StarMade Development Direction

    Ithirahad

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    This could be done by splitting up the texture into two parts:

    1. A uniform texture
    2. A head/face texture, possibly including customized emblems (like rank marks) to overlay on top of the uniform.

    That way, you can have your crew be assigned your uniform texture. Or, potentially share a uniform texture with other faction members for that matter.
    YES!! WE NEED THIS! AND I DON'T SPEAK IN ALL CAPS LIKE THIS EVER SO YOU KNOW I'M SERIOUS HERE!

    ...Really though, this is the obvious solution to the whole NPC skin upload problem. Just upload a uniform and let the game or server use its own native library of random heads (including custom server ones, for instance Andorians and Tellarites and so on for Star Trek servers).
     

    Ithirahad

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    Someone, please, post this in suggestions. And poke a councilor about it or something.
     
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    I'm very excited by the direction outlined here, I really like the idea of more ships rather than just bigger ships. I know it will be a long time until we see this all implemented but I'm willing to wait.
     

    StormWing0

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    lol I'm busy coming up with some designs I can shipyard stamp out for NPCs to use. :P
     
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    Over the past year here at Schine we’ve done some major work on the whole building, crafting, mining gameplay aspects of StarMade. We did some major updates like the move to galaxies and star systems, as well as our first big-ish GUI overhaul. We also added in rails, logic, shipyards and our weapon combination systems. We did heaps of work to give players a lot to be able to build with and customize what they built. With chain docking we enabled any number of creations to be built, and also did a lot of balancing and performance optimizations from lighting overhauls to collision, explosions and more. It’s been great the past year and it’s only going to get better.

    Now we, as a community, move into new unexplored waters beyond just building and all that goes with that. After speaking with the team, looking where we are and where we’re going, we feel now is the right time to share some of our plans with you all and where StarMade is going. While with some things we won’t go into too much detail, hopefully this helps paint a picture as to where we want to take StarMade. Firstly we’ll touch on the different key aspects of StarMade that we envision, and then conclude with a bit more of an in-depth look at what’s planned for the next few months.

    Key Aspects of StarMade
    Up until now StarMade has been considered primarily a sandbox, similar to a number of games we’ve been compared to. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, we’ve also desired to expand and be more than just another sandbox game. There’s an incredible amount of features that we have planned for the game. For us to better handle and manage and balance them we broke the game up into key aspects to categorize features under. These key aspects help describe what pieces will make up the StarMade pie.

    Building & Crafting & Gathering Resources
    This is where StarMade is currently. In StarMade you gather resources to be able to build, and with the scalability of the game you’re not limited to specific dimensions. You build bases, you build ships. Basically where you live, and how you get around from place to place. You build to defend what you’ve built up, you build to expand and then some. This whole aspect of the game focuses around blocks. Gathering blocks, crafting new blocks, using those blocks to get better blocks and to give you more abilities. You go out and mine to get more blocks so you are able to build more.

    Exploration & Discovery
    The universe is massive, and players should always have a desire to explore a new system and marvel at what they discover. Each server they jump on to presents a new opportunity for exploration. Features like stellar phenomena and stellar bodies like asteroid belts, nebulae, comets etc all will play into a more engaging universe to discover. Other features like procedurally-generated server-wide events, missions and questing, rare fauna and flora, and more all add to the desire to go beyond the galaxy into the furthest corners of the universe.

    NPCs & Factions & Empires
    With space so vast it makes sense you will encounter others, and like the NPCs in the game, you can align yourself with others to form a faction to better survive the harshness of the galaxies.

    Throughout the galaxies you will encounter a number of races. Our player characters in the current state of the game are all Human characters, but there are other races throughout the area of galaxies which we call the Frontier, the setting for StarMade. There’s a number of NPC factions you can interact with, as well as random NPCs from all manner of races that you can meet throughout the Frontier. Once you are part of a faction (whether creating one or joining one), you will be able to recruit NPCs to your faction, given you have the correct permissions. From there you will be able to build up your crew on a planet base, station or ship for additional benefits. NPCs have attributes that to a degree need to be monitored to ensure they do what they are supposed to be doing to the best of their abilities. In this manner things like ship interiors become just as important to consider as the systems being placed on a ship.

