Author Archives: Chris

Stellar Monarch 2 version 0.45

Version 0.45 released

This is a quite exciting version I would say. A lot of stuff which I was coding in the last month and which were disabled due to being incomplete became finished and enabled now. Which means two big features. The first is the battle simulator which allows you to examine how the squadron you designed performs in a real combat versus an enemy squadron. It comes in two versions, Quick one which lets you check the overall results and Full which lets you examine detailed action logs showing which ship targeted which ship in which combat round and how much damage went to shields and how much to the ship’s hull, which ship was targeted by missiles, how many guided missiles were jammed, which ship was assaulted by fighters and how many of those were fended off by point defense weapons and how many bombs hit the target. The second big feature is the ship hulls unlocked by technologies and the ships screen. The screen allows you to examine all ship hulls, promote blueprints to prototypes, speed up the prototyping period and use some monetary incentives to make the imperial designers work harder and faster without their lame excuses why the new ship hull can’t be ready for production yet. In addition there are bunch of other features and changes like auto queuing of research option, redone houses relations, more alien races, etc. This also means this version might be quite unbalanced (note you can still play the old v0.44 via the Beta branch) and also note that the new stuff might be somewhat rough (but not necessarily, the battle simulator is decently polished for example although not 100% complete).

I would also like to thank the community. This is my fourth Early Access game and I can say that the Stellar Monarch series fans are the most forgiving when it comes to my experimentation with the new versions and those who understand the most the true nature of E.A. This attitude grants me a lot of freedom during experimentation and redoing/breaking/replacing features without the fear of the community’s reaction. This really speeds up the development process and let me make a better game in the long run, for which I want to thank you very much! Appreciated.

– [feature] Military/Ships screen with ship hulls listed, filters, option to mark favorite hulls, etc.
– [feature] Ship hulls are now properly unlocked by technologies.
– [feature] Ship hulls Blueprints can be promoted to Prototypes.
– [feature] Option to buy extra Prototype promotions (quite expensive) which can be used as an alternative to scientific research.
– [feature] Battle simulator works now. Divided into “Quick” (where you see just the result vs a selected opponent) and “Full” where you can see detailed action logs describing what happened and why it happened.
– [feature] Noble Houses relations redone to 7 tiers, also rescaled opinions to 100 opinion per relation tier and simplified it a bit (now opinion directly translates to relations without a delay).
– [feature] Gameplay option to auto queue technologies (for people who are too lazy to click on those or who thinks the emperor has better things to do than deal with research). The algorithm will strive to queue it in the way that you reach the top level technologies as quickly as possible. You can toggle it on/off anytime.

– [remove] Removed armada (since this mechanic made no sense with the new wide front combat model anyway, maybe it will be back in another form later).

– [misc] Renamed Parasites to Arachnians (I plan to use parasites as a planetary feature).
– [misc] Switched naming of ship class with ship type (to make it like in the real world).
– [misc] Various ships cleanups (hull materials names, AI ship weapons compositions, removed unused Drones, etc).

– [content] More ships (all ships from all technologies unlocking ship hulls), more technologies unlocking new hulls.
– [content] Additional technologies.
– [content] Added all planned alien races (some are only defined and not activated in the game yet). Also properly divided population into biological/mechanical (later it could be used for different effects of weapons for example).

– [balance] Redone and rebalanced AI civilized offensives (now also takes into account racial luxury percentage, which means powerful but decadent races who spend most income on luxuries will not be that much of a threat).

– [interface] Load/Save tooltip with a more clear explanation of a failed load savefile due to old version save which also indicates the Beta version availability.
– [interface] Added luxury percentage value to intelligence screen.
– [interface] Improved noble houses relations tooltip (now displaying clearly how much opinion each tier of relations requires) and improved several other house tooltips.
– [interface] Intelligence screen shows the emperor’s portrait for the Empire, also rebels portrait is randomized now.

– [fix] Small bug where super hostile house was overwriting the super hostile one upon start.
– [fix] Civilized races were making no offensive plans in mid/late game making the quite passive as the game progressed.
– [fix] Parasites never woke up the entire game (note that Parasites were renamed to Arachnians).

