DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

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Erik Rutins
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DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by Erik Rutins »

State of the Game and Roadmap
As of September 18th, 2022
(Official Version 1.0.6.4)


(The previous State of the Game can be found here: https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/view ... 1&t=382013)

Greetings again to everyone in the Distant Worlds 2 community,
First, Elliot and I would again like to thank all of our customers for your patience and support since Distant Worlds 2 was released around six months ago. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed. We’ve come a long way in that time, but we also have a lot further to go.

(TLDR: We have expanded the DW2 team to ensure the issues with the initial release are not repeated. We have fixed the vast majority of the low-level technical issues, significantly improved performance and released a significant upgrade to the engine, though this took up much of our time of the last few months. We’ve also made other improvements and fixed many gameplay issues, but many more remain. Our future focus is now primarily on gameplay fixes and improvements, mod support, game balance and additional content. We are working towards a major gameplay fix/improvement update and the first content DLC, which will add two additional new playable factions)

The State of the Initial Release

We’ve posted two state of the game announcements in the past to apologize for the issues in the initial release, but some have not seen those, so we’d like to address that again.

It’s clear, in hindsight, that while we had over 300 testers (three times what we had on DW1) and DW2 was in alpha and beta testing for a year and was delayed twice internally to try to make sure we would have a solid release, we did not have a large enough testing pool to catch all critical issues related to hardware configurations or even all the gameplay issues. It’s also clear that despite the best efforts of a lot of very good volunteer testers, we didn’t achieve the level of polish that many of you expected at release and that is our responsibility.

Many have asked how this could have happened and we’ll attempt to summarize below. DW2 is a very ambitious release for a small team and Elliot’s first 3D game. Regarding the low level technical issues that caused so many crashes and problems on a lot of systems, we saw only the very tip of that iceberg in pre-release testing and did not realize how big a problem it was. A larger test team would have given us a much clearer picture of this critical problem and we would have delayed the release further to address it if we had realized it’s scope and severity. Fixing that properly has taken up at least three months of post-release work, plus another to even fully understand the issues which we could not duplicate on our original test systems. Regarding the gameplay issues, too many issues got by us because we were trying to do too much in too short a time. Some issues were missed, others were found and we though fixed but in fact still unresolved, others were reported but missed or misunderstood.

As a result of all this, we have expanded the DW2 team since release with an additional developer who is focused on the more technical side of the engine as well as adding other team members and expanding the roles of still others. We’re also adding more bandwidth on the testing and administration side. A large part of the goal here is to allow us to focus more personally on gameplay as we did with Distant Worlds 1 and pass on a few of the other hats we’ve been wearing to others who will wear them better than we have.

The Current State of the Game

We believe that we’ve fixed the vast majority of technical/crash issues preventing gameplay as well as greatly improving performance since release. Any issues that continue to prevent gameplay will be dealt with as a high priority, but the main technical area where we see a lot of room for improvement still is performance. We plans to improve performance even more in the future and the current beta updates already contain significant improvements over the latest official update. Our goal is to completely eliminate simulation lag in the largest games and to allow for even larger galaxies than 2000 stars in the future.

A new upgraded engine now also includes Vulkan support as part of the solution for those low level issues. We also have an updated set of sound effects which will be made available in a future update, thanks to some great work by a new sound designer. We’ll announce more about that once those are available for testing.
We’ve also addressed many gameplay issues since release across almost all game areas, including a comprehensive set of fixes and improvements to fleet and ship behavior, which turned out to need a lot of additional work. Much more gameplay work remains and we’re gradually reading through feedback in each area of gameplay to see where more attention or reconsideration is needed.

Our next areas to focus on are listed below…

Future Priorities

1. Continuing improvements on fleet and ship behavior. The vast majority of issue reports in this area now involve very specific combinations of tactical and automation settings in specific situations, in other words they are now mostly rare, but as this is a core part of the game we’ll continue improving this area until it’s as polished as it can possibly be.

2. Improve quality of life for manual players further. We have already made a series of improvements here, but our plan includes returning the full manual play functionality of DW1. While DW2 includes quite a few new semi-automated features which can help with manual play, for example the global queues and fleet and army templates that were not in DW1, we recognize that many players are still missing tools that would make manual play more enjoyable. The areas that will take the longest to address are ship and fleet order queueing and more detailed fleet template management by ship hull and these will likely not show up until next year. You won’t have to wait as long for other UI improvements to make manual management of various tasks such as population policies, resource levels and planetary facilities easier.

3. Further improvements to pathing issues related to nebula storms and pathfinding issues that still in rare cases result in ridiculous paths around the galaxy. We plan to review the area of storms and galactic terrain to make sure that they are providing the gameplay benefits we were hoping to see and if not, we will rebalance them. We are also looking into the question of making it easier to plan jumps that do not require star system waypoints.