    Factions that grow through taking territories and establishing bases and stations will open up more methods of passive resource and faction point acquisition. Empires also expand the opportunity for gameplay to go beyond just one server, with empires being registered on the citizen registry, enabling factions on servers with the right permissions to join empires and pool resources. Additional gameplay elements would also come from empires.

    Diplomacy & Economy
    Diplomacy in its basic form is whether you are friend or foe to another team, whether it be a player team or a computer-controlled (NPC) team. Depending on the length of the game determines how complex your diplomacy can get. For lengthy RTS games, diplomacy can be expanded to allow for establishing trade routes with allies etc. For StarMade we have players not only spending hours in-game, but days, eventually weeks and months. With such a big emphasis on factions and empires, players should have the most amount of freedom and control in how their faction or empire operates and interacts with other factions or empires. So we’re considering heavily how factions and empires can interact with each other through diplomacy, and ensuring we balance the economy appropriately. Being able to establish trade routes, security levels on sectors, sharing information and the various methods of being able to obtain credits and resources etc can all add new elements to both the diplomacy and economy of the game. Economy wise there’s a lot to balance, and we need to ensure that the universe isn’t too overpopulated with resources or credits otherwise they lose their value.

    Objectives & Rewards
    Another yet unexplored but highly sought-after feature of StarMade is the aspect of objectives and rewards. Objectives could be anything from missions/quests or bounties to randomized server-wide experiences. Missions and quests would be available from NPC-factions or empires and would be diplomacy-driven, meaning your standing with a faction determines what they trust to offer you mission-wise etc. Server-wide experiences offer up opportunities for all the players on a server to have to fight over the same rare reward. Rarity curves on rewards encourage players to try harder missions or objectives for the promise of a more rare reward. Rewards introduce a totally new sub-section of items for players rather than based on any type of block, which are just as easily acquired through crafting.

    Citizens
    Each player is a unique citizen who lives within the Frontier, and who they are all depends on their choices. Through weapons, items and devices, and other mechanics, players can customize their citizen to be their own unique character in the universe.

    A Quick Explanation on Trading Guild & Pirates
    So that’s the key aspects that we’re looking at for the game. Without going into too much of the lore side of the game, as it’s extensive, it’s worth touching on what’s happening with the existing Trading Guild and Pirates in light of our plans.

    The existing Trading Guild (TG) and Pirates will remain as default NPC factions from when you start the game. However there will be some changes to better suit the direction of the game and the lore for them. Every faction will have diplomacy mechanics added to them, meaning you could through your choices in-game, ally yourself with a particular faction, however this in turn may make you enemies with another faction.

    Trading Guild will remain as the Trading Guild. Shops will become one of their stations. Spawn station will become the Trading Guild homebase and they will own the spawn territory and a number of territories surrounding it by default. Through Trading Guild outposts that are scattered throughout their territories, we’ll be able to offer new players without a faction safe haven to dock their ships so that they don’t lose them in the first day of gameplay. Through security levels in territories, the Trading Guild will defend attacks in their territories, also as a manner to curb spawn camping new players.

    The Pirates will become the Scavengers (Scavs), a faction comprised of outlaws who pillage from factions like the Trading Guild to build their own faction. Their ships and stations will be revised to fit their particular motif. Like any other faction you could, through choices through missions etc, ally yourself with the Scavengers.

    There will eventually be another faction added that you will encounter from the start, currently called the Outcasts. They’re not aggressive like the Scavengers but also not as well off as the Trading Guild. They’re a sort of in-between ground, and give us an avenue to explore another aspect of missions and lore.

    While there are other factions planned, these three are the main ones you encounter from the start of the game. Also there will be procedurally generated factions that fit in with the lore of StarMade, making exploration all that more intriguing and unpredictable.

    Direction over the next few months
    The next few months are going to be interesting, as we delve into these new aspects of the game. There are features we have planned that aren’t a sort of overnight implementation, and due to dependencies there’s several big features that require other features to go in before it can all really come together and be used in its entirety or as intended.

    Our current RP season focus is on Crew Recruitment & Ship Management.

    This has been really well thought out by our team over a number of months now, and we’re steamrolling ahead to have it all come together, but implementation is still going to take months.

    So rather than leaving the community to umm and ahhh about what’s going on, here’s the planned features for this particular focus.

