With the release of Ship Modding, I wanted to take a moment for some reflection. When I came on as producer I stated three main goals: a full and detailed pass on all the classes, a rework of weapon and armor modding, and finally ship modding. I did not necessarily expect this to take six months, but nevertheless I’m proud to say these goals have been accomplished at last. Along the way we have had some bonus additions that make me quite proud: resource-rich asteroids, ship weapon and module tweaks, and resource crushing and compressing.
At some points in the journey things sure seemed a bit bleak. I can be quite uncompromising when it comes to seeing out my original vision for something. When it came to designing Shipmodding, I knew I would need to seriously overhaul how ship stats are handled in order to achieve things like dynamic halon costs and such. Some stages of the process became quite challenging, and motivation was at an all time low. It took some time to overcome, but in the end we got there!
The Long Term
But that’s enough looking backwards. Where next? One of my main sticking points is the game’s long-suffering “Beta” sticker. Honestly, I don’t think we’re going to leave Beta any time soon. There are simply too many bugs (albeit minor ones for the most part), and too many systems that require fleshing out. My long-term goal is to get the game to a place where Damiel and I, and the higher-ups at IRE, feel confident removing that tag. The capstone project in this long term vision is the much-alluded-never-discussed Colonization system, which still remains a loose design. I’m not going to discuss specifically what we have in mind for Colonization in the future, nor a timeline. I will say that Colonization should be a common meeting place for just about every activity in the game, a convergence of space and ground exploration, space and ground PvP and PvE, and an important cornerstone of economy and industry. There’s no point in pouring our resources into such a system until all the contributing elements are where we want them, but there’s also no point in working on those contributing elements without some idea of what Colonization is going to look like.
The Intermediate Term
There’s no shortage of work to do, that’s for certain. But when I look at the list of activities above one sticks out as a particular priority, and that is economy and industry, which is where I intend to focus my efforts for the next while. My intention is that incremental updates to the economy will enhance the depth of the simulation of a stellar sector engaged in continuous activity. Ideally, this should as much as possible bring the Starmourn Sector to life, teeming with points of interest and NPC spacefarers engaged in one task or another, mundane, heroic, or villainous, who you might choose to aid, hinder, or ignore. New space activities are going to gel well with new ship modules to support them, and since the ship stat refactor is in, new modules are going to be easier than ever to incorporate. I’d particularly like to focus more on electronic warfare and improved interdiction options and the counterpart of electronic countermeasures and “counterinterdiction.”
This is going to be pretty important for the next “Big System” I intend to work on in the intermediate term, which will be Space Trucking. The design of this system is basically complete, and the intent is to create content not just for prospective cargo haulers. We’d like space trucking to be a comprehensive system that supports industrialists needing goods transported and we’d also like to create space for both NPC and player piracy. Basically every zone would get a piracy rating: the higher the rating, the greater the likelihood and greater the strength of a pirate assault on a cargo ship.
Space truckers would have a regular supply of cargo contracts both NPC generated and player made. But if there are no player cargo pilots to haul the goods in a timely manner, an NPC cargo ship will take the job. NPC cargo ships aren’t abstract. They’ll exist and fly in space from point A to point B using a simplified, somewhat cheaty autopilot algorithm that’s easier on processing. And they can be attacked by prospective player pirates. Piracy rating in a zone will be a dynamic figure which can be then influenced by players who wish to take up the banner of anti-piracy and take part in counter-piracy missions, but can also be reduced via more passive means such as the presence of factional Armadas or Cosmpiercer ownership.
We would like cargo ships to drop at least some amount of what they contain for the pirates to seize, and we also want contractors to demand collateral and for player cargo pilots to have some insurance against collateral, but this will need to be a carefully crafted system with protections to make sure it’s not exploitable as a license to print marks.
That’s all way more detail than I was intending to reveal, so don’t be surprised if the end product looks a bit different and don’t expect the system’s release to be just right around the corner. It’ll be ready when it’s ready.
The Short Term
In the short term, however, there are some rather crucial quality of life updates to the economy to help players work together and then also get their products to market in a less unwieldy way. The first step here then is organizational market orders and offers, which will take a fair bit of work. Another limitation right now is that in order to cooperate in industry, you need to be either in the same faction or in the same dynasty. Thus we’d also like to extend faction and dynasty storage to include clan storage, so that more ad hoc groupings of people can work together without needing to share a surname or a factional allegiance. Aside from all this I have some other ideas for market and industry quality of life with a focus on small tweaks that go a long way. This is basically what I’ll be working on starting now along with the normal bug-squashing.
I think I’ve spilled the beans overmuch already, so I’m going to stop. I’m really excited for the future of Starmourn and we invite you to come along for the ride! See you in the Sector