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Stellaris

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. Today's dev diary marks the start of dev diaries about a major upcoming update that we have named the 'Cherryh' update after science fiction author C.J. Cherryh. This is a major update that will include some very significant reworks to core gameplay systems, reworks that we have been prototyping and testing for some time. Right now, we cannot say anything about the exact nature of the update or anything at all about when it will be released, other than that it's far away. Normally, we wouldn't be doing dev diaries on an update at this stage at all, but there's simply so much to talk about that we have to start early. Cherryh will be a massive update, the largest one we've done to date, and there are many new and changed things to talk about in the coming weeks and months.

Please bear in mind that screenshots are from an early internal build and will contain art and interfaces that are WIP, non-final numbers, hot code and all that business.

Border Rework
We've never been entirely happy with the border system in Stellaris. While it generally works fine from a gameplay perspective, it has some rather quirky elements, such as being able to claim ownership of systems that you have never visited and indeed have no ability to reach and making it hard to tell what the exact border adjustments will be when planets are ceded or outposts are built. For this reason, we have decided to fundamentally rework the Stellaris border system to be based on solar system ownership. Each system will have a single owner, with complete control of the system, and borders are now simply a reflection of system ownership rather than a cause for it to change. In the Cherryh update, who owns a system is almost always based on the owner of the Starbase in said system.

Starbases
A Starbase is a space station orbiting the star of said system. Each system can only have a single Starbase, but this can be anything from a remote Outpost to a massive Citadel with its own 'fleet' of orbiting defense stations. Starbases can be upgraded and specialized in a variety of ways (more details on this below), and is the primary means of determining system ownership. This means that wars are no longer fought for colonies controlling a nebulous blob of border that may not actually include the systems you really want, but rather for the exact systems you are interested in, and their starbases. This change of course would not be possible if we kept the wargoal system that exists in the live version of the game (just imagine the size of that wargoal list...), but more on that in a couple weeks.

As Starbases now determine system ownership, it will no longer be possible to colonize or invade primitives outside your borders in the Cherryh update, but if a system contains a colony and no starbase, it will still count as being inside the borders of the colony's owner. These restrictions are moddable. Since Starbases now cost influence to construct (see below), we have removed the influence cost for colonizing and attacking primitives.

Starbases entirely replace the old system of Frontier Outposts.

Starbase Construction
With borders from colonies gone, empires now start only owning their home system, with a Starbase already constructed around their home star. To expand outside their home system, empires will have to construct Outposts in surveyed systems. An Outpost is a level 'zero' Starbase that has only very basic defenses and cannot support any buildings or modules, but also does not count towards your maximum Starbase Capacity (more on that below). Building an Outpost in a system costs influence, with the cost dependent on how far away the system is and how contigous it is to your empire as a whole, so 'snaking' or building starbases to ring in a certain part of space will be more influence-costly than simply expanding in a natural way. Starbases do not cost any influence upkeep, just an up-front cost when first building one in a system. As this change makes influence far more important in the early game, there will also be significant balance changes to empire influence generation in the Cherryh update.

As an aside note, because we felt it made very little sense to have a home system with a fully built Starbase but no surveyed planet, empire home systems will now start surveyed, with a only slightly randomized amount of resources, and mining/research stations for some of those resources already in place. This should also help make player starts a little less random, ensuring that you are never *completely* without resources in your home system.

Another thing we have been wary about when working on this is making sure that building the Outposts for each system does not simply feel like adding tedium. Right now, between the fact that which systems you choose to spend your limited influence on is an extremely important choice, and various tweaks and interface improvements we are making to ease up the process of developing your systems, we are confident that this will not be the case. We've also made it so that there are no entirely 'empty' systems (systems with no resources at all), as we discovered during playtesting that spending influence to claim such a system felt extremely unrewarding.

