||Ghostrider - June 7, 2016
After weeks and months of testing, and trying to figure out how to get the AI to react as a human does in a galactic environment, the PR team have finally achieved a significant AI breakthrough:
The AI now aggressively attacks independent planets, takes worlds, builds fleets, and stomps all over unwary humans if given half a chance.
The AI equasions to do this have been in place do this for years, but for months the AI has lain dormant, effectively asleep. We have tried hundreds of different ideas to get the AI to activate - all to no effect.
And how did we achieve this?
The frustrating answer, familiar to most modders out there is simple. We changed 1 value in the XMLs, instead of increasing the value from 1.0 to 1.25 we should have decreased the value to 0.75. It just took 6 months of testing to realise that is what we needed to do!
WOW. Did the AI react or what?
It annihilated one of the testers in Core Worlds in under a quarter of the time taken for a human player to "WIN" Core Worlds if unopposed.
Now that we know the AI is working, I have to go back and undo many of the campaign changes put in place that were an attempt to make the AI respond, but the mod is finally alive and kicking. We need to test and polish a bit more, but this makes us a lot closer to where we want to be.
|Campaign #1 - CORE WORLDS
||Ghostrider - December 9, 2015
At the centre of the galaxy, you find the oldest, richest, most heavily populated... and the best defended planets in the galaxy. Single planets in the Core have more financial and military influence than whole sectors in the Outer Rim.
CORE WORLDS is the first of the campaigns in the Rise of the Empire Era, which is set at the end of the Clone Wars. The formation of the Galactic Empire has been announced, but many worlds are either actively opposed to the New Order or are highly independent planets that will resist the Imperialisation of trade, commerce and law. You get to rewrite history with either the early Galactic Empire, or the scattered elements of the Phoenix Rising Movement.
All of these campaigns start with a handful of planets and outdated Republic-era and Clone Wars technologies. Many of the neutral worlds will be far stronger at the start than your small fleets, and these campaigns are lengthy. It is vital to plan for long term growth, and in many cases your production capacity will far exceed your initial income, and it is important to grow both militarily and financially.
The political influence of leaders also cannot be underestimated, and many politicians give time reduction bonuses on construction (motivation), and best of all, price discounts for the most influential.
You should also be aware that the larger starbases need considerable fleet strength, with destroyer and capital-class warship support for the level 4 and 5 starbases, before an invasion can be considered. It is no longer feasible to effectively destroy a starbase with corvettes alone, but your Level 2 starbases are vital to continued financial growth, so don’t ignore them.
It is worth noting that the income created by light transports is a percentage of the planetary income, so make sure your light transports are in orbit over your wealthiest planets. You receive light transport revenues once units have made 1 trip into hyperspace. XQ5 platforms add 25% to your base planetary income, and are well worth the 3 week production time on your richer worlds. However, there is a limit of 2 per planet, and many of your Core holdings already contain at least one customs station, with a welcome boost to revenues.
Before considering invasion, make sure you scout target worlds by espionage, stealth heroes, and attacks by a lone scout unit to ensure any invasion is feasible, and that you can escape if it gets too difficult. Many worlds have interdictors in their fleets, trapping invaders to certain doom. And don’t forget about small infantry raids with up to 3 infantry units. This can be a quick way to capture lightly defended units, with the advantage that you destroy the orbiting starbase if you manage to capture the planet.
In Core Worlds, you start with 6 influential planets : -
PRM Abregado Rae
The smuggler port of Abregado Rae is fiercely independent and highly resistant to being ruled, and is looking to Corellia for guidance in the growing opposition to the Galactic Empire. If the smugglers on Abregado-rae can join forces with the Corellians, they could form a powerful syndicate.
Strategic Considerations: Threat from Byss.
Heroes: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Alderaan has been a staunch supporter of the republic in the fight against the Separatists, with the Royal Alderaanian Shipyards providing the engines for the Acclamator-class Assault ships. Both influential and with excellent facilities, Alderaan is politically opposed to the New Order and Bail Organa is one of the key figures in promoting the idea of active resistance to the ever-growing power of the Office of Chancellor.
