optionally view as kind of an expanded log entry if you visit the remains of the hydral planet on the map. That way there is no "how long does this thing go on for, I just want to play!" right when you first get into the game. And no sense of "why am I doing this, again?" without seeing it.
  • The You Are So OP and Misery combat difficulties no longer appear on the Quick Start screen. The former really should not be needed unless somebody just wants to goof around (which is fine), and the latter is really not something we want a new player accidentally choosing.
  • The very first time that you go into a smuggle spacefaring tech mission, one of those popups now informs you of what is going on, and how these get progressively harder as you do more of them.
  • Once you have your special abilities unlocked, the first time you enter a mission that disables special abilities, it lets you know what is going on with a popup. The text about each mission (in the tooltip box) already tells you this, but it's something that needs a bit of extra-pointing-out.
  • The reward for delivering spacefaring tech is now only 5k Credit, not 10k.
  • The first time you are in a capture-something style mission, it now has a brief popup explaining what to do.
  • The first time you are in a really big battle that might be unwinnable, it now has a popup explaining what to do. This is not a bug, this is not a balance issue, and the game now explains how you're supposed to deal with this sort of situation so that folks don't wonder if it is some sort of error. ;) Attack Local AFA missions, we're looking at you (although to be fair, withdrawing from those being a failure state WAS a bug).
  • The first time you are in a multi-race battle where each race has at least one flagship, it now shows a popup explaining about that, and how to see what the stances of the races are relative to one another and you.
  • The first time you do spy probe and smuggler local attack missions, it now shows a popup explaining a tiny bit about them.
  • The tech tree introduction now includes one final page in it about how you can recruit informants, and how you can then steal tech from the races. Doubly useful tip, since it hits two pieces in one.

Alpha Version .850

(Released April 6, 2014)

  • Updated the solar map intro notes to reflect the actual current mechanics there. Also the combat notes to be both briefer and more accurate.
  • When you hit escape during the playing of a set of narrative pages, it now cancels the entire group, rather than just skipping to the next page. If there are multiple groups (several groups of things to tell you at once that are unrelated), then it only cancels one group, not all of them. This has been bugging Chris for some time, and you can see him flubbing with it slightly in the videos he's done.
  • All of the prior "narrative pages" that get shown during a game now get saved to your logbook, and you can then view them again any time you like.
    • Thanks to alocritani for suggesting.
  • Savegames are now compressed; previously, they were not, but now we're saving a lot more string data what with the notification histories and the logbooks, etc. In a test game 10 hours in, the compression ratio reduced the file size to 21% of its previous value.
  • A number of windows now respond to the mouse wheel for scrolling themselves: the technology progress window, the ship type details window in combat, the race attitude bar graph window, the after-contract-results window (though that is not likely to be needed, really), the logbook window, and your inventory window.

Solar Map Stuff

  • Fixed a bug where the Destroy-Pirate-Base and such missions would sometimes not actually bring along the allies you'd requested because of the recently added rules preventing war against a recently-spacefaring race.
    • Thanks to zharmad for the report and save.
  • Fixed a bug where the Release Prisoners actions were not considered non-combat, and so wouldn't actually work unless there was something around to fight (though the fight would not actually happen).
    • Thanks to zharmad for the report.
  • Added a rule where Release Prisoners is not subject to the "do you have enough influence to do political deals in this category?" logic.
    • Thanks to zharmad for the suggestion.
  • The Ignite Gas Giant and Acutian Planet Cracker racial actions are now ineligible for their selection until 4 game-hours have elapsed.
  • The Piratical Exodus racial action is now ineligible until the first game-hour has elapsed.
  • The rate at which piratical-exodus (and martial-law) generates pirate bases is now governed by the overall metamap-speed-dial, which is currently set to 0.2 and thus divides the rate of those things by 5.
    • The rate at which pirate fleets themselves spawn has been similarly dialed back.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting how fast pirate growth was.
  • Spy Probe production and Smuggler growth are now also under the dial.
    • Skirmisher production, too.
  • On the smuggle-spacefaring mission you now lose the influence with already-spacefaring races regardless of whether you alert any probes.
  • All of the criminal activities now cost you Credit appropriately. The assassinations and other political attacks are now VERY expensive (it was a bug that they were free), while the other things like raiding a convoy just require a token 100 Credit payment to your informant.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reporting the game-breaking exploit with assassinations!
  • Fixed a bug where the months-left display at the top of the screen during a dispatch did not account for goon assistance or previous progress already made.
    • Thanks to Histidine for the report.
  • Fixed several issues with the next-election-time prediction logic on the andor political screen having rather little to do with the actual time at which said election would actually take place.
    • Thanks to Misery, alocritani, and others for the reports.
  • Prisoners can now only be freed by 3s, since that's the increment in which they give you influence.
    • Thanks to GenScorpius for suggesting.
  • Directly after each action the player takes (political deal, dispatch, combat, whatever) the solar map now pauses. This lets players catch their bearings a little bit, and it's also something that prevents the "runaway speed stuck on" after dispatches.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle, Histidine, Professor Paul1290, and Cyborg for reporting.
  • "Speak on your behalf" no longer costs you "asking for favors" influence with the Andors.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for suggesting.
  • Fixed a longstanding issue where the clickable/hoverable area of the planets and so forth on the solar map was not remotely as large as they were supposed to be. The solar map feels a lot more responsive with that fixed!
  • The tooltips for the four RCI values now explain the general sorts of things that are affected by their state being low.
    • Thanks to GenScorpius for suggesting.

Planetary Offense And Defense

  • Three new tech/building pairs have been added: Planetary Ion Cannons, Bomb Shelters, and Regional Blast Shields.
  • The Evucks now always start with the Planetary Ion Cannons tech unlocked, and with 2 ion cannons pre-built on their first world.
    • These do damage to enemy fleets attakcing the planet, each day.
  • The Peltians now always start with the Bomb Shelters tech unlocked, and with 4 bomb shelters pre-built on their first world.
    • These somewhat reduce casualties from orbital bombardment.
  • The regional blast shields, if developed, provide remarkably good protection against bombardment casualties, and also dramatically reduce the chance that a building will be destroyed by an Orbital Bomber firing upon the planet during a player-involved combat.
  • Planets under overwhelming attack (more than twice as many attackers in orbit as defenders), their armada production rate is now halved. This helps avoid situations where massive attack fleets are unable to bombard or invade because there's always an armada or two popping out of new production.

Notifications (The Sidebar) Improvements

  • The underlying data structure of notifications for the sidebar has been greatly simplified and made more flexible. It does make savegames larger, but it helps us avoid a number of bugs as well as insert custom notification-specific information wherever we need to, which is a good tradeoff.
    • One side effect of this is that the sidebars of all older savegames will now be devoid of notifications, since they could not be upconverted to the new format.
  • The notification sidebar has been shifted 30px to the left in order to prevent panning of the viewport when you are using the scrollbars of the sidebar.
  • Added a new "Suppress Minor Notifications On Sidebar" option in the Extras tab of settings, which is on by default.
    • There are a variety of minor race actions and minor events that happen in the solar system, and while it is nice to be able to go back into the log and see those things, it's not nice to always have those shoved in your face to sort through on the main sidebar. With this on, the minor notifications go to the log but not to the sidebar. If you'd rather see everything, then just turn this off!
    • Actually the vast majority of events, and most of the most-common actions, fall under this category. The things matter, insofar as they are showing how the solar system is changing and evolving, but they are not things that need to be like "warning! pay attention!" which is what the sidebar is about. The actual important things tend to get lost in the shuffle if there are too many notifications. Then again, if that floats your boat to see everything, you can still do it.
    • Thanks to doctorfrog and Sounds for suggesting.
  • In the description of notifications about technologies being researched, it now shows not just the name of the tech, but also its description.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for suggesting.
  • Improved the bleed-through of clicks and hovering behind the notifications sidebar so that that sort of thing doesn't happen anymore.
  • The notifications along the right-hand side of the solar map previously only kept the last 50 at most, and if you clicked them then they were just gone forever as well. Now there is a little button thing below that sidebar that says "older notifications" and which lets you go back and see any and all notifications that have happened in the current game (as noted already, notifications from all older savegames don't carry forward, though).
    • Better yet, this notifications view includes both major and minor events, and color-codes them. So if you have the default filter of "only show me important stuff" on for the sidebar itself, you can still click into this view to see... everything.
    • Thanks primarily to doctorfrog and Sounds for inspiring these changes.
  • The notifications history window now allows multi-level filtering by race and/or by the type of icon shown, by clicking entries in those columns. This is really useful for seeing the frequency of certain types of events, or who did what sort of research lately, or who has been the warmakers and how frequently, or whatever.
  • You can now get at your logbook and the notification history directly through the escape menu at any time, even during battle. This is useful if you want to check the context of things for some reason—not something to use terribly often, frankly, but hey.
  • The event logs for locations and action logs for races have been replaced by the one notification history view, but just filter into it on specific sub-views. This makes them all more attractive and more uniform, and gives all the expanded functionality to all three use cases at once. For instance, you can now see events that affected a race in their log, whereas previously you could not.

Combat Stuff

  • The freighters in the Raid Pirate Convoy mission are no longer invincible, as this was confusing (and the rules had apparently already been changed to require destruction of the freighters for victory, anyway).
    • Note: if you have a save in the middle of a raid-pirate-convoy mission those freighters will still be invincible, but no future missions will have invincible freighters.
    • Thanks to Kuer, GenScorpius, and zharmad for bringing this to our attention.
  • Mousing over a ship (other than yours) now always causes the attack range of that ship to draw, rather than you having to hold the show-attack-ranges keybind to see it.
    • Thanks to nas1m for the suggestion.

Certain Missions Without Special Abilities

  • Special abilities of any kind are no longer allowed to be used in the following combat types:
    • Dueling Burlust Warlords (it's a "matter of honor" here.)
    • Attacking local spy probes (the spy probes emit a field that interferes).
    • Smuggling spacefaring tech (the spy probes again)
    • Raid Hydral technology lab (that field again)
    • Why this shift? Well, on the one hand, this is easier to balance these particular types of encounters. But on the others, giving the player great power and then sometimes taking it away in limited scenarios (none of these are frequent fights, comparably speaking) can be something that is unsettling in a good way, and which makes the player think in a different fashion.

Tutorials! And Complexity Gating

  • The game now has a complexity-gating system where various game mechanics get unlocked gradually as you play through the game, with an explanation as each new thing is introduced.
    • If you do not like this—for instance, you already know how to play just fine—then there is an option under Advanced Start to turn this off. But this is always on with Quick Start, as it's pretty essential to the new player experience, to say the least. People getting overwhelmed with too much stuff that is irrelevant to a new player was one of the game's biggest problems in terms of new player enjoyment.
  • All of the technology-related stuff (seeing the tech grid, gifting or researching technologies with race partners, etc) are all blocked until after you have completed your second action (combat, whatever) after the first combat.
    • It then shows an explanation of what the technology stuff is all about, and archives that in your logbook (with all other narrative-style pages) so that you can then refer back to that at any time.
  • After you have unlocked the technology tree and then won two more combats (specifically combats, not actions in general), then the game unlocks flagship customization and special abilities in general. Prior to that, you now no longer have special abilities at all.
    • New players were often particularly overwhelmed with having half a dozen options that they may or may not have any use for at that time. And frankly the early battles are easy enough that it's good to learn how to dodge and deal with them without having to rely on abilities to clear shots or otherwise circumvent the basic combat rules, anyhow. By the time you're just getting a firm grasp on the basics of combat, it then introduces this new half dozen things.
    • Notably, the removal of abilities from early battles also makes the interface elements that remain—the weapon selection and weapon mode selection, for instance—all that much more easily noticeable.
  • After you have unlocked the special abilities and then completed any new action, then the game unlocks the black market. Prior to that, the black market does not even appear in the solar system.
    • None of the black market stuff is relevant super early into the game for a new player, so it's one less thing to distract a new player. During the black market tutorial, it also explains about buying guns and abilities, as well as hiring goons, which are both important points that players may otherwise take a long time to discover on their own.
  • After you have unlocked the special abilities and then won three more combats, then the game unlocks power management for your flagship. Prior to that, the power management bars just show as blank, and manage themselves contextually from the baseline 4/4/4 power distribution.
    • Power management is certainly something that is exciting to players, but it's one of those things that doesn't need to be right in the face of a new player, because it just adds to the complexity of the initial HUD. One thing at a time! Within reason.
    • During this tutorial, it gives you a visual representation side-by-side of the differences in turning arcs at the default, lowest, and highest power levels. It also explains about waypoints, which players may or may not have found on their own prior to this.
    • This also explains about automatic power management, which many players otherwise take to be a "bug." And it also explains about why automatic management doesn't make manual management pointless, but instead how it just obviates the need for trivial fiddling.
    • All of the above are things that have come up as points of confusion from our testers, which we get to explain at a time where it will actually mean something to players. Aka, they're no longer just trying to get to grips with the basics of the game itself, so the information we're conveying should be something that can actually be absorbed by this point.
  • After you have unlocked the black market and then completed any three new actions, then the game unlocks the ability to see event and action notifications, and the notifications sidebar (plus all the related screens to that.
    • Prior to this point, you can see the active event on planets, and any drastic actions a race is taking on a planet (though it's almost certain none would happen in that timeframe now). However, players aren't bombarded by information about the comings and goings of the solar system until they get a bit more used to their own role in it first.
    • Even with the scaled-back number of notifications that go to the sidebar (as opposed to the new permanent log), making players keep up with that too early in the game is just one more piece of overwhelming information when you're new, we've seen.
    • Among other things, this also takes the opportunity to explain how the new notifications screen works, and how you can use the filters to your advantage. It also points out (thanks to doctorfrog) that the icons on the sidebar are color-coded by race, since that's not innately obvious.
  • After you have unlocked the notifications sidebar and then completed any two new actions, the game unlocks the ability to see the graphs on the solar map.
    • Prior to this point, no graphs are visible, but they are still collecting data.
    • Is restricting the graphs until this point strictly necessary? No. But early in the game, you also really don't have any historical questions worth answering, so the graphs don't serve much point until you have some data built up over time. By the time these become available, there's actually the start of something meaningful to look at. And in the meantime, that's a few less buttons to overwhelm players who are getting into the solar map for the first time.
  • After you have unlocked the graphs and then completed any two new actions, the game unlocks the ability to see the "RCI values" (Economic, Medical, Environmental, and Public Order) values and trends on planets—and it reveals the various political deals related to them.
    • Prior to this point, you can't see the RCI data, but it is still doing its thing behind the scenes.
    • Is restricting the RCI data until this point necessary? Oh man, yes. This has been one of the biggest points of obsession with early alpha players, where they fixate on these numbers to an unhealthy degree. The new tutorial here explains what they are, what they effect, what trends are, and why you should not obsess over them.
  • After you have unlocked the RCI data and then completed any two new actions, the game unlocks the ability to start thinking about forming the federation.
    • Prior to this point, you couldn't see any of the political deals relating to forming the federation, but now they become available for your consideration.
    • Explaining the many ways that the federation can be formed is mildly complicated, because there really is no one way to do it. It depends on what governments you go through, what your influence is like with all the various races, and so on. So making sure that the players have gotten a good little ways into the game and are comfortable with the generalities of both combat and the solar map is important before they start trying to figure out how to win. Nothing they will have done prior to this point will make it impossible to win. Certain avenues may have partially closed off or opened up based on their unwitting actions, but that's just part of the unique story that they are experiencing with that campaign.
    • Overall, "how do I form the federation" has been one of the biggest questions from testers, and it's one that we feel like deserved a fittingly complete explanation... but that requires prerequisite knowledge, also hence all the earlier tutorial steps first. This tutorial bit also explains a bit about the AFA and hostile alliances, although it doesn't go into great detail; those become pretty clear as they arise, anyway.
  • After you have unlocked the federation stuff and then completed any two new actions, the game unlocks the ability to see the advanced planet details.
    • Prior to this point, you couldn't see that, because it was kind of overkill information. Information overload was a big complaint from a lot of players in early alpha testing, and helping new players sort through the most-important information first, and then later getting to the detailed behind-the-scenes data, is the reason for this particular gating.
    • The info on this panel is actually super useful, but honestly if this is your first time playing, you don't need it before this point.

Explanation Popups

  • The game now contains a smaller brief "explanation popup" tutorial mechanism, where things can trigger an in-the-moment explanation that then gets logged permanently to your logbook for later reference if you so desire. These are shorter explanations that are highly contextual, and they don't gate any functionality.
    • These are also under the aegis of the entire tutorial system, so if you turn off tutorials then these also don't come up at all. Incidentally, if you are in observer mode then none of the tutorial stuff shows up at all, either.
  • The popups and confirm popups no longer disable the rest of the interface—their visuals have been updated to no longer be so transparent, and so it's no longer important. This lets you actually inspect the interface while popup messages are being shown to you, which is pretty important!
  • The "welcome to combat" old-style message has now been wrapped into the explanation text popups, and thus shows up in your log, etc. It has also been split into two more-succinct parts, with nice highlighting and better context and less of a wall-of-text feel.
  • A new explanation popup happens when you first clear a notification from your sidebar. It explains why it just disappeared, why you might want to keep clicking items (to remember which ones you've already seen), and that the full log is below and has a full record of anything you just hid anyway.
  • The explanation that pops up when you first reach the solar map has been updated to the new style, and completely rewritten. It now gives some general advice on what to do first, and also particularly advises you not to worry about trying to start the federation yet. Before it was a lot of fluff and too-broad generalizations, then just dumped you there.

Alpha Version .820

(Released April 5, 2014)

Solar-Map-Related Stuff

  • Mapgen now prevents seeding stuff such that it would overlap unduly with the planetary-overlay data of a seeded homeworld.
  • There is now an option in the overlays tab on the solar map—default to OFF—that lets you click armadas to attack them, like it used to.
    • This option does not work in observer mode, so those older bug reports about observer mode being able to get into fights are still not a thing.
    • This was a toggle we had planned to put in place anyway, and we had the button all ready in the past. Because Chris felt like the option to click fleets needed to be something that people explicitly opted in to, because otherwise they were getting confused when it happened. Or sometimes finding themselves unable to click a planet because too many armadas were in the way. With the prior version of the game, we just took that out completely because Chris didn't think anyone was that interested in doing vigilante attacks out of the blue anyhow. Turns out that was wrong. So here it is, behind an option—so you can do it if you want, or otherwise it stays out of your way.
    • Thanks to zharmad for noting that he still wanted the vigilante attacks.
  • Updated the description of the smuggle spacefaring mission text so that it notes that the credit reward is absolutely a huge reward. That sets expectations more reasonably for the amount of credit gained elsewhere.
    • Thanks to Smithgift and Misery for inspiring this change.
  • All of the dispatch missions now give you on average 30 more Credit per month than before, making it more worth your while.
  • The amount of credit gained via ship kills in combat has been increased in general about 3x, but in some cases (for rarer stuff) more than that. Before it was really a very token amount. We'd wanted to err on the side of not making it a farming situation, but it really was not very worthwhile before.
    • Thanks to Smithgift for suggesting.
  • The Property Deelopment dispatch mission no longer requires you having a manufacturing outpost, as that was just plain annoying.
  • Previously we were showing all the various options for players in friendly acts and whatnot, so they could have some general idea of what they could later do. In a number of cases this makes sense, but in others it is very much just information overload. So, the following changes are now made:
    • If there is not enough space junk to harvest, then that dispatch mission just doesn't show up.
    • If there are not enough smugglers around to do that mission, then it doesn't show.
    • If you don't have the appropriate type of outpost to outsource, then the outsourcing missions don't show up.
    • If there's no races doing orbital bombardment of a planet, that option doesn't show. That was just silly.
    • If there aren't any valid race selections for attacking the AFA on a planet, that doesn't show.
    • If there aren't any valid race selections for the political deal to "stop attacking another race," it doesn't show.
    • If there are no minority races around on a planet to let you incite a resistance of, then that doesn't show. Also same with prison breaks.
    • If there is no potential to smuggle in resistance fighters right now, it doesn't show that.
    • If there is nobody at the current planet that can help you attack the local defensive armadas, then that option doesn't show.
    • Thanks to a lot of players for mentioning how overwhelming it is to be presented with an initial list of options that is huge, the bulk of which you cannot even do right now.

Logbook of Past Actions Taken

  • There's now a Logbook button on the main solar map interface, that shows all the past actions/political deals/etc you've ever done (most recent at the top) with what the race, the name of the action, whether it was successful, and the date.
    • Further, you can click on an entry to get a list of all the results from that action.
    • Doesn't have data on contracts done in older versions, naturally.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for suggesting.

Combat-Related Stuff

  • Backed out the recent fix for the "have to pan and zoom a lot to stretch the movement line to maximum distance", due to complaints.
  • Put in substantial new changes to the ship movement line logic to make sure that the target line never drags behind your cursor, with the exception of when you are doing waypoints (which cause curves that make it less responsive to your cursor in a few ways that are unavoidable).
  • Put in some more granulated logic relating to waypoints such that they no longer go full-blast at every waypoint, but rather increase their speed relative to each target depending on how many waypoints there are after it. This allows for flexible maneuvering in close quarters, but makes it so that you can also travel with a lot of waypoints without losing all your speed to per-waypoint decelerations.
  • The text underneath the attack modes stuff now says to click again to confirm, rather than to press the button. This is more natural and so should be the top recommendation to the player, although either method works as of a number of versions ago.
  • Fixed an oversight where left clicking anywhere would NOT confirm your hold-fire order. Though that worked on all the other modes. Oops!
  • Added two new keybinds to combat:
    • Clear All Selected Target Ships(s) (default: E)
      • In target-ships firing mode, press this key to quickly clear any and all ships you have selected at the moment.
    • Target All Ships In Range (default: Shift+E)
      • In target-ships firing mode, press this key to quickly select all ships in range of your current weapon as targets. This skips any ships that your current weapon has 0 DPS against, or which your ship is generally instructed not to autofire against (civilian targets, etc).
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting. Particularly the first is something that Chris was also really really wishing for, and for some reason didn't think to actually add. ;)
  • Fixed an issue where if you had set waypoints before then tapping an attack-mode button (F for autofire, for instance), then it would just clear all your waypoints.
    • This was actually intentionally coded in by Chris for... some reason. Don't code sleep deprived, kids! Ah, who are we kidding. ;)
    • Thanks to Mick for reporting.
  • There is now only a 20% chance of escape pods coming out of ships compared to what there was before.
    • Thanks to Smithgift for inspiring this change.

Alpha Version .819

(Released April 4, 2014)

  • When the ship movement line is in the process of braking (where it used to show red but now just shows half-alpha), it now also reverses the arrows to make it more intuitively clear that there is braking going on.
    • Thanks to alocritani and Histidine for suggesting.
  • The ship movement line now tries a lot harder to actually reach the mouse cursor, so that you don't have to zoom and pan really far out to get maximum movement distance.
    • This has some tradeoffs when queuing multiple waypoints, as sometimes it results in the prediction trying to meet conflicting goals: maintain the previously laid course AND get the ship to that last point before the end of the turn. So if it simply can't do the latter (because the mouse is too far out or whatever), it prioritizes the former.
    • Thanks to alocritani, Misery, Tridus, and others for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug where the contract-prediction logic did not list how much would be mined for the player and for the client race, for the Mine Uncolonized Moon dispatch.
    • Thanks to GenScorpius for the report.
  • The solar map now has a visual bar that fills to show your progress through the year. It's broken into 40 segments to show each month's increment, and it also has an icon and background color that changes for each of the 5 seasons.
    • This may seem like just graphical fluff, but it actually serves the important purpose of more clearly denoting the speed of passage of time, as well as giving a sense of how long months are, etc, etc. Before it was abstract to the point of being nearly meaningless, which is a problem when dispatch missions and so forth are asking you to consider timeframes. The written-out date format is also still shown under the bar.
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting.
  • Previous partial progress on a dispatch can no longer reduce its actual time to complete to less than 1 solar month.
    • Also fixed a bug where the post-dispatch results screen would say you'd just spent the full duration of the dispatch, even when you hadn't spent that long due to previous partial progress.
    • Thanks to Kuer for the report that brought the need for these to our attention.
  • Fixed a bug where the research-tech dispatch was not giving the tech to the client race.
    • Thanks to Keur for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where destroyed planets previously did not have a proper radius set around themselves.
  • The rule that you had to be paused to hover over a free-roaming armada in the solar system has been removed.
  • There is a new option in the Overlays tab on the solar map that lets you turn off armada tooltips entirely if you want to. Sometimes in the very late game that is needed if you want to actually get the tooltip for a planet that is swarmed by attackers. But more to the point, some players just won't want to hover over armadas at all, since the functionality of the types becomes clear after a while.
  • The default mode for combat at the start of each encounter is now autofire rather than select-targets. This change makes it so that players who are new can't get "stuck" being seemingly unable to move since there's no target to attack. Better to find out about the other attack modes as they go, rather than starting in one that can cause a roadblock.
  • The credit cost of all the types of goons have been cut in half.
    • Thanks to Histidine for suggesting.
  • Added a rule where two sides in a combat who don't have a specific relationship (enemy/neutral/ally) from the scenario rules, but who are at war, will default to enemy regardless of attitude towards one another.
    • Thanks to Misery for a report of helping a planet against invaders only to find the invaders were happily not shooting at the defenders.
  • To make escape pods easier to pick up, they are now absorbed faster, and from farther away.
  • In a number of contexts where a solar date is shown, it now parenthetically mentions how long ago that was, or how far in the future that is, in relative game time. This is particularly helpful on the chatter window.
  • Got rid of the gravity modifier setting on the advanced start screen, since that's no longer really a thing (gravity does still affect debris, but that's a pretty darn major thing).
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for reporting.
  • Finally fixed up the contract results screen so that it is more attractive and clearer. Where lines start and end is way clearer, the word wrapping is better, etc, etc.

Completely Revised Dispatch Mission Interface

  • There is no longer a text-based window that you are stuck in while you are doing a dispatch mission. Instead it shows you the solar map (much less claustrophobic, much more informative, and much easier to react to stuff, too).
  • While you are in dispatch mode, the fast-forward and super-fast forward buttons become available. However, it no longer forces you automatically into super-fast-forward mode. This way you can control the flow of time through the dispatch as precisely as you want.
    • Additionally, a new "Cancel Dispatch" button shows up right next to the super-fast-forward button, so that it's really clear that you can in fact do so.
  • If you try to click on any node (to move to it) while you are in dispatch mode, then it asks if you want to cancel the dispatch or not. However, you can click into any of the informational screens you want, you can even customize your flagship if you feel like it, you can save your game and come back later in the middle of the dispatch, whatever.
  • While you are in dispatch mode, a "dispatching" message shows up on the left, making it really obvious that you are in that mode. You can't miss it. It also has some text there to say that super fast forward is highly recommended
    • Additionally, at the top center of the screen it shows you the type of dispatch you are working on, and how many months are left.
  • Lastly, the "Local Actions" panel during dispatch mode gets replaced with a "Dispatch Data," which includes the cumulative data that is dispatch-specific (amount mined, credit gained, influence gained, etc, etc).
    • This is actually more effective than the old method anyhow, because you can at a glance see your total progress, rather than seeing duplicative blips flying past.

