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Echo details some of the gameplay changes you can expect from Ages of the Federation.

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Greetings all,

Well, it's only April and the world has somehow managed to plunge itself into chaos once more. Viruses, wars and impending global economic catastrophes! Oh my!

And yet Stellar Parallax remains - a bedrock of (comparative) sanity in a world gone mad - and the work on our projects continues, particularly Ages of the Federation.

Many of you will have seen on our Discord much of the outstanding 3D and 2D artwork being produced by our wonderful artists - Max, Hobbs, Conner and others. We're actually celebrating passing a number of milestones as the list of art assets for various factions and minor factions become ever more complete.

Yet a major and ultimately all-important aspect of the mod that is more difficult to present visually is gameplay. After all, what's the point of a mod or game looking pretty if playing it is about as much fun as a case of gastroenteritis? As many of you will know Hobbs is trying to set some time aside to make a semi-regular (time permitting) video series showing off the progress of the mod, which will actually allow you to witness the changes and improvements the team has made to how the mod actually plays.

Now when it comes to Stellar Parallax, the Big Cheese when it comes to designing and implementing gameplay changes is Echo. This New Zealish adonis prefers to work behind the scenes, elbow deep in the guts of the mod, and few things bring him greater pleasure than purging the game's code of extraneous material. It's kind of his thing, if you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, Echo working in the background so much often means that he ends up being something of an unsung hero, which just isn't right given the sheer amount of work he puts in. To that end, I've asked Echo to be the star of today's dev update, and to bring you up to speed on what he's cooking up.

Take it away, Echo.

__________

When we set out to revamp AotF1, we decided that not only did the art need updating to a new standard, but that gameplay, and especially combat, needed an overhaul as well.

While previously our combat gameplay has looked very pretty, it didn’t really distinguish itself as being STAR TREK combat from a mechanical sense, and so with the revamp I set out to fix this.

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Before I dive into detail, I will first outlay some of my guiding principles for designing gameplay in AotF:

  • Ensure that combat feels and plays as true to Star Trek source material as possible within reason.
  • Maintain and increase the focus on tactical combat and decision making that AotF strives to be known for.
  • Keep the details of combat mechanics as visible and understandable as possible within the game.
  • Cater to multiple playstyles on both a strategic and tactical scale.
  • Ensure the mod is accessible to players with minimal Sins familiarity and low APM.

These are some lofty goals, so how have I gone about striving towards them in Sins of a Solar Empire?

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To begin with, I have overhauled how ship defences function. Shields, in particular, have seen the most change. While they still serve as the primary regenerative Hit Point pool for a ship, they will now resist 75% of incoming Torpedo damage, allowing a well shielded ship to avoid enemy alpha strikes and slow the initial phase of the battle. In addition, shields have a new mechanic once knocked down to 0. They will cease their passive regeneration entirely and begin a recharge cycle (usually around 60 seconds), after which time they will come back online, instantly restoring a high percentage of their total capacity.

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Hull has some similar mechanics, in that it naturally resists 33% of incoming Energy damage, but has no resistance to Torpedo damage. This leaves unshielded ships open to large bursts of damage from Torpedo salvoes, and highlights how fragile ships can be without shields in Star Trek.

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In order to help keep this system simple to manage in combat, we have largely done away with behind the scenes damage types, so the damage per second number you see in a ships stat card is exactly what you can expect it to do.

With these mechanics in place, there is a noticeable difference to how ships interact with each other depending on the state of their shields, and several simple but highly rewarding micro techniques available to a player that do not involve ability casting.

In particular, we already see ships being pulled out of combat to recover their shield, as well as hit squads of torpedo specialists that are kept in reserve until they have an unshielded target to tear into. Even ships that have static movement in combat are often kept moving through the use of regular move orders to benefit from shield recovery mechanics.

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These mechanics also allow for a naturally occurring and easily understandable counter system - one stemming from hull:shield ratios.

Rather than needing to look up a damage chart, you can instead look at the HP proportions of an enemy vessel and immediately understand whether you need to bring a lot of energy weapons, torpedoes or both to kill it.

But what about early Starfleet and Romulan vessels I hear you ask. Don’t they have no shields? Surely this is a crippling weakness! Well, it certainly is a weakness, but Polarised Hull Plating has been given careful thought as well. As long as a ship that uses Polarised Hull Plating has Antimatter, it will have significant improvements to its damage reduction, especially energy damage reduction. In addition, such vessels tend to be built far more ruggedly than shielded vessels, leading to much higher hull and armour scores than average.

Overall, ships like the Columbia or Neptune will be able to absorb a huge amount of punishment within a single battle, but will struggle to recover their defensive capacity without a shipyard to conduct repairs. This leads them to favouring short, sharp battles close to home - a playstyle that may not be for everyone, but can be powerful in the right hands. But for those that really can't do without shields, do not worry - the Coalition of Planets and Romulans both have plenty of access to powerful shielded ships as well.

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The Klingons have the final part of the defence rework all to themselves - Frontal Damage Reduction that is dependent on their shields being raised. This is to simulate the Klingon tendency to angle their shields entirely to the front when in battle. They tend to have slightly lower total shield hit points to account for this, and to encourage flanking of Klingon ships. Against a less attentive Klingon player or the AI, this can be fairly easily to achieve, but a skilled Klingon player can exploit this quirk of their defence profile to great effect, shrugging off damage that would annihilate another species’ vessel.

Perhaps the best part of all of this is that everything I have described so far can be learned in game from tips, ability tooltips and buffs visible on ships. I have put extra attention into ensuring that in game text is as informative as possible - although this sometimes comes at the cost of space for lore, we believe it to be worth the sacrifice.

__________

Thanks, Echo.

As you can see, Echo, along with Brutoni, are really working hard to make the combat in the upcoming re-release of Ages of the Federation feel as authentic as possible, with each faction having a genuinely distinct play-style while still being balanced and fun. As I'm writing this, the mod is already almost completely unrecognisable from its previous version, and we're very excited by what these two are doing and plan to do.

In short, it's gonna be fun!

Till next time, be good. But not too good.
- Orion

Comments
usndiesel
usndiesel - - 35 comments

This sounds awesome. It really makes it unique. I'm looking forward to this mod but I'm really looking forward to AOTF2. With this in place, that future mod will be even more amazing.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+6 votes
Corelious
Corelious - - 290 comments

Anyone have a link to their discord?

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CanadianBakin
CanadianBakin - - 139 comments

just go to the summery page and its in the little box the right the one with follow unfollow buttons :)

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
OrionSlaver Author
OrionSlaver - - 3,769 comments Reply Good karma+1 vote
MarkusSVK84
MarkusSVK84 - - 6 comments

WOW. You people are unbelievable.

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Griefmaker
Griefmaker - - 21 comments

"This New Zealish adonis ". What the hell is New Zealish ? Do you mean a Kiwi or a New Zealander?

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Guest
Guest - - 692,518 comments

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