Strategic Considerations: No Immediate threats.
Heroes: Bail Organa
Chandrila is a world of free speech led by Senator Mon Mothma, who led the Delegation of 2000 to limit the powers of the Chancellor. Chandrila has a strong defence-fleet and is working with both Bail Organa and Garm Bel Iblis to take increasing military action to oppose the New Order.
Strategic Considerations: Major threat from Corulag.
Heroes: Mon Mothma
The free world of Corellia is the leading manufacturer of light freighters and corvettes with unrivalled construction facilities. Invoking an ancient law, legendary Senator Garm Bel Iblis has kept Corellia out of the Clone Wars and is strongly opposed to the changes imposed by the New Order.
Strategic Considerations: Major threat from Byss.
Heroes: Garm Bel Iblis
This smuggler world has a vibrant underworld and finds the Galactic Empire and its new taxes a considerable threat – especially as this is increasingly backed up by the Imperial Fleet and a growing Imperial Customs Service.
Strategic Considerations: Major threat from Coruscant.
This tiny island population is the home to Incom – producers of one of the most popular basic fighters towards the last days of the Old Republic – the Z95 Headhunter. Incom’s fortunes have dramatically changed for the worse with the creation of the Galactic Empire and the move towards disposable TIEs – and disposable pilots, something that the Fresians object to morally.
Strategic Considerations: Isolated, but Coruscant could be a threat in the future.
Coruscant has everything – vast research capabilities, diverse production, immense wealth and a huge pool of talented individuals to nurture and develop.
In addition, both Sith lords – Darth Sidious and Darth Vader - are present on Coruscant, giving the Imperial faction a huge advantage. The political and financial influence of Darth Sidious is worth several star-systems, and Darth Vader frightens whole armies, both in space and in ground combat.
Strategic Considerations: Minor Threat from Farrfin.
Heroes: Darth Sidious, Darth Vader
While the temptation is to focus on military research, some effort should be spend to upgrade the trade fleet and add to Coruscant’s fleet in case the threat from Farrfin increases. Military expansion, both north to Dolomar and south to the Deep Core should be considered.
Byss is the center of secret holdings in the Deep Core. With a massive 20bn population of immigrants tricked into travelling to a utopian world, Byss could become a major planet of influence.
Strategic Considerations: Major Threat from Abregado-rae and Corellia
Much effort should be made to consolidate holdings in the deep core and expand as if the smuggler fleet on Abregadoe Rae is able to merge with the Corellians, then the Deep Core is in danger.
This model Imperial world is isolated from Coruscant by the republic influences at the Naval Academy on Anaxes, and threatened by political activists on Chandrila. It must rapidly expand its fleet and defeat pro-republican sentiments.
Strategic Considerations: Major Threat from Chandrila
Heroes: Gilad Pellaeon
The Kuat Drive yards have unrivalled military production capacity – as long as you have the credits to spend.
Kuat has strong neighbours, but no immediate threats, and while it may be tempting to immediately start construction of a destroyer fleet, current limited incomes may prove this be an unnecessary strain on finances. It may be wiser in the short term to divert funds to more vulnerable holdings until their security has been established.
Strategic Considerations: No immediate threats. Powerful neighbours.
Heroes: Onara Kuat
Gandeal is a mineral-rich resource world with small freighter yards that supplies the shipyards of Fondor with raw materials. This should be considered as facility for financial rather than military growth.
Strategic Considerations: Weak Military. Powerful neighbours.
Heroes: Barrow Oicunn
Prakith is the secret headquarters of the Inquisitorius in the Deep Core. With no immediate threats, this facility should be expanded to a support facility, building fleet and trade units.
Strategic Considerations: Light Military. Powerful neighbours. Medium term strategy Corsucant should make efforts to connect to Prakith.
