So folks, here's the update as planned. As something to keep in mind; let me again stress why we're making these changes. The great majority of these are to systems that are already in place and working. We're making these changes not to save us time (because it won't) but to ensure that the game is fun. We've approached each of these items with a few things in mind: Does the feature add value to the product or is it just one more option for the sake of having an option? Does the feature enhance the core of the 5X strategy game that we're trying to make? Is this feature forcing multiple steps where otherwise they would not be needed? Does this feature take away control from the player? Does it keep the player from having to micromanage? Is the feature confusing? Is the feature fun?
So, with that in mind here's da list.
Creating Task forces
Sectors were removed so you now create task forces at deployment centers. These are big expensive system buildings, which act the same way as sector seats did. When you select a system that has a deployment center one of the options is to create a new task force which then forms in that location. The main reason for the change was that from a UI perspective Sectors were confusing and deployment centers give us the same rally points from reserves without that confusion. Also it saves you a step in creating task forces since they appear where you created them and you don't have to give them an additional ‘deploy here' order.
Creating Ground Forces
Works in a similar manner as task forces, created at the planet.
Technology is being changed back down to one step. You'll adjust your RP's (sliders) spent in the various schools as planned but once projects are available they will automatically become a research project and your scientists will try to make it a reality. Projects can still hit project overruns like they could before. The big difference is that the applied part of technology will now be automatic. On this one we found that while the current tech system is really cool, it basically created 3 steps where before there was only 1. What it added was the ability to add in overruns, delay when technologies are available to be used etc. Most of that still applies under this new model, it's just much easier to use.
By default the AI will try to keep the reserves stocked so that you'll have the ships to work with. It will not however take those ships out of the reserves to create new task forces or move your task forces without your knowledge. Right now the AI moves all your taskforces and it gets really annoying trying to catch your ships or figure out what they're doing. Figuring out where specific ships get built and worrying about defending a specific system will still be handled by the AI (ie, you will not have to micromanage), . Your concentration will be on the larger scope issues like who am I going to attack next. We're currently evaluating if any of these AI controls will have an option to turn on and we'll let you know as soon as we make that decision.
Each Planet will have an option to turn off its AI. This will be a planet-by-planet option so if you'd like to control your head planet and let the others run auto you'll have that freedom.
No other changes are planned for the AI at this time other than improvements etc.
The X's are going to be changing slightly. We're going to be adding a few items to planetary specials to add more of a story element. For example, you might discover the ruins of the Darlok homeworld on a planet you've discovered (probably marked by some type of guardian). In the ruins you could find one of the lost X's or you might find information that implies the Darloks had one of them before they escaped out of our galaxy. This would give you a roadmap so that the next you send off an antaran expedition they're not exploring completely blind but have a better chance of discovering something. One other change we're making here is that there can be only 5 X's discovered in the game. So if you've discovered an X other players cannot find that same one. To get it they would need to trade, steal, or kill you.
The current victory conditions are: Sole Survivor, Orion President, Discover the 5 X's. We removed Sole Superpower because at that stage in the game you could easily win by getting into the senate and just voting yourself president. We also removed Heir to the Throne because from a gameplay mechanic it works pretty much the same way as Orion President.
We're turning off ‘normal' migration between planets and making it so that they'll only migrate through population growth and revolt. In implementation it's very tough to tell as a when your population leaves, where they've gone and why. The big reason for this item was so that you weren't forced to micromanage colonization and so that you didn't have to move your people when planets get full. By keeping migration to the very visual items (Revolt) and normal population growth it still means you won't have to micromanage and you'll see very clearly if there is a problem. Occasionally you'll also have planets popup under your control when your population finds a juicy planet.
A couple of minor changes here. In the interest of keeping things clear to the user there will be 1 stage of exploration on a system (similar to the previous games), it was simply too tough to tell how long your ships needed to hang around a system to explore each planet. Also the starlanes will become viewable and usable by you once you enter the system, not before. So while you'll see all the stars, you won't know the routes to them until you've gone to adjoining stars. Should cause a nice bit of exploring necessary as the game progresses.
I'm not sure what here has been announced or not so I'll just go over what it currently does. There are two types of laws that can come up, here I'll call them normal laws and special laws. The normal laws are things like letting player X in the senate, creating an embargo, declaring war etc. Those are proposed by the player or AI's and then voted on. The special ones coming up randomly and consist of things like ‘Pollution: Galactic pollution is getting out of control, all members must decrease production by 10%'. The special laws are still voted on by the senate, it's just that they're not proposed by senate members.
Diplomacy AI will be turned off for the player. You'll need to handle your diplomatic messages just as you did in previous versions. We are currently evaluating the rest of diplomacy to make sure that all the options do in fact add value to the product. Most the code for these is done so if items are removed it'll only be in order to make sure that the product is fun.
We've adjusted it so that you build one type of spy. That spy can still be sent on a variety of missions that are the same as what was announced previously. The only spy missions that have been removed are ones that reported back nothing but information on the other empire (the information coming back wasn't very useful). Instead we've bumped up the effective spy missions such as stealing tech's, killing leaders, sabotaging projects, blowing up buildings, affecting planets etc. Everything else in spies works the same as has been discussed previously.
The Forced Labor and Robotic Unit policies are being adjusted slightly. Originally you had about 6 policies that affected them and it was enough that it was difficult to tell the results. Now you'll end up with just a couple of policies that will be much clearer in their effect.
Before, you had leaders in every position in the empire and some would have faces etc. Once this went in we found that it was really difficult to find the ones you cared about and each individual one wasn't very unique. So, the leaders that you know of are being moved into the background (they still do their thing but are of the faceless variety) and a new set is being introduced. These will be your High Council and will affect your empire as a whole. They will have modifiers (both good and bad) and will be introduced based on events etc similar to the way it was handled in MOOII. The difference is that there will be more of them (compared to previous games) and they'll each have much more in the way of story associated with them, which will work into the backstory. Also these leaders will be killable by enemy spies.
The economic system is currently being evaluated. The concern we have right now is that you end up building multiple copies of the same building on any given planet and it gets confusing in gameplay. We haven't made a decision on what we're going to do yet but there are a lot of options on the table and many of them don't change the current system but just affect how it's displayed to the user. We'll let you know as soon as we make a determination.
Yes, as many have heard IFP's have been removed. The intent behind MOOIII has always been that the player isn't forced to deal with all the micromanagement if he doesn't want to. IFP's did serve to keep the player from micromanaging; they didn't however solve the problem of making sure the player didn't have to (or feel he needed to). The only thing that will do that is good AI and our dedication to that hasn't changed. With the extended date our AI programmers are staying on that task to make sure the AI works as planned. Folks have also asked how this affects HFOG. The answer is it won't. IFP's were one of things that affected the HFOG, but there are a lot of other factors that will do that as well and those haven't changed. The other purpose of IFP's was to keep multiplayer games moving, but as you can well imagine there are a lot of other ways to do that.
The rest of the changes are UI changes here and there or have been previously announced.
READ THIS NEXT PART CAREFULLY PLEASE!!!!
As you can imagine this message is likely to cause a lot of threads. So if you have questions, feel I missed anything etc please ask on this thread. If you have comments, rants, clarifications etc please try to keep on another thread. Hopefully this will allow me to answer everyone's questions and I'll get to the rest as time permits. Thanks.