Alpha 9 Dev Blog #5 – Policies À La Carte

Please Note: As mentioned in this article, the release date for Alpha 9 was changed to Monday, April 15th, 2019.

Policies – À La Carte

Greetings, Commanders! Welcome to the fifth entry of the Alpha 9 Dev Log series. Player individuality is a core fundamental in Starborne. Each player should have a unique impact on the galaxy through their actions, empire layout, and most importantly, their role. Alpha 8’s policy system did not sufficiently meet that requirement; so we’ve completely changed how policies work in Alpha 9. Be strong. Be unique. Embrace your calling.

As with the previous Dev Logs, specific numbers listed in this log are subject to change as we continue to balance Alpha 9.

Policy Deforestation

The policy “Tree” is being removed from the game. A linear tree with upgrade branches simply does not provide enough opportunity to customize an empire. Starborne thrives when players are able to adapt their roles to meet the demands they face – and trees aren’t very flexible.

Policies in Alpha 9 are completely new, and many utility policies from Alpha 8 are being granted to all players by default. This includes abilities such as deploying and assaulting from allied stations. Also, policies no longer impact the total fleet count. Instead, the new Alpha 9 policies provide bonuses for players to further specialize their empire.

Players are no longer required to choose a defining role to apply policies. The concepts of “Imperialistic”, “Militaristic” and “Machiavellian” roles are being removed in Alpha 9. Players will instead choose between a variety of options that function as a starting point for customization. These options are implemented as “Factions” that an empire follows.

Political Factions

Alpha 9 introduces the concept of “Factions”. Before assigning policies, players will select a Faction as a baseline for their empire. Factions do not impact the ability to interact with other players. In the Starborne Universe, Factions are effectively “traditions” that an empire has as they explore the galaxy. Players can only have one faction at a time, and they can change factions a limited number of times in each server.

Factions provide a unique empire-wide bonus. The bonus effects an empire while they follow that Faction – if a player changes Factions, then the Faction bonus will change as well. These bonuses are not role-defining. Instead, they provide useful benefits that align with different playstyles. For instance, one faction provides the bonus “+2 speed for all units & +20% plunder for all combat units”. Values subject to change.

Each Faction has a unique ship variant. Unique ships replace the standard versions and are much stronger; the build cost remains the same. Players can trade unique ships if they share the same faction. If players receive unique ships from a different faction, those unique ships automatically convert to the standard versions.

Plug & Play Policies

Alpha 9 completely overhauls the policy system with a large number of changes. To avoid a wall of text in this section, these changes will be in bullet point annotation. Also, we’ve included concept art of the new system further below.

  • Policies now utilize a card system instead of a policy tree
  • Players will now have five (5) open policy slots
  • Policy cards have one of four base types: Military, Domain, Industrial, Wildcard
  • Policy slots also have the same four base types
  • Each Faction has a different distribution of slot types
  • Military, Domain and Industrial policy cards can be placed in a matching or Wildcard slot.
  • Wildcard policy cards can only be placed in Wildcard slots
  • Policy cards are earned by completing tasks
  • All players can access all policy cards regardless of Faction
  • Each policy card is independently “locked” for 8 hours when placed in a policy slot
  • Policy cards can be interchanged if there is no lock on that card
  • Each policy card has a positive effect and a negative effect
  • Example: An Industrial policy card could grant +10% resource generation at the cost of a -10% labor penalty.

Below is an example of what the policy screen looks like in Alpha 9. This is a concept image, and all names and values are subject to change:

Factions have their own interface, as well:

But Wait – There’s More!

As mentioned in Dev Log #4, we also wanted to share some information about the changes to Player Accounts in Alpha 9. Accounts should gain “value” to the player with each server they participate in. The below changes will cultivate account growth and reward players for activity – even if their stations are blown up!

Account-able Policies

Policy cards can be upgraded to reduce their negative side effects. These upgrades are at the account level and work on all servers.

Each policy card can be upgraded five (5) times – each level reduces the base negative side effect by 10%. As an example: a “level 0” Industrial policy card could grant +10% resource generation at the cost of a -10% labor penalty. If a player leveled that policy card to level 1, then it would grant +10% resource generation at a reduced -9% labor penalty. Level 2 would have a -8% labor penalty, and a max level card would only be a -5% labor penalty.

Accounts can only level one policy card at a time, no matter how many servers they participate in. There is an account-wide interface that allows players to select one card to level at a time. The card gains a constant amount of experience over time- even while offline. Players can change which policy card they are leveling at will; cards retain experience if the next level is not yet earned.

Break Me Off A Piece Of That Card

Prestige is being renamed to “Credits”. This change is being made to avoid confusion with “Platinum”. Credits can be earned in game, Platinum is the premium currency purchased through the shop.

Alpha 9 introduces a new type of currency: Blueprint Fragments. Blueprint Fragments are stored at the account level and are earned in addition to credits by breaking down cards. Cards broken down on any server will add Blueprint Fragments to the account. Policy cards cannot be broken down.

Alpha 9 also introduces a new account-wide mechanic: Card Blueprints. Every craftable ship and station card has a blueprint attached to the account. Blueprint Fragments can be used to upgrade Card Blueprints. Card Blueprints affect all servers for that account.

Card Blueprints have five (5) levels – each level reduces the Credit cost to craft that card by 2%. Card blueprints start at level 0. A level 5 blueprint will reduce the credit cost of that card by 10%. Each craftable station and fleet card has its own blueprint, and every additional level of a blueprint costs significantly more than the last. Players will need to decide if they want a handful of level 5 blueprints or a stack of level 1 blueprints. Blueprint upgrades are permanent, and the balance is being adjusted so blueprint levels are gradually earned over time.

Below is a concept image of the Card Blueprint system:


We hope you enjoyed this week’s Dev Log! As mentioned in the previous Dev Logs, all of these items are subject to change as we continue to improve Starborne. Join us on the Official Starborne Discord http://discord.gg/starborne and let us know what you think of these changes! Stay tuned for Dev Log #6 coming next week – we’ll also be releasing comprehensive patch notes prior to the Alpha 9 launch date.

Alpha 9 launches on Monday, April 15th, 2019

Fly Safe, Commanders!

-Starborne Dev Team