The Purpose Behind Rescuing Pilots From Escape Pods

  • Rescuing pilot escape pods now has a use:
    • You can sell them at the black market. This generates the most credit, but also causes the races to think of you as a slave trader. Most disapprove of this, some approve, and the Thoraxians don't even understand the distinction.
      • Peltians and Thoraxians cannot be sold.
    • You can do a prisoner exchange at a planet of their race, demanding a reward in return. This is less lucrative than the market option but has no stigma attached.
    • You can release them for free at a planet of their race, gaining some respect from that race.
      • This isn't available for the Burlusts or Thoraxians.
  • Rescuing pilots from escape pods now also has another possible benefit:
    • If the pilots are not Thoraxian.
    • And you have at least 20 influence with that race.
    • You now have a (influence/20)% (max 5%) chance with each rescued pilot that it will join you:
      • Boarines and Peltians will join as construction workers.
      • Skylaxians, Evucks, and Andors will join as scientists.
      • Burlusts and Acutians will try to join as security goons, but if you have no outposts they'll join as construction workers instead.

Revised Mechanics For Interacting With Solar Map

  • The way you interact with the solar map is now completely revised:
    • The ability to control your ship on the solar map via WASD, and stop it with Q, have been removed.
    • The split keybindings for the solar and combat maps moving the viewport have been recombined, and both now use WASD and the arrow keys like the recent combat ones have done.
    • Specifically driving your flagship around on the solar map is no longer a thing. You just left-click a planet or outpost (including the race icon above it), and it takes you there. If there are fleet ships in the way of the planet or outpost, that no longer matters, either.
    • When you are at a planet or outpost, it now shows the name of that place, and then the text "you are here" under that. It also continues to do the usual highlighting, etc.
    • Notably, your position actually _is_ at that location, same as it always has been. So being attacked by local AFA insurgents based on where you are, etc, is still a thing. But you no longer have an annoying "cursor" that you have to drive around the solar map anymore. That seemed to confuse a lot of people, and even Chris was often flubbing that up even after months of using it.
    • Thanks to Sounds for inspiring these changes.
  • The ability to attack random fleet ships and ambush them has been removed. This is something that broke the normal rules of how combat was initiated, and you could not see what results you would get from it, etc, etc. It's also something that, with the recent changes to fleet attack resolution speeds, is redundant. In general in the few cases where this was mentioned by players, it was in the context of confusion.
  • Right-clicking any planet or outpost from anywhere now lets you see its summary page without having to go there.
    • Thanks to Leglaen and Sounds for suggesting.

Alpha Version .818

(Released April 4, 2014)

  • Backed out the change to deployment tanks that was in the prior version.
  • The health of lancers has gone down to about 1/3 its previous value. Please note that this does not affect existing savegames.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • Lancers are no longer resistant to laser attacks, as that just made them resistant to practically everything.
  • When you get into "coasting range" on your movement orders, it no longer turns red, but instead just turns more transparent.
    • Thanks to a lot of players (and even Keith) for reporting the confusion here. :)
  • During combat, you can now hover over the icons of the races that are involved in the combat to see their stances toward one another (allied, neutral, or enemy for that battle). Previously there was no way to get this information at all, so if there were races just hanging out not attacking one another, it was not clear why.
  • When loading a savegame, it now centers on your ship. Previously (since the change to allow panning again) it was just on the original combat starting location, which was super annoying.
  • In the combat interface, now whenever you have unused power in your ship's power management, there is a little icon that shows up near the power bars, with a count next to it of how many unused tanks you currently have.
    • Thanks to Pepisolo for suggesting.

Revisions To Certain Missions (Smuggle Spacefaring Tech Most Of All)

  • The smuggling-tech runs have been made a lot more interesting by including a lot of defensive fortifications now that you also have to sneak through. Before it was too blah.
    • The player also now starts further out on these, since there is larger movement per-turn now.
  • Spy Probes no longer insta-deploy all their ships. Now instead they just deploy them far faster than most other ships. Internally, rather than having a 1000x multiplier, they have a 10x one.
  • Fixed a bug that was causing a couple of spy probes to auto-alert at the start of each mission in the last few versions. It was some of the logic saying that some flagships should always be aggressive; that needed to exclude spy probes, heh.
  • The following missions no longer require you to go into withdraw mode to win after the main objectives are complete:
    • Smuggling run
    • Raid Hydral Tech
    • Capture technology or capture outpost
    • Assist orbital bombardment
    • Aka, when your objectives are complete your ship warps out, period. This solves some confusion in some cases, and in general gets rid of some waiting around. The enemy's gate is down. ;)
  • The number of spy probes that are in each smuggle spacefaring tech mission are now vastly higher.
    • These missions are now actually exceedingly dangerous what with all the spy probes and turrets.
  • During smuggle-spacefaring-tech missions, it now actually reports the race you are smuggling to as being your ALLY, rather than your enemy, heh.
  • Given the new brutality of the spacefaring missions, it now also rewards you with a large credit boost (10k).

Alpha Version .817

(Released April 3, 2014)

  • Fixed a bug where races that had less than -100 or greater than 100 attitude towards one another or influence from you would show as "neutral."
    • Thanks to YoukaiCountry, Mick, alocritani, and waylon531 for reporting.
  • Fixed an issue where the name of the destroyed hydral homeworld was not showing up properly.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • Fixed a couple of places where the word "Credit" was used twice, because of a search-and-replace issue where I replaced both BP and Bargaining Power with the word Credit.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • Fixed the "captured planet" icon having the text "internal war, accidentally."
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • Made the text for "Construct outpost" consistent, rather than saying "Build" some of the time.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • The descriptions for hiring scientists and construction workers were extremely unclear and misleading about the nature of their contracts with you. Fixed.
    • Thanks to Mick for reporting.
  • Now if there's somehow no Andor ruling party it substitutes one of the real parties (rather than None) until the next election takes place.
    • Thanks to alocritani for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where dispatches on a planet that changed ownership would do their completion logic but not actually stop the dispatch (and thus do their completion logic again later).
    • Thanks to Cinth for the report.
  • Fixed a bug on the tech progress screen where, when the player column was moved from the last column to the first column, its tooltip wasn't moved with it. Led to the tooltips appearing to be "off by one".
    • Thanks to alocritani, Kingpin23, and waylon531 for the report.
  • The tech progress grid cells with the red markers now have a tooltip that say that the race isn't eligible to research that tech.
    • Thanks to Kingpin23 for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed an issue where the popup text above ships could overlap your HUD. Whoops!
  • Certain parts of the screen that are HUD in the combat part of the game now block off hovering over stuff that is UNDER them, and cause any lines (such as the movement lines) to stop drawing to the cursor there, to make it even clearer what is happening. There is also a bit of buffer area of this sort around the place where you click to adjust the power levels up and down. This way mis-clicks are far less likely.
  • Fixed a bug where the share-tech political deals would let you select techs the gifting race doesn't even know.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for the report and save.
  • Fixed a bug where the "is this contract valid to execute?" logic was checking "do I have enough credits?" only in the hypothetical no-choices made case, rather than also checking it with the actual selected choices.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for the report that revealed this.
  • Fixed a bug where the "should a start-contract button click actually execute the deal?" logic was not checking to see if the contract (with selected choices) was actually valid.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for the report that revealed this.
  • Fixed a bug where the missions for attacking the defenders of a manufacturing, military, or science outpost would not actually start the combat.
    • Thanks to alocritani for the report and save.

Solar Map Balance

  • Removed the rule that allowed races to attack non-spacefaring races after the game was an hour or more in.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for inspiring this change.
  • For 9 months after becoming spacefaring, a race cannot attack or be attacked by another race.
    • Races that became spacefaring in an older save will generally not be subject to this, as the time of becoming spacefaring was tracked in this way before this version.
  • You now get proper influence penalties for attacking planetary defense armadas—previously there were none!
  • You now properly gain influence with the race you are doing the attack against a pirate base with.
    • Thanks to GenScorpius for reporting.
  • Now when you do a political deal to stop an attack (either the unilateral "Stop Attacking" deal you can do with anyone, or the bi-directional "broker truce" deal you can do via the Andors), the race(s) ceasing an attack will also refrain from hostile action against that target for 30 months afterward.
    • Thanks to Kingpin23 for the report that the "truces" were pretty momentary in some cases.
  • A planet that is under orbital bombardment and/or ground invasion can no longer have more people born in a month than die (naturally, not counting bombardment and ground combat) that month. Previously it was possible for a planet to literally outpace casualties (substantially).
  • Previously orbital bombardment could not kill the last population unit, so that you could have a planet bombed down to the last million and completely swarmed by enemy ships that could nonetheless not capture it because none of the attacking races was bothering to send an actual invasion force (with transports and troops).
    • Now if the planet is down to its last population unit, the invading forces can sacrifice some of their ships in orbit to flip the planet.
    • Thanks to Histidine for the report and save.
  • Partial progress is now remembered on the dispatches for building outposts and planetary buildings, similar to how it is remembered for the dispatch for researching tech.

Speed Of Certain Things In The Solar Map

  • The NPC vs NPC combat resolution now happens at 1 step per day (instead of 1 step per 3 days) but each step now does about 1/150th of what it used to, for a net change of reducing its rate to 1/50th of what it was.
    • Specifically this applies to:
      • How much damage fleets do to each other in each step.
      • How many people fleets kill with orbital bombardment in each step.
      • How many troops land in a planetary invasion in each step.
      • How much damage fleets do to your security goons when attacking when of your outposts, each step (and vice versa).
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.
  • In addition to the above, when a fleet starts an auto-resolve that would involve anything other than fleet-to-fleet combat, those other "major" changes (which can end in the flipping of a planet or the destruction of an outpost) don't even start until 50 days after the auto resolve started.
    • Combined with the above, the player should have _much_ more time to respond when things start getting hairy.
  • The trending of the "RCI" values (economic, medical, environmental, and public order) never did get adjusted to have its speed be more reasonable. As such those were still having MASSIVE fluctuations over very short periods of time.
    • Thanks to Misery for pointing this out.
  • The default speed at which races become spacefaring has been changed around a lot:
    • The second race becomes spacefaring after 20 seconds, rather than 3 minutes. Too many complaints about not having any positive stuff to do early in other than smuggle spacefaring tech.
    • 3rd race from 6 minutes to 15 minutes.
    • 4th from 9 to 26 minutes.
    • 5th from 15 to 31 minutes.
    • 6th from 18 to 54 minutes.
    • 7th from 24 to 58 minutes.
    • 8th from 26 to 88 minutes.
    • Bear in mind that these get adjusted up or down a bit depending on the race's compatibility with the planet they are on, so it's not always exactly this.
    • Thanks to Kuer for pointing out that the speed of these all being so high to become spacefaring really trivialized your bringing spacefaring stuff to the races in the first place. Also in general the new pace is just more in keeping with the revised pace of the solar map.
  • Now when an race starts an attack-planet action, the presence of that action won't actually affect its fleet behaviors (or cause the dispatching of defense fleets with invasion forces) until 9 months after the start of the action (when the little skull-icon shows up in the right-sidebar thing).
    • The idea being the need to "prepare" forces for anything so involved as a planetary invasion.

Combat Balance And Updates

  • The recharge rate of your flagship's shields has increased 5x. This way there is not such a temptation to wait around doing nothing. Don't worry, if this makes things too easy we will adjust other things to compensate. ;)
    • Thanks to Cipherpunk for suggesting.
  • None of this affects existing savegames, unfortunately, but balance for the predators is here:
    • The shot speed of the sine shots fired by predators has been dropped to 4/7 of its previous value. The shot speed of the sine turrets has been increased to 7/4 its previous value, though (the two basically swapped shot speeds).
    • The attack power of the predator shots has been dropped to 1/3 it previous value (but those of the sine turrets has not changed).
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The groups of ships now do a better job of spreading out relative to one another. This both makes them harder to hit with just a few shots, and it also makes it so that it is harder for them to just slam you with too much munitions all at once.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • All forms of AI squadrons now deploy at the same rate, rather than varying by the type of squadron.
  • When a side has fewer than 2 squadrons deployed, their spawners gain an _enormous_ speed boost to their spawn rate. This gets battles off to a quicker start, which is important given how this is now turn-based and starting from lower ranges. This also helps to compensate for the much-faster shield recharge rate of the ships, by making it so that you don't have so many periods where there are no squadrons harassing you.
  • Removed the fire-at-angle option, partly because it hasn't been working reliably in the first place, but mainly because it is pointless. The other three modes of firing are plenty, and giving excess options just adds to confusion, nothing more.
    • Thanks to relmz32 and alocritani for helping inspire this change.
  • In the header for the direct-use abilities, it now says "Use and skip turn" as the prefix. This is something to help people prevent getting surprised that it doesn't let them move and use an ability at the same time.
    • Thanks to Penumbra for inspiring this change.
  • When you enter combat mode, it now does a quick highlight-in of the weapon buttons as well as the attack-mode buttons, to make it more obvious that things have changed there. Even if the player doesn't notice the very first time that they switch into attack modes, that motion will quickly automatically teach them to check out those other attack options, including the fact that they have multiple guns, etc.
    • Thanks to Penumbra for inspiring this change.
  • When you are in the process of withdrawing and take damage, a popup right on your ship now notes when you have turns added back onto your timer. This is useful to know in general, and also helps to immediately make clear to new players what is happening if they did not read the tooltip about withdrawing.
    • Thanks to Penumbra for suggesting.
  • When you are trying to add power to a system, if you have zero unspent power, then it now auto-pulls from another system:
    • shields auto-pull from weapons first, movement next
    • weapons auto-pull from shields first, movement next
    • movement auto-pulls from weapons first, shields next.
    • Thanks to Mick for suggesting down to every detail.
  • Now when you enter withdraw mode in combat, ALL ships that are Enemy to you (so not allies or neutrals) go gunning specifically for you.
    • Thanks to Kuer for inspiring this cruelty.

Movement Waypoints Return!

  • Asked and ye received! Movement waypoints are back, and are more awesome than ever thanks to the new movement mechanics.
    • Just hold down shift while giving movement orders to queue them up, and the line goes all bendy as needed to get where you want to go. Whenever you give a left-click that finalizes the orders.
    • If you have queued some orders you don't like, just right-clicking backs them up one by one.
    • Thanks to Mick, GenScorpius, Penumbra, Kuer, and others for suggesting.

Keybind Updates

  • Fixed an issue in the prior version where all 3 of the new special abilities were bound to hotkey 7!
    • Thanks to GenScorpius for reporting.
  • The controls for fast-forward and super-fast forward have shifted to left and right bracket instead of F and G.
  • The control for slow-mo has moved to P from T, and P is no longer an alternate keybind for pause (which is spacebar).
  • Autofire mode is now mapped to F instead of A. Selected Targets mode is now mapped to G instead of S. Target point is now mapped to T instead of D.
  • WASD now moves the viewport during combat, same as the arrow keys. It was super confusing that this did not happen that way before, even for Chris.
    • However, on the solar map WASD still directly moves your ship (which indirectly moves the viewport later), while the arrow keys are the only thing that move your viewport but nothing else.
    • Thanks to GenScorpius for inspiring this change.

Capturing Pilot Escape Pods!

  • When various ships explode from alien races, escape pods sometimes pop out with some of their pilots getting away. You can opt to either destroy these, or capture them. Destroying them currently has no consequence.
    • Capturing prisoner pilots later lets you do a prisoner exchange for Credit, Leverage, or Voting proxies; or you can set them free for Influence. Or if you are a bad, bad person, you can also sell them into slavery at the black market.
      • Actually none of that stuff works yet, but you can capture and store the pilots. Tomorrow you'll be able to do the other stuff.

Alpha Version .816

(Released April 2, 2014)

  • The game now supports having special abilities and guns that cannot be unlocked until a certain number of solar years into the game.
  • All references to the term "planetary technology" instead of just "technology" have been excised, as it really was confusing and no longer accurate.
  • Since the game now allows panning again, the max zoom is no longer something that has to scale by screen resolution. It is also now clamped in a bit tighter on both the solar map and the battle map, because it was previously letting you go so far out that everything was just specks anyway.
  • When the only unmet mission condition remaining is to withdraw, the game should always now put you into auto-withdraw mode now.
    • Thanks to Cipherpunk for reporting.

Solar Map Updates And Balance

  • At the black market, you can now buy specific categories of hydral tech—weapons, offensive, operations, or specialty—in addition to just the complete grab-bag option that was already there. The more focused options cost more Credit.
  • The ability to raid planets for hull designs, to show hull designs in your inventory, and to gift hull designs to races, have all been removed. Goodness was this fiddly. It was stuff that didn't really matter much in terms of having a substantial impact on the game, and yet it was always there in the face as a confusing thing for new players (and a pointless one for familiar players).
  • A happy medium has been found for the icons on the solar map above the planets. They now are zoom-independent, but they are not so large and floaty as in prior versions where that was true.
  • Auto-resolve combat between NPCs now happens in increments every three days rather than having nothing happen for months and then suddenly the fight is completely over.
    • Applies to fleet battles, NPC battles vs your outpost security, orbital bombardment, and ground invasions.
  • The "known aliens" button and associated subscreens on the solar map, and the "ship list" button and screen on the solar map, have both been removed. These things were not important information in any way, they were purely a matter of gruesome curiosity of the detail-oriented at best. So they were simply clutter, and a source for confusion and bugs.

Combat Updates And Balance

  • Burlust longshots no longer have missile jamming.
  • Attack range has been increased by a further 25%, up to 2x the recent values instead of only 1.5x.
    • Also, this now only applies to the player ship, not other ships. The idea is to let the player fight more at range.
  • SM craft have had their health raised by 3.6x, MED ships have had theirs increased by 1.6x, and LRG ships by 1.5x. GI ships are unchanged.
    • This makes it so that a few things happen.
      • Firstly, any smaller ships that you deploy or capture now have more meaning. Same with those of your allies.
      • Secondly, the turnover of enemy ships is lower. Aka, they last longer, and you thus have more sources of incoming damage to deal with, more of the time. One burst of autofire doesn't just pop a whole squadron on normal difficulty anymore. Paired with the longer ranges that you now have, this makes it so that you have slightly more extended engagements with specific ships, but with more time to react to their incoming shots.
  • The attack power of the anti-swarm lasers has been increased 12x, and their ammo has been thirded. They are now quite potent.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.
  • Activating withdraw mode no longer costs you a turn. That was a bit confusing, and in general was difficulty in an artificial sense.
  • Activating a special ability now no longer automatically puts your ship into autofire mode, instead putting it into hold fire mode. The previous behavior was actually intended, but seemed like a bug. And it predated the whole energy-explosion-field thing, which really compensates more than adequately now.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • If the player simply forgets to assign some power bars to any system, that power is no longer just wasted.
    • Now it will first try to apply that power to the shields, presuming that shields are not already at full health and the shield power level is not at full energy bars.
    • If any still remains, then it will try to apply that to the weapons systems until full, unless the player is not firing any weapons.
    • If any still remains, then it will try to apply that to the shields until full, regardless of the status of shield health.
    • If there is still any left over (somehow), then it just remains wasted. There is no point auto-assinging to movement systems, as that would only mess up the trajectories the player planned out.
    • Thanks to Mick for suggesting.
  • Unfortunately had to make some rather _enormous_ under the hood attack changes, to make it so that DPS-against-target prediction would be fully accurate in all cases. Everything seems to be fine, but with changes that larger there may well be some bugs, to say the least.
  • The graphics for missiles have finally been updated to be larger and more attractive like the other shots.

Improvements To Clarity Of The Combat System For Players

  • At the top of the HUD during combat, there is now a big textbox that tells you exactly what your objectives are for this mission. Specifically and concretely, including how many flagships you have left to kill if you have to kill some, or what you are trying to capture, or how many outposts still need to be destroyed, or how many freighters you have left to smuggle, or whatever. This has been a long time coming, and hopefully will help a lot with the clarity for players in terms of quickly understanding what they are supposed to do in combat. Otherwise people tend to default into "let's kill everything!"
  • Greatly updated the severity of how the shots impact ships so that it is more impressive and feels like it has more impact.
    • Thanks to doctorfrog for suggesting.
  • When ships and shields take hits, they now flash red for a moment. This makes it abundantly clear when there is a hull hit versus a shield hit, and on what ship, even beside the various fireworks.
    • Thanks to doctorfrog for inspiring this change.
  • For the bulk of enemy ships, it no longer shows you their flavor description in the tooltips, and for no ships does it show the raw resistances anymore. You can see all that information in the ship details screen (hit the i key) if you want the hoary details. They're still there, but as many players have pointed out, it was information overload to show you that stuff right in the main tooltip.
    • Instead, the game now shows you something much more useful: a sorted list of your weapons, with how much DPS they do against the ship at the present time. Including your special abilities that are offensive weapons. This way it's telling you the best thing to use straight off, out of the tools you presently have, in the current state, rather than confusingly telling you things you should not do, which may or may not even be relevant at the moment.
  • The shown current DPS of your weapons against other ships now responds contextually to when their shields are up versus not up, to make it clear that you can use certain weapons against them just fine when their shields are up, but then those same weapons don't work well against them once you start actually hitting their hull. This isn't a balance change at all, it's just the interface making it more clear.
  • As an added user-friendliness bonus, the tooltips for the ships now gives ordinal rankings for each weapon, to make it super clear without you having to count in the list, and it also highlights the name of the weapon you are currently using.
  • "Show Battle Popups" is now on by default in the Extras tab of the settings menu, and it has revised functionality.
    • Now, rather than just crazily popping up little text popups that float away for every shot that hits, it logs the total damage done to your flagship, and by ships under your command to enemy ships. It also notes any resistances that you triggered with shots that originated from your ships on this turn. Then, during the movement phase of your turn, it shows these as little hover-over pieces of text on the ships that were affected. These don't stack up, float away, etc.
    • This really lets you get a much more intuitive feel for what is going on, and when you are using the wrong weapon for the job. The idea here is primarily to assist in training new players, but it's useful information that actually seems like it would be not something most advanced players would turn off.
  • Fixed a minor issue where the game would let you press the withdraw button again after you were already withdrawing.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • It is now completely impossible to withdraw during the first combat, to avoid confusion that perhaps you are supposed to just doodle around for a lot of turns.
    • Thanks to doctorfrog for suggesting.
  • There is now a button on the bottom bar of the combat HUD that lets you get to the ship list with all the detailed stats, so that players who want that sort of thing can actually find that it is there (the hotkey was always i, but that's not something that is easy to just randomly stumble on for someone new).

Updates/Additions To Controls

  • The hotkeys for showing the ranges of ships have changed around. Previously, you held Z to see your own range plus any ships you were hovering over. You held Z+X to see the ranges of all ships.
    • Now you hold R to see the ranges of all ships, but if you hover over a specific ship then it will show just the range of that ship.
  • New hotkeys have been added for the power management systems functions:
    • Z X C increase the power levels of the respective systems.
    • Shift plus Z X C decreases the power levels of the respective systems.
    • Thanks to Mick for suggesting.
  • Ever since moving to the turn-based system, left and right click have done the same thing when you are setting your movement or attack orders. Now, only left click does what previously both did.
  • When you are in attack-setting mode, right-click now cancels your movement orders and lets you go back to set them again. The Escape key already did that, but now so does right-click.
    • Thanks to Mick for suggesting.
  • When you are in autofire mode, left-clicking now confirms your order.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for suggesting.
  • When you are in select-targets mode, and you already have at least one target selected, if you left-click empty space that now confirms your order.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for suggesting.
  • The Sharpshooter ship type no longer uses the orbit formation, as that can cause stacking too much on the flagship.
  • The "Buddy" flock behavior now tries to engage units hostile to the protected unit that are within 2x their own weapon range of the protected ship, and are within 2x the protector's weapon range of the protected ship. This should discourage stacking up on the protected ship in the middle of combat.
    • Thank to Misery for inspiring this change.

Player Ship Movement Updates

  • The physics of your ship have been changed around so that the slower you are going, the better your turning radius gets.
  • The movement ring for your ship during the movement phase of the game is now gone, as it was not really giving useful information anymore.
  • Your ship now has two-stage acceleration; it accelerates very fast to half speed, and then very slow to full speed from that point.
    • This makes it so that implicitly if you are moving around at slower speeds, the maneuverability of your ship is very high—not quite as high as it used to be, but still very high.
    • And if you crank up your engine power, you can actually get MORE than your previous maneuverability.
  • The baseline speed of your ship has been more than doubled, however your actually reaching that speed takes a couple of turns of continuous movement. Nonetheless, this lets you make either long journeys with slow turning arcs, or slower movements with much better turning.
  • The baseline stats for your ship are now reset every savegame, rather than being baked in. This MAY make it so that in some savegames where you were previously alive, you are... cough, no longer alive. Sorry about that.
  • Made it so that the penalties to your movement speed for reducing your engine power are way way more dramatic.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for suggesting.
  • There is now a substantial deceleration period that your ship has to go through in order to stop—no more stopping on a dime.
    • When you are issuing orders, the deceleration period is denoted as a red series of lines instead of the usual blue. If you issue a no-movement command but you still have velocity applied to yourself, it will show you how far you're going to drift.

Six Special Abilities For The Player, Rather Than Three

  • Now that the game is turn-based, we actually have more latitude when it comes to the usage of space with abilities, etc.
    • The player now gets a total of 6 special abilities, ASIDE from their three guns, rather than the 3 special abiities that they were getting before now. This provides a lot more variety, rather than feeling as constrained as it previously was.
    • The guns are not shown at all during the movement phase of the game, but then once you switch to the attack phase of the game it hides the abilities (as it already did) and then now shows the guns. This way we get gun selection as well as more abilities, which is great.
  • As part of having more special abilities, ALL player flagship types are now able to get all the various types of abilities, which was not true previously. However, the concentrations of how many abilities of each type that they get is certainly very varied, as much as it was before. It's just that no abilities are completely excluded from any given flagship type.

Alpha Version .815

(Released April 1, 2014)

  • Fixes a couple of textual references that still said to visit the black market to customize your ship.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • The game should now always be playing some sort of music on the solar map, based on which planet or outpost you are nearest to, even if you are in empty space. Previously it was silent in empty space, which could lead to things like the victory music continuing to play, or various other issues.
    • Thanks to Breach for reporting the latter.
  • Fixed a bug in the prior version that would cause exceptions whenever a "drastic action" was undertaken by a race on the solar map.
    • Thanks to alocritani, Mick, Kingpin23, and Hyfrydle for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug in the prior version where the ownership icons were not being drawn over outposts and planets.
    • Thanks to Kingpin23 and alocritani for reporting.
  • The black market node now has an icon for the pirates above it, to represent in this case the mercenaries that run the black market. This makes the black market waaay more visible, on the level of the other nodes. Previously it was enormously hard to find, depending on where it was located, which was certainly a big problem for new players.
  • Put in a fix so that races may never have attitude or influence shifts if they are dead.
  • The number of chatter entries is now a lot more concise and meaningful:
    • Races no longer chatter about buildings that they construct or non-vaccine technologies that they research, as that just fills up the chatter log with nothing of real significance at this point.
    • Races now chatter far less often about not liking the player or having the largest military.
    • Races no longer chatter at all about being attacked by pirates or losing armadas, as those happen all the freaking time and are not worth noting in that way, heh.
    • Previously the temptation was to ignore chatter because there was just so much of it that was duplicative.
    • Thanks to Kuer for helping to inspire this change.
  • Fixed a bug in the prior version where you could not actually set your guns or special abilities (wow, what a bug). Though actually you could have gotten around it by parking next to the black market, and then it would let you do it, heh.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 and zharmad for reporting.

