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DLC Avorion Into the Rift Out Now!

Now available on Steam!

Some Background on the new Map Commands


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  • Boxelware Team

Hey everyone! 

The 2.0 Beta has so far been very exciting and we're very happy with the performance of the update! We've spent a lot of time on 2.0 and its polish, and we're super proud of what we've achieved with 2.0 and its improvements to the game. We all genuinely love the changes and improvements it introduces. However, some aspects of the update have been received with mixed feelings by some members of the community, and I think it's time to give you all some background info about why we did what we did.

I'd like to shed some more light on the decision that was probably one of the hardest I've ever had to make. I'm not justifying here, nor looking for pity, I'm only explaining. Note: You might need to know that we're a tiny team with 5 devs (including me) working on a massive project here that grew over 8 years.


1. Engine Structure

The engine of Avorion uses a bottom-up approach (sectors are generated first, everything else comes from them). There are advantages (easy procedural generation, abstraction, perfectly parallel multi-core support, CPU & memory management) and disadvantages (harder communication between sectors, having to load a sector in memory before accessing it (which can take up to 30 seconds), and missing inter-sector coordination) with that. There are some exceptions where we could, luckily, use a top-down approach, such as faction areas. Due to this structure of the engine, the game has trouble with sector-to-sector communication, and especially non-player-sector-to-client communication. This is not something we can change. Keep in mind that I started Avorion as a hobby project 8 years ago, and the original engine design was never meant to support a game that lets you command ships in other sectors. Making a system work that was never meant for this engine takes very very much time, that could be better spent elsewhere. If you're a modder of Avorion then you probably know what I'm talking about. There are lengthy wiki articles about Avorion's complicated engine structure.


2. Glitches

Like mentioned above, we have to work around that with everything we do over the galaxy map, and it costs us development time. It also doesn't feel as good as we think it should. You can feel us having to work around that in every single old style command (lags, ships not responding, sectors going to sleep, etc), and the order chain. Ships have to somehow communicate that they need a sector loaded in memory, which is usually only done when a player is online. What about ships of offline players in sectors with online players, what happens when they jump away into a sector that's not loaded? Those are the fun exception cases we have had to deal with on a daily basis. Maintaining this system costs us tons and tons of dev time, it makes features expensive and also costs us money that could, again, be better invested elsewhere.


3. Performance

The old system requires sectors to be kept in memory for ships to do their work there. It also means simulating those sectors. There is a reason why we're limiting the number of sectors on multiplayer servers. We're regularly getting complaints and out-of-memory crashes from players who are playing Avorion on 10 year old laptops where they're sending their ships away to mine. Yes, this could be solved by better hardware, but in order to keep the fanbase growing, we'd rather have the game run well on those machines, too.


4. Gameplay, Immersion and Ease of Use

A) In the old system you had to find a nice sector or two, find a refinery, equip a ship and get a captain, then click a few times while holding Shift, and your mining loop was set up. I agree that it's a nice mechanic to set up and feels immersive. If you do it right and make a big enough loop with alternating asteroid fields you'll trigger the asteroid respawn, making it a perfectly safe fire-and-forget for infinite income (which is not something we think should be available as early in the game as it is right now, but more on that later). 
B) In the new system, you have to find a nice area, equip a ship and get a captain, then click a few times and your mining operation is set up. You get a report from your captain telling you that an area is awful/great for mining, and how many resources they think they'll bring in. With a high-enough tier mining captain it's still close to fire-and-forget (mid to late game, for up to 8h), but no more immediately available infinite income. You also have to put more thought into your ship, its armament and strength and the area it's deployed in.

