Ground Combat update, Fleet Combat iteration, and plans for the next update

updateThe Early Access alpha release of Predestination has been in the wild for a while now, and it’s safe to say it’s been a hit with those who have tried it! Now that the dust has settled and we’re back into a steady development pace, we’d like to get back to writing regular updates for the Kickstarter and blog and catch you all up on what we’ve been working on. In this massive catch-up update, I’ll take a look at how the Early Access launch went, dig into our major Fleet Combat and Ground Combat update that’s set to launch in a few days, and look at our plans for the future.

All of the changes discussed in this update will be going live with V, which we hope to be able to release both on Steam and our web installer by Tuesday 28th!


alphatitleOur main goal in releasing the Early Access alpha on Steam was to get some new faces testing the game and to help us as developers get some experience with deploying the game in a live environment. One of the biggest stumbling blocks that complex games like 4X games sometimes run into is developing the game without getting fresh feedback, so we’re been overjoyed to see the positive reception the Predestination alpha has recieved on Steam. If you still need a key for the alpha on Steam, please email with the email address you used on Kickstarter or Paypal.

Alpha Updates: We’ve deployed several major updates to the Alpha since its release, as well as a number of smaller bugfixing patches. We’ve released the Adjustable Tax system that lets you trade off planetary morale and metal production to generate money each turn, and introduced the Empire Age option for map creation that lets you skip straight to the Space Exploration phase of the game! We’ve also revamped the research trees, added the morale and loyalty system that we’ll need when we introduce spying, and fixed some very tricky bugs. You can read the full patch notes of each of the updates on our Development Tracker thread. For those of you using the web installer who are stuck on V0.8.1.6, I apologise for the error and we’ll be deploying V0.8.2.0 to the web installer at the same time as we deploy it to Steam.


Alpha Feedback: Feedback from the alpha has been great, and some brilliant discussions have taken place on the Steam forum. The feeling so far seems to be that the planet gameplay is fun, the ideas we have for further development are solid, and there are fewer bugs and errors than in other alpha games on Early Access. People also recognise that we still have a lot of major features left to deploy, and many fans are now looking forward to seeing more of the core features come to life. Even at this early stage, some players have said that they’ve already sunk over 100 hours into the game and have figured out some sneaky ways of optimising their planet setups. This tells me that we’re definitely on the right track, and that we have to pick up the development pace to get more features out in the open!


shipcombatupdateThe next update features a sizeable patch for the Tactical Fleet Combat portion of the game. This includes improvements to space stations and ground-based defenses, missile and drone improvements, and a few graphical updates. While working on the bombing and ground combat changes, we also discovered a number of serious bugs with Fleet Combat and its related gameplay that had to be resolved. Some details and screenshots of a few of the updates are below. All of these changes are scheduled to go in with V, which should be released in the next few days.

Planet Defenses:  When you attack a planet that has ground-based weapons, the planet is represented in Fleet Combat. This may be a little confusing as the planet is also in the background of the space scene, so in a future update we plan to remove the temporary sphere model and extend the planet’s shield arc over a much wider area at the rear of the combat grid. We’ve fixed a number of issues with the planets for the next update, allowing them to fire their weapons at any range in exchange for energy from the planet’s reserves. The energy cost of Ground Cannon attacks has also been reduced so that they can really pack a punch during the battle, and we’ve now got missile bases and fighter garrisons working correctly.


Bug fixes: We’ve fixed a critical bug in the Galaxy AI’s ship deployment algorithm that was sometimes bugging out and duplicating ships. We also ran into a re-occurrence of that crazy bug that made the planets and space stations start flying around the map, which was a difficult bug to crack because it refused to happen when I was debugging the code. Thanks to a few related crash reports sent in by fans, I was finally able to track the problem down to a simple mistyped variable name in the AI code and corrected the problem! Missiles also now have the correct speed (they inadvertantly had double speed), shields now recharge correctly between combat rounds, and the explosion graphics have been fixed and re-introduced.

Weapon Ranges: To make space stations a little more deadly, we gave them a Structural Mount module that gives all of its beams and projectile weapons circular firing arcs and doubles their weapon ranges. This highlighted a problem with our old weapon arc algorithm, which has trouble with circular firing arcs at ranges of around 8 or higher and was causing a 2-3 second stall every time a space station fired. Our solution was to completely gut that code and build a new range system, which is now performing amicably. As a bonus, weapons with circular firing arcs and ranges over 6 will now have more circular areas and less hexagonal.

Missiles and Drones: Based on feedback, we’ve now coloured missiles and their paths based on the race that fired them so that you can tell which ones are yours and which ones are the enemy’s. We’ve also redesigned the missile AI and pathing algorithms, so missiles are now smart again and will no longer fly through your ships and blow them up! Missiles now start with 10 armour hitpoints and Drones with 25, and this is modified based on the best armour technology you have. The missile armour technology will also now add a Bytanium Armour Plating to each missile fired, increasing its hitpoints by a flat 35 points. Missiles also now have limited ammo and replenish whenever you visit a star system with a friendly starbase in it. And finally, when multiple missiles or drones are stacked in one location, there is now a number indicating how many are stacked together.

groundbomatThe biggest feature in V is of course the Ground Combat gameplay, which is something we’ve been talking about adding for some time. Ground Combat in Predestination takes place from the bombing interface, which is available once you’ve defeated any ships and stations defending the planet. We’ve now implemented the ground combat and planetary conquest systems and overhauled the interface so that you can see all the relevant stats for each city right on top of it.

How ground combat works: Ground troops have a combat rating between 0 and 100 based on the technologies you have, and the buildings in the city can add further bonuses. Cities automatically train a new troop every 5-10 turns and can have a maximum of 1 troop per 1,000 population in that city, and you can improve that capacity and training speed by building some military barracks. Once you’ve researched the Troop Pod module, you’ll be able to build a Troop Transport ship that contains 4 marines to drop onto cities one at a time. Your marine will roll against the defending troops one at a time until he’s either killed or kills all the defending marines, and once all the defenders are killed the city is yours!

Slavery and population adjustment: One of the features we wanted to keep from MOO2 was the ability to capture another race and put them to work. Players used to capture Psilon planets in MOO2 to use as forced research facilities and take advantage of their racial bonus to research, for example. It took a lot of work under the hood and created a lot of new bugs that had to be fixed, but we managed to get the game to track the planet’s owner and actual occupying race separately so that you can now totally do that. When a planet is taken over, it will automatically get a -100% morale penalty and the population will go on strike. That penalty reduces by 10% per turn as the population adjusts to the change in leadership, and until then it’s still possible to lose the planet by rebellion. After the 10 turns are up, the planet is secure and will function just like one of your own.


Contested planets: Planets in Predestination can currently only be owned by one race, and it’s actually a major technical hurdle to add multi-race planets, which is why we’ve always said that will have to wait until after release if we decide to do it. To let races fight over planets, we’ve introduced the Contested Planet mechanic. Once any city on a planet is taken over, the planet becomes contested and can’t be used by any race until it’s back under control. Once you conquer all the cities on a planet, the ownership will flip and you’ll be able to use the planet!

Rebellion: One of my favourite features in the new ground combat gameplay is the Rebellion mechanic, which allows the defending population to rise up against their attackers. Every few turns while a city is occupied by an enemy force, the population has a chance of rising up and spawning a freedom fighter unit in the city, which will attempt to kill your troops and take the city back. If it’s successful, the victory will inspire other cities to fight back and gain +25 combat rating for 5 turns. The best defense against a rebellion is to drop a few reinforcements into each city so that they never run out of troops.


Bombing changes: As part of the ground combat changes, we implemented some tweaks to City Shields and made them visible on the planet’s surface. After some testing, we decided to make a few changes to the bombing gameplay. City Shield buildings no longer stack, so instead each city will use only one shield building. Standard Beam and Projectile weapons can be fired once each round against cities on the planet and will deal between 100% and 200% of their rated damage. Missiles can be fired multiple times in a single turn but now have limited ammo and will deal exactly their rated damage plus or minus 20%. Finally, bombs now deal hundreds of damage to help cut through the City Shield’s block amount, but each bomb weapon carries only a single unit of ammo. A new Bomber ship design has been added that carries two of your best bombs. As mentioned above, ammo is refilled by visiting a system with a friendly starbase.

