Starfarer 0.51a Release

Edit: The download links have been updated to point to a hotfix release that fixes a crash bug when clicking on an empty slot in any orbital station inventory.

Original blog post below.

First off – let’s talk about version numbers. The previous release was technically a “preview” of the 0.5a build “proper”, whatever that means. That was until I started thinking about how to version this “bugfixes & improvements” release, which still wouldn’t have all the features slated for 0.5a. 0.5a2? 0.5a-preview2?

I’ve had to sit through a few meetings with people arguing about version numbers at my various former jobs (seems like everyone doesn’t want to waste time with it, but also can’t stand doing it any way but theirs), and I don’t want to be that guy, especially not to myself. Down with the version number sophistry! This release will be known henceforth as 0.51a, and the next one will be… wait for it… 0.52a. I’ll just have to avoid specifying a version number when talking about planned feature sets, as I did with version 0.5a.

I’m sure everyone is quite sick of talking about version numbers by now (see what I mean? I didn’t want to waste time on this, and look what happened!), so let’s dive into what’s new in this version.

  • Improvements to the command system – new escort behavior and tasks chief among those
  • Ship balancing (slowed down some frigates, sped up most larger ships)
  • Hull mod balancing (added downsides to some of the best ones, buffed some of the weaker ones)
  • Added two new orbital stations (pirate & Tri-Tachyon), tweaked content progression
  • Larger ships now need less experienced crew
  • Re-worked post-battle surrender mechanics
  • Improvements to ship and admiral AI
  • Added several new medium-sized missile launcher weapons
  • Lots of bug fixes

The new version is not save-compatible. My apologies for that – but as the game is still in alpha, maintaining save compatibility just isn’t something we can do yet. Also, at least some (perhaps most) mods will be broken, so you should disable them before playing the new version. On the bright side, the changes in this version mean it will be much, much easier for multiple mods to work together without conflicts.

You can see the full list of changes here.


Please download the new version using the buttons below. You’ll have to reinstall the game, but shouldn’t need to enter the activation code again.

What’s Next?

It’s been a little while since we released the preview version of 0.35a and I thought I’d talk about where things are now, and what to expect for the next release.

The original plan was to add ship refitting and fully customizable battles – and then release the next version. After getting most of the way through the refit screen, though, I started to really get down to the details of implementing custom battles, and… well, let’s take a step back and look at what custom battles actually are.

A custom battle, as envisioned, would let the player pick the ships on each side and let you configure them, drawing from the full set of available ships and fighters (40+), weapons (50+), and hull modifications (10 and counting). This is all fine and dandy, but simply throwing a metric ton of content at the player does not a good experience make. Granted, it can be fun after one takes the time to sort through things, understands them, and really gets into it. I remember my eyes glazing over when opening the buy menu in Cortex Command for the first time, though – the shock of content overload can be harsh, and ways to avoid it are something to consider seriously.

The logical move is to create a gating mechanism that introduces ships and weapons gradually. Start the player off with access to a few ships and weapons. Let them fight a couple of battles and get used to these – and figure out what “normal” means for both ships and weapons. That way, they can see how each new, shiny hull or weapon introduced deviates from that, and why it’s special.

Wait a minute… this sounds like some kind of campaign – and we’re planning to have one of those in the game, too! The one where you manage your fleet, officers, and outposts, explore the sector, and get into all sorts of trouble. That’s the game I’m really excited about – not the isolated fleet actions in missions or custom battles. Any work to create a campaign-like framework around missions is a waste in the long run. It’s stepping on the toes of the real campaign, would get nixed when it comes along, and just won’t be a good fit for the way things are set up now – because they’re set up with the real campaign in mind. In short, the result would be a hack.

What then? No time like the present to start work on the campaign, I say. In the last couple of days, we’ve been thinking through what a good starting set of features is, and have arrived at something I’m comfortable with.

What is in the initial feature set, you ask? With the caveat that the specifics will almost certainly change:

  • fleet management and upgrades – start with a frigate and work your way up to more and larger ships and weapons
  • pick your battles – take on large roaming enemy fleets for fast advancement, or prey on the weak in relative safety
  • advance your character’s skills with several viable paths (optional for the initial campaign release, but fairly likely)

It’ll take longer to implement than custom battles would, of course – but it’ll also introduce the beginnings of a persistent world. I’m very excited to finally start on it – after just about two years working on Starfarer, it’s about time!

Forum Blog Media FAQ Features Digg it!! Share this on Facebook Reddit Stumbleupon it! Technorati Tweet it! Download Starsector for Linux Download Starsector for Mac Download Starsector for Windows Preorder