Good things come to those who wait
Many loyal Galactic Armory fans, especially those active in the official Star Ruler forum, are probably wondering about the unusually long development time for 1.9, our last major release dating back to August 2011. Simply put, there is no easy answer to this. Did we slack off? At least sometimes we did. Run into problems? Sure.
Those, however, are but parts of the whole picture. The most important reason for this delay (I remember a promise about releasing before the solar eclipse last November...) is the high standard we set for ourselves in terms of quality. Often we managed vast improvements in one area, only to have it overshadowed by shortcomings in another. This constant tweaking and polishing of things - as well as adding new features - is something that's bound to set you up for what I like to call the "DNF Experience" as a developer. Yeah, DNF stands for Duke Nukem Forever.
As a sidenote, common sense dictates that every product, especially a complex one, needs a lot of testing. This is a very time-consuming and often tiresome task. As a developer (modder or otherwise) you often lack two things: 1) Time and 2) Distance to your own product. This does not necessarily mean that you can not be objective, but what's really needed to put your work through the paces is thinking outside the box. That's where your staff of testers comes in. A good, dedicated group of testers can make or break your project. Sure, internal quality assurance is important, but you are bound to miss one potential issue or another if you rely on doing things on your own. As long as everyone communicates with each other and does his or her share of work, you are on track. When people suddenly disappear without any word whatsoever, you're boarding the Fail Train. Keeping things together is part of the challenge when working on a mod as a team.
Long story short: There's a point where you need to make a clean cut and hold off on adding any new features, however cool they may be (and we enjoy cool features as much as everyone does!). Fixing bugs and polishing existing ones to a reasonable extent is fine and takes long enough as it is before things are in a state presentable to the public. My personal experience is that it definately helps if you're working with people that have enough guts to kick your ass and get things back on track if needed. Not that I need a swift kick in the behind every now and then. No. Of course not.
With that being out of the way, let's focus on some of the major changes and new features introduced with Galactic Armory 1.9.
Automated Jump Drives
When starting a new game in 1.9, several new game options will be present. One of these is called "Automated Jump Drives". What it does is basically enable ships equipped with a Jump Drive to check by itself if it should jump to its target destination instead of using its engines. The picture below explains this in more depth.
The important thing is to know what it does NOT do as well as the drawbacks to using this option.
Even with this option enabled, ships will never plot more than one jump per move order, even if the target is more than one jump away. The only exception to this is if the ship is ordered to move to a star or planet from outside the target system; in that case, the ship will jump to the edge of the system and immediately prepare a second jump to the target object if possible. So if you want to set up a jump-route through multiple systems, you need to select the ship and manually shift-click on "move to system" for each system in the order the ship should pass them.
The other drawback of playing with this option enabled is the potential performance hit occuring due to the added code, especially with large amounts of ships in the game. This of course depends on how powerful your computer is, so it is impossible to give hard numbers or percentages for any given situation.
Modified Import Dock mechanics
For this release we modified the underlying mechanics of Import Docks. Import Docks will now work even in systems without owned planets (or any planets at all). However, it is impossible to simply build as many and large Import Docks as you want - your economy must be able to support them with a steady inflow of resources. This is done by raising your "Empire Import Trade" value, which is shown alongside your other resource in the galactic bank window. This value is generated by space ports only - so in order to supply orbital construction with resources, you need to build more space ports (which represent the trading ability of your empire). A better explanation of this can be found here:
Changes to the economy
Fuel and ammunition have been added as tradeable resources along with metal, electronics and advanced parts. While structures no longer have any labor cost (removing the need for having at least 1 shipyard to construct buildings more quickly), ships and stations now have an ammo and fuel cost value which is directly linked to the maximum amount of fuel/ammo its storages can hold. This means that fuel and ammo are no longer free resources upon construction of a ship, but have to be taken into account as well. This makes fuel and ammo worlds much more useful than before, especially in conjunction with the introduction of the Resupply Dock subsystem.
The Resupply Dock subsystem replaces the old ammunition fabricator and is unlocked an earlier tech level than its predessor. It enables a ship to draw ammo directly from the galactic bank. Should the ship or station take any damage, the resupply process will be aborted until several seconds after it last took damage. So resupplying in the midst of combat is practically impossible, while at the same time, supplying ammo-based warships (or ammo transports!) is made much, much easier than before (if your economy can handle it).