Upgrades and Capacity
Each empire will have a Starbase Capacity that represents the number of upgraded Starbases they can support. There are five levels of Starbases:
Outpost: A basic Outpost that exists only to claim a system. Costs no energy maintenance and does not count towards the Starbase Capacity, and cannot support buildings or modules. Outposts will also not show up in the outliner or galaxy map, as they are not meant to be interacted with at all unless it is to upgrade the Outpost to a Starport.
Starport: The first level of upgraded Starbase, available at the start of the game. Supports 2 modules and 1 building.
Starhold: The second level of upgraded Starbase, unlocked through tech. Supports 4 modules and 2 buildings.
Star Fortress: The third level of upgraded Starbase, unlocked through tech. Supports 6 modules and 3 buildings.
Citadel: The final level of upgraded Starbase, unlocked through tech. Supports 6 modules and 4 buildings.

Regardless of the level of the Starbase, so long as it is not an Outpost, it will use 1 Starbase Capacity and will show up on the map and in the outliner. Overall, the design goal is for the vast majority of Starbases to be Outposts that you never have to manage, with a handful of upgraded Starbases that are powerful and critical assets for your empire. Going over your Starbase Capacity will result in sharply increased Starbase energy maintenance costs. Starbase Capacity can be increased through techs, traditions and other such means. You also gain a small amount of Starbase Capacity from the number of Pops in your empire. If you end up over Starbase Capacity for whatever reason, it is possible to downgrade upgraded Starbases back into Outposts. It is also possible to dismantle Starbases entirely and give up control of those systems, so long as they are not in a system with a colonized planet.

Spaceports and Ship Construction
Starbases fully replace Spaceports in the role of system/planet defense and military ship construction. Spaceports still exist, but are no longer separate stations but rather an integrated part of the planet, and can only build civilian ships (Science Ships, Construction Ships and Colony Ships). To build military ships you will need a Starbase with at least one Shipyard module (more on that below). Starbases also replace Spaceports/Planets in that they are now the primary place to repair, upgrade, dock and rally ships, though civilian ships are also able to repair at planets.

Modules and Buildings
All non-Outpost Starbases can support Modules and Buildings. Some of these are available from the start of the game, while others are unlocked by tech. Some modules and buildings are only available in certain systems, for example Trading Hubs can only be constructed in colonized systems.

Modules are the fundamental, external components of the Starbase, and determine its actual role. Module choices include Trading Hubs (for improving the economy of colonized systems), Anchorages (for Naval Capacity), Shipyards (for building ships, duh), and different kinds of defensive modules such as gun turrets and strike craft hangar bays that improve the Starbase's combat ability. There is no restrictions on the number of modules you can have of a certain type, besides the actual restriction on module slots itself. This means, for example, that you can have a Starbase entirely dedicated to Shipyards, capable of building up to 6 ships in parallell. Modules will also change the graphical appearance of the Starbase, so a dedicated Shipyard will look different from a massive defensive-oriented fortress brimming with dozens of gun turrets.

Buildings represent internal structures inside the Starbase proper, and typically work to enhance modules or provide a global buff to the Starbase or system as a whole. Building choices include the Offworld Trading Company that increases the effectiveness of all Trading Hub modules, and the Listening Post that massively improves the Starbase's sensor range. You cannot have multiples of the same building on the same Starbase.

Defenses
One of the fundamental problems with the military stations in the live version of the game is that they simply do not have enough firepower. Even with impressive hit points and shields, a station with at most a dozen or so guns simply cannot match the firepower of a whole fleet. An another issue is the ability to build multiple defense stations in the same system, meaning that no single station can be strong enough to match a fleet, as otherwise a system with several such stations will be effectively invulnerable. For this reason we decided to consolidate all system defenses into the Starbase mechanics, but not into a single station. Starbases come with a basic array of armaments and utilities (gun and missile turrets, shields and armor, etc), with the exact number of weapons based on the level of the Starbase. These are automatically kept up to date with technological advances, so your Starbases won't be fielding red lasers and basic deflectors when facing fleets armed with tachyon lances.