4. Further improvements to ship auto-design and auto-upgrade to better consider nebula/storm defenses as well as existing weapon component categories and sizes for the upgrade system, so that players will find the upgrade tool more generally useful and so the AI empires will be better able to manage your empire and their own when it comes to navigating the galactic terrain.

5. Improve message handling further, especially regarding attack notification message spam and repeating advisor messages. We plan to add additional message filters for “all Pirates” and “all Empires” and rethink and improve the message purge system. We also hope to add the ability to tell an advisor “do not suggest this again” or to tell a Pirate or an Empire “do not contact me again with this offer”.

6. We’ve made a lot of improvements to automatic colonization. We have further improvements to make to automatic migration as well as the automatic AI management of population policies for each planet.

7. Random Research was not working as intended due to a series of research tree generation bugs. These are resolved in the latest beta updates, but we’ve also heard feedback requesting more varied paths in preference to missing techs in random research. We plan to revisit the research tree design to allow for more paths as well as a more relaxed Random setting which effectively guarantees all projects, but not the exact paths. The revised research tree may not appear in full until late this year or early next year.

8. Diplomacy was not always working as intended and the Subjugation/Vassalization treaty state was missing from the initial release. This is now back in as of the latest beta updates and we have fixed some additional diplomacy bugs and are working improve the AI handling of diplomacy with regard to pirates and empires. In addition, we are looking at AI handling of end of war negotiations to make that more realistic and revisiting trade treaty balance and how the private economy handles foreign trade.

9. Adding a Galactopedia and Galaxy map Search function and Distance measurement tool. This has been requested by many players and is on our high priority list.

10. Negative character traits are too common, despite some attempts to tone them down before the initial release. We plan to further reduce the incidence of negative traits as well as adding more positive traits, especially some that are available in peacetime for military leaders.

11. Espionage needs a balance pass. It’s no longer too easy as it was at initial release, but the range of success or failure chances is currently too wide in some cases. The spy academy facility also needs to do a bit more.

12. The AI will continue to get gradual improvements, especially in the areas of war, migration and research as well as the generations of advisor messages to limit unnecessary advisor spam.

13. Continued incremental UI improvements, especially to various views, sorts and filters.

14. We are working to add much more robust mod support to the game, including support for Steam Workshop as well as mods that are installed through other methods.

First Content Expansion

The Content and Art teams have not been significantly involved in all the fixes and improvements we’ve been working through, so they have been spending most of their time working on some new playable factions. We expect to announce more details regarding the first new content expansion for Distant Worlds 2 later this year. Our plan is that the major gameplay fixes and improvements we’re working on will precede that new content.

There are also other reported issues beyond those above which we will also address as we go forward, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are our current highest priority goals. We also have more content plans in the works which we’ll discuss next year.

Update Schedule

Finally, let me discuss the update schedule. Our current workflow allows us to release one new beta update per week. We expect that 4-6 beta updates will precede a new official update to give us time to make sure things are stable enough to go official. For the next official update, we will likely do a few more iterations just to get as much into it as possible before the end of this year.

Our Thanks

Thank you again if you took the time to read all of this and for your support of Distant Worlds 2. Please check in weekly going forward and try the newest beta updates if you’d like to see how things are shaping up. Please stay tuned for the new content expansion announcement before the end of this year.

Sincerely,

Erik Rutins and Elliot Gibbs
Matrix Games and CodeForce
Erik Rutins
CEO, Matrix Games LLC


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rxnnxs
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by rxnnxs »

Thank you very much for this interesting explanation what happend and why and what is to come.
I am very astonished that you also address/plan many things to work on that I hoped you will be working on, but you mention the search function and the measurement and the research tree, and this is really good to hear!
Also this is what is really needed: more information; that makes it much better understandable why things went and happened that way.

Please also do not forget to document all the things; inside the game would of course be the best location.
So if I wonder what happened in the newest official Version, I could read it in the galactopedia.
If there is something that we should know - lets say a lore, regarding the need jumping to stars is good and why it is done would be very helpful for but not only the immersion.

Please document there also how fleets are assembled (yes, we need more than one buildable version per class) and how the research is calculated (random or not, or even how that works in the research tree back and forth (if you get a tech and how that newly found or stolen tech influences the research tree)).

Regarding a DLC - well.. me personally need my time to get comfortable with the races that I have in the base game already.
Also here I will check how the galactopedia behaves (you know, MOO3 and that search function... argh) and then, back to the DLC.. I would love to have a DLC that goes a total different way:
More Captains that man (or even teams) a discoverer ship.. so not an admiral but a commanding officer.
And then a captains log for every flagship.
What would I pay for that!

