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Home again: An update of development (and why the pause)

Hey everyone – been a while, right? So I’ll get to the good news right off the bat: I’ve been working on the game for a little while and have started on 3 key features: pops opinion feedback (in other words, why is my stability dropping on a planet?), the character/House AI, and the save/load system! Those are my 3 huge priorities before I call .6 complete. There will be some other tweaks, including more planets, an easier font typeface for some parts of the UI, the completion of the financial main screen, etc. but those are the big ones.

So that’s all well and good, you say, but where have you been? Good question. It started a few months ago with a 2-week trip out of the state for work, and I didn’t have a chance to do anything with the game at that time. When I got back, I had some issues that I had to take care of from a family standpoint – nothing major, but necessary. By then it was June and when I finally had some time to restart development, I realized that I wasn’t looking forward to it like I always had. In the past, I’d stay up until 2-3 AM working on something (I’m a night person) and not think twice about it. Now, I almost dreaded going to the computer. And I realized something at that point – I was burned out on the game.

You have to understand that I’ve been working on Imperia/AotSS more or less by myself (from a coding standpoint, anyway) for almost 4 years. In that time, I’ve had some artistic and game design support, most notably by Oliver, but for anything to actually be done in the game, I had to code and implement it. Even the smallest indie studios that release commercial-quality games typically have 4-8 people working full-time. The smallest I can think of that make games that people who would play AotSS would be Zero Sum Games (one person; StarDrive series) and Arcen Games (two people; AI War, The Last Federation, etc) but even they do it full-time as their main job. I am not in a position to make KatHawk Studios a full-time proposition (for now, anyway) so I’m caught in the position of assuming 100% development responsibility for a project that I can’t devote 8 hours a day to. So I’ve worked around the gaps in my life that don’t involve family, other social events/duties, and work. That leaves very little time for… me. And I think that finally caught up to me.

Since then, I’ve been refreshed and gotten the nice break that I needed, but of course I could have been more forthright about where I’ve been. One thing that I’ve always struggled with, even professionally, is taking relatively small issues and letting them spiral because I have an unreasonable fear of the results. In this case, all I would have had to do is post a blog saying that I was taking a month or two off and I’m sure most people who understand the development situation would understand. However, since I let it get to this huge thing in my mind, it became harder and harder to respond. So I take full responsibility for not explaining things sooner, and I’m sorry for that.

So that’s the first part. The second part is this: I have taken out some small loans to fund AotSS. This project was never about me making any substantial amount of money (I have not made a single dime on this project – all monies received have gone towards development, profit share, or loan repayment) and I don’t expect that to change. However, I do have to raise some money to keep development going (art, mostly) and continue to pay off the company debt. It’s not much, just a few thousand, but it’s not nothing either and I can’t use my personal income to pay it off instead (kids aren’t cheap, folks!!) So I have basically a few options left:

  1. Raise the price on AotSS
  2. Start a massive advertising/marketing campaign to increase sales
  3. Take out another loan
  4. Start a Kickstarter
  5. End the project and write off my losses

I don’t want to do #1; in fact, my plan is to keep the price at $7.99 even into .7 as a good will gesture. Naturally, this will not help my cashflow, but it’s the right thing to do.

#2 is a necessity, but I’m not a marketer and the person who really did that well (Oliver) is no longer an active part of the project due primarily to his own projects and life goals. And of course, actual advertising takes money which I am not flush with. So any sort of marketing would have to be guerrilla in nature.

(Huge shout outs at this point to eXplorminate and Space Game Junkie; y’all have been tremendous in your support!)

I really don’t want to do #3 since I already have 2 loans outstanding and unless I was going to do this full time (in which case I would bite the bullet and really do it right and take out like $150K to staff up and office out) I need to keep the debt load where it is.

I don’t want to give up 4+ years of work and let down numerous people and customers either, so I can’t face #5 as an option.

That leaves #4. I once swore that I would not do a Kickstarter – the idea of people paying for a project that they might never see gave me chills. However, as I study my options in my unique development situation, it may be the last resort. Many people have reached out to me over the years asking whether I would do one, and I always told them ‘no’. I am proud of the fact that AotSS is self-financed and funded, and I never asked for a penny for Imperia because I believed (and still do!) in the game and idea. But business considerations have made it to where I need to bring in some revenue to pay for art at a minimum. We don’t need a lot (relative to game development costs), but I estimate it will take about $5,000 to finish the game at a basic level.

So after much deliberation, I will do my best to do #2 and #4 to keep AotSS and KHS going. I don’t have any firm details about backing levels, but I can tell you that virtually all of the rewards will be game-based. I know for sure I will have unique characters for backers and for higher tiers, custom Houses, and things like planets and systems and provinces can also be named. Beyond that I have a few ideas but I’m still deciding on them. Once the project launches on Kickstarter I will let everyone know. Also, anyone who has already purchased will get a KS reward to be determined.

In addition, if anyone out there is interested in helping with the project on a part-time level, let’s talk. You can email me at steve@imperia5x.com and let me know what you would be willing to do, your skill set, etc. I primarily need some programming help (C#/Unity knowledge required) and a new artist who genuinely loves this project and what we’re trying to accomplish. Art would be paid per asset project; all other assistance is negotiable. (But obviously, if you’re looking to make $60K on this, keep looking. 🙂

Once again, I’m sorry about my communication and lack of progress. I’m human, and I don’t have a lot of support at this point WRT actually creating and coding the game. I’m not looking for sympathy, but I do want y’all to understand the situation. And believe me, I’m far from the only small indie to struggle. It’s an inherent risk in developing a game of this complexity. If I simply wanted to make money, I’d churn out puzzle games on mobile platforms. I have the expertise to do that. But it’s not my passion. This project is, small blips notwithstanding, and I will see it to the end.

Somehow.

-Steve

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News Of The Week

Hello everyone! We’ve been hard at work on the game, and we’re going to start putting the weekly updates on the web site so that if you don’t subscribe to the forum or Twitter, you’ll still have access to the latest stuff! Anyway, on to the good stuff!!

.6.3.0 is coming out in a few days (probably Wed) and it will have a ton of updates from .6.2.0!! Among them:

  • Fixed and prettier stars
  • Music!
  • Sound effects!
  • Updated economy UI
  • Updated trade system
  • Updated migration system
  • Vastly updated production system/UI
  • New Actions
  • New Projects
  • Many many bugs fixed
  • Faster new game load times
  • Economy screen
  • Intel tab for characters is starting to be updated
  • Initial AI for characters/Houses in place – you will be able to see their main goals and what ‘path’ they are taking to get there
  • Updated economy system
  • Moar tooltips explaining the ‘hows’ in production
  • And more!

Full changelog will be posted soon. But that’s a quick hit of the changes. I will make a new video Friday with the .6.3 gameplay. If you haven’t played in a while, you’ll be very surprised at all the changes!

Also, we expect to be moving on to version .7 in the next 5 weeks or so. If you’re on the fence and like what you see, you only have a few weeks left to get it at the initial alpha price of $7.99. It will be going up to $12.99 once version .7 drops!!

Thank you for your interest!

-Steve

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Update on AotSS – Release Date Announced, New Video Released!

Hey everyone!

Well, I have some exciting news – AotSS version .6, aka Archimedes, will be released Tuesday, January 9, 2018!!

The cost will be $7.99 for the initial entry. This means that you will get Archimedes and every other build going forward, including patches and content additions after 1.0. Why so long, Steve? Good question!

As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of projects that promise much and deliver much less. If anything, this version of AotSS will include more than the original plan called for, including some basic House AI and more Actions and Projects (and corresponding UI) then called for originally. I want to make sure that I deliver a product that I’m proud of, and given my irregular work schedule, this is what it will take to not only deliver the build, but update the web site, add secure ecommerce, and do some basic cleanup of my sites and consolidate everything under the wordpress site under the www.allianceofthesacredsuns.com domain, since there are several sites floating around.

I have also released a new video that you should see if you want to get an idea of development – its here: https://youtu.be/0DLUH1JX6cI There is a slight echo but it is workable. I will release a new video every week until first alpha release with additional feature spotlights.

Later today, I’ll be writing another blog talking about a very good point that a commenter had in the video – who are you competing against, anyway? It’s a multi-layered questions and one that I feel deserves a larger answer, so I’ll talk about that later today!

Until soon… Excelsior!!

-Steve

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Update, apology, explanations, and the rebirth of AotSS!

Hello everyone! Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything, and I’m sorry. Let me get that out of the way up front. I’ll be apologizing a lot so buckle up, folks.

Anyway, I could give you a lot of reasons why there hasn’t been a lot of activity on AotSS for the last 4 months or so, but in the end it comes down to burnout. As you may now, I have a new now 9 month old who is very healthy, energetic, and BUSY! I also have a full-time job that takes 50-55 hours a week depending on what’s happening, and I’ve been battling through some personal issues. So with all that going on, I’ve been working on Imperia/AotSS for almost 4 years in some form or another. Most of it is very low-level work on a hobby, but obviously the last year has been more focus on providing a product from our studio, KatHawk Studios.

So, as a human, when you have a lot going on around you and you have something that you’ve been hammering on for years, sometimes you just need to step back and take a break. And that’s what I did. Where I failed is to not keep those of you interested in the game in the loop. That was selfish of me and I deeply apologize for that.

So with that being said, I’ll start with the bad news first: Oliver has left the project. Completely understandably, since there hasn’t been anything moving on it for quite a while and you reach a point where you need to see some progress. I apologize to him for the lack of progress and I wish him nothing but the best and I certainly hope circumstances change in the future and he comes back at some point. Because..

The good news is that I’m restarting development of AotSS semi-full time. I have obtained additional funding sufficient to complete the entire game to 1.0 without ‘needing’ sales to fund development. Even though Oliver has left, we have an essentially complete GDD so I will be able to finish what is essentially our vision. There is a tremendous amount that was part of the game design, and while we will include about 70% of it in the initial release, some will have to wait for a future time. When you have a huge project, you must get to ‘what makes this game ‘this game’? and ‘if I cut this, will it change the core ‘feel’ of the game? With that in mind, I will be breaking down the new release schedule shortly, including pricing and the thinking behind it.

With the restart, some other things will be happening. We will be updating our web site by next month. We will be adding our forum, the blog, a news feed, and our eCommerce system for digital download of early release versions of AotSS. We will also increase activity on our forums, our Twitter, and our FB pages. Our KHG channel will have updates weekly, some a ‘developer’ update, some ‘game play’ and some LP, but you will get some sort of content weekly. To keep myself honest, I will be posting an update schedule shortly here on what channels will have what updates. But I vow not to leave anybody else in the dark on this project going forward. I am also always accessible on my email at steve@imperia5x.com or the twitter channel of @KatHawkGames.

