Starsector 0.95a Release

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). Please re-download using the links below.

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, are 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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Writing Starsector

The next update will add strong narrative RPG elements to Starsector, among other things.

I feel no small amount of trepidation because this is both a change and it is a particular story about particular characters in a way the pure sandbox certainly isn’t. This necessarily constrains your – the player’s – experience of the game-fantasy and the meta-game fantasy of an “unfinished game” which has the potential to become everyone’s dreams in a free-floating quantum state… until you see it for real and it turns out it isn’t quite what you dreamed.

I suppose this seems like an awfully negative way to start off; this is what I mean about trepidation. And I am legitimately excited about sharing more of the world of Starsector, letting players dive in a bit closer and get a feel for what it’s like for people that live in this world. Find out what they think, find out a bit more about why movers and shakers move like they do. If I may say so, I think we’ve done some pretty good work!

The written wordcount has already exceeded the minimum definition for a novel (50k) a few times over by now. I’ve attempted Nanowrimo a few times in the past and always choked almost instantly. My experience writing Starsector has been a stark contrast – the words just flow! It seems so obvious, most of the time, what comes next, what feels right to be said. I suspect part of it is the constraint of the medium focusing creativity, but it may also perhaps be the very clear connection to an audience (that’s y’all out there!). A novel feels a bit like a bunch of words floating out  in (ha) space. A game, however, has a player. They must actively engage and progress. I know a player is committed in a way a reader isn’t. (Which probably isn’t at all true; people read books, after all. I’ve even read one or two in my day.)

Whatever it is, maybe I can’t rationalize it. But something works here for me in a way that hasn’t elsewhere. I’ll take it.

Let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this.

We’ve had to deal with certain constraints and design problems while adding written content to Starsector. Some of these are faced by all games which use writing, some are particular to the context of Starsector. I am not going to talk about any specific narrative beats or plot details, but I will talk about how the narrative is structured, so from a certain point of view one could derive meta-spoilers from this blog post. I think the most pure and magical way to experience Starsector would be with no foreknowledge of any of this, so I’ll give you fair warning now: if you don’t want to know anything, stop reading.

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Personal Contacts

One of the bigger tasks for this release cycle has been adding new content into the game. Since a lot of it is story content – think the “Red Planet” mission, but on a bigger scale with things tying together and building up – it’s not something that I can really talk about without spoiling it.

But, not all the new missions are “story” missions. A lot of them missions are just new things you can do in the game, without being unique one-offs. Consider, for example, the current missions to scan a derelict, survey a planet, or collect a bounty – these new missions are all roughly along these lines, with of course more variety thrown in.

The question is, how do we make them available to the player?
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GIF Roundup

I’ve been working on a lot of content recently – some hand-crafted missions, new weapons (and ships), some endgame material, and so on. While that’s all terribly exciting, it unfortunately doesn’t leave me with a whole lot I can talk about without spoiling things. There is another feature I’m working up to – somewhere at the intersection of “mechanics” and “content”, a bit more the latter – that I’ll be able to talk about (at least, if it pans out), but that’s still a little ways off.

In the meantime, I thought I’d revisit some of the gifs I posted on twitter while working on a new set of weapons. (There are also ships that go with these weapons, but those are not to be talked about, I’m afraid. Hegemony COMSEC was quite clear on the subject.) I’ll also talk a bit more about the effects, so even if you’ve seen these already, there’ll be something new – and there may be one or two you might have missed, even if you’ve been following along!

First, a picture of the glorious mess these can produce when employed against a hapless Paragon. This is a bit over the top; I wouldn’t imagine things would look quite this extreme very often.

(Lest you think I hate Paragons, since they seem to be commonly used for target practice: it’s only because they’re the only thing sturdy enough, I swear.)

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Painting the Stars

You may have seen this post by Alex come up on your TriPad™ last month – click to visit the lovely original video.

See also a related TriMedia Experience here.

Clearly, something’s up with at least one star or Domain-era tech definitely-safe star-like object. I’m not here to say what’s precisely what or how you players will inevitably try (and succeed) to exploit the mechanics of it, but more to speak about the artistic method to in portraying said star-adjacent objects and/or activities.

Well. I’ll have to spoil a little bit to explain how I’m approaching artistic these problems, so buckle up and be on alert for a COMSEC lockdown. This is the deep-dive digital painting post the Hegemony doesn’t want you to know about!

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