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Starsector 0.9.1a is out! (05/10/19); Blog post: Skills and Story Points (07/08/19)

Author Topic: Living Factions, Minor factions, and Available Tech  (Read 575 times)


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Living Factions, Minor factions, and Available Tech
« on: March 24, 2019, 05:35:34 PM »

After seeing pathers and pirates eternally popping up on the fringes, seeing core worlds destabilize and never come back, finding ruins out in deep space where no one goes, and finding beautiful spots to build out in the far reaches of the universe I started to see a possible way to add some spice to the sector at large.

Let the Major Factions Grow and Die

If there are worlds near a major faction's territory that have a good value, let them claim those worlds slowly over time. If they have industries that are losing them money, let them remove those industries. If they could add an industry that would improve their worlds revenue then let them add it.

If their worlds aren't making enough money, or if they can't sustain a planet, let them abandon it unless their doctrine prevents them from abandoning their populations. It would be interesting to see the major factions be a bit more organic, and to see more of their worlds in the green ledger-wise.

Let major factions saturation bomb each-other. If they go for total-war on each other they should potentially wipe out planets. If they want to kill a world more "humanely" then let them set up a blockade with a massive fleet, or several fleets that stay in orbit around a hostile world keeping it's stability and accessibility at zero until the blockade is broken.

Adding Minor Factions

When the sector generates, have the generation algorithm look for systems with unusually high value averages for the planets present and mark them. As the game goes on, let those systems be populated by non-core factions with semi-randomized tech, doctrine, and hostility.

The small factions could replace the independents for the most part, or be a sub category of the independents. Their tech would be mostly trash, but with one or two blueprints for military ships at each hull-size (2-4 frigates, 1-3 destroyers, 1-2 cruisers, 0-1 capital ships). They would also have the basic weapon packages with a few extras at each weapon size.

From a game-play standpoint it gives the player either targets to fight with that aren't the core factions, or allies to work with if they've been more aggressive with the core worlds.

It also adds conflict to taking over the "best" systems in the sector, giving the player something to fight against in their colonization efforts.

Lore wise, it would make sense that the player fleet isn't the only one out there trying to rebuild humanity on the fringes, and not everyone building in the fringes is doing it for piracy reasons. Small factions are constantly cropping up and making trouble for the core worlds, and putting them all under the "independent" umbrella makes them feel like a unified faction instead of the minor factions they really are.

Lock Up The Good Stuff

Cobbling together a strong fleet feels pretty easy once you know the basics. Removing military grade ships from the civilian market, and adding extra d-mods to ships in the black market would go a long way to making the main factions feel more like dominant powers.

Removing proper military ships from the open market, most pirate fleets, most independent fleets, and reducing the options for the main factions would make them feel more distinct, and also much more powerful. It would also make finding "good" ships in salvage more exciting.

It would also make commissions with factions much more enticing, not only do you get a bounty for fighting their enemies, you also get to buy those juicy, exclusive, military ships from their markets.

Add Unique Industries

Factions should have powerful industrial or social practices that are difficult to use without a strong central government, very specific technology, or extreme loyalty from the populace. Things like a central bank for the TriTacs that adds a faction-wide boost to planet income, a military strategic center for the Hegemony that allows larger fleets, or a set of holy relic sites that improve stability on Luddic worlds.

Allying with a faction could give a player access to those bonuses, building up enough loyalty with a base commander might convince them to join you and bring their knowledge to one of your worlds (a unique skill on a manager?), rescued people from decivilized domain worlds may have knowledge about lost tech.

De-unify The Pirates and Independents

This has been in suggestions before, so brevity seems appropriate.

These people probably shouldn't even have a faction reputation statistic, and they certainly shouldn't be communicating as well as they do. Destroying pirate raiders, or a couple of smugglers really shouldn't be affecting the player's standing with every single other person who is decidedly not aligned to anyone.