So what about that early release schedule? We’re going to release our first version publicly around September 7-10th. It will be priced at $7.99. Why so cheap, Steve? Glad you asked! I’m not a fan (at all) of doing the ‘make early adopters pay through the nose to get in early’ model. Since this is a new property, and bluntly, I haven’t been consistent with my timetables, I want to give people the chance to come in on the ground floor at a very low price so that the risk is as low as I can make it. You will have a full game, but a lot of features will not be there. I feel that this is a good compromise between ‘release it for the people who want it early’ and ‘stay true to my promise of quality and not screw over your fans’. I got excited all over again when I get comments asking how the game is coming along, and we were mentioned on a lot of ‘strategy/4X games looking forward to for 2017’ lists – including 2nd on eXplorminate’s poll of ‘which indie game are you most excited about in 2017’?  That’s pretty cool.

So I’m excited again, and you should be too. Let’s do this together.

So without further ado, the release roadmap!

(.5) Currently in Testing – No Public Release (beta testing active)

(.6) ‘Archimedes’ Release – $7.99 – Release in early September through our web site
Will have all main screens, trade/economy/Pops/migration/unrest/popular support/planetary development systems, character Power system, alert bar, AP system, Focuses on planets (agriculture, mines, military, government, etc), about 30% of all Projects, core Houses/Cultures, economic screen, about 50% 3D planets, some sounds, about 15% of all Character Actions, ability to remove/fire Viceroys and Governors, love/fear systems for characters, basic win and lose conditions (win when Popular Support > 80% throughout your Empire; lose when Popular Support < 20% and depose/assassinate check fails), full turn engine cycle.
IMPORTANT!
No Character Decision/Goal AI (economic and role AI will be present, such as intelligently managing planets/systems)
No Music (or maybe 1-2 temporary tracks)
No Save System
Balance will be an issue

(.7) ‘Newton’ Release – $14.99 – Release in early December through our web site
Will have all of Archimedes, and:
– Music (a few tracks)
– More sounds
– Basic character decision AI (2 ‘ultimate’ goals: Survival and Status) out of 9
– 60% of Projects (approx. 50 in final release)
– 40% of Character Actions (approx. 100 in final release)
– Some mid-tier cultures, all inner cultures and Houses
– Science system implementation begin (about 50%)
– Continued polish on UI and UI for science system implemented
No Save System. It will be present in this version but not activated until .8.

(.8) ‘Hubble’ Release – $19.99 – Release in March 2018 through our web site
Will have all of Newton, and:
– Save System implemented
– All cultures implemented
– Emperor screen (diary) partially implemented
– Science system completed
– Intel system start implementation (Inquisitors, secrets, plots)
– Expanded character decision AI (added 2 more ‘ultimate’ goals: Generic (‘normal’) and Wealth)
– All 3D planets and nebulas implemented
– Most sounds
– More music (4-5 tracks)
– Very basic Xyl plot starters
– 80% of Projects
– 50-60% of Character Actions
– Continued balancing
– Bug fixes

(.9) ‘Sagan’ Release – $24.99 – Release in June 2018 (Steam Early Release Candidate)
Will have all of Hubble, and:
– Combat system partially implemented
– Religious system partially implemented
– Emperor screen fully implemented
– Intel system fully implemented
– All cultures and Houses implemented
– Expanded character decision AI (added 2 more ‘ultimate’ goals: Human Needs and Power)
– All sounds added
– All UI elements added
– More music (7-9 tracks)
– Intro/win/loss videos
– Xyl ‘ending play setup’ partially implemented
– 80% of Character Actions completed
– All Projects added
– Continued balance and bug fixes

(1.0) ‘Copernicus’ Release – $29.99 – Release in August-September 2018 (Steam Release)
Will have all of Sagan, all Xyl plot, and all remaining systems/music/sounds/’puff’ – the ‘basic full game’ as described in our GDD.

So that’s the plan. I’ll write a follow-up blog in a few days with more detail and possibly some new UI screens. Until then… stay safe out there, it’s a big universe!

-Steve

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So what’s Alliance of the Sacred Suns all about? And what’s with the 5th ‘X’? (UPDATED!)

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This blog has been significantly updated, to the point where I am considering posting it as a new blog since much has changed.

PREMISE:

Alliance of the Sacred Suns is a 4X game where you have just reached your majority as an 18-year old trying to rebuild humanity’s old empire after a cataclysmic war forced humanity to move to a new quadrant of the galaxy. It is over 1000 years later and you are thrust into a position where, after a string of weak emperors, everyone from planetary viceroys, to system and sector governors, to scheming Primes (basically cabinet heads) is forward to taking advantage of your inexperienced and timid rule.

But you have no such intentions.

You were born with a strange ability: to read and change the minds and thoughts of others. As a leader, this ability is very valuable to determine who you can trust. Your goal is simple: to restore the Empire, to reclaim your standing as Emperor of Human Space, and – perhaps – to guide Mankind into a new and immortal era.

But there is another threat, looming beyond the light-years: the Xyl. Hybrid life forms that first appeared over Earth’s skies over a thousand years ago and forced humanity from their dying world after 2 bitter years of total war in the Exodus of 2033.

Nearly 400 years later, after humanity had found refuge in another corner of the Milky Way Galaxy – escaping through a star-gate of mysterious origin – the Xyl attacked again, and this war stretched out over 2 decades. Finally, humanity managed to introduce a nanovirus that appeared to stop the alien threat, but the ancestors of the year 3050 may have sealed humanity’s fate – just in slow motion.

CONCEPTS:
In AotSS, you do not have unlimited power. Unlike virtually every other 4X game out there, you can not do anything at anytime. You have a small pool of Action Points that you spend to do basically anything, from planning empire-spanning Projects, to communicating with characters in the game, to meeting with your cabinets, to even going hunting. As you age, your pool will gradually increase, reflecting your increased familiarity with how to ‘make things work’ as an Emperor. Most importantly, the Action Point limit puts the kibosh on micromanagement, allowing us to simulate your empire in unprecendented depth without thereby forcing you to spend hours optimising every last trade fleet. Your choice of where to intervene becomes a matter of careful deliberation – the Emperor’s time is precious!

Project are another major difference from other 4X games. In Imperia, you might simply change a planet’s name by clicking the button, typing in the name, and that’s that. In reality, changing an entire planet’s name would have serious repercussions! So what you might have used to simply ‘do’ in other games now require Projects. Projects are massive undertakings that can only be done with stellar-level hardware and resources. Projects allow you to do things like reorganize sectors, change a system or sector capital, build or upgrade starbases, change what a planet produces, etc. Where this mechanic radically differs from most 4X games is that it is your Characters who actually enact the Project – they contribute a portion of their available administrative clout or ‘ADM’ (gained from their position as viceroy, system governor, etc) as well as providing the financial backing to enact the Project. Characters who back a large part of a Project will expect favors and prestige, therefore you must balance allowing Characters who stand against your Empire to grow more powerful, with how important the Project is to your long-term strategies. ADM represents all the planning, infrastructure, transport, ships, manpower, etc. to do planet-shaping things, and abstracts nicely the concept while eliminating micromanagement.

While your word as Emperor is law, there is no way to force how long an Project actually takes to plan, execute, and complete. And this is where the other major system of Imperia comes in – the character system.

Characters populate AotSS(much like Crusader Kings games) – they have their own stats, age, wealth, traits, and ambitions, like you or me. They can be manipulated to do what you want – if you’re cunning. You will often find yourself bribing or sweet talking a system governor who is holding up an important economic stimulus in their system, or perhaps calming down a sector governor who you just took away an entire system from to give to a closer sector, or promoting a loyal viceroy all the way to a sector governor who will be absolutely loyal to you – the character system in Imperia is a powerful and immersive aspect of managing your empire. Character stats are hidden from you until you reach a certain intel level (increased from interacting with them through Actions, or placing your dread Inquisitor squads in positions to gather information), and even then the number is a wide range until your intel increases sufficiently. This is a problem when a character’s love or fear of you is reported as 88 (out of 100) but it it actually a 41! The rule of thumb: Watch what characters actually do, not what they say. They also gain traits that affect their decisions and relationships with you as they age. They can die and retire, or be ‘retired’ by you – either by forcing them out of office or by more ‘direct’ measures. Don’t get caught!

The containers that are populated by Characters are called Houses. These are multi-generational organizations that have been around for centuries, and they often have their own Holdings of planets or systems. In fact, the Celestial Empire consists of the sum of the member House’s Holdings (most of which are held by the ruling House, yours). There are 3 sizes of Houses: Great Houses, which typically have Holdings, a personal military, and a vast amount of resources; Minor Houses, which are still formidiable but generally do not have Holdings, nor the great resource reserves that Great Houses enjoy, and Common Houses, which are all the ‘normal’ Houses that do not have a special history or any real power in the Empire.

Great House Leaders are, other than Primes, the most powerful and important characters in Imperia. Anger a Great House enough, and they may try to break away from the Empire – or to take it for themselves!

You yourself have a starring role as well through Influence. As you make choices through your rule, you will start to gain different types of Influence. Benevolent Influence is the ‘good’ Influence, which calls people to action for your Empire and the pride of humanity. Tyrannical Influence is the ‘evil’ Influence, which is used to threaten and intimidate characters into doing your will – but using it will have other repercussions. In addition, craven characters will gravitate to emperors who stray into Tyrannical decisions, and vice versa – you may have to make some tough choices about removing (or trying to!) governors who can’t stand your alignment!

The game is about less micro and more about making the large-scale decisions that shape an Empire. You will not be building 10 Science Labs to accelerate research; instead you will designate a planet as a Scholarly Conclave and try to install a viceroy that is aligned to the need for research, allowing that planet to grow organically – they will build Academies and attract academia themselves, with a few nudges along the way. You will not be building transports and endlessly clicking materials to go from planet to planet – instead, you will set up trade hubs that serve as collection centers and build starbases of appropriate sizes to move materials and food along from your Imperial capital to sector capitals to system capitals to normal colonies.

From an ‘explore’ standpoint, no longer do you have to build and design scout ships, set a destination, and micromanage exploration and colonization fleet. Would a real emperor do that? Projects cover just about everything you would want to do as an Emperor on a exploration level, from surveying new planets and unexplored systems to creating outposts to creating colonies. You just create a Project on an unexplored planet or system and your people will do the rest (eventually).

