Shipment changes in DARK NEBULA

We previously covered overall Credit changes coming to Dark Nebula, including potential changes to shipments. 

This post goes into more detail for high level changes around Shipments. 

Shipments was the first gameplay system to be implemented in Hades' Star. When the game first launched 6 years ago, Shipments made up at least 50% of all gameplay the game had to offer. Today, things are very different. There are many more game modes and activities that appeal to different kinds of players, yet the game still presents Shipments as the first and most important activity. The attempts made over the years to automate shipments have been inefficient and awkward at best. The Shipment Relay currently requires an unrelated activity (Blue Stars) to even work. The fact that manual shipping gives significant bonuses makes the Relay completely irrelevant for serious players. 

In Dark Nebula, we recognize and design around two conflicting facts: 

1) Excluding a tiny minority that actively searches for the answer "can shipments be automated later in the game", virtually every new player who finds the game these days is turned away when they see the Shipments tutorial.

2) Manual shipping can be a fun activity for part of the player base, especially it is balanced properly around maximizing Credits and minimizing Hydrogen. Some existing players have made significant progress with their Transport technology and don't want to see that progress wiped out. Shipping or a similar activity needs to exist in the game, otherwise Transport ships, almost their entire Tech tree, and the Hydrogen economy would have to be deleted as well.

The Dark Nebula update will focus on addressing these two conflicting needs in the following ways: 

  •  Shipments stored on Planets remain a key source of daily Credit income. As players progress, more of that daily income will shift to *bonuses* from shipments, to encourage upgrading structures and technology.
  • Shipment Relay will become a viable, full alternative to manual shipments. It will have competitive bonuses, it will deliver the shipments instantly, it will not require playing other game modes, but it will also consume the most Hydrogen. The Relay will be built at the tutorial's prompt during the first 15 minutes in the game.
  • Manual shipments will remain an option. Many of the existing modules that help with manual Shipments will stay in the game. These modules will no longer compete with each other (i.e. people who want to focus on manual shipping will have to upgrade *both* Shipment Computer and Shipment Drone).

In this system, players who want to completely opt out of manual shipments will need to focus on upgrading their Relay (instead of certain shipment modules) and solidify their Hydrogen economy. Players who choose to always micromanage shipments and upgrade their Transport technology will do so because they already find the process fun and/or want full control over bonuses and costs. Many players will fall somewhere in between, mixing the two methods while optimizing their Hydrogen use and daily Credit bonuses.

As mentioned previously, Credit and Hydrogen economy is work in progress in Dark Nebula. Expect major changes during Early Access in daily income, upgrade prices for Planets and Stations, and other Credit and Hydrogen costs. The main thing we will try to keep constant from Hades' Star (where possible) is existing storage capacity for Credits (not Hydrogen). 


  1. Excited to see a optional way to do shipments automated being put in. As the growing length of doing shipments per day was the reason I started to fall out of playing the game. Though, a little skeptical that relay is the best way to do it. Maybe reworking shipment computer to also add a automated mode with a % efficiency of other modules on a transport, giving middle ground to the paths that may be more worth it but requires more upgrading and infrastructure. Just giving this idea because right now shipment computer is just another direct increase on credits modules past level 1 and I wanna see the little ships go. Keep up the good work.

  2. An option would be to do away with shipment drone and make shipment computer an activated module that can pick up and drop off shipments automatically.

    Higher level shipment computers utilise ts capacity and able to move shipments for better efficiency.

  3. Sounds like some good changes are coming :-)

    RS11 here... I think early-game shipping with shipment computer and boost/burst/rush are all actually pretty fun! Programming your ships to fly around to automatically pick up shipments and follow warp lanes is generally a fun mini game! I think this is attractive to new players...

    Where shipping gets less fun, and more of a chore, is when shipment drone comes along... Shipment drone in theory should help automate our system... But truth is, it actually makes our systems much more complicated and more manual! To maximise the bonuses, we need to sort the shipments, then we need to separate them into off-lane and on-lane, then we pre-boost the value with shipment computer, then we activate the drone. After the drone is done we still need to do our off-lane shipments manually with computer+boost+burst...

    How do you explain that process to a new player? How do you make that process appealing? You can't...

    Doing all your shipments with computer+boost+burst+rush becomes impossible in HS because you discover planets faster than you unlock extra warp lanes, and the hydro cost get's out of control... My view is manual shipments (with computer+boost etc) should require relatively little hydrogen, and instead the automatic shipping (drone+relay) should be the most hydro expensive. That's not the case right now, drone is the most hydro efficient and gives the best bonus - this is a design flaw.

    If I were to re-design shipments, I'd say 1) make computer+burst+boost+rush the fundamental way for doing shipments manually - this is actually fun. 2) Make shipment drone the default way to ship automatically with warp lanes. 3) Make relay the default way to ship automatically without warp lanes.

    I also think shipments would be a lot more fun if there was a social aspect to it... I know alt-accounts ruin the ability for diplomacy partners to help collect each other's shipments... But shipping would be better if there were in-game incentives to help other people do their shipments.

    TLDR: shipping with shipment computer is fun, sorting shipments for drone is not fun, make shipping a social activity.

    Thanks AP, appreciate your effort and hard work <3

    1. Oh, I forgot to mention... The fact that nearly all of the trade modules have no function or purpose in WS is still a big flaw... The in-game systems discourage new players from participating in WS early because:

      - Computer/boost/burst/drone STILL don't function in WS. They should have a function so new players can actively participate in WS without sacrificing their economy for specialized WS modules.
      - Relic drone still exists and is the king of all trade modules in WS. Please consider merging these two drones together, so that new players can boost their economy AND improve their WS capability simultaneously - two separate modules like this just creates a road-block towards WS participation...

      Sorry aobut the rant, just passionate about the game and want to see Dark Nebula be successful :-)

    2. "To maximise the bonuses"
      Those of us that DON'T want to spend 4 hours a day on shipments appreciate drone. Have a pretty slick process to get them done in a few minutes. If I want to spend more time min-maxing, I can. Is nice.

  4. Exciting outlook for improvements to shipping!

    Speaking strictly to the problems you state above, perhaps consider folding "Relink Warplanes" into Shipping Relay and instead of creating premiums around manual shipping, create "cost of shipping" around automated ones.

    So, SL remain active once built, and where activated SR further activates a network of shipment drones which make delivery and take a small fee out of the value of each shipment. IMHO, simpler, and a more realistic economic model. This way, manual shipments result in the full "face value" of the shipments while automating just lowers revenue due to fees.

    To allow for the "mix" you mention, allow users to set a shipment value threshold in the SR UI, under which get delivered by drones, and over which they await manual delivery. i.e., a little like using USPS vs FedEx.

  5. FREDI ANTONIO ROJAS acevedo república Dominicana matricula 023-0045094-3.

  6. Hey, sounds great. Is there a rough idea when we can expect the update to be rolled out for Hades Star? This year or next year? I am really excited, thanks for the work you're putting into it :)


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