Heroes: Antinnis Tremayne
Overall, this is a campaign for long term strategy. You certainly have far higher incomes than any other campaign in this era, but early opportunities for expansion are limited – and most be considered carefully. However, you have access to unsurpassed shipyards and with a solid financial base, your regions of influence should expand steadily.
|State of The Mod
||Ghostrider - October 26, 2015
First of all, I would like to apologiese to all of the fans for the total neglect and lack of news in the last year.
You may be mistaken in thinking nothing is happening with the mod. - You would be wrong; progress has actually been quite positive recently, but real life cuts back on modding time for most of the team.
Before detailing some of the more exciting developments in the mod, it's probably worth a recap of what has happened to date, as this has profound implications on my particular area of focus - the campaigns.
The entire basis os space comabt has been rebuilt to match the land mechanic, with a detailed and comprehensive armor and shielding system. Shileds now absorb laser fire, ranging frmo 20% to 45%, depending on unit class. Armor grades range from 8 points in fighters to 32 points for capital class warships, and all the weapons in the mod now have different damage ratings. HP are considerably increased.
The biggest change in tactical battles, is that laser cannons, and especially light laser cannons, are unable to penetrate heavy armor. This does not mean that your fighters are redundant, far from it. A cloud of snubfighters and transports can strip off the shields of destroyers and capital-grade warships, making them much more vulnerable to turbolaser fire, but you can't kill a star destroyer with snubfighters alone - you have to have turbolaser support. Bombers get proton rockets and proton bombs, and can be pretty nasty.
We have also added space population. The idea is that in order to crew and maintain a space-based unit, you need a support base. Your planets provide population and without spare population you can't build anything. This explains why the Acclamator and other crew-heavy designs, such as the Dreadnaught rapidly became obsolote. The Imperial class is much more effiecient in terms of deliverably combat power vs population support required.
On a strategic level this adds a new dimension to the campaign scenario. You need credits AND population to build warships. As a result, we have rebuilt the entire economy from scratch, with new pricing and a detailed planetary model that calculates planetary economies based on population, tech level, agricultural base, mineral resources, underworld and manufacturing capability. Agricultural wolrds are particularly important to feed and grow your fleets.
Proximity Jumps and Trade Routes
We have removed proximity jumps from the mod, so all space-based travel is based on the trade route. This makes strategic planning much more interesting, and you will find that key planets that lie at the junction of major trade routes are extremely important strategically, as these act as choke points to access different regions of the galaxy.
For example. Brentaal IV, which lies at the junction of the Hydian Way and the Perlemian Trade Route, is now probably the most imporatant piece of real-estate in the galaxy and is defended accordingly!
All coloneis, from levels 1 to 5 are now armed with turbolaser cannons, and are heavily shielded and quite difficult to kill.
You will need cruiser support to take on a level 1 or level 2 colony, and multiple cruisers for a Level 3 Colony.
Level 4 colonies are extremely challenging, and need a large fleet, with at least destroyers, if not capital-class warships to have a chance of destroying the base.
Level 5 colonies are exceptionally challenging.
And if you think these are bad news, the asteroid bases are worse, so it is vital to send out expendable scouting parties to see what you are facing before you attempt an invasion.
Heroes no longer come with elite warships. They now have command abilities but are just that - indivudal beings that need to be attached to a fleet to make a difference. So Darth Vader IV on his own is just a pilot in an TIE, but with a fleet he commands on the bridge of the largest warship.
Back to Basics
If we now wind the clock back to early 2014, we are in the process of updating all of the old campaigns with these points in mind. We have always had a goal of adding new campaigns to each release, but had no idea of the change that was about to take place.
Our concept at the time was to create a new campaign to show the difference in strategic planning due to the lack of proximity jumps and have a campaign based on the 5 Super-Hyperrroutes of Perlemian Trade Route, Hydian Way, Rimma Trade Route, Correlian Run, and the Corellian Trade Spine.