The Glorious Anticipated Return Of Panning

  • Panning is back, in both combat and the solar map, by both mouse-at-the-edge and keyboard-arrow-keys (and middle mouse pan, in fact).
    • Thanks to Mick, alocritani, and others for inspiring this change.
  • Now when your ship is moving and gets too close to the edge of the scren it does a fairly smooth "catch-up" pan.
  • Added new toggle to the extras tab of the settings window: Edge Panning With Mouse (Fullscreen Mode).
    • With this on, when the mouse cursor gets near (or past) the edge of the screen, the screen scrolls. This makes it easy to scroll around, but can be annoying on multi-monitor systems.
    • This toggle only applies to fullscreen mode, if you want it there but not in windowed mode.
    • Thanks to Admiral for the suggestion.
  • Made it so that the game now completely stops when the window does not have focus. This is a built-in unity feature, but it's something that causes network connectivity drops when used in multiplayer. Since this is not a multiplayer game, we can actually use this feature! This prevents annoying screen panning when you alt-tab out of the game, or when you click over to a different window in windowed mode, etc.

Solar Map Balance And Updates

  • Now, whenever an assassination influence type is triggered, it also checks for adding "Scary Murderer" influence (for the Andors and Peltians, negative) and "Impressive Murderer" influence (for the Burlusts and Thoraxians, positive). Never applies to the actual victim race in question.
  • Previously, some events that are instantaneous would nevertheless stick around for a really long time on a planet, showing as active but doing nothing. These now happen and then the game moves on to something else.
    • Coup
    • Ancient Artifact Found (all three variants)
    • Nuclear Plant Accident
    • Biological Weapons Testing Gone Wrong
    • Farmer Mass Suicide (both kinds)
    • Disease Appears, Relapse, Vaccine Found
    • Station damaged by asteroid and depressurization event.
    • Wildfires
    • Small creature begins to over-reproduce
    • Sea level dropping
    • Plant life surging
    • Disappearing rainforest
    • Global warming
    • Global cooling
    • Typhoon
    • Dangerous hallucinogenic drug craze
    • Mass insanity
    • Genetic testing leading to a super-breed
    • Scientific Breakthrough
    • Resource Motherload Found
    • Radiation Event
    • Drug research gone bad
    • Drug research breakthrough
    • Meteor strike
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.

Destroyed Planets

  • Destroyed planets are now interactive.
  • Upon destruction (or loading an old save with destroyed planets), a planet will become owned by the owner of the nearest non-destroyed spacefaring planet.
  • While a race holds a destroyed planet, they get a substantial resource boost to anything produced naturally on a planet.
  • Races can attack and capture destroyed planets belonging to other races.
  • You can take contracts at a destroyed planet for attacking invaders or defenders, but that's it.
  • Now when a new game is started, the Hydrals' (destroyed) homeworld is now seeded at a random spot in the habitable zone, under control of the first spacefaring race.
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting.

Combat Balance And Updates

  • Fixed an oversight in the prior version where autofire for PLAYER shots were no longer taking intercept courses of enemy ships into account. Whoops.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • Your shields are no longer impeded so long when they are struck by incoming enemy fire. This lets your shield recharge work a lot more of the time, which is important.
  • During the movement-setting phase of your turn, all enemy shots that are near you draw little "I was here" lines for the last 0.9 seconds. This lets you see not only where something was coming from, but also easily infer the speed of a shot based on how long the line is.
    • Thanks to _K_ for suggesting.
  • Fixed the movement projection lines so that they continue to show properly during set-attack mode so that you can see where you assigned yourself to move.
    • Thanks to Mick for reporting.
  • There are now tooltips over your shield and health bars that let you see your health and shield actual numbers (previously this was only available by hovering over your specific flagship), and also your current shield recharge rate (previously this was not available at all).
  • The way that shield health is shown on ships is now the actual numbers instead of a percentage.
    • Thanks to _K_ for suggesting.
  • The attack range of everything has gone up 1.5x. With the other various changes in place, this now feels more natural.
    • Thanks to doctorfrog for suggesting.
  • The time to capture capturable stuff has been changed from the previous value that was 12 turns' worth of time, to a new 5 turns' worth of time.
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting.

Flagship "Feeling Of Weight" And Prediction Lines

  • The flagship that you control now accelerates and decelerates slower, and is much slower to turn. The ship thus has much more of a feeling of mass to it, and seems a lot more natural. The facing of your previous movement order now also actually matters, which a lot of people wanted. However, it also now has a higher max speed to help compensate for that, so that your ship doesn't feel sluggish.
    • Thanks to... well, a lot of players for suggesting this. Off the top of our heads, _K_, Mick, and topper.

Flagship Subsystem Power Management

  • In the upper left corner of your screen, right under your hull health and shields, there are now three power meters: one for weapons, one for shields, and one for engines.
    • These all start out balanced, at 4 bars out of 8, which is the same as it has always been (aka no multipliers).
    • You can now reduce any of the meters down to 1 minimum, or up to 8 maximum, so long as you work within the constraints of the 12 bars total that you have.
    • Increasing power to the weapons gives a bonus both to attack power and attack range.
    • Increasing power to the shields increases the rate at which they regenerate.
    • Increasing power to the engines increases the rate at which your ship can move, as well as improving its turning ability via extra thrusters (thematically speaking).
    • Huge thanks to GenScorpius for suggesting this.
  • The power management stuff has some handy built-in automatic management to save you from having any inclination to try and fiddle with them every turn to be "optimal" (we're looking at you, manufacturies and energy producers in AI War).
    • If you are not attacking that turn, and your shields are not at full, it redirects as much of your attack energy as possible to your shields to help them recharge.
    • If your shields are at full at the start of that turn, it redirects as much of your shield energy as possible to your guns.
    • If you did not give a movement order to your ship, then it redirects your movement energy in as even a split as possible between your attack and shields.
    • Why does nothing redirect to movement? Because by this point you have already set your course, and redirecting movement would only mess up your course.
    • All of this also helps to make your boosts very pleasingly contextual, because for the bulk of turns you would never want to fiddle with them at all, since they would automatically do the best thing for you. But when you have a different playstyle from usual, or want extreme maneuverability at the expense of shields (hey, you expect to not get hit, let's say), then you have that power now.

Alpha Version .814

(Released March 29, 2014)

  • Put in more code to try to stop that pesky intermittent exception that people could get in the actions/deals windows.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Races researching new hull types was pretty much broken for the last couple of months. We couldn't really tell this because we'd made pretty much all of the existing hull types unlocked from the start to have sufficient combat variety from the start. But now that we're adding some new stuff that comes in later, it quickly became clear that there was an issue.
    • Similarly, gifting hull types to races was not working right.
  • Fixed an issue where unlockable hull techs for turrets was not possible (it would just use any of them from the start). Was not a problem before, because we didn't have any unlockable ones anyhow, but now we do.
  • Whenever a drastic action was in progress, its description would replace that of the planet it was at. Fixed.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • Events that are going on no longer show up with a giant icon at their location, getting in the way of other things. Instead they now show up with a smaller icon in the bar talking about the other status at that planet or outpost, and show the number of months remaining until that event ends. Hovering over the icon or text shows you the details of what the event is, as you'd expect.
  • Drastic actions also now show up in the bar like events, rather than giant icons like before. Also, hovering over those now gives you the target planet they are going to attack, if there is one (aka, planetcracker's target).
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for reporting that you could not see where the planetcracker was aimed.
  • Previously, when a race was part of an alliance then their icon would get bumped to the side and it would show the icon for their alliance next to their race icon. That looked strange, and also that icon was not something you could hover over to find out what it meant. Now the alliance icon is down in the bar with the rest of the local icons, and you can hover over it to get info on that alliance type.

Solar Map Balance And Updates

  • The time-in-months that it takes things to happen on the solar map has been slowed down to .2 of its original amount, whereas the last few versions it was .33. So this is a 40% decrease over the prior version.
    • A number of players commented that the speed felt borderline too fast, and that's really not where we want to be. When it comes to things like planet takeovers and so forth, I was getting this feeling, too. It was just a bit too fast for the situation to get away from me, even with the reduced dispatch mission times, etc.
  • The descriptions for the alliances have now actually been filled in! So now you can see what the heck these things are and what it takes to dissolve them once they have formed.

Combat Balance And Updates

  • Hypersonic pods have been rebalanced so that they now do half as much damage as before, and so that they ONLY are able to damage shields, not hulls. This makes them basically shield-suppressors, which is an interesting role for them, given their speed.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring these changes.
  • Previously, all shots that were fired would calculate an intercept course for targets that are moving. Aka, they would fire in front of you to hit you where you are going to be if you don't change direction, as opposed to aiming where you are now (and will soon not be). That is problematic with a lot of weapons in terms of balance, so now about half of the ship systems use this, and about half don't. Overall this change is something that adds some more nuance to the different ship types.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The maximum turns before withdraw (on scenarios that prevent withdraw) have been drastically reduced across the board, and the max turns before fail on the smugglers raid has also been reduced drastically.
    • The previous numbers that were used were directly translated over from the old realtime mode, and really didn't have a brearing on how long combat actually lasts now (in turns) given the changes to things like how far away players start from enemies, etc, etc, etc.

Two New Turret Types

  • Added two new turret types, which are available for races to research starting 5 years into the game.
    • One is the "Wall Turret," which sprays a wall of bullets right in front of itself when an enemy into its firing cone, but is unable to actually aim at anything.
      • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
    • The other is the "Sine Turret," which fires a very wide-arced double-sine of shots. Unlike all the other turrets so far, this one is omnidirectional, which is pretty interesting.

Making Special Abilities Actually Useful

  • Special abilities are now super useful! Whenever ANY special ability is used, it now lets off a blast wave that destroys all incoming (allied, enemy, neutral, whatever) shots within a radius that expands to 1200px over 1.8 seconds.
    • This protects you while you are using the ability, which is important on its own so that you actually CAN use abilities. Because, before, in the turn-based model they were always a super bad idea to use.
    • But even more, now they make it so that even if we gave you an ability that was _completely and utterly_ useless in its specific effect, it would now be quite useful to you if you need to get out of a hairy situation. Some SHMUPs have a screen-filling bomb ability, and this is kind of like that, in some ways.
    • Now: the problem is, this might be too useful if the abilities can be triggered too frequently or have too much ammo, etc. But the core concept is really fun and makes the balance something that can actually be addressed one way or another. We may need to reduce ammo and/or increase the time between which you can use abilities, etc. We shall see. But overall, this seems to be the final step in terms of really adding to the basic tactical options of combat here.
  • Now when you go into a battle where one of your special abilities isn't valid to be used at all—such as the ones that can't be used during duels, or such as the orbital bomber when you are not at a planet—then it automatically swaps those out for you right before your first turn with a random other ability of that same category that you have unlocked AND that has not yet been assigned to your ship in this battle, just for that battle.
    • This way if you forget to change up your abilities before a specific kind of battle, or frankly don't want to, then it no longer is a huge penalty against you.
  • Now as soon as you run out of ammo on a special ability during a battle, then it automatically swaps that ability out for you at the start of your next turn with a random other ability of that same category that you have unlocked AND that has not yet been assigned to your ship in this battle, just for that battle.
    • What this means is that having more abilities now actually MATTERS. Previously, if you had the three abilities that you wanted to use, there was no real reason to get more abilities, since you wouldn't use them anyway. Now you can equip your favorite three abilities as your starting abilities, and then you get the roll of the dice for abilities beyond that.
    • The random element that kicks in after that initial selection element is something that is really attractive to Chris in particular, because it adds a kind of "deal with the hand of cards you are dealt" elements to battles that go on for an extended period of time, while at the same time letting you plan the early stages of battles more precisely.

Alpha Version .813

(Released March 28, 2014)

  • Possibly fixed a crash bug relating to continuing to play a battle after destroying a Commercial Communications Relays. If you see it again, though, a save would be great.
    • Thanks to Mick for reporting.
  • Updated the tips of the day to reflect:
    • The ranges of attitude and influence no longer being clamped to -100 and 100
    • Bargaining Power now being called Credit
    • The note about health not being restored except after friendly actions is corrected.
    • The black market tip has been updated to no longer refer to you customizing there. It also references hiring workers there, which is coming up soon.
    • There is now a tip about dispatch missions in general.
    • There is now a tip about dispatch missions and canceling them, as well as the upcoming automatic-popups-when-something-really-bad-happens.
    • A tip about the old way of action fighting has been replaced with several tips about the turn-based combat.
    • A tip about how enemies lead you with shots and you should avoid them by changing course has been adjusted to be about avoiding damage in combat in general.
    • A tip about how to actually form the federation has been added, since that's been a big question for folks.
    • The tip about capturing science and manufacturing outposts now notes that holding these without outsourcing them gives you a boost to your own speed during related dispatches.
    • A tip has been added about using technologies to increase your combat defenses.
    • Tips of the day have been added about how to reduce the time it takes to do research and construction dispatch missions.
    • A tip of the day has been added about security guards and thus how to defend your outposts.
    • Added a tip explaining armadas, flotillas, and power level.
    • Thanks to Mick for reporting that Bargaining Power was still being referenced in the tips of the day.
  • Added another tip of the day: On the solar map, if you pause the game and then hover over an armada, you can see the details about it. Normally hovering over armadas does not show you anything.
    • Thanks to alocritani and Kingpin23 for suggesting.
  • Fixed a bug where the tech prerequisites missing were not being correctly reported on the "Why you can't do this" actions list. It was just listing all the prerequisites instead!
  • The descriptions for Property Development, Research Technology, and Space Outpost Development have all been expanded to explain the ways in which you can reduce the number of months specific projects take.
  • Fixed a bug where the negotiate with mercenaries button was pushed way down almost off the screen, and said "inventory" for some reason. ;)

Solar Map Updates And Balance

  • Most events can no longer hit non-spacefaring races. Instead, they tend to get only positive ones, or none at all, for the most part. This helps to keep them from just getting smashed out of existence before they even reach space.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • Previously if an armada arrived at an planet/ouptost that it intended to attack, and that target had no defensive armadas attached to it, the armada would immediately execute its "on arrival" logic. This included ground invasion against planets, and simply destroying a target outpost.
    • Now in this case it will still use the "schedule auto-combat" logic that it would if there were defensive armadas anchored there. So there's a delay in which reinforcements (either you, or race armadas) can get there before the megadeaths start really rolling in.
  • No other races ever pity the Acutians, Burlusts, or Thoraxians. "Inverse Pity" still does happen against them, though.
  • The game no longer lets you take any dispatch missions that would be longer than 30 months. So if you want to do something that would cost you something crazy in terms of months, you'll have to instead hire some mercenaries to help you, or something along those lines.

Hiring Mercenary Goons At The Black Market

  • Added a new black market action: Hire Security
    • These will defend outposts you control from enemy armadas trying to destroy them. This decreases the remaining number of security units, but you can hire more.
  • Added a new black market action: Hire Scientists
    • These will assist you in Research-Technology dispatches, reducing the number of months a project will take (and being consumed in the process). This cannot reduce a project to fewer than 5 months, and any excess scientists will not be consumed.
    • Going along with this, Research-Technology will no longer let you pick a tech that would take over 30 months (taking scientists into account), as that would basically be a "blow up the galaxy" button.
  • Added a new black market action: Hire Construction Workers
    • These will assist you in Property-Development and Space-Outpost-Development dispatches, reducing the number of months a project will take (and being consumed in the process). This cannot reduce a project to fewer than 2 months, and any excess workers will not be consumed.
    • Going along with this, these building-stuff dispatches will no longer let you pick a tech that would take over 30 months (taking workers into account).

Combat Updates And Balance

  • During combat, once you have set your movement destination and it is now asking you what to attack, it now completely hides the special ability slots (the last 3, not the first three that are gun-switching), and disables the ability to hit those special abilities via hotkey.
    • The idea here is to make it clear that once you have set a movement target, you can't trigger a special ability. Previously, it would let you do it, but not actually move you, which I'm sure would throw some people. It also draws attention to the gun-switching for new players, limiting the options down to those.
  • The attack ring that shows your range when you are in attack mode is now more attractive, and no longer changes hues depending on the mode you are presently in. That was a bit confusing, and didn't look great.
  • When you are in attack mode, it now shows a new row of 5 icons above the tooltip area, letting you click to choose an attack mode as well as showing you the tooltips for what each one does, and showing highlights for the one you are currently in.
  • Now if there are flagships hostile to you in a combat, at least 1 will gun for you. Wouldn't want you to get lonely.
    • Similarly, if there are squadrons hostile to you in a combat, at least 2 will make you their special priority.
    • Thanks to Mick for inspiring this change.
  • Short-wave virus now has a range of 1000 instead of a range of 500, actually making it useful.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • Insta-fire weapons (lasers, gravity lances, etc) no longer get range buffs on the higher difficulty levels. That made them just insanely too powerful. They are bad enough on Normal as it is, heh. Which is to say, about right.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting this insanity, as well as the fact that they were drawing at the wrong ranges anyhow.
  • The max health of golems that are guarding hydral tech has been dropped substantially. This won't affect existing savegames, however, as those numbers get baked in.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • The shot speed of golem mass drivers has been reduced by over half. This was one that just got missed in terms of its changes. If it still seems too fast, please let us know.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • On various combat difficulty levels, the deployment speeds of squadrons now vary:
    • You Are So OP: 0.5x
    • Hard: 1.5x
    • Misery: 2x
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.

Alpha Version .812

(Released March 27, 2014)

  • The names of the attitude and influence ranges have been changed around to all be briefer (one word) so that they are easier-read and so that they don't cause line-wraps in unhelpful places.
    • Thanks to Cinth for inspiring this change.
  • Previously, events had their own special colors, instead of being colored to match the race that was experiencing the event. This was definitely confusing! Also, a few key events (disease, join federation) also had special confusing colors. All fixed.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Previously, if a "dire action" like creation of a planetcracker was showing next to a race's planet in the solar map, it would be red. Fixed.
  • The Housing Boom icon showed Baby Boom as the text.
    • Thanks to alocritani for reporting.
  • The way that the RCI-style planetary health bars is represented has been completely changed up. Now it no longer shows the bars on them, or the arrows leading up and down. The icons themselves have also changed in general appearance. Now it shows the icons in the standard HUD color when it is not trending, blue when it is rising, and purple when it is falling. Next to the icons, it shows the value as a number, now that the bar is gone.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for suggesting the move to having numbers.
  • Ghost/observer mode is now consistently called observer mode.
  • The various overlay information at each planet on the solar map is now icon-based instead of using text for everything. This makes it more compact. They also now all include tooltips, so they are more informative anyhow. And it's more attractive.
    • These tooltips are actually super useful even for players who have already been playing, I expect. A number of game mechanics that were not explained elsewhere to my recollection are explained contextually here.
  • The position of the overlay information on the solar map is now better, and scales down as you zoom out as well. That makes it so that you can actually see the solar map effectively with this on, whereas before it would just get to be a jumbled mess. Of course, with this the text gets too small to read once you zoom out a certain amount, but that's kind of just one of those tradeoffs, really.

Solar Map Balance And Enhancements

  • Fixed a freeze (and a ton of possible other ones) introduced by the logic that made Acutians/Evucks stick to their planetcracker/gas-giant-ignition by refusing to end those actions (previously the code relied on the assumption that an action told to end would, in fact, end; the Acutians and Evucks are not so easily swayed).
    • As a side-effect, it is now possible to stop a planetcracker-under-construction through the "Stop Attacking" deal with the Acutians. Previously this would just freeze the game as the code repeatedly told the Acutians "Stop That!" and the Acutians equally-repeatedly told the code "No".
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for the report and save.
  • The "gift raw resources" contract now has the same variable-quantity control as "sell raw resources".
    • Thanks to Misery for the suggestion.
  • The rules where player-to-race Influence and race-to-race Attitude were clamped to the -100:100 interval (and sometimes more narrowly due to assassinations, etc) have been completely removed.
    • This may lead to other math breaking because it assumed those values would stay in that range, let us know if there are problems.
    • This also causes assassinations and such to not really have a significant enough impact, but that will be made up through direct influence/attitude modifiers shortly.
  • The assassination contracts (vs Boarines, Burlusts, Evucks, and Thoraxians) now all have direct (and high) influence impacts.
    • Winning a duel vs a burlust warlord now also has a substantial positive influence impact.
    • And Evucks get generally suspicious of all the other races when a council member dies.
  • Eight new influence factors, and one new attitude factor, have been added in.
  • The max duration of a "pick how many months" dispatch from 40 => 20.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.

Combat Balance And Enhancements

  • The speed of combat has been slowed back down to what it was two releases ago. So has the turning arc of player flagships.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The speed of all bullets has been dropped to 66% of its prior value.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • If you were in hold-fire mode or autoresolve mode the prior turn, it now keeps you in this the next turn.
  • The taser turrets now use a beam like the capture beams that makes it more clear that this is something different from a gravity weapon—and hence why they are holding you in place.
    • Thanks to zharmad for suggesting.
  • If you press the keys for going into any of the specific attack modes when you are still in movement mode, it now just skips directly to that attack mode rather than making you hit Q first. This was constantly tripping Chris up and he couldn't have been the only one.
  • Non-player ships no longer regen their shields, but they now have shields that are 3x stronger than before.
    • This makes shields still something that is relevant on enemies (and let's face it, they were pretty easy to chop through before), but not something that are annoyingly coming back on and off through turns.
    • Your shields still work as before.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • Increasing the size of all the bullets and missiles during combat. This makes them a lot easier to see, and more attractive in general.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • Enemy shots now use a different color than your and allied/neutral shots. That way you know not what to let hit you.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The graphics for all of the kinds of shots in general have been altered.
  • The firing rates of many of the shots have been adjusted (as have the damages caused by them, in order to keep the DPS the same) so that there are more gaps through which you can move your ship between turns. This helps to add tactics to your movement since you can actually effectively dodge things versus being too trapped. In general, actually this makes it so that a big part of the tactics is navigating between the various shots as they travel around. If there are any that still seem too fast for this to be reasonable, please let us know!
  • Now when a combat is started:
    • Any hostile turrets or defensive goodies that would be in attack range of you are simply removed before you see them.
    • Any hostile ships that would be in attack range of you are bumped back (at the same angle) until they're out of attack range of you.
    • Thanks to Misery and Billick for inspiring these changes.
  • When the "stooge around" radius of non-player flagships was pulled all the way in to 1000 it generally put the friendly, neutral, and hostile flagships all kind of on top of each other (if there were very many of them at all). Now it puts the friendly and neutral ones out at 3000, with the hostiles still at 1000.
    • The friendly and neutral ones still use the 1000-radius points as their destinations, so they'll close in, but now there'll actually be a process of getting into range.
    • Thanks to Cinth for inspiring this change.

Alpha Version .811

(Released March 26, 2014)

  • Outposts now use the Black Market music theme, rather than being silent.
  • The ship power multiplier for the player and for races, and the pirate ship multiplier per race, is now shown in the racial power grid. This is, after all, pretty pertinent information!
  • Bargaining Power has been renamed to Credit. This is something that should be a lot more intuitive in terms of understanding that this is a currency, and in distancing it from Influence. That said, it's not CreditS with an S, as that seems like something that is most definitely specific currency. Instead, Credit singular is something that could imply both social things, debt things, or currency—and honestly the concept is a mix of all of those, so it seems pretty perfect.
  • Icons (with colors) have been added to all of the various solar map HUD buttons, so that it is not just walls of text inside some of the tabs. This makes it a lot easier to quickly recognize which button you want to click, even if you are an experienced player.
  • The range cones for the turrets now finally show their proper firing arcs to go with their radii.
  • Rather than taking a certain number of seconds to withdraw, the game now takes 5 turns. Each time your ship is hit, it adds another turn (but still max 5). This is mostly the equivalent of the old system (except that hits from enemies set you back twice as much), but is clearer in the new turn-based model.
    • Thanks to alocritani for suggesting.
  • The number of turns left before withdraw is completed is now shown right on the main GUI, underneath the "Withdrawing..." popup. Of course this is still in the tooltip that shows as well, but now this is more centrally visible.
  • The withdraw confirmation tooltip has been updated to reflect the revised withdraw mechanics, and also to point out that starting to withdraw costs you a turn of not being able to do anything else.
    • Thanks to waylon531 and mrhanman for suggesting.
  • The won/lost/inconclusive results status of an ended combat is now shown directly below the end combat button, adding a bit of clarity there.
  • The number of turns left, or what turn you are on, is now shown a bit differently in the upper left corner, and in a better font.
  • The "Planetary Inventories" screen has been removed since the advanced-details sidebar was already doing so much of what it did and was more easily accessible.
    • In doing this, the last bits of info (buildings and spy probes) were added to the advanced-details sidebar.
  • The raid-planet-for-ship-design and raid-planet-for-tech missions also no longer seed that curious unrelated freighter. They used to use that as the thing to capture (iirc), but that was switched to use an orbital science lab instead.
  • In the solar map, you can now zoom way WAY out, so that you're never caught in a situation where you just can't see something because it is slightly off the edge of your screen.
    • Thanks to doctorfrog for inspiring this change.
  • In the combat map, you can also now zoom exceedingly far out, but you still can't pan. So there is some sense of distance from things in that you can only see stuff that is far away as being, well, tiny. But you can still get a good sense of stuff. This seems to be a good compromise between having horse blinders on and being able to just pan all over the place independently of your ship (which, aside from feeling a bit iffy, also leads to controls awkwardness. Something that bothered Chris in Bionic).
  • The last two battle music tracks are now in place. The soundtrack for The Last Federation is now complete!
  • Fixed an exception that would happen in previous versions of the game when you moused over hull tech in your inventory screen.
    • Thanks to mrhanman for reporting.