As mentioned earlier, planets are not micromanaged. They are very complex entities whose actions are governed in part by their population, the stats of the planet itself, its viceroy, and most importantly its Focus. All planets have at least one Focus – examples would be a farming world, a manufacturing center, a heavy military world, a scientific conclave, a prison planet, etc. Focuses basically shape how a planet will evolve. Depending on the size of the planet, up to 2 additional ‘secondary’ Focuses can also be assigned to more round out a planet’s development.

The population of your Empire will ultimately decide whether you live long and prosper (ha) or die at the business end of a pulser. Populations have their own unrest, age, type, job class, popular support, and needs. Each 1 million people are considered one ‘pop’ (similar to the Victoria system, but much more granular) and they can change jobs, age, die, have kids, migrate to other planets, or even leave your Empire altogether! They can also starve, grow angry, and revolt. They have their own cultures and House affiliation, and careful massaging of public opinion will be needed to ensure your vital Reforms pass without trouble.

And looming out there, making their presence known through your psychic abilities, are the Xyl. They have returned… but when? And will humanity be able to stand against them when their seeds have shattered across the quadrant?

You must pull together the Celestial Empire once more, research military and social technologies that will aid your efforts, unite your Houses against a common enemy, and prepare your subjects for war… a war that no one knows is coming… but you.

That is, if you’re not killed by your people first… in Alliance of the Sacred Suns, the 5th X is… eXist.

Good luck, Your Grace.

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Come Visit Our Community on the Imperia Forums, And Other Places Besides!

Hey everyone!

We’ve seen quite a bit of activity since we’ve started active development again, and we’d like to invite you to our forums if you want more ‘real-time’ updates and involvement! Our forums are located at www.imperia5x.com and will be more active with our development schedule.

We’d love to hear your voices – you don’t have to register to read the forums, but part of what makes Imperia unique is we truly do listen to the players and that’s one reason we’ve been so open with the development! Plus, it’s a great way to get information in your hand more quickly if you don’t subscribe to this blog (another great idea, BTW!)

We also have a Facebook page and a Twitter handle @kathawkgames. We’re quite active on these platforms so any way you want, you can check out what we’re up to!

See you around!

-Steve

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Finally – A Major Progress Update!

Hey everyone!

It’s been quite a while since I posted a comprehensive update, but with the holidays in full swing, and a clear path towards 1.0, I wanted to talk about where we’ve (and I’ve) been, where we are, and where we’re going.

To begin, I guess it’s telling to understand where we’ve been. Born Imperia, later Alliance of the Sacred Suns, or AotSS, has been a passion/hobby project for the last 4.5 years of my life, mostly done part time, and at the beginning it was not even a consideration that it would ever be anything that would make a dime, much less be my career. Before that, I’d designed mostly tabletop games, with a few computer projects that were basically done to help me learn programming languages – making games is a lot more fun than doing exercises in a book!

Anyway, the point is that the development plan of Imperia/AotSS was basically unplanned and very ‘I do what I feel like doing at this point in time’ for a very long time, years really. It was only with time that I realized that the game could be something that I could potentially sell for money, and that was when I made the decision to basically restart development from XNA to C# and Unity, which probably (obviously) added several years to the development cycle but clearly in hindsight was the best decision I could have made.

So I started selling AotSS last February on a WordPress site for basically a ‘take a chance on this crazy project price’ and while it never made any great money, it made enough to pay the bills and keep KatHawk Studios solvent while I struggled to figure out just what I had with this game. The plan was to keep working on the game here and there while I concentrated on my primary job as a manager with a Fortune 500 company – it was a secure job with a great salary, excellent benefits, and perks like a company car and stock gifts yearly. Certainly I never dreamed that I could make enough with AotSS to leave, even though I had discovered that I had a passion for programming and designing games, especially complex and thought-provoking games that put you in the seat of… something, be it a fighter jet, a starship CIC, or an empire.

And then my publisher entered the picture.

I will be able to say much more about them and the opportunity soon (probably another month) but they gave me, and AotSS, the opportunity of a lifetime. They were giving KatHawk the financial ability to go full-time, and I had a life-altering decision to make: stay the course at my current job, and ride it possibly into retirement, or take the plunge relatively late in life (I’m almost 44) and jump into some notoriously cold and unforgiving waters?

After a lot of reflection, and talking with friends in the business, and especially my family, I put on my Speedos, strapped on my goggles, took a very deep breath, and jumped in full-throttle in August of this year.

And what a change it was! Now there were milestones and plans and content and my head was spinning taking a crash course in what it meant to develop a professional game – and what it means to be a professional game developer. I still don’t feel that I deserve that title – but technically, I am doing game design and development for a living, and I am backed by a publisher with significant resources that will allow the dream of AotSS to finally come to fruition, so I guess the title fits. I will actually be writing about this experience more extensively – the transition from working manager to indie game designer at my age is fairly unique and a journey that I think many may be interested in.

So that’s where I’ve been. Now let’s talk about where we are.

We’re making excellent progress with the UI update – we hope to have the entire UI swapped out by the middle of February 2020. It sounds like a lot of time, and it is, but we want this to be the definitive update and based on your early feedback, it sounds like we’re headed in the right direction with that! We’re also adding a lot of new art – we’ve got all new icons for events and Projects, new Characters (the first batch of 44 was just put into .8.2.1 – after that about 50 a month will be added until we hit our goal of 150 new base faces) – as well as some randomization with dozens of hats, tattoos, jewelry, coats, facial accoutrements, etc. While not a true ‘facegen’ system, this approach gives us the ability to create unique portraits while still providing a very high quality base facial experience!

Also, we are working on a new grand theme for AotSS, and it should be in by the .8.3 update. It’s really nice, and it’s done by a professional composer who has worked on numerous Hollywood projects. We think you’ll really like the direction of the music! We’re also working on new Story/Event and interstitial art that more accurately conveys the universe of AotSS, and that should be added in January.

For this update, the major add is the Celestial Council system. Here is where you can appoint (and fire) your advisors that create policy for the Empire, and determine which Houses will have the most influence over your Empire. You could always stack the deck with your own House, but the other Houses will resent this, and you will have difficulty maintaining order if you do this before you’re ready to face the consequences of having the other Houses refuse to work with you!

We’re going to be expanding this system, including a way to repeal bills that have been passed, and a way to see all the active bills in the Empire. But it’s a good start. The other area that we continue to work on is the Emperor system. For next update, you’re going to see a lot of changes in what you can do, including the ‘Burden of Guilt’ system and the Personal Development system, which will take the game to have almost RPG elements. – you’ll have development points that you get each time you do something, and you can change your character’s skills and their personality traits. What’s cool is that if you’re a happy, positive person to begin with, it will give you a huge guilty conscience to do Tyrannical or evil things, which will hammer your Spirit – but you can slowly change the type of person you are , to be capable of doing more tyrannical things and be OK with it.

Remember, the core of AotSS is that you are the emperor, and the game needs to make you feel like you’re a real person, not a gray eminence.

So that’s where we are. Now let’s talk about where we’re going.

By far, the largest challenge to a game like AotSS that bends the norms of what a 4X ‘should’ be is the different systems that come into play. Projects, Actions, Inquisitors, Emperor development, Events, Holdings, Claims… we’re absolutely breaking new ground on a 4X. This ain’t your father’s 4X, at all. That said, what we have found is when people actually understand what we’re doing and understand how to play – and realize that they can’t control everything, but they must go along to get along in many cases – that’s when they realize this is a special game. So we understand that a robust tutorial is critical to this game, along with extensive tooltipping and LP tutorial videos. By February, we should have a significant in-game tutorial that walks you through setting up your empire, how the UI works, and what you should be doing. I will also be recording several LP tutorial videos this week since we’re closing in on the full game being added (just military, the Xyl, and outside civs are to be added as far as core game play systems).

The military system will be the major add for the rest on .8, and I think y’all are going to love it. It ties so many of the core systems like power, system control, riots, unrest, and giving you additional ways to be a bad guy – remember, the ultimate goal of the game is to stop the Xyl from building the Rescension Engine, which means that you’ll probably have to upgrade your military significantly – but will your people (and other Houses) fear the buildup, or can you show them that you’re doing it for the greater good? Remember, they don’t know about the Xyl until very late in the game – and by then it’s too late to build your military if you haven’t already.

We’re also working on localization, and while we haven’t finalized the languages yet, we’re trying to make the game as accessible to as many people as possible around the world. With a game this text-heavy, this is no small thing, but as with other aspects of AotSS, we want to do it right!

So that’s great, Steve, and when is all this going to be done so I can check out your crazy grand plan? Well, we’re still knocking that around with the publisher, but what we agree on is that this game has the change to be really special, a genre-changer, and we don’t want to rush it. So we should have some news on the final release date soon, but know that it won’t be released until it’s ready – that’s part of our KatHawk Studio Bill of Rights, and we’re passionate about working on games to a Blizzard-level shine and sheen. Not to say that it will be a AAA game like Blizzard, but the fact that they refused to release games before they were truly ‘ready’ and as bug-free as they could be made always inspired me to buy every Blizzard game I could, even if I didn’t really like them, just to show my support towards that kind of service.

So that’s the update! Lot of words, and I’m sorry I haven’t written more, but we’ve been busy, trust me! We think you’re going to like the changes you’ll see over the next few months, and if you have the game, keep checking for updates – we will be pushing updates out almost weekly going forward. We’d love your feedback, and we’ll be working on making the game as accessible as possible going forward. Also, look for more videos that teach how to play – and the UI will change with every update (in a positive way, we hope!) We really, really need your feedback on the UI – we think it’s going to a good place but we want you, the player, to give your say.

Until later – thank you for your support!

-Steve

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How things will go pew pew, part II

Hey everyone!

This is part 2 of the military system blog. Let’s get into it…

First, I wanted to get into the tactical of what happens when two Forces move into combat range and start firing at each other. Here’s what happens:

Combat Basics

Combat takes place in the turn resolution phase (i.e. after the player has clicked ‘next turn’). In combat, units on each side do damage of various kinds to units on the other. All combat is fought simultaneously – across the universe, all targeting is done, then all rolls to hit, then all damage allocated – so a unit which is destroyed in a turn’s combat will still get its attack off. (NB: this means the turn sequence must be such that each force engages in at most one battle each turn.) In a given turn, a unit might be attacked from the ground and from space, by however many different enemies, but each individual unit can only conduct one kind of attack in a turn, once. So (with the exception of orbital combat, where each unit gets three space-to-space attacks against units in the same Planetary Orbit location for the price of one) units only ever get one attack per turn.

