It’s time to announce my next project, it will be a sequel to Stellar Monarch. I have been thinking about it for a longer while, about the things I would love to change if I were to start from scratch. About things that could have been better. So, I have made a prototype and it looks solid enough to give it a green light. Stellar Monarch 2 is now officially in production.
Why a sequel?
There is this dilemma of a designer, should one improve & change the existing game or make a sequel? Or how much a game should be changed after a release? My philosophy is that I make games for players. And players, even fans of the same genre, might have different tastes, so not everything will equally cater to everyone. Trivial and everyone agrees… but not everyone acts on it. Too many times, as a player, I have seen a game I liked changed, or adjusted in the middle of the life cycle, in a way that would make the game no longer fun for me. It’s always so sad when a developers make a great game I liked and then change it to the extend that it no longer appeals to me. Maybe even it was objectively better or catered to more universal tastes, but for me, as a player, it’s always a disaster.
So, I have decided to make a sequel. This would allow me to change everything I like, without worrying about the expectations regarding the existing game. If you liked the the old mechanics better you can still play it, Stellar Monarch is not going anywhere and it will be patched as needed for the years to come. Now, with the creative freedom of making a completely new game, I can redesign everything, reevaluate every mechanic, throw out everything I can find a better replacement for and keep & polish the best parts of the old game.
Differences between Stellar Monarch 2 and Stellar Monarch 1
Basically, the feel of the game will be retained, you will still feel as the Emperor not a logistics officer. But most of the mechanics will be replaced, redone, adjusted or polished.
Design philosophy adjustments:
- I will be more trusting my own designer’s guts – There was a funny thing when developing Stellar Monarch 1. I have thought on a mechanic to make fleets autonomous but I discarded it as too daring and too different from other 4X. Then players proposed “why don’t you make those fleets autonomous”? Facepalm, why I have not made it from the start? Why!!! If I were trusting my own instincts I would made it earlier without the hassle of maintaining two systems (manual and autonomous). This time I will totally disregard how other games are made and go for my own vision 100% taking into account only feedback of my loyal players.
- Less mechanics but more depth & interaction – I would strive to make it easier to grasp and easier to learn while at the same time make it harder to master and give more tools into the player’s hands. I will try to put fewer building blocks in the game but make more connections between those. For example in SM1 there are 3 basic resources (food, minerals, gas). In SM2 there will be only 2 basic resources (food and minerals) but you would be able to do more with those. Food will start as raw food which is harvested from planets, you will be using processing technology to make processed food which will be consumed by the population, you would be making trade deals with other civilized races to get a portion of raw food/minerals extracted on their territory, etc. So, while there will be fewer things to care for you would be able to do more with those which should result with an easier to grasp mechanics and at the same time allow more decisions and interesting combinations.
- Even higher level of abstraction – Yes, SM1 was pretty high level where you ruled from the heights of your throne. Still some things were a bit too low level. Like numerous battle reports, ability to see where individual squadrons are, etc. I will strive to make it even more high level, for example for battle reports I would rather provide things like “On the front against The Hive we lost 3 planets (names), conquered 2 planets (names) while inflicting X casualties to enemy forces and suffering Y casualties. Do you want to replace the Admiral YES/NO?”.
What will change in the game:
- Feudalism & noble houses – In the sequel the world will be modeled more like a feudal monarchy with great houses, claims, usurpers and dynasties. There are 7 noble houses and you need to deal with them. Nobles are both an asset and a threat. You don’t want to just crush them because you need someone to lead the military and fight against aliens, but you want to keep them in check. Preferably if the noble houses are strong and wealthy but also obedient and loyal to the Emperor, which would be tricky to pull off. There will be fiefs, claims, estates, houses homeworlds, voting, charters, etc.
- Completely redone military system – While SM1 combat system was abstract and served its purpose I would make it quite differently now. Primarily, I would go for a higher level of abstraction, without simulating where each individual ship is but just keep it on a strategic and operational level with a more statistical approach. Also, I have an idea how to introduce ships obsolescence and even allow designing ships! Now you will have generations of ships with a possibility of using bunch of old, obsolete ships if your manufacturing can not pump up new ones fast enough. Overall, this part of the game will be more complex but at the same time easier to understand. All without introducing micromanagement of course.
- Logistics system – In SM1 you operated on the “frontlines” in SM2 it will be modeled more like “point to point” defence as it was in the middle ages with fortresses. Logistics system with starbases will be an important part of it. So, instead of moving individual squadrons around you would worry more about ground infrastructure to support efficient conquest and border defence.
- Court redesign – I actually liked the old SM1 court a lot but I think I have a better idea. More connected with noble houses and allowing a more personalised approach to individual courtiers.
- And more…
What will probably not change:
- Audience – I will redo a lot of the events (maybe even all of them) but the overall audience mechanic was quite fun so I don’t plan drastic changes here.
- Asymmetric aliens – You will be facing The Hive again. Sure, all those races will change and will behave differently (especially combat wise), but I wanted to keep the feel of all those aliens which play by different rules and feel unique and weird.
- Technology system – It will be adjusted a bit (for example research points will be generated separately for each field of science and prioritization will be done slightly different), also all techs will be most likely done from scratch but overall I liked the research mechanic and I would like to keep it.
- Other smaller things.
When the game will be out?
I think in the next month or so I will put a Steam page so you can wishlist the game. Then I will continue working on the pre-alpha. Maybe around summer I will be able to start with Early Access, but no guarantees here. A full release should be ready several months afterwards.
To be notified about the availability of the game on Steam go to:
https://store.steampowered.com/developer/SilverLemurGames and click “Follow”.
Steam should send you an email upon all major milestones then.