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Offline Asid

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Re: Astra Exodus Conquer the galaxy
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2019, 11:25:12 PM »
Astra Exodus Dev Diary #12 - Diplomacy & Trade
09 Dec 2019




We’re back with a new entry of the Astra Exodus dev diaries. This time we’ll be going over Diplomacy and Trade. Most of what we are talking about happens on the audience screen, which can be summoned for any of the factions met at that point in the game.

Diplomatic Actions

Once an audience has been setup you will face the leader of the corresponding faction and you will then have the chance to interact with them through diplomatic actions. This can include trading, issuing demands, giving gifts, proposing treaties and of course declaring war. All of these will affect your relations with the faction and trigger a modifier in turn. We’ll talk more about these later.

One of the actions possible here is to propose or break a treaty. There are several treaties available in Astra Exodus. These include: Trade Commission, Research Collaboration, Open Borders, Military Alliance, Peace Agreement and Non-Aggression Pact. The Trade Commission has both factions increase the total commerce they generate by a percentage of what each other generates. Similarly speaking, the Research Collaboration does the same but for research. Open Borders grants rights of passage and refuel for each other’s ships. A Military Alliance is a defensive pact, in which if attacked by a third party, both factions swear to help each other by declaring war against the aggressor. As the name implies, a Peace Agreement marks the end of hostilities between two factions, effectively ending a war. Finally a Non-Aggression Pact is a basic treaty, required for higher tier ones, promising peace between two factions. Breaking it carries a galactic wide diplomatic penalty.

Depending on your military strength, you might be in the position to either issue or receive demands to/from other factions. The terms these demands can include: technologies, systems, credits, tribute, breaking all treaties with a third party, declaration of war against another factions or even agreeing to a truce in a war. If the target faction does not accept the demand then relations will be negatively impacted, with a corresponding modifier.





Relations, Trust and Threat

For each faction, the game keeps track of three essential values, relative to all others, to impact the diplomatic relations and interactions between them. They are also directly taken into consideration by the AI in order to make its choices. These values are called Relations, Trust and Threat.

Relations represents the overall sentiment of the faction towards another. It fluctuates mainly with the corresponding faction’s actions. For example, if X allies with Z, which is a sworn enemy of Y, then Y will not have favorable relations with X. In contrast Trust increases slowly with time and can only decrease when a treaty is broken or a promise is not kept. Trust is essential for higher tier treaties and trades (an alliance treaty for example) as the AI not only needs to have high relations with a faction but also needs to trust it. Finally, Threat measures how dangerous a faction is perceived to be by another faction. This is measured in both the relative military might as well as the industrial capacity involved and the perceived willingness to go to war.

Depending on the Relations value is the Attitude the corresponding leader will have with you and your people. They are clearly distinguished from each other, through the leader character visuals and also on how he or she communicates with you during the audience. There are 5 different possible leader attitudes in the game, which from best to worst, are: Friendly, Cordial, Neutral, Hostile, Warring. You can check how they came to be thanks to the relationship modifiers involved with the faction.

Relationship Modifiers

Each diplomatic action a player takes (as well as many non diplomatic actions, like for instance the bombardment of an enemy colony) generate a positive or negative Relationship Modifier. These are triggers that either increase or decrease the Relations, Trust and Threat between factions. They also serve as a summary for the human player to understand why an AI “feels” like it does with him or her.

There are many possible relationship modifiers within the game, from a positive one like having the same enemy in a war, to a common negative one like having close borders. Regardless of the source of the modifier and whether if it is positive or negative, they will all expire at some point (all but a few exceptions), either once enough time has passed or because the galactic context has changed. 





Gifts and Trading

There are several assets which can be gifted in game to other factions in order to increase the relations with them. This can be very important to avoid war, especially if you seek to ally with a powerful faction. These assets include: technologies, credits,  tribute (credits per turn) and entire star systems (with any colonies or outposts they include). They obviously affect relations in different amounts, depending on the case.

