Now that the alpha version of the mod has been released, it's time to talk about how the final version will look.
I first started Mayhem 3 as a new project called Stardust, which was already able to generate a random galaxy layout. Making the layout (ie. the physical grid) was the easy part and seeing how much work it would require to make a game from it, I abandoned the project to try something on my own. After some work on a 2D real time prototype (that you can actually try here), I've reached a very familiar point for all developers: "it's not fun". So I went back to X3 where the only reason that stopped me from playing it again was that I knew the universe by heart. Even though Mayhem 2 generates asteroids and has a lot of randomized elements, you still have to go through the tedious phase of exploring and creating a satellite network that would reveal nothing very surprising.
Having a procedural galaxy changes everything. Even though the layout is basic (and I intend to keep it that way for gameplay reasons), it forces you to take some risks because you never know what you'll find behind the next gate.
As you can see, each sector has the maximum connections it can have. That is to manage the new jumping system, which is in a nutshell "no jumping system". Instead, you can teleport between Jump Beacons, but there is no Jumpdrive anymore (and no Energy-Cells micromanagement!). Mayhem being about expanding your territory and war between factions, it was a bit absurd to be able to teleport all your fleet at one point instantly. You just cannot defend everything anymore, and attacking a sector will require much more preparation. Here are the new rules in Mayhem 3 for claiming and conquering sectors:
- You are known as "The Independents". To claim a sector, you just destroy one of its stations. The AIs, on the other hand, claim a sector when they have gathered a Battle Group at a nearby sector and when they're ready to attack.
- While a sector is claimed, no other factions can claim it. If a different faction destroys the last station in the sector, the sector goes to the claimer.
- A claim is automatically cancelled after a few hours. If the AIs see that their fleet is not strong enough anymore, they will try to reinforce it with other fleets, or retreat to the nearest Outpost.
- Once a sector is conquered, it becomes a "Protectorate" for some time. A Protectorate cannot be claimed and if you destroy a station from it, you will be encouraged by Terracorp to pay a high penalty (ie. they will steal your money).
- If a sector is empty and has no station to destroy, you just build a station from one of your TL (the vanilla way to build stations), and you automatically conquer the sector. You don't have to manually claim or conquer anymore, the game just reacts on your actions.
- A truce is offered when a race conquers a sector and if the two don't have other battles in progress. If you're not in permanent war, you can actually reset your reputation with a specific faction that way.
All these rules are already implemented into the alpha version of Mayhem 3.
Sectors have still the three statistics from Mayhem 2 (people, support - any station - and research), but they also produce a specific product and consume another one. If you're new to Mayhem, the player, in previous versions, had a Sanctuary from which he would craft ships and stations. Now, "Sanctuaries" have been replaced by "Outposts" and every faction uses them (with the same exact scripts). Depending on where you build your Outpost, you will need to bring your people some food to allow them to grow and therefore increase your production capacities. Outposts are also where you assign your "Workers", which represent automated ships divided into several roles: Agents, Looters, Miners, Services (AI only, for flavor), Traders and Tugs. Apart from the Services, all Workers have a "true" purpose. For example, if you kill a Trader transporting Computer Components, these resources will never reach the Outpost that was supposed to build a new ship from these components. In the vanilla game and in Mayhem 2, the production of ships and stations is fake, and the ships you see are "artificial".
Squadrons are the military automated ships of the AI. As a player, you don't really need them, because you have the fleet system that will be improved in the final version of Mayhem 3. The AI has six types of Squadrons: Battle Group (invaders), Border Patrol (defenders of hot sectors), Escort (protectors of traders), Police (various tasks), Rearguard (defenders of the safest sectors) and Task Force (reprisal and opportunity attacks). Squadrons and workers are already fully coded but they haven't been debugged.
So, what to expect now? Here is a list of features that are planned and already being worked on for Mayhem 3:
- Plot. Even though I don't want a very structured story, there's something very interesting to make with a plot, and that is changing the galaxy over time. Instead of having one main threat (the OCV faction in Mayhem 2), you will face consecutively three threats: Xenons, Yakis (pirates) and the OCV (and maybe a fourth as a 99$ DLC). Plus, it gives a reason and a backstory to justify your thirst for independence. It will remain very "sandbox oriented", as the plot will only continue if you want it to continue. For instance, to go to the "Yaki phase", you'll have to destroy all Xenon stations, and other factions won't risk it. For this reason, the Threat value from Mayhem 2 has been removed.
- Missions. Vanilla missions are deactivated in favor of a new mission system. There will be 6 types of missions, two combat missions (1/ patrol, 2/ destroy), two trade missions (1/ bring wares, 2/ buy used ships that the AI has captured) and two peaceful missions, with no difficulty (1/ scan newly created asteroids, 2/retrieve lost artifacts). Your Personal journal will automatically be updated to follow missions progress (you no longer have to search through all your messages to find the precious info you need!). Company missions from Mayhem 2 are totally removed.
- Ships and lasers overhaul. I intend to change a lot of ship statistics, giving them more sense into the Mayhem universe. Note that because Terrans are no longer a faction in Mayhem 3, their ships will still be better than every other ship of the same class. Only you can acquire Terran technology when you build Research Stations into old Terran sectors, so you won't have the imbalance you had in Mayhem 2 when it came to fight Terrans against any other faction.
- Marines overhaul. The marine system will be simplified and the Police will respond to your boarding operations. You will have a lot less marines, but they will be hard to kill (injury system) and you will be able to level them up by having them piloting your own ships. I also want to replace the equipment system with various damage types and a simpler mechanics.
- Annihilation. You can now completely eliminate a faction from the game. However, the AI is not interested in conquering weak empires.
- Fleets improvements. Mayhem 3 will make it possible to create and assign new roles to specific fleets. The idea is to have some kind of automation for them. For instance, if a certain amount of enemy ships enter your sectors, they will automatically respond. Like the AI does, but with more customization. This system will also replace MLCC, that is totally removed in Mayhem 3. It's possible that the vanilla menus will suffice to implement these new features.
- Tutorial accessible from any game start. The encyclopedia will also be revised and many "hints" have already been integrated to some menus in order for you to understand how it works at a glance.
- New economy. Already implemented, it will probably go through some modifications, but the general work is done. You now have "common wares" that all follow the same price calculation, and every factory is only producing one ware and consuming another one. From a raw resource to a finished product, the ratio is generally 2:1.
- New Ascension. Depending on your ambition (determined by one of the questions you must ask when the game starts), you will receive short term goals. The Ascension cannot be lost and doesn't grant you anything more than the "access" to the plot (which is the access to your first sector). Any Ascension has three goals that you can achieve in any order you want. It's a way of proving to people that you can be trusted as a new leader.
- New scanning system. No more "ship data" confusion. Now things are easier to understand: you can scan any ship with a Data Scanner to obtain research points. Researching a ship type at your Research Stations also increase these research points. Once a blueprint is unlocked, you can build the associated ships from your Outposts. Scanning ships for data is free and safe and doesn't make people angry.
- Outpost events. Little stuff to spice things up.
- Many new changes and QoL that are all designed to make things easier to understand and less tedious to manage. Many things have also been removed for clarity reasons, such as company missions and used ships, victories, Goners, insurance, useless commands, poor quality plots, etc.
Generally speaking, Mayhem 3 should be a little slower than Mayhem 2, but deeper, more consistent and clearer.
When all the planned features are implemented, I'll release a beta version.
Thanks for reading.