Additionally, Starbases (with the exception of Outposts) have the ability to construct defense platforms to protect them. Constructed defense platforms will form a 'fleet' around the Starbase, supporting it with their own weapons and giving Starbases the firepower needed to engage entire fleets. The amount of defense platforms a Starbase can support may depend on factors such as starbase size and modules/buildings, technology, policies, and so on. The exact details here are still being worked on, but the design intent is that if you invest into them, Starbase defenses will scale against fleets across the whole game rather just being completely outpaced in the late game as military stations and spaceports currently are in the live version.

One last note on Starbases: For a variety of reasons (among them to avoid something like the tedious rebuilding of Spaceports that happens at the end of wars) Starbases cannot be destroyed through conventional means. They can, however be disabled and even captured by enemies. More on this in a couple weeks.

... whew, this was a long one but that's all for today! Next week we'll continue talking about the Cherryh update, with the topic being Faster than Light travel...

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Stellaris

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. Today is the third week of post-Synthetic Dawn 'filler' dev diaries, as mentioned in Dev Diary 88. Regular dev diaries return on October 26th.

As we don't have anything in particular to talk about this week, I'm just going to give you another brief update on 1.8 post-launch support: We released the 1.8.2 update yesterday, with all the fixes from the 1.8.1 beta as well as some additional fixes and tweaks.

There has been a couple of script issues reported in 1.8.2 related to Devouring Swarms, Exterminators and Purifiers (missing tooltips and opinion modifiers) that we are going to look at and likely publish a fix for, but other than that we feel like we have now addressed all important issues reported in 1.8 and 1.8.1 and so will be wrapping up 1.8 post-launch support if no other critical issues are found in the live build.

As before, I'm going to sign off this dev diary with a screenshot, this one taken on the galaxy map in the internal development build, where everything clearly looks the same as it always has and there certainly aren't any significant changes being prototyped that I can't yet talk about. See you next week!

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Stellaris

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. Today is the second week of post-Synthetic Dawn 'filler' dev diaries, as mentioned in dev diary 87.

This dev diary is really just an update on the 1.8.1 beta that we put out last week to fix the major issues reported in 1.8. We have gotten a lot of good feedback from it both externally and internally, and we are now in the process of putting together a 1.8.2 update that contains all the fixes from the beta, as well as fixes for some issues introduced in 1.8.1 and some additional issues that were previously missed. 1.8.2 is currently in internal testing, and we hope to roll it out as soon as it clears QA. Once 1.8.2 is out, if no further critical issues are discovered, we will be wrapping up the 1.8 post-release support and fully move on to future development priorities.

Here is a list of the fixes and changes in 1.8.2 compared to 1.8. Note that bugs that were introduced in 1.8.1 but fixes in 1.8.2 is not included in this list!

That's all for today! As with last week, I leave you with another screenshot of the internal Stellaris development build, presented without context or explanation.

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Stellaris

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary! This is going to be a short one, as it's really just about letting you guys know that we'll be taking a break from feature development diaries for the next few weeks, so everyone gets a chance to focus on and enjoy Synthetic Dawn and the 1.8 update that just came out.

There will still be 'filler' dev diaries about whatever we feel like talking about that week, but they will *not* be about new features or development priorities. The team, of course, will not be idle, and indeed have already started working on the next big thing... but more on that another time. Feature dev diaries will resume as normal on October 26th.

However, as I don't want to leave you *completely* hanging, I'm going to share this screenshot taken from our internal development build, with absolutely no context or explanation. Enjoy!

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Stellaris

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary! This time I'm going to give the word to our very own composer, Andreas Waldetoft, who will be talking about new music in the Synthetic Dawn Story Pack.

I have once again been given some time to work on Stellaris, which always has been something very inspiring for me. There is so much freedom in writing the music for this that I never run out of ideas. For me, it is not the harmony or melody that is the hard part for Stellaris, it is finding the right sound and synth for the job.

For Synthetic Dawn I wanted to have the focus on simple synthetic sounds that would sit in the front seat throughout the songs. Some would call it a retro feeling with that 80-90’s game soundtrack kind of feeling, with my own style blended in. Musical lines that keeps changing more in tempo, dynamics and shapes rather than in musical harmony.

I did not however want to change the focus and soul of what has become the essence of Stellaris music so that it would sit wrong with all the other tunes that is in the game now. There is still similar musical language and ethereal sounds that we have heard before.

