This one is kind of a beast. With TLF doing so well most of our time is going in that direction, but since it's doing well we also have a little time to spare for stuff like AIW. Which is nice.
The biggest individual thing is a major revision of the Alternate Champion Progress feature introduced in the previous non-hotfix release. I'd thought people who didn't want the nebula scenarios wanted a relatively low-impact version of the champion that didn't fundamentally change gameplay. Based on feedback it would appear I was wrong ;)
Anyway, this new iteration does allow that low-power, low-response option but you can also crank the intensity of the progress and the response up to levels where you're getting just as much power by late/end-game as you would with the normal progress mechanic. And probably just as much pain in return, we'll see how the balancing worked out there. If you're feeling cheesy or like providing the compensating challenge in some other way you can also crank up the progression and leave the response low or off.
Please keep the feedback coming; "champion revisions" won #2 on the big-items-for-8.0 poll and I'd really like to get champs to a place where they have a wider appeal.
All that aside, some other major changes in this beta release:
- Carriers are now always fully autotargeted, and damage to them is simply passed on to the contained units. This actually makes carriers way easier to deal with, so further balance changes are likely to come later, but most importantly this also makes them way less annoying to deal with, and thus makes the game more fun. It's very satisfying to see a wall of 1000-load carriers fly into the teeth of exo-class defenses and start melting.
- Lightning/Armored Warheads and Spirecraft Martyrs have been made essentially finite in damage potential now, though one may not normally think of "Ten Billion Damage" as "finite". Essentially these now spread X damage over all available targets rather than doing X damage to EACH target in range. More balance to come, I'm sure, but now these are at least theoretically capable of being balanced.
- Fixed a major bug in recent versions where the second AI player's threat/threatfleet/special-forces ships were often just stuck on worlds with no human presence at all. Also made several other important fixes and improvements to AI threat behavior in general.
- Reinforcements have had further refactoring, and now have a much more coherent sense of budget (i.e. not getting anything for "free"). Perhaps more importantly, any reinforcement strength "lost" to the various capping rules (which are there to prevent the AI just defensively stonewalling you when it's not a Turtle AI Type or whatever) is passed on to the Strategic Reserve (until it is full) and then towards augmenting waves. Neither use is particularly threatening in moderate doses (though if the redirect-to-SR thing turns into homeworld-stonewalling please let us know and we'll change that) but this way the "cost" of AIP no longer goes down when that cap is reached, etc.
- More Golem and Spirecraft balance changes; not as many as last time but we hope it helps move those towards where they need to be.
Update: 7.024 hotfix for several severe balance issues with warheads, and some other stuff that got fixed in the meantime.
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.