Compatibility note: INCOMPATIBLE, this version will not work with old saves (note that each time a savefile compatibility is broken a new Beta branch with the old version is created so you can always finish your game in progress).

Stellar Monarch 2 version 0.44

Version 0.44 released

This is the kind of version which is very ungrateful to write the changes logs for. Most of the stuff I implemented is not even listed below because it was mostly about internal mechanics, not visible to the player at all but very, very important for the future features (read: battle simulator which is starting to take a nice shape but is not enabled in this version yet). So, here it is, a bunch of fixes, small interface improvements and content updates.

– [feature] All summon to audience options now use Emperor Focus points, can’t be cancelled and have no limit to the number of people summoned per audience (so now all “summon” buttons use the same mechanic). Also, regular governors can be summoned as well, but for a higher cost than governors of megalopolises.
– [feature] Traditions for noble houses (affects initial reforms support, how the house votes, perks, etc). Very barebone for now.

– [misc] Optimized saves filesize (it went a bit excessive).
– [misc] Renamed Hospitability to Habitability which is much more intuitive.
– [misc] Renamed Emperor’s Attention points to Emperor’s Focus points.
– [misc] Note that behind the scenes combat mechanics were changed heavily (but I tried to not upset the current gameplay balance, so ideally you should notice no difference here).

– [content] Added option to summon a head of a noble house to discuss reforms.
– [content] Events: Galactic Stock Exchange, Galactic Bank.

– [interface] Added Relation/Opinion/Favors on noble personnel audience screen.
– [interface] Audience events tooltip for modifiers list all the effects of the modifier.
– [interface] Audience events tooltips improved to make audience effects display more clear.
– [interface] Noble Houses ornamental bar on houses screen (with traditions icons added).
– [interface] Squadrons screen improved.

– [fix] Race descriptions: Outdated Terran race description (race details – society), fixed one wrong alien portrait also added some basic description to all xeno races.
– [fix] Wrong tooltips descriptions for some planets in the Astronomy minimap mode.
– [fix] The back button in the construction menu working incorrectly.

Compatibility note: NO CHANGE, this version works with v0.40+ savefiles (note that each time a savefile compatibility is broken a new Beta branch with the old version is created so you can always finish your game in progress).

Stellar Monarch 2 version 0.43

Version 0.43 released

Fourth update since E.A. has started. This version contains many small but very nice interface improvements, the premise being “less clicking”. Hotkeys were redesigned and assigned to the most frequently used actions. The reports auto zoom on a planet which is being reported (can be toggled on/off) and other small improvements. In addition strategic interstellar missiles were implemented and space exploration rebalanced.

– [feature] Interstellar strategic missiles (like strategic bombs but without the need for the orbit control, requires an imperial starbase in range).
– [feature] Strategic weapons production changed. You can produce as many strategic weapons as you want, but the price increases each time you purchase one (the counter resets upon Council gathering (each season)). Also, the base price increases a bit each season.
– [feature] Upkeep for starbases/fortresses/comm towers implemented (for now the cost is very low).

– [remove] Removed happiness reduction over time (too confusing and growing decadence of the Empire can be portrayed by other means anyway).
– [remove] Temporarily removed biological bombs (those will be back later).

– [misc] Overmind is killed when a civilized race takes over a planet.
– [misc] Custom options have been reset due to storage change (just recheck those as you wish and those will save properly).

– [balance] Requirements for planet ‘s loyalty glorious achievement reduced.
– [balance] Crime reduced (possibly the whole crime mechanic might be removed later, we will see).
– [balance] The number of exploration attempts each turn is now affected by the galaxy size.

– [content] Adventurer on audience event for additional exploration attempts. He will show up at later stages of the game (with a very low chance at the early stage) also the chance of showing up depends on the ratio of unexplored planets to the galaxy size.

