Because there are asteroid fields that can be mined and provide resources to planets, we have had to relook at the planetary improvements.
Some of the changes have included:
- A new type of improvement: Power Plants. These magnify the production coming in by X%.
- Fertility clinics to increase population growth.
- Much higher population limits so that lots of money can be achieved.
- Morale is more affected by population than previously so reaching those limits will be tougher.
- Lower level farms produce relatively little food so that new users won't run into big morale problems. Instead, we'll add an additional farming tech to gradually increase farming on planets.
- We're adding a Food Distribution Center which will increase the % of total farm production.
- Morale buildings will become significantly more powerful at the higher level so that you can keep people happy AS LONG AS you have researched the techs (entertainment networks won't be enough to get some 20+ population).
- Vacation Capital Super Project will allow a single world to be a real fun place (i.e. high morale).
- A new building called the Planetary Revenue Service PRS (one per planet) will increase the number of citizens that are taxed (right now a planet with 12B population only actually taxes 6B of the citizens, The PRS would increase that to ~9B which is a significant increase in the # of citizens you can get to).
- Low-Level Factories won't produce as much as they currently do (making the asteroid fields more important).
- Lab Networks (buildings that increase by a % your research)
The overall idea is that at the low level, money is easy to come by when you're getting started. Then it will start to try up if you don't build up your planets properly to get more population, more economic activity, etc.
For casual players, the system should be fairly straight forward -- simpler -- than GalCiv II. But for expert players, the gameplay becomes very sophisticated as planets now require a lot more choices than previous in terms of strategy. A LOT MORE.
In Dark Avatar, the relationship between food production, asteroid fields, and star bases will be very crucial. It does make writing the AI much harder (I'm going to basically toss out the planet improvement code in GalCiv II which I didn't write in the first place and that person isn't with Stardock anymore so we've been patching the planet improvement AI choosing code since release, better to scrap it and write it new with the new strategies in mind).
Another area I'm really enjoying is the re-design of ship values. A LOT More thought and experience has gone into the new values for how much hulls cost.
Basically: The bigger ships will cost a LOOOT more. But they will be a LOOOOT tougher. A capital ship should be a capital ship. It should be a big deal. We want to encourage players to make a choice between fleets of smallish ships OR capital ships and have both be valid paths. It will be very difficult to research both gigantic ships AND ultimate logistics for instance. You may not be able to get to both in a typical game which means deciding to have large fleets of small ships or smaller fleets of very very tough capital ships.
Logistics have changed as well. A huge hulled ship now uses 10 logistics points and costs 320 just for the hull. BUT, it now has 150 space (about double) and 84 HP.
So you could picture a couple of Huge hulled ships (using 20 logistics) with 300 space and 168HP having cost 640 to build...coming up against 16 small ships (48 logistics) with 384 space 128HP and also having cost 640.
The fleet of fighters would pack more punch per round but the hull ships would be able to take a bigger beating. There's so many factors to take into account (the time to research the corresponding techs, the "wastage" on building fighters -- i.e. can't build more than 1 fighter per turn, the "wastage" of a shot from a capital ship on a fighter -- a shot that does 20 damage on a ship with only 8 hitpoints isn't going to make it any deader).
The net result is that it just FEELS a lot better. Those capital ships are a big deal. There shouldn't be tons of them out there. One can imagine the best results being mixed fleets -- a couple of fighters and frigates to picket for the capital ships.
The other value I spent a lot of time on today was spies. We're going to have to put in an espionage branch because we want players to be able to put increasing amounts of money into spying.
By now, one thing you may have noticed is that money is going to be much more under control. At least, that's the intention. That it won't be nearly as hard to have lots of money to do things with but there will be a lot more choices on what to spend money on. But at the same time, we want there to be a real gulf between new players and expert players. A lot more variance in strategic options than previous.
Where before you might just throw tons of farms on a planet or tons of factories, now there are other things to consider -- asteroids? Do you build a food distribution center? Should you build a Quantum Power Plant? And if so, should you re-direct the asteroid mining to that planet instead of the closer one?
Much of the final balancing will be in the hands of beta testers starting next month.