Space Clouds

Dev Blog – New Modification System in Progress

Space Clouds



Greetings! I’m excited to announce a new project that has recently cleared the earliest stages of development (in other words, the devs have finally stopped arguing over all the little details). The main goal of the project is to make the item modification system more accessible to new players, while also giving endgame players greater ability to fine tune their setups.  While we’re at it, we’re also trying to make modifications more exciting.  As with any revamp of existing content, there is always the danger of throwing off the balance of the game. The purpose of this post is to share our plans with you at the earliest possible occasion; we’ll listen to your feedback and take our time with the next development stage in order to avoid any unintended nerfs. One other note: while this project is a whole dev team effort, enkelin is taking point on it so any feedback should be directed to him.

Discussion of Design Philosophy

Making Modifications More Rewarding

People play video games because they are rewarding.  One of the great UI improvements of the past few years was the Ship Window revamp, in which you can view all your exact stats.  This gave players a concrete way to measure the improvement of each new item they obtained, and has led to an improved sense of reward.  But while you may feel rewarded when your DPS goes up by 1000, this is not the most powerful kind of reward a game can offer.  What we are going for is a game experience where you KNOW you’re better even before checking the Ship Window. That’s a deeper level of satisfaction compared to unemotionally comparing two numbers after the fight.

The problem with the current modification system is that most mods only provide a small increase in stats, and the total effect is only noticeable because you have so many modified items.  We are making mods feel more rewarding by introducing new, powerful modifications on a limited number of gear types.  There’s a weapon mod that splits every shot into two, an energy mod that redirects some damage taken to your energy bank, and a radar mod that boosts your hostility by broadcasting rude messages to all your enemies.  The end result is that your gameplay will be noticeably altered (and improved) when you obtain one of these new modifications.

Stat Stick Discussion


With the addition of these new, extremely powerful modifications, we are going to be toning down another aspect of your setups in compensation.  Part of the reason for this is that we would have to rebalance all existing dungeon content if we allowed everyone to get way stronger than before, but there’s a more fundamental reason too.  The nerf will target so-called “stat sticks,” i.e. any item that is equipped primarily for a stat bonus it grants, and is rarely or never used for its primary purpose.  In Star Sonata, examples of stat sticks include Mzungu Cloak, Point Defense Zeta, and high-tech tractor beams.  In many cases, well-modded items of these types are carried but never activated/used.  In a game like Star Sonata, stat sticks may make up over half of a player’s inventory.  This is sometimes taken to be a sign of customizability of setup, but it is actually the opposite, as I explain below.

One of the principal facets of game design is to give players interesting choices. Should your Shield Monkey sacrifice 500 shield regen for 2000 more HPS?  Should your Speed Demon sacrifice 100 speed for extra range?  These are examples of choices where there’s no clear answer, and that’s the kind of decision that makes for an interesting game.  But when an item’s value is exclusively based on its modifications, there’s no choice left for the player.  As a Berserker, you want to fill your hull with Evil-modified gear, and if you get the chance you won’t mind a few Radioactive or Super Intelligent mods on top of that.  The actual nature of the gear has no bearing on the decision, so long as it’s reasonably small.  In pushing back against the proliferation of stat sticks, the dev team is shifting the game in a direction that will give players much more interesting choices, which is what customizability is really about.  For specifics, see the Grand Table O’ Nerfs below.

Rundown of Changes

What is staying the same?

  • Any existing modified items will retain their modifications.

  • The stats of most current modifications will remain unchanged (see Grand Table O’ Nerfs for details)

  • Bindomite acts the way it always did on non-core types of gear (core types are Weapon, Shield, Energy, Engine, Radar, and Cloak).

What is changing?

  • Bindomite can now also be used to add modifications to neurobound, unmodified gear.

  • When using Bindomite on a core gear type (Weapon, Shield, Energy, Engine, Radar, Cloak), you will receive one new Primary modification in addition to a random number of Secondary modifications.

  • You may use Bindomite to add a Primary modification to a core item that gained modifications before this change. However, certain legacy modifications are being deprecated and will be removed in the process.  The client will warn you if any modifications would be removed in this way.  See Grand Table O’ Nerfs for a list of the deprecated modifications.

  • Primary modifications have a range of possible stats. For example, your weapon could gain x-y% AoE damage.

  • You can spend credits to repeatedly reroll your gear’s Primary modifications. Each time, you’ll be given three choices: pick one of two new Primaries or keep the one you already have.

  • Modifications that are randomly spawned on loot will only be drawn from the Secondary pool, but they won’t be overwritten when you apply Bindomite.

Grand Table O’ Nerfs


We are aware that this project will cause a lot of concern in the community. This blog post will serve as the first step of many in ensuring that the revamp proceeds in a way that works for the players.  We are intentionally leaving all numerical values up for debate for now, which will allow us great flexibility in achieving the desired game balance.  Here are some considerations we will be looking at as the project proceeds:

The Nerf

The Reason

The Compensation

Weapon mods only work when weapon is active

See Stat Stick discussion

See next row.

The following mods will be nerfed: Super Intelligent, Evil, Radioactive, Angelic.

See Stat Stick discussion

Large amounts of DPS, Elec, and Hostility will be obtainable through powerful new Primary modifications various gear pieces.  If necessary, we will also buff Berserker Class hostility.

Transcendental and Mini mods are nerfed or reworked.

They are too strong for Secondary mods.

There is a new Primary modification available for those for whom space is at a premium. We are also considering buffing hull expanders and possibly increasing Recon Focus hull bonus.

Gyroscopic mod is nerfed.

It’s too strong for a Secondary mod.

There are new Primary mods for Engines that will make you turn on a dime, if you desire.

Resonating mod is nerfed.

It’s too strong for a Secondary mod.

There are new Primary mods that will give you plenty more Shield and/or Radar, if you desire.

The following modifications are NOT nerfed, but are no longer obtainable: Rewired, Extended, Amplified, Superconducting, Overclocked, Buffered, Dynamic, Forceful, and Scoped.

These are relatively strong modifications that don’t fit the theme of Primary mods.

Any existing gear with these modifications may be retained unchanged. However, you will overwrite these modifications if you add a new Primary mod with Bindomite.

Discuss in the Forum