Bombing UI: The overhauled UI now lets you quickly see which cities are protected by shields and how many hitpoints a city has. A big change over the previous versions is that Infrastructure and roads are now all hidden when you’re bombing and all you can see is the cities. This has been done in preparation for our eventual release of the Spying gameplay; One of the spying missions will be to steal maps of the planet and reveal all of the planet’s infrastructure and stats. That will let you pull off a surgical strike, such as cutting off the planet’s power supply to drain the shields over a few turns rather than wasting bombs on it. The AI will be unable to rebuild destroyed infrastructure while the planet is contested, but the cities will continue to rebuild based on their selected blueprints.

Plans for the next update:

We plan to deploy all of the above changes in V0.8.2.0 and hope to have that update ready by Tuesday 28th. Once that goes live, we’ll work on several minor patches to address bugs and crash reports and implement any quick changes based on feedback that we can. Once the game stability and feature polish is definitely up to an acceptable level, we’ll begin work on features for the next major update. The plan is to implement Diplomacy, Freighters, Trade Routes, and finally add all of the building models we’ve been working on. Those of you waiting for the 3D ship designer will be glad to know that that’s high up on our agenda after this update.

Freighters: You’ll be able to build Metal, Food and Energy freighters in your shipyards that can load resources at one planet and unload them at another. You could use this to deliver metal to a new colony to kickstart its development, or to send energy to a planet under siege that needs its energy reserves topped up. You could even just use it as extra storage to stockpile metal in case you need to build ships in a hurry.

Trade Routes: Trade routes are a way to have metal, food or energy transferred from one planet or star system to another on a regular basis. You’ll be able to pick a comoddity to export from the planet Services panel, select a destination planet, and then decide how much of the material you want to send each turn. Civilian ships will then begin sending convoys from that system each turn, which will then arrive in the destination system every turn. The trade route will continue to operate until either the resource runs out on the originating planet or enemy ships blockade the origin or destination.

Diplomacy: Diplomacy is one of the big features everyone’s been waiting for, and will help put a face on the other races in the game. We’ll be adding the first phase of the Diplomacy system in V0.8.3.0, which will allow you to contact other races and propose trades and deals. You’ll be able to ask for a Trade agreements, Research treaties and non-aggression pacts, and exchange technologies and freighters filled with resources. The first phase of the Diplomacy AI will be able to evaluate your proposals and make a decision, and we hope to implement the Diplomacy user interface and a favour system for this update. The next phase will include AI algorthms to counter your offers, make its own proposals and demands, and a memory system so the alien races remember your duplicity or your trustworthiness as the game progresses.

Building Models: The time has finally arrived when we’re nearing completion of our building models. We’ll have an art update published soon with screenshots of the buildings and details of our texturing process and how we’ve progressed. When all the building and infrastructure models are finished being textured, we’ll then release them into the game as one big update.



Thanks for reading this development update, and I hope you’re looking forward to the update. We’re aiming to deploy this update by Tuesday 28th if everything goes to plan. If you’re a pre-order backer or greater and would like to get into the Early Access Alpha either through Steam or via our own web installer, send us a mail to with your Kickstarter or Paypal email address or details of your purchase and we’ll get you sorted out as soon as possible.



— Brendan, Lead Developer

Development Update: Dev tracker thread


The Predestination Early Access alpha has been released on Steam for about a week now, and we’ve finally caught up with all the requests for keys and fixed a lot of high-incidence bugs. There was a small problem with the key request form during a period of heavy load, so some of you who requested a key may have been missed.

If this has happened to you, I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience. Anyone who pre-ordered the game or pledged on Kickstarter and wants a steam key should email with the email address you used on Kickstarter or Paypal and we’ll aim to send you a key within 24 hours.

Dev Tracker Thread:

Now that things have died down a little, we’ll be starting our Early Access marketing and getting into a regular development cycle. As promised, we’ve launched a development tracker thread on Steam to keep track of upcoming features, explain what we’re currently working on for the next version, and provide patch notes for each update. We’ll also continue doing blog posts and kickstarter updates on major releases as we work hard to add features and squash bugs. Below is an exerpt from that thread covering all the features we’re currently working on for the next major release:

Adjustable Tax: Right now, all planets use a base tax rate of 3BC per 1000 population. We’re now adding a Tax UI that’s opened by hitting the Treasury button and lets you set your own tax rate. Increasing the tax rate will reduce morale on all planets, which will reduce metal production. This lets you essentially trade off metal production for money production during the game, similar to how MOO2 worked. Low or high morale in Predestination will also tie into the spying system, ground combat, and will spark random events.

Freighters: Build Metal, Food and Energy freighters in your shipyards. These can load resources at one planet and unload them on another, for those who like to micromanage resources. You might find it helpful to send a full metal freighter along with your colony ships to kick-start your new planet, or shuttle energy to a planet for terraforming. You can also use freighters as extra off-planet storage for resources. This is not the same as recurring trade routes, which will be added separately.

Empire Age Option: Right now you always start a new game in the pre-warp stage with a single planet. We’re currently adding the option to skip straight to the Space Exploration or First Contact tech eras. The game will put an AI in control of your empire and fast-forward through the turns until you get to the appropriate game stage. Your empire will be self-sustainable and on par with the other AI, but you can of course go in and edit them, change blueprints, and run them the way you want.


— Brendan, Lead Developer

Critical Update: Early Access is ready to be rolled out this week!


As I mentioned recently in a quick progress update on the blog, the Early Access Alpha version of Predestination is now complete. We were stumped for some time by some unexpected bugs, such as the Galaxy AI not colonising planets, some AI races not leaving their home planets or building defenses, and a bug that let you ignore ships and starbases in orbit of a planet and bomb it anyway.

We’ve even had the planet suddenly taking off and chasing ships around the map in fleet combat and user interface elements flying off the screen! Suffice to say, squashing bugs has been priority number one in the studio: we know you are patiently waiting to get your hands on the game.

We’re happy to report that Predestination’s alpha build is now all fixed and ready to go!

As promised, everyone who has pre-ordered the game or pledged to the pre-order tier or above on Kickstarter will be offered access to the Early Access before it’s launched to the public. We’ll be rolling out the Early Access release later this week, starting with emailing everyone a link to a web-installer you can launch from our own webservers.

Our beta backers ($40+) will automatically be sent a Steam download key shortly thereafter, but if you are a different kind of backer and want your copy to be delivered via Steam, please fill out the Steam Key request form. There’s some red tape to cut through before we can release on Steam and generate keys, but we’ll aim to get your keys to you by the start of next week.

Below is an updated FAQ on the rollout process, but if anyone has any other questions or concerns, please email and let us know!


Q. What features will be in the Early Access?

A. The Early Access release is the first fully playable vertical slice of Predestination’s sandbox game mode with all of the major gameplay elements (Galaxy Management, Planetary Colonisation and Fleet Combat) tied together. You may have played the modular beta tests of each of those parts individually, but this is the first time they’re fully integrated. We’re calling this an Alpha release as it’s still missing major features, optimisations, and models. It’s also not polished and you may not necessarily find it very fun to play at this stage, and it may still contain some bugs that prevent play on some computer systems.

We’re releasing it as an Early Access release now because it’s ready for feedback from all of our supporters and to begin the iteration process. In the next few days, we’ll be starting a live updated development thread including a report of all the features that are in the early access version and those that are still to be added at a later date. The thread will help everyone keep track of development progress and what’s coming in the next big version update so that we’re 100% transparent and keep fans informed.