Solar Map Updates And Balance

  • There's now a "Cancel Dispatch" button on the dispatch-progress window for when the progress window has effectively informed you that "it all hit the fan".
    • Progress on a "Research Technology" dispatch will be saved, however, and carries over to any future attempts by you at that contract with that tech (even with a different "sponsor" race).
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for the suggestion.
  • The number and quality of hull types that a race has now add a small bit of a multiplier to the attack power of their fleets, both in terms of all direct attacks and NPC-vs-NPC auto-resolving. This is also divided out by pirate forces and normal forces. This helps to make further ship designs more relevant for more than just variety, and to bring them into the NPC-vs-NPC auto-resolving, which previously did not factor them at all.
  • A ton of stuff in the game now runs at about a third of the speed it used to. Population birth/death rate, races building armadas, races researching techs, races building personnel transports, etc.
    • This makes the solar system evolve at a more measured pace in terms of months and years, which is the idea. It also makes it so that things go downhill faster when it comes to wars and so forth, again reflecting more reasonable timeframes. This is particularly important since the dispatch missions were designed with these more reasonable timeframes in mind, but of course the previous timesframes were batshot crazy. ;)
  • The "time cost" of combat (in solar map time, not wall-clock-time) is now turns_spent / 2 in relative-time sim seconds. It's no longer based on what kind of contract you were on at the time.
    • The contract-based time costs are still there for various non-combat things.
    • Thanks to zharmad for inspiring this change.
  • The "left click a fleet on the solar map to launch a surprise attack" function now has a confirm popup.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.
  • All races (even Andors) are now very aggressive about launching attacks if they have over 4 times the power of a race they strongly dislike (< -25 attitude) or that they are less-than-neutral (< 0 attitude) to and that really hates them (< -75 attitude).
  • The general self-construction rates of the Andors and Acutians has been cut down substantially.
  • Previously non-warlike races would have their birthrate on a planet drop to zero once they hit the "equilibrium" population for that planet. This is still true. But now warlike races also have this happen, but at 1.05 * the equilibrium level. Previously they would just go on growing at full rate, leading to stuff like a quarter of a trillion people on an earth-like planet and that kind of thing.
  • Previously orbital bombardment power (of NPC fleets in orbit around a planet they were attacking but couldn't successfully invade yet) was purely based on the count of armadas doing the bombing. Now it factors in flotilla count, power level, attack-bonuses from tech, etc.
  • Races now can only support at most one armada per X million people (minimum 10 armadas). This won't impact races with huge populations, but it does help keep those with one relatively small planet from building up a swarm of hundreds of armadas, generally. X varies by race as follows:
    • Acutian: 18
    • Andor: 10
    • Boarine: 1
    • Burlust: 13
    • Evuck: 10
    • Peltian: 5
    • Thoraxian: 1.5
    • Skylaxian: 10
    • These numbers generally correlate to the equilibrium population densities of the races. However, it can have an impact on them (negatively, generally) if their compatibility with a planet is low and is thus affecting their birth and death rates there.
  • The "Hold Off Overwhelming Attack" contract no longer creates a defending armada out of thin air, but draws from a new "emergency reserve squadrons" counter on the planet.
    • Each planet and outpost now has one of these, and they gain about 1 power per 5 relative-game-seconds, up to a max of 25 for that planet/outpost.
    • So this contract no longer has any defending flagships (unless they were already there on the map in non-defense fleets), and the number of squadrons that will come to support you depend on the emergency reserve. Losses from those squadrons will be deducted from the emergency reserve, so if you make two attempts very close together there may be very little (possibly no) support if your ally took a lot of casualties the first time.
  • The following contracts now also use the emergency reserve mechanic instead of out-of-thin-air defenders:
    • Capture Science Outpost
    • Capture Manufacturing Outpost
    • Destroy Military Outpost
    • Raid Planet For Ship Design
    • Raid Planet For Tech
  • Previously the Attack-Defending-Armadas-With-Help and Attack-AFA-With-Help contracts would make up armadas of the assisting race out of thin air (in addition to whatever real armadas may have been around to join the party). Now it still pulls in those assistance armadas but they have to come from somewhere, and that somewhere takes whatever losses those armadas take in the combat.
    • The pulled-in armadas are not actually moved on the solar map.
  • Races no longer get "disgruntled at a lack of attention." This worked particularly poorly with the new dispatch missions.
  • The willingness of races to take drastic actions (Evuck gas giant ignition, Acutian planetcracker) has gone way down to more reasonable levels. Also, the amount of time it takes for a planetcracker to complete has been dropped a lot.
    • Thanks to alocritani for inspiring these changes.

Combat Updates And Balance

  • The special racial flagships of enemy races no longer show up until 9 years into the game (1 hour of relative time).
  • Shots from player-directed weapons no longer all inherently break the shots of other ships.
  • The balance on shot speeds is now completely redone.
  • Mass Drivers now shoot twice as many bullets, but at half the attack power per bullet now.
  • In general, the speed cap on shots is a bit lower so that we don't run into physics issues with shots missing small targets, particularly at low framerates. It also becomes easier to actually SEE your shots. For most types of shots this will not make a noticeable difference to anyone.
  • There is now a slight procedural element to the attack power of enemy ships, just like there already was with their health, shields, and speed. The variance to their shot speed is gone, however.
  • The whole mechanic with debris slowing down ships that pass over them has been removed. This is something that was becoming less and less of a relevant factor in the first place, and for players it could lead to a desire to set up waypoints in the new turn-based model, which is something we'd really prefer to avoid just for the sake of simplicity and speed of turn-setup for players (aka having a minimum amount of time between you deciding on a course of action and actually carrying that action out).
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for inspiring this change.
  • The attack range of pretty much all the enemy ships (but not player ships) have been increased dramatically.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The attack range of sniper cannons has been decreased a lot.
  • The attack cone of sniper cannons has been reduced from 110 to 90, and all of the other forms of snipers also now have an attack cone of 90.
  • The burst shots that claymores and burlust longships use now have an attack cone of 90.
  • Drastically slowed down the speed of homing missiles, because good grief it is impossible to live with them with their new increased range if there are so many chasing you and no way to really dodge them. Also slowed down their rate of fire so that there are not so many of them sitting around all the time.
  • The gravity well no longer has any effect on shots, as this was causing all sorts of confusion from a player standpoint, misses with autotargeting, and more. It just was a really squiffy mechanic.
  • Fixed a bug from the previous version of the game where your shots were accidentally able to go well beyond their firing range. This made things exceedingly easier than they were supposed to be!
  • Fixed an AI bug where ships would not approach so that their target were in range of all their guns (if they had multiple guns), but instead just would approach so that their first weapon (whatever that happened to be) was in range. This fix makes enemy flagships considerably more dangerous to you and to each other.
  • Sped up the default pacing of combat a bit, so that it would not feel sluggish. Fast forward also works even faster now, though it's not lightning-speed or anything.
  • The speeding up and slowing down of time at the start and end of each combat turn is now significantly less harsh. This was just a visual nicety to make it not jerky, but it wound up making it feel ponderous instead.
  • The speed at which your movement and attack rings pop out of your ship after a turn has gone up to make that feel more snappy, too.
  • Turns now last for 25% longer under the hood, making it so that you can move further distances in one jolt.
  • The turning radius of your ship is now a wider, making it feel more massive. The same is true of enemy flagships as well, but to a larger extent with them.
  • The Afterburner ability now works properly (finally), but now only gives you a 4x boost in speed and distance you can travel, now 10x (trust us, this is PLENTY).
  • The acceleration of ships is now a function of their own max speed, rather than of an arbitrary baseline ship speed. Aka, ships that travel faster now also have more acceleration.
  • The cooldown times on all of the player special abilities have had some serious readjustment, generally in the downward direction.

New Attack Modes

  • The autofire button in the bottom bar of the HUD has been removed. Instead, there are now a variety of attack modes that you get to choose from once you are in attack-setting mode.
    • Fire At Selected Ships(s) (hotkey: S)
    • In target-ships firing mode, you choose a specific list of one or more ships for your flagship to fire at. As long as they remain in range and alive, it will divide its shots between them, firing at them one after the other in rotation. If all the ships die before the turn is over, then it will act as if it is in autofire mode for the rest of that turn. If you already have your desired targets selected, you can press this key a second time to begin the action.
    • Autofire (hotkey: a)
    • In autofire mode, your ship will automatically choose the best targets to fire at depending on which direct weapon you currently have equipped. This is useful when you are being swarmed by small ships, but unwise to use in tactically-tense situations. To confirm your auto-fire order, press this key a second time after you switch into that mode.
    • Target Point (hotkey: D)
    • In target-point firing mode, you choose a exact point for your flagship to fire at as it moves. This is great for when you want to line up anticipatory lines of fire.
    • Target Angle (hotkey: W)
    • In angle-point firing mode, you choose a specific angle from which your flagship will continue firing at relative to itself as it moves. This is not good to use with slow-firing weapons, as they will tend to miss targets. But with rapid-fire weapons, this is a great way to "sweep" a line of enemies at a specific angle.
    • Hold Fire (hotkey: Q)
    • Your ship won't fire its gun under any circumstances. Useful when you are hiding behind a debris field, or just moving around empty space.

Combat GUI Improvements

  • When you are setting the movement for your ship, it now shows you a line indicating where it will go if you click now, and it also shows an outline of your ship at the location it would wind up in order to give an even clearer indication of what would happen.
    • Additionally, once you have selected your movement spot, then it keeps drawing that ship outline at the chosen destination, again to help with understanding just what it is you are doing.
  • Using the Q key, it is now possible to skip giving attack orders in the same manner that you could already ship giving movement orders. This way you don't HAVE to shoot.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • When you are in the "set attack target point" or "set target angle" stage of combat, it now shows a projected line of shots, or else the beam weapon, between the cursor and your ship. That's not the actual line of shots that will happen unless your ship stays still, but it does give you a way to project what is going to happen, as well as a very clear visual cue of what mode you are in at the moment.
  • When you are in the "set target point" or "set selected target ships" stage of combat, it now shows a little targeting reticule at your cursor.
  • When you are in attack-choosing mode, the tooltip area shows the description of what your current attack mode is, as well as the hotkeys for switching to the other modes.
  • When you are in any form of attack-choosing mode or movement-choosing mode, the game now makes this super clear by showing the mode as a popup right above your ability icons.
  • Previously, shots would only show tooltips when you hovered over them when the game was paused, because otherwise the tooltip was constantly flickering.
    • Now both shots and debris only show their tooltips when the game is paused or you are in turn-setting mode. If you are watching a turn unfold, it doesn't give tooltips for either one.

Alpha Version .810

(Released March 25, 2014)

  • The dispatch missions now show how much BP they generate per month in the main listing of contracts.
  • The player is now able to zoom out further during battles.
  • The ability to customize your flagship has been moved from the black market to instead being directly on your main panel in the solar map (next to the inventory button). This is frankly a central feature of the game, and having it buried over at the black market was going to be confusing to new players. But even more than that, for experienced players it is still annoying to have to fly over there every time you want to make some tweak. Now you're not having to go to the black market constantly; you only need to go there if you want to actually do some deals with the mercenaries, which is thankfully much less common.
  • The fast forward and super fast forward buttons in the solar map (and the related keybinds) have been removed except for during observer mode. There is really no good reason to ever be fast-forwarding anymore when you are actually playing the game, now that dispatch missions and so forth exist. If you're fast forwarding, you're wasting important resources (months you could be spending doing a dispatch mission, which jumps you to the future just as well).
    • The idea here is mainly to avoid new-player confusion, but frankly it's just not an option that makes sense anymore as a gameplay mechanic. Unless you're just there to watch, of course.
  • Super Fast Forward has been removed from the battle bar and keybinds, because if you are finding yourself needing things to run that fast now, then we're doing something wrong in this new turn-based model.
  • Fast Forward during battles has been retained, because some people will want to just "get on with it," just as the slow motion has been retained because some people will want to study some turn playbacks in more depth. That said, Fast Forward has been converted to a toggle during battles rather than being something you have to hold down, which acts more like people expect (and now makes sense here).
  • In NPC vs NPC combat (which is autoresolved) a Planet/Outpost's defenders get a bonus to reflect the local turretry and such defensive advantages. Non-military outposts get 1.5x, planets get 2x, and military outposts get 2.5x.
  • The "do I have to be friendly?" logic is now largely node-to-node rather than race-to-race, which allows for a new rule that other races will not attack outposts you personally own unless either they REALLY hate you or you've got several outposts.
  • Now if you have more than 4 outposts of your own the pirates prioritize them quite highly.
  • Normal flock blips no longer expand the minimap area if they fly out of it. Flagships and objectives will still do so.
  • Now when a race takes over a planet (via assault or surrender) that is the homeworld of the race that they are taking the planet from, it steals a quarter of the stealable techs that the previous owner had.
  • Races will now advance towards spacefaring way faster if there's only 1 spacefaring race alive past the 30-minute mark, or if a race has more than 4 planets.
    • Also, non-spacefaring races are now considered fair game for other races to attack after the one-hour mark.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for inspiring these changes.
  • Fixed a bug from the prior version where the 1 million BP boost from the Time Travel tech was being applied to players even when they did not have that tech!
    • Thanks to alocritani, Darloth, and Hyfrydle for reporting.
  • The graphics of the beam weapons have been vaaaaastly improved. Boy they are slick-looking now. :)
  • The contract buttons for contracts whose BP cost varies based on which race (and in some cases, which second race) are selected in the dropdowns now simulate the cost of each possible race (and combination of races, in the pick-two cases) and list the minimum and maximum on the button.
    • The description column to the side still just lists the actual cost that the current selections would require (if those selections are valid).
    • Thanks to YoukaiCountry for inspiring this change.
  • The buy/search-for hydral tech contracts now are no longer eligible if there are no types of hydral tech left that you don't have that are compatible with your flagship.
    • Thanks to Histidine for inspiring this change.
  • The solar map now won't let the player move way outside the play area.
    • Thanks to Histidine for the suggestion.
  • The "each opt-out only shows once per game session" rule (which would reset every time you quit a game and started or loaded a new one) is now "each opt-out only shows once per application session", so if you start multiple new games in a single run of the app it will remember not to show you those opt-outs over and over.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.
  • The solar map tooltip for pirate fleets no longer claims that they are the pirates that don't do anything.
    • Thanks to Misery for the report.
  • The three little buttons on the side of the minimap now have tooltips.
  • The Shadow Research Facility description has apparently been completely incorrect for a while. Fixed.
  • Fixed a textual issue where Shortwave Virus claimed to work on a range of 300 still when it was really 500.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.

Combat Goes WeGo Turn-Based

  • Our existing combat was in general too twitch-based to really make sense in the full context of a strategy game. It was super fun, so we're going to split that out into another game later this year so that this game doesn't get too schizophrenic with its genre identity. In the meantime, the combat here is evolving yet again—and yet, I say evolving, despite the scale of this change. 99% of what you already knew and loved about combat in the game (if you played it) is still here. However, it's now built into a framework that is completely thoughtful rather than twitch-based. You plan a turn's move and attack, and then it executes your orders within the exact same battle engine that has existed up until now. After a preset amount of time, the turn ends and you regain control and set your next actions.
  • During each turn of combat, the player is asked to first choose a movement location, then a point to fire their main guns at. Alternatively, they can click one of their special abilities. Each turn uses 2 seconds of game-time, and then reverts to letting you choose your options.
  • The ability to adjust the "battle speed" inside of the settings menu, or when starting a new game, has been removed. It's frankly a relief not to need this anymore, as that was always a matter of fiddly preference depending on the player. Now that this is turn-based, it's just not relevant anymore.
  • A lot of combat hotkeys relating to movement have been removed, as they no longer make sense. The WASD controls now work in the solar map only, and the same goes for the "stop all movement" key (Q). The "move at half speed" keybind has been removed completely.
  • The big "Start Combat" and "Withdraw From Combat" buttons that normally would be shown when you were first entering a combat are now gone. They no longer served any purpose, since this is now turn-based. The existing smaller withdraw button does now allow you to instantly retreat from battle just like the larger one did, though. This gets you into battle without that pause period before it, though which makes the most sense now.
  • During combat, the hotkey "Q" now lets you skip giving a movement order to your ship, and instead just shoot at something from your current position.
  • There is now an auto-fire mode that you can toggle on for your ships during battle. If this is on, then your ship will automatically target the best possible targets that are within range given the active weapon type you have selected.
    • This definitely isn't a cheat—it can save you some time, yes. And if you are attacked by a swarm of small ships then it is tactically smart to turn this on and use the minigun, yes. However, if you want to do things like precisely line up shots to hit multiple ships, or choose your own ideal target order, you'll still want to use manual fire.
    • In other words, the expert player will actually use a mix of autofire and non-autofire. This is a tool, not a cheat, and it is better in some circumstances than in others. If you vastly out-rank your enemy in terms of firepower, this is also a good way to just speed through the battle.
    • And please note that of course this doesn't do anything in terms of triggering active abilities, so that's always in your hands no matter what.
    • Oh—and also, since you can shoot down enemy projectiles now, that's something that you have to target for manually if you want to hit them (as opposed to dodging them). Autofire considers ships only.
  • While you are triggering a special ability, that is a case where you cannot move or attack in the normal sense. However, during that turn your ship will automatically autofire using your currently-selected weapon, so it's not a completely wasted turn in terms of your ability to lay down either suppressing fire or damage in general. This happens whether or not your generalized auto-fire toggle is on.
  • All of the ships and special abilities that previously said things like "about 30 seconds" or other vague things are now instead expressed very concretely in the number of turns they last.

Battlefield Scale Adjustments

  • The general premise here is that there was too much dead space between points of interest. While that may or may not be realistic depending on your point of view, it leads to having to fly around in a boring type of fashion and thus the need for super-fast-forward, and it also led to fights being longer than they needed to be, plus dispersing the potential threats so much that past a certain point they would cease to be threats because you could just take them on one at a time.
  • Reduced the radii of a lot of the "constellations" of turrets, and made it so that they pack much closer together now. This keeps them from being these isolated things, and instead lets them combine and work together as trench-like defenses that are a lot more threatening. This was always the intent anyhow, but now we're getting that balanced better.
  • The number of flagships per flotilla has been reduced from 3 to 2 on normal difficulty and up, and from 2 to 1 on easy difficulty. The increased difficulty in the coming version won't rely on sheer numbers (which simply accomplish lengthening out the time it takes to play the battle, and little else).
  • Flagships now participate in the logic that keeps ships from stacking up on one another too closely. It makes it too easy to hit all of them, and looks odd. This is particularly important with the more compact battlefield layouts.
  • All squadrons and flagships now try not to park directly on top of things like satellites and other defenses. It makes it too easy to hit all of them, and looks odd. This is particularly important with the more compact battlefield layouts.
  • The distance at which attacking flagships "stooge around" the perimeter of a battlefield is vastly smaller now. They get in there and mix it up, now!

Major Combat Balance Updates

  • All of the direct player weapons now destroy debris on impact (though all don't pierce through, of course), and all of them also destroy any incoming shots that they collide with, too. In the new model, this is important, because you can't easily dodge incoming shots anymore (but at the same time you can't just carpet-blast an entire area with munitions, so this doesn't get exploity, either).
  • Now your flagship is always repaired after every battle, and the buy-repairs contract has been removed. There was no point to making the player go through the motions on this, now. It didn't add to the fun.
  • The cloaking mechanic has been rewired so that it now lasts for a fixed amount of turns, but the ship can still fire as normal during those turns without having to decloak.
  • The attack power of all enemy ships is now 6x higher than before, but your guns are no more powerful. In a generalized sense, nobody has any more health, so the various enemy ships do a lot more damage when attacking one another in particular, as well as you.
  • That said (in new games only, not existing ones), your flagship's health and shields are now:
    • 4x stronger than your enemies, instead of 2x, on Easy.
    • 2x stronger than your enemies, instead of 1x, on Normal.
    • same as your enemies, instead of 0.5x, on Hard.
    • 0.5x weaker than your enemies, instead of 0.25x, on Misery.
    • This was needed to keep you in some semblance of aliveness while the enemies are able to actually do more to one another than swing with nerf bats.
  • The deployment speed of enemy ships is now 4x faster than it was before, since now the battles are taking place over shorter, more intense periods of actual action-time.
  • The overall net effect of these changes so far is that, on Normal difficulty, a battle that previously I would just skate through with no real mental energy now requires precision moves over about 45 turns, and I escape with about 15% of my hull intact. Yow. This may have swung too far in the difficult direction, we shall see. If so, it will be a matter of tuning player flagship health up most likely, as enemy attack powers seem like they are roughly in a good place when we're talking about the damage they can do to one another. The deployment rates are also scary enough that you see lots of enemy ships even with such a short number of turns, too, so that feels right to me. We shall see.

More Dispatch Missions

  • Added a new friendly action dispatch mission: Expand Usable Land Area
    • This planet still has a lot of area that could be habitable with the proper attention. If you're feeling like giving this race a boost you can spend a few months on the task.
    • Only available on planets with 100 or more units of unusable land area (the amount of usable and unusable is visible on the planet sidebar, if you have that showing).
  • Added a new friendly action dispatch mission: Assist With Armada Construction
    • Sometimes construction crews just work faster when a large multi-headed monster is glaring menacingly at them. You might even be able to help with the work itself. Either way, you can spend some months helping the locals build warships about 3 times as fast as normal. If you believe it to be in your best interest.
  • Added a new hostile action dispatch mission: Tactical Support For Resistance Fighters
    • It would probably be very difficult to make a 'Che' t-shirt with a Hydral's face(s). Nonetheless, if you find this planet's current regime intolerable (and the rebels less onerous) you can use your ship to lend direct tactical support to the resistance over the coming months. The current regime will not be amused, but is not able to catch you.

Alpha Version .809

(Released March 21, 2014)

  • The destroyed planet graphics have been improved so that they are now more visible, and look more molten/glowing where they are still busted-up.
  • The way that your inventory shows hull techs and planetary techs is a lot more clear; there was previously some seemingly-strange unexplained stuff. It also no longer shows hull techs that everyone would have right from the start of the game, aka that you did not have to acquire.
  • The actions for Sell Bribe Item, Buy Bribe Item, Sell Raw Resources, and Buy Hydral Tech now all have a numeric dropdown for quantity.
    • Very helpful so that you don't have to just keep repeatedly doing those actions in a frustrating way if you want to buy or sell a bunch of stuff.
  • Fixed a bug where you could save your game after the End Combat button had popped up, and then when you loaded the game it would not actually give you any of the results of the combat. Made it so that hitting escape simply now triggers the end combat button, so that you can't save then.
    • There's no reason not to go the few extra moments to the solar map to save, anyhow, so this is one of those things where taking a bunch of hours to chase down the underlying issue definitely would not have been worth it.
  • Fixed a bug where the minimum death rate on planets was instead being clamped to the maximum death rate, leading to things not having the proper variance they were supposed to have.
  • Added two new "ultimate" techs: God Mote and Time Travel.
    • These are both exceedingly, exceedingly unlikely to ever be researched in almost all games. And when they are, they are basically game-enders. But if you can keep the solar system from tearing itself apart, without forming a federation, for long enough... these are amazing. For you or for whatever race holds these powers.
    • This brings the current number of techs in the game up to 63, if anyone is keeping count.
  • Updated the formatting of the Solar Date to include ordinal suffixes on the day, and to also include a roman numeral indicator of the Month of the year between the day and season indicators. It's definitely not like our gregorian calendar, hah.
  • Fixed up some logic with AIs harvesting space junk, where it was helping a few things it should not have been, but not helping anything quite as much as it should have been. So the effects of that racial action are now a lot more significant.
  • Fixed a bug where non-spacefaring races were able to spawn skirmisher fleets.
    • Thanks to Misery, alocritani, and Hyfrydle for reporting.
  • Lots of formatting improvements to the racial power grid to make it easier to read.
  • The racial power grid now shows columns for the number of techs held by each race, and their science and manufacturing rates.
  • The racial power grid now includes a line for you, the last hydral, so that you can compare your outposts, techs, science, and manufacturing rates to the other races with ease.
  • The advanced planetary details screen, and planetary inventory screens, now include a new "Ground Power" line, which reflects the total effectiveness of troops and not just the raw number of soldiers.
  • The graph for the count of soldiers has been adjusted to now instead be a graph of ground power.
  • Chatter icon updated.
  • The icon for pirates has been updated to something way cooler and more attractive.
  • The checkmark used in the technology window is now updated to something that looks better and clearer. It also now shows a red not-afailable mark for any of the technologies that are not valid for a give race, which in turn makes many things a lot clearer.

More Solar Map AI Improvements

  • The Evucks are now a lot more serious about igniting their gas giants when they decide to do so. Previously they would get wishy-washy and go back on their decision if the situation improved slightly, and then change their mind and start igniting it again as soon as things got worse, etc.
    • Now, once they start the ignition, the only thing that can stop them is kicking them off any and all gas giants they control.
  • The Acutians are now a lot more serious about the planet crackers that they use when they decide to do so. Again, like the Evucks, they could change their minds annoyingly frequently.
    • Now they won't back down on their decision unless they wind up no longer having any uncolonized moons on any planets they control. Hint, hint.
  • If two races each have a mutual attitude of 60 towards one another, then for the time that remains true, that is considered good enough as being in the same alliance—aka, they won't attack one another, they will do friendly things for one another, etc.
  • If the Evucks are igniting their gas giant, they are kicked out of any alliances they are currently in, except something solo like a fear empire.
  • Races now have a max number of outposts of each type (which varies by race) which they will not build outposts beyond. To keep things from getting too cluttered and too runaway, and to let them divert their resources and attention elsewhere. The likelihood of this actually getting hit is pretty phenomenally low at the moment, because of battles and so forth, but edge cases always crop up.
  • Races now do a better job of judging how scary other races are relative to themselves, which is involved in fear attacks as well as in races choosing how to allocate their budgets and technology preferences, etc.
  • The planetary budgeting process of the AI has been improved a bit, and is now more race-specific in a few cases, reflecting their personalities better. That was already the large case in many ways, but a few tweaks has made it even more so.
  • Races that are not yet spacefaring now manage the budgets on their planets better; putting much more emphasis on land clearing and building construction.

Balance Improvements For The Solar Map

  • The birth rate of Thoraxians has been cut down quite a bit. This won't affect existing savegames.
  • The concept of "suppression" of local planets building more ships has gone away. That was something that had kind of a dogpiling effect where a race that was already hurting would just get squashed faster.
    • Now the races that are being hit with "overwhelming force" instead put all their budget into working on armadas. This helps to make it a little less of a quick pushover when someone gets outgunned.
  • The balance of base building/outpost/personnel-pod speed construction multipliers has been altered for the various races, providing more variance than it previously did. This will affect existing savegames.
  • The balance of base ship construction speed multipliers has been altered for the various races, providing more variance than it previously did. This will affect existing savegames.
  • In general, the speed of personnel pod generation has been cut waaay down, so that ground combat can't be as overwhelmingly effective with no breather in between waves. This will affect existing savegames.

More Attitude Shifts

  • Previously it was possible to get races with really polar opposite opinions of one another. Aka, one race loved the other, and the other one absolutely detested them. This is something that naturally comes about on occasion, and the underlying mechanism makes sense. However, the races not noticing this and adjusting their moods accordingly over time was not realistic. IF you hate me and I can tell, I'll like you less and less, too.
    • Now, the attitude of a race goes down by 2 per solar month when:
      • The other race has <= -25 attitude towards us, and we have > 10 attitude towards them.
    • Now, the attitude of a race—except the Acutians, Burlusts, and Thoraxians—goes up by 1 per month when:
      • The other race has >= 50 attitude towards us, and we have less than 20 attitude towards them but > -25 attitude towards them.
    • The overall effect is to cause less extreme drifts in opinions. If they are really hating one another and really liking each other, paradoxically, then one or both of them drift towards neutrality.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.
  • While the Evucks are igniting their gas giant, the attitude of all other races rapidly plummets towards them, making war against them more likely.
  • When a race has a Fear Empire, the attitude of all the other races continually falls toward them, reflecting the general worry of the severe aggression of that race. This makes realistic outbreaks of war more likely.
  • When a race is in a Smuggler Empire, the attitude of all other non-smuggler-empire races continually falls towards them out of disdain.
  • When a race is in The Betrayed, having left the federation, their attitude toward all the federation races continually falls out of that sense of betrayal.
  • When both races are not in any alliance, and are threatened by a scary alliance, and one's attitude towards the other is less than 10 but greater than or equal to -20, then that race's attitude rises by 1 per month.
  • When both races are in the federation together, and one's attitude is less than -10 to the other, then it rises by 1 per month.