However, the ability to actually produce ammunition in a space-based facility is not gone along with the old ammo fabricator. Its place is taken by a subsystem of the same name. This subsystem can not draw metal directly from the galactic bank, though. Instead it converts metal that needs to be stored onboard into ammunition. This is a great way to set up orbital ammo factories around your planets!
Another quite drastic change to the economy is the introduction of a cost curve for all subsystems. Previously only planetary structures increased in cost along with their level; now the same applies to all subsystems as well. What does this mean? Well, it isn't as easy to spam large amounts of huge ships in the late game anymore. It has, however, become a whole lot easier to expand your empire in the beginning of the game and sustain a small fleet early on. The reason for this is another change to the economy: The increase and re-adjustment of resource production rates. It is hard to convey this in words, but you can take the word of our personal team of genius-level space-age scientist eggheads: IT ROCKS. (Should you disagree, either don't play the mod or shoot our scientists. Your call.)
The way planetary improvements are implemented has been changed as well. These are selectable via a separate tab in the planet window as shown blow.
So far only terraforming has been added as improvement, but you can bet one year's supply of space monkey food that there's more to come in the future!
Ever wondered if the Remnants were actually protecting something else, aside from dust-covered planets and LOTS of empty space? ... No? Doesn't matter, here's the answer anyway:
These three superweapons are part of the "Unique and Special Systems" option when starting a new game. Basically, for every special system generated, there is a chance of one of these appearing. Each one is limited to 1 of its kind per galaxy, though. Given their protection and firepower, this is probably a good thing.
Maximum Annihilation Capacity
Of course this wouldn't be a major Galactic Armory release if we didn't include some new weapons, right? So in order to satisfy all your needs for interstellar firepower, we have added wave emitters, phased missiles, terahertz torpedos and other stuff, such as more fighter/bomber weapons, to our arsenal. Feel free to try them out... Preferably in a solar systems far, far away.
We could rant for days about all the other cool features and gimmicks we added or changed. For example, we could blather on about how cool our impact sound effects are, how we have new high-resolution background space and galaxy graphics, improved particle effects, animated projectiles, two shipsets from Homeworld 2 bringing the total to a number of 6, new original race profile images, damage textures, glowmaps linked to ship power generation, even more spectacular explosions, improved balancing, more effective AI, updated Stellarpedia, cool new loading screens, a custom ship model allocation method based on ship hull rather than size, a gajillion bugfixes, and the coolest mod team in existence.... But that would be showing off.
So, why don't you just head over to our changelog and read through the approximately 10 mile long behemoth that only captures but a tiny fraction of what we accomplished? Or, if you're not the intellectual type (gah, wall of text!) you could just watch the latest trailer showing damage textures, glowmap changes and more spectacular explosions in action:
[Added] Various impact sound effects
[Added] Fighter/Bomber Particle Cannon and Fighter/Bomber Overcharged Laser
[Added] New Jump Gate and Remnant Superweapon Model
[Added] New Unique Systems containing capturable Superweapons
[Added] Phased Missile Rack, EMP Missiles and Terahertz Torpedo
[Added] Added game setting to turn jump bridges on and off.
[Added] New governors
[Added] Updated stellarpedia entry on governors
[Added] Wave Emitter subsystem
[Added] Erudite AI will now attempt to build ringworld
[Added] Improved and added various particle systems
[Added] Automatic Jump Drive Usage
[Added] Game Setting to turn Auto Jump Drives on and off to main menu
[Added] External Mount will now also destroy its linked subsystems if it is destroyed first
[Added] Ammunition resupply dock (replaces old Ammo Fabricator)
[Added] Ammunition Fabricator which now produces ammunition from stored metal
[Added] Helium 3 to Gas Planets and a Planetary Structure to refine it to fuel
[Added] Planetary Improvements panel
[Added] New terraforming method
[Added] Added Homeworld 2 Hiigaran Shipset (thanks to Zzz1010 and bigcat!)
