A brief rundown of the new migration ability and fleet commanders.
Posted by .Corey. on Jul 22nd, 2014
There are two primary variables related to planet population: max population, and population growth rate. In Sins, this was all very standardized and not especially interactive. Each planet was sort of left to its own devices and either ended up with a high population or didn't, depending on tech. In Ascendancy, we're looking to give a bit more depth to planetary population. Each planet type has a different value for these levels. Some types, including the Ecumenopolis (ie Coruscant) and Temperate (ie Corellia) types have both high max population caps and growth rates. Others like Volcanic and Ice have both low caps and low growth rates. However, there are several types which have the capacity to support large populations, but require assistance to get there quickly, most prominently the Arboreal and Desert planets.
In order to promote more interactivity here, we have given your dropships (The Sentinel, Gallofree and Consen) a set of new abilities to help transfer your populations as you see fit. The first ability (Migration: Load) is cast on the planet you want to take the migrants from, which increases your dropships' supply. The second ability (Migration: Unload) then drops this population off on the destination planet, increasing the population there. Just to clarify, this is used on planets you already own; it is not colonization. Each dropship starts being able to use the Unload ability once after being constructed before having to load up again. We're also toying with the idea of a new logistic structure which increases population capacity or growth rate on the planets, but that's less fleshed out.
Once of the most common questions we're asked is if we're going to include heroes in the mod, and the answer to that is technically no, but also sort of yes. In the Flagship victory mode, your flagship will be a prominent ship from that faction; Ackbar in Home One, Thrawn in Chimaera, Kres'ten'tarthi in Battlehammer, Ivpikkis in the Shriwirr (or Keermak in the Errinung'ka, we haven't decided), Tenenial Djo in the Star Home, and Tsa- *Muffled noises.*
While regular heroes are possible to do in other game modes, we don't quite want to go that direction in Ascendancy. We have, however, added new types of supportive capital ships: fleet commander flagships. In combat, these flagships are essentially identical to their non-flagship varieties, though with slightly better defenses in order to ensure they don't always end up being focused too soon. Their main role is to be buff carriers. Each one has a set of four abilities, which, while varying slightly by faction, fall within similar categories and scale very well with levels: (numbers aren't real, just to give an idea)
Assault Command: Increases damage output of frigates and capital ships by 2/4/8/16%
Defense Command: Increases damage output of defensive structures by 2/4/8/16%
Fighter Command: Increases damage output of fighters by 2/4/8/16%
Supreme Commander/Grand Admiral: Requires level 8, effects vary by faction.
You cannot have two Commanders using Assault Command at the same time on the same fleet, and the flagship variants take roughly 1.5-2x as much supply as their regular versions, so while it's good to build a few to lead your fleets, they are certainly not meant to be mass-produced. Currently each faction gets three versions, based on three of their primary capital ships with one or two exceptions. The goal of this is to reward players for training their admirals with raids and different engagements, and to encourage maximizing your DPS by maintaining more than one main fleet in scenarios where that's feasible.
Once again, keep in mind everything we talk about in these dev diaries isn't set in stone and is still always being altered. If you have a suggestion or critique about this mechanic, feel free to leave a comment or post it in the Migration Discussion topic on our forums. We also have a topic for discussing fleet commanders. This is all still in alpha stage so there's a lot of ideation and testing going on on things that may ultimately not be kept if they're determined to not work, so feel free to suggest any changes or additions.