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Let's take a look at one of the key features of Star Trek: Evolution! The time advancement method gives access to new technologies while prevents tech rushing.

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One of the earliest concepts of Star Trek: Evolution was that I don't want it to be "just another compilation mod". In such mods you can build every ship simultaneously from Constiutiton to Sovereign Class. And to make older ships other than vanity items, they are stronger than they are supposed to. So you could build a couple of Connies and destroy a D'deridex with them.

This is wrong on so many levels...

In Evolution, I wanted to avoid this problem and wanted the technology level to make a difference, so newer ships can blow away old ones. But this led to another problem: how to prevent tech rushing, or to prevent you from having highly advanced ships while your opponent is stuck with old ones. You Know, like in Ages of Empires or the Civilization series, where you could rush ahead and make cannons while the AI only had stone clubs. This was the main reason I eventually migrated form Armada II to Fleet Operations because the stock game's options were too limited to deal with it.

Evolution's solution is a way that on one hand rewards those who are investing in R&D but meanwhile prevents them to gain too much of an advantage. The mod is partitioned into what I call Eras. Each Era encompasses roughly 25 years - sometimes more, sometimes less - and the end of each Era serves as a technological choke point. Certain technologies become available only at the beginning of the next Era, so once you have researched everything available in the current Era, you can't gain any more advantage in technology over your opponent. Sure you can stockpile resources to rush with the techs in the next Era, but it will give you only a temporary boost again. And what prevents you from entering into a new Era before the others? Well, I'm glad you asked because that's the greatest thing about it: Every Era ends and begins at the same time for every player. You can't rush it!

As every Era takes 15 real time minutes to pass, no player can spend all his resources on research alone. You're forced to build ships form the current Era, otherwise you risk that the other players will find your base and destroy it with their more sophisticated ships. The threat is not insignificant as Federation Dawn's strongest ships are roughly twice as strong as the ships from the earliest Era of the same faction.

So let's discuss how Era advancement works!

First of all, at the start of every Era, a big icon appears warning you of the fact that new technologies are available. Hovering the cursor over it will also tell you a bit about the time period from the point of view of the faction you're playing.

The first Era from the Federation's point of view

Every starship that is eligible for upgrade or refit during the Era is upgrade instantly, except construction ships. However, once a ship historically retired from active frontline service, it is no longer eligible for refitting, so you must know which ships of your fleet remains up to date and which ones became obsolete.

The automatic upgrade is due game engine limitations as the AI is incapable to use manual refit options and getting most of your ships upgraded could be a decisive factor against the AI, even if it would take some time.
There is one ship class that won't be upgraded: constructors. This is because if you're building something when the new Era begins, and the constructor would be upgraded, the game would consider the constructor lost and it would destroy the half built station. You would lose the resources you spent on it too!
There is one small hiccup that unfortunately cannot be solved. Occasionally when mining ships are upgraded, when they are unloading in the mining station, they get stuck in their task. If this happens within the mining station it can block the whole mining process on that station. Therefore it's strongly advised to check on all your mining stations after a new Era begun. The funny thing is, this issue doesn't affect the AI so in this, the machine has the advantage.

That's all nice and well but how new ships become available you might ask. New technologies become available instantly in the research stations. But your construction ships and shipyards have to be upgraded manually with the latest schematics to be able to build new stuff. See the icon highlighted on the picture bellow? If this icon is active, it means your constructor can be upgraded to be able to build new stuff. Here the icon isn't active yet, you can't upgrade your ship.

The icon is not active yet.

Now the icon is active, you can upgrade the constructor.

See the icon?

Upgrading your constructors and shipyards is important because otherwise you won't have access to more modern buildings.This won't be an issue for the AI because there are many ways to circumvent that issue. So you won't be in an advantage against the AI.

However, if you're insisting on keeping older stuff in production, you may keep one construction ship or shipyard unupgraded and you'll be able to build Constitutions to fight Shinzon's Scimitar.

Federation Dawn will feature three Eras, with a fourth to come in a later update before I fully advance to the next phase.

The three Eras are:
2150-2173 - From the United Earth until the end of the Romulan War (also known as the Coalition War)
2174-2214 - From the early years of Federation expansion to the rising tension of major powers
2215-2245 - From the Four Powers War to the first half of the General War

That's all for now. I'll be on vacation for the next week but after that I'll be back with some news about the Federation.

Comments
HereticUK
HereticUK - - 32 comments

I really like the sound of this mod and you have some interesting ideas.

I have to question the "15-minute rule" because, for me at least, this seems like almost no time at all... It feels like once I've built a basic base I'm already in the next era. I guess that we'll have to wait and see at the end of the day.

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k_merse Author
k_merse - - 50 comments

The 15 minute rule is rather arbitrary and it's up for a debate. I tested the Eras with various lengths and I'm considering to increase the time to 20 minutes, but it needs some more testing.

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hellodean
hellodean - - 1,451 comments

sounding good so far, it is a shame tho that ships are upgraded automatically rather than giving you the choice to invest in upgrading or building new, could you make it so the AIs send them to be repaired and get changed that way?

or perhaps rather than the upgrades being done ship by ship (like the Romulan ships in fleet ops) it could be a science station that upgrades them?
eg "refit excelsior level 2" "refit excelsior level 3" etc etc

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k_merse Author
k_merse - - 50 comments

The original concept was something similar but it turned out to be crude and ineffective. Fleet Ops is an RTS game and too much micromanagement would hurt the overall experience. It would require so much extra coding that it doesn't worth the effort. Not to mention it can make the mod more unstable and the gameplay slower.

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