The Starforged Update: New mission, commander portraits, AI improvements and more!

The Starforged Update (V1.4.0.0) has now gone live on Steam, adding the next step in the singleplayer storyline and bringing some much-needed improvements for our favourite Robotic race. We’ve improved the AI under the hood of Predestination to address balance and fairness issues players reported in the late game, and started work on some diplomacy AI improvements. This update also adds commander portraits and improvements to ship captains and planet leaders, a lot of small improvements, and a ton of bug and crash fixes.

Starforged Mission concept art by Travis Morrow

At the end of Mission 4, we got our first taste of the robotic Starforged race as they barged into a secure communication channel in search of their creators. We’ve now released Mission 5 of the Before the War story arc, telling the tale of the emergence of the Starforged as a sentient species and what led them to join the galactic discourse. As the sole survivor of the crashed United Colonies Starliner Prometheus, cyberneticist Dr Elias Breen finds himself stranded alone on an icy planet with only the robotic soldiers of the United Colonies 5th Mechanised Infantry for company and a whole lot of time.

We hope you love playing through this mission and learning about the history of the Starforged as much as we loved making it! As part of this mission, we’ve made a few improvements to the Starforged as a race as they felt a bit underpowered in some circumstances:

  • We gave the Starforged an additional +25% metal production bonus. In exchange, their base research rate is now -15% (previously -5%). Since percentage stat bonuses are additive, this penalty isn’t as harsh as it seems as adding one ancient ruin to the city will still bump it up to +85%. This also makes it less effective to brute-force build research cities on planets without ruins, which was a viable tactic since the Starforged don’t need farming colonies.
  • The Antivirus Tower is no longer limited to 1 per city. This makes it far more feasible to have large populations for those who use the distributed bytecoin mining or research forge patches.
  • Robotic races now require only 400 base staff per infrastructure to run them, down from 500. This helps counteract the fact that they have to spend metal to build new citizens and don’t get a tax benefit. This can still be reduced further with technologies.

We’ve added some cool new portraits to the lost ship captains and former planet leaders who periodically appear and offer their services to your empire. We took a little time to flesh these out, buffing most of their stats upward to reflect the late stage of the game they appear at and ensuring each one has backstory that fits their style.

We’ve also adjusted how the AI uses commanders, and improved some of the endgame commanders that can appear after 600 turns. We plan to add more commanders in a future update, so expect them to start having a bigger impact on the game.

We’ve overhauled the AI research system in response to your feedback. The old system often had races sneakily trade techs in the background as a way to maintain game balance against a powerful player, which felt cheap. AI races will now naturally prioritise research when they’re far behind in tech, and other things when further ahead.

The difficulty setting will now influence AI behaviour, with higher bonuses making them more ruthless when it comes to acquisition of technologies. Expect enemies in higher difficulties to try to outpace you in tech, while easy mode enemies may focus less on keeping up with you. The AI will also now be more discriminating with what Legendary Commanders it selects. You may see some commanders remain in the pool for a longer time in some games before they are snatched up.

The strategic Galaxy AI has been significantly improved and can now strategically manage its command points. It will scrap underpowered ships and use the command points to build more powerful ships or colony ships, and will now always prioritise colony ships if it’s in an expansion or consolidation goal phase. Previously the AI would wait for its old ships to be destroyed in a war before upgrading, so now they will stay up to date more easily. Certain races still prefer frigates over larger ships.