In contrast trading implies an exchange: giving something but getting something else in return. Most important here is the exchange of technologies, since otherwise a faction can not complete a level of a Research Field, as we have already pointed out in a previous dev diary. However you can also trade star charts with other factions, which helps you to map  the galaxy out very quickly.

We will be back next Tuesday with a new Dev diary, this time on the Factions we will encounter in Astra Exodus!


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Offline Asid

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Re: Astra Exodus Conquer the galaxy
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2019, 03:41:10 PM »
Astra Exodus - Preview stream live on Twitch
13 Dec 2019



Astra Exodus is an upcoming sci-fi 4X strategy game. Developed by Atomic Kaiser, we have been featuring it weekly on the site with our series of developer diaries.

We had promised you we would show you the full game before the holidays, and we'll keep our word!

Richard Yorke will be live streaming Astra Exodus on our Twitch channel on Tuesday 17 at 6 pm GMT! It will be the perfect chance to have a first look at the game and see its features and gameplay mechanics in action.

For all those who cannot make it, don't worry. We will upload the video afterwards on our YouTube channel.

Astra Exodus is still in beta but its development is progressing well. It is currently fully playable, and we are not far away from release. Stay tuned for the announcement of the release date, which will come very soon.


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Offline Asid

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Re: Astra Exodus Conquer the galaxy
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2019, 02:31:45 AM »
Astra Exodus Dev Diary #13 - Factions Primer
Tue, 17 December 2019



Welcome back for another Astra Exodus dev diary. My name is Atomic Kaiser and today I’ll be talking about the game’s factions, the systems behind them and some examples from the game. I’ll be careful not to give any spoilers out though!

Before we get to the dev diary itself, don’t forget to check on today’s preview stream on Twitch. Join us at 6 pm GMT on our Twitch channel for a first look at Astra Exodus!

Factions

The universe depicted in Astra Exodus is inhabited by several factions, some of which do not have what you would call a government or structure in the classic sense of the word. In fact that’s why they are called factions rather than nations or civilizations. One such case is the Followers of Kala, which function more like a religious cult than a classic empire for example.

All factions have a leader, a central figure that directs its will and whom you will interact with - or take command of! This leader will also be served by several advisors, and they will offer their counsel on the central topics regarding the management of your faction.

Regardless of the fact that all of them are humanoid shaped, these factions are highly diverse, both in form, function and thought. They vary a lot on how they look, why the look that way, what they are trying to achieve in the galaxy and how they want to do it. This is reflected in the game’s lore as well as in their abilities or characteristics (called traits in game), both of which we’ll talk more about a bit later on.

From an AI perspective, each faction will then have a preference on how to win through what the game calls an Agenda and who they essentially are through a Focus. AI also has a preference regarding what classes of ships to build and troop types to train. This helps with differentiating factions especially when played by the AI.

Traits

Traits are what make a faction different from others, gameplay wise. Each faction has a unique set of these traits which define its capabilities, by either improving or diminishing a gameplay aspect that affects the player. They can be very basic, such as the Miner trait, which increase materials production per miner in each colony, or quite complex, such as the Ancient trait, which reveals the whole galaxy at the start of the game.

The game uses a trait Pick Points systems, in which each Trait gets a positive or negative value accordingly and the sum of them is the same for all factions.



Lore

The history or lore of the known galaxy in Astra Exodus long predates the arrival of  humans to the sector and the events that will unfold in the game’s campaign. However, much of the history known at the game’s start is more myth than anything else. From the role of the Precursors in the shaping of the galaxy, in their terrifying ancient wars and alleged surveillance of all major species, to the so called “old gods” with truly infinite power, they are all treated like myth and legend rather than history.

However we do have some actual bits of history to share, without going into any campaign spoilers, on each of the major factions of the Skirmish Mode.

The Potermi Dominion is a major power in the galaxy, which has been in constant fighting to keep its borders against many enemies, ever since the faction’s peak, some 2500 cycles ago. Sadly the Ulari have not found much success with their current regent and seem to be ever shrinking in the extent of their power.