We put a lot of thought into this system. Personally, I prefer B (I mean, yeah, duh, that's why we put it in), for several reasons. It's easier to use, more straightforward and more transparent. It's a clear "Mine" command that communicates what equipment it'll need, how long it takes, what your income will be and tells you more about potential dangers. I also think that this communication with the captain makes it more immersive. Easier to use: Did you know that 75% of players in Avorion only have a single ship? We want to make fleets more attractive to everyone since that's a very important part of the game, and the new map commands are one of the steps we're taking towards that. And considering being a fleet commander: The new commands make you interact with your ships and captains on a more regular basis, instead of them just being income drones that you don't care about. 

We also added many commands that are meant to make many aspects of the game more accessible as well. Scouting an entire area, sending your ship off on an adventure to have your captain report the exciting and ridiculous things that (may or may not) have happened, quick ways to trade, gather or get rid of goods, single-click traveling, factory supply, refining, resupply, etc. that were not as easy to set up before.

For the ambush chances, we wanted a system where you'll have to put some thought into your ships and where there's a certain feeling of danger. It was also important to us to add a system where you have a certain control over your ships being attacked or not. The armament of your ship, the area where they're doing their thing, safe mode and escorts all influence the ambush chances. Finally, even if we hadn't added the new command system, we would still have added a system where every 1 - 2 hours one of your stations or mining ships would get attacked, to get that certain feeling of lurking danger. 

I'd also like to communicate our vision for the game here, since I've seen quite some misconceptions come up again and again. For infinite income: We DO want players to have infinite (or at least low effort) income at some point! How would you ever build stations and actual fleets without that? The thing is that we don't want that infinite income as early in the game as it can be achieved in the old system. So, some passive income in the early game: Yes. Infinite passive income in the early game: No. Considering late game: For infinite trickle-in-money: We designed stations for that exact purpose. For massive amounts of resources: Send out a mining fleet with a Tier III mining captain leading them (they'll be gone for 8h, even if the other captains aren't miners), and a warship that protects them and enjoy the millions of income every half hour 🙂

I'll talk about another point here that has been brought up. People have been mentioning the lower income of the mining operations, as compared to the old commands, and they thought that we nerfed passive income to somehow punish them (I'm not sure why we would ever want to do something like that or what you'd be punished for, exactly?). The actual income of the mining operations was based on observations we made while mining ourselves. We timed our manual mining to get some good numbers for the simulation of the mine command. So that mine command income simulation is actually based on how much a player would approximately mine with that ship that you're sending out, and not based on the AI simulation while you're not in the sector. And that's where one of the issues arose from: There was actually a bug in the simulation which has since been fixed (basically in the no-player-in-the-sector simulation ships were always boosting, always hitting with all turrets, no matter how far they were etc.). AI miners would outperform manual mining by up to 5x (!!) while you're not in the sector. This means some of the (completely risk-free!) tactics we've seen players do in 1.3.8 would basically turn the game into creative mode in just two hours. AI miners would make more resources than a player mining manually. Apart from it being a bug, that feels plain wrong to us. The best way to play would be obviously to send out your mini-mining ship, risk free, for massive income. Every other way is not as valid. That means that there is no meaningful gameplay choice here, which to us is a sign of a game mechanic that's unhealthy for the game.


5. Choosing our Battles

We're a tiny team working on Avorion and that means we have to choose our battles. Avorion's got so many playstyles and features where we loved having it in the game and where we're only scratching the surface. This is something that ultimately leads to the game feeling like it's incomplete or still Early Access even. With Avorion 2.0 we want the game to feel better as a whole, more finished. We spent months on the update, improving not only quality of life, but adding so many more important features, missions and other content. We overhauled the entire UI. We want to tie up some of these, let's call them "unfinished loose ends" where things feel unpolished and unfinished. There was a lot to do, and we did all this in a free update, because we think that it will 100% benefit both the game and the current and future community. Keep in mind that we simply can't expand and deepen all the playstyles and mechanics as much as we want. Especially given some of the limitations we're having with the engine. So why not keep it as an option? Because if we do that, we get double the work because we have to maintain two systems, and there is no way we can reasonably do that. There is nothing "lazy" about that, it's us prioritizing what we simply can and cannot achieve.