60% of the campaign was completed when the campaign crashed on install and it soon became apparent that nothing was going to fix it. The problem was simple - too many planets and too big a campaign. The EAW engine simply couldn't handle it.
So we made the critical decision to break up all the existing campaigns into smaller chunks, each with fewer planets.
So - Core Worlds lost the Expansion region and shrunk back to the Core Worlds and the Colonies. This was highly successful and led to a better campaign with faster frame rates and quicker load times and much less lag.
The roll-out pulled appart the entire campaign set and rebuilt everything from scratch.
Prelminary testing of all 12 campaigns is now complete and the results are rather exciting.
I'll let you have more news, in detail, about each campaign in due course....
|Anatomy of a Starship
||evilbobthebob - June 22, 2014
Probably the best way to introduce the new space combat mechanics is to take a detailed look at our new (WIP) infobox layout. You may recognise many of the elements from the revamped land combat; many of the elements are also new. I'll go through each in the order they appear using the classic example of the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer. Please note that all values shown are WIP.
Tactical Population Cost
This is a new number based on the total volume of the hull (or hulls in the case of a starfighter squadron). It is balanced around the idea that an Executor-class Super Star Destroyer consists of 400 population points, the maximum available space population. For carriers, it also includes the volume of all the starfighter squadrons as in the case of the Imperial II. This means that you can field 5 Imperial II-class and their entire complements at one time. These values are currently in the process of testing and tweaking, and the exact values may be different in the released version.
All the starship icons have been brought into lineusing uniform lighting and rendering settings to create a better quality icon set.
As usual, we retain the full names of all ships, including their upgrade version.
From Starfighter through to Dreadnaught, a starship's class helps shape its maneuverability and sensor range statistics. It also determines which shipyard type is needed to construct it.
With the new version, we have many greatly improved autofire scripts for ship special abilities, so we feel comfortable including more than the two accessible from the GUI. In most cases, the tractor beam will be the hidden, autofired ability, and it will usually target whatever the ship has been told to attack. Note here the Imperial II has a Tractor Beam, Emergency Thrusters (power to engines ability) and Blast. Blast is a new ability we have added to many main-line combat ships. It moves the firepower of the main battery (in this case, the octuple turbolasers and turboions) up a notch, so that has increased range and firepower.
We have always included manufacturer bonuses on various appropriate planets such as Kuat. Now you can see exactly which ships will benefit, with the inclusion of the Manufacturer in the infobox.
This is the base hull cost, not including complement (which is included in the final cost at a 50% discount). Costs have been modified across the board to provide a more challenging economic planning experience.
This is the base hull construction time, measured in galactic time. For the Imperial II, this is 15 weeks. Note that building over a world with appropriate shipyard bonuses, or by building more of the same class of shipyard, this time can be dramatically reduced.
Width x length x height, in meters, the basic size of the hull.
The total volume of the hull in cubic meters, often using exponential notation. Here for example, the Imperial II is 121 million cubic meters in volume. This statistic informs hitpoint calculations and has a great effect on the likelihood for a ship to be hit by enemy fire.
With the change to the new space combat mechanics, we have moved towards a more "realistic" approach. While ships still have a capped top speed, it is directly proportional to their acceleration. This is measured in terms of G-force, the acceleration experienced by a being on the surface of a planet with standard gravity, roughly 10 m/s2.
This statistic is the turning speed of the starship, measured in degrees per second. It is primarily class-based.
The class of the hyperdrive in the starship (if any), which determines its ability to travel across the galaxy in hyperspace. The smaller the better!
Here is one of the new statistics. Shielding is now measured in Shield Points (SP) and has an absorption percentage shown after it. This is the amount of damage the shield can absorb from a single shot before it takes SP damage. So for example, a turbolaser shot hitting the Imperial II shield with a damage of 96 will do around 58 points of shield damage.