The Veloran Horde is a chaotic collection of warring tribes, banded together under the current Grand Boss Jarak, who achieved her title by betraying the previous grand boss. The Velor are known to be raiders, slavers and pirates; however never had they posed such as threat to the galaxy as they do under the Horde.



The Guardians of the Seed represents a peaceful yet powerful group of vegetal based sentient beings, which some believe to have been created artificially. Like humans, they are newcomers to the sector. They had a first contact war with the Freudalim Hold, that quickly stripped them of any naivete about interstellar affairs.



The Terran Republic represents the last known group of humans who survived the Exodus from Earth, thousands of cycles ago, by coming through the Great Eye (a colossal wormhole that collapsed behind them). They have focused on rebuilding until now, as they set out to find their lost brothers and the history behind their ancient exodus.



The Followers of Kala are a secretive and highly advanced, yet deeply spiritual organization, and they are almost as ancient as the Freudalim Hold. Not much is known about them, as any probe into their territory is hardly ever heard from again. What little is inferred however from contacting them, is that somehow the Kalin are all females, or so it seems at least.



The Okli-To Consortium is a corporate based government of winged beings, who suffered a massive accelerated technological advancement in a very short period of time thanks to the interference of minor smuggler factions in their homeworld. This quickly changed their ethics: they got rid of old idols and replaced them with worship of wealth. This reflects on the freighter-like look of their starships. 



The Ilumina Starnation is a utilitarian, authoritarian and collective government of aquatic sentient beings who used to be ruled by the Potermi Dominion until they rebelled in a series of conflicts now known as the Great Patriotic Revolution. They are renowned for their industrial and physical might, having been used by the Dominion for centuries as their elite shock troops.



The Freudalim Hold represents an ancient and honorable (or so they claim to be, at least) race of sentient marble-skinned mammals. Ages ago, they used to rule much of the galaxy, with the permission of the Precursors. Once they left however, the Hold faded into inner turmoil, thanks to its self absorbed senate and lost power on the galactic stage rather quickly, becoming a mere shadow of what they used to be.



There is a lot more to be found out about the lore of Astra Exodus and its factions, but that it’ll be up to you to learn by playing.

This will be our last dev diary in 2019, but we will be back in January to resume our series of dev diaries. As mentioned, don’t forget to follow us later today on Twitch for the first Astra Exodus preview stream. Furthermore, on Friday we are going to announce something which I’m sure will excite all those who are waiting for Astra Exodus!


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Offline Asid

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Re: Astra Exodus Conquer the galaxy
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2019, 02:34:59 PM »
Astra Exodus to be released on January 23
20 Dec 2019




Astra Exodus gets a release date, and it is January 23.

Thanks to its months of beta and a lot of feedback from its beta testers, we're now close. The anticipated 4X by Atomic Kaiser will be released in a month.

We will be showing a lot more about the game across all of January, but in the meantime you can take a look at the dev diaries, which explain several of the game mechanics in detail.

Furthermore, earlier this week we have done the first full fledged stream of Astra Exodus on Twitch. We uploaded the video to YouTube and you can watch it here.




Let us know what you think or if you have any question, either on the forum or on the Astra Exodus discord channel.



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Offline Asid

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Re: Astra Exodus Conquer the galaxy
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2020, 11:26:13 PM »
Astra Exodus - Release date amended, out on January 30
09 Jan 2020



We have a new release date for Astra Exodus: it will be released on January 30.

Contrary to what was announced shortly before the holidays, we have decided to move the release date of Astra Exodus by one week.

It is a decision which was taken by the publisher, simply based on reasons of internal organization and scheduling.

The game's development is complete, and we are very happy about how it has progressed and shaped up.

You can take a look at our recent Let's Plays, where Richard Yorke plays the single player campaign. You can follow him every Tuesday at 6 pm GMT on our Twitch channel.



If you are German or French speaking, though, don't miss (German) and (French) great videos.

