One thing I really like about Stellar Monarch is the amount of planets. It really feels like a wast interstellar empire. You feel like you are ruling the stars. But the drawback is that, well, apart from Terra, the player simply does not remember any other planet by name after the empire reach a certain size…
So, my idea for the sequel is to make several grades of planets. From the most critical ones the player knows by name to the most remote unimportant rocks not worthy of the imperial attention at all.
Three grades of imperial planets (Colonies, Core Worlds, Megalopolises):
The Empire can have any number of Colonies. Those are not that important and typically distant from the center of the Empire, have no industry, a low population and are basically used to extend the territory and provide food and resources to more industrialized planets. Next come Core Worlds, those are industrialized worlds with decent population that are clumped together around Terra. Finally, there are Megalopolises, the centers of administration, science, culture and manufacturing. The Empire will have up to 5-8 of Megalopolises and losing one is an unthinkable disaster which causes a massive Prestige loss.
Deciding the status of a planet is purely an administrative decision made by the player, but with certain restrictions. For example, a Core World must be adjacent to another Core Word (so those will tend to clump around Terra), Megalopolis must be also a Core World and can’t be on Barren/Toxic, etc. The decision is final and the status can not be revoked, losing a planet does not change its status.
The economy is based around Cities, it’s the most important economic asset. Cities process minerals to produce ships, pay taxes, etc. Basically, cities determine the wealth of the Empire. Well, technically those require also minerals and workforce but can still function quite well even with considerable shortages of those.
Each planet, depending on its type (Desert, Jungle, Terran, etc), can have a certain number of Cities (more hospitable planets tend to have more city slots). But Core Words have double number of allowed cities and Megalopolises have a whooping flat +50 City slots.
In a typical game like 50-70% of Cities would be on the few Megalopolises, 20-40% on Core Worlds and 10% or less on the hundreds of Colonies.
Efficiency of cities output rules:
Not only the number of cities counts, but also the efficiency bonus to the output of cities. It’s affected by the workforce availability, planet’s hospitability, technology and several other factors.
There are also various administrative rules. For example: Core Worlds get +50% but also -10% per adjacent non Core World (which promotes clumping those together), Megalopolis gets a flat +100% bonus (so not only Megalopolises have more cities but also those cities are much more efficient than those elsewhere), a planet adjacent to a Megalopolis gets +25%, Colonies get -50%.
Basically, it makes cities the most efficient near the administrative center of the Empire.
Minerals & Resources:
At that point you might ask, what’s the point in Colonies then? Those have barely any cities and population… So, here comes resources. Your population needs to eat and your industry needs minerals. Each planet provides those basic resources and typically provide those at 100% efficiency. So a distant minerals rich lava world or several faraway farmland colonies are quite useful to the Empire. Not to mention if those also contain rare resources.
But you are not forced to have lots of colonies. It’s definitely useful, but there are ways to get without those. You can expand horizontally if you choose too, for a price. You could simply replace the need for a high food/minerals input by mineral refining and food processing technologies which would drastically reduce the consumption of those. You can also engage in trade deals, tributes, etc with other civilized races (but only with civilized ones, if you stand by watching as those are consumed by The Hive or other without lending them a helping hand those planets will be taken over by xeno races and render useless for trade) which allows you to grab a percentage of their basic resources input.
Additional rules and gameplay effects:
- Random disasters tend to start on or next to Megalopolises
- Core Worlds are fiefs of Noble Houses (those have an imperial governor and a noble ruling it; while Colonies have just governors and no Noble House makes claims to those)
- Noble Houses consider you responsible for protecting Core Worlds, if they lose a fief to aliens it’s your fault in their eyes
- Colonies are prone to rebel (Core Worlds tend to stay loyal).
- You will have have more options to directly interact with Megalopolises (like summoning the governor for an audience) compared to other planets
- In a typical game around 10% of pops would live on Colonies, 30% on Core Worlds and 60% on a few Megalopolises worlds (so colonies are sparsely populated while Megalopolises are overcrowded)
Progress report (2020, Tech Demo and Pre-alpha):
A quick summary what has been done so far.
First, during the Tech Demo stage I took the old code of Stellar Monarch and chopped it removing a lot of things I didn’t like (especially the combat code which was removed 100%), next I redesigned the interface, especially to allow more space (at the expense of starmap view, which to be honest, is not needed when you are examining your Court for example), also I upped a bit the minimum resolution (dropped support for 1024×768 since basically no one uses it anymore). All those changes gave me more space to work with. Next I redesigned planets (now planets come in 3 grades: colonies, core worlds and megalopolises) and tested how it all would look on the map, next introduced noble houses fiefs and again checked how it would look on the starmap.
Once I evaluated all this I decided to give it a green light and proceed to the Pre-alpha stage. In that stage I aimed to forge out all the core mechanics, how those work and how those interconnect together. The new court, noble houses, economy system, warfare, etc. Just focusing on the big things and ignoring details. Some of those were coded as a barebone functionality and some were designed on paper. Also, basic art assets were done. I would say, most of the design problems were solved, and I now have a general idea how to implement the “meat” of the game.
Therefore, I proceeded to the Alpha stage. Which will be for now an internal stage with very minimal testers involved. Eventually, ending with a Closed Alpha test and then going into public Beta as an Early Access.
Disclaimer: This is a development diary describing plans and intentions. The final implementation might differ or even be discarded (especially after taking into account player’s feedback).