Completely Revised Planetary Technology Research Model

  • The way that races go about researching technologies is now completely different than before. Previously it was a racial action, which meant a few things. Firstly, only races that were spacefaring could do it. Secondly, it was competing for one of two slots with a bunch of other racial actions, and thus was pretty rare for them to do.
    • Now the technology research is its own pipeline, rather like the budgetary pipeline per-planet is (buildings, pods, land clearing, armadas, armada improvement, etc), except this pipeline is global at the race.
    • This makes races much more invested into working on technologies, whereas before they would hardly ever do anything with them. This in turn helps to create an interesting tension between races that have technical prowess versus those that have military prowess. That was always the intention, but with it being based on the action pipeline it just was never coming together, really. This has been known for a long time, but I was never quite sure how to address it until now (and boy, what an enormous set of under the hood work that turned into in order to make this happen, too).
  • Races now use more intelligent AI to pick technology strategies. Moreover, this is now able to adapt to certain circumstances such as being in the Piteous Plight action state and thus focusing on things that will allow for population growth.
  • The Scientific Breakthrough event is now more likely to happen (before it would almost never happen), and it now works differently—granting a new tech at random from the leaf node techs, rather than finishing the currently in-progress one.
  • Previously, Evucks were mistakenly unable to steal vaccine technology, and races in the same alliance were unable to share such things, and Skylaxians and players were unable to gift such things. Now they are able to.
  • Each type of alliance now has a mutual-attitude threshold that has to be met between races before they will share techs with one another. This keeps the realism of tech sharing without it being something where techs get distributed too widely too fast, particularly between races that are allied, but don't really have much love for one another.
  • Previously, none of the planetary technologies ever benefited the player, but this is no longer the case. Now some of them will also benefit the player (and mention how).
  • The various technologies that boost the attack power of AI ships in battle now boost the hull and shields of your ship. Enemies never get their hulls/shields boosted, and you never get your attacks boosted (not by technologies, anyhow). Keeps things from getting grindy, but at the same time amps up the danger later in the game.
  • Anything that gives you a direct benefit to your ships now shows you what that benefit is when you are looking in your main inventory, so you can easily pick those out.
  • In the actions screens, you can now see how long your outsourcing contracts will actually be using your outposts!
    • Some of these have their values reduced based on your scientific or manufacturing prowess, which is new and useful.
  • A number of minor actions and events have been tweaked around to fit the revised technology stuff.
  • The technology window now has the technologies broken out into categories, with the categories colorized, with then alphabetization within those categories. This is a lot more useful than just one big alphabetized list with no easy context.
  • The player inventory now uses the nice sorting and coloring for the technologies the player has acquired, and also uses the proper columns for where the name versus the type goes, as well.
  • The player techs column is now the leftmost one on the technology grid.
  • When hovering over techs in the technology grid, it now colorizes which prerequisites you already have, and which you do not.
  • In the tech grid, it now shows you absolutely all the prerequisites for a given tech in its tooltip, rather than just the direct ones.
  • In the tech grid, it now shows the (newly added) months to research each tech.
  • The armada power levels were not properly taking into account the bonuses to ship power from technologies. This was affecting everything except the direct combat itself. So it was affecting NPC-on-NPC combat resolution, the display of armada powers on the interface and graphs, the way that races regard one another in terms of how scary they feel each other are or if there is a target of opportunity, etc.
    • Correcting this makes it so that a more technologically-advanced society (ship tech wise) can now properly take on a larger force of a less-advanced society.
  • Races that are not yet spacefaring now concentrate more of their resources into technology research, giving them double-speed research until they become spacefaring. This again helps to balance out those that are late to the party versus those that get into space earlier (and thus have superior armadas, most likely).
  • The function of a number of the technologies has been tweaked or their balance tuned, and in a few cases which race can use them has been changed up a bit. Additionally, the descriptions of all of them have been rewritten so that they say precisely what they do, rather than being vague.

More Randomization/Meat To The Start Of Each Game

  • Races are now granted a certain randomized number of randomized starting technologies at the start of each game—the range of how many techs they get is correlated to their general technical prowess, so Skylaxians start out with a lot and Peltians may actually sometimes have none.
    • Depending on what the races start with, this actually can really affect the balance early in the game, much as the racial compatibility with planets does. Aka, that way the first spacefaring race isn't always more dominant, and the thoraxians are less likely to dominate on every level, etc. There are more variables at play, which is more interesting.
  • The player, at the start of the game, is now granted 3 random techs that other races have. These techs can in turn be gifted to races that are missing them, right from the start of the game. This gives players more options right from the start in terms of ways to deal with races.
  • The player now starts out with four randomized resources on board their ship, in quantities ranging from 600 to 4000. This again gets the player off to a faster start, and gives them more options in terms of gifting things to races. And hey, this is just what happened to be onboard the flagship they stole. Lucky!

Opportunity Cost To Combat Missions

  • All combat missions except for the very first battle, and most criminal activities, and a few political deals, now have a "time cost" in solar map months to complete them.
    • This cost is shown up front before you start the contract, and is applied whether or not you succeed or fail the contract itself (it tells you that also). The amount of time that you take actually playing in the battle is irrelevant, so you shouldn't feel rushed there all of a sudden, or anything like that.
    • After the contract is over, the game goes into a super-fast-forward mode to show you what you missed, and then returns you to normal speed.
    • What does this accomplish? It makes it so that there is an opportunity cost to combat, as well as certain other kinds of missions. It's not something you can just grind away at to succeed, anymore. That was never the intent, but having combat basically be this "out of time" thing from the solar map did cause that to be the case. Our goal with combat being on its own time scale was to make it so that you wouldn't miss important things or feel rushed throughout combat, and that is important to maintain. However, the ability to basically be a one-Hydral army against a huge number of enemy armadas just through grinding away at them one by one, was really bad. With this change, if a planet gets attacked by 10 hostile armadas and you help out with one, well, you helped out with one. But that probably left time for the others to attack and whatever consequences happened from that, happened. That brings back the strategy to the fore, where you try not to get yourself into that situation in the first place.
    • Thanks to Billick for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug where withdrawing from certain contracts would take you to the black market when we did not mean them to. That was only supposed to happen with the AFA and Assassin attacks, and the context on even those has now been updated to make them a lot more clear.
    • Thanks to Darloth for reporting.

Related Updates To AFA and Assassin Attacks

  • When you are attacked by the AFA or Assassins, it used to be something you could not retreat from for a full 4 minutes. Now it is only 1 minute. However, if you retreat instead of winning, it will cost you 5 solar months of time to lose them. This is now the opportunity cost of fleeing rather than fighting—several players were discussing this the other day, and it really was an excellent idea.
  • Related to all of this, the way that the logic for AFA and assassins attacking you is handled is now a lot better. There's no point going into all the internal details, but the general idea is:
    • 1. It's a lot less frequent that you get attacked, because getting attacked too frequently is just plain annoying.
    • 2. The frequency of attacks does not go up on Hard and Misery combat difficulties compared to Normal.
    • 3. The frequency of attacks goes down less on Easy difficulty, and does not go down at all on You Are So OP difficulty compared to Easy.
    • 4. The attacks are better scheduled, rather than in-the-moment checks, which means that "missing" an attack by chance is not something that can happen now, which is part of what plays into the larger time interval between attacks.
    • 5. There is better randomization in the timing of attacks, in place of the old style of "where you are you hit or miss" chance. It's hard to explain, but this way is better.
    • 6. During dispatch missions or the "replay of time taken after a mission" time periods, the counter for these only goes down a third as fast as usual, and you won't actually be attacked until after you are out of these modes.

Dispatch Missions

  • "Dispatch Missions" are a new kind of action that you can take, which let you trade solar-map-time (NOT realtime) for some sort of benefit. Usually BP plus some other goodies. Some of these new dispatch missions will be extremely powerful in terms of how you can affect the simulation, but of course they come with appropriate opportunity costs, too.
    • Each dispatch mission either has a duration in months that you select, or it is something that is set for you based on the circumstances of whatever you are doing (researching a technology that takes a certain amount of time, for instance).
    • Once you start it takes you to a "dispatch progress" window that tells you everything that's happening out in the wide world while you're doing something productive. Also tells you how much was mined for who, how much influence was gained, etc each month.
    • During this time the sim goes into super-fast-forward until the specified number of months is over. You then emerge from your cocoon with your new benefits, and look around bleary-eyed. Of course, you've had a full report of the goings-on while you were on the dispatch mission (which only lasts a few seconds at most, anyway), but it's a substantial jump in time in solar system terms.
    • In some respects you can think of this actually as a turn-based element to the game, because... well, if you think about it, that's kind of what it is. Which is quite cool.
  • Added a new friendly dispatch action: Mine Uncolonized Moon:
    • You've always wanted to spend months mining for alien overlords, and now you can!
    • Available at planets with uncolonized moons.
    • You pick a resource to mine for (list of available resources varies from planet to planet).
    • And a number of months (from 1 to 40).
  • Added a new friendly-action dispatch: Research Technology.
    • By providing your services (and those of your ship) for an extended period of time, you can complete a cooperative research project with the client. Both of you will receive the resulting technology.
  • Added a new friendly-action dispatch: Space Outpost Development.
    • This is an extended work contract that will occupy you fully for months, but upon completion your client will have a shiny new outpost.
  • Added a new friendly-action dispatch: Property Development.
    • This takes a while, and you won't be able to do anything else in the meantime, but it allows you to directly add to the client's infrastructure.
  • Added a new friendly-action dispatch: Harvest Space Junk.
    • Orbital battles are quite messy. Chunks of ex-starship flying around one's planet is... not so great. However, beyond a certain level of concentration it's also a mineral-rich asteroid belt. If you spend a few months picking up the trash it will temporarily supercharge the client's industrial production.

Alpha Version .808

(Released March 18, 2014)

NOTE: Uncharacteristically for us, this new version breaks all prior savegames. The changes in here to some of the solar map stuff are so severe that there is no reason to keep older versions, anyhow. This is one of those artifacts of being in the "Round 0" of alpha testing, sorry about that.

  • Put in code that gracefully handles when there are backwards incompatibilities with older savegames, rather than the game just barfing up error messages.
  • Put in a change that does not let the game internally run simulation steps at a coarseness of less than 15FPS, as otherwise shots start passing through things, etc. Previously that cap was set at 2FPS. If we need to crank that up further we will, but hopefully this will handle that. Basically, all this changes is that at low framerates on really old hardware, you will get slowed-down gameplay rather than gameplay that is wrong.
    • Thanks to Cinth for reporting.
  • Switched things around such that the ability to zoom at double speed, and the ability to set waypoints, now have their own dedicated keybinds rather than just being labeled (unhelpfully) "shift."
    • Also, switched both of them to being the Ctrl key, now.
  • Added a new "Slow Flagship To Half Speed" keybind, now mapped to Shift.
    • In combat, makes your flagship move at half its normal speed, for easier maneuvering. Please note that you could instead use the Slow Motion keybind to make EVERYTHING run at quarter speed, basically to get "bullet time." But this way you have more options.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for suggesting.
  • In combat, instead of "The Last Hydral" under your shield/hull bar it shows the time you've spent in the battle (or the time remaining until failure, if it's one of those scenarios).
  • Fixed up the colors and in some cases actual iconography on a few of the ability icons.
  • The planet inventory now shows the list of armadas that are there, like the advanced details sidebar already did.
  • Added "Smugglers" and "Enemy Spy Probes" as data choices to the population-graphs windows.
  • Fixed a bug where soletta arrays and solar shields would never be constructed.

Major Updates To The Solar Map Racial AI

  • On the solar map, non-spacefaring races no longer show all the various extra information about themselves that they would if they were spacefaring. Instead it keeps things less cluttered early, but more informative, by just showing you a countdown timer of how long it is until they become spacefaring.
  • Put in some MAJOR fixes to the AI on the solar map. Races were flying through actions too fast for reasons I still don't quite understand, and they were limiting themselves to only a certain selection of actions. There was a lot more fighting going on a lot earlier than expected, and a lot less buildup of armadas. It's been like this since pretty much the start of the alpha, and this was something I'd noticed, but had chalked up to some sort of balance issue that needed to get sorted out (but not more critically than some other things). Instead, it was actually a bug of some sort. A lot of this underlying timing logic has been redone to be simpler and more in-keeping with the rest of our timing logic, and that sorted out the issues right there.
  • The races are a lot more unique and deliberate about how many outposts they want to have under their control. This was being suppressed under the recent bugs anyway, but still; it makes an interesting difference compared to the sorts of things we used to see in our tests prior to the more recent bug.
  • The timing of when races become spacefaring is a lot better now, much closer to what had originally been intended. This was another thing that drifted during the last few months. I had thought this was just a continual bad RNG luck, and went to check on that, and... nope. Busted logic. The racial compatibility now once again has an effect on the spacefaring rate (although it's the quarter-compat now), and the first two races become spacefaring very quickly, so that you aren't too lonely for long. ;)

Completely Revised Planetary Resource Model

NOTE: These resource changes are why the old savegames are broken. The changes here are _massive_ in terms of internal solar map code touches, so bugs are very likely. So please let us know what you might find in that regard, and post savegames showing us the issues where you can.

  • We've cut the number of resources in the game down from 42 to a more manageable 6.
    • Each of these resources also now has a description of its function, and a much more direct and understandable function for game-related purposes.
    • The frequencies on which they appear on planets is now much more realistic, too.
  • The internal mechanics of how resources are held and generated and stored and traded are now way more robust and essentially completely revised. These changes pave the way for some new contracts and related game mechanics.
  • The resource stores and the resource generation amounts for each planet are now shown in the advanced details sidebar, whereas previously the resource stuff was only in the planetary inventory.
  • Sometimes the word "trade good" was used, and sometimes the word "resource" was used. This was confusing. Now those always are referred to as "raw resources," which is what they are.
  • The planetary inventory and planetary details now show information about the total income and expenses of trade routes, plus the number of trade routes, relating to each resource. Previously, you couldn't actually see established trade routes anywhere except when you were going to abolish them, or literally by watching the ships move around.
  • Added Mines and Processing Plants as new buildings on the planets—one each for each resource type—that help production of their respective resources. The former add 10 per month for their resource, while the latter boost a single entry of the former by 4x.
  • The raw resources now have a much more direct and visible impact on the game. The races accumulate these resources, which in turn are tied to planetary buildings. When they have sufficient volume of a resource stored up, then they will build a building of a particular sort.
    • Races already of course have a normal budgetary way of constructing buildings, and an action-based way, so this is actually a third way for them to accomplish the same thing. It winds up accelerating the number of buildings they construct, and providing more diversity as well—these buildings are more randomized and are segregated by resource type (and thus related to the type of planet the race is on), rather than being tied to priorities of the race at the time. Which again, helps with diversity.
    • As an even better bonus, if they find themselves completely unable to build any buildings related to a resource on a planet, but they have tons of resources that would let them build buildings related to that resource if they had the techs in question, then they can spend resources on unlocking one of the leaf-node techs that leads to one of the buildings in that category. Aka, the tech that is unlocked cannot have any unlocked prerequisites, so it does a tree search down and finds all the leaf nodes, and picks one of those to unlock.
      • This provides another way for techs to become unlocked, and again it's tied more to the location of the planet and how the planet's trading is going on rather than to the goals of the race, which is good. It doesn't harm any of the existing logic on how races traverse the tech tree, it just augments it. It does make them actually get further into the tech tree in a more reasonable timeframe, too, which was another something I was hoping to get at, anyway.

Races Spying On One Another

  • Races now build spy probes and send them to the planets of other races (not on allies or races they like... unless it's the Evucks, who are far less picky).
  • For each spy drone that a race has at a planet of another race, its shots do 5% more damage against targets of that race.

Smugglers, And Smuggler Empires

  • Planets with low (< 0) public order now generate "Smugglers". The worse the public order, the faster this happens. Some races have it worse than others, and non-piratical races (Andor and Thoraxian) get none at all.
  • When a race has over a certain amount of smugglers on its planets, it devolves into part of the Smuggler Empire.

New Actions For Gaining BP

  • Added "Destroy Spy Probes" friendly action:
    • Other races have launched spy probes to gain intelligence on the local race. You've been contracted to destroy as many of them as you can. You can leave at any time. Each spy probe of an enemy that you destroy will gain you 5 influence with the local race, but lose you 5 influence with the enemy race. You'll also get 100 BP per probe killed.
  • Added a new friendly action: Attack Smugglers.
    • The locals are having trouble with smugglers in their populace. You've been contracted to destroy some heavily-armed freighters, which are too fast for the local flagships to catch. You only have two minutes before the freighters will escape even your ship. Each freighter you destroy will gain you 5 influence with the locals, raise their public order by 5, and gain you 100 BP. If you destroy them all, get a bonus 100 BP per kill.

Alpha Version .807

(Released March 17, 2014)

  • The colorblind mode on the minimap is now a bit better, and it also now extends to all of the ship colors on the battlefield and not just the minimap itself.
    • Thanks to Kingpin23 for suggesting.
  • The cost of the Skylaxian Senatorial Election Recall has been thirded.
    • Thanks to a number of players for suggesting this.
  • Fixed a bug in the prior version that made Stunner unusable.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for reporting.
  • Made it so that debris now always fades out when destroyed, rather than just blipping out of existence sometimes.
  • Improved the seeding logic so that on smuggling missions you can never accidentally seed too close to your target.
  • In "inescapable" battles (assassin attacks, duels, and similar), all enemy ships are now faster than usual on some combat difficulties, making it harder to escape.
    • Specifically, it's 2.5x on Hard, and 4x on Misery.
    • Thanks to Misery and chemical_art for suggesting.
  • Fixed a bug where all ships on your side that took shots would increase your withdraw countdown timer, rather than it just being your own ship.
    • Thanks to Histidine for reporting.
  • Fixed a bunch of the special ability keybinds being out of date in terms of how they referenced things.
  • Added two new keybindings that are by default attached to Tab and Shift+Tab, which let you cycle through your three weapons in either direction. You can rebind those to a mouse wheel if you like, but since the mouse wheel also controls zoom, that's more than a bit awkward.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • Added a new settings option to the Extras tab: Slightly Further Battle Zoom
    • The default amount you can zoom out in battle is a good ways, enough to see everything without things getting too small to actually aim at. However, at all resolutions this level is a bit too small for showing the full range of your longest-range weapons. If you'd like to be able to see that far, then this option lets you. However, it does make it a bit harder to find the optimal far zoom for any other weapon, which is why this isn't on by default.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for suggesting.
  • When the solar map is paused and you give any sort of movement order, it now unpauses rather than confusingly seeming to be stuck or something.
    • Thanks to Castruccio for suggesting.
  • A new "quarter compatibility" internal variable is now used, that is 1/4 less severe than the regular racial compatibility with planets. For certain things, this is now used:
    • Construction of buildings on planets.
    • Defense ship construction.
    • Farmer suicides.
    • Race action speeds
    • Overall this leads to less wild swings in a lot of parts of the game depending on racial compatibilities, but at the same time the more extreme numbers are still used elsewhere such as for skirmisher logic, birth and death rates, terraforming rates, etc, etc.
  • During Burlust Duels, a new Burlust-specific battle music track now plays.
  • The AFA Insurgents and Demonstrators lines no longer show in the planetary inventories until the federation is formed.
  • The children line no longer shows for the robotic races, since they never have any.
  • In the racial power grid, the game now shows "Total Population" instead of "Citizens" for the one column, because the latter was just counting civilians and not soldiers or children, which was confusing for the races where all non-children are soldiers (Burlusts, Thoraxians, etc).
  • In the planetary advanced details and planetary inventory screens, children and soldiers and citizens are only now shown as they are relevant, rather than having confusing zero entries on races that don't use one or more categories.
  • Fixed a number of numbers in the planetary advanced details and planetary inventory screens that had "m" after them when they should not have.
  • Fixed a bug where Encouraging and Subverting relations between races was not exclusively a Boarine contract, when it should have been. Thoraxians and possible a few others were getting this.
  • All of the actions and political deals in the game now have sub-categories within their categories. This lets us sort them sensibly within each group, and then alphabetize them within that subcategory, so that the ordering isn't essentially random-seeming like it was before.
  • Almost all of the tooltips on the advanced planetary details and the planetary inventory items now have tooltips. There's quite a lot of educational material in there that I imagine players would not have just inferred, so in a very real way these tooltips are something of an encyclopedia of game mechanics. It still isn't complete, of course, but it's much further along now.

Player Flagship Type Underlying Stat Normalization

  • The speed of all the player flagships has been increased to about 25% higher than the thoraxian version used to be (it was the highest-speed one, which is still true in the enemy flagships, but for the player they are all now the same speed).
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The shield strength, hull health, and shot speeds were all extremely heavily variant between the different racial flagships. They still are for the AI versions, but for the player versions those are all now normalized to something close-ish to the Acutian Executor versions, but with lower shielding than that had. This means a vast increase in shot speed for pretty much all the other flagship types, and an averaging-out of the hulls and shields for most.
    • Please note this will only affect new savegames, not existing ones, since those stats get baked in.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for reporting the confusion this caused.
  • The basic idea here is that the flagships—the player versions—are already heftily differentiated by the more obvious factors of what kinds of weapons they start with, and what kinds of special ability slots they have. Making some super slow in movement or firing or whatever just adds frustration and confusion. But that sort of variance for the AI versions makes a lot of sense, since they don't have the player's abilities to differentiate them.

Performance Improvements

  • Massively reduced the number of "shot seeing if it hit a ship" checks. Performance doubled in some cases.
    • The rest of the changes below generally are less than a 1% total performance improvement, but hey that's something. ;)
  • Substantially increased the computational efficiency of debris checking if it is out of bounds and needs to disappear. (something like 20-fold).
  • Substantially improved the computational efficiency of squadrons checking if they are too close to one another.
  • Substantially improved the efficiency of flocks checking to see if they have reached their destination.
  • Put in some substantial efficiency improvements to collision detection in general. The collision-detection is now somewhat coarser, but we're talking about such a tight area that the difference is negligible and in some cases actually advantageous (you can now hit a turret that you are sitting on top of with armor-piercing rounds, whereas before you could not).

AI Flagship Logic Improvements

  • Now if at least 6 non-allied flagships are allied together in a battle, they keep half of them on offense. If it drops to lower than 6 then they go back to their normal behavior.
  • Now when flagships are patrolling "constellations" they'll never stack more than 2 of the same race's flagship on a single constellation. If that leaves no valid places to patrol, the extra flagships go into a permanent attack mode (and are not considered at all in the previous >= 6 rule).
  • Now when an enemy-to-player flagship is hit by a shot from the player side (your flagship or anything you deploy) it goes into a permanent hunt-the-player mode. Share and Enjoy!

Alpha Version .806

(Released March 16, 2014)

  • The old "equip secondary weapon" ability is now gone. It was confusing, and hard to represent in the GUI. And doesn't even make sense in the revised primary weapons approach now in place.
    • Thanks to waylon531, Professor Paul1290, and Histidine for helping to inspire this change.
  • For the sake of simplicity, the game now only allows one damage type per weapon, rather than two. Only the sticky bombs used two anyhow.
  • Fixed a bug where the Assist-orbital-bombardment contract wouldn't actually start the combat.
    • Thanks to YoukaiCountry for the report and save.
  • Fixed a bug where mouseovering the "Destroy Pirate Base" andor political deal could cause exceptions when there were no pirate bases to destroy.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report and save.
  • Fixed a bug where the dropdown for Raid Planet For Ship Design was filtering to only military designs (excluding pirates and whatnot) but the logic of "should I show this as a valid contract?" was not.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • The game now saves to "AutosavePreContract" (or "AutosavePreMissoin" in older saves) just before a combat starts.
    • Thanks to Aquohn for inspiring this change.
  • The "we lost an armada" bleat from a race is now suppressed if the armada was lost in a player-combat where the player ended as that race's ally.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for inspiring this change.
  • Added a rule whereby "bystander" fleets pulled into a player-combat by proximity (or by being scheduled to engage an involved fleet) no longer default to hostile to all other sides (unless the scenario otherwise specifies their relationship). Instead:
    • If the race's attitude towards the other side (uses influence if that side is the player) is less than -25 OR the other side's attitude towards the race (doesn't apply vs player side) is less than -25, it's hostile like before.
    • Else, if the attitude/influence is less than 25, the sides are neutral towards each other.
    • Else, friendly.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug where the icon for the UIS was not showing properly because it was misnamed.
    • Thanks to Histidine for reporting.
  • Holding down the Z key now gives you the range of your current direct-fire weapon and nothing else. This prevents a lot of confusion, and is the most relevant thing by far for your own flagship.
  • The way that the range circles are drawn is now more attractive, and better fitted to each size of range that exists. For those that have a firing cone, it also now draws a cone, although those are not yet fitted to the cone's arc (but will be).
    • Additionally, it now only draws two colors of range circle, rather than tying them to the color of the ships they are for—it draws blue for anything that is yours or that won't fire on you, and it draws red for anything that is willing to attack you.
  • The shield percent is now shown in the tooltip for shields with shielding. It was annoying not to be able to see it before, but a holdover from when that was shown on the main GUI.
  • Fixed a bug that was letting player-operation-spawned ships spawn as squadrons for the enemy, and which was allowing bounty hunter colossuses to spawn inappropriately as well.
  • The way that gravity in the planetary wells works is now much better. Previously it was affecting the speed of shots in the y axis, but now it actually is a second acceleration force, meaning that they wind up curving downwards more the stronger the gravity.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for inspiring this change.
  • Added a new Gravity Modifier dropdown to the Advanced Start screen.
    • The higher this number, the larger an effect the planetary gravity wells exert on projectiles. This has a major effect on the range you can fire up versus down, and how you aim in various locales, etc.
    • Even so, in the gravity wells of gas giants you can wind up really having some quite curved shots.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for inspiring this addition.
  • Some how or other, the "Withdrawing" message that is supposed to show while you are in the process of withdrawing was not doing so. Fixed.
  • The amount of BP gained by completing certain kinds of combat, and actually the number of AFA members killed and some other similar things, were grossly out of whack. It would give you random thousands of these where you were supposed to get maybe a hundred.

Primary Weapon Switching

  • Previously, you only had one primary weapon at a time, and using it was done via the left mouse button.
    • Now you have three primary weapons as your first three abilities, and one of them is active at a time. The active one is used via the left mouse button. Clicking the button for the abilities in question, or using the hotkeys 1-3 for them, switches out which of your abilities is active.
    • Thanks to Histidine for inspiring this addition.
  • Previously, there were only 5 abilities that your flagship could have. Now there are six, although the first three are ALWAYS locked to being primary weapons you can switch between. The other three abilities are either offensive abilities, operations, or special abilities, like before.
    • The breakdown of which types of abilities go in those last three slots now is a lot more variant between the racial flagships. Previously there was roughly two of each makeup. Now they are all unique except for the boarines and the acutians, which both share the default-simplest makeup (one offensive, one operational, one special).
    • Note that this means that for the other races, they wind up having extra abilities of one type, but NOT having any abilies of certain other types. The skylaxian battle carrier, for instance, ONLY has operational abilities, and nothing else beyond its main guns. This really differentiates the flagships even further.
    • It's worth noting that this really shrinks the pool of available abilities to unlock for some flagships. This is something we're going to address by adding more abilities in each category, which we were going to do anyway.
  • Existing savegames are now properly updated such that players won't find themselves without the proper minimum number of weapons or abilities, or with things in the wrong slots.
  • Each of the 8 racial flagships now come with their own unique three starting weapons, rather than just all having the same loadout. So that's another thing that now affects how the start of your game plays out.

