Raids, Bombardments, and Planetary Defenses

Ever since reading Space Viking, I’ve wanted to add planet-raiding to Starsector. Of course, one simply doesn’t add a feature because one has read about something cool; we need to have good reasons for adding raiding to the game, and in particular for adding it for this release, which already has quite a lot of stuff in it.

What makes it necessary at this stage? The new economy system allows the player to generate a constant income stream by becoming the best supplier of, say, fuel or transplutonics. One way to do that is for them to build up their own operation and improve its accessibility. The flip side is knocking the competition down a peg or two, and raiding is a natural fit here.

raid_strengths

So, that’s the main reason – but adding a new feature also presents an opportunity to make other improvements to the overall design.

After establishing the main goals, it’s natural to move on to the question of choices. After all, a game is more or less just a series of interesting choices. “What interesting choices does raiding offer to the player?”, then, seems like a reasonable starting point. Unfortunately, it’s a lazily phrased question, and that could get us in trouble.
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The State Of Affairs

The Now is what the ancients would call “year 3126.” We do not call it that anymore. It is pointless to cite large numbers that remind us how far we had come, and how far we have fallen. Since we do not even know where Old Earth is anymore, and cannot reach it – we use a new way of telling time, the sector cycle. In our sector of space, it is cycle 206.

Not much is known about the ancient past. What we know is what survivors recorded or told us. They described a vast galactic nation – the Domain of Man. Spanning hundreds of thousands of worlds in the Milky Way, ruled by the Ecumenical Benevolent Council, with its seat at Old Earth… It is told that one could travel the stars in the blink of an eye through gates constructed by the men of the Domain. Resources were nearly limitless, growth was not bound. Our sector was relatively new on the scene. Some worlds in it had only been settled for 20 or so cycles before the great calamity. The populations of the planets in our sector were still giddy with the initial excitement that every new venture brings. The sector was truly a heaven that we can now only dream of, hoping we go to a place like it when we die.

No one knows for sure what caused the end of this paradise. The records and stories only tell us bits and pieces. Exactly 206 cycles ago, all gates in our sector went dead at once. All communication links to the Domain were severed. Initially, there was no great disturbance in the daily lives of the colonists, it was assumed the gates would be reopened by the Domain, and communications reestablished. So they waited. But the gates were silent.

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