Q. How much will the Early Access cost?

A. In order to be fair to our existing backers who have supported us so kindly at such as early development stage, we’ve decided to make the Early Access version and the final release price higher than the Kickstarter pre-order tier and price. We’re considering a price point of £25 GBP or $30 USD, which matches up with other indie space 4X launch prices and works out to 50-60% more than Kickstarter backers paid after tax. This will also ensure that previous backers will have paid less for the game even if we go on sale up to 33% off. As we’ve previously promised, the Free DLC For Life offer that most existing backers bought into will not be offered again as this was an exclusive bonus only offered while we were on Kickstarter and at QCon. Paypal pre-orders were also stopped this month.


Q. Do Beta backers get anything extra now that we’re entering Early Access?

A. Beta backers will continue to get access to major updates shortly before anyone else, including beta access to all DLC packs, the 3D Ship Designer tool, and any modding and mission designer tools we create. In order to make sure all Beta tier backers from our Kickstarter campaigns got good value for money, we deliberately added a second bonus pre-order copy of the game to that tier. As we recently announced, we’re also upgrading that copy to a full free-dlc-for-life copy as our way of saying thank-you for helping us refine the gameplay up to this point.


Thanks once again for all of your support! If you’re a backer, keep an eye out for our email later in the week for your link to the Early Access and instructions on getting started!


— Brendan, Lead Developer


Quick update about the Early Access

progressupdateHey guys, I hope everyone had a great holiday and a happy new year! We’ve had a short break over the holiday period and are now back and hard at work getting the Early Access ready for the general public.

I just wanted to drop you all a quick message to apologise for the delay in getting the Early Access ready and to answer a few questions that people have asked us. This delay is my fault as I initially planned to push the Early Access out to beta backers before Christmas and work through the holiday period to get it ready for Steam, but in the end I wasn’t able to fix all the critical bugs before Christmas and ended up taking some days off for the holidays. As I’m the only programmer working on Predestination, the development schedule is very sensitive to any time I take off or any stubborn bugs that take longer than usual to fix.

Before we can release, we have to investigate a fix a few game-breaking bugs that will stop the game from being played properly. The Galaxy AI has mysteriously stopped colonising new planets, for example, and it’s not building combat ships to defend planets. There’s also a bug that lets you bomb an enemy planet while there are ships and starbases in orbit that should be able to defend, and some of the new UIs aren’t exactly working as intended. I’m now working my way through all of these problems and expect to have them resolved within the next few days. Then we have a little extra work to actually get the game into the Steam back-end and ready to test, and we’ll be ready to rock!



Questions and Answers:

Q: Who gets access to the Early Access?

A. As a thank-you for your patience with us as we get the Early Access ready, anyone who has pre-ordered the game or pledged to a pre-order tier or above on our Kickstarters will get access to it. When we’re ready to go live with the Early Access, we’ll email everyone who’s elligible for access with instructions on how to get it.


Q. How much will the Early Access cost and will it include any extras like the Kickstarter?

A. We haven’t officially settled on a final price for the Early Access, but to be fair to existing backers it must be more than or equal to the Kickstarter pre-order tiers or standard pre-order price. Anyone buying into the Early Access will be getting a standard pre-order with none of the bonus extras from the Kickstarter. We might start selling some standalone upgrades like naming a star or ship crew member later during Early Access, and if we do we’ll charge the same as we did on Kickstarter. As we’ve previously promised, the Free DLC For Life offer will not be offered again as this was an exclusive bonus only offered while we were on Kickstarter.


Q. Do I need to use Steam to get into the Early Access?

A. No, while Steam is the preferred platform and the Early Access will be released on it, it won’t be the only way to get it. We’ll give everyone details of DRM-free delivery methods and how to keep your game updated if you use them when the early access goes live. Now that we have access to the Steam developer back-end, we can see that Steam offers some useful tools for keeping players up to date with the latest version of the game, helping with feedback and crash reporting, and keeping as much of the game community in one place as possible.


Q. Do Beta backers get anything extra now that we’re entering Early Access?

A. Beta backers will continue to get access to major updates shortly before anyone else, including beta access to all DLC packs, the 3D Ship Designer tool, and any modding and mission designer tools we create. In order to make sure all Beta tier backers from our Kickstarter campaigns got good value for money, we deliberately added a second bonus pre-order copy of the game to that tier. As we recently announced, we’re also upgrading that copy to a full free-dlc-for-life copy as our way of saying thank-you for helping us refine the gameplay up to this point.


Q. What features will be in the Early Access or missing from it?

A. For the EA launch, we’ll publish a full report of all the features that are in the EA and those that are missing from it in order to manage expectations correctly. Some of the missing features will be released throughout the early access, some will be delivered after final release in a free update, and a small few we may have to cut from the game. We’ll give a rough timeline for each promised feature’s development in terms of a version number milestone, and will start to keep a live updated development timeline graphic so everyone can keep track of how far along we are toward each milestone.


It’s going to be a great year for Predestination, with the Early Access followed by several months of iteration and adding promised features until we’re ready for full release. And it won’t stop there, because we have plans for post-launch DLC, free updates and at least one game expansion over the coming year. Predestination is quickly becoming the game that we at the office have been dreaming of playing since Master of Orion III flopped back in 2003, and we’re so excited to have made it this far in development with your help!



— Brendan, Lead Developer

Predestination Early Access / Alpha is almost here

alphatitleHey everyone! I’m happy to report that the bulk of work on the Predestination Alpha release is now finished and it’s nearly ready for release! All that’s left to do is to finish up a few pieces of the user interface, add some new research items and tutorial popups, do some internal testing to catch obvious bugs and crashes, and then roll it out to our beta backers for a while to catch any bugs that slip through the net. Since Steam is busy with its Christmas sales all December, we’re going to aim to get all that completed and get the alpha polished and ready for public release for the end of the month.

I want you all to know that we aren’t wasting any time here. We’ve already started moving forward with Steam to deploy the game as an Early Access release, and we’re now applying to Desura’s Alpha Funding programme for a hopefully simultaneous release. We’re also putting together some PR and advertising for the alpha’s release and we have a writer working on race histories and short stories in the Predestination universe to update our website with. In addition, we’re putting together a full development roadmap with version numbers and feature milestones to help manage expectations and keep everyone in the loop for the rest of development.

If you’re a beta backer, you’ll receieve an email when the alpha is ready with a link to download and test it, and we’d love it if you could report any crashes and bugs you experience promptly. For now, please check out this month’s development notes below to see some of the biggest tasks we completed this month, 25 new screenshots of the game as it is now, and a new video showing the AI in action.


progressupdateAfter we completed the Galaxy AI last month, we discovered that it could be a fantastic tool for working out progression, pacing and balance issues. We simply spawn two civilizations on opposite ends of the galaxy and put an AI in charge of each, then fast-forward through hundreds of turns and see what happens. It’s a good thing we did this, because it highlighted some big problems that needed to be addressed in galaxy generation, AI code efficiency and colony blueprints. Being able to put a civilization on fast-forward mode also highlighted a few problems with the planet and galaxy AI that we really needed to fix before the alpha release. Below is a summary of what we did this month, along with a video and some new screenshots!


aititleAfter we got the Galaxy AI to survey and colonise planets, it quickly became apparent that the Planet AI was a huge CPU hog. Once the AI had 2-3 planets to manage at the same time, each turn took at least a few seconds to process on a mid-end PC. That’s not really acceptable in a game with potentially hundreds of planets, so we spent a lot of time this month rewriting the Planet AI to be significantly more efficient. It can now manage an empire of dozens of planets and takes just a fraction of a second per planet, so we can now fast-forward through 600 turns in under a minute to test how the Galaxy AI expands and colonises. The work that goes into an AI system can be very difficult to show off in screenshots, so we’ve put together a quick video below showing both the planet and galaxy AI in action.