7. Final Note: Modding

We're extremely grateful for the amazing modding community that has assembled around the game. If your playstyle doesn't fit our vision of the game, then there is no harm... no, let me be more explicit: then we want to encourage you to make a mod to fit it to your playstyle. Considering the old commands: We knew that this decision would be controversial and we explicitly removed them in a way that they can be easily readded through a mod. I personally still think that a true sandbox game thrives through its (modding) community. So, are we letting the community do something that would be our job? No. Our job is to fulfill our vision of the game, in a way that is doable for us. And it is our job to make it possible for everyone to enjoy the game the way they want to enjoy it. Which is why a few years ago, we spent months of work making the game as modding friendly as we possibly can. And we're still continuing with that! (We'll get to that Scripting API requests thread very soon, don't worry!) 


So there you have it! This is the full, transparent and whole truth about the map commands rework. We have to choose our battles, to make sure that we can continue to deliver high quality updates in reasonable amounts of time. I hope you can understand that. Now stop reading the ramblings of a dev and go have fun with Avorion 2.0! 🙂


Konstantin (and the rest of the Boxelware Team)

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I just wanted to share my reasons for disliking the new system (B).  I don't expect it to make any difference at this point, especially with everything written above, but I wanted to put it out there anyway.  I'd say 90% of my issues are immersion related.

It's a lot less immersive to me having the ship "disappeared" off some where for most of its time.  I know you all added the feature where it pops in here and there to put on a little show, but for me, it doesn't help (almost makes it worse, actually.  Almost). 

I noticed you mentioned (a couple of times) getting the player to put more thought into their ship design as a benefit to B.  I'm actually finding the opposite?  I mean, unless you put in an obscene amount of checks (which I absolutely do not expect you all to do), these ships that we send out on these missions only need to check a few boxes in stats, not actual design.  Ships that would be horrible for actual "real space" operations could actually excel in these new missions.  There's nothing really stopping someone from just slapping a bunch of huge blocks together for the stats and not caring about actually protecting any of it (go so far as to purposely design a ship "inside out").  Turrets can be placed in really bad positions (even internally), yet will work just as well as one where everything is placed optimally.  It doesn't even need to be able to maneuver or accelerate well.  Sure, if the ship gets ambushed that might be a problem, but if you stack the stats well enough (with escorts), and use good enough captains, the chances will be low enough to make it worthwhile.  More so if you're not playing with perma-destruction.  (Again, I do not expect you all to find solutions for these with this system.  It would over complicate things sooo bad.)

Now, yes, I know.  In the old system, provided you stayed out of the sector(s), your ship was 100% safe (provided it didn't trigger the "too weak" conditions).  I, personally, feel like this could've been solved with allowing events to happen (less frequently) in systems that contained player/alliance ships/stations, regardless if a player was physically present.  Stats of the present ships/stations in these sectors could've been taken into account just as now to determine the chances of these attacks.

We no longer really have to scout and clear sectors to prep them for our mining ships, or visually check out a sector to see if it's even worth it.  Sure, scouting the sectors can boost the output of the new missions, but it's not necessary.

I know it isn't, but this does give off the feeling of being similar to the way a "mobile game" does things.  You know how many mobile games I own?  1 - Baldur's Gate.

While I don't PvP, I do know that if I did, not being able to find another player's ships because they're off in simulation would be frustrating and immersion breaking.  I know this game isn't balanced for PvP, but this just seems like one more thing on the pile.