[Added] Added Homeworld 2 Vaygr shipset models from bigcat's mod
[Added] Three new AI personalities: Helushka, Thud PuTezh and Rystung
[Added] Various maps
[Added] Animated bullet-type effector graphics
[Added] New ECM Subsystem, ECM Hull and Electronic Warfare research field icons
[Added] 2 new Race profile images created by BalanceSheet
[Added] Error checking for an unfinished planet update to player Govs
[Added] Default damage texture for all shipsets. Ships now display visible damage linked to their HP
[Added] Explosion gfx to most subsystems
[Added] New high-resolution galaxy background and distant galaxy graphics
[Changed] Subsystems and structures now cost ammo or fuel to build if a storage for either one is included
[Changed] Ammo and Fuel can now be traded via Galactic Bank
[Changed] Updated UI to work better with ammo and fuel import/export
[Changed] Erudite AI now considers fuel and ammo for building bottlenecks
[Changed] Updated build queues and selection to help with fuel and ammo usage
[Changed] Set the erudite ai to automatic governor
[Changed] Governor selection now takes empire resources into account
[Changed] Greatly improved autogovernor selection
[Changed] Default (Balanced) Worlds now build fuel depots
[Changed] Homeworld starts with 1 fuel depot, 1 more farm, 1 more city and no goods facts
[Changed] Homeworld starts with full population
[Changed] Overhauled and optimized Erudite AI
[Changed] Food Gen on Farms increased to 2.5 up from 2
[Changed] Planetary Defence Network now provides point defense
[Changed] Quantum Compressor no longer works on ship bays
[Changed] Removed Labor from Structure Costs
[Changed] Ship model selection is now based on ship hull rather than scale
[Changed] Megastructure and Gargantuan Hull now have max size and a cost penalty for usage at small scale; minimum size was removed
[Changed] Autocannon and Planetary Defense Network now use burst-fire logic (4 single shots per salvo)
[Changed] Changed name of Emergency Power to Auxiliary Power
[Changed] When shield armor is being kept at 15% shield HP or less for at least 5 seconds, the protective field collapsses. It takes another 5 seconds until shield armor HP starts recharging.
[Changed] Changed all names, descriptions and references to stealth technology to Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) and Electronic Warfare
[Changed] Modified Coolant System and Rack Mount script
[Changed] Added Damage Radius hint for ranged AoE-type weapons
[Changed] Implemented size-dependent factors for Shield Armor strength and regen rate (similar to Shield Generator). Shield strength grows with scale (up to 3x), while regen rate decreases (down to 1/3rd at scale 7200)
[Changed] Shield Charger can no longer be linked to a modifier subsystem
[Changed] Added Subsystem Resource Cost Curve to all subsystems. Cost increases with tech level. Default curve setting is 1.2
[Changed] Adjusted all AI scaling curves to 1.3 due to the added subsystem cost increase curve
[Changed] Adjusted default New Game settings
[Changed] Removed hard limit on fighter/bomber hull scale. Maximum scale now increases with a 1.3 curve; added space increase similar to other hulls
[Changed] Removed special multiplier for Fuel Cells and certain Engines below scale 1 (storage, thrust and fuel consumption scale normally now)
[Changed] Adjusted governor build queues to make economy more efficient overall
[Changed] Reduced Flak firing sound volume and duration
[Changed] Slightly decreased volume of several weapon impact sounds
[Changed] Glowmaps are now linked to ship power. Glow brightness changes with power output and capacitance
[Changed] Reduced Chaingun sfx volume by 50%
[Removed] Removed all basic AI personalities and blueprints as they had become obsolete
[Balance] Changed formula for planetary shield generators. Shield HP increases by a technology-dependant factor at higher tech levels to stay useful with increasing ship size and quantity.
[Balance] Decreased PFW shield damage by 20%
[Balance] Increased EMP Bomb AoE radius
[Balance] Modified AoE radius formula of most AoE weapons. Area of Effect radius growth is slightly more linear now and maximum range grows (5% linear growth per level)
[Balance] Decreased energy and ballistic weapon projectile velocity by 50%, anti-planet and self-propelled projectile velocity by 25%
[Balance] Rebalanced power cost of various energy weapons
[Balance] Halved all terraforming costs
[Balance] Rebalanced Fuel Production from He3 and Food on a planetary basis
[Balance] Reduced range penalty for rack mount and mass mount to 10% and 15% respectively (down from 33% and 50%)
[Balance] Halved Asteroid Collector asteroid ammo generation rate
[Balance] Changed detonation damage and blast radius for volatile subsystems such as antimatter generators and updated their hints
[Balance] Doubled Capacitor durability, changed formula (capacitance is now 10% of Quantum Battery); metal cost decreased by 33%
[Balance] Quantum Battery resource cost significantly increased
[Balance] Increased Bulkhead HP from 25 to 100, reduced Bonus HP by 20%; subsystem size halved
[Balance] Quantum Computer size was halved
[Balance] Doubled Durability of regular Ammo Cache and Fuel Storage
[Balance] Doubled Light Hull durability
[Balance] Reduced Fusion Generator durability by 20%
[Balance] Equalized mass of all engine types
[Balance] Revamped Nano Armor heal rate formula; increase in healing rate is now linear and less extreme than before
[Balance] Completely revamped Electronic Countermeasures and ECM Hull dodge formulae. Increase with tech level is linear, and object scale is considered as well (smaller ships are harder to hit)
[Balance] Quadrupled ECM power usage
[Balance] Increased Shield Armor strength from 75 to 200, reduced regen rate from 50 to 40. Tick rate was quadrupled.