First, units pick targets. The target unit each unit picks is, by default, random. If there are more than two sides involved, all of a side’s enemy units are treated as one big mass of enemies for them to target, without distinction as to controller. In space battles, non-transports are more likely to be picked than transports, due to being in front of the ‘battle line’.

The units then roll to hit. The actual rolls required vary by the type of combat. Devastation damage in ground combat doesn’t target units, and is rolled separately to other damage.

Damage is then dealt. Units have a set amount of damage they do per hit. This is reduced by the target’s relevant armor (a percentage) to give the actual damage done. Any excess damage after the target is destroyed is discarded with no further effect. (Some units have the Multi-Target ability. This means that any damage left over after any of their targets is destroyed is passed on to another random enemy unit, which then counts as another of their targets this turn, so if they are destroyed, the cycle continues. This continues until they have run out of damage to allocate. Multi-Target units’ hits’ damage is resolved after non-Multi-Target hits’ damage, to make sure the best use is made of their diabolical power, and the excess damage is not affected by previous targets’ armor.)

If a Force is trying to do something else as well as fight, their chance to hit is reduced, and their effectiveness at doing the other thing is also reduced, whatever that thing may be.

MILINT (Military Intelligence)

Many aspects of combat rely on military intelligence, or MILINT. MILINT – info on Force movements, etc – can be gained by infiltrators in enemy war plans or spies on territories through which a Force’s supply lines pass. (The former provide more information on orders, and higher MILINT Quality than the latter, all else being equal – see below, and also the Subterfuge system.) Both infiltrators and spies are ordinary characters, with whom the controller has engaged in a Plot to Spy On War Plan/Troop Movements.

When you successfully Spy On War Plan or Spy On Troop Movements, as well as receiving some information about supply lines and future orders, your ‘MILINT Quality’ on that force increases. Despite the name, this is actually a quantity. The Quality of your MILINT on a Force decays over time, falling by a fixed amount every turn, down to 0. Even if your info about a Force’s future orders goes out of date, your MILINT Quality is unaffected, as it reflects information about formations, officers, troop morale, and so forth which is not modeled in the game systems.

War Effects

Pillaging and attacks on Planetside targets do Devastation damage to the planet. This causes civilian casualties, wrecks facilities and buildings, causes public anger against the perpetrators, and in extreme cases reduces the Bio rating of the planet. Each point of Devastation damage done has a random chance of killing a Pop or wrecking a facility, and increases that planet’s public resentment of the perpetrating Force’s controller, general, and Culture (if different from pops/planet’s majority) by a percentage point or so. The defending forces get their resentment production reduced by 75%, with exception of Pillaging Devastation, which causes Resentment at the full rate. Resentment means both Love reduction towards characters and increase of Animus against cultures and religions. Additional Resentment is created when a planet is conquered.

Resentment is not restricted to the affected Pops if the Force, their commander, or their controller are of a different culture or religion to them. A certain amount of Resentment grows – either globally, or throughout the area you’ve explored, or throughout the area with trade access to the planet – among Pops of the same Culture/Religion as the Pops affected. This will be less than the Resentment accrued at the source, but still a non-negligible amount, proportional to that inflicted.

Certain especially devastating war machines, such as nuclear weapons, will have the Bio Damage special rule. This means that the Devastation they inflict will also reduce the planet’s Bio rating fractionally.

Garrisons

A planet may have Military pops but no Force based there. These Military pops represent reserves, militia, police units and so forth. They are there to do two things: defend against invaders and suppress restive locals. If combat breaks out on the planet, and the planet’s Viceroy is not neutral in the conflict, they become troops under that character’s command. They may not leave the planet, although they may go In Hiding as usual. Indeed, they will have a Home Field Advantage since they are fighting on their Homeworld. The units they become will be a distribution of the cheapest units that Civ has suited to fighting on that planet type – most likely units will be flagged as ‘militia – planet types XYZ’ and which forces appear will be selected from the available appropriate units, using support units and cheap generic militia units if no appropriate fighting units are available.

In Hiding units

Some units (such as local partisans) can go In Hiding (hiding among the local population or otherwise evading detection). This means they cannot be attacked or make attacks, and are invisible to the enemy. Forces can be ordered to move their units to and from the In Hiding space on the board. A unit in a planet’s In Hiding space still counts as being in that planet’s Planetside location.

In Hiding units may be exposed by any enemy that has units Planetside on the planet. Said enemy’s chance of detecting your In Hiding units on a planet (all of them at once) and thereby forcing them out of the In Hiding into the ordinary Planetside space is proportional to their highest single MILINT level or quality against any of your Forces that have units In Hiding on the planet. Their forces may increase this chance by engaging in Counterinsurgency Operations. Enemy spies on the planet increase their MILINT on your Force as usual. Detection checks happen before combat, so if your units are detected, they will immediately enter combat with the enemy, that turn.

When you attempt to send units In Hiding, the enemy immediately makes a detection check, with a bonus. If they succeed, you fail. Your troops will keep trying to obey the order every turn until and unless it is cancelled by you or by your commander. Units attempting to go In Hiding will not make attacks, but if they are detected by this check, the enemy can attack them.

All this can also be conducted with the roles reversed, so you can find yourself looking for In Hiding enemies.

Attached Inquisitors

An Inquisitor can be attached to a Force in a commissar-type role, to purge them of spies and traitors. This is Tyrannical, increasing Fear of you among their Homeworld’s military pops, and reducing their Love for you. It does, however, increase your chances of getting Secret parts about spies in the Force’s War Plan, and about plots by the Force’s commander. They also slowly reduce your troops numbers in that Force as they imprison and execute ‘subversives’.

How are ships/ground units built?

New units are ordered from a Force’s ‘Manage Force Composition window, accessible from the action zone when the Force is selected. This window allows new units to be recruited, existing units to be upgraded, and units to be disbanded or mothballed. Troops and crew are always recruited from the Force’s Homeworld, but their ships, vehicles and equipment may be purchased from other worlds, which can be chosen manually by the player or auto-selected to minimise either cost, production time, or time to arrival at the Force’s deployment zone (including production time). Ships are built using starship factories (using BPs as with any other construction) and ground units are built using ground factories. The units will be automatically built as the request is made IF there is not already a suitable Unit in garrison or available status that can join the Force.

Units can only be built up to the number of military pops on the Homeworld divided by a constant factor. The number of pops different units ‘take up’ may vary. If the number of military pops falls below the required number, they will suffer under staffing penalties as described in ‘On Duty/Off Duty’, above (despite On Duty/Off Duty not applying in general), and no further units may be built whilst this state of affairs persists.

Garrison/protection

A planet that is near enemies whom the populace do not Love or with whom they share no cultural affinity, or which has been recently Pillaged by an enemy, will be flagged ‘People demand protection!’. This means their Love and Fear for their controller will fall if a garrison or Force of a certain minimum anti-Space strength is not stationed on the planet. Ideas will also play a large part, specifically Xeno-Tolerance and Tolerance in general.

Intimidation

A force can be instructed to enforce martial law on a planet. This increases the Fear of the force’s controller and its commander among the population, whilst reducing their Love for them; it is Tyrannical. It is useful on a newly-conquered planet, as there’s not a lot of Love going around there anyway. (Once Fear has built up, martial law can be ended without the planet rebelling again, which will allow some Love to grow.) If the Force does this to its own Homeworld, they will not build up as much Fear among the Military Pops there. If the Force doing this is of a different culture or religion to the majority on the world, they will build up Resentment against them on that world just as though they were dealing Devastation damage to it.

Whew! Lot to cover, so much that I’m going to write a Part III to go over military reforms and how you can build/discover the technology required to defeat the Xyl (and your enemies!) once and for all!

-Steve

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How We Go Pew Pew: The Military System, Part I

Hello everyone!

So as we make the march to .8, a question that has come up frequently is ‘how is the pew pew going to work?’ Well, given that AotSS is a 4X at its core, that is certainly a fair question! Let’s get into a little more detail about how that will work.

To start, please note that AotSS is about grand strategy. The normal process of building individual ships, kitting them out, naming them, and grouping them with a leader to send to a planet to take it over doesn’t necessarily apply to AotSS. You are the Emperor, after all, and you would have little or no interest or say in that process. What you would be involved in is setting up high-level target priorities – i.e. “I want to take that star system by force” or “I want to show military might to the people of planet X” or “I want to improve our military presence in the northernmost constellation of our Empire”. This is called a Military Plan, and will be discussed shortly.

The Emperor would also be responsible in a broad sense for making sure that logistical/supply networks are built and maintained where he/she expects to see conflict, so building logistical networks and expanding them to systems where forces are expected are critical.

Finally, the Emperor would want to make sure that forces are being raised from planets that are loyal to the Empire, and not likely to rebel, and that the general who is in charge of that force does not ‘go rogue’ with the most advanced force in the Empire.

So let’s first talk about Forces.

No, it’s not the Star Wars trope, but a combined space/ground unit that is assigned to perform a mission. Forces may contain up to 6 different Units, which are basically Fleets (space warfare) and Armies (ground warfare). Forces are named, gain experience, are commanded by a General, and move and fight together on the Galaxy View.

All units have hit points. All starships have Speed and Defense values. Anything that can attack starships in space has Sensors and Space Damage stats (referred to simply as Damage in the discussion of space combat, because we know it’s in space already). Anything that can attack units planetside has Tactics, ie. chance to hit, and Lethality and Devastation stats, which describe how much damage they do to units’ hit points and the planet’s infrastructure respectively. All starships have Space Defense, and all planetside units have Planetside Defense and Space Defense.

Starships

  • i. Space-to-Space

These craft are there to attack other spacecraft. Some can be used for Space-to-Ground attack too, at reduced effectiveness.

ii. Space-to-Ground

These craft are designed to bombard ground targets from orbit. Some can also attack other spacecraft, at reduced effectiveness.

Planetary troops

These include aircraft, ground troops, and naval vessels. Different units will gain bonuses and maluses on different kinds of world – naval units, for example, will be very effective on water worlds, moderately effective on terrestrial-type worlds, and useless on worlds without oceans.

  • i. Planet-to-Space

These are planetside forces that can attack ships in orbit. Some may also be used against other planetside forces, at reduced effectiveness.

