Hello everyone! Welcome back to our developer diary!
It’s been a busy week – yesterday we put out the new 0.887 patch which contained a number of player requested features such as research automation, new scout engines and a change to how max population is shown (at the moment this change is only visible on a colonized planet’s population screen, but it will be made available in other scenarios e.g. to planets not yet colonized).
Improving fleet management
One area of the game we get a lot of player feedback on is how awkward managing fleets can be (this was also highlighted in the recent player survey). It’s an area of the game we are constantly trying to improve, and this week we want to share with you some of the problems we’re currently working on and how we’re planning to solve them.
Not everything here has been finalized, so if you do have any ideas or suggestions based on what you see please let us know on the forum 🙂
Where’s my Scout?
Adding Dreadnoughts to the game brought a new challenge. How to show a 2km Dreadnought next to a 100m Scout in the same screen?
Even before the dreadnoughts arrival it wasn’t easy finding and selecting scouts and other small ships when zoomed in. After some thought we settled on the following:
- If the fleet is too far away it’s represented by a small triangle
- The fleet’s label – which should always be visible at this zoom level – can also be clicked to select the fleet (and manage it)
This makes it easier to switch from fleet to fleet in the same screen without annoying ‘pixel hunting’ to find a fleet you know is there but can’t find.
Confusion around flagship levels and fleet radius
Arguably the most frustrating thing about managing fleets is related to forming them:
- A freighter has a flagship level of 5 so you would expect to be able to group 5 of these freighters together into a fleet
- But if you try to do so via the fleet context menu the ‘merge fleet’ option isn’t available
- And if you try to manually do it, there just isn’t enough space to place one freighter into the fleet radius of another freighter
Why does this happen?
The original idea was that if a ship had a flagship level of 8, it would be possible to place 7 additional ships around it to form a fleet of 8.
But a tighter fleet radius was introduced to prevent too many large, powerful ships being combined into a single fleet. So it would be possible to form a fleet of 8 still, but only if the other ships in the fleet weren’t too big. If bigger ships were wanted, the total number of ships in the fleet would have to be less than the flagship level.
This was also a tool for balancing the civs. People’s Realm ships are more powerful, and the restricted fleet radius meant the more powerful of their ships could only form fleets with smaller ships rather than each other.
Well, it didn’t work out 🙂 It’s confusing for both new and veteran players alike.
How will we improve things?
1. Simplify flagship level
The flagship level will correspond to the maximum number of ships that could be formed into a ship around it e.g. flagship level 10 means 9 other ships could be merged around this ship to form a fleet of 10.
A fleet of dreadnaughts?
One possibility we’ve had to consider as part of these changes is whether it should be possible to form a fleet of dreadnaughts? For now, it won’t be. Dreadnaughts will be the one special case and their flagship level will be ‘flagship only’, which means that they can only be used as a flagship (and it wouldn’t be possible to have more than one in a fleet).
2. Increase the fleet radius
Significantly increasing the spatial distance a fleet can occupy means there won’t be any more trouble filling a fleet with ships (up to the flagship level).
A new fleet grid & splash damage
Increasing the size of space a fleet could occupy led to another issue to resolve. It could be too easy to counter splash damage done by missiles and torpedoes – completely neutralizing one of their key strengths – by spreading ships excessively far apart.
The solution to prevent that – as suggested by players – is to limit the distance between ships e.g. no ship in a fleet can be more than 300m away from another.
A new grid is being designed that will not only make it easier to gauge ship size and distance between ships, but to also evaluate which ships in the fleet could be caught up in a weapons splash damage depending which ship was struck.
3. Redoing manual fleet merging
At the moment, manually forming fleets by zooming in and dragging one ship from outside the fleet in to the fleet is clunky. It’s confusing and time consuming.
And it isn’t compatible with the other improvements we’ve outlined above e.g. increasing the space a fleet can occupy (plus the camera will lock over the fleet you are managing to prevent losing it or accidentally zooming away).
So for now it won’t be possible to manually form a fleet while zoomed in. But, we will likely implement something similar to how fleets can be split, but in reverse, so you can achieve something similar. Until then, fleets will need to be formed via the context menu option ‘merge fleet’.
Better automated formations when using ‘merge fleet’
Another improvement the increased fleet radius means is that the ‘merge fleet’ command can form fleets in a more strategically optimum way.
Currently, when fleets are merged using the context menu the ships are placed in a spiral formation with the first ship directly in front of the flagship (and preventing it from firing!). With these changes, ships will be added to the fleet horizontally to the left and right of the flagship (until you manage the fleet and change their formation).
So, what do you think? Sounds good? Any concerns? Let us know in the forum.
One last thing before we go. We closed the achievements sheet today. There were a lot of great ideas and suggestions, and now we’re busy processing them. Thank you all for participation! We’ll let you know when we’ve got something concrete 🙂
Aaand I guess that’s it for this week – it was a long one! Thank you all and till next time! 🙂