I know looping/afk was brought up as a reason for ditching the old system.  I feel like there were a few ways available to combat this (while obviously sticking with the old system).  I seem to recall at least twice you all decreased the sector respawn timer.  Increasing this again, maybe even having the timer increase with each subsequent respawn within X time (then allowing this to decay back down after Y time) would force a player to spread out more.  Putting limits to the number of times a loop will execute.  Including other factors that would decrease the ship's mining yield (delays in targeting a new asteroid to mine, limiting if a ship will boost or by how much to move from one to the next, etc) which could've all been boosted back up with decent captains.  Introducing other mechanics that actually make it prohibitive to keep looping the same tasks endlessly (one suggestion I remember seeing was reworking morale to have an actual use beyond "do you have enough crew space".  If morale could decay over time while performing commands that would decrease ship performance, then provide a couple of mechanics for bringing it back up (either through inactivity (cancel the commands and let it naturally regen), or by having it "visit" certain station types (habitat, casinos)(while this one could still be looped, it'd still force the ship to take a break from its actual task)).  Yes, that last one would've been complex.  Would it have been as complex as designing a whole new system?  Don't know.  And really, at this point, considering the new system already exists, I don't expect you all to do that.

I know the complexity of the old code was brought up.  Would a rewrite have helped?  Would it have been as or more complex than designing a whole new system?  Don't know.  Again, the new system already exists, so....

Final thing was performance.  I get this.  I really do.  Other than leaving the old system in the game, as was, with an optional toggle during game creation or in the server.ini file (allowing server admins to say "nope, this server can't handle that"), I don't have an answer for you.


I am glad that you left it able to be modded back in, but forcing this onto the modding community also makes me a little sad.  I mean, this now depends on the interest, skill, and "longevity" of the modders to keep this viable.  As an example, some of the best modders that I'm aware of for this game actually seem to have no interest in modding these back in.  Hopefully modding these back in works well enough and stays supported for a long time, cause I feel like I'd lose interest in the game super quick if they didn't.


Ultimately, obviously it's your all's decision and I get that you're a small team and you had to do what you thought was best.  I'm not in your all's position, so I obviously can't say that what I'm thinking would've necessarily have been better or even worked.  And I certainly don't expect anything now that you've already got a new system in place.  But it still makes me really sad losing the old system.

I do thank you, though, both in creating the game in the first place and for supporting it as you have.

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@Furyofthestars hit on everything perfectly.

The biggest complaint I see, and one I agree with, is that the new system is just, click button -> Captain "poofs" ship away into magical space and comes back X minutes later -> Repeat. It encourages MORE afk mining when you can just click a button and wait. At least with the old system there was preparation involved - building the ship correctly, scouting the sector, building escort ships for protection. After work is done, the player is rewarded with a steady income.

Too easy? Make it more work, like Fury said. Enemies attack the sector and threaten your ships, perhaps in increasing amounts based on threat level / protection level of escort ships. Resource spawn rates could degrade over time... I'm starting to repeat Fury's excellent post, so I'll stop there.

Also agree with his point about mods - when updates break it, and they will - we might see our orders need to be redone all across the in-game galaxy, or have to wait for a mod update.

At least make it a checkbox option to bring it back so those of us without any friends that play solo can choose which system we use.


The number of complaints about this new system in the Steam forums is pretty staggering. For those unaware, the mod that brings back 1.X queued orders/looping is this one. It's currently the most popular non-ship mod on the entire Avorion workshop in the last 3 months, the 3rd most popular in the last 6 months, and the 17th most popular (still on the front page) in the last year. As of this post, Avorion 2.0 beta was released a little over one month ago. Hint hint. Nudge nudge. 

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I've been playing since Dec 21st, 2017 and I've got more than 2500 hours logged.

I LOVE THE NEW CHANGES! Managing ships with trade and mining loops before was just annoying. I spent most of my time manually trading to build up income, as well as exploring. Now? Exploring is almost too easy - my current gameI have over 7500 sectors explored, thanks to my explorer ships and captains (almost triple that of older games). For me, a game didn't really start until I had a rare or better trading system. Now, it's find a merchant captain and send them off to make $$$. That means more time I can spend looking for new captains, checking out station missions, and other higher level stuff. I'm going to say a happy goodbye to order looping. It was wonky to set up and it caused performance issues. Missions are great, although expeditions feel kind of... underwhelming, honestly. Expeditions should have effects and events that only happen on an expedition - you get more items with salvage, more credits with trade, etc.