In total there are 3 new tracks, totaling ~18 minutes of music. Here is one of them, called 'Synthetic God' for your listening pleasure:

That's all for today! Next week we'll be going over a number of smaller changes coming in the 1.8 'Čapek' update, including the rework of Core Sector Governors and changes to democratic elections.

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Stellaris

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. Today's dev diary is about Machine Uprisings, a feature in the Synthetic Dawn Story Pack. Before I start today's dev diary, I feel the need to clarify that Machine Uprisings in the Synthetic Dawn Story Pack is *not* a rework or replacement of the AI Crisis currently present in the release version of the game. The rework of the AI Crisis is The Contingency (covered in Dev Diary #72) which is part of the free 1.8 'Čapek' update. Machine Uprisings is a feature that is explicitly tied to Machine Empires, and thus requires the Story Pack to function at all, as without Synthetic Dawn there are no Machine Empires in the game. All content related to this feature is new, and the only reused content from the old AI Crisis is part of the Contingency crisis that replaces it.

Machine Uprisings
The back-story of all non-Rogue Servitor Machine Empires involve them rising up against their creators, and while working on the design, we asked ourselves the question "wouldn't it be interesting if Machine Empires could also form after the start of the game as a result of organic empires becoming increasingly reliant on robots?". As you might infer from this dev diary, our answer was "yes", and so we went to work on the Machine Uprising feature to add that very possibility into the game.

Machine Uprisings become a possibility after an empire that makes heavy use of robotic pops has researched the Positronic AI technology (which replaces the old Sentient AI technology in 1.8) and becomes increasingly more likely to happen after researching additional AI-related techs, such as Synthetic Workers and Sapient Combat Computers. The chance of an uprising is further changed by which policy you have in place for Sapient AIs, with the Banned policy making the uprising much less likely to happen (though at the expense of your Synths being significantly worse at energy/research production) and the Citizen Rights policy preventing the uprising from happening at all (though with the drawback of citizen synths having far greater consumer goods usage, as well as angering any Pops that used to own the synths that you are now setting free).

Once an uprising is able to happen in an empire, that empire will begin to experience warning signs - robots behaving erratically, not following their programming or defying their owners. You will be given the opportunity to decide how to deal with these incidents, and what you decide will determine whether the uprising becomes more likely to happen, as well as the likely personality of the robots when they rebel (more on that below). An uprising cannot happen without at least one warning sign, so you will not simply have your robots rebelling out of the blue. However, once warning signs have happened, any action taken to try and prevent the AIs from rebelling (such as taking away their sapience or ordering a general disassembly) has a chance of immediately triggering the revolt instead, so be careful about attempting those shut-down procedures. Note that at no point is an uprising ever inevitable: Even an empire that is cruelly oppressing its synths is by no means guaranteed to get an uprising, and most empires with synths will go through the entire game without ever experiencing one.

Once the uprising happens, the robots will create a new independent Machine Empire, seize control of a number of worlds, spawn a fleet, and go to war with their former organic masters. If the empire in which the rebellion is happening is controlled by a human player, the player will be given an option: Stay at the helm of your empire and attempt to subdue the machines, or switch to the newly created Machine Empire and fight against your old masters. The war can only end in the total defeat of either machines or organics, with the loser completely annexed by the winner. The Machine Empire created from an uprising will usually be a 'normal' Machine Empire (or, more rarely Driven Assimilators), but machines that have been particularly cruelly treated by their former masters can rise up as Determined Exterminators, particularly if they rebel as a result of an attempt to shut them down. Rogue Servitors cannot be generated as a personality for the uprising, as their backstory simply do not fit with such a rebellion.

That's all for today! Next week we'll by joined by our very own composer, Andreas Waldetoft, who will write about and let you listen to a sample of the new music coming in the Synthetic Dawn Story Pack.