Revised Methods For Where Your Flagship Starts Out

  • In all forms of combat scenario, if you have allies the game now tries to start your flagship out near one of your allies' flagships. Rather than way off in the boonies away from the action. This might mean that enemies are shooting at you immediately as soon as you start the combat, but that's life (and usually isn't too damaging in that sort of short-term timeframe—it's not like you never go near enemies anyway).
  • In all forms of combat scenario, if the game is unable to seed you near any allies, either because you have no allies or there is not room near any of them, then it will try to seed you near-ish an enemy location, but not right on top of them.
  • For all these kinds of combat, there are certain specific key enemy ships that you are not allowed to spawn too near to, and the game enforces that rule (not too close to drop zones, etc).

Splitting Player Flagships Into "Prototype" Versions That Differ From The AI Versions

  • The player flagships have been split from their AI counterparts, and are now called "prototype" versions of the other variants. These prototypes are missing some of the more advanced protection systems that the later models have, and also some of the passive weapons. However, obviously you have a ton of other abilities relating to you that only you get.
    • The main reason for this shift is twofold. Firstly, we can now balance the enemy flagships independently of your copies of them, which is a big deal for making your weapon switches matter. Secondly, and more minorly, it also lets us give better descriptions for these ships in terms of how they relate to YOU controlling, while the AI versions retain their descriptions that are based around you fighting against them.
  • The player versions of the flagships now across the board no longer have energy absorbers on them, which makes it so that things like claymores, etc, are more of a threat. In general, the player flagships now have no special immunities to any weapon types.
  • The AI versions of the flagships now all have not only the energy absorbers that they already did, but also now armored hulls that protect them against standard bullets. This is part of the progress towards making you need to use different weapons in different situations.

Revised Combat Balance

  • Fixed an oversight where hull modifiers that protect ships from certain shot types were also being applied to damage hitting their shields.
  • The number of flagships per flotilla has been reduced from 5 to 3 on hard and misery combat difficulty levels, as the insane number of ships that would spawn was just too much.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • The rate at which enemy squadrons spawn in various circumstances has been heavily altered. The general thing here is to keep the battle from getting insanely large when there are a lot of flagships, while at the same time still keeping things moving.
  • On hard and misery combat difficulties, the ranges of all-ships-except-your-flagship are now increased by the following multipliers:
    • Hard: 1.5x
    • Misery: 2.5x
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The damage and firing speeds for all the player main weapons have been heavily reworked. If you hated a given weapon before, you ought to give it a try again.
  • Added a new "Energy Blaster" weapon in place of the equip secondary weapon ability.
    • High-range energy weapon that does 4x damage to the shields of any enemy ships, but very little damage to the hulls of most large ships. Many large structures and turrets take 3x normal damage from Energy attacks, however.
  • Added a new "Gravity Lance" primary weapon.
    • Gravity weapon that fires a lance-like beam that damages any ships or debris in its path, including carving through most large ships. Not too effective against most midsize ships, however. Only 25% effective against ship shields.
  • The range of the Mass Driver has been increased, along with its damage, and its firing rate. However, it now only deals 10% of its normal damage when impacting against the shields of a ship that has them up. Oh, it's also Concussive type damage instead of Ballistic.
  • All turrets are now considered MED scale instead of LRG scale, and now have both armored hulls and gravity repulsors on them. They're still quite vulnerable to energy weapons and so forth, though.
  • Heavily updated the armor-piercing weapon type:
    • Able to be auto-dodged by the maneuvering jets on most smaller craft, but very powerful and travels through entire lines of ships and obstacles.
  • Added a new Disruptor weapon type:
    • Not the strongest weapon by any stretch, but its laser bursts are able to strike straight through enemy shields, damaging both the shields and the hull at the same time. Some shielded ships have laser refractors that make this still largely ineffective, though, so know your target.
  • Turrets now have a lot more health, but that's okay if you're using something like the armor-piercing weapon.
  • Armored hull and energy absorbers now reduce the damage that is coming to them by 85%, not 75%.
  • Ion cannons no longer have a multigun attached to them.
  • Enemy shields in general are now 2x stronger than before, but yours are not. This leads to much more interesting battles with them, with the new weapons that either go under shields or do extra damage to shields.
  • Changed around the logic in almost all combats so that you don't have to hunt down every last little drone of the enemies to win the combat, you just have to take out their main flagships and outposts and so on.
  • Racial special flagships can no longer show up in the first combat, and in a few other combat scenarios.

Alpha Version .805

(Released March 14, 2014)

  • Tooltips on shots in general now only show if the game is currently paused. This lets you still get at the info, but stops the general flashing of the GUI as shots pass by (your shots were particularly annoying, but it was a thing for shots in general).
    • Thanks to Cyborg for suggesting.
  • Fixed a bug where simply looking at the "challenge to duel" contract would kill the warlord involved. Ugggh... ;)
    • Thanks to dersquatch for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where dueling warlords would give an incorrect amount after you actually duel them.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Fixed up the Hold Off Supressing Armada contract to include the ally squadrons supposedly being launched to help you, and to actually work, etc.
  • Fixed a bunch of bugs where gui elements under the mouse cursor would let "lower" gui elements handle the mouseover event just because the first one hadn't done anything with it.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.

Sound Effects

  • The game now has sound effects for all the weapons and abilities and ships blowing up and so forth. If there seems to be something with a missing sound effect, or a particularly annoying sound, or whatever, then feel free to comment please. In a lot of respects this is the first pass, although we have only limited means to work with in terms of sound banks. If you know of sound effects that are free or that are royalty-free that you would like to suggest to us for use in certain contexts, by all means please do!
    • Anyway, it sounds a lot more involving now. :)

Alpha Version .804

(Released March 13, 2014)

  • Updated the health plate for the player to look more in keeping with the new GUI.
  • Updated the game to load faster at first run, by not needlessly preloading too many images.
  • Fixed an issue where on Linux and OSX, the StickyBomb graphics would not load because of a case-sensitivity issue.
    • Thanks to windgen for reporting.
  • Skylaxian Battle Carriers no longer have interceptor bays that let off lone interceptors periodically. That could trigger spy probes, as players pointed out.
    • In exchange for this weakening of the AI versions, the deployment speed for squadrons has increased from 1.3 to 2.0.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for reporting.
  • Fixed a typo in the Afterburner description, and made them more useful while we were at it (now decreasing damage taken as well).
    • Thanks to jerith for reporting.
  • For races like the Acutians, who don't have a status message on a certain part of their politics window, they now show nothing rather than mistakenly continuing to show whatever was there the last time you opened the politics window.
    • Thanks to jerith for reporting.
  • Removed a couple of keybinds that had become pointless.
  • Put in a fix that prevents some slight viewport jitter around your ship as it moves that apparently happens if your framerate is below a certain amount.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reporting, although I don't think this was the specific issue he was having.
  • Substantially updated the handling of the player's flagship so that it is more nimble now (though still not jumpy like it used to be on the WASD controls). While we were at it, also made the enemy flagships less nimble, feeling more realistic.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed an exception that could occur as of the last release when hovering over a shot to get a tooltip.
    • Thanks to waylon531, Castruccio, and Aquohn for reporting.
  • The planet-overlays now default to on, rather than to off.
    • Thanks to GrimerX for the suggestion.
  • Fixed and issue that could cause your ship to go all wobbly at the edge of the "playing area" in certain kinds of battles. There is no longer any real bound to the playing area.
    • Thanks hugely to Cyborg and also Professor Paul1290 and Cinth for reporting.
  • Fixed some bugs with the "Help Acutian War Effort" Andor deal that caused it to consider other races valid targets sometimes when it shouldn't have.
    • Also, when there were no (actually) valid targets it would set the BP price of the deal as 0 (since the price is multiplied by the number of valid targets), whereas now it will always use a multiplier of at least 1 to avoid it acting like it has no cost.
    • Thanks to Cyborg and jerith for the report.
  • When you are resuming an existing combat from a savegame, you no longer get the insta-withdraw option. That was a mistake, and was actually kind of an exploit.
  • The placement of the start combat and withdraw buttons was rather temporary before, and something we'd been meaning to fix up. It was not even fully displaying the withdraw from combat button on 1024-wide screens. Fixed.
  • The Tip of the Day no longer mentions combat practice.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Fixed a typo in the cloaking device description.
    • Thanks to Endless Rain for reporting.
  • There's now an opt-out popup when you first get to the solar map. It explains the basic idea of what you are doing, how to interact with planets, etc.
    • Thanks to Cinth for the suggestion.
  • Fixed several textual issues.
    • Thanks to Aquohn for reporting.
  • There's now a bar at the top of the combat screen for the purpose of briefly describing your combat objectives. Clicking on it opens a popup for the purpose of describing those objectives more fully.
    • Thanks to Cinth for the suggestion.
  • Doubled the speed of the background fade-in, as it was indeed quite sluggish-feeling.
    • Thanks to jerith for suggesting.
  • Now when a message using the generic popup or confirm-popup windows is showing, the main game interface is hidden.
  • AI flaghsips now deploy squadrons in attacker mode much more often if it has AI enemies (instead of just the player as an enemy).
    • Also, AI ships no longer try to guard the player's stuff.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for inspiring this change.
  • Rebalanced the pirate and ally-to-player force levels in the destroy-pirate-base and raid-pirate-freighters contracts. Previously the pirates outnumbered your ally rather substantially.
    • Your force level your ally contributes is also now proportional to your influence with them (and, as before, to the normal size of their armadas based on how they've built up).
    • On the other hand, the pirates now get 3 base-structures instead of one, and all 3 have to be destroyed to win the combat.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring these changes.
  • The combat minimap now scales the world area it covers to match roughly the total area in which there are any blips.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for the suggestion.
  • The bribes window has been heavily overhauled visually, with things sorted better now and highlights and so forth.
  • Fixed the smuggle-resistance-fighters contract being... basically totally broken. It was spawning the troop ships from the planet's race, spawning the defender's ships from the attacker race, initially placing the player with the defender ships instead of with the troop ships, placing two separate drop zones, etc. Kind of impressive, actually.
    • Thanks to Misery for the report.
  • When a planet or outpost is under attack, you can now see how many armadas it is being attacked by, as well as if its defenses are suppressed, in the various tooltips.
  • The description of the Andor political system was completely inappropriate for the screen it was on—it didn't actually say anything, just kind of generally describing the race. Fixed.
  • Fixed an issue where the Andor political system was just letting you deal with any party at any time, rather than actually having to work with only the ruling party. This made the speeches, etc, really pointless!
  • The extremely-gross screen that showed the politics stuff for each race has now had a complete facelift and now is not only prettier, but also waaaay more informative. This was the biggest screen in the game where we had just slapped the information on there for our own internal use, without having time to properly design it out to be fully usable. That worked fine for our testing, but not for general testing and certainly not release. Now it's in great shape, though!
  • The game now actually explains what bribe items will do right before you use them, and what they just did after you use them. It also shows you the percent effective they are on all the various races that are interested in a bribe item. Previously the bribe items were all but completely undocumented.

Alpha Version .803

(Released March 12, 2014)

  • Previously there were only 9 total images for space junk graphics, which got pretty repetitive pretty fast (3 each in 3 sizes). Now there are 27 in all (9 each in 3 total categories).
  • All ships and turrets now use the "mode image" lights on top of themselves, and unless they belong to you they now use the colors there to denote which side they belong to. Allies are light yellow, neutral is light blue, enemies are light red. This helps a lot in multi-party battles when you need to quickly recognize friend from foe.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Destroying a pirate base now properly puts you into auto-withdraw mode to end the battle. Previously if you destroyed it and withdrew, you'd still win, but it was of course super unclear.
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where it was not letting you have duplicate abilities assigned, and where it was then throwing a loca error when it prevented that.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reporting.
  • During Burlust duels, you're no longer allowed to spawn any reinforcements, as that defeats the purpose of the whole 1v1 scenario there.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • When an ability is disabled for contextual reasons like being in a burlust duel or not being in a gravity well or whatever, it now shows OFF instead of where the ammo would be, and shows the ability in a clearly-disabled state.
  • The "Accelerate Warpship Mobilization" political deals were accidentally making races join the federation instead of accelerate warpship production!
    • Thanks to dersquatch for reporting.
  • Fixed a typo in the welcome to combat into instructions.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reporting.
  • The game now supports up to 1200 pixels tall, rather than just 1080. This may cause some black banding, not sure, as the art was all designed with the smaller size in mind. So we may have to take this back out, but trying to support 16:10 is worth a shot. We don't have monitors that are large enough to test this on, though, so let us know.
    • Thanks to Castruccio for suggesting.
  • "Divert Power To The Shields" has had its ammo dropped from 5 to 1. Yeah, it was pretty OP, heh.
    • Thanks to Cinth for reporting.
  • The firing cones of enemy turrets versus friendly turrets are now different colors, so that you can quickly know where you can safely go versus not go.
  • The firing cones of sniper turrets are now colored a bit differently as well, so that you can pick them out easily.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The speed of the directly-player-fired shots are all now faster, to allow for better targeting of ships moving laterally from you.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • Sticky bombs and sine shots have been made brighter to stand out better. If there are other shots that are not high-contrast enough, please let us know.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The graphics for mass driver shots have been completely redone both to be more attractive and to be higher-contrast.
  • The collision hitboxes on shots is now a bit larger, and on a number of ships it is now fixed up to be larger. If you find more ships that seem to have frustratingly small hitboxes, then please let us know. This isn't supposed to be an excercise in pixel-perfect targeting.
    • Thanks to Cinth and others for reporting.
  • Special Ability Ammo is no longer shown on the HUD in the solar map, as it is always 100% now!
  • The speed that flagships have to slow down to in order to dodge debris is now only 1/2 their normal speed, rather than 1/5. For non-flagships, the speed is now 1/4.
  • Added new solar-map keybind: Buy Repairs.
    • When on the solar map, and docked at the Black Market, you can use this to trigger the buy-repairs action. It saves some time and clicks compared to accessing the same function through the Negotiate With Mercenaries menu.
  • A second combat music theme has been added.
  • An update to the way the WASD controls work has been added, and makes it so that those turns are a bit more graceful and gradual, feeling a bit more like a midway point between the old control style and the asteroids-style thrusters. It's still closer to the old style than the asteroids style, but without the jumpy feeling of the old style.
  • All multi-stage combats (pirate base attack, searching for hydral tech... that's pretty much it, exactly) are now single-stage contracts. Further changes for balance will probably be necessary, but this tended to be more drawn out than was pleasant.
    • Also, with this change we were able to make sure that a contract ended when its combat did, regardless of the outcome or context, thus avoiding various "this combat keeps happening over and over!" bugs.
  • Also added some safeguards to make sure that a solar-map-node created out of thin air solely for a contract (like a pirate base fleet or a pirate freighter fleet) is removed once that contract is done.
    • Notably this fixes a bug where a pirate freighter fleet would still be there after you completed (win or lose) a raid-pirate-freighter mission, because that mission doesn't require that you kill the whole fleet (just the freighters).
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for reporting a case where the pirate freighter fleet just wouldn't go away .
  • In some combats the AI flagships would seed along a ring 16,000px in diameter. This is down to 8,000 to see if it helps feel like there's more going on and doesn't take too long.
  • Shortwave Virus:
    • Now works ;)
    • Now shows a range circle when you mouseover the ability icon.
    • Range from 300 => 500.
    • Cooldown from 180 => 40.
    • Maybe this is OP, we'll see. But since it only works on small and medium sized ships (which don't often live long) this may well be fine.
    • Thanks to Apathetic for reporting that it wasn't working.
  • Fixed the "Started Construction of a" message saying it built the planet on the building instead of the other way around (sounds uncomfortable).
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Fixed a typo in the next-election-in note on the Skylaxian political screen.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • The contrast has been improved on all the space junk, so that you can see it better during battles.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • The "left apple" and "right apple" keys now say "left command" and "right command" instead. This has indeed been the name of those keys for a super long time, but unity calls them that and we didn't alias them. So now they're aliased.
    • Thanks to Admiral for reporting.
  • Put in a ton of workarounds where unity's version of mono was throwing invalid-program exceptions when trying to execute certain bits of code compiled just fine for a normal .NET target.
    • Notably, this is why a lot of andor deals would cause errors when clicked on.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for reporting.
  • Fixed an error where Broker Truce would throw errors because it was assuming there was already a first race selected.
    • Thanks to windgen for reporting.
  • Seven achievements have been added, for finishing the game on each of the difficulty levels except Misery Combat and Auto-Resolve Combat.
  • Added another five achievements relating to the state of races and planets/outposts at the time of game victory.
  • Added two achievements based around how much influence you have on the races living at the end of the game.
  • Added 8 achievements for just having a specific single race alive at the end of the game, and another one for having a pirate empire still existing at the end.
  • Debris and shots now have (brief) mouseover tooltips.
    • Thanks to Admiral and Riabi for the suggestions.

No More Combat Practice

  • Combat Practice has been removed from the game except as a developer testing feature. This is something that really put a lot of emphasis on combat in terms of just getting in there and fiddling around in situations that really might not have ever happened in the main game. It was far too easy for a new player to get in there and just set up something really unrealistic and then go "this stinks." It also kind of takes away a lot of the sense of exploration of finding weapons and abilities and so forth as you actually play through the game. Our goal with new players is to get them into the "real" game as soon as possible, and having some portion of them diverting into an unsatisfying combat practice mode is definitely counter to that goal.

Flagship Ability Category Differentiation By Race

  • On the start of a new game, players are now granted 1 additional operations ability.
  • Depending on which race you choose, you now get a different mix of number of TYPES of abilities you can use.
    • Acutian, Boarines: 2 weapons, 1 operational, 2 specialty (same as before)
    • Thoraxian, Burlusts: 3 weapons, 1 operational, 1 specialty
    • Peltians, Andors: 1 weapon, 1 operational, 3 specialty
    • Skylaxians, Evucks: 1 weapon, 3 operations, 1 specialty

Alpha Version .802

(Released March 11, 2014)

  • Added new contract type to the black market: Sell Bribe Item
    • You select a bribe item to sell 1 of, and get some BP in return.
  • Added new contract type to the black market: Buy Bribe Item
    • You select a bribe item to buy 1 of, and get charged an arm and a leg (or perhaps just a couple of heads) in return.
  • Added new contract type to the black market: Sell Trade Goods
    • You select a resource you've stolen from some poor unsupecting freighter (quite possibly just before blowing it into very small pieces), and get some BP in return.
  • Shots now "fizzle" after 10 seconds. Aka, this mainly applies to homing missiles that are chasing you.
    • Thanks to YoukaiCountry for making us realize that logic had been taken out.
  • Fixed a bug where it was possible to plant false evidence against a race where the target race was the source race!
    • Thanks to YoukaiCountry for reporting.
  • Fixed several bugs where dead or non-spacefaring races could be selectable in some of the actions.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for reporting.
  • Fixed an issue with a tooltip in the starting year in advanced start referencing combat practice.
    • Thanks to YoukaiCountry for reporting.
  • Fixed an exploit where you could trivially capture things by cloaking and then just sitting by them. That was something we'd thought of, and then forgot to resolve. Now when you start the capture process, it decloaks you. This is as opposed to not allowing cloaking in that case, because you can't always willingly drop cloak, and having it just do nothing is more confusing than having it decloak suddenly.
    • Thanks to Cinth for reporting.
  • Fixed up the Hydral Sentinel and Golem collision radii to be more forgiving.
    • Thanks to Cinth for suggesting.
  • Fixed the second page of negotiate with mercs intro also saying page 1/2 instead of 2/2.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where the predicted results for anything that involved a political deal that altered the RCI-style effects on a planet (environment, economy, medical, public order) would always say the wrong thing.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for reporting.
  • The burst shots from claymores now have 2x as much distance to live to them, to make sure they should be able to hit the player ship better.
    • Thanks to Misery for suggesting.
  • Added a new Misery combat difficulty that is far more difficult than even Hard difficulty. Because, frankly, (ahem) some people just need the challenge.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring this change (as usual).
  • Added a new primary weapon that you can find and unlock: Mass Driver
    • Hurls powerful pieces of rock that not only damage other ships, but also block incoming shots.
    • Thanks to Cinth for inspiring.

Alpha Version .801

(Released March 11, 2014)

  • Burlust and Thoraxian ships now switch to attack mode (if not already there) when fired upon by anyone or if hit by mouse-directed player shots.
  • On the solar map, events are now drawn full-scale next to the planets or outposts they are affecting, and can be hovered-over if you want to read what they are and see how much longer they will be lasting.
  • The color used for the name of the boarines in text in game is now lighter, and thus easier to read.
  • You can now hover over the race icons on the solar map, and it tells you their name and description, as well as your current influence with them.
  • The "space dust" that blows by when you are moving is now twice as opaque as before, making it more noticeable so that you don't feel like your ship isn't moving.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for inspiring this change.
  • The maximum amount you can zoom out now scales with the screen resolution, so that each screen resolution can (roughly) see the same amount of gameplay area as the others. Non-widescreen still does have some disadvantage, but not much.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290 for suggesting.
  • The Pirate Flagship Ravens were insanely too fast, way faster than your ship. They have been toned down substantially, although they are still speedy. Unfortunately, this won't affect existing savegames, as the stats for ships are randomly-rolled at game start and get baked in.
    • Thanks to Hyfrydle for reporting.

Cowardice

  • The following things trigger a panic check (which, if failed, puts the ship into cowardly-flight-mode) :
    • When fired upon by a ship that was cloaked just before it fired.
    • When struck by a shot from an Ion Cannon or Golem (nearby allied ships also make the check).
    • When a Nuke detonates nearby.
    • When struck by a shot from a shadow-cloaked ship.
    • If a civilian ship (i.e. Freighter) and at <= 60% hull health, automatically panics without a random check.
  • Each race has a cowardice multiplier that applies to (almost) all panic checks. Some races almost never panic (Burlusts, and Thoraxians... unless the latter have The Fuzz at the time) while some freak out quite readily (Peltians, Thoraxians with The Fuzz).
  • Smaller ships have a higher chance of panic.
  • The player ship (and other ships spawned on the player's side, as opposed to allied ships) is immune to panic, as are flagships (and all units fundamentally incapable of moving, of course).
  • When a ship goes into cowardly flight mode, it tries to run directly away from the average location of all enemy ships.
    • In this mode, the ship finds some way to ramp up its engines to 4x movement speed (at the cost of reducing its attack power to 1/4).
    • Once it's been underway for at least 2 seconds (and is not currently within about 200px of being on your screen) it is completely removed from the game.
      • And counted as a loss against the strength of the armada which spawned it (unless it's a from-thin-air ship, of course).

Alpha Version .800

(Released March 11, 2014)

NOTE: Uncharacteristically for us, this new version breaks all prior savegames. The changes in here are so severe that there was no real reason to keep savegames from prior versions anyhow.

  • Fixed some bugs where, for some types of combat (defending yourself, going after a pirate base, etc), saving in the middle of combat and reloading would cause an endless stream of null exceptions (and thus a lockup) because the contract data had been lost.
    • Loading such a save in the new version won't recover that data, but it will dump you back to the solar map so you can play.
    • Future cases of the lost data will be prevented, though.
    • Thanks to mrhanman for the report and save.
  • Fixed several bugs where non-spacefaring races could be considered valid choices for pirate base owners or opponents in contracts that pit you against pirates.
  • Fixed a bug where the contracts window might display one BP cost on the contract's button, and another in the details pane. This was because the cost varied based on the related dropdown selections. Now it will update the button to show the cost of the current selections.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report and save.
  • Fixed a bug where event notifications were not formatting the name/description to include the related resource name (relevant for shortage events).
    • Thanks to Cyborg for the report.
  • Taking a contract that involves flying somewhere else to attack something (like destroy-pirate-base) will now automatically unpause the solar map if it is paused, to avoid the appearance of some kind of hang or unresponsiveness.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Fixed a couple bugs that could result in negative populations.
    • Thanks to Endless Rain for the report.
  • Smuggling Spacefaring now only works if you actually deliver the documents (in a previous version of the mission it was supposed to work even if you failed, just with influence penalties).
    • Also fixed a bug where the influence penalties (with previously-spacefaring races) for getting detected only happened if you retreated without delivering the documents; now they only happen if you succeed.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for the report.
  • The political deals screen for the peltians now show voting proxies (which are local to that planet) instead of bargaining power.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Changed the "we just lost an armada" bleat type to only occur if the armada in question was naturally occurring. As opposed to the made-up-on-the-spot ships for smuggling spacefaring, etc.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Fixed several bugs with the bleat text formatting that was putting the wrong fields into the wrong places (leading to reports that you had just been constructed on their newest terraformer, etc).
    • Thanks to Billick for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where races were constructing terraformers directly, when they're supposed to only come from certain specific Andor actions. Some planets had hundreds of the things, from different races.
  • Fixed many bugs where "completed action" notifications were being added for actions that had actually been cancelled early in favor of other actions.
  • The political deals window for burlusts now displays Leverage (which is per-warlord) instead of Bargaining Power.
  • Now when the game has no music for a given situation it stops any currently-playing music rather than just let it continue to play.
    • Thanks to Apathetic for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where Defend Planet From Pirates gave rather the wrong influence changes.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Now when an informant is killed (when the race goes to war), an item appears in the notificaiton sidebar to that effect.
    • Also, when looking at the contract for obtaining an informant, it now has proper error types for the things that can make that action invalid, rather than the internal marker for reasons that should not be shown.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Bargaining Power can now never be negative.
    • Thanks to JAlfredGoodwin for the report.
  • Destroyed races can no longer start or continue any racial actions.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Removed a lot of old code used it building the "description of what this contract will do" text, since it was duplicating the newer logic and resulting in stuff like two lines telling you how much BP something would cost, etc.
    • Thanks to Apathetic for the report.
  • The inventory window now uses the same logic as the ship-type-details window for knowing which hull techs should be shown.
  • The inventory screen now has tooltips for each entry.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reminding us that they were absent.
  • The planetary inventory screen now has tooltips for each row.
  • The planet sidebar display now has tooltips for each row.
  • The "which race to crashland into" selection in the start-new-world menus now has a tooltip.
  • The dropdown graphics have been updated to match the rest of the GUI.
  • The player inventory screen has been updated to visually look like it should.
  • A variety of minor visual GUI improvements.
  • Loads and loads of new and replaced graphics for the small planet images on the solar map itself. There are now 3 images for each of the 11 planet types, and the planets all now have proper radii for the graphic that they have (and the graphic is the appropriate size for the planet type itself, unlike what one of the Dense Turbulents previously was).
  • The extremely freaky Thoraxians music theme is now in place, meaning that all of the racial music themes are now in the game.
  • Pirates now spawn more often, no longer go after the player, and will consider planetary targets.
  • The player now has a max of 5 special abilities, instead of 3.
    • And starts a new game with a random pool of 7, instead of 5.
  • The graphics for the events/actions on the right-hand sidebar have been redone to be more crisp and visually clear.
  • The three recently-added new Defend-A-Satellite type missions have been removed, as they were nonideal for a number of reasons. However, some of the underlying work that was done for their mission types is being retained for the new "Opportunistic Squadrons" that allies and enemies will use in some new scenarios.
  • The ability to bomb planets from orbit via a contract, and to steal orbital bombers from military outposts, have been removed. You can get orbital bombers from special flagship abilities anyway, making this obsolete, and there are some other more-flexible ways of handling this same sort of thing that does not require a contract.
  • All of the pre-existing ship classes now start as unlocked for each race from the start of the game, rather than requiring ship class unlocks, so that there is sufficient variety in the battles early in the game. Future ship classes added will tend to having research times on them, to keep that element in play with the game, but not make it so extremely limited right at the start.
  • The game now has the capability to show "damage masks" for ships as they get worse and worse damaged. This basically serves as kind of an in-character health meter, aside from looking cool. Most of the large ships and structure will have this, but the small ships do not have enough health to bother with, and are too small to boot.
  • When reloading a savegame that is in the middle of combat, hitting spacebar the first time now takes you properly into the game in active mode rather than pausing it and making you hit spacebar a second time.
  • Lots of improvements have been made to the clarity of the various political deals and actions (all "contracts" under the hood) screens, including general formatting all over the place, and proper full descriptions for the "why you can't do this right now" reasons, rather than the temporary stand-in error codes it was using before.
  • There is now an incredibly-expensive-in-BP (and aftermath influence fallout with other races) political deal that you can make with the Acutians where you directly convince them to launch a planetcracker at another race.
    • This feature is basically due to popular demand, since folks are going to be expecting this as an option. Previously the only way to have a planetcracker hit another planet was to very indirectly get the Acutians to do it, and that is still possible now as well.
  • The purpose of informants has been changed around quite a bit. Now, rather than confusingly and frustratingly blocking access to certain kinds of information about the race of planet, they instead block access to certain hostile actions against local planets.
    • This actually is very fitting, as the actions in question basically require either spies or the help of underworld contacts, so that makes logical sense.
    • It is also now impossible to get informants on Andor and Thoraxian planets, due to their utopian and hivemind natures, respectively.
      • This in turn means that a number of hostile actions are unavailable to you against those races, ever, because you don't have spies or underworld support.
    • Similarly, while a non-federation race is at war and your informant has been killed off, there are certain things you cannot do.
  • The first combat music for the game has been added (and holy heck, it's awesome).
  • A vocal track for the end of the game has been added. This one features a duet between Hunter Vega and Corrine Tabor. This is one of our best vocal tracks yet, for sure.
  • The gridlines that previously denoted distance and zoom are now gone. Zoom is now apparent based on the scale of ships, since the false scaling factor is gone. Distance is now handled mainly by the minimap.
  • One thing that was previously lacking was a sense of movement when there were no referents on screen to judgement movement by. Now when you are moving, "space dust" starts appearing and flying by so that you get a sense of the direction and speed at which you are moving.
  • When you are doing a quick start of the game, it now always makes you crash-land on the Acutian planet, rather than letting you have a choice of planets. Of course in advanced start you still get to choose, but this was one of those common "what exactly does this mean?" stumbling blocks for new players, and not something that thus needed to be there in quick start.
  • Ships now give off more space junk when they explode, making them substantially more interesting from a tactical standpoint.
  • Space junk that spawns on planet orbits from junk buildup is now done so in large clusters, making that actually meaningful.