When testing the Planet AI on different planets, we found a few big problems with it, such as it consistently building more food than the planet needs and not looking for replacement power sources when coal deposits run out. We solved this by writing a Maintenance procedure into the Planet AI code that looks for problems that need fixed each turn and solves them. The AI is now smart enough to manage planets about as competently as a real player, opening some interesting future options:

  • We could add a new post-warp game creation option like in MOO2 that researches all the technologies in the pre-warp era and fast-forwards to when your first planet is fully explored and colonised.
  • We could also add an Advanced game creation option similar to MOO2 that would start in tech era 3 with several star systems colonised and free ships.
  • We could add a random event triggered by a temporal rift that literally fast-forwards a planet in time by a few dozen or hundred turns with an AI temporarily in control, which is just plain awesome.
  • We can definitely add a feature that lets players put an AI Governor in control of individual planets, as discussed in a previous devblog.


startingpositionMaking sure each race has a fair starting position is a problem that has plagued almost every space 4X game out there. If the map is randomly distributed, then one race could luck out and start next to a brilliant planet while another could be surrounded by empty stars and toxic planets. But if it’s not randomly distributed enough, then it kind of ruins the exploration factor, as a big part of a 4X game is the feeling that maybe the next star system you explore could reveal the perfect planet or something rare. We ran into this problem when we were testing the Galaxy AI, and our solution was to tweak the galaxy generation algorithm again to give everyone roughly the same immediate start but still have plenty of randomness. How it now works is:


  • Step 1: Generate Home Systems - Home stars are evenly spaced around the galaxy so that every race should make first contact at about the same time. Each race’s home system is an Orange star with 4 planets, one of which is rebuilt with pre-set homeworld stats based on the race that owns it. It’s always the perfect environment for your race (Terran for Humanoids, Desert for Reptillians, Ocean for Aquatics, and Tundra for Robotics), Large sized and has the same set of resource deposits. This is where racial traits like Huge Homeworld or Rich Homeworld will be added in future updates.
  • Step 2: Nearby Systems - Three star systems are generated in a kind of triangle around each race’s home system. One is an orange star (very good chance of having organic planets, average minerals), one is a Yellow star (good chance of organic planets, average minerals) and one is a white star (poor chance of organic planets, good chance of lots of minerals). All three stars are placed around 25 ly from the homeworld so that they’re in range as soon as you get to the space colonisation stage. It’s completely up to you which you scout or colonise first, and the contents of the systems are still randomised.
  • Stage 3: Expansion Systems - As we discussed in October’s devblog, we need to make sure players don’t get trapped with no star systems in range to colonise during the early part of the game. About 22% of the galaxy’s stars sprawl out in a chain from each race’s three nearby systems, so once you research the technology to get 50ly scan range you’ll always have plenty of systems in range to colonise regardless of the size of the galaxy. All of these star systems will have a minimum of 1 planet. That will take you to the mid-game, when you’ll have picked up the technology to scan 75 or 100 lightyears, opening up practically the entire galaxy.
  • Stage 4: Random Systems - Stars are generated inside each of the galaxy’s nebulae, and the remaining 75-88% of the galaxy’s stars are placed randomly with a pattern that depends on galaxy type. For example, a Globular Cluster is very spherical with lots of stars in the centre and far from the galactic plane, while an Eliptical galaxy is flatter and disc-shaped.


crashedshipIn the Predestination storyline, each empire spawns from a single ship that was thrown back in time and crash-landed on a planet. We’ve thought a lot about how to implement this as an interesting game mechanic, and this month we finally implemented it. Each race’s starting capitol city now contains a unique building which is essentially your crashed ship. There are four different ships available, each with different stats that will affect your start in the game:

  • Damaged Science Vessel: +10 research points per turn. This gives you a nice starting boost to research but no other bonuses.
  • Damaged Mining Barge: +20 metal per turn and +2,000 metal storage. Metal and money are the limiting factors in growth, so this boosts your planet colonisation speed.
  • Damaged Colony Ship: +2,000 food per turn, +10,000 food storage, and +2,000 maximum population. More taxable population means more money, which will help your colonisation speed.
  • Damaged Warship: +100 energy per turn and +1,000 energy storage. This means one less power plant to build in the early game, so you can build another infrastructure in its place.

The exciting part is that the damaged ship can be repaired and sent up into orbit. At the end of each of the four research trees is a technology that repairs one major component of your damaged ship: Space Sensors for Physics, Frigate Hull for Construction, Fuel Cell for Bio/Chemistry, and Ship Training for Sociology. Repairing all four parts means the ship is space-worthy again and unlocks the space colonisation technology era. The damaged ship building disappears, you get the repaired ship to use for free, and you unlock one or two bonus technologies from the start of the second era tech trees:

  • The Science Vessel: Becomes a re-usable Survey Ship that can scan planets from orbit, and automatically grants you the Orbital Scanner technology, unlocking one-use survey probes.
  • The Mining Barge: Becomes a non-combat Asteroid Mining Barge that produces metal each turn in the system it’s in, and automatically grants you the Asteroid Miner technology.
  • The Colony Ship: Becomes a Colony Ship that can colonise another planet, and automatically grants you the Colony Ship technology.
  • The Warship: Becomes a Combat Scout with a Laser Cannon and Class I Shield, and automatically grants you the Laser Cannon and Class I Shield technologies. We might make this ship start with a legendary captain or elite crew members.

powerusageNow that we have automatically-updating default colony blueprints in the game, we ran into a small problem with building power usage. Since every planet is set up with different power infrastructure, we have to make sure every single blueprint uses the exact same amount of power as the old one. That turned out to be needlessly difficult to balance and the AI couldn’t do it consistently, so we made it easier with a few small changes:

  • Most buildings now have a base power usage of 1 energy per hex they fill, so it’s 1 energy/turn for small buildings and 7 for large ones.
  • Buildings with tiers (e.g. Factory (Tier 2) vs Factory (Tier 3)) use an additional 8 energy per increased tier, so 15 for tier 2 and 23 for tier 3. Some special large buildings also similarly use 15 or 23 energy/turn.
  • All small auxiliary power generator buildings now produce 4-8 energy/turn depending on circumstances. This lets you offset the 8 energy increases above by adding 1-2 small power buildings.
  • All infrastructure now uses 15 energy per turn, except power generators (which produce energy) and farms (which use no energy).

This works out to about 96 energy/turn for each city and its full 6 infrastructure, so we’ve rebalanced all of the power infrastructures to produce around 100 energy/turn. Solar and wind power plants produce up to 112 energy/turn depending on where they’re built, Geothermal power plants produce 120 when built on a geothermal vent or molten planet, fossil fuel plants produce 100 until they run out of coal, biofuel reactors produce 100 indefinitely, and nuclear power plants produce 200 indefinitely.


Thanks for reading this month’s development update! Stay tuned for our upcoming alpha release and the announcement of our full final development roadmap for getting Predestination to version 1.0. As always, if anyone has any questions or concerns, you can email me directly at or leave a comment on our forum, Kickstarter, or Steam page.


— Brendan, Lead Developer

Development Update: October 2014 – Research overhaul, bombing, survey ships and more


Last month I estimated there to be around 180 hours of programming tasks remaining for the Early Access release. Although that estimation proved to be a bit optimistic and other unforseen tasks popped up throughout October, we’ve made a lot of progress toward the Early Access version and are confident that it will be ready for deployment by the end of November.

In October, we completed and began testing on the Planet and Galaxy AIs, implemented a system for bombing planets, added a new survey ship mechanic for pre-scanning planets before colonisation, a Command Points system, and transport freighters. We’ve also added right-click radial menus to cities, infrastructure and buildings, revamped the shipyard screen, added the graphics for each race to the Race Select screen, filled out some of the dropdown menus that were missing in previous test versions, and overhauled the boring old research pane with shiny new graphics that we think you’ll love!

researchtitleThose of you who tested our recent Galaxy Management release will have played with our old research screen, which was a rather boring looking screen filled with gray boxes. The feedback on that screen indicated that some people found the animating info pane confusing and the whole screen needed to look a lot better in the finished game, so we devoted part of this month to redesigning it. Now we have a much more intuitive and visually interesting system, with each of the four tech trees represented by a tree of shining stars.