– [interface] Finances tax tab beautified.
– [interface] Reports: auto find target planet on a report change (can be toggled on/off).
– [interface] Beautified right side report buttons and added “All” folder. Also tooltips on reports buttons listing hotkeys.
– [interface] “Find” planet button now has [f] hotkey (and a tooltip listing the hotkey).
– [interface] Removed several less used hotkeys (e/r/t) to free those for other uses (beside, those were assigned to not so often used actions anyway).
– [interface] Hotkeys redone: Now [q] is used for a “quick” access to the most used/logical action in the current context (for example on planets without any owner it would be “Establish outpost”, on alien planets “Conquest” on unexplored “Priority exploration”). Basically it means that you can click on a planet and then press ‘q’ and in like 80% of cases it will be exactly what you wanted to do. Also it’s used to cancel to just selected quick action. All [q] hotkeys are listed in the appropriate tooltips.
– [interface] Hotkeys [r] to open/close reports.
– [interface] Establish outpost and exploration priority displays on the starmap as orders (so you can see those on a glance and it’s more logical/consistent). Also added shades of the order marker so you can spot a difference between the outposts that can be established now and those that are not neighboring the imperial borders yet.

– [fix] Glorious achievement “All techs of level 10+” was not triggering.
– [fix] Other small fixes.

Compatibility note: NO CHANGE, this version works with v0.40+ savefiles (note that each time a savefile compatibility is broken a new Beta branch with the old version is created so you can always finish your game in progress).

Stellar Monarch 2 version 0.42

Version 0.42 released

This version focuses on technologies, added a lot of new ones. Also added more technologies related to late game colonization since it was tricky with the existing technologies. In addition it has a mix of various smaller fixes, improvements and rebalances.

– [feature] New technologies (requires starting a new game to have access to those). Assured at least one 1-12 technology in each field of science regardless of technologies generation mode.
– [feature] Fortress worlds have x5 ground garrison and much faster ground forces reinforcements. Also provide additional missiles and fighters to imperial squadrons fighting over the planet (details in the Fortress tooltip).

– [misc] All staring megalopolises (Old empire setting) are now Megacity/Terran/Steppe/Jungle planets only.
– [misc] Megalopolises can be created on Hospitability 10 or higher (so at least one green maker is present) planets only (taking into account all factors, not just the planet type).
– [misc] AI now skips the first turn (no conquest on the game start anymore) since it was confusing to some players.
– [misc] Tonnage of AI squadrons redone, it’s a big change internally which is required for future features but not much very noticeable for now. You could notice only a mild spike in the alien squadrons effectiveness and that the tonnage numbers are different.

– [balance] Rescaled defensive priority range from 1-9 to 1-21 (allows orders having more impact).
– [balance] Defensive priorities rebalanced (now the defence is 3 jumps deep also a lot of numbers adjusted).

– [interface] Alien planets have now hidden labor and infr. points.
– [interface] Disallowed access to Administrate/Fief tabs on lost planets.
– [interface] Improved tooltips for starmap homeworlds (specified alien capital/overmind and also displayed the owner crest).
– [interface] Outpost/Colonization properly display a note it’s impossible on heavy radiated planets.

– [fix] Nukes heavy radiation bug. Illegally taking control over heavy radiated planets (outposts, colonization, combat, etc).
– [fix] Incorrect “Capital of the empire” tooltip on enemy homeworld planets.
– [fix] Hostile aliens now destroy player starbases if the planet is owned by them for any reason (for aliens who do not declare wars and to handle lost worlds).

Compatibility note: NO CHANGE, this version works with v0.40+ savefiles (note that each time a savefile compatibility is broken a new Beta branch with the old version is created so you can always finish your game in progress).

Stellar Monarch 2 version 0.41.1

Version 0.41.1 released

Bugs, bugs, bugs. This version is one big bug fix and series of rebalances. It has also one small feature, Public Works which is a new option on Administration tab for core worlds only.

– [feature] Public Works button on Administration tab for core worlds (improves planet’s maximum development level by +0.1 for a non trivial amount of credits, can be used up to 10 times per planet). Intended for the most important planet only (too expensive to use massively).

– [interface] Additional combat reporting (planet won/lost, space/ground battles in progress). I’m not very happy with that one and it would need further finetuning.
– [interface] Research bonuses tab beautified and expanded.
– [interface] Small improvements in various places.

