It's been a little over a month since we posted a proper update on the current state of the mod.
First of all, however, we need to extend our congratulations and best wishes to our friend and colleague Hobbs203, who got married this weekend! Many of you will have already seen Hobbs' model work - including the Klingon D-7 and much of the Romulan fleet - and we're very happy to see him get married to the woman he loves. Well done, mate.
Now, on to the mod! What's been going on with Ages of the Federation?
Some of you may follow Gul-Dukat's YouTube channel - GulSurvives. The mighty Gul has an ongoing weekly series of livestreams focusing on the development of the mod. In fact, if you manage to catch these livestreams (difficult for those of us on the other side of the planet...) you can witness the Gul himself, along with Max, Hobbs, Bane, KillaBC and other developers working on the mod in realtime, as well as discussing Ages of the Federation, Star Trek, funny memes, the fundamental questions of existence and whether anything in our short lives truly matters. They also answer your questions live so try to catch them when you can, but if you can't you can always watch them afterwards. Here's the most recent episode:
Here's a link to the full playlist: Youtube.com
So what have we been focusing on lately?
Icons, icons, icons...
You've seen from our screenshots that we've been adding a number of new art assets into the mod, such as new stars, fresh new planetary rings, a simplified, elegant UI, Victory and Defeat Screens, and more. What you haven't seen, however, is how much work has been going into icons lately. You don't realise it so much when you play, but Sins and its mods contain hundreds of icons. Working on them can be a tedious and time consuming effort, so kudos to our artsists for the progress that they've made.
Gul-Dukat has begun the process of placing these icons in the mod - here's what the Federation's military research tree looks like at this very moment:
Gul is continuing to add icons even as I'm typing this news post, so by the time you read this the research tree will be even further along the path to completion. The rate at which the mod is progressing honestly continues to surprise me.
EDIT: I just checked our team Discord and it has just been announced that all current research icons for the Federation are done, but it's 3:00am here and I can't be bothered going back into dev mode to get another image. Orion wants bed!
Before he ran off to get hitched, Hobbs was working on a series of faction portraits. He's obviously not finished yet, but they're shaping up quite well.
No, the 'death ball' is not a reference to a gladiatorial contest from the world of Mad Max. It's our term for a tactic understandably used by many, if not most Sins players, whereby players gather their entire fleet into a single, cohesive unit and use to to steamroll the enemy in a massive, unstoppable hammer blow. It's an effective tactic, but let's be honest - it's hardly imaginative, isn't it? And, still being honest, it can lead to games being a little repetitive when every game comes down to who can push the hardest with the biggest fleet. For Ages of the Federation, we want to encourage players to take more clever approaches with tactical and strategic thinking involved. In other words, we want to break up the death ball.
To that end, the maniacal Bane (he's really the dad of the group - he's the one who keeps us from getting hopelessly distracted by memes, so he's actually the mature and focused Bane) has implemented an anti-death ball mechanic that both works and actually makes sense.
Many of you already know that we want fleet sizes to be considerably smaller for AotF than they were in Armada 3. In fact, at the moment we're leaning towards having fleet limits set at roughly 50 ships. As such, operating smaller groups of ships is going to be an integral part of AotF gameplay. Groups. Plural. Let me explain.
In reality, ships travelling in formation wouldn't be able to manoeuvre as freely as they would when alone. It's a simple fact faced even today by pilots, mariners, racing drivers, or anyone whose success and survival depends on the ability to maintain constant situational awareness and hold a formation with others. Another example most of us would face in everyday life would be driving on a highway in heavy traffic - turning erratically can lead to deadly collisions. The same is true of starships in Ages of the Federation - the more ships you have in close proximity, the harder it is for them to manoeuvre - they'll turn and accelerate more slowly, as well as fire less frequently as they strive to avoid hitting allies. There will also be a short delay in following orders as the ships coordinate with each other. Groups of more than about ten ships will start to feel slightly constrained. The more ships in proximity to each other, the greater that constraint will be. As such, for each ship to maintain its maximum effectiveness, you'll be best served by a number of smaller fleets operating independently, rather than a single large group. You can still deploy the death ball, of course, but your death ball will operate sluggishly.
Honestly, if I went into great detail about all that's been happening here I'd be typing all night and you'd be reading all day. Suffice to say that Bane, that paragon of productivity, has been busily coding away, implementing many of the Federation fleet's special abilities. Though there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of tweaking, balancing and implementing particle effects, the amount of work Bane has already put in to getting so many different abilities up and running is certainly to be commended. Thanks, Bane!
For those interested, Stardock are currently celebrating their 25th Anniversary. They're currently offering significant discounts on copies of Sins of a Solar Empire and their other games, such as Ashes of the Singularity and Offworld Trading Company. These are all fantastic games (modded or unmodded), and Stardock have been generous enough to allow our own Gul-Dukat to cash in a little bit. By following the link provided below and ordering a copy of one of their games, you'll not only be buying a quality gaming experience at a great discount, but you'll also be supporting an excellent games studio who are truly supportive of the modding community.
You'll also be helping Gul keep the lights on, which is nice, I guess. Please check it out and share the link with your friends.
That's all from me for now. We'll be back soon with more news. Don't forget to try and catch Gul's livestream's for regular, live updates!
As always, stay classy. Or don't.