The info pane now permanently occupies a portion of the bottom of the screen and displays info on technologies you’ve moved the mouse over or selected, and the tech tree extends from bottom to top instead of left to right so it should be a lot more intuitive to use. The stars are colour-coded based on what type of technology they represent: Red for ship weapons, Yellow for ship modules, Blue for buildings, and White for everything else. There’s enough space to include more complex networks than the current 5×5 grid if we need to, and since we’re not cramming four tech trees onto one screen at the same time any more, we can now potentially add entire new tech trees in expansions.

Below is a screenshot of the new research screen in action. All that’s left to do now is to jazz it up with new backgrounds of different colours for each field, create an image for each technology, and implement strategic choices that force you to pick between multiple mutually exclusive options.



racetitleAfter picking your galaxy generation parameters when creating a new game, you’ll move on to the race selection screen. We’ve added all the race graphics to this screen, including the diplomacy backgrounds and the graphics for each race’s scientist, soldier, and diplomat. We still have to add the race description, lore and race stats to this screen, and the ability to customise other things like race colour, banner, your ruler name etc. Custom races will be added after the initial Early Access release.

race select


bombtitlePart of Predestination’s unique planetary gameplay is bombing enemy planets to hell from orbit. This month we implemented the bombing code that lets you fire weapons at the ground, damaging cities, infrastructure and roads. Any Beam, Projectile or Missile weapon on your ships in orbit can be fired as if it’s a bomb, but specialised bomb weapons exist that will be much more effective. We also linked bombs to our crater system and each weapon now leaves its own telltale scars and craters on the planet’s surface. The crater images can be customised to make some funky looking superweapons in the future, and they’re completely moddable.

By default you’ll only be able to see enemy cities on the planet, but you can research bombing scanner ship modules that show other targets like infrastructure and roads. When spies are eventually implemented, one of the missions you’ll be able to send them on will be to steal the planet’s maps so you can see where everything is before bombing it. Anti-Missile Pod buildings have a chance of shooting down missiles and bombs, and we’re planning to add a Cloaking Field building late in the tech tree that hides the city from scans.

Cities with City Shield buildings block a certain amount of damage from each shot fired at them and then absorb the rest of the damage by using up some of the planet’s energy reserves. If the planet’s energy reserves run out, the shield collapses and bombs that get through will deal damage to random buildings until they’re all gone, at which point the city explodes and leaves a crater. Below is an example of a city before and after it’s bombed into oblivion:



surveytitleExploration is an extremely important aspect of 4X games, and for Predestination that means scanning planets for surprises like crashed ships, ancient ruins, or rare resource deposits. Sending any ship to a star system will show you basic information on the planets such as size, climate type, mineral richness and whether it’s already colonised, but to find out more you’ll need to scan the planet itself. Until now, the only way to scan a planet was to colonise it and let your planet scouts slowly uncover each hex. Now you can use a ship with the Survey Module equipped to conduct those scans from orbit!

By right clicking a planet and selecting the Survey Planet option, you can direct the nearest idle survey ship to head to the planet and enter orbit. Once there, it will begin scanning the planet from top to bottom at a rate of 50 hexes per turn until the planet is 100% scanned, at which point it will pop up a notification to let you know what it’s found. Advanced versions of the Survey Scanner that scan 100 hexes and 200 hexes per turn can be researched further in the technology tree. Scanning a planet will help you pick a good one to colonise, and let you place your first city on the planet exactly where you like. Below shows a planet being scanned by the Survey Module:



uititlesWith so much information to deliver to the player about dozens of star systems, space 4X games almost universally suffer from information overload. We’ve aimed to solve this in Predestination with things like tooltips, radial menus, and our notification taskbar, but there’s still more to come. To give you quick access to your fleets, planets, ship designs, and more from across your empire, we’ve started putting together small summary windows to put into our tabbed dropdown menus.

For example, the screenshot below shows the shipyard screen with  the build queue and ship design windows on the right, and I’ve opened the Ship Design dropdown menu to show that the same window is being drawn in both places. You’ll be able to use the dropdown menu to access this window from anywhere in the game. I plan to roll this system out to give quick at-a-glance access to your fleets, colonised planets, current exploration, ship captains, diplomatic contacts, city blueprints and more.



cptitlesEvery 4X game has its own system for balancing military sizes with empire growth, and for Predestination we’re taking inspiration from the command point system from Master of Orion II. Command points represent the logistical costs of organising a fleet of ships, so a larger empire will have more command points and can support a larger military. Your empire now starts with a base of 10 free command points and gains +1 point for each city built on your planets. Warlord races get an additional bonus +1 point per planet in their empire.

Ships in your empire use up command points based on their size, from 1 point for non-combat ships to 2 for Frigates, 4 for Cruisers, 8 for Battleships, 16 for Titans and 32 for Doom Stars. Your fleet’s size can exceed your allottment of command points, but it’ll cost you a money penalty each turn for logistical upkeep. MOO2’s penalty was -10BC/turn per point over the command point limit, which turned out to be a problem because some races could generate enough money to build truly massive fleets. To combat that, we’re making the penalty scale up exponentially so that it’s cheap to go 2-3 points over the line but extremely expensive to go as far as 10 or more points over.

While developing the code for this system, we’ve been throwing about some new ideas for technologies and features that can modify command points. You could get bonus points for each Battle Station built like in Master of Orion II, but not for research outposts or other non-combat orbital stations. Elite Ship Crew members and some Ship Captains could also decrease the command point cost of ships, allowing you to grow a larger fleet over time as long as you don’t get your valuable crew and captains killed.


progressupdateWe want to release the Early Access version this month, and to do that there are a few features that I’ll need to finish first:

  • User Interfaces: I need to finish the tax adjustment user interface and create interfaces for the dropdown menus like the Planet and Fleet menus.
  • Bombing: With the bombing mechanics and craters complete, I need to make a bombing and spying window for interacting with enemy planets. We’re also going to need some explosion graphics for planetary bombardment to make it feel satisfying to turn enemy cities into smoking craters.
  • Fleet Combat: I still need to test that all of the ground-based weapons are working in Fleet combat, and that the enemy fleets are able to start a fleet combat by attacking planets.
  • Research Trees: With the new research system in place, I’ll need to rebuild the research trees and flesh them out with some new technologies.
  • Test AI: We’ll need to continue testing and tweaking the Galaxy AI, Diplomacy AI and Planet AI, because there’s not much point in playing against an opponent that doesn’t know how to play the game properly.

There are also a number of small changes that we’d love to get into the game before the Early Access release in order to make a better first impression. The star system window needs a little improvement to make it a better overview of everything in a solar system, for example, and some small improvements to notifications like the Research Complete popup would add a little polish.


Managing expectations:

With the Early Access version hopefully just weeks away, I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss what you can expect from this version of the game. As some of you mentioned after last month’s update, it’s extremely important for us to be clear with the general public about what state the game is in, what features are missing, and how much work is still left to finish before we can officially launch Predestination. So far we’ve released three test versions of sub-units of the game: Fleet Combat, Planetary Colonisation, and Galaxy Management. We called these betas, but they were more like modular tests and we have to be very careful with the words we choose to describe the current state of development.

With that in mind, we’re calling the Early Access version the official Predestination Alpha release. It’ll be the first version to allow players to play the game as it was intended rather than chopped up into little modular tests, but it’s not quite at the Beta stage as there are many unfinished features. The Predestination Alpha will start off with just the sandbox game mode and we’ll continue to add features and content while people playtest that part of the game.  Once all the major game features are implemented and most testers consider the sandbox mode to be sufficiently complete and playable, we’ll move onto a formal Beta stage to polish the game and then release.


hmspiffingMany of you have contacted us with messages of support for local indie game development in Northern Ireland, and some of you have said you’d like to know about other sci-fi games being developed. It just so happens that Belfast-based indie studio BillyGoat Entertainment is currently working on its own sci-fi game, a space-borne comedic twist on the classic story-driven adventure game.

Her Majesty’s Spiffing is a 3D sci-fi adventure game set aboard the space ship HMS Imperialise and dripping with british humour. BillyGoat has put together a free playable demo of the game so you can get a feel for the style of gameplay and dialogue and decide if you’d like to see more, and they’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the first story episode. The campaign has just passed the 50% mark with 18 days to go, and you can pre-order the game for as little as £10 (about $16 US) if you’re interested in it.


