Version 1.606 is an enormous balance to the Credit economy, as well as giving you newfound power to really effectively bomb your enemies from orbit.
There’s a bunch of other great stuff, too, in the bugfix and clarity categories. Your options for dealing with rescued pilots are now a lot more obvious, for one. When planets are captured while defense fleets are still in orbit, those fleets no longer switch sides inappropriately. Fighting pirates no longer angers the race that the pirates happen to be. Several quests that had some bugs now do not.
Orbital Bombing, v2
Orbital Bombing is one of my favorite new additions. Let us know how you feel about the balance on it; it may be a bit strong, but it does cost money, so we’ll see. Basically you used to be able to use a special ability to spawn Orbital Bombers inside battle, and then as long as they were alive they’d bomb the planet from orbit. This was fiddly and never felt right for a host of reasons (it was tedious, for one).
Now the Orbital Bombers themselves are attack craft like any other, and kind of send mini-nukes inside the battlefield, but don’t affect the planet surface at all. Instead, you have a new dispatch that lets you do their old job for them — but faster, and more effectively, thanks to the magic of dispatches and fast-forwarding in them. ;)
Earning Credit, v2
When it comes to Credit, hoo boy. There had been complaints for a long time that attacking the AFA to grind for credit was really the only viable way to get enough credit late game — and that you could get a TON there. And that there were not enough ways to peaceably earn credit.
All right, so the first order of business was to heavily nerf the amount of credit you earn in combat — you now gain 1/10th the amount you did before. That’s a counterintuitive place to start, but basically if it was already so attractive to grind, and this was the primary source of income, then yeah we had a problem. When I looked at this, you could gain around 8000 credit in a solar month when fighting a sizeable battle, while the most generous dispatches were maybe 200 credit max. And many were more like 10 credit per month. Wow what a difference.
To add to the problem with the balance on the combat side, that was all income from fighting ships — so you’d only get that full 8000 if you auto-resolved, or if you really fought an extended battle just for the sake of earning credit. We’ve had this sort of unintentional balance problem in AI War before, too: basically if you have a way to do grinding at all, for some players that means that they will do it (and hate it) in order to play “optimally.” Depending on the game, I fall into that category of players.
All right, so killing everybody in combat is no longer so profitable that it encourages grinding much. So what is there to compensate? Glad you asked. :)
First of all, almost all of the existing credit-earning dispatches earn you far more credit than they previously did. Depending on the dispatch, they earn you 3, 6x, or 12x more. Expanding usable land area for a race was something that was never attractive to me to do personally before, but now I find that it’s a key part of an early-game strategy. You can rack up 40,000 credits in just half a year or so. Doing this expansion actually has a lot of benefits for the AI, too: you make it so that they don’t hit population density problems so fast, and you also make it so that they can divert that portion of their budget to other things — like shipbuilding. This is an aspect of strategy that was never really viable before, because expanding the usable land area yourself was such a bad deal for you personally that helping the AI via it was not really on the table tactically.
Next up, a lot of the regular friendly actions that give you flat credit (like 5,000 credit for granting spacefaring tech) now give you a LOT more credit. The one for delivering spacefaring now gives you a quick 20,000, for instance. These particular missions that have been buffed in credit reward are things that you can’t just do endlessly, and in some cases they come with drawbacks (like having another spacefaring race that you might not really trust). But they provide a way to get off to a much more profitable start to the game, which really opens up your options much faster — with no grinding, but with appropriate tradeoff costs.
Then there are the assassins and thoraxian hunter that can sometimes sneak up and attack you. I don’t know about you, but that has always kind of annoyed me, even if it does make great thematic sense. I’ve been tempted to remove the mechanic, but it makes just so much sense and is fitting when you are in the wrong part of the solar system and you’ve really made someone angry. So I had a thought, today: what if these were really big credit rewards? So when you get attacked, sure, it’s annoying to have an interruption to whatever you were previously doing. But it’s also a windfall, which makes it exciting. It will be interesting to hear how you feel about it, but it makes me go “ooh, assassins!” now. “Hey Greedo, whatcha got on ya, there? It’s your fault for coming after me in the first place, you know…”
Lastly, we come to quests. A lot of the quests gave either no credit reward at all, or a very tiny one (in the 500 range, max). These quests typically represent some major powerful things that you can do for the races, so they were already attractive to do. And you can’t farm them, because of their limited nature. So I thought: why not make it so that they are directly profitable to you, personally, as a mercenary as well? It makes thematic sense, and from a gameplay standpoint also works well. So the most stingy of these now give you 2,000 credit, and the most lucrative (and infrequent) offer 40,000.
All in all you will probably have more credit now than you did in past games. And I’m cool with that, because that gives you more options. Some options may now be overpowered since you can afford them more frequently, and so there may need to be another round of balancing in terms of either the costs of certain political deals or the scale of credit granted from various sources. In fact, I’ll be shocked if some sort of further tuning isn’t needed. But I figured I would err on the side of the player’s favor in this case. Even having more credit, I don’t think that trivializes the strategic game (particularly on higher strategic difficulties, whereas I think most people have been previously treating Normal as Hard, which is not great). But what having more credit does do is prevent the game from dragging on simply because you are waiting to have options. Not that that was previously epidemic, but it happened more than I liked.
UPDATE: 1.607 is now out. This has a hotfix for some annoying hive queen stuff that was visual-only, but got in the way of seeing some other stuff. This also, more importantly, tries to tune the economy slightly better. As I figured, 1.606 was a bit on the generous side for players. This new version tones that down to about 70% of the boost that it gave in the prior version, and it also makes a few things more expensive — goons and buying hydral tech, notably. Those two things were too cheap compared to other things that one might purchase. The credit rewards from combat also are nerfed slightly less hard now. And lastly, there is no longer a timeframe limit on what races will sponsor when it comes to property development, tech research, or space outpost development. That was annoying, and made goons required rather than a value-add.
UPDATE: 1.608 is now out. This includes some general fixes and updates, as well as a new dispatch for supporting friendly ground troops. This is possibly the last release for the next week and a half or so. Unless something serious comes up, that’s intended to be the case. Keith and Josh will be monitoring things, but I have some personal stuff I have to attend to for this next bit of time. Thanks for understanding — and if there is anything absolutely critical during that period, Keith will let me know so that I can push out his fixes through Steam. But if I’m slow on that, you’ll still be able to get the update through the in-game updater as soon as he finishes coding it and puts it online.
Let us know how things are looking, if you have suggestions or bug reports, etc!
More to come soon. Enjoy!
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater, or if you have Steam it will automatically update it for you. To force Steam to download it faster, just restart Steam and it will do so.