  • ii. On-Planet Combat Units

These are planetside forces that can attack other planetside forces. Some may also perform Marine duty, i.e. fighting in boarding actions against starbases.

So where can a Force go? They can exist in one of 5 possible locations: Planetside, Planetary Orbit, Interplanetary Space locations, Starbases, and Deep Space. These will be explained in more detail in Part 2.

So as Emperor, you want to be sure that Forces are kept up properly. This requires 4 things per Force:

  • Crowns (money)
  • Food
  • Energy
  • Ammo (built from heavy and rare materials)

These resources come from your Empire Stockpile (the money comes from your Military Budget). When Forces are inactive (i.e. not part of an active Military Plan) they only consume Money and Food. When deployed, they also consume Energy. When actively in combat, they consume Ammo.

Now, let’s talk about Characters that can be involved in your Military. There are 4 different types of Characters:

  • Commander – This is the main leader of the Force. Their military skill has a large impact on the success of combat.
  • Captains – These are the leaders of your notable ‘capital starships’ that have additional impacts on their abilities (and thus your Force’s ability)
  • Coordinating Commanders – These are the leaders of other Forces who are involved in the Military Plan but are waiting for a trigger to proceed (aka wait for order x to be executed by force y)
  • Plan Commander (PC) – This is the overall leader of the Military Plan, and the Coordinating Commanders are subordinate to them.

Finally, let’s talk about Military Plans. As Emperor, you will set high-level targets and it is up to your Plan Commander to create a Plan that gets that done. You will have an overall strategic objective which consists of a Target and an Military Action. Targets can be the following:

  • Planets
  • Systems
  • Provinces
  • Pops on a world
  • Starbases not owned by you
  • Logistical stations not owned by you
  • Ground Forces
  • Space Forces

Once you have selected a Target, you can generate an appropriate Military Action to act on these targets. Military Actions are as follows:

  • Attack (Forces)
  • Destroy (Starbases, Logistical Stations)
  • Pillage (planets, systems)
  • Invade (planets)
  • Bombard (planets)
  • Enforce martial law (planets, systems)
  • Conquer (systems, provinces – basically chains numerous Invade orders)
  • Engage in genocide (Pops – specific Pop cultures)
  • Gather intel (planets, systems)

From there, the PC will generate a Military Plan. You can also specify specific Forces you want to participate, but you don’t have to – you can simply specify a force level from ‘Minimum’ to ‘Overwhelming’ and the PC will try to add enough Forces that can engage that Action to meet your force level.

Coming in part 2: Inquisitors, Spies, Building Military Units, effects of Warfare on Planets, Science considerations, and more! That’s coming tomorrow!

Enjoy!

-Steve

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What’s coming, and when!

Hello everyone, today is a very exciting day for me: it’s the first day that I am working full-time at KatHawk Studios! I now have a publisher and we will be working side by side to make AotSS as good as it can possibly be!

To that end, I wanted to share the revised roadmap. Now that we have firm release dates for EA and a fairly good idea of when we want to launch the game at 1.0, I can share with you the plan moving forward! Note that this is the roadmap at this point, and while we are pretty confident that it will be the moving plan, things can and do change, and as part of our Customer Bill of Rights, we will let you know when/if that happens!

Without further ado, here’s the plan!

.7 (COPERNICUS) MILESTONES

  • .7.6 – TARGET DATE: 9/1/19
    • Begin: Add Secrets/Rumors/Plots
      • Add 3rd tab to Character Screen for Secrets/Rumors
      • Add Rumor/Secrets Logic
    • Continue: Add Inquisitor System
      • Add Actions for investigating Rumors
    • Continue: Add Comms
      • Add at least 20 Comms
    • Begin: Add Science/Reform System
      • Balance and add UI for Science output
    • Add Science/Reform Screen
    • Add Static Grand Vizier Help Screens
    • Begin: Add Stories
      • Flesh out main story types (plot, major, side)
    • Continue: Add Plots (at least 10)
    • Complete: Comm System
    • Complete: Inquisitor System
    • Complete: Help System
  • .7.7 – TARGET DATE: 9/24/19 – .7 VERSION COMPLETE
    • Begin: House to House Diplomatic System Improved
      • Specific House Actions added that can be done to each other
      • War/Alliance Code Added
      • House AI Adds Relationships between each other and adds Actions
      • Actions to change relations coded
      • Add Diplomatic Stances to House AI
      • Add AI State: Retreat/Consolidate
      • Update House Window UI to show effects
    • Continue: Diplomatic System Balanced
      • Review AI for responding to your actions
      • Review UI for showing reactions to actions
    • Continue: Add at least 10 Reforms with implemented effects
    • Continue: Story System
      • Add UI
      • Add 1-2 test stories
    • Continue: Add at least 15 Innovations with implemented effects
    • Complete: Intel System

 

.8 (GALILEO) MILESTONES

(MAJOR FEATURES: EMPEROR SYSTEM AND MILITARY SYSTEM, GLOBAL EVENTS)

  •  .8.1 – TARGET DATE: 10/25/19
    • Begin: Add Emperor System
      • Add UI for Emperor Diary (main screen)
      • Add effects of unique skills, as well as skills
      • Add additional portraits/full-body art
      • Add Personal Actions (training, etc.)
    • Begin: Add Character Face Gen System
      • Add logic
      • Add at least 5 pieces of each part of face (eyes, ears, hair, etc)
    • Complete: Story System
    • Complete: House/House Diplomacy System
    • Complete: Science/Innovation System
  • .8.2 – TARGET DATE: 11/25/19
    • Begin: Add Celestial Council
      • Add CC Window
        • Add CC Format/Layout
        • Add interface to propose bills and review current vote
      • Add Council Actions to Character Comm Screen
      • Add Council Ambitions to House AI (Primary Category: Power)
      • Add Council AI for voting tendencies
    • Begin: Add Global Events System
      • Add Event Functions
      • Add UI (similar to Comm UI)
      • Add at least 5 test Events
    • Continue: Add Emperor System
      • Add minigames (hunting, logic) – OPTIONAL if time permits
      • Add events that change skills
    • Continue: Add Facegen art – tweak/balance system
  • .8.3 – TARGET DATE: 1/1/2020
    • Begin: Add Military System
      • Add Core Functionality
      • Add Military System Base UI
        • Planet Info – Military Value
        • System Into – Military Value
      • Add Core Combat Unit Data
      • Add Military Academies/Warship Factories to Build Options
    • Continue: Add Events
      • Add and test at least 20 Events
    • Complete: Emperor System
    • Complete: Facegen System
    • Complete: Celestial Council
  • .8.4 – TARGET DATE: 2/5/2020
    • Continue: Add Military System
      • Add Military Plans
      • Add Generals/Admirals
      • Add Space Battle Logic
      • Add Ground Battle/Region Invasion Logic
      • Add Military Overview Screen
      • Add Diplomatic Reactions to Military Plans
      • Add Military Options to House AI
    • Continue: Add Events
      • Add and test at least 20 Events
  • .9.0 WILL BE EA CANDIDATE

 

.9 (KELLER) MILESTONES

(MAJOR FEATURES: XYL SYSTEM, OUTSIDE COLONIES, ADD MOVIES/ART FOR WIN/LOSE)

  • .9.1 – TARGET DATE: 3/5/2020
    • Begin: Add Xyl End Game
      • Add Art (Xyl Design)
      • Add Basic Mechanic (update placeholder mechanic from .7)
      • Add Xyl Progress Screen
    • Update: Add Outside Empires
      • Reprogram generation algorithm to meet new role
      • Place according to culture and ring
      • Add UI for outside empire stars
    • Complete: Events System
    • Complete: Military System
  • .9.2 – TARGET DATE: 4/1/2020
    • Continue: Add Xyl End Game
      • Add Xyl Final Battle Mechanics
      • Add Psionic System
      • Add Story Events
    • Continue: Add Outside Empires
      • Add Diplomacy
      • Add Art for Outside Empires (crests)
      • Add Additional Character System
  • .9.3 – TARGET DATE: 4/25/2020
    • Add: Win/Loss/Intro Movies
    • Add: Tutorial System
    • Complete: Xyl End Game
    • Complete: Outside Empires
    • Complete: Any Other System Not Finished

 COMPLETE! (ADD: AS NEEDED) TARGET: 5/15/2020 (10 MONTHS)

Hopefully this will help visualize the progress of the game and what to expect with the initial EA build. Expect to get updates much more going forward!

-Steve

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Minor Update .7.5.1 Changelog!

Hey all!

Posting a small update today that mainly fixes some issues with loading games and some significant issues with Actions. Without further ado…

7.5.1 Changelog Notes – WIP

7.25.19

MAJOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES

  • None

MINOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES/BALANCE

  • Updated Migration Panel so that it was easier to see who was leaving and who was coming (green = coming to the planet; red = leaving). Also finally added Fluxmen as a separate Pop to track migration
  • Adjusted Economic Windows to fit together with the same general width or height – the look is much cleaner now with all windows open

BUG FIXES

  • Fixed several issues relating to Save/Load
    • Fixed issue where GPP would not calculate correctly after loading – it would stay at $0 forever
    • Fixed issue where House Holdings would not calculate and the House Power would be incorrect until the next turn, and Holdings would show ‘0’ for each House until the next turn
    • Fixed issues where Fleets would not be generated correctly and as a result they would never ‘arrive’ at their destination, thus not freeing up the fleets/merchants for new trades
      • NOTE: This is a WIP fix, so I have essentially disabled fleet objects being saved for this build while I work on a more permanent fix. What that means is that the turn you load you won’t have any fleets, but next turn the trade system should regenerate them.
  • Fixed multiple issues relating to Actions not working correctly
    • Fixed all text/speech issues – now all Actions should have full responses
    • Fixed all ‘test tags’ – no more developer code for speech!
    • Fixed all decision logic
    • Fixed issue where selecting a House to give a Holding to would not change who you were speaking to; this changes the Action to you speaking to the House leader
    • Fixed issue where you could select a Throneworld to demand or give away New Terra; obviously this would not be realistic, so you aren’t given the option anymore when they are selected
    • Fixed issue where a response from a character should have led to Actions not being available but they were not being updated; now they are
  • Fixed several tooltip issues, notably the double tooltip with your Emperor Power
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.7.5 Update Changelog Notes!

Hey everyone!

Without further ado, here are the changelog notes from .7.5. A lot here!