– [balance] Court Administration points gain and ministries efficiency bonus greatly reduced. Ministry level effect reduced.
– [balance] Stability bonus to Administration points gain reduced.
– [balance] Rescaled houses opinion to ratio relations (now 30 opinion per relation tier).
– [balance] Now planets start with fewer cities already built.
– [balance] Houses income reduced to 1/5 (not that there is much use for this money right now, but it will be useful for future features, plus it makes the personal treasury feel more precious when you see the disproportion between the personal and imperial treasury).
– [balance] Base max squadrons for noble houses now scale with number of planets (to a small degree), makes it more reasonable at huge galaxy setup or during the late game.
– [balance] Cost of investment in Food processors and Mineral refineries greatly increased. Increased number of unlocked investments from 3 to 6 and adjusted several techs so all 12 investments can be unlocked (note this will only partially work with old saves, so you might be unable to unlock them all).

– [fix][balance] Invincible last squadron which could happen in same cases (also now very small forces are annihilated faster to prevent a few units slowing down the invasion of an overwhelming force).
– [fix] Non core worlds had incorrect loyalty due to taking into account non existing fief.
– [fix] Infrastructure bonus from tax/budget reversed.
– [fix] Fiscal income was being added properly but without deducting any expenses (now I know why so many people reported they drown in money).
– [fix] Bureaucracy modifier from courtier’s trait bug .
– [fix] Accuracy and Tractor beam percentages were totally wrong.
– [fix] Other minor fixes.

Stellar Monarch 2 version 0.41

Version 0.41 released

The first update ever, based on the early feedback. One fix, many small improvements to the interface (mostly clarification of things) and one feature (admiral’s who operate in the same sector now can assist each other).

– [feature] Admirals who lack forces for an offensive can request forces from another admiral operating in the same sector (in addition to requesting forces from the Strategic reserve).

– [interface] Added “Waiting for colonization ship” notice on planet screen.
– [interface] Starmap tooltip for megalopolises/house homeworld fiefs icons.
– [interface] Added minister’s ministry name in the court rank tooltip (not ideal place for it, but should do for now).
– [interface] CTRL key displays sector information on the starmap.
– [interface] Sector information added to the planet view (military box area).
– [interface] Readjusted buttons on the planet’s military box area (also added space battle/ground invasion notice there).
– [interface] Other small adjustments.

– [fix] Firing a governor now works.

Stellar Monarch 2 released on early access!

Stellar Monarch 2, a turn-based feudal space empire builder (4X, grand strategy) was released on early access (Steam) today.

It’s a sequel to Stellar Monarch, which was quite a huge hit for standards of a small indie developer like me, so it made the next installment feasible. The premise is the same, a no micromanagement approach to being a ruler leading the Terran race from the heights of the imperial throne and fighting with incompetent corrupted officials, traitors, usurpers, rebels, disloyal admirals and ever-present alien threat. The execution is much different and improved, with new concepts like noble houses, the Great Council, reforms, etc. In addition, many mechanics were altered, removed or redesigned from scratch with the goal to fix the weak parts of the prequel and to flesh out the strong parts.

In short, it’s a fast paced turn-based space empire builder with a feudal twist with no micromanagement, asymmetric mechanics, and focus on you as the emperor.

Discussion (Steam forums)   Discussion (our Discord)  

Stellar Monarch 2 enters early access 6th December this year!

It’s almost here, the sequel to Stellar Monarch, the 4X space empire builder, enters early access in 2 just weeks!

It’s a very rough build, far from being complete, balanced or polished, but considering how the previous early accesses went I wanted to go for it develop it further using the feedback and input from the wider pool of players.

What should you expect? Well, if you participated in my previous early access titles, you more or less know, it will be similar with two major changes. Now I will be doing it slower, like 1-2 builds per month, not a build ever two days as sometimes happened with the prequel EA. The second change is I won’t be sweating over save files compatibility during E.A. (there of course will be Beta branch archives for those who wanted to finish their existing game under the old rules) because I concluded if a new build is out you most likely would want to fully experience it which usually require starting a new game anyway for the full experience. Again, it’s kind of optional since you will be always provided with the older build to continue what you started.

It’s hard to tell how long the Early Access will last, maybe 3 month, maybe a year. Depends, mostly on the feedback I gather from you.

Of course the game will be improved after E.A., as usual. And maintained and fixed for years afterwards (again, as usual).

A short recap what changes compared to the first Stellar Monarch.

