Starsector 0.95a Release

Update #6 (04/22/21, 3:40pm EST): one more build fixing an issue with the main story line. Please re-download using the links below.

Update #5 (04/21/21, 1:20pm EST): a new build with many bug fixes and a few balance adjustments; full list of changes here). Please re-download using the links below.

Update #4 (03/29/21, 6:00pm EST): a hotfix for one more save loading crash, and some other tweaks/adjustments/fixes; full list here).

Update #3 (03/29/21, 6:00pm EST): a hotfix for another save loading crash, a fleet interaction crash, a soft-lock in a specific conversation, and some other issues (list of changes here) is out.

Update #2 (03/27/21, 7:30pm EST): another hotfix for a savefile loading crash, free d-mod removal bug, and several other issues (list of changes here) is out.

Update (03/26/21, 9:30pm EST): a hotfix for several issues, most notably graphical and input issues caused by the memory management launcher option (list of changes here) is out.

Starsector version 0.95a is now out! Here are some of the new things you can do in this release:

  • Complete story missions and uncover some of the mysteries of the Sector
  • Face new endgame enemies and acquire their technology, including new weapons and a unique capital-class ship
  • Make playstyle-altering choices using a revamped skill system
  • Customize your playthrough – mentor officers, specialize colonies, make permanent alterations to ships, and more
  • Raid the core worlds for what you need using a targeted raid system
  • Improve your colonies using lost technology
  • Build relationships with contacts and gain new opportunities
  • Take on many new types of bounties, choosing the challenge level you want
  • Incorporate automated ships into your fleet

Some of the other additions and changes in this release include:

  • UI scaling and support for 4k monitors
  • Ship AI and combat balance/gameplay improvements
  • Several new ships
  • Mercenary officers that temporarily increase the strength of your fleet
  • Many modding-related improvements
  • Numerous quality-of-life and other improvements

This is by far not an exhaustive list. The full patch notes, and the comment thread, areĀ here. You can download the new version here:

(Alternate download links, please try the above first: Windows Mac Linux)

As always, thank you for your support! I couldn’t do this without you.

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Of Slipstreams and Sensor Ghosts

Technically, the next release was meant to be a “bugfixing and polish” release. It’s true that the skill system update already pushes the boundaries of that, but still, we’ve somehow ended up with some major new features, too, which will be discussed in this post. The short answer to “how did we get here” is “weeeeell, one thing led to another, and before you know it…”

I’d actually like to give a longer answer, too. The first thing I want to say, though, is that this is ok! Ultimately, it’s all stuff that was going to be in the game one way or another (though the specific form would depend on exactly how it happened), so as long as it’s added in a way that lets it fit into the existing mechanics nicely, it’s all good.

I could have held off on adding these until a later release – there’s something to be said for sticking with a plan. But also, I think it’s important to take advantage of inspiration when it strikes – and to occasionally, have some fun!
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Skill Changes, Part 2

Part one of this two-part blog post is here.

In this part, let’s dive into a few details about specific skills, and some other points note. I don’t want to go through every single change – just highlight some interesting tidbits, and a couple of the bigger changes.

Elite skills
One of the goals was to do a pass over the “elite” effects of the combat skills and make them more interesting/powerful/appealing. For example, Helmsmanship’s elite effect now – in addition to its original “0-flux boost at any level” effect – grants a flat +5 to top speed, making it a consideration for slower ships. Combat Endurance and Damage Control got some brand-new, fun elite effects.

Combat Endurance brings back the “repair ship hull during combat” effect from several versions ago – repairs up to 25% of the hull level, with total repairs not exceeding the higher of 50% of the hull, or, as of right now, 2000 points. With Combat Endurance being a skill that’s great for small ships, the elite effect is, too, because of the potential to repair far more than 50% of the hull over the course of a battle.

Damage Control’s elite effect grants a reduction to large hull hits – any hull hit above a certain threshold of damage has the portion above the threshold reduced by (again, as of right now) 60%. No-one plans on being hit by a Reaper torpedo, but still, neutralizing that much damage when things go wrong is going to have a lot of appeal. To make the skill not completely neutralize the strike potential of certain weapons, this effect only triggers at most once every two seconds.

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Skill Changes, Part 1

The skill system – the one in the currently released version, 0.95a – has some things about it that I like, and some things that I don’t think worked out particularly well. One feature is in both categories – “pick one of two skills at every tier”. In some cases, it works well and you have an interesting choice to make. In other cases, the skills don’t lend themselves as well to it, and it ends up feeling unnecessarily restrictive.

The other high-level feature of the system that I really like is the ability to have some top-tier skills that you need to invest into an aptitude to get, and that can be powerful and game-changing. You can’t have that in a system where you can cherry-pick any skill you want at any time.

So, the goal of these adjustments is to keep the progression and high-impact choices, and add more freedom where “pick one of two” doesn’t have a compelling reason behind it.

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A Tale of Two Tech Levels

This blog post is a tricky one to write – all the pieces are interrelated, and figuring out where to start, and how much background info to provide – to make sure this is comprehensible without having a PhD in Starsectology… well, right, tricky. So, let’s start by taking a brief step back and looking at the kinds of ships there are in the game. There are lots of ways to slice that pie, too, but let’s look at tech levels – namely, “Low Tech” and “High Tech”. There are others, and it gets blurry in places, but for this post, these two are what’s important.

The key thing is that high tech is not intended to be better than low tech, just a different way of doing things. High tech has speed, good shields, and fairly inefficient (but varied!) lower-ranged weapons. Low tech is slower and more ponderous, has high armor and hull integrity, with efficient longer-ranged weapons. The dynamics you get when they face each other is that high tech ships dart in and out of engagement range, relying on shields to see them through, while low tech ships try to make them pay a price for closing in. This is simplifying things a great deal, of course, and there are exceptions, but this is a high-level overview.

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