7.5.0 Changelog Notes – WIP

7.18.19

MAJOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES

  • Added: Spec Ops
    • You will now be able to ‘Prep Special Operations’ as a status once an Inquisitor has been assigned to a House or a Character. This will generate Spec Op points every month towards that target (either the Character or the House Leader)
    • Once you have at least the minimum number of points for a Spec Op (shown on the left in purple on the Action; greyed out until you have at least the minimum shown) you can take the Action at any time. You will have a chance of success (shown on the right of the Action button) that can go as high as 95% (always a chance of failure!) the higher above the minimum Spec Op points you go, the greater your chance of success (represents more planning)
    • Once you initiate a Spec Op, you will find out how it went the following turn as an Event: Success, Non-Critical Failure, or Critical Failure:
      • Success: the op happens as planned, and the desired action takes place. The squad reverts to Passive Intel status, and they gain a significant Spec OP XP
      • Non-Critical Failure: the op did not come off as planned, but the squad’s cover for whatever reason was not blown. You may have them try again next month (in which case you do not need to do anything) or you can change their status/mission. No adverse effects occur, just wasted time/prep. Squad gains a small amount of Spec Op XP
      • Critical Failure: the op failed, and very publically. Your Squad gets away, but is considered injured/damaged in the attempt and will be in Working Up status for 2-6 months. Significant repercussions will happen to you depending on the severity of the Ops (usually a huge hit from the Character’s House in negative rep, also an increase in Fear and Grudge.
    • There are no limits to how many Ops you may have going at one time – as long as you have a free Inquisitor squad, you can do one!
  • Added: Character Fear Mechanic
    • Characters now have a fear level of you from 0-100, where 0 is absolutely fearless and 100 is terrified. This can be determined in very general terms, becoming more specific as you get more Intel Progress on a Character.
    • This effects how likely they are to agree to an Action, their speech/attitude towards you, how likely they are to Demand or Threaten something vs. Request or Favor, and how likely they are to join Plots against you.
    • Keep in mind that while a character with a high Fear level will be far more likely to do what you ask, they will more than likely hold a Grudge which never drops naturally, making them more likely to retaliate if they have an opportunity in the future.
    • Fear drops very slowly over time naturally, and can also be dropped quickly by positive Actions (getting to know Character, making a positive Speech, lending your Support, and promoting them to a higher Position)
    • When you start the game, since you are a young Emperor and widely ignored, most Characters will not Fear you very much. Doing Tyrannical things early in your reign is certainly a viable strategy as long as you can deal with the long-term repercussions!
  • ADDED: Blackmail Mechanic
    • Blackmail is a special status that stays on a Character indefinitely. If you successfully complete the Spec Op ‘Blackmail Character’ they will have a special Blackmail Status. This means the following:
      • They will hate you virulently – their Grudge Level goes to 100
      • They will always agree with what Action you ask for, but the strength of the demand may ‘break’ the Blackmail hold. In other words, if you demand a Holding from a Blackmailed House Leader, they will agree – but asking such a strong thing will almost certainly ‘break’ the blackmail. If you ask for minor things that they might have agreed to anyway, it is very likely that they will stay blackmailed.
      • They will always serve – if they are in ‘Will Not Serve’ status, that will change, making them available for Projects and Offices
      • This status will not affect other Characters’ secondary effects (they aren’t going to tell their friends that they’re being blackmailed, after all!) but ONCE THE HOLD IS BROKEN, ALL Allies and Friends of the Character will have a Grudge and Fear rise of varying amounts depending on the Character and the closeness of the relationship!
    • Once a Character is blackmailed, you can voluntarily release the Blackmail through a Friendly Action. The Character will react much less violently than if they broke it themselves, but they will still not be happy with you, especially depending on the Actions they agreed to during the time of Blackmail.
  • ADDED: Decision Score/Grand Vizier Feedback
    • You will now have significant feedback about whether to spend an AP (and live with the consequences) of asking a Character to do something. Depending on the Intel Progress level, you will have a range of what the Character’s Decision Score (DS) will be regarding the specific Action. Your Grand Vizier will give his opinion depending on the amount of Intel and the score range. Keep in mind that since you do not have exact intel, in close situations, your GV may say that it is more likely than not, but the opposite effect happens.
    • Also, the conversation will be color-coded for quick reference – Green = likely, Yellow – maybe, Red – probably not.
  • ADDED: ‘Neutral’ answer possibility
    • Currently, there are only 2 possible answers when a Character responds: Positive (good results) and Negative (bad results). Now there is a ‘middle ground’ option where basically you didn’t really succeed or fail, but you got a non-answer. In other words, you won’t accomplish what you wanted, but you won’t get a negative effect, either, beyond wasting an AP point.
  • ADDED: Assassination System Expansion
    • Now you can see your monthly Assassination Attempt chance right on the main UI by your Power. A few changes to this have been made:
      • This represents the monthly chance that an ATTEMPT will be made on your life by someone in the Empire. This does NOT take into effect Plots. Those are effectively unknown until/unless they are discovered.
      • At the end of each month, a D1000 roll is made against your assassination chance and if it is LOWER, then an assassination attempt will be made on the next turn. You will have the chance to spend AP for the month, but a random AP expenditure will ‘trigger’ the attempt and you will see the result on a pop-up screen. This can be anything from a missed attempt to an injury that lowers your AP for a few months to, yes, death. (though this is a very low chance)
      • If you don’t spend any AP points, the check is made when you hit ‘END TURN’. There is no escaping the assassination check once it has been rolled. It represents the fact that it will happen sometime that month, but it might happen at the beginning or the end of the month.
      • Factors lowering the check: Low Unrest on your planets, having a smaller Empire (the fewer people, the fewer nut jobs!), high Love, low Fear, being a Tyrant (having a higher Fear than Love), and having a positive GEP. Any of these factors in reverse will raise the chance. You can have a 0.0% chance if your factors are low enough.

 

MINOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES/BALANCE

  • CHANGED: Spamming of Actions
    • You can no longer ‘spam’ the same Action multiple times in a turn. Once you attempt an Action, you may not attempt it again that turn.
  • CHANGED: Logistical Network Limits
    • Logistical networks can now only be built to Level III, but their overall area of effect is greater. In addition, there can only be one LN per system, and they can only be built as follows:
      • LN I – Can not be built on a new colony or outpost, must be an established colony or higher rank
      • LN II – Can only be built on a system capital or above
      • LN III – Can only be built on a province capital or civ capital
    • They also cost more per level to maintain. The idea is to limit the LN spam, and build them only when absolutely necessary to expand to another constellation.
  • CHANGED: UI for Power
    • With your Power being so central to the game, the UI for the main screen has been adjusted to add your Assassination Chance, and your current Power is now shown prominently with your change up/down from last turn as an arrow.
  • CHANGED: Economic Prime Tax Effectiveness
    • Now can only be 25% – 115% max.
  • ADDED: New AI House Actions
    • Houses have been given additional Demands and Threats, and can now correctly build Logistical Stations. In addition, they better prioritize systems to claim.
  • ADDED: ADM Tooltip
    • Now when you hover over an ADM value in the system or planet mode, you will get an expanded tooltip explaining how the ADM was generated for the planet and the bonuses/maluses affecting it.
  • ADDED: New Relationship Types
    • Now, there are Patron and Protegee Relationships, as well as Hanger-On and Hung-Upon. These are essentially positive relationships, although the Hung-Upon character sees the Hanger-On as a junior partner in the relationship.
  • ADDED: More Conversation Engine Tags
    • There are now over 250 lines of speech that Characters can say randomly during conversation, and additional speech has been added for the new relationships and the Blackmail mechanic.
  • CHANGED: Intel Nexus UI
    • Cleaner and more iconography to make it easier to navigate the Inquisitor Info blocks.
  • CHANGED: Made the Comm UI clearer – now it is explicit when a Character is issuing a Demand, a Threat, or a Request (color cues). Also added a reminder about the Power effect on the choice
  • BALANCE: Made it harder to migrate – what was happening is any time there was an open job there would be a huge land rush and like 30 Pops would leave to try to get the one job, and 29 of them would be stuck on the new planet in the same situation
  • BALANCE: Viceroys now weight less for ADM generation
  • BALANCE: Government Complexes now produce 5 ADM instead of 4
  • BALANCE: Factories generate 3 times more BP per level
  • GRAPHIC: Made nebulae much lighter on the galaxy screen

BUG FIXES

  • As a general note, there should now be no crash bugs or hangs with turns at this point.
  • Save/Load now work again
  • Fixed issue where after a load, the GEP wouldn’t calculate correctly from earlier versions
  • Fixed all remaining tool tips bugs – wrote null catch code so it should cover any missing descriptions or icon names
  • Fixed bug with graduations not being correct
  • Fixed issue with conversations not always shedding their tags
  • Fixed major issue where a planet with a bio below 50 would not generate hardly any pops, thus creating situations where Houses would have like 20 people
  • Fixed all non-working Action responses
  • Fixed format issue on Action response
  • Fixed issue with Allied Power not showing up correctly in the Main Display – it was stuck to the same number
  • Fixed issue with when trying to perform an Action on a System/Planet that had been attached to a Province, but had not yet been assigned a Governor, you would not have any choices for Project staffing
  • Corrected Assassination formula
  • Fixed issue where Fear was being calculated incorrectly
  • Fixed issue where Comms were being treated as Demands when they should have been Requests, and vice versa

 

 

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Help Develop AotSS – Fill out a Customer Survey!

Hey everyone!

I’m collecting some data through a quick survey that will help me understand what people think about the game, how they heard about it, and their plans for it. It only takes about 2 minutes to fill out and it would help me tremendously if you took that very short time to let your voice be heard! Survey is here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GRTST7Y

Thanks!

-Steve

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Developer Diary 7.15 – Let’s Talk About Fear!

Hey everyone!

Steve here, with a poppin’ fresh development diary. In this episode, I want to talk about a concept that is being added significantly with the upcoming .7.5 update and will be a prominent factor in how you play your game: fear.

Fear actually works on 2 levels: how Characters fear you and how your Pops fear you. Pop Fear mainly determines whether you are seen as Benevolent or Tyrannical, which is its own discussion for a later time (it doesn’t affect game play yet beyond your title). Character Fear, however, will very much determine game play.

For starters, every Character has a Fear level of you from 0-100, where 0 = fearless and 100 = shit-your-pants terror. Of course, you won’t see this number (when was the last time you said to someone, “I’m 42% scared of that guy!”)  but you will have this information in 3 areas: character tooltips, the character screen, and the conversation screen. It will be presented as a phrase, depending on your Intel Progress with that character, and the higher the IP the more specific the phrasing (much like attributes).

