Hello everyone and welcome back!
The next patch is just about ready, and we’re expecting to release it on Monday/Tuesday. One set of changes that will be included are related to fleet management (which we previewed in last week’s post).
Another will be the first version of the (optional) planet management assistant, which we wanted to go over here, as well as automation in general and what we’re thinking.
Automating parts of the game
With gameplay in Outscape taking place in a persistent, real-time galaxy, one of the most important aspects is that even when a player is offline their empire is active. Fleets keep moving, buildings constructing and technology researching. Likewise, your enemies also never sleep 🙂 NPC pirates and enemy players can attack your fleets or your colonies while you’re at work, driving, lying on the couch etc.
Which is why some degree of automation is a must, to keep the game moving and to make sure players that can’t get online frequently can still compete in a galaxy with players that can.
Automation already in the game
In patch 0.887 we added the new automated research feature. If you have this option enabled and your research queue is empty, a new technology will automatically be selected and researched (it will be the technology with the shortest research time – or randomly selected between those with the same research time if there is more than one).
Fleet guard mode
A fleet in orbit of a planet will automatically attempt to defend the planet by attacking another player’s fleet that joins it in orbit (unless the fleet itself isn’t armed).
It’s not configurable right now, but the plan is to make it so, e.g. don’t attempt to attack a fleet it has absolutely no chance against, if it’s a scout etc.
Planet management assistant
The next patch to be released brings the first version of the planet management assistant. As well as lending a hand to offline players, it should also reduce routine micromanagement a bit.
It’s something you’ll be able to turn on or off. When it’s on, a player will still have full control of their colony, but 3-4 times a day this function will boot up and attempt to do something like construct a building or adjust the tax rate.
What it actually does will depend on the state of the colony and the available resources. The following list shows how it has currently been configured (it will start at the top and work its way down when the preceding condition is no longer applicable):
- If happiness is decreasing and you have enough resources and population, it will automatically decrease your tax rate and construct a new entertainment center
- If happiness is decreasing and the tax rate has already been reduced to zero, it will recycle a mine (which contributes negatively to happiness)
- If the population is reaching its limit and you have enough resources and power, it will construct a new farm
- If power usage is reaching its limit and you have enough population and resources, it will construct a new power station
- If you have enough resources, power, population, happiness and there is a resource deposit on the planet, it will construct a new mine for this resource (only one mine per resource at a time, and no more will be built once the mining rate cap per hour is reached)
- If no more mines should be built, it will attempt to upgrade existing mines (one mine per resource at a time). For now, it won’t upgrade farms, power stations or military bases. Only mines.
- If you have enough resources, power and population it will construct a new military base (the lowest priority of tasks)
As this is the first version, there may be some bugs or ‘unintended features’ we’ll need your help finding, something we’ve overlooked, so please let us know in the forum if you come across anything – once it’s been released of course 😉
After everyone has had a chance to test this new feature and depending on the feedback we get, the next step would be to add more specialized options e.g. to choose a priority such as mining, population growth, defense, and the planet management assistant will work towards that goal on your behalf (and get properly named, Planet Governor?). So the player remains in the driving seat, but is spared having to manually carry out each step, and is instead free to focus on something else.
Being able to configure and automate freighting is a must. We know players really want this and we’re looking forward to getting started on it.
Scouting is something else players have brought up. For example, sending a fleet to explore a star system, and the fleet automatically surveys each planet and reports back with a summary of that system (rather than the player having to manually send the fleet from planet to planet themselves).
If there’s anything else you think we should be prioritizing over these, we want to hear about it!
Getting the balance right
Automation can be very helpful, but there is also the risk that it can go too far and take too much out of the game. Players that can invest more time into the game should be rewarded, but those that can’t should still find the game enjoyable to play when they return online – and getting this balance right can be tricky.
We think that being able to configure automated freighting and scouting all planets in a system benefits everyone – tools that reduce monotony. But we have to be very careful with features like the planet management assistant, that rather than taking over, they lend the player a helping hand and carry out a strategic decision made by the player on their behalf e.g. automating construction to increase a planet’s defensive capabilities.
That’s it for today. Thank you all and see you next time…