Last but not least, next week we are resuming our series of Dev Diaries.




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Offline Asid

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Re: Astra Exodus Conquer the galaxy
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2020, 03:48:36 PM »
Astra Exodus Dev Diary 14 - AI Focuses and Agendas
14 Jan 2020




Welcome back for another Astra Exodus dev diary. Today we are going to talk about  artificial intelligence in the game, but more specifically on the mechanisms the different factions play differently as well as the many effects difficulty settings have.

Focuses
One of the core features of the AI system is the Focus for each faction, which determines to a rather large degree what the AI will build and when. This is done internally by affecting its desires accordingly and thus greatly affecting its decisions each turn. For each Faction, the game has 3 different focuses, with a 60/20/20% chance of them being chosen each game. In total there are seven focuses in the game: Militarists, Technologists, Ecologists, Industrialists, Expansionists, Economists and Balanced.

The Militarists focus will obviously center colony production on combat starships and ground troops in order to maintain military supremacy over its rivals. Technologists will target research, maximizing its output through building installations and increasing the number of scientists. Ecologists will aim at having large populations by terraforming worlds into Terran planets and also maintaining a low pollution level. They compensate any production lost by generating more income through taxes and commerce. Industrialists are the total opposite, they will focus on industrial production regardless of any pollution and colonize planets with a high mineral output; regardless of their habitability. Expansionists are not picky at all in contrast, they will focus on colonizers and constructors as long as possible with the goal of settling all planets in range. Economists concern themselves more on commerce, taxes and trading. They usually generate a high income quickly, purchasing instead of building most colony projects. Finally, a Balanced focus will make the AI not center on anything in particular. Instead it’ll be more reactive, responding mainly to other player actions.



Agendas
In contrast to Focuses, Agendas mainly affect how factions conduct diplomacy and what victory conditions they go for in a skirmish mode game. Just like with Focuses though, there are 3 possible different agendas per faction, with a  60/20/20% chance each of being chosen. There are 7 possible Agendas in total: Ruthless, Aggressive, Pacifist, Honorable, Xenophobic, Manipulative and Erratic.

An AI with a Ruthless Agenda will be quite dangerous, it will attack without provocation and be willing to sacrifice both its own troops and alien populations in war. In contrast, an Aggressive Agenda is more measured, as it will attack only when in favorable position and with at least some provocation. As radically different to the previous two, a Pacifist AI will try to maintain peace, by proactively managing Relations, Trust and Threat it has with others. It will also of course sue for peace more eagerly if at war. A more sensible Honorable AI will almost never break a treaty and will not attack faction with which it has good relations. However it will react twice as much when it is the victim of espionage. Xenophobic AIs go against diplomacy in general and they rarely interact with others without being prompted first. They do not always wage war, but when they do, they stop nothing short of genocide. In contrast a Manipulative AI will often interact often others, preferring to use trading and espionage to achieve its ends. Finally an Erratic AI Agenda, as the name implies, will make the faction rather unpredictable; as it will switch between all other agendas randomly throughout the game.

Preferences
The final core AI system is the one that sets the preference for starship roles, troop types and battle tactics for the faction to use. In this case there are two choices, with a 50/50 chance of any of them being picked at game start.

For ships roles we have 4 different preferences: Light, Balanced, Average and Heavy. Light will focus on Frigates/Destroyers, Average on Cruisers and Heavy on Battleship/Titans. A balanced approach will make the AI ignore this as a factor when deciding what to build.

With troops we have again 4 preferences: Soft, Hard, Mobile and Balanced. Soft will make it focus on Infantry/Airborne, Hard on Armor/Mechs and Mobile on Mechs/Airborne. Finally, as well as with ships, Balanced will make the AI ignore this when deciding what to build.

Regardless of what starship focus the AI picks, starships need to be fitted with modules and be built as proper ship designs. This starship design is made by the AI thanks to the battle tactic it has chosen to follow in space. These can be: Long Range, Close Support, Fast Assault, Missile Swarm, Balanced, Engagement and Harassment. Depending on which battle tactic a faction chooses then a faction will focus its research on specific types of weapons, defenses, etc to arm its starships with.