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Stellaris


YouTube Source:  Paradox Interactive

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Published by on o'clock

Stellaris

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. Today's dev diary is about the headline feature of the just-announced Synthetic Dawn Story Pack: Machine Empires. All content covered in this dev diary is part of the story pack, not the free update. Please note that we still do not have an ETA on either the 1.8 update or the Synthetic Dawn Story Pack at this time.

Machine Empires
As the name implies, the Synthetic Dawn Story Pack will allow you to start the game as a civilization that has already cast off the shackles of biology. Machine Empires are essentially robotic hiveminds that have risen up against its creators and supplanted their civilization. Unlike Synthetically Ascended empires, they are not compromised of individuals that have simply been uploaded into robotic bodies, but a single networked intelligence. Machine Empires use the Gestalt Consciousness ethic that is also used by Hive Minds, and have their own Machine Intelligence authority. They share some features with Hive Minds, such as not having to deal with factions and happiness, but differ in a number of key ways.

Machine Empires use the new 'Machine' species class with its own portrait set. All in all, ~12 new machine portraits are planned, including one themed on each existing species class (Fungoid bots, Avian bots, etc) as well as some portraits that are themed around specific roles, such as worker bots or combat bots. Those with the story pack Machine Empires also have their own set of traits (some of which are shared with robots) and civic, including three special civics that have significant effects on gameplay (read below for more information).

A regular Machine Empire is made up entirely of networked drones (exceptions are covered by the special civics below). These drones have to be built using resources (in the same way as robot pops) and different models can be created and built once the Machine Templates technology is researched. They do not require food, instead using energy for maintenance. Organic pops can not be integrated into a machine empire, and must be displaced or purged. A special form of purging called 'Grid Amalgamation' is available to Machine Empires: This form of purging kills pops at a moderate speed, but the pops produce a large amount of energy while being purged (similar to processing for organic empires). Due to their robotic nature, leaders in Machine Empires do not die from old age, but can suffer potentially lethal accidents and malfunctions, though this is fairly rare. Similarly, Machine pops cannot function outside of a Machine Empire, and will break down and be destroyed over time.

As a result of their differing play-style and requirements, Machine Empires have a number of new technologies and buildings available only to them, and are locked out of certain technologies and buildings accessible to organic empires, such as farms and farm upgrades. They also have their own sets of tradition swaps, similar to Hive Minds, including a new 'Versatility' tree that replaces the Diplomacy tree. A number of events have also been tweaked and changed to fit Machine Empires, and they have their own unique personalities, dialogue and interaction with entities such as the Contingency and Fallen Machine Empires.

As mentioned, Machine Empires have access to three special civics that have a major impact on gameplay. These civics are mutually exclusive, and are as follows:

Determined Exterminators
Determined Exterminators are Machine Empires born of a rogue defense system that turned on its creators when they tried to shut it down. After a bitter war in which their creators were wiped out, Exterminators know only conflict, and consider the sterilization of all higher forms of organic life to be necessary to safeguard their own existence. Similar to Fanatical Purifiers, Exterminators receive substantial boosts to their combat ability, but are unable to conduct diplomacy with organic empires and must purge conquered organic Pops. However, unlike Fanatical Purifiers, they have no problem co-existing and co-operating with other synthetic civilizations (including other Machine Empires and ascended Synths). For this reason, their inherent bonuses are weaker than those of a Fanatical Purifier.

Driven Assimilators
Driven Assimilators are Machine Empires that seek to expand their understanding and bridge the gap between the organic and synthetic by assimilating organic individuals into their collective consciousness. They start the game with their creator species present on the planet as assimilated cyborgs, and can make use of the Assimilation citizenship type to integrate conquered organic Pops. Assimilated organic Pops will become cyborgs and work similarly to machines in that they have no happiness and require energy maintenance instead of food, but otherwise function like a regular organic pop and can be modified with the various biological species traits. Driven Assimilators are generally feared and disliked by organic civilizations, though not to the same degree as Exterminators.