  • The game will now automatically adjust to your screen resolution on startup, so you can change resolution within your PC and it’ll end up fullscreen at that resolution.
  • The game will now automatically centre itself on the screen on any resolution.
  • Added a new “keepScreenSize” flag to the ini file. Default is false, and if set to true it will not automatically adjust screen resolution within your pc.
  • The game now supports one race owning an orbital that uses a ship design belonging to another race. We could use this for example to have an orbital Revenant cannon as one of the techs you can uncover.
  • Reduced the time before the first Legendary Commander appears.
  • Building files for missions now support a simple way of replacing one building with another.
  • Rearranged some of the tech trees to make certain techs available earlier, as in small maps you will need them when meeting other races.
  • Technologies can now be given UniqueIDs so that two techs that do the exact same thing can be recognised as separate techs, or two completely different techs will be recognised as the same thing.
  • Elite crew now start with higher XP and level, increasing their bonuses.
  • Slowed down the text chirp rate in the mission dialogue for slower readers. You can still click to skip.
  • Added Autosave at the start of each mission stage.
  • Autosave now kicks in on the Planet Screen as well as the Galaxy Screen. Previously it waited for you to open the Galaxy Screen.
  • Fixed a MAJOR bug causing the AI to get far ahead of you in tech if you start in the Pre-Warp stage. The AI now correctly enters space at the same time as you and with roughly the equivalent tech level.
  • Fixed an infinite loop bug that could stall the EndTurn code on 2D maps when no valid Temporal Rift locations are possible.
  • Fixed a crash with commanders that could happen if the Revenants tried to recruit a commander after recapturing their homeworld.
  • Ships destroyed, scrapped, or otherwise deleted that had a captain on them at the time will now always recover the captain.
  • Fixed a crash that could happen if a race didn’t have a homeworld when the Galactic Council was formed.
  • Fixed a bug where mission-specific buildings and technologies could accidentally be retained when starting a sandbox game.
  • Starbase global scan range reduced from 15ly to 5ly. This is increased to 25ly with Space Sensors anyway as you get space sensors before starbase but it interfered with the latest mission.
  • Building, Weapon, and Module lists are now correctly re-loaded from scratch when starting any new mission, creating a sandbox game, or loading a saved game.
  • Fixed a bug with the Music system that would cause race music to play for a few seconds after the research jingle.
  • Race music no longer stops and re-starts from the beginning when in the conversation screen in a mission. This makes it much less repetitive when conversations go back and forth.
  • Fixed a rare crash with UpdateFleetLinesSubConstructLines when fleets incorrectly calculate zero or infinite speed to the target destination.
  • Fixed a bug where two races couldn’t find a commander on the same turn.
  • Fixed a bug that sometimes allowed you to select the Synergies trigger technologies. These are supposed to just unlock when you get the associated tech.
  • Fixed a number of small graphical issues throughout the game
  • Fixed a number of tutorial and timing bugs
  • Fixed a rare technology loading crash
  • Fixed a bug where the AI could get stuck in its home system because it built too many warships too early and can’t build any colony ships. The AI will now always prioritise colony ships if it needs them.
  • The “Skip” button is no longer present when a mission is loading. This confused a few people, as this part can’t be skipped.
  • Fixed a rare conversation screen crash when you clicked the button to skip dialogue
  • Mission technologies now correctly unlock if they are Synergies, previously they would not unlock in the tech tree.
  • Fixed a graphical bug in the popup for hiring commanders in some resolutions

V1.4 is now live on Steam, so if you’ve sent in a key request recently we’ll be processing that ASAP. If you have any issues with it or feedback, please feel free to send it to us directly at


— Brendan, Lead Developer

July Dev Update: Global resources, scouting improvements, and new user interfaces


It’s hard to believe that another month has just rolled by, but it’s already that time of the month again! We’ve been hard at it this month to build on the good progress we’ve already made on Predestination, and while the team are beginning to resemble creatures straight out of a 1950s horror movie every morning, the game is really coming together! We here at Brain and Nerd can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on, so let’s get cracking!

Last month we talked about the work that has been done on the game’s AI, the Zl’oq and Kazzír were revealed, and we talked about scouting. This month, we want to focus on gameplay and show you some up-to-date progress on how the game is actually running. In previous updates, we’ve been able to mention what we’ve been working on and explain what we’ve been doing, but we really haven’t been able to show much in the way of gameplay because much of the UI wasn’t in place. It’s difficult to show anything when using placeholders and patching together screens with blu-tack and paper clips! We now have enough of the UI constructed and tied together to be able to join together some of the different parts of the game and show you some sample gameplay. Read More

January game development update roundup

Hey guys! It’s been a hectic month here at Brain and Nerd as we worked out our budget, gave a few talks about our Kickstarter experience, and got production on Predestination into full swing. Now that we’re set up, you can expect more frequent updates on game development, artwork and races. So what have we been up to this month?

