Dev Update: V1.2 & V1.3 released – Ship models, optimisations, story missions, ancient ruins, AI improvements, diplomacy changes, and more!

Hey everyone! The V1.2 update has been in people’s hands for a while now and we’ve deployed 7 follow-up patches with bug fixes and small changes since then. We’ve just released V1.3 and want to get everyone caught up with the latest developments. These updates contained the final 3D ship part models for all races, huge optimisations in the map generation and End Turn code, two new story missions (with two more coming this month), Ancient Ruins improvements, AI improvements, some Diplomacy changes, and a series of small features and bug fixes.

The biggest feature in V1.2 was the release of all the 3D ship parts for all races. The Sauros have gold and sand coloured components with ornate wings, the Starforged have huge utilitarian blocks with pipes and grills, and the Kazzir have brightly coloured racers with floating cameras and completely unnecessary wings and spoilers. We’ve also added a default Dreadnought ship design for each race, and unique new models for the Revenant ships. Check out the screenshots below for more:

The V1.2 launch update included a series of major optimisations to speed up the game. We added a Planet cache system with hundreds of pre-generated planets of all types and sizes, drastically speeding up planet generation times in exchange for the game taking up 2gb more hard drive space. This completely eliminated the delay when opening a planet for the first time, and cut down Space Exploration and Space Colonisation era map generation times by over 70%.

We also extended this to add a Homeworld Cache for each race, with a collection of pre-generated homeworlds for each race. This reduces sandbox game generation times by up to 90% depending on settings as the most resource-intensive part of generating a new map is colonising the AI homeworlds. It used to do that completely from scratch every time even though the outcome is always about the same, and now it just uses one of 100 pre-generated planets and makes small changes.

A series of AI optimisations reduced AI processing time down from 200-500ms per turn to 0-10ms, which in turn allowed us to run the AI code on every race each turn to make them smarter. Previously the AI took turns executing some of their more complex tasks, and this could delay their response to a threat. Multithreading the planet End Turn code also yielded 25-50% performance increases, but we have disabled this feature temporarily as it prompted a number of unusual edge case crashes.

Story Mission: The Z’loq Emerge: “Having conquered the oceans of its homeworld, the Z’loq empire is now facing overpopulation in the Coral Spire. The legendary Z’loq Chieftain Grizn’q has demanded that additional spires be built and the planet’s oceans be exploited to their fullest potential. As the population grows, the Z’loq now look for new territories to explore … or to conquer.” This story mission is complete and released.

Story Mission: The Colonies Unite: “The colonies of Earth have united under a single banner and begun an era of space exploration and colonisation. Mysterious ancient ruins found on Earth have given hints of powerful technology scattered throughout the galaxy, and the new United Colonies Technocracy aims to find them all.” This story mission is complete and released.

Upcoming Story Mission: Renegade Republic: “The United Colonies of Earth have plundered ancient ruins throughout the star cluster and unwittingly awoken the ancient Revenant threat. As word of the United Colonies’ part in the disaster spreads, support for a new Renegade political faction is growing and the colonies are fracturing.” This story mission is releasing later this month.

Upcoming Story Mission: We Are Starforged: “Abandoned on an icy world, a United Colonies troop transport filled with Robotic AI soldiers has become the seed of new race: The Starforged. Trapped on the planet, these robots have adapted themselves to run on fossil fuels and are now emerging into sentience.” This story mission is releasing at the end of this month.

We improved the ancient ruin excavations system. Ruins on the homeworld now always give you a piece of ancient infrastructure when excavated, and ancient ruins or crashed ships further from homeworlds get more powerful technologies. We’ve added some more powerful pieces of ancient infrastructure such as the Ancient Robotic Lab, Ancient Robotic Factory, and Ancient Robotic Farm.

Crashed Ships can now yield Ancient Ionising Beam (beam weapon), Ancient Ionic Missile (missile weapon), or Ancient Ion Cannon (projectile cannon) techs. They can also give Ancient Alloy Design (+10% armour HP), Ancient Shield Design (+25% shield regen), or Ancient Thruster Design (+1 combat speed). More powerful crashed ships can give +25% beam, projectile, missile, or drone damage.