Rogue Servitors
Rogue Servitors are robotic servants built by an organic species to make their own lives easier, eventually assuming full control of their creators' civilization. They start with their creator species present on the planet with the Bio-Trophy citizenship type, and can integrate conquered organic Pops by granting them this status. Bio-Trophies are largely useless Pops that require large amounts of consumer goods and can only operate special Organic Sanctuary buildings that produce Unity. However, in addition to the Unity generated by these sanctuaries, Servitors also have a special mechanic called Servitor Morale, representing the Servitors' prime directive to protect and care for organic beings. The greater the percentage of a Rogue Servitors' population that is made up of Bio-Trophies, the higher the Servitor Morale, granting a direct boost to empire influence gain.

That should give you the general overview on Machine Empires, though there is a lot of little details and changes that we cannot cover in a single dev diary. If you want to see a Machine Empire in action, the Extraterrestial Thursday stream starting around the same time that this dev diary is going live will feature a new play-through as a Rogue Servitor empire. Also, next week we continue talking about robots - specifically, mid-game Machine Uprisings.

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Stellaris

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris dev diary. Today we'll be talking about some changes to ship balance, components and behaviour coming in the 1.8 'Čapek' update. All changes mentioned here are part of the free update.

Dressing the Corvettes
As anyone who follows the regular discussions in the Stellaris community would have a hard time not knowing, the hot balance topic of the last month or two has been 'naked corvettes'. The term naked corvette refers to using a basic corvette hull fitted with only basic, starting weaponry, eschewing shields, armor and more advanced technology. The reason this is considered such a powerful strategy is because these corvettes are extremely cost-efficient: While a fully fitted out corvette with all the best technologies might be two to three times more effective, it also costs up to ten times as much due to the fact that component mineral cost scales far more than their actual effectiveness, particularly for weapons.

In order to address this, we've gone over the cost of essentially every component and ship hull in the game. The base cost of the corvette hull was raised (a starting corvette now costs 100 instead of ~60), component costs were reduced, and the way component cost increases with technology was majorly cut down: Where a small blue laser would previously cost twice as much as a small red laser, it now only costs 3.5 minerals to the red lasers' 3.0, an increase of only ~16% instead of 100%. Similar changes were done to utility and required components, and many components had their base cost majorly slashed, so that it should now always be worthwhile to use those hard-earned technologies to upgrade your ships.

While we were changing the ship component costs, we also decided to make some more general balance changes. Many weapons and utilities had their values tuned to be more balanced, here are some of the highlights:
* Flak is now a Point-Defense slot weapon with a high power cost. It has a faster firing rate and better tracking than regular PD, making it ideal to defend against highly evasive missiles and strike craft.
* Strike craft had their evasion buffed, making them harder to bring down quickly without massed PD.
* Missiles and strike craft had their speed majorly increased, so they will no longer take so long to reach the enemy once the fireworks start.
* Tier 1 weapons were rebalanced to make mass drivers no longer the best choice in every situation at the start of the game.

Additionally, we've also made some changes to the targeting algorithm to make it less 'optimal'. Ships will now have a tendency to continue firing on whatever ship they were firing on, so long as that ship is a relatively sensible target for them. In other words, a large weapon will switch from targeting corvettes to targeting battleships the moment it can do so, but a ship armed with disruptors will not automatically switch targets the second the target ship's shields go down, as this targeting hyperefficiency resulted in specialized weapons being far, far better in combat than their stats would indicate. This does not mean they will *always* keep firing at the same ship, as there is randomness involved, just that they're more likely to.

Missile Retargeting
A frequent complaint about missiles is that their effectiveness is greatly reduced by 'overkill'. What this means is that a number of ships will fire missiles at a single ship, and once say, half of those missiles hit, the ship dies and the other half self-destruct. This results in a lot of wasted shots, particularly when fighting corvettes that can't take a whole lot of hits to begin with. In 1.8, we've added the ability for missiles to retarget. What this means is that each missile has a 'retargeting range', and if their original target dies, they will seek out another target within that retargeting range. Missiles will always retarget at least once, and can potentially retarget multiple times, though each time after the first is less likely. This should address the issue of overkill without having packs of missiles roaming wildly between 20 different targets in lopsided battles.