Thanks for reading this month’s development update!


— Brendan, Lead Developer

The road to Early Access


Hey guys! Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the lack of a development update last month. We’ve been working hard on getting our upcoming Early Access version ready, but I realise it’s important to keep our backers in the loop with regular updates. The Early Access release will be a fully playable version of the game’s sandbox mode with most of the major features implemented. You’ll be able to colonise the galaxy, research new technologies, make diplomatic deals with alien empires, manage your planets with blueprints, engage in tactical combat with AI-controlled fleets, and bomb enemy planets into oblivion. We aim to release this version on Steam to expand the beta tester pool and get more feedback on the game.

We’ve compiled a list of the remaining features that need to be completed for this release, broken it down into a series of tasks and estimated how long each task will take. We’re fairly confident that the Early Access version will be ready by the end of October. In this update, I’ll look at what we’ve accomplished recently and the tasks still to complete before we can hit Early Access.


galaxygenerationAll of the betas so far have been working with the same galaxy generation parameters, but a big part of the fun of of a space 4X game is picking what size and type of galaxy you want. There are also gameplay considerations to take into account when generating a galaxy, such as making sure stars are appropriate distances from each other so that they’re all accessible depending on researched technologies, determining fair starting positions for the races in the game, and evenly distributing rare special planets. We’ve now built the galaxy options screen and updated the generation algorithm to takes all of those factors into account and use the following options:

  • Galaxy Size: Tiny (20 stars) up to Huge (300 stars). There’s no technical limit to how many stars we have, but 300 seems a sensible upper limit for gameplay reasons.
  • Galaxy Age: Primordial, Young, New, Average, Old, or Ancient. Younger galaxies have larger nebulae, more stellar gas, and fewer habitable planets and ancient ruins.
  • Type: Elliptical, Globular Cluster, Open Cluster, or Stellar Nursery. Spiral galaxies are a little trickier and will be added later.
  • Stellar Gas: Nitrogen (Blue), Oxygen (Green), Hydrogen (Red), Helium (Orange), Carbon Dioxide (Purple), Random, or Off.

Below are a few example galaxies generated with the new system, from a tiny galaxy in the top left to a huge one in the bottom right. The nebula code is now more efficient and we’ve added the ability to disable the stellar gas to help with the frame rate on older computers for now, and we plan to add further optimisations and low graphics options in the future.


The colour of the interstellar gas isn’t just cosmetic, it also affects the colour of the first nebula generated. If you pick Oxygen, for example, then you’ll always generate a map with at least one Oxygen nebula. Stars that generate inside nebulae now have special properties applied to them that affect their planet generation. Planets inside Nitrogen nebulae will be more likely to have an atmosphere (Terran, Swamp, Ocean, Tundra or Desert class), those inside an Oxygen nebula will be more likely to be Terran and will roll with more organics (fertile soil spots and more coal deposits), and planets inside a Hydrogen nebula will be more likely to be Molten and Barren but rich in ore. We’ll add effects to Helium and Carbon Dioxide nebulae at a later stage, perhaps making them attract more space monsters or temporal rifts. Naturally, each nebula will also have various effects on Fleet Combat in the system, ship movement etc.


tooltipOne of the big points of feedback we’ve taken on board from the beta versions is that the user interface could use some work. We want to keep the UI as simple and intuitive as possible, but that’s a big challenge in a 4X game as there’s a lot of information to convey to players. To avoid information overload, we’ve extracted a lot of information out of the main UI and put it into new information-dense mouseover tooltips. Only the most vital information is now drawn directly on the UI or game buttons, with detailed stats and other useful information now being moved to the tooltips.

These tooltips display key stats on everything from planets and cities to individual buildings, infrastructure, and deposits, and they should make the game much friendlier to new players. They also give us the opportunity to provide warnings or hints to the player, such as telling them that an infrastructure is currently offline due to a staff shortage, or highlighting all the infrastructures that can use a particular resource deposit.  Some examples of tooltips currently in the game are below:




If we want to have AI enemies play the game effectively, we have to teach them how to explore and colonise planets effectively. A lot of my recent work has gone into that part of the game, and we now have a working AI in place that evaluates the needs of a planet and expands accordingly. It can build farms and power plants to cover each city’s needs, and also ore refineries and research excavations as appropriate. It also picks what type of specialisation a city should have based on the planet’s available resources, so it’ll build lots of Research cities on a planet with plenty of Ancient Ruins and Factory cities on planets with plenty of Ore deposits.

Developing the planetary AI has led to two very interesting new tools that we can now make available to players:

  • Blueprint Creator: This tool automatically generates default blueprints in useful categories like Research, Industry, Farm, Residential (Tax) and Defense, and will automatically update them if you get new technology. We imagine that many players will choose to use the default blueprints in order reduce planet micromanagement in exchange for that extra convenience.
  • AI Governor: We could let players optionally put an AI Governor in control of a planet and simply select a planetary specialisation (research, industry, residential, defense etc). The governor would explore and colonise the planet for you, eliminating 100% of planet micromanagement for those who want to play a more strategic game.

In order to build the Planetary AI, we’ve also had to implement some of the feedback from the Galaxy Beta 2.0 early:

  • Population is now a global stat rather than each city having its own population. This makes the game a lot more sensible on the planetary level, as you don’t have to worry about each city having enough staff for its own infrastructure.
  • Depleted deposits don’t disappear completely. Ore deposits now produce 2 metal/turn or 1/turn when depleted, and Coal plants simply shut down when the deposit is depleted rather than self-destructing.
  • The Solar, Wind, Geothermal and Wave power plants have now been turned into infrastructures that are placed on the planet’s surface instead of inside cities. Miniature versions of each can also be built inside cities to let you tweak power generation.
  • When you find a deposit of something you haven’t researched the technology to use yet (e.g. crashed ships or uranium), it now shows up as a “?” on the map.
  • Once you have the Sealed Tube technology, roads can automatically go under water and tubes are automatically placed on top of any road type.


releasescheduleTo keep you in the loop regarding Predestination’s development, below is the list of major features that still need to be implemented before we can release the Early Access version. I’ve broken each of these down into a series of sub-tasks and estimate that this is around 180 hours of programming work, so it’s going to be tight but we’re on track to get the Early Access version complete by the end of October:

  • Galaxy AI: We’ve started work on the galaxy level AI, which will manage the AI empires, colonising new planets, selecting technologies to research and building fleets of ships. This needs to be finished and thoroughly tested before early access.
  • Adjustable Tax: We’ve built the tax system and made tax decrease morale across your empire, lowering metal/research output. Now we need to make a UI to let you adjust the tax rate and see the consequences to empire morale. We also need to add some special events that can be triggered by low morale, such as riots, bombings and thefts. If morale is low enough on a planet, the planet’s loyalty rating will start to drop and the planet may eventually defect from your empire.
  • Diplomacy AI: We’ve built a diplomacy AI that can evaluate your offers and decide whether to accept or reject them. Now we need the AI races need to be able to contact you with their own trade deals. The AI also needs to remember any past dealings their empire has had with you and use that in their decision-making.
  • Freighters: The ability to build freighters to shuttle metal, food and energy from one planet to another or to offer it in diplomatic deals. Recurring trade routes will be added at a later date.
  • Fleet Combat: Ground-based weapon buildings need to be added to combat in defense of a planet and need to be able to fire using the planet’s energy reserves.
  • Bombing Phase: After defeating any ships defending a planet, you’ll be able to open the planet and drop bombs in strategic locations. Take out the enemy’s farms and power plants, destroy roads, or bomb the cities themselves. Bombs will leave craters on the surface, cities will be able to have shields to defend against bombs, and we’ll need a bombing AI to let the AI bomb your planets or allow you to hit an Auto-Bomb button. Dropping troops to capture a city will not be part of this version but will be added at a later date.
  • Radial Menus: Adding right-click menus to buildings, infrastructure, planets and ships with options like Salvage/Demolish, Move, and Info. This will help clean up parts of the UI that currently aren’t very intuitive.
  • Planetary Sensor: Make this ship module actually scan planets from orbit slowly over time, exploring them just like a planetary scout would so you can find a nice planet before colonising one.
  • Command Points: Just like in MOO2, the number and size of ships you can build will be limited by a Command Point system, with harsh penalties for going over the limit. Larger empires will end up with larger navies.

