Material trees, newsletters, and pirates! Oh my!
This week has been interesting! I started the week by going through my messages, our Discord and the forums and pretty quickly noticed that there have been some exceptional developments. Around Sunday night a player turned rogue and decided to start the first pirate corporation of the Pruniverse. They even announced it in the global channel within the game. The plan was to take as many shipping contracts as possible with the intention to pickup the shipments but never return them. Once the shipping contracts breach the shipments are opened and the pirate would take possession of its contents.
A lot of players where really upset and angry about this, especially because it came out of the blue. We saw angry rage quits, players contacted us about banning the pirate while others, even though they lost a few shipments, called this “the most interesting developments for a long time”. Strictly speaking the pirate did not break any game rules or our guidelines, but rather used a feature that has existed since the shipping contracts where introduced and is even mentioned in our Free 2 Play trailer.
The pirate contacted us and told us about their plans: They argued that the current universe is still considered alpha and that they knew about the feature for a long time now and wanted to test it thoroughly since no one has done it at scale before. Since they already accepted hundreds of local market ads there was no going back, but they promised to stop accepting new ads and just continue with the pirate role-playing.
Meanwhile we were eager to see how the rating system would handle the breaches. Since shipping contracts usually have long deadlines it took two or three days until the first contracts breached. During the week we found several issues with the rating and contract system that we fixed immediately.
One of the biggest issues lies in the way we calculate who will receive a negative rating when the contract breaches. In short: the amount of fulfilled conditions are summed up for both parties and the one with the most fulfilled conditions can extend or breach the contract and will not receive a rating hit. In many of the current cases, this has led to the unfortunate situation of a tie though, where no party’s rating changes and the pirate still gets to keep the shipment. We decided to exclude the shipment pickup condition from the before mentioned algorithm to make these contracts fairer. So now it is still possible for a pirate to just fulfill the pickup condition, but there will be a rating hit as a consequence.
Last week I finalized a list of non-ship-building material tree changes for the next update and implemented them into our internal world editor state file. As mentioned before, software will be streamlined, split into three categories building upon each other, the first level being accessible on the Technician-tier already. This will allow more players to get into this branch of the material tree and also clear up some of the general confusion surrounding it.
Other aspects we’re improving are the consistency of the electronics sector, the balancing of market makers as well as “buffs” to some underused materials (mostly via new and adjusted recipes).
Finally, we will make balancing adjustments by making the high-tier consumables more affordable overall. Acquiring the higher workforce tiers became a lot more expensive with Populous, so we’re making them significantly cheaper to “feed”. However, I’m now looking into adjustments to the planetary populations themselves as well, which were kind of balanced on the “high end” initially given we threw them into a pretty well-developed universe.
Apart from the usual ad campaigns and emails, I sent out our first monthly newsletter that some of you may have received. Since we have been running ads for a few months and getting quite a bit of signups from interested players, it made sense to touch base with all our players both new and old on a more regular basis to keep them informed about the game outside of releases. I hope you enjoyed reading the newsletter and let me know if you have any ideas for improvement :)
I also spent some time getting the components for our YouTube ad video ready for our video editor. I contacted a few voice actors and I’m excited to see how the whole project turns out. I hope to have this trailer out by November so we can start running ads on YouTube ASAP.