  • Upgraded planets, they are now 100% more awesome :D. (video)
  • Added new colonisation mechanics.
  • Designed the Reptile race (race reveal to come with finished art).
  • Designed new buildings (building art update on the way).
  • Added Sandbox mode with different galaxy sizes, ages and types.
  • Backer Nineveh named our big bad alien race, “The Revenants.”

Read More

90% funded on Kickstarter, help push us over our goal!

We launched Predestination on Kickstarter a few weeks ago and the response has been absolutely immense! Over 500 people have backed the project so far and we’re at around the 90% mark. There’s just 10% to go until we’re guaranteed funding and can press on into stretch goals. It’s very important that we hit 100% as soon as possible, because that guarantees we’ll get our minimum goal and we can take that guarantee to banks and government grant schemes. If you haven’t pledged yet, head over to Kickstarter and take a look at some of the rewards you can get for supporting Predestination. Read More

Funding a game project in Northern Ireland

I’ve been pulling together a lot of research on the market for my game this week and have started to piece together a business plan. As an indie game developer, my goal has always been to self-publish via digital distribution and without giving any share in the business away. I want to raise enough money from my first game to expand the current team of three into something larger, and then work on a bigger project. To do that, I need to raise funding for the first game without putting myself in debt or giving any percentage of the profits away. It’s a tall order, but one I think is very possible because of two things:

Invest NI: I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where there are programmes set up to financially support start-up businesses. I’ll easily qualify for grants and loans with extremely good repayment schemes that won’t leave me liable for the debt if the game doesn’t sell. I have a meeting on Monday 20th with one of the free business advisors we have here, and will soon find out what support is available. A friend of a friend pulled over £100,000 out of investors and grant programmes on good terms through this. As I’ve projected costs at a fraction of that, I’m feeling very positive about it.

Crowdsourced funding: This has really taken off in the past few years, with leading the crowd and a few others lagging far behind. People pledge money to support a project in exchange for perks like a free copy of the game, concept art, music, t-shirts, unique DLC etc. When you think about it, this acts as a zero-risk pre-order system for indie games currently in development. I plan to launch a campaign once I have enough gameplay and graphics to show off and really make an impression. Read More

A sense of scale on planets

In showing people screenshots of my game project, it’s sometimes difficult to get across a sense of scale. Below is a visual update to show the scale differences between the game’s three main zoom levels. The top one is zoomed out to orbit, the second is the level at which you’ll send scout ships on survey missions around the area to push back a “fog of war” style map and uncover resources etc. The third is the level at which you’ll manage the colony. The camera angle is different there just because buildings will look better with it. Read More

Planet graphics update

I came up with a new terrain shading technique that combines some clever texture packing tricks with normal approximations in the pixel shader to produce some awesome results. The lighting on the terrain is now extremely highly detailed, and zooming down onto the terrain looks perfectly smooth. I can also feasibly add more lights for particular buildings or the cursor to make some awesome effects. Below are a few screenshots of the current work in progress: Read More

Planet view and placing buildings

Most of this week’s work on my space 4X game has been in putting together a good system for placing items like 3D models of buildings on a planet’s surface. Part of the difficulty is in the fact that the planet graphics are generated entirely on the GPU, so the CPU doesn’t have access to that data. I came up with a fantastic system that works around that issue and gives access to not only height data but also details like what type of terrain is on a particular spot or whether it’s in an ocean.

So now I can place buildings on the surface of a planet, zoom out, rotate the planet and the building appears to stay put on the surface. When placing certain buildings like a water extractor, I can make it only placeable on water or make it fulfil any other criteria I want. I could make mining drills that you move around to find the best spot, or geothermal power stations that can only be placed on fault lines. There’s a lot of versatility in the system, so it’s been fun to work with this week. Read More