Revamped Combat Practice Screen

  • The tabs that were recently added so that you could configure all of the many different squadrons of each flagship are now gone. You can't be so specific in the scenario setup anymore (that was overwhelming, and at this point unnecessary).
  • The section where you set up your pilots is gone, since you no longer have pilots of your own. On the other hand, you have 5 abilities you choose now, instead of 3.
  • The combat practice setup menu no longer has elements for picking enemy flagship types, enemy squadrons, or various other things. What it now has are 5 rows of elements for configuring up to 5 AI sides for the battle:
    • Pilot/Race Type
    • Power (number of squadrons, basically)
    • Flagship count
    • Team
      • Can be None for "enemy to all", the Player Team, or on an Enemy-to-player team (two sides assigned to Enemy Team 1 will not shoot at each other, but will shoot at everyone else)
        • But if two sides are of the same race they will automatically not shoot at each other to avoid visual confusion.
  • The combat practice setup menu's Scenario dropdown has been updated to match the new internal Scenario concept. Currently available options:
    • Exposed Conflict
      • Just the normal fight.
    • Freighter Convoy
      • The first AI side gets 3 to 6 freighters that it tries to protect, while its enemies try to destroy them. You cannot directly target the freighters, but if you're hostile to them and get close enough you board them to steal trade goods (which doesn't matter in combat practice, but does in the normal game).
    • Destroy Pirate Base
      • The first AI side has a pirate base with defensive turrets, plus whatever flagships assigned to it, and defends the base. Any of its enemies try to destroy the base.
    • Smuggle In Resistance Fighters
      • The first AI side is automatically neutral to you gets 10 troop transports (and only that) which follow you (a pair at a time) and break for the drop zone if they get close enough. The second AI side is automatically hostile to both the first AI side and you. Once all troop ships are delivered or destroyed, you automatically start withdraw mode

(Player-Involved) Combat Overhaul

  • Your flagship no longer has squadrons that directly deploy—instead, you control your flagship and your flagship alone. Any allies that you may or may not have will no longer be something you can directly control.
    • This is QUITE the change to combat, we realize, but bear with us here. This is actually something based on a lot of your feedback, although nobody remotely said to do specifically this. But this ties in thematically better for the game in general, and it also—paired with a number of other changes—is really going to integrate a lot more strongly with the solar map in some ways you will really like.
  • The WASD movement controls in combat now work more similarly to the same controls on the solar map. Notably, if you start movement with WASD, that movement stops as soon as you are no longer pressing any of the WASD keys.
  • Added a new keybind Q that cancels your flagship's current orders and just has it stop and sit still.
  • The vast majority of combat hotkeys are now gone:
    • The specialized hotkeys for directly flying toward or away from the enemy ships are gone.
    • The 10 squadron-selection hotkeys are gone.
    • The various hotkeys for putting your own ships into "fire at will" or "escort" mode or whatever are all gone.
  • You can no longer drag-select to rubber-band select ships. Instead, your flagship is always considered selected. Similarly, it no longer draws the ring circle under itself. Left-clicking doesn't really do anything now on the battlefield, again as a consequence, while right-clicks always give orders to your flagship. It is very consistent with the solar map.
  • You can now retreat from any combat, but with influence hits with the Burlusts, Thoraxians, and Skylaxians for your cowardice.
    • Additional penalties apply for retreating from AFA or Assassin fights.
  • Armadas no longer intentionally forget ship losses taken during combat. The flagships will be repaired between battles, but lost flagships will be remembered, as will significant squadron casualties.
  • In combat, when retreating, there's now a special tooltip in the tooltip area for the purpose of reminding the player what retreat mode means.
  • The "starting combat" window has been removed, and now the game just dumps you straight into the combat engine when you encounter something on hostile terms.
    • But now, next to the "Start Combat" button that appears at the beginning of combat, the "End Combat" button (which normally only shows after a win or loss condition has been fulfilled) will also show and will allow you to abandon the battle without consequence (as the start combat window often allowed you to do, previously).
    • And the combat description which previously showed pre-battle will now be shown as a tooltip during that pre-battle phase.
    • Thanks to jerith and others for various bug reports and feedback that led to our realizing we just wanted to get rid of that pre-battle window.
  • Fighting AFA or Assassins, or pirate ambushes, now always grants some BP reward and has a 30% chance of granting a bribe item.
    • Thank to Cyborg for inspiring this change.
  • The little arrow pointing to the enemy centerpiece has gone away. Later there will be a minimap.
  • Retreating from an AFA or Assassin attack now converts the attacking fleet into a skirmisher, so that they don't immediately try to reengage you.
    • Also, retreating in that kind of forced combat moves your fleet to the black market.
  • Whereas previously you would see the little glowing mode images for your own ships, now instead you see those for NPC ships. It gives you some clues as to what is going on (and also looks neat).
  • The health and name displays for enemy centerpieces are now gone from the upper right corner of the screen, as those are no longer particularly relevant.
  • The term "retreat" is no longer used in the game. Instead, the term now used is "withdraw." This is now more appropriate, because a lot of battles may involve you going in, executing some self-chosen objectives, and then withdrawing before the enemy fully knows what hit them. Obliterating all the enemy forces to "win" the main battle objectives is not remotely always going to be your object. You're freaking Batman in space, sometimes it's a good idea to get in, do some damage or provide some aid, and then get out. But that doesn't mean that you are "running away" in the Bravely Sir Robin sense. You've simply done your job, and now it's time to leave rather than sticking around to murder everyone or get murdered.
  • Whenever there are "constellations" of turrets (that word constellation is no longer shown in the game, by the way), the centerpieces of those are no longer always good Hydral tech for you to capture. That was never intended to be the long-term design anyhow, there was meant to be more of a mix. Now we have that mix.
    • Capturable Hydral tech—the stuff that was so common in the last version—is actually pretty darn rare now, and probably isn't going to be in 85% of your battles at the very least. This is good, because making that stuff more rare makes it more meaningful and exciting.
    • The frequency of when there are "constellations" of turrets at all is also now shifted around and a lot more contextual, too.
    • A lot of the centerpieecs are now "civilian goodies," as noted in the section below. But only where this makes sense (in planet orbits, or at civilian-style outposts).
    • The rest of the centerpieces are now "defensive goodies," which you can probably most closely think of as being like Guard Posts in AI War. These are biggish beefy defensive structures that do not move, and which provide some specific sort of cover or defense or whatever. There are currently 5 types of these.
      • What is particularly interesting about defensive structures is that they are not always your enemy, any more than turrets are. You might be helping someone defend their home, in which case these would work FOR you. And you could do clever things like causing the enemy forces to come and get caught on the defensive stuff. Or you can suddenly turn on your ally once you are close to the defenses, take them out, and cause some sort of coup in a battle that otherwise your "enemy" (who you really wanted to win the battle, but entered the battle on the opposite side of for deceptive reasons) could not hope to win.
  • During battles, the WASD keys now put you on permanent movement courses, rather than just moving you while you hold them down. This lets you do "drivebys" really easily, which is really important. You can also of course set up more complicated patterns by holding shift and right-clicking a bunch. Right-clicking somewhere near yourself will take you to that location and cut your engines off, too.
    • In general, the idea that you'd want to just move somewhere while holding down WASD temporarily is actually kind of low—keeping moving is really important, so the controls needed to reflect that in order to feel natural.
  • When you give normal right-click movement orders, it now sets you on a permanent movement course in that direction. Right-clicking an attack target, or using shift plus right-click to either lay down a single destination or a path of destinations, works as it did before.
  • A shot that takes down shields now does any remaining power as damage to hull.

Direct-Fire Weapons

  • Clicking or holding down the left mouse button during battle now lets you fire your "main gun," which is basically a kind of special ability with unlimited ammo which you can aim and attack with. Kind of like aiming spells in Valley 1, really.
    • This gives you far more direct tactile involvement in battles now that your squadrons are in general gone, and you can't control any ships other than your flagship. Without the direct-fire weapons, it was feeling like there was not enough for you to directly be doing at all times.
    • With this addition, the game does become a bit more twitch-based in some ways, but honestly you can slow down the speed so incredibly much that it's not exactly a speed fest in any way shape or form. You can also adjust the combat difficulty to be such that you just obliterate the enemy by grazing them, if all you want to focus on is pretty much the solar map part of the game and then the solar-map-affecting parts of combat.
    • Also we should stress just how much fun this is, at least to us. :)
  • Currently there are three available primary weapons: minigun, spreadshot, and armor-piercing. You always start the game with minigun, which is the easiest to use, but then can unlock the others just as you would any other special flagship ability.
  • On Easy combat difficulty, your direct weapons now do 1.5x as much damage to any auto-target-allowed ships (meaning you don't accidentally overkill things like civilian satellites by stray shots, since the damage buff does not apply to them). On "You Are So OP" combat difficulty, that multiplier is 3x.

Generalized Balance Shifts

  • Flagship shields are now beefier, twice as powerful as before.
  • The player flagship health modifiers are now higher, and now apply to the shields of the player flagship as well.
  • Completely rebalanced the health of the turrets, and their attack power, to make them way less OP.
  • Adjusted the pirate ships to shift them more towards smaller forces that are more powerful than the planetary forces, which are more numerous. Basically really playing up the pirate "feel" with these.
    • This is particularly possible since the player is no longer getting these ships. Previously it would have made sense to just stack your squadrons with all pirate stuff, but now that's not possible. Additionally, now in most cases you are facing pirates with the help of some other allies, so making sure to differentiate them further helps things feel more unique all around.
  • The game no longer references "flagships" inside of armadas. Instead, it references "flotillas," which consist of 1 to 5 flagships, depending on the combat difficulty level. This has no effect on the solar map portion of the game other than a name change, but it has a big impact on the balance of the revised combat model. This lets us make your flagship substantially more powerful without letting the battles just get shortcutted by you decapitating the enemy flagships too fast.
  • The Thoraxian Exterminator was way OP, and has been toned down.
  • Spy Probes now seed different numbers of squadrons in the smuggling spacefaring tech missions now, depending on your difficulty level. These things can be incredibly fearsome now.

Secondary Objectives / Civilian Stuff

  • There are 13 new "civilian goodies" (that's what we call them internally, the game never calls them that), which are a part of some battlefields. Typically ones around civilian-style outposts or planets, not out in the middle of nowhere. These civilian structures really don't do anything in terms of the main progress of combat itself, however they provide secondary objectives and consequences while you are in a battle. You can destroy these to do things like poison atmospheres, damage GPS networks, slow ship production at a planet, etc. However, it comes at the cost of the affected race getting kind of pissed.
    • However, these aren't JUST secondary objectives. If you are fighting in enemy space, and are guns-free against that enemy (as you would presumably be), then you have to be careful not to accidentally destroy these civilian things if you don't like the consequences of doing so. This helps to create yet more "terrain" to the battlefield, where this time you are avoiding parts of it because you are worried about what YOU might do, rather than what your enemy might do to you.
    • As an aside, if allies of yours wind up destroying these civilian things, then the same negative effects happen to the local area—poisons, lack of GPS, whatever—but the influence drops that normally would accompany that do not get applied to you unless you did damage equal to at least 25% of the structure's health to it. So you can also incite your allies to do things by baiting them to certain locations, or sometimes they will do things whether you like it or not. But you aren't just hit with personal arbitrary penalties because of it.

Your Flagship Repairs / Special-Ability Ammo Revisions

  • Previously, whenever whenever you visited any sort of planet or outpost, it would automatically fully repair your flagship and give you all the ammo for all your special abilities. This is no longer the case.
  • The ammo for your special abilities is now restored after every combat session. Having to micro that between combat sessions simply did not add anything to the fun factor, and in fact added tedium. Particularly now that special abilities are so central to gameplay.
  • Any time you successfully complete a Friendly Action, the race you are doing it for now will repair your flagship for free as a thank-you.
    • Normally your flagship is now not repaired at all, so this is pretty important!
  • If you prefer not to go around helping people, or simply don't think you can survive a Friendly Action to gain free repairs, you can now buy repairs for your flagship from the black market in exchange for BP.

Battle Viewport Changes

  • Previously, you could zoom out really far in battles (ala AI War), and it was using a fake zoom scale factor to make things seem to get smaller slower than they actually would in reality. That kept things clearer when you were zoomed out, but it gave a somewhat strange sense of scale to things. With direct-fire weapons, it also would lead to things where a shot would seem to "hit" an artificially-larger ship, but would instead pass right "through it." Even though the collision detection was just fine, it was just a display issue.
    • You can no longer zoom out remotely so far, nor is there any false zooming factor. The lack of ability to zoom out and see the entire battlefield at a glance is actually an intentional change to help shift the feel of this to being more solo-ship.
  • It is no longer possible to pan the viewport with your mouse or with the keyboard, in the solar map or in battles. Instead the view now always stays firmly centered on your own ship. In battles, this notably limits your perspective on how much of the battlefield you can directly see, but that's in keeping with your perspective as a single-ship mercenary versus an entire fleet.

Minimap In Combat

  • There is now a minimap in combat, which you can resize and which has a few other options for display modes. This lets you see the general tactical situation at a glance on your screen, without being able to have "too much" intel like you used to be able to, in terms of scrolling around and seeing the entire battlefield. The minimap actually acts a bit like a radar, so it is possible that there are things that are off of your minimap that you can't see at the moment. But the "radar range," so to speak, is pretty wide. So having things be off the side isn't all that common.

NPC vs NPC (Off-Screen) Battle Updates

  • NPC vs NPC armada combat no longer happens instantly on contact when one armada attacks a planet or outpost. Instead the two are locked together in combat for a little while, giving the player a chance to intervene if they so desire (that part is coming up).
    • Visually, fleets "scheduled" to attack the defenders of a planet or outpost now draw smaller and fly around the target much like its defenders do.
  • Planets and Military Outposts now periodically spawn "skirmisher" fleets that behave somewhat like pirates but don't attack allies of their own race.

Multi-Sided (Player-Involved) Combat

  • A major new addition to this game, and something people have wanted in AI War as well for a long time, is the addition of multi-sided combat. Aka, there can now be various factions fighting each other on the battlefield, with shifting alliances between all of them even on the battlefield itself. You might find yourself allied with one faction against another, or against two or three factions who all hate one another, or whatever else. More to come in this area, but this alone is a huge under-the-hood model shift and something that really is exciting in the flexible new things it will allow us to do.
  • Attacking a planet/outpost/fleet that has scheduled auto-combat will now involve the other nodes that it's going to attack (or are going to attack it) and any planning to attack its target/attacker, etc. Basically it will pull the whole web in.

Player Flagship Special Ability Updates

  • Since flagship special abilities are so central to the game now, they have now become more organized.
    • The first two abilities are always now weapon-style abilities.
    • The third ability is always now "operations"-style.
    • And the last two abilities are always now "specialty" abilities.
    • The dropdowns now restrict you to selection of the relevant ability types in each of the dropdowns, which reduces the size of each dropdown when you are considering your options.
      • There is also now no longer any restriction on having duplicates of abilities, since you could at most have two of the same ability in the weapon or specialty class, anyway.
    • At game start, the game now always rolls 3 weapons, 2 operations, and 3 specialty abilities for you. Before it was just a completely random mix, which could actually really set you off in a bad way if you had no weapons, for instance.
  • All of the pre-existing flagship special abilities have been touched in some fashion, many of them outright replaced to make sense in the new combat scenarios.

Alpha Version .702

(Released February 13, 2014)

  • Many of the race actions now have more informative descriptions (including the name of target planets, related races, etc).
  • Fixed a bug where the intro tips would show on quick-start, not just advanced-start.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where attacking the skylaxian senate could cause an exception.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where the contracts screen's refresh logic wouldn't clear the label showing the name of the selected contract, when there wasn't a selected contract.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where the display's "whiteout" state (caused by planets getting cracked, etc) would not clear when the game ended, such that starting a new game could leave you with a very white screen.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Added a new toggle to the Graphics tab of the Settings window: Darken Chatter Scroll
    • Darkens the chatter scroll at the bottom of the screen to provide better contrast for the text.
    • Thanks to Misery and jerith for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a bug where the game would try to simulate the rest of the sim-step during which an "End the game" type action was processed (like from the escape menu). This lead to it always playing one of the "you lose" narratives when you tried to leave. Cute, but wrong.
    • Thanks to Billick for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug where the ship type details window would still list a player version of the Model X flagship even if that wasn't (and therefore never could be) the player's flagship.
  • Fixed a bug where, on the solar map, the ship type details window would list the player's currently-in-use squadron types twice.
  • Split the difficulty level of the game into two parts: combat and strategic.
    • We basically knew we'd have to do that at some point, it was only a matter of time.
    • Thanks to Mick for directly inspiring the timing of the change, though.
  • The various difficulty levels now include tooltips for what they actually do when you are starting the game.
  • Non-hydral flagships have had their speeds dropped back down to their prior levels, so that they are never faster than the ships escorting them.
    • Thanks to orzelek for reporting.
  • Previously, if retreating was not possible, then it would not show the retreat button at all. Now it shows the button but in red in those circumstances.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed an issue where the victory music was throwing an error instead of playing.
    • Thanks to orzelek for reporting.
  • Previously, assassins and AFA attacks were able to be launched from non-spacefaring planets. Fixed.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reporting.
  • Fixed a couple typos in the game in reference to politics.
    • Thanks to hyfrydle for reporting.
  • In the description of the "Smuggle Spacefaring tech" we had inadvertently dropped off a 'd' in the word drop.
    • Thanks to windgen for reporting.
  • Updated the chatter scroll font some so that commas look more like commas instead of periods.
    • Thanks to jerith for reporting.
  • Fixed an issue where the planet sidebar button was displaying the enabled state of the planet overlay.
    • Thanks to jerith for reporting.
  • Added keybinds for toggling on and off the planet overlays and planet sidebar. These are the first keybinds that are exclusive to the solar map.
    • Thanks to jerith for suggesting.
  • On Hard strategic difficulty, races now become spacefaring 3x faster than they otherwise would.
  • On Easy strategic mode, there are now a number of negative influence factors that get skipped entirely, making the solar map portion of the game easier.
  • Fixed a missing localization issue on the right-hand planet sidebar window.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reporting.
  • Fixed an issue where the planet sidebar window could be larger than it was supposed to be when you were not at a planet in particular. This then caused mouse oddities. Now it doesn't draw at all when you aren't somewhere where it is relevant, and it also shows a darkened underlay to make it clear where the non-clickable area is.
    • Thanks to jerith for reporting.
  • A number of visual and clarity improvements on the contracts/politics/actions/etc screens, including have the "Execute deal" button now have different text depending on the relevant context of the time.
  • Added another contract new contracts to provide more early game options: Attack Strongest Local Armada
    • This is similar to Attack Outpost or Attack Planet Defenders.
    • But you always face the strongest defending armada.
    • And you have to select a race that you're doing the contract on behalf of (rather than simply acting on your own).
      • You can only select from races that have a negative attitude towards this one, and are not allied with them.
    • You will gain some influence with the race you're working for, and the race you're attacking will decrease their attitude towards your client race.
  • Retreating has been greatly simplified:
    • Now it just starts a 10 second timer, and once that counts down to zero the combat ends.
    • But if you or any of your squadron ships are hit, the timer goes up by 1 second (max of 10).
    • So your squadrons no longer need to redock to escape with you, nor do they try to do so.
    • Thanks to Cyborg and others for inspiring this change.
  • The contracts/political/actions screen has had a lot of updates so that it:
    • No longer jumps around as you click through items.
    • Shows the BP gains/losses on a second line of each contract, rather than the first.
    • Shows nice header colors over on the right-hand side of the screen's text info.
    • Uses space more effectively, so that there are not strange wrapping and overflow issues.
  • Invincible ships now say so, instead of trying to list their health (or nothing, in one tooltip).
  • Truly invincible ships will now no longer interact with shots which would normally collide with them.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for inspiring this change.
  • Now when you select the same ability for more than one slot it will display the word "DUPLICATE" in red text next to the offending dropdown.
    • Thanks to jerith for inspiring this change.
  • Added an intimidation influence factor when you do acts of extreme violence (usually murdering dignitaries) on the Peltians. They become more compliant the more of that sort of thing you do to other races.
    • Thanks to jerith for inspiring this addition.
  • About half of the "why this contract/action/deal can't be done right now" pieces of text have been properly written out now.
  • The Peltians music theme has now been added to the game.

Defense-Mode Battles

  • Added three new contracts to provide more early game options:
    • Defend Communications Network From Insurgents
      • Pits you against some insurgents trying to destroy a communication satellite (or satellites) around this planet/outpost.
      • To win you must destroy all the enemies that spawn. This will increase public order on the planet and moderately reduce any AFA insurgency there.
      • If all the satellites are destroyed, or if you retreat, you lose. This will decrease public order on the planet and cause a surge in AFA insurgency.
      • The later in the game, the more satellites and the more enemies you will face.
      • Win or lose, also causes a small influence hit with other races that dislike the client race (and are not allied with them).
    • Defend Weather Network From Insurgents
      • Very similar to the communications network one, but impacts environment instead of public order.
    • Defend GPS System From Meteor Shower
      • Like the others, but instead of enemy ships you face large rocks that are all mysteriously flying at one of the satellites. These will slam into anything they touch, mutually dealing damage equal to their health (or the other object's health, if that's lower).
      • This grants more bargaining power than the others, but causes an influence hit if you lose.

