Hello again Starmourn and welcome back to another devblog! Today, we’ll be talking about our plans to overhaul Cosmpiercers and our new Mercenary system. We’ll also touch on Caches, Energy, Crystals, and Vouchers, and end off with a general progress update on the Conflict Rework as a whole. These changes will arrive in multiple phases, with the first release covering Cosmpiercers and Mercenaries coming very soon, March 1st. Lots to cover today, so let’s get started!
Locking it down
First up, the life cycle of Cosmpiercers has been reworked somewhat. Cosmpiercers now have 5 “states”: Immune, Vulnerable, Lockdown, Besieged, and Rebooting. Immunity and Vulnerability work the same as before, on the same 4 hour window. We may in the future explore giving factions some control over vulnerability window, but nothing set in stone.
When you kill the generators on a factional Cosmpiercer, the siege no longer begins immediately. Instead, the Cosmpiercer enters Lockdown for around 24 hours. Kill the generators at 17:30 on Sunday, and the siege will begin on the hour, 17:00 on Monday. This allows defending factions to plan ahead, gather their forces, and show up to defend their hard-won Cosmpiercers. We want Cosmpiercers to be the major conflict flashpoints they are intended to be.
Ishvana Cosmpiercers do not enter Lockdown, but are besieged immediately after destroying the generators. More on that later!
After a siege ends, the Cosmpiercer now enters a 10 minute Rebooting phase. Anyone still on the Cosmpiercer after 10 minutes will be killed as the Cosmpiercer reactivates its defense routines. Ships with players on them will be launched into space, and ships without players on them will be safely towed back to their home station. No more need to rescue your ships from Cosmpiercers.
May I capture your attention, please?
Once the Cosmpiercer is besieged, we now have overhauled mechanics for capturing it.
Cosmpiercers still have 3 control points, but they come in 3 different types:
- Hacking Control Point: As before, successfully hack a terminal to gain control.
- Ground Control Point: When there’s only one faction in the room, the control point will start capturing for that faction. Once it reaches 100%, the faction is locked in as its controller. If the controlling faction is not in room but other factions are, the control is gradually lost until it becomes de-captured again.
- Space Control Point: Spawns 30-50su away from the Cosmpiercer when the siege begins. Ships must enter a 5su radius around it to start capturing it. Otherwise, it works the same as Ground Control Points.
On launch, Cosmpiercers will spawn 1 of each of these 3 types. However, code support is there to spawn any odd number of control points in any distribution. To spice things up as we progress season to season, we can modify particular Cosmpiercers to spawn, for instance, 2 space control points and 1 hack control point, making space supremacy key for this particular Cosmpiercer.
The old Influence capture system is also gone. If you’re unaware, Cosmpiercers currently use a “tug of war for points”-style capture system. So long as a faction has more control points than others, it starts gaining influence, or removing the influence from the current winning faction. The problem with this system is that it demands you show up to the fight very quickly to have a chance of winning the Cosmpiercer. You could very well show up, wipe the opposing faction, capture all the points, but still fail to drain the faction’s Influence and lose.
Instead, all factions now start with 500 Victory Points (VP) and lose 1 VP per second for each Control Point other factions have more than them. If Scatterhome has 2 Control Points and CA has 1, CA would lose 1 VP, Song would lose 3, and Scatterhome would lose none. If all 3 factions have 1 Control Point, then each faction would lose 1 VP. If no one has any Control Points, then no VP are lost. The winning faction is a) the faction with VP remaining after others have drained, b) the faction with the most VP after 40 minutes, or c) in a case of a tie, the defending faction, else a random one if the tied factions are not the defenders. This new setup allows factions to show up late to a Cosmpiercer and, even if they only have 1 VP remaining, still pull off a victory.
Ishvana Cosmpiercers have received a huge upgrade. They are now a PvE experience, where Open PK is disallowed. If you’ve been following our devblogs, you’ll know already know that our motivation is to create a place where factions can onboard their factionmates to Cosmpiercer mechanics, and we feel like this will not take space away from PvP content, but rather will invigorate it.
