In last Sunday’s dev diary post we revealed that the next patch would include the ability ‘to give a fleet or planet to another player’, but didn’t provide any details. Understandably players had questions and concerns on how it would work, which we’ll go over now in today’s dev diary post.
Trade mechanics for fleets and planets
The first thing we should clarify is that although we used the term ‘give’, ‘allowing another player to take ownership’ is more accurate as the other player is under no obligation to accept the fleet or planet that you offer to them – much like a trade.
These features are an early form of trade mechanics that would eventually be integrated into something more comprehensive e.g. being able to propose, negotiate and complete a deal. They’re also social mechanics and tie-in to alliances e.g. being able to transfer control of a fleet to an alliance member (a temporary loan if they transfer control back over).
Transferring a planet to another player
Right now, the only way to transfer ownership of a planet to another player is through force – a successful ground invasion – even if both players are in agreement!
The new mechanic will allow one player to ‘stand down’ their planet’s ground defenses which will allow another player to colonize it and for ownership to then transfer to them:
- By default, a planet’s ground defenses are ‘on alert’ (orbit defense will attack fleets, another player would have to invade to take the planet).
- A player will be able to ‘stand down’ their planet’s ground defenses (orbit defense will not attack fleets, another player would then be able to colonize that planet to take it through a normal colonizer).
- Only players that are informed by the owner (e.g. via discord) or have a fleet in orbit will know that this planet’s ground defenses have been ‘stood down’ – but there is nothing to prevent any player from colonizing it during this time. Hence this is somewhat of a calculated risk.
- Until the planet is colonized/taken by another player, it continues to function as normal, and the owning player can put ground defenses back ‘on alert’ at any time (so if some unintended player does find out and make a beeline for the planet with a colonizer – the owner can put ground defenses back ‘on alert’ to slam the door shut again).
- The same mechanics for colonizing an unpopulated planet apply (it must be a colonization vessel equipped with a colonization module and colonists)
- Initially, ‘standing down’ ground forces won’t disable ‘guard mode’ for fleets in orbit, so unless a player wants an encroaching colonizer attacked, they will have to move them out of orbit (or, IT’S A TRAP!)
- The usage of this feature is totally optional, if players choose not to use it the game plays the same as it does now.
Therefore the ‘transferring ownership of a planet to another player’ mechanic delivers the same end result as an invasion – but minus the conflict.
Transferring a fleet to another player
Implementing a fleet transfer mechanic that enabled a player to transfer a fleet to another player of a different civ could have far-reaching consequences. It could bring an interesting twist, but it’s more likely it would lead to issues with balance.
For that reason it will only be possible to trade/transfer a fleet to another player of the same civ. This also brings an interesting gameplay situation as players working together with the same civ get the benefit of ship/fleet tradability.
How will it work?
1. The owner of fleet A wants to offer it to the owner of fleet B
2. The owner of fleet A first selects it, then selects fleet B to open the fleet context menu, and then chooses ‘Offer fleet to player’
3. The owner of fleet B now sees fleet A as purple (instead of red) indicating it has been offered to them
4. The owner of fleet B can now select fleet A and click the button to ‘Accept ownership’ of the fleet
5. Fleet A now belongs to the owner of fleet B
- Both players must be playing the same civ e.g. a Mankind player can only transfer a fleet to another Mankind player.
- A fleet can only be offered to another player that is visible in standard sensor range (this proximity requirement ensures that players can’t just give away fleets to random far away players). In the above example the fleet is offered via another player’s fleet, but we plan to make it also possible via a visible planet.
- After offering a fleet to another player, moving it again will cancel the offer.
- If the other player doesn’t accept the fleet transfer within 7 days it’s automatically cancelled.
- The transfer can’t be hijacked – only the player offered the fleet can accept it.
Player feedback and concerns
Both mechanics presented above incorporate the feedback we’ve seen from players historically and very recently following last week’s dev diary. Most questions and concerns we saw should have been answered in the design presentations themselves above, but there were a couple of concerns raised by players that we could not satisfy 100%, we’ll look at them separately now:
Trading a fleet containing technology the receiving player hasn’t researched
Trading a fleet could equip a receiving player with physical tech they haven’t yet researched, our thesis is the pros outweigh the cons. This mechanic gives a receiving player the freedom to specialize in one area, and leverage this to acquire what they need from other players. They still won’t be able to produce the technology themselves (receiving a tech won’t unlock it for the player on the tech tree) so choosing this path would carry its own risks.
Trading fleets also makes it possible (with the support of one or more other players) to restart or join a galaxy in mid or late game and have a reasonable chance of success.
Furthermore, players being able to purchase technology they’re not capable of producing themselves would mirror what happens in the real world e.g. one country purchasing fighter jets from another. The ‘same civ only’ and ‘proximity’ limitations described above ensures that this mechanic cannot be overused.
Alliance members boosting new players
Another concern from players is that alliances with early-joiners will be able to dominate by recruiting late-joiners and giving them fleets of warships. Early-joiners will likely have hit the limit of fleets their empire can support but still have the infrastructure in place to build more, so it would be in their best interests to turn that capacity towards strengthening their allies.
This concern is valid, but is it instead an issue with balance and growth mechanics rather than the ability to trade itself? Early-joiners in an alliance transferring fleets to late-joiners also gives more options for a late-joiner to compete – because right now they have little chance to do so.
Why are we doing this now when it’s not on our roadmap?
These features weren’t listed on the Roadmap to Beta, but they were on an earlier roadmap, started, then shelved temporarily (it’s not always possible to cover every roadmap item in detail). Plans to do them were then brought back in January’s Q1 2019 Outscape Roadmap & Survey Findings post and mentioned again in the Current Priorities & Role of the Community post. And right now it’s fairly easy to get them done as we’re building the technology foundation for social elements of gameplay e.g. alliances, player profiles and chat. Finally, we recognize that players want more to do, and with alliances still some way off, this should open up more gameplay opportunities in the current galaxy.
That’s it for now, thanks for reading and let us know on the forum if there’s anything else you’d like to discuss on these topics.
We’ll be back soon
– The Outscape dev team