The future of Hades' Star
In a few weeks, it will be 5 years since Hades’ Star launched. During that time, we’ve had 3 million players creating an account. Collectively, all these players have discovered over 30 million stars. There are thousands of players that are still active more than 4 years after they first downloaded the game. Far more important than any numbers is the quality of the community that has formed around the game: welcoming to new players and helpful, without aggressive and abusive elements found in other online games that have competitive elements.
I have no
doubt these qualities of the game will allow it to thrive for many more years
in the future.
now, we’ve been improving the game with updates small and big, and this will
continue in the future. But after 5 years of development, the time feels right
to try something bigger than any update we’ve done before. The upcoming DARK
NEBULA update, which we announced late last year, will feel more like an
expansion pack than a regular update. It will bring a lot more content for
existing star types, a new star type, a visual refresh for some game objects
and parts of the interface, and new features means to strengthen the core
economic and combat activities in the game. It will also attempt to address
problems that exist in these core activities.
is an attempt to describe these problems and discuss ways we’ll be involving
the community in solving them together as DARK NEBULA goes through development.
The 3 design pillars of
from 2016 describes the 3 design pillars Hades’ Star has been built on. It will
always be relevant to how we develop the game. Please go and read it, it’s
each of the pillars been met during the game’s 5 years of life, and how can
each pillar be improved? Here are my thoughts.
If I had to
pick, I’d say economic progression is probably the feature that Hades’ Star
owes all its success so far to. Whether you like doing shipments or not, there
are *a lot* of meaningful choices to make for many months and years that affect
how your Empire improves over time on economy, technology and fleet strength. We
realize how important this progression is to the game. The goal for future
updates will be to ensure all players have meaningful progression choices, no
matter how long they’ve been playing. As more players reach very high levels,
expect to see early game progression become faster. This is by design: allowing
new players to progress faster is very beneficial to the overall game health
for games like ours where the average population has been playing for a very long
time and is fairly high level.
What about space
exploration, the other part of this pillar?
new sectors in your home Yellow Star can be a magical experience, especially in
the first month of the game. I remember personally feeling that sense of magic
in early builds of the game in 2016, even though I obviously had a pretty good
idea how things work under the hood. After the early game, some of the magic
may still remain in smaller doses when first visiting a new Red Star level, or
on the first White Star. But it’s pretty safe to say that on a game that lasts
for years, the space exploration magic is gone fairly quickly for all players.
More could be done to retain it. In the DARK NEBULA update, we are
experimenting with more dynamic star setups and introducing better reasons to
visit other player’s Yellow Stars.
with other people has helped Hades’ Star create a strong community over the
years. As we go forward, we’ll keep focusing on truly social features. Expect
to see improvements in how people can track their friendships with other
players across the Hades Galaxy, and in how the game actively guides people
towards healthy, active Corporations.
there’s a big area for improvement in social play by making the Hades Galaxy
feel more open world. Hades’ Star is a already a full MMO game. In theory, any
player can visit any other player’s system. There are no shards or other
virtual separation in the game. We plan to focus on using this powerful technical
feature to make the galaxy feel more open via design choices that encourage
people to explore and participate in other player’s star systems. But we also
realize this has to be done carefully to feel right, and will take time. Some
experimentation on this will happen during development of DARK NEBULA, and
expect to see it become a bigger focus in the years ahead.
and tactical choices in Hades’ Star fall under two categories:
a) Economy strategy, mainly through
Yellow Star optimization and collecting resources in other star types.
b) Combat strategy, as found in other star
A huge part
of both strategy types are the numerous Modules you unlock in the game. There
are a lot of Module combinations to equip your ships, depending on what you
want them to accomplish. But by far the biggest problem in the game right now
is that not all of those combinations are equally viable, especially for
combat. Worse, many combinations are not even interesting. The community
understandably has come up with rules to warn new players to stay away from
upgrading certain modules because they are pretty much useless in the end game.
module has no serious use case in the game, I see that as a high priority
problem that must be fixed in one of two ways: Tweak its numbers or
functionality to make it useable, or delete it from the game and replace it
with something new. Because of the relatively high number of modules in Hades’
Star that have this problem, this process will take time. But now you know what
the end goal is. Making all modules desirable (at least in certain niche
situations) will make the game significantly better overall. It will increase
the range of tactics both you and your opponents have available. And it will
make strategic options over WHAT to upgrade much more meaningful.
of the existing modules desireable, and introducing many new modules (as DARK
NEBULA will do), can sound scary to people worried about how long it will take
to unlock everything at a good level. Like everything else in progression, the
rate for upgrading technology will be revisited in upcoming updates.
popular module in the game deserves its own chapter. Sanctuary was introduced
pretty early after the game launched, as a response to people losing
significant progress after their entire fleet was wiped in Red Stars. It was a
poor solution to a serious problem. Since then, many parts of the game have been
designed around this module, and a vast majority of players have learned to
rely on it. For those reasons, the module cannot be removed for the game.
Still, I want
to explore ways to reward players who don’t use Sanctuary in Red Stars. With
added risk, I believe Red Stars can become way more exciting for certain
players. The ones who don’t want to risk their own resources may still be
interested to spectate other people’s sanctuary-free matches, especially if
there’s serious skill involved.
DARK NEBULA and Early
mentioned above, we want to involve the community with future development. Hades'
Star: DARK NEBULA will be a new app, going in Early Access in Google Play later
this year. The existence of a new app can cause confusion, so to be clear,
there is only one Hades' Star universe. The progress you've made over the years
will stay intact in both the existing Hades' Star app, and the new DARK NEBULA
app when it launches. Progress in the DARK NEBULA Early Access will eventually
be wiped, but the permanent progress you make in Hades' Star will also carry
over to the final DARK NEBULA app when it fully launches. Both apps will be
available for free. Having two apps allows us to try things we weren't able to
do before, such as alternate visuals that may be more appealing to new players,
without affecting the experience of old players. Gameplay and non visual
features will stay in sync between the two apps.
participating in the Early Access, you will be able to see our ideas for
addressing the above problems, as well as the new content that’s coming. You
will also be able to offer your feedback on any of the changes, and see how the
game changes until its final release. Stay tuned, more information on the Early
Access will be coming next few months.