Happy New Years everyone! The Enhanced 4X Mod just turned a year old a few days ago, and I would like to say thank you for all the support this project has received. With a new year ahead for all of us, it seems like a good time to outline what to expect in the coming year.
Enhanced 4X 1.5
First of all, Enhanced 4X 1.5 will be released as soon as I get a day to do some testing. The main feature will be the new upgrade system. After a new research is unlocked, you'll be able to upgrade your capitalships and titans with special upgrades. A few will be for free, but most will cost resources, and your factory and ship will be unusable for a while as the upgrade is installed. Examples include an "Emergency Phase Drive" that will allow TEC capitalships to escape phase jump inhibitors once every 10 minutes, an upgrade that allows the Coronata titan to reduce the target ship's defenses when it uses Unity Mass, to maintenance drones that will improve TEC Titans' rate of fire and hull restoration.
The second major feature is that Infinite Space is now mostly integrated with E4X, at least graphically. The vast majority of planet textures in that mod have been added or replaced the less attractive ones already in E4X, while the E4X planet system remains essentially unchanged (though some planets have been shifted around). Even better, there were so many planet textures that I decided to make two new planet types! Hydrocarbon planets are harsh, tier 1 planets with high underdevelopment costs, but they are guaranteed to have a planet bonus boosting trade income due to the abundant raw materials on the planet's surface. Agricultural planets are high population tier 1 planets that would be terran planets, but are so fertile that population size has been restrained so that the entire planet can be used for agriculture. Agricultural planets have a special ability that causes any trade ships that visit it to temporarily boost the population and growth of any other planet they visit, as the surplus food is distributed throughout your Empire. And of course, all the other planets you've seen before now look better than ever!
A third and hopefully not too confusing change is that most of the factions have been renamed. I thought that calling each faction "Rebels" or "Loyalists" was wearing thin, and would be confusing with future features I intend to implement. The TEC race is now known as the Traders, where the Loyalists are now just the TEC, while the Rebels have formed their own government now known as the Human Trader State (HTS). The Advent, being split among basically religious differences, have caused the Rebels to call themselves the "Ascended Advent", while the Loyalists have unofficially started to be called the "Orthodox Advent". And the Rebel Vasari have reformed themselves into the Vasari Independent Republic (VIR), while the loyalists are now known by the authority that has always governed the Vasari, the Vasari Central Command (VCC). For now these names remain cosmetic but maybe used to justify changes later.
There's one other major feature I've been planning for months that will be released after 1.5. Based on the special Orion planet in Master of Orion, a new series of "Secret Random Encounters" will add a new layer of exploration even in the late game. These encounters are special planets guarded by special and unique "Guardians" that will challenge even a high level titan and a fleet. Defeating these guardians can be well worth it though, as the best planets in the game or special combat buffs can only be obtained by defeating them. These random encounters will be fairly rare though; there will at most only one per star systems where players spawn, and you might not find any at all!
The Next Mod - Star Wars: Interregnum
The Enhanced 4X Mod started as a little proof of concept in December of 2011. This came about while I was working on the Star Wars: Requiem mod, and noticed that there were all sorts of mechanisms in Sins that were not being taken advantage of in other mods. I couldn't incorporate most of them in Requiem as the goal of the mod was to stick as close to Vanilla Sins as possible. Since then E4X has grown to become my main mod project, and it really taught me how to mod creatively more than Requiem ever did. But I never really intended to leave the galaxy far far away permanently.
Now a year later, in seems fitting to announce my plans, if only to keep myself on schedule. I will soon begin working on a new Star Wars mod, Star Wars: Interregnum, that will use E4X as a base just like Requiem tried to stick to Vanilla Sins' gameplay. Those of you that like Star Wars or just want 4 more factions, with new research, units, heroes and strategies to play with, will be able to use this mod along with everything you love about E4X (heroes, embassies, random encounters etc.). Those who don't want the new factions and all that comes with being in the Star Wars universe, including new militia, random encounters and even pirates, can continue to use E4X like you always have. I can't give a time frame of when this will be ready, but let me say that much of it's content is already past the planning stage, and that I will create a separate mod page for it when it is ready. But here's a teaser of the basic plot.
Interregnum is in the Star Wars universe, which the Sins races arrived at via a wormhole while fleeing the Vasari's unknown enemy. Arriving right before the events of episode 6, the new comers and their armadas of ship and fleeing populations quickly alter the course of Star Wars history. Stumbling across Endor, the Triple Alliance of the TEC, Ascended Advent and VIR battle the surprised Imperial forces before the Rebel attack, destroying the Death Star II and killing Emperor Palpatine. With the sudden lose of its leader, Darth Vader rallies the Imperial Navy to become the new head of the Galactic Empire. However, he is unable to defeat the Triple Alliance quickly, and Vader's lack of political skills (and poor relations with many officials close to Palpatine) causes several ambitious Imperial leaders such as Warlord Zsinj and director of Imperial Intelligence Ysanne Isard to defect from the Empire and create their own fiefdoms, fragmenting the Empire during its first existential crisis. Encouraged by the weakening Empire, the Rebellion begins mounting increasing bold raids deep into Imperial territory, and when the Empire abandons the outer rim out of desperation, several worlds unite and start building the institutions of a New Republic. However, a decisive victory by the Empire at Thyferra against Triple Alliance and Rebel forces, along with the arrival of the HTS into the war as an ally of the Empire, halts the Imperial retreat, while the Orthodox Advent and VCC take over their own sectors of the galaxy, plotting their own agendas. Thus four years after the arrival, the galaxy in engulfed by total war on a scale even larger than the clone wars, with nearly a dozen factions competing for either galactic dominance, their own domains or other goals. With the battle lines static for now, it will take an exceptionally bold and competent commander to bring their side to victory, and end the Great Interregnum.