Just wanted to let folks know that I will be putting up a mod on Nexus sometime in the next month or so. This mod, or rather series of mods, is an attempt to add some quantitative and qualitative science to the game, based on recent research and observations. These mods should be somewhat modular, in that you can swap them out (except you will need Stars for Systems). My goal is to offer a mod that changes the game only to make it more realistic, without disturbing the underlying gameplay too badly (except where demanded by realism). Here are some features:
Mostly just window-dressing. The stars in the mod actually look more dull than in the vanilla game, and are harder to tell apart by color, but that is closer to reality. Also, because of how the game is programmed, there is no variation among stars of the same type, which was something I tried desperately to achieve.
- All of the major spectral types are represented
- Except O, it is too rare
- Carbon stars are not implemented, and I'm not sure I should bother
- No purple stars (I've considered adding purple and green as 'Precursor stars')
- All four types of brown dwarf are here (and they aren't brown, either)
- All of the main types are available in dwarf (main-sequence) and giant sizes (sorry, no supergiants or hypergiants, they are too rare. )
- Scientifically accurate RGB colors for the photosphere and in the corona effects
- Mathematically converted brightness and radius based on logarithmic transformations
- Giant stars take up more than one hex (and you can't pass through the extra hexes)
- Protostars, with accretion disks (I'm kind of proud of this one)
- Stellar remnants are enabled, including:
- True white dwarfs (not the main-sequence dwarf in the game)
- Neutron stars
- Quark stars (I just made up how they look, but it is sparkly and neat... that's science)
- Pulsars (these are cool, but I may need to ask Stardock about how to get the effect right)
The heart of realism is, in this case, the systems. The proportions and salient characteristics of stars are actually worked out here.
- Proportions of star types directly reflect proportions in the galaxy (lots of red dwarfs)
- Multiple star systems are present and abundant, and they aren't all the built-in binary kind
- Systems will actually have habitable planets based on the star type (so, F, G, and K stars are the most likely to have habitable planets, and multiple habitable planets)
- Yes, there will be habitable worlds for red dwarfs. It could happen.
- Stars are represented by color-coded icons on the strategic map (bigger for giants), so you can direct your exploration toward likely candidates
- Many different system configurations, based on recent observations. Systems vary by:
- star type
- number of stars
- degree of gas giant migration
- Systems go in logical chains: for most there is a young version, and old version, and giant version, and a remnant version
- Special non-habitable planet types fill the systems out:
- Chthonian planets
- Hot Jupiters
- Rogue planets (may have habitable ones someday)
- Dwarf planets (can be mined)
- I plan to add megastructures (ringworlds, sphereworlds, 'panel worlds') if I can work out the graphics
Science fiction is about worlds. Worlds are some of the most important characters in sci fi, and I think the worlds in the game should be as diverse as they are in science fiction while also reflecting current scientific thought. Because of the abundance of so-called Super Earths (which have, on average, higher surface gravities), much of this has centered around gravity levels.
- Worlds are unique, like they are in science fiction
- All planets will have traits
- Planet trait names have been changed to sound more sciency or science fiction-y, and less glib
- There will be ultimately be many types (I have 200 spec'd out, but that will NEVER happen, there are about ten new ones actually implemented now)
- Their abundances are based on what little information is available, but you should have only a few worlds of the same type in any empire!
- I plan to add worlds from science fiction, including the well-thought-out planets of Niven's Known Space series
- Includes habitable moons and double planets
- May later include habitable rings, habitable nebulae (the Smoke Ring)... maybe not
- No gas planets... that doesn't make much sense: the chances of life evolving on a gas giant, much less evolving intelligence, is just about nil. Add to that the fact that no one else can or would colonize a bottomless mass of gas... Bespin was not a colony, it was a mining base.
- Easily colonized worlds will be the exception, not the rule ('vanilla' planets are likely to be much more rare than, say, frozen worlds)
- All planets have a gravity rating, and there are low-and high-gravity versions of many worlds (there is one super-heavy type, microgravity is on hold for later)
- Most planets in the habitable zone will be habitable, but most will require some technology. Eventually all will be habitable, with the right technology.
- Extreme planets are more complex now, with 'marginally extreme' planets (as implemented in other mods) as well as super-extreme worlds
- Implements heavy and unstable types of extreme worlds
- Has several new types of 'extreme' planets (light, volcanic, iron, extreme weather)
- Some planets have more than one trait
- Has 'extreme branches' (e.g., the Barren branch) with multiple planet types that require similar technologies and procedures to colonize
- The planet icon system has been changed. Icons are color-coded by extreme branch, and shape-coded by gravity (heavy planets have square symbols, light planets have bullet-shaped symbols)
- Extreme planets will no longer be better than other planets (the vanilla game has to entice you to colonize them, here you won't have much choice
- Mars is now extreme (it is probably best considered barren, but I came up with a new category so you could colonize it immediately)
- Planets use the same radius transformation as stars (i.e., they are 'in scale')
- When you get new colonization technologies, you get more hexes on your planets (basically, when you get frozen colonization you can colonize Antarctica)
- Planet class selection has been redone so that class is selected from a curve of possible values rather than flat probabilities (class 11 is average, most planets cluster around there). There are different curves for different worlds
- Planet class selection is now based on stated criteria, such as how much space there is to live on the world.
- Planet traits are now all 'physical,' relating to the natural characteristics of the world. Cultural planet traits (such as the 'ghost world') have been relegated to Precursor Worlds where they belong
If all that is ever done, I have a ream of new Precursor worlds I'd like to try. That gets into a lot of other stuff, like events. For now, I have just modded the existing Precursor Worlds to fit in with everything else (i.e., their planet class selection now makes statistical sense).
Promises promises, right? Wrong. This is here. Right now, Stars is past Beta, everything listed here works, and it is simply a matter of me putting it together into a package for Nexus and testing the install. Systems is in alpha: the systems are spec'd out, but only a sample are programmed (for testing purposes, everything works). Planets is still in development, although the pieces are already in place. I'm still working on the game design aspects. This is a project I am working on while I am on sick leave, so it is slow going.
I will try to get some screenshots when I can. I'm sure some of you modders out there are eager to take this thing apart and use the parts for your own mods, so I'll do my best to document and provide background so you understand what I did and why. If you care.
NOTE: Not all of these concepts or the executions are original. I will endeavor to include credits for the major ideas and original implementations. Rest assured, the work itself is my own, and not a hack of someone else's mod.