Simple. So what does Fear affect? Many things: a character’s willingness to ask you for a demand or threat vs a favor or request, their strategy towards you, it adjusts their Decision Score (higher Fear = lower DS), and having a high Fear level gradually builds up their Grudge level.

How can you affect Fear? Easy! Do hostile things that succeed (challenges, exiles, public reprimands, etc), as well as Inquisitor Spec Ops like Intimidation or Blackmail, and sometimes by simply being more powerful than them! (Power truly is everything in AotSS. You can’t overstate its importance either way for your success or failure.) Over time, Fear will decay as the things you have done are forgotten, but a Character’s Grudge level will not decay, and a high Grudge level leads to Plots against you (FYI, Grudge levels are NEVER public, but you might get Rumor Intel saying that a certain Character is very unhappy with you) so keep in mind who you strong-arm!

Since creating Fear also virtually always increases your Power, this may seem like an easy road to keep your Power high and get things done, and indeed it might be, but since a Character’s Grudge level never decays, you will find yourself having to work harder and harder and expend more and more AP (Action Points) to get Characters to do what you want them to do, because at a certain Grudge level they will NEVER ally with you or even become indifferent, they will ALWAYS be an enemy – it’s just a matter of controlling them at that point. In addition, people who have a high Fear of you also pass along their Grudge levels to people that they are Allies and Friends with, so you will basically piss off a lot more Characters than you might expect when you do things that jump the Fear level on a Character who is heavily connected.

Fear works alongside another stat that is handled in a similar way: Trust. That will get the next DD – so signing off!

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Power – The Lifeblood of AotSS

Hey everyone!

I wanted to take this time to write a quick dev blog about the concept of Character and Emperor Power. It’s actually critically important to the game, but I don’t think I’ve spent that much time on it. It will be very important to understand how you win and lose Challenges, how likely characters are to do what you want, and what happens when you gain and lose Power as the Emperor.

The first thing to understand about Power is that there are actually 2 types of Power: Inherent Power and Accrued Power. Inherent Power comes from your rank, your House Power, and your personal possessions. House Leaders’ Inherent Power is the same as their House Power since they are essentially the one and the same for practicality’s sake. Accrued Power is what can fluctuate the most throughout the game. This is the Power that you can gain or lose through Projects, Actions, Events, Comms, and Challenges. It can go below 0 which means that it can drive your overall Power lower than your Inherent Power.

Remember that Accrued Power is in many respects a perception of your influence throughout your Empire. You can have the trappings of power like a military, government, and Holdings (which make up your Inherent Power) but if people perceive you as weak or that you can’t control these levers of power effectively, you have an effective Power much lower than what you might otherwise be able to project. This is what AotSS models – not just the tools of power (which virtually every other 4X game does) but your perceived ability to use and intelligently wield it!

Anyway, so when is Power used? It’s used many times throughout the game, but most notably in 3 areas: when a Character is determining whether or not to do an Action, when a House is deciding whether to take action against you or your House, and when you have been Challenged (not in the game yet, but added soon!)

I am going to be rewriting the Action check to be much simpler – currently there are a whole raft of factors influencing it, but the reality of this is that you the player have to have a reasonable understanding going into the interaction of what will happen, without being quite sure. So the calculation will be greatly simplified to this:

(CHARACTER POWER + (HOUSE POWER / 3)) * RELATIONSHIP MODIFIER) + TRAIT MODIFIERS – PRESSURE = DECISION SCORE.

If the Decision Score of the Character is LOWER than the Emperor’s Power, then the Character will agree to the Action request. If it is HIGHER or EQUAL, then they will not. Period. Characters who are your Friends will ALWAYS agree with an Action request. I want to make this process much more simple and transparent. So as an example:

I am asking Viceroy Thedonoius to increase production on the planet Vesuvius. He has a personal Power of 95 and his House (Hawken) has a Power of 315. We are Allies, which is a positive Relationship and has a modifier of .25. He is Industrious, which means he is more willing to back Actions that improve Industry in his COI (Chain of Influence) and gives a modifier of -50 to any positive Industry Action (and vice versa). He is not being Pressured by anyone above him, so his Pressure is 0. My power is 318. So:

(95 + (315/3 = 105)) * .25) – 50 – 0 = (200 * .25) – 50 = (50 – 50) = 0. Is 0 (Decision Score) lower than 315 (Emperor Power)? YES. Character will AGREE to Action.

You as the Player will have access to these modifiers on the decision screen. They will replace the Grand Vizier’s information. Originally the GV was going to give you a hint as to whether the character would say yes or no, but I felt that losing an AP to what essentially is a weighted guess would be too punitive in a game where every turn counts and you’re essentially racing the clock.

Note: Characters who are currently Blackmailed will also always agree, but then they will immediately make a Blackmail Break check to determine whether they stay blackmailed for future requests.

This will also make it clear what you need to do in order to sway a Character to your cause, and whether it’s better to go the slow route and build up a relationship with them or to be more devious and Pressure/Blackmail them, or simply strip their Power. That part is up to you as the player, but you will now have better tools to make that decision.

Let’s now talk about what Power means for you beyond Actions and Challenges. Generally, you want to keep your Power above 200 at a bare minimum. As to why, let’s take a look at an Action request to a higher-level Character, like a province governor with a Power of 150, a House Power of 410, and a Relationship of Shunning (1.25 modifier). So:

(150 + (410/3 = 137)) * 1.25 – 0 = 187 * 1.25 = 234. Is 234 lower than 200? NO. Character will NOT AGREE to Action.

When you have even stronger negative Relationship Modifiers (Rival = 1.5; Vendetta/Vengeance = 3.0) you need very high levels of Power to ‘break through’ their refusal. (In these cases, you can think of it as strong-arming them to do what you want. They won’t be happy about it, but since your Power imbalance is so great they are compelled to do so.) So if you have a Character who is acting as a roadblock to do what you want, you basically can work on 5 levers to change that:

  • Increase your Power
  • Reduce their Power (negative lever)
  • Reduce their House Power (negative lever)
  • Improve your relationship with that Character
  • Blackmail/Pressure the Character (negative lever)

A Negative Lever will hurt your relationship with both the character and with their House, so be careful if you go that route!

When your power gets below 100, you are in serious trouble. At that point, your assassination chance goes way up as rival Houses see weakness. You would want to take immediate steps to gain Power ASAP. If it ever ends up at or below 0 at the end of a turn, you lose the game due to becoming a Figurehead and the strongest House at that time claims the Celestial Throne.

So how do you gain Power? Great question! Lots of ways:

  • Complete (not just start!) Projects. Each Project has a Power Rating. As Emperor, you get half of this when the Project is completed. Projects that expand your Empire like claiming Systems, Colonizing planets and building Logistical Networks will greatly increase your Accrued Power, and in some cases also increase your Base Power if you are adding Holdings.
  • Improve your Holdings – i.e. increase their Production, GPP, etc. Planet Holdings have an overall Planet Value that take into account the overall productivity of a planet, as well as its size and influence. These then affect your Base Power)
  • Win Challenges (will grow your Accrued Power)
  • Increase your Military Budget (will grow your Accrued Power)
  • Build Fleets and Armies (will grow your Base Power) (coming soon!)
  • Grow your House by adding Holdings and powerful Characters (this will increase your Base Power)
  • Get Married (coming soon!)
  • Refuse a Demand or Threat from a Character
  • Publicly shame or denounce a character, with an Accrued Power boost proportionate to their Power. Keep in mind that they may then declare a Challenge, and their House won’t like it either, but your Pops and other Characters will see it as a sign of strength.
  • Completing Favors for Houses (coming soon!)
  • Build Inquisitor Squads
  • Events that pop up from time to time (coming soon!)

As important, how do you lose Power? Again, lots of ways:

  • Give in to a Demand or Threat from a Character
  • Lose a Challenge, or fail to accept a Challenge
  • Lose Holdings (i.e. weaken your House)
  • Have your Holdings become less efficient, usually by losing population, riots, or lack of productivity
  • Fail in Claiming a System
  • Fail at completing a Favor for a House
  • Reduce your Military Budget below the minimum threshold to maintain a reasonable threat posture (this will be indicated on the Budget Screen for now and expanded when the Military System is installed)
  • Disband Inquisitor Squads
  • Have an Action refused by a Character
  • Accrued Power will naturally attrit each turn a few points (the ‘what have you done for me lately’ effect)

The Power tooltip will be rewritten to show what factors are going into your current Power so it will help you make better decisions about what to do!

Last, let’s talk about Challenges. They are not really in the game yet but they will be soon! Basically, Challenges occur when a Character ‘challenges’ your authority in some way and ‘calls you out’ publicly, while ‘bidding’ an amount of Power at stake no more than 20% of their total Power.

At that time, you can decide whether to accept or decline the challenge. If you decline, you will lose 20 Power automatically. If you accept, you will have up to 5 turns to ‘recruit’ Characters to support you in this Challenge. This will be a personal Action. If they agree, they will add their Power to the Challenge Power (CP). You will have a general idea of the other Character’s current CP depending on the level of Intel you have on the Character (Max Intel will always show you their exact CP) After 5 turns, whoever has more CP wins the challenge, and gains the staked Power as Accrued Power while the losing Character loses that Power.

As you can hopefully see, Power is super important to how you rule, and you can’t forget about it as you consider your strategy. This is why it’s important to make friends with both Characters and Houses, and why it can be beneficial to ‘build up’ certain Characters whom you have a very positive relationship with to support you in Actions and Challenges.

That’s it for now… have a great day!

-Steve

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.7.4.0 Changelog Released!

Hey everyone!

HUGE update inbound! It should be out in the next day or so. Without further ado, here’s the list!