    Cargo & Stack Limiting
    now in-game
    Physical cargo will become the primary means of storage. Storage blocks will remain but through the Cargo System you will be able to establish areas that are used for storage. When placing items in the Storage Hold computer, or through the available menus, physical crates for storage will appear in the cargo hold areas. Your capacity is only limited by the area in which you designate to be used for cargo. Of course, the more cargo you take on board, the heavier your ship will get.

    Obviously hand-in-hand with cargo comes stack limiting. We’re finding the balance between holding too many blocks per stack and not holding enough for building, and the balance between the value of items in relation to one another.

    Stack limiting is obviously a big change and we predict that most players will have stored resources in larger stacks than what we'll be setting as the default max for blocks. In light of that we will be implementing a method during the transition to limited stack that will allow you to identify stacks that are currently too large so you can break them up. As part of that we'll also be adding in a slow leech of overstacked blocks so that while players will have ample time to split their stacks up into the appropriate sizes, they can't simply leave them be and hope to keep ridiculously massive stacks of blocks forever.

    Recruiting NPCs to your faction
    We recognize that faction growth is a major part of StarMade. It will enable so many more avenues for passive resource acquisition, expansion of territories, earning of faction points etc. Up until now faction growth has only been through other players joining your faction, however this leaves out players in Single Player. As such, and as part of the management of crew, you will be able to recruit NPCs to your faction. Obviously the pros and cons will be more detailed as we implement the features associated with factions and faction expansion. Recruiting NPCs to your faction opens that NPC up to be assigned as a crewman either on a planet, a station, or on a ship.

    NPC Characteristics
    NPCs will have their own names, experience, health, morale, loyalty, and energy; along with more things to come. Each NPC may also have particular attributes that make them more viable in one role or another. The level of certain characteristics will influence other ones, or result in different responses from the NPC, this is explained a bit more below.

    Defining of Internal Areas (Working Title: Quarters)
    One of the biggest things to come as part of the ship management focus is being able to define internal areas in your ship or station for certain purposes, what we’re currently calling “Quarters”. Quarters originally came out of a need for easier data management of loads of NPCs being in one space, but it has grown to encompass so much more. Through quarters you will be able to define standard spaces, such as living quarters, recreational quarters, market quarters, offices, medical etc. along with ship-specific quarters such as the bridge of a ship.

    Defining a living quarter for example, gives you the ability to assign a NPC to live in that quarter, making them available to work in another quarter, whether it be in the recreational quarter as a barman or as the pilot of a ship.

    Once a NPC is available to be assigned to a role in another quarter, their role will be decided based on the quarter you assign them to. Assigning a NPC to a market quarter for example, makes them a shopkeep, and they will be able to sell resources just like a shop module.

    Duty Stations
    Duty Stations represent specific roles a NPC can take on board within a quarter. A duty station is primarily created by including the computer of a particular system within a specific quarter.

    For example, placing a jump drive computer in the engineering quarter can make that jump drive computer be made available as a duty station, to then assign an NPC to. While being active in that role that NPC gains experience, and as they level up they grant more bonuses to the role they’re in. In the case of the jump drive they may automatically charge the jump drive, and each time they gain a level the speed in which they can charge it increases.

    More complex duty stations are planned, opening up the opportunity for things like turret control, sensor scanning etc.

    Chairs
    Let’s be honest, everyone has wanted chairs since forever. With this focus, chairs will be introduced to allow for a number of options.

    On their own, chairs are just that, chairs, you sit on them.

    Using our simple ‘C’ and ‘V’ system linking though, you can link a chair to a duty station to allow the NPC to control that duty station from the chair rather than having to stand in front of the computer. Chairs will have to be either in the same quarter or a relative quarter (Bridge or Engineering), enabling your scanner crewman to be on the bridge controlling the scanner, while the scanner computer is in the engineering quarter. This enables you to create more aesthetic bridges without losing functionality.

    I know what you’re all thinking. Chairs will also be able to be linked to the Ship Core, allowing you to enter flight mode from the bridge of your ship. Assigning a crewman to the captain’s chair also presents the first piece of our future Fleet Control system.