These come in two varieties: Ishvana Defenses and Ishvana Assaults. The “blitz invasions” used to reset Cosmpiercer ownership are now defensible. Factions receive a warning 24 hours in advance that the Ishvana is preparing an assault on their Cosmpiercer. Within that 24 hour period, they can muster their forces, fly to the Cosmpiercer zone, and those with the power can then COSMPIERCER TRIGGER to start the Ishvana invasion. If no invasion is triggered after 24 hours, the Ishvana will simply swoop in and conduct one of their “blitz invasions” as before.
During Ishvana assaults and defenses, the Ishvana will show up in force, with the strength of the Ishvana forces dependent on the rank of the Cosmpiercer. They will bring ships familiar from Ishvana Fleet Incursions. They will also bring Troop Carriers which can show up as nimble Interceptors, armored Freighters, or heavily-armored Superhaulers, again depending on the Cosmpiercer’s rank. Troop Carriers will attempt to dock and, if successful, will unleash a crew of Ishvana Operatives into the Cosmpiercer. Similar to Overseers, Operatives use class abilities, but also fight and move together. Successive docked Troop Carriers will deposit Vihana and top up the numbers of any Operatives that have died.
With this setup, it is possible via space supremacy to prevent the Ishvana from docking at all, assuming you have talented enough pilots who can pull it off.
Ishvana ships attempt to capture any Space Control points. Operatives, on the other hand, will attempt to capture any Control Points inside the Cosmpiercer. They even hack the terminals, leaving behind hacking bodies you can attack!
Mercenaries for Hire
IRE games are no stranger to the woes of factional population imbalances. There is no silver bullet solution to this, but it is a problem that affects everyone. Starmourn is blessed with what is, to me, the perfect number of factions. Having exactly 3 factions means that 2 factions are able to gang up on 1, when necessary to maintain the integrity of competitive content and ensure everyone gets to have fun on more-or-less equal terms. And since the overall theme of the conflict rework has factions pitted against one another for the greater good, there is hopefully some in-character motivation for factions to balance the scales.
To support this, we are introducing a Mercenary system. Individuals can post themselves as mercenaries for hire, with an hourly fee in Marks. Faction members with the Mercenary power are then able to hire mercenaries on behalf of their faction. If the mercenary agrees, they will be treated as part of the hiring faction for the purposes of capturing Control Points on Cosmpiercers for a set period of time agreed upon when the contract is initiated. This allows for a free-form approach to factional allegiance for the purposes of conflict systems, opening the door for new character archetypes such as freelancing privateers or entire mercenary companies.
We’ve made sure to include a reputation system. After a contract concludes, contractors can rate and review the mercenary’s services. Space Yelp, but for people who kill.
Also note that while the Mercenary system was designed with Conflict systems in mind, the system is totally free-form and can be used for whatever purpose players wish. Individuals, not just factions, are also able to hire mercenaries, should they want to hire someone to take them hunting, go exploring with them, hack terminals for them, anything at all! Mercenaries in their postings are able to describe the nature of their services, which need not be combat-related at all.
And now, the laundry
And now, a list of other miscellaneous changes going in:
- COSMPIERCER BLOCKADE added. In a short range around a Cosmpiercer, you can prevent ships of other factions from docking. Ishvana Troop Carriers are able to blockade run, but their docking takes longer. We’re going to experiment with this a bit and see how it plays out. We may need to dial it down some, or else create some method for player blockade runner ships.
- COSMPIERCER WARP is no longer an unlockable ability, but returned to a default power. Anyone is able to warp their ship to a besieged Cosmpiercer.
- WARP has been replaced with CREWWARP. This powerful ability works just like the ability it is replacing, but allows you to warp all ships in your crew nearby you to the destination besieged Cosmpiercer zone. You’ll also land closely clustered together, preventing the need to form up after normal WARP scatters you and your faction mates randomly.
- Items on ships remain completely in tact if your ship dies and is insured.
- If your ship is insured, the bulk of your commodities will now carry over after ship destruction. Part of them will be destroyed, and the rest will drop.
- Interdiction webs no longer deployable right next to Cosmpiercers. Also not deployable near Space Control Points.
- Overload now has a max of 60su, down from 120su; its cooldown is reduced from 60s to 30s. This allows you to overload the same distance as before when cruising, but should improve space combat a bit where ships just disappear straight off of beacon.