[Balance] Increased Polypropellant Thruster base thrust value from 800 to 900
[Balance] Metal cost increase formula for repair subsystems is now linear instead of exponential
[Balance] Reduced Integrated Construction resource cost by 50%, labor cost by 66%
[Balance] Decreased Fusion Cutter base damage from 90 to 70, increased power cost and heat generation
[Balance] Increased Rack Mount base durability from 30 to 50
[Balance] Slightly changed hull balance (armor points, shield emitters, hull space increase)
[Balance] Coolant System maximum rate-of-fire multiplier reduced from 5 to 4; includes overhauled consumption formula
[Balance] Oversize / Spinal Mount range multiplier maximum reduced from 3.0 to 2.6
[Balance] Halved Targetting Computer and Precision Modifier subsystem size, resource cost has been doubled
[Balance] Quantum Computer control has been halved
[Balance] Revamped Quantum Compressor formula (increase should now be less insane at higher levels)
[Balance] Reduced Shield Generator regen rate to 60% of previous value
[Balance] Shield Generator base absorption no longer changes with size
[Balance] Shield Hardener absorption rate increase has been vastly increased (same as vanilla now)
[Balance] Absorption rate decrease base value for Pulsed Shield Chargers has been changed from 1.25 to 2.0 (has more impact on shield absorption now)
[Balance] Implemented new minimum range formula for Tachyon Blaster and Artillery (minRange is now 10% of original base range + double AoE radius/2% of max range)
[Balance] Increased global resource production multiplier from 0.25 to 0.75 (basic resource generation output was tripled)
[Balance] Increased Starport Trade Rate Multiplier setting (from 1.0 to 1.5)
[Balance] Adjusted planetary resource production and storage values to achieve better ratios
[Balance] Reduced Ammunition Resupply Dock tech level requirement from 5 to 3
[Balance] Introduced new Fighter/Bomber weapon ammo storage formula; increase is now a linear 20% of base value per level
[Balance] Added power consumption to fighter/bomber cockpit
[Balance] Decreased the trait point bonus from various negative traits; traits removing one weapon class (ballistic, energy, missiles) are now limited to 1
[Balance] Reduced metal cost of multiple armor types by 25-40%
[Balance] Changed Space Port Import Trade rate formula (used for import docks), is similar to new trade value
[Balance] Increased Import Dock base trade rate by 50%
[Fixed] Jump Drive sfx was extremely loud
[Fixed] An error with game thrust multiplier setting
[Fixed] A long-standing bug that was causing lots of errors to show up in the log file
[Fixed] Antimatter net value was incorrect due to showing twice the actual consumption. Hint and actual requirement are now identical.
[Fixed] Engines will now always create fuel storage before onboard fuel is checked
[Fixed] Planet slot damage can not reduce slots below 0 anymore
[Fixed] The player could win but couldn't lose the game
[Fixed] Fixed a possible divide by zero on power gen
[Fixed] Fixed negative damage from GAEnergyDamageCrit
[Fixed] Fusion weapons healing their targets instead of dealing damage
[Fixed] Spelling errors in multiple loading screens
[Fixed] Nanite Torpedo hints did not take damage duration into account, indicating far less damage than was actually being dealt
[Fixed] Externally mounted subsystems weren't protected by Shield Armor (Shield Armor preDamageOrder changed from -7 to -9)
[Fixed] Trade Rate Multiplier wasn't used in Planet Capital trade formula
[Fixed] Several weapon-related traits not working due to changed tags
[Fixed] Various hints and subsystem descriptions