Hull has also changed a great deal. It is now measured in Hull Points (HP), like that of land combat. This value is primarily volume-based. Following the HP is the armour value and type. The Imperial II has 32 Vehicle armour. This means that it absorbs 32 damage from any incoming shot before the hull itself is damaged. For example, the same 96 damage turbolaser will do 64 points of hull damage on impact.
This statistic shows the maximum and minimum ranges of the weapon systems on the ship, followed by its line of sight range. All values are in meters. In this case, the longest range weapons are the octuple turbolasers, while the shortest are the individual turbolaser cannons.
We have greatly condensed the weapons display into a shorthand that provides much more information. We have done away with "light", "heavy" and so on, instead simply telling you the weapon type, their number, and their damage output. So, here the Imperial II has 6 octuple turbolasers with 240 damage per bolt, 2 octuple turboions with 240 damage per bolt, 2 triple turbolasers with 144 damage per bolt, and so on. Note that ion weapons do 200% damage to shields, but cannot damage anything except Droid armour. The number of tractor beams is also noted, which adjusts the cooldown of the tractor beam ability.
I hope this little snippet has provided some insight to the changes we've been making over the past 18 months. If you have any questions, I will endeavour to answer below, however note that I did not implement these changes myself.
|Planets by numbers
||Ghostrider - December 21, 2012
|The key theme to V1.3 development is conforming to The Essential Atlas, which involves moving all the planets to their correct locations. In addition, a new theme has been added to this which has implications throughout the mod, some obvious, some hidden: Populations.|
Planets vary enormously in their planetary populations, from the trillion on Coruscant to the airless uninhabited moon of Folor, and this now becomes the key economic driver for determining planetary income and industrial output. In general, heavily populated Core Worlds outclass anything else in terms of economic and military output (with a few notable exceptions), while some of the Outer Rim planets are so poor, one wonders if they are worth the military effort to take them. More on this later.
The second major change is fleet populations. Every unit now requires galactic population to build it. The more crew in a ship, the greater the Unit Population. Why? An Imperial-class Star Destroyer has 37,000 crew and requires consumables for 2.5 years. That's over 100 million meals stuck somewhere in the hold, and all this food, together with all the other consumables and parts required to cover every possible eventuality of running a Star Destroyer from spare rank cylinders to deflector shield parts has to be supplied from somewhere. Each planet you control will contribute to Galactic Population, and each land or space unit that is built consumes Galactic Population.
From a Campaign design perspective 2 points are immediately obvious. Firstly, while frigates and below have low crew requirements, the Clone Wars-era cruisers such as the Dreadnaught and the Acclamator Assault Ship are ridiculously crew-heavy designs, and it is not surprising that these designs were relegated to crew training and planetary defense roles out during the Imperial Era, especially with the advent of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer. While this certainly has a high Unit Population, a single Imperial is less demanding on Galactic Population than 2 Dreadnaught Heavy Cruisers, and with considerably more firepower. Yet another example of the technical breakthroughs achieved with the Imperial-class. It's not just a raw demonstration of firepower – it's also more efficient in crew requirements. Population is shown in yellow for negative numbers, such as unit population costs, and green for positive values, as per most planets.
So what defines Galactic Population?
Clearly food surplus is a key requirement to building a large fleet/army, but in addition a vibrant trade network is required to allow fleet supply to move goods around the galaxy to support front line military units wherever they are.
The current system of 10 population per planet is too uniform and simply was not going to work. But what do we replace it with? Answer – a full demographic model of each planet giving a picture of its food production, economy, trade network and industrial output that can then be used to determine a realistic figure for its weekly income and Galactic Population.
Actually this isn't quite as bad as it sounds as I had already started on a planetary demographic model during V1.2 development, but the model has grown and grown and is pretty complex. I'll attempt to break it down into manageable chunks.