I used to make ships for specific tasks like mining and trading, but they'd often sit idle. Now, every ship I have is almost always working, to the point where I feel guilty if they're not off on a mission. Captain traits are interesting, but they seem a bit limited - there's definitely room for more. There's also a great opportunity to have captains gain abilities as they level, like a maybe a daredevil getting a 5% bonus to a specific type of damage at level 3, 10% at level 5, etc. My fleet is definitely active, and the shield module changes actually resulted in my ships being outfitted and ending up wth more shields than I'd normally run. I've also made a 15-slot ship for the first time ever because of 2.0 and it's amaaaaazing!

Fighters are even tougher than prior to 2.0 - being able to fire from extended ranges was their biggest strength before, now it's massive HP per fighter. I have fighters with over 1250 HP each, and they're still wrecking everything they face, only faster now with the range boost ability. It's like commanding a swarm of space piranhas! Nothing I've faced so far uses anti-fighter cannons, which means I've destroyed entire sectors and not lost a single ship (that's bad - I should be taking losses).

Trade has gone from a bit of a pain to "I have SO MUCH STUFFFFF". Procure missions are so good, you can't even imagine how happy I am to have them. You know what would be even better? Making a way to have a turret part list populate a procure mission's item list - there's a nudge, nudge suggestion for you from me 😉 And having smuggler captains being able to sell stolen goods without having to find and visit a smuggler? YES PLEASE!

The changes you've made for 2.0 are really, really good. Some people are always going to be unhappy with any kind of change, and there's nothing you can do to appease them. Just keep going and make the game even better!

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I love the new map command and its system.
The added personalities of the captains made the NPCs have a higher QOL.
It reminds me of the old game "The Atlas". (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Atlas_(video_game))
As for fleet management, I think this evolution is a very good one.

Easier to use: Did you know that 75% of players in Avorion only have a single ship?

Yes, I did too.
This is especially true at the higher difficulty levels.
This was mainly a combat issue.
AI ships are too immature, too weak, and have too many useless actions.
The AI can't control the ships well enough for the user ships.
They take all the attacks, get too close to the enemy, stop moving, and break soon.
That's right, they can't control the distance to the enemy! This was very deadly and stupid.
They still can't point their turrets at the enemy properly.
Even with escort orders, the AI ship will never protect the user.
The user always protects the AI ship, which is not capable of making decisions.
The user was like a babysitter protecting the allied AI ship.
Whenever I played the game with an AI ship, it had to be stronger than the user-controlled ship.
Like a rockbiter or a death star!
Because they would approach a random generator super tesla ship.
It was extremely stressful.
That's why I only had one ship.

Map Command relieved me of that stress.


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  • 2 weeks later...

FWIW, the new command system ruins the game for me.  I know there is a mod to fix what you broke, but when you combine that with the new strange "force the player to grind" silliness and the fact that I feel like I'm waiting to be able to jump way more in 2.0 than I did before 2.0, and I don't really understand why you decided to make a fun game way less fun.  😞

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Mods have no future, they depend on the goodwill and durability of their creator. Developers should be inspired by the most used mods.

I have 21 mods activated, that's a lot for the stability of the game.

Ps: since when do miners refine their own resources?

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17 hours ago, A.E.62 said:

Mods have no future, they depend on the goodwill and durability of their creator.

That's not entirely true though. Unlike too many other games, Avorion mods come with their source code, in fact they are their own source code. So if a mod creator loses interest, somebody else can always take up from where they left.


PS.: Just as another data point, when I play with mods enabled, I usually have way more than just twenty, and I don't have any issues with stability because of them.

Edited by Valck
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