The sandbox mode will be fully playable once these features are implemented, and we can then concentrate on rolling out other major features like spying, the finished 3D ship designer, and singleplayer story missions.

— Brendan, Lead Developer

Galaxy Beta V2.0: Planet Overhaul and Fleet Combat Iteration


Galaxy Beta V 2.0 has now been through internal testing and all beta backers will be mailed shortly with installation instructions and a download link. This beta is a major milestone for Predestination and a big step forward toward release, containing both the latest version of the Fleet Combat gameplay and the final major gameplay iteration on Predestination’s planetary gameplay. We’ll try to put together a video soon showing how the game now plays for those who aren’t in the beta, and of course  the testers are free to make their own videos or streams of it since there’s no NDA on our betas.

In this post, I’ll look at what’s changed in this beta, and the next steps for Predestination. This beta stage consists of three main scenarios: Fleet Combat V 2.0, Planetary Colonisation V 2.0, and the latest version of the Galaxy map (which unlocks after you win the planet scenario). We’d appreciate any feedback you have on the beta scenarios, and we’re particularly interested in hearing how you like the revamped planetary gameplay. If you’re a tester and get a moment to check out the latest beta, please head over to the forum and let us know what you think because it really does help us a ton with development.


If you happened to catch our stall at Q Con in Belfast recently, you’ve probably already played the latest version of our Fleet Combat demo scenario. The scenario Galaxy Beta V2.0 is the second major iteration on Predestination’s Fleet Combat gameplay and has a number of key improvements over the original beta version:

  • Attacking has been simplified. Now when you move the mouse over any enemy, you can see the firing arcs of all of your weapons. You can now just click on an enemy to automatically fire all available weapons at him. You can still individually target weapons by manually activating them, but are no longer forced to.
  • Shields are now displayed as actual models around the ships, and moving the mouse over an enemy highlights the shield you’re going to hit. The current demo has a Class I Shield that has a lot of gaps, and more advanced shields will have more solid-looking models.
  • Hitpoints and damage have been multiplied by ten and rounded to the nearest unit, so we’re no longer dealing fractions of damage. The damage numbers are also larger and more visible.
  • Ships no longer have “free turns” as this was confusing, and the default firing arc for weapons is now the Extended arc to make aiming at enemies significantly easier.
  • Your turn now automatically ends after firing. We’re going to make this an option as some tactics will require players to fire and then move.

We’ve still got some features to add, such as technologies that let you simulate ship movement before committing to a move, and a simple way to rotate your ship. The UI, animations and other graphics are also in need of some improvement before release. But before we go back and revisit the Fleet Combat, we’d like to get the rest of the core game finished and have fully released the custom 3D ship designer. Modular ships have been fully integrated into the Fleet Combat test scenario, so once we release the ship designer itself, the system is already fully compatible with the game.


Predestination’s most unique feature is its deep planetary colonisation gameplay, and we’ve spent a lot of development time iterating on it to make sure we get it right. Most space 4X games have very basic planetary interaction, so we’re really in unfamiliar territory and your feedback has been essential in guiding development. We’ve previously discussed the major Planet and City overhauls that introduce features like Roads and Infrastructure, but there’s one final piece of the planetary colonisation puzzle that remained to be tackled: Resource Deposits.

It’s been pointed out to us in the past that our old planetary resource system could feel a bit lifeless as all deposits functioned the same way; they were just isolated little dots on the map that you could use to build ore refineries, research labs and farms. We knew we could do better than that, so as part of Galaxy Beta V2.0 we’re pleased to reveal that the resource deposits themselves have received some love too. A summary of the big changes is below:

oresplatOre Changes: Each planet used to have a few isolated hexes containing ore, each of which could support one ore refinery that automatically produced 10 metal/turn. That was a bit boring, so we’ve now made generate in seams of 3-8 deposits and refinery output is based on the number of deposits near it. The refinery extracts ore from all deposits within a range of 1 hex, so it can mine up to 7 deposits at once. Each refinery now generates 4 metal/turn plus 1 metal/turn for each deposit it’s mining, so it now produces between 5 and 11 metal/turn.



farmFarm Changes: There used to be only a few food deposits on each planet and you could only build farms on those spots, which didn’t really make sense. Now you can place a farm anywhere on the planet’s surface if it’s the correct environment for your race. Farms now grow food on each hex of the correct environment within a range of 1 hex. The base building generates 40 food/turn and all farmed hexes in its area generate 10 food/turn. Specific food deposits are still generated on the planets as before, but these now give an additional 10 food/turn bonus. In addition, food consumption has been changed so that 1 unit of food now supports 10 units of population.

oreleftResource Depletion: The biggest change with this overhaul is that Fossil Fuel and Ore deposits will now deplete as they’re used. They start out with 100-125 units of material and run out at a rate of 1 per turn while being used. Once an ore deposit disappears, the refinery it’s part of will lose the 1 metal/turn bonus that deposit granted. The base refinery building will continue to operate indefinitely though, producing its base of 4 metal/turn.

When a Fossil Fuel deposit runs out, it’s gone for good. You can extend the lifetime of all fossil fuel deposits by researching technologies like Natural Gas or Oil Drilling, but it’s just a stop-gap measure. Eventually you’ll need to switch to another form of power generation, like solar, geothermal, wind power, wave power, or nuclear (as uranium deposits don’t run out). Both this and the ore depletion are designed to allow players to use up the planet’s resources to expand more rapidly, and it stops players from just turtling up inside one or two solar systems.

artifactResearch Changes: We’ve changed things around a little with research. The research building that goes in cities is now called Research Lab and generates 5 RP/turn, while the infrastructure placed on Crashed Ships and Ancient Ruins is now called an Excavation and gives a 100% bonus to all research in the city it’s linked to. The big change is that after you’ve done enough research in a city connected to a Crashed Ship or Ancient Ruin, you’ll finish excavating the ship/ruins and could gain an advanced Artifact technology. These technologies are powerful and unique in each game session, so once you discover one, no other race can discover it in that game. They’re kind of like Wonders in Civilization but you don’t know what you’ll get until you excavate it. This system is in Galaxy Beta V 2.0, but most of the Artifact technologies haven’t been implemented yet.



I know that you’re all very eager to get your hands on Predestination, and we’re just as eager to get it finished and in your hands, so I’d like to discuss our current development plans going forward. The good news is that Galaxy Beta V2.0 is the final major change to our planet gameplay as we’re very happy with how it’s turned out; all that needs done to it now is some balance tweaking, a few UI improvements, and the addition of some new technologies.

Putting that aside, our primary goal is now to get the sandbox game mode to a fully playable state and then release an Early Access version on Steam. In order to do that, we need to finish the following features:

  • Develop a Planetary Colonisation AI. This could also be used for people who want to automate their planets entirely rather than micromanage or use blueprints.
  • Develop a Galaxy Level AI that colonises the galaxy and builds fleets of ships.
  • Finish designing and implementing the start screen for the selection of galaxy size, type, race etc.
  • Overhaul the Research dropdown menu. The current plan is to have an icon for each technology and to move all the important information to a detailed tooltip.
  • Create a new Blueprint screen for the creation and editing of city blueprints, and ensure that updated blueprints are propagated throughout your empire.
  • Finish the second iteration of the Diplomacy Screen and implement the Diplomacy dropdown menu for opening diplomatic contact.
  • Implement a full diplomacy AI and favour/memory system for AI races.
  • Implement trade routes and a UI for setting them up between your own planets, and integrate trades into the Diplomacy system.
  • Integrate Fleet Combat with the Galaxy level gameplay so combats spawn when fleets of enemy/neutral races meet.
  • Add Ground Cannons and space stations to fleet combat in defense of a planet, and make it so they can use the planet’s energy to attack.
  • Create a bombing phase after combat where you can destroy cities, roads and infrastructure from orbit or land ground troops to take over cities.
  • Design and implement the Planets dropdown menu (At least the Manage Planets and Blueprints sections)
  • Finish Research Eras 2 and 3 and implement more of the Ancient Artifact technologies.
  • Implement the Command Point system that will limit how many ships you have, and display the number somewhere on the UI.
  • Implement a tax UI that will let you change your empire-wide tax rate. Link this feature to the Universal Currency technology.