The first step in creating a picture of a planet and its economic output is food production, the mainstay of most civilisations. Planets are not just lumps in space, terrain is critical to food production, so we listed a set of primary terrain types, all with different features: Grassland, Oceans, Forests, Temperate, Mountains, Volcanic, Desert, Swamp, Urban, Arctic, Barren, Ruined urban and Primordial and Asteroid. To this we add the civilisation factors: Technology Level, ranging from Neolithic/Primitive through to Super-High Tech. I also wanted a measure of Industrialisation and Pollution, which I call Harmony. Planets with high Harmony scores are pretty, grow lots of food and are good for tourism, while planets with negative scores are increasingly polluted.
Both Tech and Harmony have significant impact on food production and industrial output. Low Tech worlds take big penalties for both economy and food production, while the polluting worlds are penalised on food production but have bigger economies and greater industrial output.
Now we apply the Agricultural Level (which is a separate but related concept to the Advantage of the same name) , which acts as a multiplier to the terrain type. While the normal level of Agriculture is set at 1, some harsher worlds (where the planetary description indicates a subsistence level economy) this may drop to 0.5 or 0.25 depending on the local conditions. High levels of urbanisation will also reduce the Agri-level. Planets with good food reserves increase to Agri-level 2 or 3, while 4 or 5 is reserved for the Agriworlds, where the entire planet is turned into a giant farm. The scale of food production varies enormously, with Tatooine's moisture farmers producing 2.3 units of food, up to the giant of Ukio's world farms producing over 200 food units.
We also decided that planetary diameters will have an impact on food production, so large planets have their food output increased, while small colonised moons with lower surface area produce less food. As a bonus, we've taken the planetary diameters and re-scaled the planets visually in Galactic Mode so you can see size differences now, where known.
And finally, we deduct a measure of food that is eaten by the planetary inhabitants, so that big urban worlds are net food importers, with Coruscant's trillion beings eating over 100 food units worth of population.
The other side of the credit chip is galactic trade. This is based on several areas of industry. First, we take the trade generated by industrial output, which includes mineral resources, general industrial output (with positive modifiers for factory worlds), art & tourism, crime, and population-based civilian demand, so urban worlds score well here. Furthermore, this is intrinsically linked to the galactic trade network, and each planet gets a special "Commercial" ranking depending on its galactic position and access to major trade routes. The Comms rank ranges from 1 to 8, with position on the Big 5 Hyperrroutes (Hydian Way, Perlemian etc) rating an automatic 4. Remote Outer Rim worlds may only rate 1-2, while the super-hubs are scoring 6 or more. This makes a massive difference to the trade created by a planet, and has a major impact on both planetary economy and Galactic Population.
Most of this data remains hidden (actually in a massive spreadsheet used for mod development), but the result is a very personalised planetary economy. Having gone this far, we decided to complete the task by calculating all the important game considerations using this data.
Land and Space slots are now calculated using all the information gathered so far. To build a base you need solid terrain and a local technological culture to build and maintain the base. Key factors for Base size are terrain type and planetary population. Harsh worlds reduce the base size, high populations increase base size. The number of space slots is a combination of local shipbuilding – ranging from general technical skill of the population to specialist shipyards as noted in the planetary advantages, with additional slots for high trade requirements and large colony size. The number of Turret mounts for Planetary Turbolaser Defenses are now biased towards urbanised centres, and low population worlds tend to have fewer turbolasers than high tech worlds. The number and frequency of build pads is often also linked to urbanisation, so don't expect too many build pads to help your troops if you invade a barren planet! And finally, when you capture a planet, you get to steal/plunder all the goods awaiting shipment, so trade planets, mining worlds and planets with medical exports will have higher capture values.
Planets by numbers
If this is confusing, let's illustrate with a few examples; Firstly we collect all the data we know about a planet: Diameter, Population, Terrain types, Atmosphere type, Description. From this we can determine a range of 18 data points that describe the planetary demographics and from with we calculate the number of Land and Space Slots, the weekly income, Galactic Population, Capture Value, Destroy value and a rough guide to the number of possible towers for all those planets with unique maps.