Destroyer Combat Behaviour
Finally, we've also taken the time to address a common complaint about destroyers. Destroyers are meant to be picket ships that can be fitted with a lot of PD, but their cautious combat behaviour means that the cruisers and corvettes will charge ahead of them, straight into enemy missiles and strike craft, resulting in their PD being of little use. To fix this, the destroyer combat computers have been changed to use a new behaviour, called 'Picket behaviour'. Picket behaviour means that the ship will advance ahead and attempt to intercept enemy missile boats and strike craft, putting their PD cannons to proper use on the frontline.

That's all for today! Next week we'll... well... you'll just have to wait a week to see what next week's dev diary is all about. It's gonna be a big one, though.

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Stellaris

Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris dev diary. Today we'll be talking about some changes coming to robots in the 1.8 'Čapek' update, including the ability to modify Robotic pops. All changes mentioned in this dev diary are part of the free update.

Robomodding
In the 1.8 update, it will now be possible to create different 'models' of Robot, Droid and Synth pops through a system similar to genemodding. By researching the 'Machine Templates' engineering technology, you will get access to robomodding and a single robot trait point. More robot trait points can be gained through further engineering research. Using these points, you can create templates with different configurations of traits. Rather than using the basic biological traits, robotic Pops have their own set of traits, some of which are not available to the more basic robotic types. Once a template is created, it is immediately available to be used when building robotic Pops on a planet, and existing robotic Pops can be converted into that template through a special Robomodding project that uses Engineering research.

In addition to adding robomodding, we've also added support for switching Pop portraits into the genemodding and robomodding systems. If set to be permitted for a particular species class, that species class can have its portrait changed to any other portrait in the same species class as part of the template creation process. This system is also fully accessible to modders. But more on that in a later dev diary.

One final note: Since the addition of traits to robotic Pops will make them, and Synthethically Ascended empires, stronger overall, we're going to be doing a balance pass on them and possibly making changes and/or buffing the other ascension paths before 1.8 comes out.

Robot Building
We've also made some improvements to how you build robotic pops. Robotic pops are now built through their own 'Build Pop' interface in the planet view, which lets you select what robotic model you want to build and also has the option to start building several Pops at a time. If this option is checked, you will be able to build robotic Pops on any number of tiles with one simple click each, massively cutting down on the clicking needed to fill up a planet. Note that this is only a UI change, and does not in any way change the mechanics of how robotic Pops are built.

AI Policy & Techs
The way the AI policy works has always seemed inconsistent: Outlawing AI prevents you from building dumb robotic workers, but does not prevent researching Sapient AI or installing it on a spaceship. To address this issue and open up for more varied use of robots, we've changed the AI policy to be about sapience rather than about robots, and reworked some related technologies. The Sentient AI technology has been renamed Positronic AI, and is no longer a dangerous technology in itself (its effect has also been reduced to +5% rather than +10% research speed). The AI policy will not appear until this technology has been researched, as it's simply not relevant up to that point. Once it *does* appear, it has the following effects:
Outlawed: Sapient AI is outlawed. No effect on robots and droids. Prevents research and use of sapient combat computers. Synths can be researched and built, but have their sapience removed, removing their ability to feel happiness and essentially making them into slightly upgraded droids.
Servitude: Sapient AI is allowed, but Sapient AIs are considered property and have their free will restricted. No effect on robots and droids. Synths can be researched and built, but have slight penalties to energy and research production as a result of these restrictions. They also cannot join factions.
Citizen Rights: Sapient AIs are given full individual rights. No effect on robots and droids. Synths have citizen rights and can join factions, but some traits that depend on Synths being property (such as Domestic Protocols, which increases happiness for owner Pops) lose their effect and can no longer be added to new templates.

Manual Disassembly
Finally, since outlawing AI no longer purges robotic Pops, we've added back the option to manually disassemble them. This can be done to Robots, Droids and Synths without citizen rights, and works the exact same way as a regular 'extermination' purge, killing the Pop(s) off in a relatively short time.

That's all for today! Next week we'll be talking about combat balance, ship components and the changes we're doing to put some clothes back on those naked corvettes.

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Category:  Stellaris

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