As always, we’d love to hear what you have to say about the latest developments and you can head over to our forum to let us know!


– Brendan, Lead Developer

Development Update: June 2014 – City Revamp, Ship Designs, and Beta Plans


June was a jam-packed month for us; We showed off Predestination at Comic Con Belfast and Q Con XXI, performed an iteration on the Fleet Combat gameplay, worked on a lot of new building and ship models, and completely redesigned the city system. We’ve also switched to a new newsletter system to make sure that everyone is definitely receiving important development updates, and are now working hard on the next beta release: Galaxy Beta V2.0. This update is due for release within the next two weeks and will contain all of the planet and city changes discussed in the May and June dev updates, in addition to a newly overhauled version of the Fleet Combat gameplay.

Update (2nd August): The next beta stage will be out within the next few days along with a full breakdown of the new gameplay.



We’ve been receiving emails recently saying that some people aren’t receiving their monthly updates or links to new beta stages. To solve this, we’ve started up a new mailing list system for dev updates and beta links, so those of you who have unsubscribed from Kickstarter emails or pledged on Paypal can still receive our monthly updates.

We’ll be sending this update out through email and if you want to opt out of that mailing list, just follow the instructions in the email. If you want to sign up for the development update newsletter or switch the email address you’re receiving them to, head over to the newsletter page and subscribe with your preferred email address. Also, if you feel like you should be on the beta list and haven’t received the Galaxy Beta, please send a mail to to let us know and we’ll investigate.



Back in March, we gave you a sneak peek at the default Renegade Battleship design. That ship has now been decomposed into individual parts and we’ve made a lot of new cosmetic and functional ship parts since then. The Renegade ship part set is now fully complete and we’re in the process of texturing each block and integrating them into the ship designer.

When that’s finished and has passed a quality inspection, we’ll be able to release the first beta of the 3D ship designer to all beta backers. I can’t put a date on that yet, but further ship model packs will be much quicker to develop and deploy after the beta goes live as we’ll then have the entire production process hammered down step by step. Below are the finished blockouts of the default Renegade Frigate, Cruiser, Battleship, and Space Station!







If you’ve been following the Predestination blog, you may have seen our Game Design Sneak Peek on the upcoming city revamp. For those who haven’t seen it, a summary of the most important parts is below. Following last month’s overhaul of the planetary gameplay to use our new road system, your feedback indicated that the cities and blueprints would also need to be revamped to be more engaging with the new setup. We agreed, so we went back to the drawing board and came up with some big changes.

In Master of Orion II, players were able to specialise their cities for industry, farming or research by moving population between the three jobs. We want that kind of tactical option to be part of Predestination, so we’re going to let players specialise their cities for Research, Food, Metal, Military or Tax by introducing a series of new buildings designed to synergise with infrastructure connected to the city. Once this revamp is implemented, this should complete the final major iteration of the Planetary Colonisation gameplay.


Work-in-Progress Infrastructure models: Research Outpost (Left), Ore Refinery (Middle), Coal Power Plant (Right)

Research/Food/Production City:

Cities specialising in Research, Food, or Production can use new industrial buildings that give a small boost on their own but also multiply the bonuses of connected infrastructure. You can use a building in a city without the matching infrastructure and still get some benefit, but it won’t be as efficient:

  • Factory: Produces 5 metal/turn, +10% metal/turn produced by infrastructure. Also increases metal storage by 1000.
  • Food Processor: Produces 250 food/turn, +10% food/turn produced by infrastructure. Also increases food storage by 500.
  • University: Produces 2 research/turn, +5% research/turn produced by infrastructure.

Each of these buildings has two upgrades which can be researched and built, adding new components to the building and increasing its bonuses. Below is the work-in-progress version of the factory building showing the components that appear with each upgrade tier. The central hex will be filled with metal storage and transports.



Other City types:

Military: To specialise a city for military or defense, the player will have to sacrifice the above industrial advantage and use his building space for Ground Cannons, City Shields and other military buildings. Details of all the planned military buildings are in our recent Design Sneak Peek post on the city revamp.

Residential (Trade and Tax): Tax will be a lot more important in the updated version of the game, as money is now used to build infrastructure and roads on a planet, and each building costs at least 1BC/turn maintenance. To specialise a city for residential purposes to generate tax income, you’ll need to sacrifice building space for housing and extra services to keep the planet’s population secure and keep morale high. More details of residential cities and trade-related buildings can be found in our recent Design Sneak peek post.

Balancing Cities:

Each city currently has space for up to 6 large buildings and 12 small, which turned out to be far too much space for meaningful strategic tradeoffs. Players in the beta noted that they could build whatever they needed without running into any space problems. The numbers on paper also get out of hand with 5 or 6 factory buildings in the new system, so the solution to both problems was to reduce the city size.

Each city can now hold a maximum of 4 large buildings and 8 small ones, or 3 large buildings and 15 small. Fitting in four industrial buildings (like the Factory) means you’ll be unable to add any large buildings like the Space Port or City Shield at all, which is a strategic tradeoff that you’ll have to make when designing your cities




One of the primary goals of the city revamp is to make it so players can make good use of our Blueprint system. With multiple cities to manage on a large number of planets, players should rarely have to revisit a planet once it’s set up, instead just managing everything with blueprints. The only reason you should need go back to a planet would be to respond to a random event or attack, to change a city from one specialisation to another, or to build something special manually like a space station.

The city revamp described above should satisfy those requirements. Players can now design cities for particular specialisations or even hybrids like a heavily defended factory city or a tax-heavy research city, and can switch between specialisations easily by switching blueprints, providing a similar strategic function to moving population between jobs in MOO2.

Build Times: The final change that ties all of these building changes together is that we’re adding build times to buildings. This will hopefully discourage people from frequently switching cities from one blueprint to another as it’ll take several turns before all the construction is complete. We can then also add a technology or race pick that lets you spend money to complete buildings instantly, a big financial tradeoff that you might need to make if enemies are heading toward a planet with no defenses built.



I’d like to give a big thanks to everyone who’s supported us so far in making Predestination; the backers who have funded us through Kickstarter and Paypal, those who voted for us on Steam Greenlight, the people we’ve met at conventions who offered words of encouragement, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland who support the emerging local games industry, the indie gaming websites that give tiny indie studios like us exposure, and everyone who has contributed suggestions and feedback to help make the game better.

It’s been a long journey and we wouldn’t have made it this far without your help, so we appreciate your patience as we’ve iterated on our unique planetary gameplay to be sure we get it right. Our plan for the immediate future is to finish implementing the city revamp above and then get all of the new planet gameplay into beta backers’ hands within the next week or two. This should be our final iteration on the planets, and we can then move on to finishing the core galaxy level gameplay and NPC AI, hopefully then leading on to an Early Access release.

As always, we welcome all feedback on this month’s dev update on Kickstarter or our forums. To close this month’s dev update, here’s a photo of me at Q Con apparently trying to destroy two Predestination fans with my viking eye lasers.



— Brendan Drain, Lead Developer

Design sneak peek: City overhaul, new buildings, and blueprints


Our next monthly dev update is due soon, but before that I’d like to take a more detailed look at the Predestination Beta’s upcoming city revamp, which forms the second part of what we hope will be the final major iteration on Predestination’s planetary gameplay. A short summary of the changes will be part of the next dev update or you can skip ahead to Step 4 to read them, but for those interested in the game design process, this post will go through the steps we took to arrive at the new version of the City and Blueprint systems.

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