    Managing Crew
    Crew have energy levels, and if they’re on their duty station for too long they’ll get exhausted, so you need to ensure that they occasionally get a break. If their energy is too low their morale can start to drop. If their morale drops too low then so will their loyalty. You can boost their loyalty as their other levels are kept high, as well as through them gaining experience in the process. Boost morale by letting them relax in a recreation quarter, and gain energy through resting in their living quarter. Managing crew levels will be pretty intuitive, as ships will be given a number of modes or states you can toggle through that will determine how much autonomous freedom certain crew are given to move around. We want crews to be a fun edition, where you can micro-manage your crew and ship while you're on it, but where you can also log off and know that you're crew are still going to be fine for when you return.

    Mutinies
    If crew’s loyalty drops too low while their morale is low, they may turn and try to take over your ship, causing a mutiny. It’s your most loyal crew against the mutineers, and they’ll try to take over the bridge. If your captain’s chair is destroyed they’ll try to make their way to the ship core. If they capture your ship it’ll turn, and suddenly you’re stuck against an enemy ship. You’ll then need to try to recapture it or escape.

    Interaction Sets & Paths/Patrols
    Through what we’re currently calling interaction sets and paths you’ll be able to have more advanced control over the pathing of NPCs, how they move between quarters. Have a complex door they need to get through? Easily set it up so your crew know what to do. Set up security patrols around your ship to have NPCs guard against boarders.

    Ship Management Control
    All this might seem quite complicated, and you may be wondering how you will be able to manage all of this. We’ll be introducing brand new ship management screens that are intuitive and easy to use, with abilities like easily dragging and dropping an unassigned crewman to a duty station.

    Transporters
    mechanics now in-game

    You have likely seen that transporters are already going in. Transporters have a couple different modes. Through the menu you’ll be able to pick other transporters on your current entity, as well as any “public” transporters within one sector of you. When it comes to boarding enemy ships though it can employ a slightly different system. Through transporters you will be able to try and target onto another enemy ship. If your targeting reticle detects a quarter it will start to try and lock on, however you won’t know what quarter you’re targeting. It may be a living quarter, or the bridge, or the brig. This makes boarding a lot more dynamic, but also helps with the learning curve as well, as NPCs will be able to help defend against boarders, but you won’t be able to have NPC crew without quarters, and you won’t be able to beam on board unless they have quarters. Enemy shields will also be taken into account, so the lower the shields the easier to beam through them.

    So that’s a more in-depth look at the plans for Crew Recruitment & Ship Management. This is one of a couple brand new aspects to the game that are planned, and this one alone will take a few months to implement. We haven’t gone through everything for this particular focus for the sake of how long this already is, but rest assured there's a lot to look forward to.

    You might be thinking why this is our current focus, why not x or y. It all comes back to dependencies. Plans for passive resource acquisition, missions & questing, npc factions, trade routes, fleet control, etc all rely on the npc and faction overhauls, and opportunities through quarters, that comes with implementing these features first. The Schine team is working hard to bring to you an incredible game, and we appreciate everyone sticking with us through it all.

    We’ll be holding a LIVE Q&A with the devs in November so stay tuned for more news on that, note down any questions you might want to ask and we’ll see you then.


    The Schine Team

    The crew system sounds great. A suggestion if you haven't already thought of it give crew members a skill system so different crew members are better at different stuff make the trainable also and let them gain experience and loyalty.
    Then you could give systems increased efficiency based on the skill the crew member has. You could also build in requirements such as atmosphere to keep the crew alive. Place to rest sleep eat.... It would force people to actually build an interior of a ship.
     
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    Bench

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    The crew system sounds great. A suggestion if you haven't already thought of it give crew members a skill system so different crew members are better at different stuff make the trainable also and let them gain experience and loyalty.
    Then you could give systems increased efficiency based on the skill the crew member has. You could also build in requirements such as atmosphere to keep the crew alive. Place to rest sleep eat.... It would force people to actually build an interior of a ship.
    Yeah most of that is planned :D going to be awesome
     

    SkyHawk024

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    not going to lie this update scares me yet i look forward to it as i need crewed cargo ships to keep my shipyard fed
     
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    Yeah most of that is planned :D going to be awesome
    Thought of something related to it. How does cargo affect people and AI's if the room they are in is suddenly flooded with it?
    I was just thinking it might be a great security feature on ships since boarding and mutinies will be possible if you made hallways cargo areas. Then you could just flood them with a hidden cash of rocks or whatever to fill up the cargo hold. Then even if it doesn't kill them every time they break something it will fill their inventory.

    It should be made when all this comes about if you are over encumbered you can't move.

    You all did plan on people using cargo in that capacity right?
     