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Re: Living Factions, Minor factions, and Available Tech
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2019, 05:38:07 AM »

Factions certainly won't be dynamic, as that's not a scope that Alex is willing and/or able to take on himself.

Generally I'd prefer the game to eventually force the player into throwing their lot with one of the factions (or to flip them off and go on your own), not just to get the good stuff, though it could work as one of the incentives. In previous versions open markets didn't have military ships in them, only civilian and combat freighters. This wasn't perfect, either, mainly since it meant that open markets were largely ignored, and for this reason I would leave the open market alone for the time being.
I like the idea for unique industries, but generally everybody has a different idea on what they should be... I hope "everybody" includes Alex, too. Ties with the previous remark about player's miraculous independence from all factions.


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Re: Living Factions, Minor factions, and Available Tech
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2019, 09:53:29 AM »

I like that Open Market has military ships occasionally.  It can be tiring that the only way to get a non-pirate ship if you have no commission (or the wrong one) and no heavy industry is to loot from the enemy or a random derelict.

In 0.9, factions' markets are so lean that commission is only worth it to add to monthly income before the colony game.  Before 0.9, I would want commission to buy weapons.  Now, their markets are not much better than Open Market.

I kind of like the idea of competing independents claiming some planets, but on the other hand, they probably would feel like thieves in other games and I probably would want to kill them because "if I can't have it, no one can!"

Similarly, it would be nice if a faction can rebuild or recover from decivilization or the like, unless player makes an effort to kill them all immediately.  With them rebuilding, I do not need to waste time saving core worlds from pirates and pathers.

De-unify The Pirates and Independents
Independent seems the biggest offender.  The only thing they need is for them to not be auto-hostile if you sat bomb anyone aside from them.  Getting angry at my faction for sat bombing a major faction or pirates means the indies become targets too for extermination.

I would be fine if pirate (and pather) reputation was locked at hostile.  Things get weird if I can maintain non-hostile relations with them (due to some game mechanics assuming hostility).
« Last Edit: April 09, 2019, 10:06:15 AM by Megas »


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Re: Living Factions, Minor factions, and Available Tech
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2019, 10:10:57 AM »

Alex has clearly stated somewhere else he didn't wanted to dive too far in 4x-like game. His argument IIRC is that he want the game stay focus on the player.

That said, the last version added some mechanics and game design that encourage the player to shape its game: destroying bases, defending your colony (at least in the beginning) selling bp packages, de-civilizing world, etc... i.e. the world will not change without the player. In regard to what you suggest, about growing and dying in faction, story-like event needing the player could be interesting. For example:
Hegemony want to create a new colony in a system not so far from Samara. Two possiblities:
-if you're commissioned by an ennemy of Hegemony, the colony will be created if you're not able to rout the colonization fleet in the next 3 months
-if you're commissioned by the Hegemony, the colony will need to be protect by you for the travel, and in the early life of the colony.

In this scenario, the player is actually involved in the story of the Sector, and is indeed needed is some cases.  This way of doing is in fact similar to the Elder Scrolls (Morrowind) in which the game is static but you're given opportunities to make it grow if you want to be involved.


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Re: Living Factions, Minor factions, and Available Tech
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2019, 06:54:36 AM »

Yeah, 4x isn't going to happen, even if the game would really lend itself to it. Maybe after 1.0 or in an expansion but it won't be any time soon.

That said, what MajorTheRed pointed out is within the scope of the game. Limited, player-driven missions or arcs that have a permanent impact on the Sector is I think what Alex is going for. Whether the player does it themselves or their omission to act causes a faction to get a foothold or change the dynamic is doable. Where the endgame goes, only Alex knows, but full-scale war where the factions do wipe out planets and such and the player has to toss their lot in with one (or none) of the belligerents is also within the realm of possibility. I don't think the sector will be fully dynamic, though perhaps heavily scripted to give a cursory illusion of it.