Starsector 0.8a Release

Update (4/21/17, 6:40pm EST): another hotfix for a few crashes, another load-game issue, a few other bugs and gameplay issues is up. Please re-download using the links below.

Update: a hotfix for a few crashes, a load-game issue, a tutorial derailing issue, and a few other items is now up. Please re-download using the links below.

Starsector version 0.8a is now out! Here are some of the more prominent new features in this release:

  • More hand-crafted star systems to flesh out the core worlds area of the Sector
  • Procedurally-generated areas to explore beyond the core worlds
  • Run salvage operations and planetary surveys, with associated missions for further profit
  • New map interface – redesigned to aid in your exploration
  • A “lay in course” feature – track where you’re going and how long it’ll take to get there
  • Ship recovery – repair derelict ships or ships disabled after battle, and add them to your fleet
  • Revamped carrier & fighter mechanics – command fighters launched from your own carrier
  • New campaign abilities – scavenging, distress calls, and more
  • Skill overhaul – added Industry aptitude; every point matters
  • New enemies to fight (details REDACTED)
  • Modular orbital stations, for use in REDACTED
  • Several new ships, including new carriers
  • New terrain types – pulsar beams and black holes
  • A new “reckless” officer personality
  • “Full Assault” and “Eliminate” combat commands; other ship AI and command improvements
  • Destroyed ships break into pieces
  • A campaign tutorial, and other changes to make the early game more forgiving
  • A new set of starting options – a focus on fewer and more clear choices before the game begins
  • … and lots of miscellaneous fixes and improvements!

The full patch notes, and the comment thread, are here. You can download the new version here:

(Alternate download links: Windows Mac Linux)

As always, thank you for your support!

map_fixed

 

Ship’s Log of Salvage Dave’s Final Mission

Order received from command: Alex wants campaign testing, especially of new salvage mechanics, missions, and abilities. So I say, why don’t I turn some testing notes into a blog post? Command approved the initiative noting, however, that it was imperative that I – paraphrased – “use discretion when it comes to certain elements you may encounter”. Discretion is my middle name! There isn’t room for it on my Domain Ident Chip however, so you’ll have to take my good word for it.  

Cycle 206, March 03

salvage_dave00

Over the last cycle, I’ve been making my living as a smuggler. The ship under my command is a Wayfarer-class freighter, the Iota-Max II, with good cargo capacity and decent armament.

Recently I’ve filled my cargo holds with contraband – and legitimate goods to disguise it.  All in all, recent life in the Sector has been relatively … Normal.

That’s all about to change.

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Building Better Worlds

No, not terraforming; world-building! You know, like writing and content implementation.

In the upcoming Starsector 0.8x patch we’ve added at least one* new faction and expanded the number of hand-scripted star systems in the Sector by a significant though not quite finalized number. Alex has of course obliquely described how he has expanded the number of procedurally generated star systems from zero in the currently available build to potentially a whole bunch in the upcoming patch. This does much to embiggen the world of Starsector! My part in this has focused mostly on the hand-scripted Core Worlds, the centers of human civilization, industry, and conflict within the volume of the Persean Sector.

I’ll talk a bit about the creative process as well as design considerations that go into creating this content. We’ll cover some old star systems, some new star systems, the Persean League just a tiny bit, and whatever tangents that come up.

(*Hedging how I word this because the truth of the matter is a touch complex.)

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Ship Recovery

In the previous post about the skill overhaul, I mentioned a different playstyle enabled by the Industry aptitude. That’s what I’d like to talk about here, but as part of a larger set of changes.

Ideally, you want to solve multiple problems with the same change. This is of course common sense (two birds, one stone) but for game design specifically, it can get tricky. There’s always an option of making a change just to solve a particular problem, and sometimes it’s the right answer.

However, if this is done too often, the danger is you end up with features that are only loosely related to each other – and you end up with a lot of them. A single solution that brings multiple systems together is going to make the design both simpler and deeper.

Let’s look at “industry needs its own playstyle” as a design problem, and see what else can be taken care of as part of the solution.

recovery_fleet

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Skill Overhaul

The current skill system in Starsector was added quite a while ago. That in itself isn’t a reason to redo it, but as with all first-pass systems, some downsides of the implementation became apparent along the way.

But why update it now, rather than sometime down the line? New features in this release need skills to complement them, and adding more skills to the old system would just be adding more stuff to redo later – it’s more efficient to overhaul the system now, and add the new skills in a hopefully-final form. In addition, it’ll be nice to address some long-standing balance issues, but more on that later.

First, let’s take a quick look at the old system. There are 4 aptitudes – Combat, Leadership, Technology, and Industry – and each aptitude has skills under it. The maximum level of a skill is determined by the level of the aptitude it’s under, and the player gets 2 skill points per level and 1 aptitude point every other level.

Skills have 10 levels, a base effect that increases with skill level (e.g. 2% more damage per level), and two perks – each providing significant and sometimes game-changing bonuses – at level 5 and 10 in the skill.

Now, instead of talking about the issues with this system, what I’d like to do is talk about the new system, and mention the issues in the context of how they’re being addressed.

skills_strike

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