Ok, thanks for your very interesting update, and now that I know that you can take care of the QOL things and a second team addresses the engine stuff - go where noone has gone before. And have fun while doing that!

cheers,
fred

P.S.: Please do not forget to let the music play without a lag
Kriegsspieler
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by Kriegsspieler »

Thanks for an exceptionally informative update.I notice that you didn't say anything about other game-balance issues, such as economy that remains far too easy to dominate, but I assume that those issues will get some attention sooner or later.

I remain confident that at the end of the day, DW2 will reach its goals.
AKicebear
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by AKicebear »

Thanks for the update Eric (and Elliot and everyone else). I am happy to read the priorities and find precious few gaps in what I also would like to see in the next quarter or two in base game updates.

One clarification - you mentioned:
Further improvements to ship auto-design and auto-upgrade to better consider nebula/storm defenses as well as existing weapon component categories and sizes for the upgrade system, so that players will find the upgrade tool more generally useful and so the AI empires will be better able to manage your empire and their own when it comes to navigating the galactic terrain.
I hope that part of the division here between "auto design" and "auto upgrade" is improved upgrading of manual designs. In addition to the fleet template changes mentioned earlier, an improved auto upgrade of manual designs (which I would like to have at least one per hull type) would make using all the various hull types more feasible and with far less drudgery at upgrades than currently.

I was thinking this might entail a new design setting:
- Full auto design (as currently behaves)
- Upgrade existing components only (will not add new components, but merely use higher tech levels of existing ones)

The reason this matters (in addition to fleet templates) is that some roles with multiple hull types do not go in fleets. For example if I want one explorer design for exploration, another for surveying, and another for spying/border patrol.

Of course, there are other auto design features that could really add to the above, eg player set constraints, but at the minimum a upgrade setting as above for manual designs would be excellent and I hope relatively low hanging fruit.

The same for forcing retrofitting by design name or hull type, rather than role, even for ships outside of a fleet template. I had some more detailed thoughts on this and related mechanics, in the link at my signature.
Buio
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by Buio »

Great information, thanks for the update. Looking forward to the future with Distant Worlds 2. o7
nesadi
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by nesadi »

Seems to be like an absurd amount of time and effort was wasted by the move to 3D. Time and effort that ended up missing for all the systems that actually make up the gameplay of the game. What a disappointment.
AKicebear
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by AKicebear »

I think 3d has already proven to be a good investment. It got me playing, happily, after setting DWU down a half decade ago.

Perhaps 3d could have been done better - I worry about how much ships will be modded or not, for example - but that remains to be seen.
Buio
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by Buio »

The new 3D engine is one of the best upgrades of the game. Great effort making the game look very good, considering it is a very small team. Makes the space battles come alive.
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by zgrssd »

4. Further improvements to ship auto-design and auto-upgrade to better consider nebula/storm defenses as well as existing weapon component categories and sizes for the upgrade system, so that players will find the upgrade tool more generally useful and so the AI empires will be better able to manage your empire and their own when it comes to navigating the galactic terrain.
I basically stopped playing until that part is fixed.

It is one thing to occasionally fight against bad pathfinding or faulty Colonisation Priorities.
But against the Auto-Upgrader messing up my designs?
Or the Auto-Designer never equipping enough Ion Protection on the small freighters?
That is just too much work to fix for me :)
DW2 Poll:
"Should the Civil and non-Combat Ships loose all or most of their weapon slots?"
https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/view ... 1&t=382690
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Clux
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by Clux »

While I'm very thankful for this update on the roadmap and the hard work than the team has been putting on since release, I would like to see in the future some improvements to the UI, mostly the expansion planner for mining stations, we need options to filter the resources so we can tweak options like max distance, quality (%), demand for that specific resource in our empire or in the galaxy, etc.

Also, while there its still a long way before the first DLC, I think than it would be nice if it added stuff like unique missions for the new races, events, and maybe even a new government type or special trait/research.
Amateurs talk about strategy. Professionals talk about logistics!
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Erik Rutins
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Re: DW2 Updated State of the Game and Roadmap (Sept. 2022)

Post by Erik Rutins »

Hi folks,

A quick update to let you know that this week and next week will be pretty quiet on the DW2 front. We are still working behind the scenes, but Elliot is on vacation, so we will not be releasing any updates until he returns. I am also managing two other games (WITE2: Steel Inferno and Flashpoint Campaigns: Southern Storm) which are releasing on the 10th and 17th and those releases will keep me very busy for a couple of weeks. I just wanted you all to be aware that the relative silence is nothing to worry about.

We are planning on another official update release in early December before the year is done, then another big update in January. We've started a weekly outreach to the modding community and we'll also soon be discussing future DW2 release plans.

Regards,

- Erik
Erik Rutins
CEO, Matrix Games LLC


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