Hey everyone Puck here, Lead Dev from the BTR team. A lot has been said in the previous dev diaries regarding the creation of the Milky Way Galaxy as presented in the Mass Effect series, and so today I'm going to expand on a bit more of a broad overview of Beyond the Relays, defining a bit more our vision for Beyond the Relays as well as a review of both where we currently are in development, as well as a roadmap of where we are going and what else we have planned.
Our focus has from the very beginning of BTR been to provide as comprehensive a total conversion for Stellaris to the Mass Effect universe as feasible. Each of us on the team are passionate about the mod and Mass Effect as a series, and are determined to make this a reality. This has led us to take a very focused approach in making sure that first the foundation of the mod is of the utmost quality, which is why so much of the previous updates focused on the map. The most foundational part of our map is the Relay Network, which I spoke of in our first Dev Diary. As we have continued work on the map, a lot has changed since that first post over a year ago. The map now has had the following changes implemented -
- The number of star clusters has increased from 49 to 85
- Total system count has grown from 245 to 383.
- A change in the approach to planet biodiversity and atmosphere composition as reviewed in our previous dev diary.
The new additions to the map have been pulled from the original source material wherever possible, as well as including content from fanon where we felt that the content didn't feel out of place and was well grounded.
The map currently is now in it's final polishing phase, ensuring that the relay network is fully functional. We've gotten a few questions recently on how exactly the relay network is implemented and how lore friendly it will be. In Mass Effect lore, there are two types of Relay, a Primary Relay which covers thousands of lightyears and only connects to one other relay, and secondary relays which are much more numerous and connect to multiple other relays, but only cover smaller distances within their immediate stellar neighborhood. As a means of representing this in Stellaris, we are taking the approach that hyperlanes will fill the role of secondary relays. Primary Relays will be the relays the are seen in game, and mechanically operate exactly the same as wormholes, having only one other connection. This has led to the lorefriendly (albeit not adequately portrayed in the games) build of multiple relays w
ithin a single star cluster or even system in some instances. Another common question we've gotten regarding relays is how the Omega 4 relay will work. To operate the Omega 4 Relay, a specific tech will have to be researched. Initially this will just be a standard research that will appear for you to research, but as development progresses we intend to tie this into a custom event chain utilizing the derelict reaper.
Upon release, we intend to have a few different gamemodes available, similar to how other Total Conversions for Stellaris have approached it -
- Familiar to everyone will be the standard Stellaris experience - a sandbox where every empire starts on their homeworld on even footing, controlling only one system and building up from there.
- Additionally we will have a map setup that is focused entirely on being as lore-friendly as possible - empires owning all of their appropriate territory, starting with appropriate fleet strength, techs, etc.
- Our third will be very similar to the previous mode, except that it will have support for a few races that wouldn't normally be playable in the lore mode - specifically this would include The Collectors, Cerberus, and the Rachni, as each of them will be primarily event spawned in the canon map mode.
Each of these modes will include multiple map sizes, currently we are looking at having 5 different galaxy sizes -
- 381 systems (this has easily been the most popular amongst our playtesters currently, as traversing outside of the various star clusters is explicitly done via the Relay Network and has a very different feel to standard Stellaris.
- 500 systems
- 750 systems
- 1000 systems
- 2000 systems
We have a pretty extensive development plan for the mod, and have modeled it similarly to Stellaris' own development path -
- Currently we are working on getting the mod into a releasable state for a public beta, and we are extremely close to realizing this, and hope to have an update on this for you all within the coming weeks.
After the Public Beta, we will be focusing our efforts on building off the foundation of our work so far with 5 planned content updates-
- Eden Prime - the first update, dubbed Eden Prime, is focused on fleshing out the various empires that have been added and will include the following -
- Empire specific events and event chains
- Empire unique techs and buildings
- Diplomacy dialogue - yes you'll be able to call the Hanar a big stupid jellyfish.
- Custom civics and traditions
- Unique interactions with primitives
- Farixen - Our second update will be focused on warfare -
- Full component and tech tree overhaul
- Implementation of the Treaty of Farixen (restrictions on fleet sizes, etc.)
- Combat rework
- Implementation of midgame Crises -
- Geth Incursion, Collectors, Attack on the Citadel, etc.
- Elkos Combine - Our focus in our third update will be on Economics and Corporations
- A better and more thorough implementation of independent colonies and megacorps
- Review and rework resources, as well as implement more uses for our custom resources.
- If possible implement playable Independent colony megacorps and focus on making corpo wars and smaller megacorps more fleshed out and fun to play.
- Citadel - Citadel will be focused on the galactic community as a whole. This will be where we look at a deeper implementation of the Citadel Council.
- Custom Galactic Resolutions as seen throughout the series, such as declaring worlds Sanctuary Worlds and off limits for colonization like Casbin, etc.
- Expand implementation of Federations content.
- Sovereign - Currently slated to be our last big content focus or BTR, Sovereign will be where we implement the Reaper Crisis. Indoctrination, Galactic Custodian, etc will all be touched on here.
As you can see, we have a lot that we want to do with BTR and are excited to see it continue to grow. As always if you are interested in helping with development of the mod or in engaging with our community, feel free to swing by our discord. While that's all I have, we've also got a quick update from our head writer Arrenius below.
Hello everyone! Arrenius here, head writer for BtR, and Supreme Chancellor for Life (self-appointed). Puck has asked me to give a quick rundown of what the writing team has been working on. The team is currently divided amongst two tasks: A re-flavor of the Stellaris tech tree, and writing of flavor text for empires, events, and anomalies. Our tech redo has come along very nicely so far. Our team looked through the tech tree in vanilla stellaris and came up with some – if I do say so myself – very creative ways to update the tech localization to make it more ‘mass-effect’ in theme. We do intend to modify the tech tree further, altering weapon balance and adding empire-specific techs, but at this time, we felt it better to just re- skin the vanilla tree in the name of having a playable mod, but rest assured, this is an area the whole team – writing and coding side – will be addressing further. Some examples of our work in this area include lore-appropriate names for laser weapons, and the replacement of ‘destroyer’ and ‘battleship’ hull type techs with ‘frigate’ and ‘dreadnought’ respectively, to reflect the mass effect ship classification system seen in the codex.
The second writing group has been primarily focused on bringing our world to life – however, this is very much still a work in progress. The first project this group tackled was what we’re calling ‘origin messages’ – i.e., the message that appears in the pop up when you first load an empire. These origin messages are intended to give you a quick overview of the Empire’s situation in the lore map, but in an ‘immersive’ fashion, giving you a feel for the character and culture of that empire. In addition to the canon races and states from the Mass Effect universe, three entirely original empires were created based off information in the codex, and the creativity of our writing staff. We look forward to seeing whether you guys enjoy playing them, or if you’d prefer to grind them into dust in the name of canon purity – we’re fine with that too! In addition to the origin messages, we’ve also done ‘codex abridged’ style empire descriptions, which will appear on the Empire select screen.
Beyond those tasks I outlined above, the writing team has also been planning out unique event chains for empires, intended to make playing each Empire a unique experience, and hopefully one which gets you more of that wonderful mass effect immersion we all like to see. Writers have also been assisting in designing unique traits and civics, as well as defining established relationships between empires at game start. We have a lot more planned beyond the beta release, and I look forward to keeping you all up to date as our work continues!
thank you for your hard work! Really excited for the open beta, I can't wait.