– Easier to grasp while having more depth (basically one of my priorities was redesign or removal of the most confusing parts and reduction of complexity without reduction of depth).
– Fewer mechanics but more interconnected and more options for the player (now there are fewer mechanics, kind of, still a lot I guess, but there is much more you can do with them).
– Combat system redesigned and recoded from scratch (the same premise but completely different execution, read: much more intuitive).
– The sequel is stylized more on the feudal Europe with great noble houses than celestial empire of China with court factions.

All right, see ya in 2 weeks!

Stellar Monarch 2 Dev Diary #3: Ships, Squadrons, Fleets and the Imperial High Command

Combat is the only part of the game that was totally rewritten from scratch. The goal was to retain the overall grand vision of abstract, high level military management introduced in Stellar Monarch, but without the problems it brought with it. The total redesign of that part of the game for the sequel was to remove the unnecessary complexity and confusion and at the same time provide more depth and more decisions to make for the player.

Now there is no manual and autonomous fleet modes but there is a single mode which is like autonomous but with more options for the player.

Military is made in 4 layers: Ships, Squadrons, Fleets and Imperial High Command. With the player having decisions to make on each layer but never in a way that it would introduce micromanagement or late game slowdown.

1. Ships

There are 3 light hull classes (Corvette, Frigate, Destroyer) and 2 heavy hull classes (Cruiser, Battleship). Lighter ships provide recon and screening from fighters & missiles while heavier ships provide bulk of the firepower and command bonuses. Both light and heavy ships can provide various abilities.

Ship hulls are predefined but come with a decent customization. Also, there is a semi random system of unlocking those so you will end up with different ships each playthrough. The idea is you can’t control it 100% and that each game will feel unique, with different assets at your disposal, but you will still have a great influence over it. Maybe you will not end up with your dream ships setup but you will be able to come quite close to it, assuming you made the correct but hard choices along the way.

First, you need to unlock a ship hull blueprint. Which can be done via technologies. But you are not told which exact hull you will get, only how many hull blueprints and of what kind and size. For example, a typical technology looks like that “Gain 2 (Assault style design) blueprints (Corvette, Frigate, Destroyer)” which means you will get 2 blueprints of a light size hull (but you don’t know the exact hull size) and that those will be good for general purpose Assault (since those come from the Assault design pack). Now those two blueprints will pop up on your list of ship types.

Next, you need to make a prototype, you can do so by technologies. All hull technologies not only unlock hull blueprints but also increase prototypes cap, like this: “Promote 1 blueprint to a Prototype”. The tricky part is that, on average, you get 2 blueprints but only 1 prototype each time you research a new hull technology. Which means, that you won’t be able to use all your blueprints, but like half of them and you will need to choose. There are other ways to increase number of prototypes and events that outright grant you a specific blueprint but on average you will be forced to choose which ship hulls would enter the production.

Once you decided which ship hull blueprint is worthy of promoting to a prototype you will might be asked on a variant and you might want to make upgrades (install Data Link, better armor, etc), which again can be unlocked via technologies, but this time you have a full control which upgrade will be installed on each ship. One more thing, trivial technological upgrades (like better lasers, electronics or new armor) are auto applied without your intervention, you are making only important decisions that change the strong/weak points of the given hull and its purpose and specialization.

You probably noticed there was nothing about producing ships, that’s correct, you don’t build individual ships, you produce them in groups called squadrons.

2. Squadrons

The most basic unit of your space forces is a Squadron. It’s basically a group of ships. Depending on your technological level you get a certain squadron tonnage cap which you use to compose a squadron as you wish using ship hulls you unlocked. You would want to choose ships that work well together and provide the most optimal set of bonuses. You will also see how many manufacturing points are needed to produce the squadron and what’s the upkeep. So, the economy of the empire is weak you might be forced to choose suboptimal but cheaper squadron composition.

Next, a squadron is produced by imperial shipyards. The shipyards work always at the full capacity and produce only one, the latest squadron you designed. Which in practice mean you will have at your disposal some number of the newest squadrons and some older ones. But it does not mean those are active fighting squadrons, it merely means there is that many equipment ready for use.