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    Lecic

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    Thought of something related to it. How does cargo affect people and AI's if the room they are in is suddenly flooded with it?
    I was just think it might be a great security feature on ships since boarding and mutinies will be possible if you made hallways cargo areas. Then you could just flood them with a hidden cash of rocks or whatever to fill up the cargo hold. Then even if it doesn't kill them every time they break something it will fill their inventory.

    It should be made when all this comes about if you are over encumbered you can't move.

    You all did plan on people using cargo in that capacity right?
    Cargo spaces have very few HP, and destroying blocks of cargo (will) make said cargo leak out of the main storage unit, not the spaces themselves. I don't think this would be a very effective anti-boarder strategy.
     
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    Cargo spaces have very few HP, and destroying blocks of cargo (will) make said cargo leak out of the main storage unit, not the spaces themselves. I don't think this would be a very effective anti-boarder strategy.
    Good to know thanks.
     
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    Well, run through that scenario... Attackers will destroy the cargo and pick up everything automatically. If that cargo is rock, you're not losing anything valuable, while still burdening your attackers. Either they have to take the time to do inventory management, or they're slowed down by weight.
     
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    Thank God for schema having an open plan instead of trying to fnaf their way to success... I LOVE IT!
     
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    Ithirahad

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    Thank God for schema having an open plan instead of trying to fnaf their way to success... I LOVE IT!
    Fnaffing sounds like a really bad idea... whatever you mean by that... so uh yeah I agree and stuff
     
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    Fnaffing sounds like a really bad idea... whatever you mean by that... so uh yeah I agree and stuff
    By "fnafing" i mean dumping a game out, not saying anything about it, and expecting the mystery and confusion to spawn hype and success. Not always a bad strategy, but usually not a good one.
     

    Bench

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    By "fnafing" i mean dumping a game out, not saying anything about it, and expecting the mystery and confusion to spawn hype and success. Not always a bad strategy, but usually not a good one.
    We're not the right style of game to FNAF it. I would love to add some FNAF mystery to at least the lore, but a silent release just wouldn't work for StarMade, it's a bit too complex.
     
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    We're not the right style of game to FNAF it. I would love to add some FNAF mystery to at least the lore, but a silent release just wouldn't work for StarMade, it's a bit too complex.
    True. That style works very well for horror games, which starmade most certainly is not.
     
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    I'm not sure if I've asked you this before, and I apologize if I have.

    I'm a big fan of games like Guns and Icarus and FTL. I'd really love to have several players on a ship, all working towards a common goal. AI are cool, but nothing beats a good Co-op experience. My question, with these plans, to what extent will human crew be able to interact with the ship?
     

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    I'm not sure if I've asked you this before, and I apologize if I have.

    I'm a big fan of games like Guns and Icarus and FTL. I'd really love to have several players on a ship, all working towards a common goal. AI are cool, but nothing beats a good Co-op experience. My question, with these plans, to what extent will human crew be able to interact with the ship?
    We aim for a fair bit, once we start to finalise the possible duty stations for NPC crew that'll give us an indication as to where perhaps other players can benefit you as part of your crew.
     
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    All of this "managing NPCs" on ships, stations and planets brings out what I feel is a need to implement some kind of means to exercise "remote agency."

    An ansible block that can be accessed remotely from another entity even several stars away - basically using an implementation similar to the "Test" feature in shipyards - to give a player remote build/NPC-command(/fly?) mode control over their other owned structures also fitted with ansible blocks but not manifest their toon (unless as a hologram? like shipyard design holo?).

    This is reasonable sci-fi communications tech (within some range limit - more than same sector; preferably a few star systems or even an entire galaxy) and would be supremely useful to reduce shuttling a toon back & forth between entities just to make system or command changes. This would slash tedium and elevate player control ability to a level beyond simply piloting and give the ability to exercise Strategic level control & agency over an empire of whatever scale.
     
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    Well, I'm glad someone in the suggestions thread pointed someone else at this thread so I could read it. Fan-fragging-tastic!

    Only suggestion for the team is to minimise the learning curve by choosing a sensible order for features and then adding them piecemeal, giving us slowpokes a time to get used to one mechanic before adding another bit. e.g. add means to give NPCs commands to enable fleets/escorts before the living quarters etc...

    Either way, I'm not quitting this game, like, ever... :)