- COSMPIERCER LOCKDOWN as we knew it is now gone.
- Cosmpiercers now have cloning rooms. When you die on a Cosmpiercer, you will respawn in an unmapped cloning room with 3 one-way exits into the Cosmpiercer. If you wish to leave the fray, you can simply RECLONE. The cloning room is peaced, preventing all forms of aggression. You will not be able to move by any means for 2 minutes (with the exception of RECLONE), allowing all classes plenty of time to get their defenses up. As with facilities, you can also repair your gear or even change your class in this room, should you wish to switch up your approach.
- Cosmpiercer participant tracking is more reliable. So long as you’re in any ship in the Cosmpiercer zone, or ever set foot on the Cosmpiercer, you will be marked as a participant.
- Vouchers will be changing, but in the interim, vouchers are awarded for simply participating, no longer requiring victory. The same is the case for faction Influence for Song and SH.
- Terminal lockout timers for Cosmpiercers have been reduced to the minimum.
- Cleared out all the legacy Cosmpiercer bugs. Definitely didn’t add any new ones, either…
- Currently, PvP ship combat is over way too fast given the stakes. While we’ve lessened the stakes of losing your ship, we want there to be more room for skill expression in ship PvP. These changes will not go live immediately with the initial release, but will be an iterative, ongoing process. The goals of these changes are as follows: Make player ships take longer to kill, opening up more opportunity for play and counterplay; Scale PvE space combat appropriately so it remains mostly unaffected; Make interdiction and electronic warfare more powerful, while making counter-interdiction and electronic countermeasures more meaningful.
Vouchers, Crystals, Energy, and Caches
Everything above is coming March 1st, but things will remain in an interim state until we reach the next phase of changes covering Vouchers, Crystals, Energy, and Caches. We hope to have these changes done in March, but it is still unclear whether we’ll reach that goal. In any case, we will have another devblog coming which will describe these changes in greater detail.
In brief, the major changes coming in the later phase are as follows:
- An overall reduction in the number of Cosmpiercers.
- Energy generation formula reworked in accordance with above.
- Excess energy after unlocks is now stored in reserves.
- Vouchers reworked. Vouchers are no longer granted for crystal deposits or Cosmpiercer participation. Instead, faction leaders set daily voucher allowances to positions, faction ranks, and/or individuals. Each voucher represents an entitlement to withdraw Energy from the faction’s energy reserves, consumed to power Cosmpiercer Abilities.
- No more ability maintenance. After unlocking a power, factions have it until the conflict season concludes. Seasonal resets wipe all energy reserves, unlocks, crystal deposits, and owned Cosmpiercers.
- Caches can no longer be triangulated. Instead, the time of the next cache will be fully visible.
- Rich caches once or twice a week, containing a great abundance of crystals.
- Tighter algorithmic controls on the number of crystals seeded to the game, compared to the number of crystals consumed. Crystals will overall be scarcer to help funnel combatant groups into conflict with one another in caches.
- A trade-in shop allowing players to trade Cosmpiercer Abilities directly for crystals at a steeper rate.
- A limited pool of crystals available via Crystalline Mutated Facilities and Crystalline Xeno Mobs; Crystalline affix buffed overall; Crystalline affix added to Facility bosses and boss adds when using Crystalline Mutation; Crystalline Xeno Mobs no longer appear randomly, through collectible sets, metamorphic crystals, or the metamorphic affix. Rather, Crystalline spawns are tightly controlled.
Let’s conclude the post with a brief status update on the conflict rework as a whole:
We are still aiming to have Archaeology prepared for April, though we still reserve the right to push it further to ensure the strength of the release. Once released, the greater majority of pieces of the full Conflict Rework will be assembled. Afterwards, we still have a bit of work to do implementing the third pillar of Cultural Score, the other two being Achaeology and Commerce, and gluing everything together before we are ready to start the first conflict season proper. We are still unsure exactly how this will be deployed, but we’re considering conducting a shorter “Season 0” intended as a test run of the full system.
Whether that happens May, June, or even later is still uncertain, as our phase-based release plan can always turn up surprises where we need to refocus our efforts on something unexpected! In any case, we’ll be continuing to keep you abreast of our progress!
That’s it, that’s all! Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you in the Starmourn Sector.