Then there is the thing about active squadrons. You can have up to X active squadrons at any given moment, the rest of the built squadron sit in the reserve and are brought to service as needs arise (like due to combat casualties). Always the newest (the best) squadrons are put in active duty first, so it means that prolonged war could mean older and older squadrons being sent to the frontlines as casualties exceed production (up to a point where the oldest active squadrons being so outdated you might issue an imperial order to simply disband those to clean up reserves and fight with lower number of decent forces).

How many active squadrons are available at any given moment depends on Noble houses, their houses warfare skill, their authority, relations with the Emperor, etc. Basically, noble houses provide command for squadrons and if they are too weak or too hostile towards the emperor you might end up with squadrons commanded by your royal house only. You can mitigate it to an extend by reforms, laws, The Great Council acts which assure more active squadrons being available directly at the imperial level.

You probably noticed there way nothing about moving squadrons around, that’s right, that’s on higher levels.

3. Fleet

There are 7 fleets, each sponsored by a certain noble house. Nominally those are operated and controlled by the house that sponsored it, but in practice fleets are under control of the imperial high command. Unless the house decided to go rogue and make the fleet ignore the imperial orders (which is done with a great care and under great consideration since it can be seen as a breach of the imperial contract and the emperor might seek legal means in The Great Council of Noble Houses to retaliate for this action) or outright assign the fleet to rebel armada.

Overall, fleet is more like an administrative unit which holds and manages a certain number of squadrons and has some political limits imposed. It has its own officer corps, can be assigned to a certain imperial border or send on special missions (like to bomb a capitial of an alien race whose ambassador offended you during an audience).

You probably noticed (again) you don’t really move fleets around. This is, again, on the higher level.

4. Imperial High Command

Finally, the Imperial High Command is the means to convey the emperor’s wishes regarding conquest and defence. The emperor tells what is desired (conquer a certain planet, annihilate race X, etc) and the Imperial high Command will send orders to all fleets and squadrons at their disposals. Then will send back reports in a bulk (like: “We lost X squadrons on the Antarian front and caused then Y casualties. We conquered planet A and planet B but lost planet C.”).

It’s is also the level where you build starbases, care about logistics, tactical bonuses, proper satellite recon for military intelligence, coverage of communication towers, etc. You can also forge deals with other civilized races to get the rights to build imperial starbases and infrastructure on their planets (so you are not forced to conquer other civilized races to extend the range of your military operations, just getting them to sign proper treaties is enough to treat their territory as imperial territory military wise).

Oh yes, it would be also prudent to reform the space forces, which can be done by the legislators, but that’s for another dev diary.

Progress report (2021 – Q2 & Q3 Alpha):

First the bad news. I have lost like almost one quarter of development time due to personal matters of various kinds, like my dad has died last month and that was not the only calamity the last quarter. I try to refrain from talking about personal matters but this year was so miserable that I wanted to tell you why there was lack of dev updated in the last months. The things are better now, much better, the small one started kindergarten, so, as you can imagine makes miracles for my productivity. I’m not sure if I can meet the 2021 E.A. release date but it’s not like the delay is imminent either. I would say the chances for this year release is like 50:50 (but my wife, who is with me since 2 game releases and 1 expansion pack release claims I will manage to do it 100% this year, as I always do in the last moment, so I would speculate her estimate is probably more accurate than mine). We will see.

The Q2 was about preparing for the Steam festival and instead on specific features focusing on overall playability and polish. Which was quite fun how it changes the perspective, to try to see the whole picture not separate elements. It made me rethink certain mechanics.

During Q3 it was mostly technical updates, but I also managed to make some very nice coding improvements which allows me to save time later (making content for Stellar Monarch 2 is so much easier than for Stellar Monarch than there is not even a comparison. Now I have content like empire wide modifiers, planetary markers (for organizations that are present on the planet), events as data, auto tooltips (so I don’t need to put new ones everywhere, it’s all auto done by the code), auto icons for audience buttons (like if the audience option requires to spend some money I don’t tell the audience button to draw the icon but it will intelligently iterate through all effects and render the proper icon with proper cost if it finds the effect that requires it).

Overall, I have many great tools in place, there is still some core mechanics missing (or more precisely not to my liking so those require replacement) but overall it starts to resemble a game. Not playable yet, but it starts to become fun. Now, if only I can restrain myself and avoid the usual feature creep, it should be fine.