Overall, with 300 planets in the database that's over 5000 data points to determine that describe all the planets in the mod, and 2500 critical data points used by the mod data files. This has then been tested (hence the call for Alpha testers) and re-balanced. While both the economic and population systems worked, the initial scale estimates were a bit high and a quick scalar applied to all values. Incomes now range considerable from negative income scores for barren moons to thousands of credits for the key industrial and trade centres.
Changes to the Campaigns
So what does this mean for the campaigns? Firstly, fleets end up a bit smaller, and Capital-class warships just got a bit rarer as all the campaigns are re-balanced for the population cap. This also has the added benefit of improving game performance due to the reduction in fleet size. Unless you have a large number of Core Worlds or agri-worlds under your control to boost your population limits, those early Clone Wars-era cruisers will end up being unpopular and will put pressure on your research planets to develop more modern and more efficient designs. Overall, the dynamics of play should become even more interesting with this extra challenge.
|"Commenor must be some major-league trading planet"
||evilbobthebob - December 10, 2012
|Sited in the Colonies, Commenor is a bustling, arid trade world. Its surface is covered with starports and landing strips for the tonnes of cargo that arrives and leaves, bound for the Core and the Rim. The planet swiftly became independent after the Battle of Endor, but its strategic location means that it's unlikely to stay that way for long.|
From an initially defensible landing zone, attackers must choose if they want to push up a ramp onto the upper landing strip, or move out onto the open ground below the small clusters of mismatched city buildings.
Commenor's varied architecture is the result of its trading heritage; a melting pot of many different races and influences. Of course, both the Empire and New Republic would like to make their mark on the planet...
Whoever takes control of this world, it will certainly assure them dominance across the Trellen Trade Route and easy access to the Slice.
|The Road To Coruscant
||Phoenix Rising - December 10, 2012
|Two-and-a-half years after the Empire was sundered and beaten at Endor, the war against its successors has stagnated. The New Republic has failed to gain more than a foothold in the Core and member worlds are beginning to doubt its legitimacy as a galactic government. The risk of this fragile coalition unraveling is too great, thus Supreme Commander Ackbar has drafted a campaign to thrust into the fortified Core and seize the galactic capital. This is the Road to Coruscant.|
Director Isard acquired the throne a little more than a year ago; however, it took the sacrifice of Brentaal to the New Republic in a complicated coup to put her there. From Brentaal, there are two paths to Coruscant: through Anaxes, or through Borleias. With Admiral Ragab locked in a standoff with Commandant Wermis on the Brentaal-Anaxes front, any movement on Borleias would require reinforcements. The answer came in the form of resurrecting the all-hero Rogue Squadron.
A secret training base was established on Folor, with General Salm in command. There, six new starfighter squadrons will be forged, including Commander Antilles' Rogue Squadron. The reformed Rogues are made up of seasoned pilots with a variety of leadership skills that, in most cases, also happen to hail from key worlds. They are equal parts elite unit and poster subject.
The plan is to temper the Rogues with a series of active duty exercises against Imperial forces in the relatively quiet Rachuk sector before commencing the main offensive. Rear Admiral Devlia coordinates the sector's Force Escort from the capital of Vladet.
When the time comes, the Rogues will rendezvous with the New Republic Special Forces units staging on Noquivzor, along with whatever Fleet elements Ragab can spare. This group will move on Borleias under General Kre'fey. A word of warning: Borleias may look mundane, but the name has been linked to General Derricote, the eccentric bioweapons engineer.
In addition, Isard has a noted obsession with Rogue Squadron, who had previously helped foil several of her schemes. If the Rogues were ever annihilated to the last pilot, not only would it be a personal victory for her, but also an insurmountable propaganda nightmare for the New Republic.
A more conventional victory for the Empire would occur if loyalist forces were able to reconnect the Perlemian, pushing the New Republic from Brentaal, Ralltiir, and, finally, into the Colonies. Such a position would all but spell an end to the New Republic presence in the Core - and any hope of claiming the capital - for the foreseeable future.