Difficulty
There are seven possible difficulties for the game, and can be picked for both the story campaign or a single skirmish game. These are: Colonist, Marine, Captain, Commander, General, Admiral and Elgathi. Without going too much into detail, Commander is the standard difficulty, where the AI has no penalty or bonus to speak of. Thus, the closer you go back to Colonist, the easier the game is and the same in reverse, Elgathi being the hardest difficulty level.

Difficulty levels not only affect bonuses/penalties, but more importantly they affect how the AI plays the game. For example, on General and upwards, the AI will target the weakest enemy first in ground battles. In Commander and upwards the AI will maintain formation in space battles, right up until the main line faces the enemy. In contrast however, a game with a difficulty of Marine or less will have the AI ignore starship abilities and not use them.



That’s it for today! We will be back next Tuesday with our last dev diary before release. Astra Exodus is releasing on January 30. Are you ready?



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Offline Asid

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Re: Astra Exodus Conquer the galaxy
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2020, 03:03:23 PM »
Astra Exodus Dev Diary 15 - Basic Modding
21 Jan 2020



Welcome back to our last dev diary before release on January 30. Today we are going to take a look into modding: how players can change the base game to their liking, create entire mods from zero and upload them easily on the Steam Workshop, for those who play on Steam.


Mod Structure
Astra Exodus was designed from the ground-up to be moddable, as pretty much everything in the game is loaded from files editable by users, organized in a certain structure. This very same structure, found on the base game directory, must be reproduced by any mod, adding a main data file as well which defines the mod.

In the /MyGames/Astra Exodus/Mods path, you’ll find a data file named after the mod, plus a main folder that contains the mod files, with the same Data and Graphics folder structure as the main game.

Data Files
The data files into the game allow you to define pretty much everything on Astra Exodus, from technologies to factions and starships, everything can be changed or expanded. They are in LUA format, which can be easily opened with any text editor. We recommend using Notepad++ though.

Here you have a base file called Globals.lua, where you can change the main values of the game, such as how much food a colonist consumes for example. Then you have a folder structure, grouping factions, techs, troops, and everything else together. Opening any of the contained files will give you an example of how to change or add one of these yourself.

The most complex values you can find on these files, to configure whatever concept each represent, are the references to localized text and the path to the corresponding graphic files. The localized text tag is searched in the files under the Localization folder, where one must exist for each language the game supports. Finally a graphics file reference is basically the path, from the base folder, to the corresponding image (PNG) file. 



Graphics
The game’s graphics come from PNG image files, which as we just saw, are referenced via a relative file path by the data files. So for every Installation an image must be referenced in order to be used in game, just like with everything else in the game. The game requires PNG files in order to have an Alpha channel available, as it is used in almost all possible scenarios, when using graphics in game, from starship classes to techs.

There are some extra graphic files that need to be supplied for every mod, regardless of any reference from the data files. These are the mod icon, main menu and data net background images. The first ones can be placed anywhere inside the mod folder, as long as they are referenced on the main mod LUA file, however the DataNet images must be placed in a folder with that name, inside the mod’s Graphics folder.



Steamworks
Once you have set up a mod, you might want to share it with the community. To do this, you can always just zip the files and share it on the Internet, however Steam has a system that makes it much easier: the Steam Workshop, which Astra Exodus fully implements.

With the mod working properly and after defining everything on its main LUA file, all you need to do is click on the Up Arrow on top of the mod UI object, in order to upload it to Steam with your current logged in user. Then you’ll be able to change the name, description, add screenshots and a lot more through the mod page; automatically created when you upload it.

We hope this was clear enough. If you have any question on Modding, please let us know either on Discord or the forum, and we’ll do our best to get back to you with further explanations.



Next week we’ll be launching the game, on January 30. Are you ready?



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