In V1.30 we also fixed a major bug causing ancient ruins and crashed ships to be deleted when colonising the planet in some circumstances, and made them more likely to spawn on uninhabitable planets (Barren, Molten, and Toxic).

When you reach the First Contact tech era and haven’t met another race yet, you used to get a popup saying you received a transmission from deep space, but nothing actually happened. Now you will automatically make contact with the closest alien race when the transmission is received. When the Galactic Council is formed by any race, all races who haven’t made diplomatic contact with each other will also automatically meet each other.

This helps maintain the diplomatic pacing throughout the game, especially in large maps where you might not meet everyone quickly enough. We’ve also sped up the council voting animations based on feedback and the vote now takes place on the planet of the person who proposed the vote as that made more sense.

We made some big improvements to the AI in order to make them create better empires. The AI will now colonise non-habitable planets using biospheres and can set up trade routes between planets to supply them with food, which in turn allows you to passively harm their empire by sending ships to blockade the trade route.

The AI also now explores temporal rifts for bonuses, and it can now rush production on ships for money just like the player when it comes under threat. The value the AI places on money in diplomacy will now depend on how much money you have, and money is now traded in increments of 100 as the previous increment of 10 was insignificant and could still trigger the “gift” response from AI.

Portable switch: Adding a portable.txt file to the Content folder will enable a new portable mode where the ini file and save game files are relocated to within the game folder rather than in your AppData folders. This would be useful if you wanted to run the game off a pen drive and keep your saves with the drive so you can bring them to any PC. If you disable the portable switch, the game will automatically try to copy your local save games into your appdata the next time you launch the game.

Technology Tree changes: We realised that the pacing was off for players who wanted to conquer alien worlds more than colonise heavily, so we moved the Troop Pod technology to the start of the Space Colonisation tech era. This let us expand the First Contact tech era with a series of spying technologies.

Left Handed Mouse: We added left-handed mouse support to the game, which works automatically depending on your system settings. Before this version, left handed mouse users would have broken radial menus and some buttons wouldn’t click properly.

Tax Changes: The default tax rates are now automatically set to 30% Citizen Tax and 30% Industrial Tax when you start a new game.

Ship Shaders: Each race now has its own ship shader and shader variables, which are loaded in from moddable files. They allow us to add some animated effects etc to the ships, for example the blue parts on the United Colonies ships now pulse with light and the red crystals on Sauros ships now glow with a cloudy burnt orange light.

Star/Fleet Selector: When clicking on a Star or a Fleet on the Galaxy Screen, the game now opens whichever is physically closest to your mouse pointer on the screen. This should help you sellect fleets that are near stars more easily and stop the UI from getting stuck.

Text Updates: We’ve added the credits screen and dedication, final crew names for all races, star names, and nebula names.

The number of bugfixes we made in V1.2, V.13 and all the intervening patches is too long to list, but a few headline fixes include:

  • Ship Designs will now save correctly in computer systems that use commas as thousands separators.
  • We implemented a new music fade system to combat a problem where the game could rarely end up with two pieces of music playing at the same time.
  • Singleplayer missions now correctly update their progress when you close the Score screen at the end of the mission. You no longer have to quit and restart the game to see your rating appear in the mission list.
  • The Singleplayer Mission UI will no longer be drawn on top of the Fleet Combat or Diplomacy screens.
  • Fixed a large number of crashes. Thanks to everyone sending in those crash reports, please keep them coming any time the game crashes.
  • Fixed a SlimDX DLL problem that happened on some people’s games where the game would just crash on launching when trying to load the ship 3D models.

— Brendan, Lead Developer

Dev Update: Race Stats, Ship Crew, Commanders, Tax Update & Bugfixes

devupdatenovbThis is going to be a colossal dev update, as we’ve been pushing out patches at a much faster pace since the release of the 3D ship designer. In this dev update, I’ll round up all the work that’s been deployed in the last month and a bit, from the deployment of Race Archetypes and Race Stats to the release of Ship Captains and Planet Leaders, and the most recent Tax system update. Then I’ll look briefly at the next steps for Predestination and what you can expect from future patches.

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