7.4.0 Changelog Notes – WIP

6.14.19

MAJOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES

  • Added: Intel System
    • Major new gameplay system has now been added and is about 80% complete. This will break down the highlights:
      • Inquisitors added
      • Intel Progress added
      • Intel Nexus screen added
      • Intel-related Projects added
      • Statistical/goal Intel added
      • Assignments and budgets added
      • Informers added
      • Empire Intelligence Centers added
      • Intel-related Actions added
      • Special Ops added
      • Fear-related effects added
    • Inquisitors
      • Inquisitors are actually squads of heavily weaponized, trained agents, of which there is a lead Inquisitor that is represented in the game. Inquisitors have 2 main stats, Espionage (affects Intel missions, Trial missions, and general survivability) and Special Ops (affects special operations such as assassinations, blackmail, intimidation, etc.) An Inquisitor can be set to several Missions:
        • Passive Intel – allows you to gather information slowly in a planet, system, or province range on characters that are currently residing within that range. This Mission will not raise Fear, as it is covert.
        • Active Intel – more aggressive than Passive Intel, this represents the Inquisitors using more, ah, direct means to gather information, including intimidation. This is far more effective in gathering Intel Progress on your target, but it will raise the Fear level significantly and the affiliated House/Character will take a very dim view of being actively investigated.
        • Training – Basically gives the squad additional XP per month which can lead to an increase in either the team’s Espionage or Spec Ops skill.
        • Stand Down – Inquisitor squads cost money to have active. This Mission will put the squad in reserve, and while it will not cost anything against your Intel budget, the squad will slowly lose experience, and eventually points off their ratings, In addition, the longer they have been stood down, the longer it takes to reactivate them.
      • Inquisitors can be assigned to 3 types of targets: Characters, Houses, or Planets. If they are assigned to a Planet, they can also set a Scope for Intel Missions: Planet, System, or Province. It takes several months for an Inquisitor to set up and find a new Target, which is represented in the Preparing For Mission status.
    • Intel Progress
      • Intel Progress is a 0-100 number that represents the progress made towards maximum Intel on a Target. Basically, the more IP on a Target, the more you know about the stats/plans/etc. Slowly decays over time if there is no active Informer presence or Intel mission attached to the Target.
    • Intel Nexus Screen
      • This screen will show you your budget for the year, the projected and current Inquisitor budget, the current Informer budget, and the status of all Inquisitor squads. You can change the mission and target of any Inquisitor from here, or disband them entirely.
    • Intel-related Projects
      • You can currently build or expand an existing Empire Intelligence Center up to level 3. You can only build EICs on capital worlds (system or province)
    • Statistical/Goal Intel
      • In conjunction with Intel Progress, this dictates everything you know about a Target – it determines what data you can see about a House/Character/Planet, how accurate that information is, and with the next update, it will give you information about possible Plots that the Character is involved in.
    • Assignments/Budgets
      • You will now be able to set the Intel Budget at the start of the year and see what needs to be allocated to keep all of your Inquisitor squads from disbanding due to not being paid in full! (Loyalty, after all, comes at a price.) Anything above what is required to fund your Inquisitors in full will be allocated as the Informer budget, which you can set on individual Planets as needed.
    • Informers
      • Informers are your low-level intel net made up of Pops who are willing to divulge information about Characters on Planets where they are active. They do not have an influence on Houses or Planets, but they are a relatively inexpensive way to maintain intel on Characters who stay on a certain Planet. They do not increase the Fear level, and their willingness to inform is based on the budget set for the planet, their Culture, and their Love for you. In other words, don’t expect Pops to spy for you if the vast majority of them hate you.
    • Empire Intelligence Centers
      • EICs are the hub of your Intel network. Here is where Inquisitors are trained and supported, and they also serve as a planetary nexus for intel. They have 2 main functions – they set the maximum number of Inquisitor squads you can have in the Empire (the total number of levels of EIC) and they act as an Intel-gathering entity that always works passively, even if you don’t have Inquisitors present. It does raise Fear on the planet it is built on, however, while Level II EICs can cover and provide passive intel for a system (and raise fear) and Level III EICs can cover a province (and raise more fear throughout). They are progressively more expensive to maintain, and their costs come out of the planet’s Infrastructure budget.
    • Intel-related Actions
      • You will be able to assign Spec Op Missions to Characters that have Inquisitors assigned through the Character Action UI. If that character has an Inquisitor attached that is set for Spec Op Prep, Missions will appear for that Character. If no Inquisitor is attached, the Intel tab will not appear at all!
    • Special Ops
      • You will be able to do several special ops. In this release, you will be able to do 2: Assassination and Blackmail. More Spec Ops will be available shortly.
      • You select these by first assigning an Inquisitor to a Character, then setting their mission to “Spec Ops Prep”. They will start accumulating Spec Op points. Once they reach certain thresholds, Spec Ops will start to show active. The higher points you have over the minimum, the more likely the chance for success, but beware – an inexperienced Inquisitor could be caught in the act preparing with a big hit to the Emperor’s Power and Fear!
    • Fear System
      • The Fear System has been added as a counterpoint to Love. Love represents the overall feeling that Pops have about you; a low Love rating is essentially a low public approval, while a high Love rating means they’ll run through walls for you. Fear works differently – the higher it goes, the more likely that unrest and riots will break out. Once fear goes higher than love, you are considered a tyrant and your titles will change appropriately. Tyrants must spend a tremendous amount of military to keep Fear high enough to keep the Empire stable, but keep in mind that while Fear will drop if you don’t continuously show force to your people, your Love will be very slow to increase once you’ve shown you rule tyrannically! This system will continue to evolve as the Military and Science/Reform systems are added.
    • Added: Intel UI
      • See above for more information. Includes empire, system, and planet level UI showing information about Informers, EIC level, Inquisitors on a planet/system, the chance of an Intel increase on any one Character on a planet, and more!
    • Added: New Action: Request Favor with House
      • Now you will be able to ask a House Character whom you have a strong relationship with to intercede on your behalf with their House Leader. If successful, your Positive Rep with that House will increase depending on their success.
    • Added: Claim System/Influence
      • Now you will have more information showing the Influence of each House on each system from the Political Command Mode on the Galaxy View. Each House will be shown in descending order of Influence on a system.
      • You can claim any System if you are the first to put in a Claim regardless of Influence, but you will probably annoy the House who has the most Influence, and if you do not quickly strengthen your claim, a House with more Influence will override your Claim and you will lose yours. To expand your Influence, you must colonize planets, build outposts, and build installations like Starbases, Logistical Networks, etc. Influence drops off sharply about 300 AUs from the system in question, then levels out as it continues to drop until Influence ends about 15K AUs from a given system.
      • Remember that you can not build in a System that you do not have a Claim on!
    • Added: Budget Subsidy From Imperial Treasury
      • Now you will be able to allocate money when you are setting the yearly budget from your Imperial Treasury to the budget by setting a slider next to the budget sliders. It costs 25 Power to do this (it’s a sign of weakness to have to dip into reserve funds) but will make your Pops slightly happier (you are willing to use your personal wealth to improve the lives of the people).
      • This can only be used during the yearly budget allocation, and does not have to be used at all!
      • If you go negative in your GPP at the end of the year, you MUST use this subsidy to bring the budget to at least 0 (i.e. you are not in debt). It will still cost 25 Power. If you can not do this, your Empire will collapse, you will be deposed, and you will lose the game.
    • Changed: Migration Balance
      • Now Pops will migrate when they are happier if there’s a planet or colony that seems like it will provide a better opportunity. This should result in more overall migration!
      • In sum, planets that are not nice places to live will have less migration than before AS LONG AS there is opportunity and positive factors (retail, trade, jobs, etc).
    • Changed: Color-indicative UI
      • Now each Command Mode will have its own dominant color for system and planet screens, Projects, etc. This should make it easier to determine immediately what Mode you are in, as well as provide some color feedback. The colors are:
        • Military: Red
        • Economic: Green
        • Political: Yellow
        • Intel: Purple
        • Demographic: Blue
        • Overview: White
      • This system will continue to evolve as the game is developed!
    • Added: Change Assignment Action
      • A requested feature, now you can swap Characters who serve either in the Council as Primes or Characters who are Viceroys/Governors in your Holdings, as opposed to designating them for assignment and then reselecting them. This will simply swap the Characters’ Assignments. Note that if a Character is being demoted, i.e. from a province governor to a viceroy, they will not be happy, and vice versa. They cannot decline since they serve at your pleasure.
      • I have also expanded and improved the Character Selection UI in the Action screen. You will be able to see the tooltip, the House, and you can now sort by all Viceroys, Governors, Primes, and Courtiers. You can also sort by Skill. When you have an Action that will allow a swap, a ‘SWAP CHARACTER’ button will appear, and you will be able to access the Character Rank filter. Otherwise, you will only be able to select from ‘free’ characters (courtiers) as usual.
      • Note that you can NOT swap out Characters who are serving other Houses this way. In other words, you can not replace a Viceroy who is running a House Holding that is not yours and is not part of your House since you do not have authority to do so. You can only ask them to step down or exile them (or kill them!) to get rid of them.
    • UPDATED: Major optimization changes
      • Continuing to optimize the turn generation and graphics – most people should now get 60+ FPS on all screens. Still working on overview screen on planet view, but overall significant improvement
      • Turns should only take about 15-20 seconds to generate now, unless you are playing very large empires

 

MINOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES/BALANCE

  • Added more Requests/Demands
  • Added 3 more secondary strategies for House AI
  • Changed the Character Screen to make accommodations for the Intel system; also changed the Action Panel to only show categories that were relevant to the Character. For example, if a Character is a Courtier, they will not have any Assignment Actions since they do not have an Assignment, so there will not be an Assignment tab!
  • Added more tooltips
  • Continue to balance the economy – Planets should generally produce more Build Points. Also scaled down the amount of BP required for some installation’s maintenance.
  • Balanced map sizes slightly – now ‘small’ is actually larger with more constellations. This should allow all Houses to find at least one Holding without having to resort to taking a ‘bad’ one.
  • Rewrote the House Holding algorithm to deliberately create unbalanced House Holdings. Now, you will see one or two ‘much more powerful’ Houses as opposed to all of them having roughly the same number of Holdings.
  • Added more Events

 

 

BUG FIXES

  • Fixed major crash bug relating to the House AI not being able to execute a Secondary Action
  • Fixed major bug with the economy – the percentages should now be correct.
  • Fixed major hang bug with starting a game – the game would not generate enough Characters to populate all roles in the Empire
  • Fixed bug with Houses not going down to the lower relationship level once the Emperor Reputation hit -500. Now it will drop, and reset back to 0.
  • Fixed bug with Infrastructure costing way, way too much to build
  • Fixed bug with how new Outposts and Colonies are created – they should now have the appropriate amount of infrastructure
  • Planets should not now build in excess of their total facility limit; if they hit the max they will change their focus to Infrastructure at 100%
  • Fixed several bugs with how Claims are calculated
  • I think I’ve fixed an issue where you could not start a new game after going to the main screen after abandoning a current game. Still a WIP.
  • Other minor bug fixes