Coruscant, of course, is the only prize for the New Republic. Controlling the Palace would secure the Provisional Council's authority, while the Rotunda would allow a senate to convene for the first time in years. The expected battle will be anything but easy: some of the best units in the Empire are garrisoned here. That's why Rogue Squadron will lead the way.
|Traveling Through Hyperspace Ain't Like Dusting Crops
||Phoenix Rising - November 29, 2012
|Research has always been an integral part of our development process. No demand has been more of a challenge in that regard than our need to place each planet at a definite galactic location for strategy mode.|
When I began the process in the alpha phase of v1.0, there were maybe four official maps available that held any degree of accuracy; all were clearly related by the reference angle. Beyond that were hundreds of raw sources netting thousands of remarks about regional or relative location. Had that been the end of it, my task would have been nearly impossible.
Fortunately, an adolescent Wookieepedia was available to help cut through much of the clutter. And then I found this fellow called Modi, who had translated the askew maps onto a Cartesian plane, allowing me to derive coordinates that could be fed to the engine. It was the Internet equivalent of striking gold - a starting point. Later, JustinGann expanded on Modi's work to include speculative placements, which afforded me a second opinion. The end result was an independent interpretation of the galaxy unique to Phoenix Rising.
It took the single most important update to the canon to void all that effort - for the better. Midway through v1.2, The Essential Atlas hit bookshelves. Every star system that had ever been mentioned was now bound to a region of space 1/576th the area of the galaxy. A great many were placed with certainty. The unprecedented accuracy of the atlas created a dilemma though, as several campaigns had already been finalized for the release. Rather than scrapping them and starting over, we chose to forge on knowing that v1.2's astrography would be flawed. I am pleased to report that the next version will be anything but.
TEA contains dozens of maps, each with its own scale and set of planets. My first step in replotting the galaxy was to composite them at a scale of 1 pixel = 10 lightyears to create a supermap. The digital Mid Rim sector map served as the foundation, since it had no loss of precision from scanning and little artifacting.
With that done, the actual measuring was trivial. The results were better than I ever could have expected: the first planetary coordinates for Abregado-rae came in identical to those already in use. They were not alone. Although I had corrected our most glaring differences - generally those with no frame of reference or cases where TEA chose to reject Rebellion placements while I did not - when prudent in v1.2, our interpretation really held up to intense scrutiny. Only Spuma, which Children of the Jedi had confused with Protazk, and Orinackra were completely off.
The present and final representation of the galaxy is 20% larger than v1.2 and approximately 92 times the area of vanilla. That should be enough space to prevent planetary overlap in all future cases. Several worlds always have to be manually relocated regardless of scale, but not so much as to be a distraction.
As profound as it is to finally have set astrography, a different facet of TEA had an even greater impact on strategic gameplay. The once-sporadic and eclectic collection of hyperlanes was replaced with a vibrant trade network.
In v1.2, we had two kinds of routes: "the Big Five" and "other". There are now four classifications, the most I could objectively derive from official maps. These can be thought of colloquially as "super", "major", "minor", and "trace" routes. Their benefits are scaled linearly, so while traces provide only meager income, they are much quicker than using a navicomputer to punch though an unstable course, as is the case with non-route connections. Obviously not every system can be linked via hyperlane, so we have tried to balance between using intersections and minimizing campaign planet counts.
These connections are now critical to military operations in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. In the next release, fleets will not be able to travel from a planet unless there is an explicit line - we have eliminated proximity jumps. No longer can an invasion bypass Anaxes on the way to Coruscant, players need not guess where to attack and defend, and the AI has fewer perceptions to crunch when executing plans. This is arguably the single best change that has ever happened to strategy mode.
When FoC was released, I never imagined we would be able to deduce coordinates for every star system. If our trials and errors played even a miniscule part in affecting that change, then it was all worth it.
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