Alpha Version .701

(Released February 12, 2014)

  • The delay on the tooltips disappearing on the solar map is now gone; it was indeed annoying.
    • However, part of the purpose there was to keep the tooltips from being so "blinky" late in the game when there are tons of armadas and you are mousing over them.
    • The thing is, you almost never need to mouse over an armada; it doesn't tell you much about it, and you can tell the color from looking at it. Anyway, the need for a mouseover there is very rare.
    • So! Now the game only lets you get a tooltip for non-planets/outposts while you have the solar map paused (and it tells you this). This actually solves some annoyances I had with trying to mouse over the planet that I was located on, anyway.
    • Thanks to jerith for reporting.
  • The chatter bar now has a bit of a shadow to the text, and shows the icon of the race doing the speaking, to make it easier to see. You can also click the bar to see everything fully.
    • Thanks to Misery for inspiring these changes.
  • Any time any dropdown item is open, it now directs all mouse wheel scrolls to that dropdown and suppresses any other dropdown handling.
    • Thanks to jerith for suggesting.
  • Added a very long-requested feature to our engine: generalized mouse scrollwheel support in scrollable windows. And there was much rejoicing. :)
    • Thanks to Admiral and jerith and many many others for suggesting.
  • Fixed a bug in generating the prediction/result strings for the Andor speech actions.
  • The "when must one race refrain from attacking another race?" logic now includes a rule to exclude non-spacefaring races from being attacked and invaded.
  • Fixed a bug where a few direct-use abilities that were supposed to only affect player stuff (like the Afterburner) were affecting both sides.
    • Thanks to ProfessorPaul1290 for the report.
  • The ship type details window now:
    • Doesn't list internal types (the drop zone, etc)
    • Doesn't list a huge negative number for a ship with an attack range of zero.
    • Doesn't list racial flagships for races that can never get them (or for you, unless they're of your chosen race).
    • In non-combat mode doesn't list anything that isn't a main flagship type or a deployable squadron type.
    • Thanks to windgen for reporting various issues here.
  • Fixed several bugs with contracts not populating the opponents correctly, leading to instantly-completed "destroy pirate base" or "raid pirate freighter" missions, etc.
    • Thanks to Misery for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where raiding a pirate freighter would destroy a pirate base.
    • Thanks to Misery for the report.
  • Fixed a bug where smuggle-spacefaring missions would be instantly won because (despite proper enemy population) the game thought there was no enemy centerpiece.
    • Thanks to windgen for the report.
  • The special-ability selection on the black market screen and the combat practice screen now simply checks to prevent duplicates when you try to confirm, rather than removing what-would-be-duplicate-choices from each dropdown in real time.
    • Thanks to jerith for reporting issues with the way it was doing things.
  • Fixed an issue with spy probes having an animator dictionary problem.
  • Fixed a bug where the planetary details sidebar would draw a single oddly placed green line if you had no informant on the planet.
  • Fixed a bug where various assassination contracts would show up on the menus for the wrong races (Assassinate-Boarine-Regent showing up on the Acutian menu, for example).
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Now it won't show contracts that cannot be taken because they require a federation member, a non-federation-member, an outpost, or a non-spacefaring race, since the transitions to make those possible would either be impossible or sufficiently game-changing that it's ok that the list of contracts change in such a case.
    • Thanks to jerith for the report.
  • Hive Queen mood swings, andor and skylaxian elections, and boarine regent deaths now no longer show up in your sidebar when those races are not yet spacefaring.
  • Fixed a silly bug that was causing scrollbars on certain screens to be completely unresponsive to clicking and dragging.
    • Thanks to jerith for reporting.
  • Adjusted how close you have to be to do a number of things, like redock ships during a retreat, or drop off troops or tech that you are smuggling, etc.
  • The box that pops up when you click start game now no longer refers to exos. :)
    • Thanks to windgen for reporting.
  • Fixed a small typo in the explanation of ghost mode.
    • Thanks to windgen for reporting
  • The new "constellations" types of battles are now a lot more limited in scope most of the time, and not as prevalent throughout the game. There are still some that are just as hard as before, though, for sure. Yay variety
    • Thanks to Misery for reporting the difficulty of too many constellations.
  • The descriptions for all the various forms of "you're now starting combat, here's the special rules if there are any" are now in.
  • During battle or on the solar map, the ability to move your flagship ONLY south was nonfunctional. You could do it if you also held left or right, but not just holding down.
    • Thanks to Misery and jerith for reporting.
  • Fixed music playback not working properly except on the title menu.
    • Thanks to mrhanman for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug in trade goods missions where freighter graphics were messed up.
    • Thanks to waylon531 for reporting.

Alpha Version .700

(Released February 11, 2014)

  • Loads and loads of more stuff on the solar map; again not noted here since there is no previous version of it to compare to, so why bother.

* The actual game (as opposed to combat practice) has been opened up outside of developer-mode. :)

  • To capture a powerup, your ship no longer has to be quite so close to it.
    • Thanks to Cyborg and Misery for reporting.
  • The default battle speed of the game has been returned to 1 instead of 0.5. We really need to balance things around that, because otherwise things like time intervals make no sense with everything taking twice as long as it should, etc.
    • Also, frankly, I just feel like it is just as slow as molasses at that lower speed, which is really a grating feeling. I wind up playing almost all the time on super fast forward. As it stands, the option to lower the speed of things is right there prominently on the Quick Start screen (which of course people haven't seen yet), so if someone feels they are getting worked over they can turn down the speed. When someone gets a game over within the first short amount of time, it also reminds them about this (all these things were already in place, just not yet visible to folks).
    • Thanks to jerith for pointing out the time inconsistencies, and thus pushing me over the edge on something I was already feeling.
  • The overall speed of ships and shots has been cut by half, so that even at speed 1, it now is the same speed that it previously was at speed 0.5
    • Additionally, the hull strength and shield strengths have been doubled. But the attack powers have NOT, so that actually will string things out a bit more, even.
  • Time slowdown continues to work as it did before, but when you increase time past the default speed, it now works differently—rather than using larger internal multipliers for all the various movement, trig, time-passage, and other such math, it now does an internal loop for approximately the number of extra times you wanted this to run.
    • This is incredibly more CPU-intensive while you are running at a high speed, but it's really nothing that a semi-modern computer can't handle without incident.
    • The benefit, however, is immense: before, certain aspects of "correctness" would get lost due to the coarser time intervals. Things would happen in an odd way in the solar map sometimes (mainly on the hyper-fast-forward that is possible to use in Ghost/Observer mode), and in battles (where things are more precise) you'd run into problems even with the regular Super Fast Forward.
    • Thanks to waylon531 and jerith for pointing out the issue in battles.
  • Two more of the planet types now have their proper orbital background images completed.
  • Fixed a bug where the gigacannon (and other keeps-going-after-hit weapons) could only damage the first target touched.
    • Thanks to Misery for the report.
  • Increased the range of the Gravity Missile and Nuke up to Gigacannon levels, so that you don't have to be so close to successfully fire them.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for inspiring this change.
  • The ship tooltips now show overall DPS and damage types.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for inspiring this change.
  • Fixed a null exception that would occur on the input-bindings window when trying to switch to the solar-map tab (since it has no keybinds currently).
    • Thanks to Admiral and Cyborg for reporting.
  • Mouseovering an ability icon now displays its range circle around your flagship (unless it has sniper ragne, which doesn't have a range circle).
    • Thanks to Misery for the suggestion.
  • Fixed a bug where if you were holding down a speed-change key (FF, etc) and clicked the mouse, it would go back to normal speed.
    • Thanks to jerith for reporting, although this was bugging the heck out of Chris, too. ;)

Alpha Version .601

(Released February 8, 2014)

  • Put in a fix to an index out of bounds error that could happen with explosive ammo in the prior version of the game when it hit debris.
    • Thanks to waylon531 and Cyborg for reporting.
  • Fixed a bug in the prior version where any combat zones that were not in planet orbits were not showing a space background at all.

Alpha Version .600

(Released February 8, 2014)

Special Note: This version breaks any savegames you might have from the prior version.

  • Loads and loads of stuff is being done on the non-combat portions of the game, but since that wasn't open to alpha testers yet we aren't bothering to clutter up the log with that for the most part.
  • Added a new basic kind of flagship to go alongside the Model X. This one is called the Velociter, and it is basically a much faster version of the Model X, but with lower health and shields. It's certainly great for kiting the enemy, although in close quarters it is a very dangerous thing.
  • Players are no longer ever able to get the pirate flagships, which are now called Pirate Ravens and have altered stats.
    • They also now have actual final graphics and animations.
  • Fixed a bug where the backgrounds were not found in the last version or two when you used a planet gravity well strength greater than 0.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reporting.
  • When you are fighting in orbit around a planet, the battle backgrounds are now showing a new very-high-orbit view that includes that planet at the bottom area of the battlefield. This not only helps keep things contiguous in terms of theme/sense-of-place, it also makes it clear what direction the gravity is coming from.
  • The ability for players to turn on auto-resolve for battles has been removed. That was something that we would have liked to have had ala the Total War series, but as the battles are growing in complexity here, there is just no meaningful way to do that in this game. Plus, cutting them out simply gets rid of too much of the meat of the game at this point.
  • The Fleet Levels for races and the player and pirates have all been removed, and everything is now just level 1. The progression of the fleet levels was just one more piece of management hassle in the outer solar system game (like credits), and something to mess with balance in a negative way. It's also the sort of thing that is frustratingly invisible to the player on the battlefield in some respects, and which doesn't thematically stand up as interestingly as things like the pilot types do.
    • There will still be a progression of quality of ships and abilities and all that good stuff, but it will actually be using other existing mechanisms that we have in place that are more interesting. Fleet Levels was actually kind of duplicative in some ways.
  • Added a new flagship: The Colossus Bounty Hunter.
    • This ship puts a LOT of ordinance in the battlefield, and does so very quickly.
    • This is used exclusively by assassins that races send after you late in the game if you've pissed them off enough.
  • Started a new Tip of the Day document, which will be used in a ticker scroll on the main menu that you can also open up and see the full list of if you prefer.
  • The Black Market, Burlust, Evuck, and Skylaxian music themes are now in place.
  • Whichever race you choose to crash on the planet of at the start of the game now holds a grudge against you for the rest of the game, affecting how much influence you gain and lose with them.
  • The Y and V keys now target the nearest enemy flagship/centerpiece (could be an outpost of the enemy), rather than the "sole" enemy flagship, since there isn't one anymore.
  • Shots that are fired now have a short "grace period" before they will hit debris like asteroids, junk, etc. That way if ships are at close range, or in the edge of an asteroid field or junk cluster, they can fire out.
  • Now if a shot hits a piece of debris, it damages any ships that are also touching that same piece of debris. That way ships can't hide on top of a single asteroid or similar, gaining protection that way. They have to literally be behind it.
  • The final version of the main menu is now complete. It's a lot more attractive, and mirrors the design of the solar map GUI. First impressions are obviously important, and by working on this first it was actually quicker to get the solar GUI going, too.
  • The player now starts significantly further away from the enemy.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for inspiring this change.
  • The number on the buttons for your squadrons now reflects the actual keybind that they are bound to—so #10 says "0" instead of "10." Additionally, if you rebind any of them to something other than numbers, it will now you show whatever your other binding was, too.
    • Thanks to Admiral for suggesting.
  • The first squadron to be deployed by any ship is always deployed 5x faster than the rest, now.
    • Thanks to Admiral for suggesting.
  • AI squadrons now wait to attack until it's satisfied that it has enough attack squadrons to do some good (this amount varies by race, and somewhat by individual battle).

Improving Tools For Balancing Combat

  • Added a new Ship Detailed Info grid that you can call up with the "i" key. This lets you see detailed stats if you are so inclined to do so, with all the ships neatly organized. For those who want all the hoary details on everything, this lets you get it without us having to clutter up the main tooltips with that sort of thing.
  • The combat balance testing export (Ctrl+F11) now visually shows the battles playing out at hyperspeed. This is slower, but it gives an actual idea of what is happening so that changes can be made when there are issues. Some very interesting things were discovered via this already.
  • The combat balance testing export now runs at a vastly more granular set of time per internal combat frame, to better reflect the actual situation in real battles. Previously with it not being granular enough, you would have things like shots missing because of physics getting wonky at that sort of speed, etc.
  • The combat balance testing export was previously logging stalemates as victories for some parties, and this is now fixed.
  • Space junk no longer pops out of large ships during balance exports, because that was often skewing the numbers by chance or prolonging battles.
  • As the balance export is running, a lot of stats now display right on the tooltip area, to make understanding the results easier in realtime.
  • The balance export now writes a BalanceExportWinsPerShip.txt file that tallies up how many wins each ship has, and notes the total number of ship types, to aid in finding balance holes where something is too strong or too pathetically weak. We have something similar in our balance exports in AI War.
  • Given the addition of the new Ship Details screen (i key), the Ship Rankings screen (r key) has been removed as irrelevant. The latter screen was based on showing some information in a format that is now outdated anyhow.

Ship Balance

  • Ammo has been removed from all of the ship weapons except for interceptor missiles. It didn't serve a whole lot of purpose in the main, it was fiddly and small to find, and during combat balance exports in particular it would give skewed results since both sides could run out of ammo and just sit there.
  • The sine shots have been updated for both the predator and the peltian solar fortress to be more effective as well as more interesting.
    • Previously they had two fairly wavy shots. This was good and bad—they could wind up missing something that they were shooting directly at, unfortunately. But at the same time, they were great in crowds and could hit around corners, etc.
    • Now those two shots are even MORE wavy, making them even better at getting around corners, but they also have a third center-shot that goes straight, thus always hitting straight-line targets.
  • Hypersonic Pods now have a second weapon on them, called Energy Balls. These are a longer-ranged energy weapon that is more or less like a single-shot version of the burst shot that the claymores have.
    • This makes the hypersonic pods have a much different role from the interceptors at this point, as they are able to deliver two kinds of munitions now—but their second form of munitions, these energy balls, are not very useful against enemy flagships, which is also part of the idea. However, these things suddenly are really useful as claymore-killers.
  • Hypersonic Pods were WAY overpowered. To fix this they have been slowed, have had their DPS lowered and had their hull strength brought way down.
    • Basically these things can't generally take more than one hit from anything now, but they still have use in battle.
  • Claymores now have a bit more health.
    • They were lowered a bit too much in previous patches due to a bug in some of the testing portions of the game making them look stronger than they were. This has been fixed and now the Claymores are closer to where they should be.
  • PirateSnipers now only have 2 ships per squad.
    • As a result, they now hit much much harder.

Racial Special Flagships

  • The balance of the Thoraxian Exterminator has been completely reworked, making it faster and with a stronger hull, but poorer shields.
  • Completely revised the Acutian Executor:
    • Highly shielded, extremely fast-moving weapons, and the ability to deploy squadrons twice as quickly as normal.
  • Continuing with the effort to make the flag ships more unique. Peltian Solar Fortress now has a TON of shields, but not a lot of hull strength.
  • Skylaxian Battle Carrier now has what amounts to a machine gun.
  • The Burlust Longship now has two Burst guns, as well as some increased health.
  • The other racial special flag ships have all been partially updated. These final three all have new weapons planned.
    • The Boarine Tusker now moves faster.
    • The Evuck Herald moves faster too, but it also has a significantly faster shot speed now.
    • The Andor Supressor has more health now, but a smaller shield, as well as having a slower shot speed.

Shifts Toward A More Asymmetric Fleet/Armada Model

  • In combat practice, players can only ever select the racial special flagships for themselves, now.
  • When starting a new game, players are now given the racial special flagship for the race whose planet they crash-landed on. They then can never swap out their flagship for the rest of the game.
  • All races have access to their racial special flagships right from the start of the game, now.
  • All of the racial special flagships have been made substantially more unique.
  • AI ships are organized into armadas now, which are basically a collection of 1-5 fleets in one group. You fight an entire armada at a time, which is obviously very outnumbering for you.

Enemy Turrets

  • There are now turrets that only the enemy gets. All of your ships are still mobile, and you never get things like turrets.
  • Depending on the context of the fight you are in, you may have a simpler-style battle where it is just fleet vs fleet as in the older versions of the alpha. In those instances you are out in empty space typically, and a foe has snuck up on you.
  • In most other instances, you're attacking a foe that is entrenched at least somewhat, and they have turrets and other fortifications up that you have to figure out how to break.

Player Flagship Special Abilities

  • There are twenty-five new special abilities that players are now able to customize their flagships with. The AI never gets these abilities, and these are a big part of your Act-In-The-Hole Batman-esque way of taking on foes that otherwise have superior numbers.
    • You start a new game with access to 5 random ones of these, and you can only ever select 3 at a time. You can run certain kinds of contracts to unlock random other ones.
    • In combat practice, you can select any of them at any time, but again only 3.
    • These have both ammo and cooldowns, and if you are doing multiple fights between visiting a planet or a black market, you have to think about how and when you want to expend said ammo.
    • Some of these, like using nukes in the orbit of a planet, have larger-game consequences despite being very powerful. But then again, using nukes out in empty space or in the asteroid belt or ice belt doesn't bother anybody, so...
    • The JKL hotkeys allow you to trigger these abilities quickly.
  • Any flagship controlled by the player now moves 250% faster than it used to. The flagships felt like they were moving in molasses before—which was appropriate when the battlefields were smaller, and when there was less maneuvering to be done. And it is still appropriate for the enemy flagships. But this is now one of your "Batman" advantages. ;)

Player Powerups / Abandoned Hydral Technology

  • Since you are the last Hydral, only you know how to make use of some very cool technology that happened to be left in various places throughout the solar system. After all, the Hydrals were occupying the solar system for centuries, and had built up a ton of stuff. They also left in a hurry to run back to their planet right before they died, so all that stuff is still floating around out there.
    • Usually the enemy forces have set up guards and turrets and so forth around these sorts of technology, though, so if you want to activate them you will have to really think about how you approach them, and which ones you approach.

Helping The Player Out On Lower Difficulties

  • The difficulty levels below Hard now provide bonuses to the player that make their forces stronger than equivalent AI forces:
    • Easy: Flagship Health is 4x, Squadron Sizes are 3x
    • Normal: Flagship Health is 2x, Squadron Sizes are 2x
  • It is now possible to select your difficulty level for combat practices, so that you can try scenarios at the various difficulty levels.

"Constellations" In Combat

  • Combat—well, most of the time—is now organized into what we call constellations internally (although the game itself never references these). These are various fortified enemy locations, typically with some sort of hydral technology at the center, or some sort of other large centerpieces. The variety of these will go up in the coming week, so that it's not all hydral technology (which for the moment, it is).
  • The constellations have different arrangements of turrets in a variety of styles, and some are easier to bypass than others. The constellations get distributed around at random, near one another, at random orientations, so you wind up with a very interesting fortress-like battlefield to approach in these sorts of situations.
  • The AI for the enemies when constellations are present is very different from before. They now tend to hide in the constellations, and overwhelm you with force, or guard hydral technology, as is appropriate.
  • None-constellation combat is still present, and uses different AI. This mainly happens in the main game when you are attacked by the AFA or by Assassins, and in those circumstances it actually starts to feel very naked and lonely and brutal-simple. By contrast, the constellation battlefields are a lot more intricate and about finding the right paths through them, and the right ships to use at the right time to punch through them.

Alpha Version .102

(Released January 31, 2014)

  • Several new battle background visuals are now in place, completely replacing the older kind at this point. They all use a specific level of brightness (or lack thereof), to make sure that things on the battlefield are clearly visible, as well as to make sure that the interface "pops" properly.
  • Fixed a bug where the multi-bullets were incredibly out of balance.
  • The peltian and evuck pilots now actually have bonuses for the cutters (pirate and regular)
  • Adjusted the max range to live on the shots, because the way it was working before was clamped in .101 just too short to remain functional/balanced in a lot of cases.
  • The multigun weapon has been revised to fire shots sequentially, and to fire fixed-size salvos rather than "one shot at any in range, up to 10".
  • Initial positions in combat are now fixed to the left and right at X distance from the center, rather than at random angles from the center. This way your first action in every combat isn't panning the view around wondering where the enemy is.
  • In the combat practice setup, as well as in the game itself, it is now no longer possible to select fewer than 5 squadrons for either side.
  • In the combat practice setup and in the game itself, blank squadron slots now show "None" in darkened letters rather than just being blank. This is a lot easier to see.
  • Fixed an indexing exception when you use peltian pilots in interceptors.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reporting.
  • The basic flagship is now called Flagship Model X, so that we can differentiate it from other later kinds of flagships better.

Heavily Revised Combat GUI

  • The visual styling in general is now much improved; it's based on the solar map GUI, which is newer work.
  • There are new buttons on-screen for slow-motion as well as super-fast-forward.
  • The entire arrangement of the bottom area of the screen has been redone.
  • The "charging tanks" display on the player health/shield bar area has been removed (although the enemy one still has it).
  • The queue of your ship production is now on the left side of the screen going down, rather than at the bottom going to the right.
  • The end combat button is now much more in the regular style of the game without being so gaudy, and it now pulses slightly to hint at you to click it.
  • When you first get into a new battle or load a savegame that is in the middle of a battle, it now automatically starts out paused so that you can look around. Pressing the spacebar or clicking the slightly-pulsing "start combat" button actually begins the combat.
    • Thanks to Admiral and Misery for suggesting.
  • Tooltips in combat now linger for 2 seconds after you have moused over something, if you do not mouse over something else first. This makes it easier to mouse over moving ships, etc.
    • Thanks to windgen for suggesting.
  • The tooltips in combat now actually say what side each ship you are hovering over belongs to.
  • A more detailed role description text with some extra key information is now included in the tooltip information on hovering over ships in combat. The raw statistics of lesser importance have been removed from the tooltip, as it is not actionable information during battles in terms of how you use things tactically.
    • Thanks to windgen for suggesting the added text here.
  • The tooltips for hovering over the squadron buttons have been much improved.

Balance Changes

  • Damage from the Claymore shots was brought WAY down.
    • These things were hitting like a Mack truck loaded with school buses.
  • Monitors (both pirate and non) now have a lower shot rate.
  • Fixed an issue in the prior version where the effective shot travel distance on sine shots (from predators, mainly) was so short as to make them ineffective.
  • Nearly doubled the ranges on most ships, in order to make it so that the escort behavior works better in terms of keeping the ability to fire shots more of the time when an enemy approaches.
  • Fixed an issue where the AI was making way too many solitary attack fleets and sending those pitifully at the player in the prior version. It's now a lot more varied, but less prone to attack fleets in general. Still more AI work is needed, but a lot of that will have to wait until we have our hydral technology capture points in place, because the AI really needs to take that into consideration and not just the point-to-point fighting.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for reporting the error.

Alpha Version .101

(Released January 30, 2014)

  • The recent page notes actually points to the release notes, now.
  • Lots of various stuff in the larger strategic game outside of the combat section, but since that isn't available to testers yet, we'll spare you the list.
  • The game now keeps tracks of campaigns played and won/lost separately from combat practices played and won/lost, and now properly logs all of them.
    • Thanks to Admiral for reporting.
  • Squadron deployment buttons in combat now have tooltips.
  • The tooltips in combat now show a line about the pilots and pilot bonuses.
  • Combat performance optimizations.
  • The selection rings for ships were not properly scaling up with ships as you zoomed out in the prior version of the game, making it almost impossible to see what you had selected when you were zoomed out at all.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290, Admiral, and mrhanman for reporting.
  • "Giant" ships like your flagship now show larger selection rings in general, even when zoomed in.
    • Thanks to Professor Paul1290, Admiral, and mrhanman for reporting.
  • The clickable area for ships now scales up with the zoom going out, so that you can still click them when you are zoomed out. And for flagships, this area is now larger in general.
    • Thanks to mrhanman for reporting.
  • The racial/other-purpose ship name prefixes now properly show during battles. So something from the Thoraxians is now no longer the "Bolt," it's the "TCC Bolt."
  • Strafing time was not properly adjusting to different simulation speeds, so on lower sim speeds it was causing hugely less strafing, and on higher sim speeds or fast-forward, it was causing hugely more.
    • Thanks to Cyborg for suggesting.
  • Fixed an issue with the background grid of lines basically being insane when you zoomed in and out. Given that was supposed to be a major indication not only of spatial distance but also of your zoom level, that was kind of an important oversight.
    • Thanks to Misery and Admiral for reporting.
  • New slider on Settings -> Graphics: Combat Background Brightness
    • Adjusts the brightness of the backgrounds in combat. 1 is normal, 0 is completely black.
  • Now when a squadron deploys its ships start at a small scale and grow to full size over about a second. They cannot be selected, fire, or be targeted during this time.
  • Shots now disappear after they have traveled twice their maximum range, to avoid an interceptor furball from spraying the cosmos like some kind of shmup.
    • Missiles travel up to 5 times their maximum range.
    • Thanks to Admiral for inspiring this change.
  • New ship: Hypersonic Pod
    • Built for doing incredibly fast strafing runs that enemies find it difficult to do defend against, even though the strafing runs themselves are not that strong. Not the strongest, and not the hardiest, but definitely the fastest.
  • Added two new battle backgrounds, and removed three of them that were simply too bright.

Enemy Combat AI Improvements/Additions

  • Now, once the enemy flagship has directly fired upon your flagship, all flanking AI squadrons immediately attack, and any further AI squadrons are either attacker or defender (no wanderers or flankers, etc).
  • Now, when a flagship's shields are down or its hull is below half, all new AI squadrons are attacker (if it's the player's flagship in distress) or defender (if it's the AI's flagship).
    • Further, if a flagship's hull drops below 20%, all AI squadrons immediately switch to the corresponding AI type.
  • After deploying a squadron, the AI will check if it needs to pick a different next-squadron-to-deploy. Specifically, it will try to make sure it has Claymores to counter Interceptors, Interceptors to counter Snipers, and Monitors to counter Lancers.
    • There's a significant random factor involved, and often it will just keep the existing order.
  • Added a new "Buddy" AI squadron behavior that makes the squadron pick a random non-buddy squadron to stick around (whatever it might be doing).
  • Added new AI squadron behavior that tries to hide some of the types of pirate ships (which don't slow down near asteroids) in clusters of asteroids a bit away (about 2x firing range) from the player's flagship.

Flagship/Racial Fleet AI

  • AI flagships now randomly select from a variety of AI routines (weights based on the flagship's creating race).
  • The enemy flagship now always turns aggressive (as in "bum rush the player flagship") if it is completely out of squadron ships or if 2 minutes of game-time have passed since the last squadron deployment.
  • Added a "Enemy Flagship Behavior" dropdown to the combat practice menu. It defaults to random (which just uses the race's normal chances of picking various flagship AIs) but you can use it to pick any flagship AI for the enemy.

Added Battle Controls/Tools

  • Added a new "wild hunter" mode for your ships, that also applies to some enemy flocks. This can be turned on via the B hotkey, and makes them automatically seek out and destroy the ships that they are best suited to kill.
  • Double-clicking one of your ships in combat now selects all your ships of that type.
  • Added new Key Bind: Center On Selection
    • In combat, centers your viewport on the averaged center of all the ships you have selected. Does not adjust your zoom, so if you have a widely-spread selection of ships and are zoomed in this may center your view on a whole lot of nothing.
    • Defaults to C.
  • The player's flagship now responds to WASD for movement in combat.
    • Holding control while pressing WASD sets the destination considerably further out, so the ship will stay on that heading for some time (unless another order is given).
    • Thanks to Admiral for the suggestion.
  • Added new Key Bind: Pure Coward
    • In combat, puts your flagship in Pure Coward mode, which causes it to try to run directly away from the enemy flagship until you give it another order.
    • Defaults to U.
    • Thanks to Admiral for the suggestion.
  • Added new Key Bind: Insanely Aggressive.
    • In combat, puts your flagship in Insanely Aggressive mode, which causes it to try to run straight at the enemy flagship until you give it another order.
    • Defaults to Y.
    • Thanks to Admiral for the suggestion.
  • Added new Key Bind: Center On Enemy Flagship
    • In combat, centers your viewport on the enemy flagship.
    • Defaults to J.

Battle Speed Stuff

  • The default battle speed is now 0.5 instead of 1, and battle speeds can be adjusted all the way down to 0.05 instead of just to 0.25.
    • Thanks to Admiral and Misery for suggesting.
  • The deployment speed of ships has been halved, so that there is a much bigger difference between what size ship you bring out at any given time timing-wise, as well as making it so that you can't flood the battlefield with low-cost ships too fast.
  • Added new Key Bind: Slow Motion
    • Like the inverse of Fast Forward, it reduces speed to half normal in combat (does not apply on solar map).
    • Defaults to T
  • Added new Key Bind: Super Fast Forward
    • Like Fast Forward, but double that in combat, and eight times that on the solar map.
    • Defaults to G

Balance changes

  • Pirate Lancers no longer have "strafing time," unlike interceptors and cutters of both the regular and pirate varieties.
  • Interceptors now hit for less and have a longer time between shots. This is to hopefully prevent the "zerg rush" strategy from being effective.
    • Thanks to Misery for pointing this out.
  • The Flanking squadron AI now switches to Attacker when fired upon from beyond their own weapon range.
  • Claymores nerfed hard as they were literally beating all ships 1v1.
    • Health, damage, and shot frequency all dropped.
  • PirateSniper health dropped.
    • With the nerf to Interceptors, they actually didn't kill snipers anymore... OOPS.

The Last Federation