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Captain’s diary #36: More info on Update 1 and release date!


Welcome everyone! Captain Filip here and I’m excited to bring you our last post on Update 1.


First of all, the release date for the Update 1 is set to the 30th of May, approximately 10am Pacific time (7pm in central Europe). If things go fine, it might hit the experimental branch on Steam a bit sooner.


To remind everyone, save files from the current version won't be compatible, but you will be able to keep playing the older version of the game using a Steam branch (ea-legacy).


We have updated the translation page with new strings from Update 1 and we would really appreciate it if folks from our translation community could help us to localize these. Thank you so much for helping us!


Now let’s dive into news about Update 1. And by the way, we have highlighted several exciting changes in our previous posts, so definitely take a look if you’ve missed them.


Product stacking & visibility

One major thing that was on our wishlist for a long time was to actually provide more visibility into unit storages. We already opened loose storages in previous updates. But unit storages were a bit more challenging. We have implemented a shelving system with stacked products and also added built-in signs on top of roofs. Finally, the storage units went through a significant face-lift.

Because we render just two sides of the storage (2n² items) and not the entire volume (n³ items), we saved on performance significantly while still being able to render non-trivial products. This also relies on instanced rendering, which we covered a few times before. However, we still have a way to go, such as adding LODs for some complex products.


The other thing we had to implement to make this happen is something we call product stacking. Belts, trucks, and storages all have the following rule: they provide 1 cubic meter to hold 3 stacked products. It is up to each product to decide how to utilize the space. And also, thanks to this, we can now render stacked products on belts. Below you can see different stacking strategies for different products.

And finally, we were also able to render unit products on trucks that now have flat beds instead of cargo containers. So you can quickly see what they are delivering to make sure they are not just driving with empty containers and slacking off.



Electricity

This is a big topic, so fasten your seat belt. We have made lots of changes in power production.


Power rebalance

Before we mention any power values, we need to cover one important change. We have inflated our electricity production and consumption by a factor of 4. So all power generators produce 4 times more, and all consumers consume 4 times more. We didn’t do this only because inflation is trendy these days (I wish this would be funny), but we had two main reasons: 1) We wanted more immersion as our power plants felt under-scaled. 2) We did not increase transport consumption by 4 but only by 2. This effectively halves transports’ power consumption. We couldn’t do this before as we were hitting the limit of 1 KW being our smallest unit.


Turbines rebalance

In the real world, HP (high pressure) turbine is significantly smaller than LP (low pressure) turbine due to steam density that decreases with lower temperature. We didn't follow this principle, and on top of that, we required 2 HP turbines per 1 LP turbine. There wasn't really a need for that, we just thought that was cool. But if we have a choice to follow reality we try to do so. So we redesigned the turbines. HP turbines are 1 tile shorter and narrower. We also restored elevated pipe connectors as we had in old versions of the game, because of reasons we will cover later. And changed the HP to LP ratio to 1:1.

Besides that, we felt that turbines were already quite space-demanding. So we made steam 50% more energy dense (and more costly to make) so that turbines & mech. power generators can now have +50% output.


Super pressure turbine

Another thing we are adding is a super pressure turbine. This new beast goes right in front of the HP turbine and consumes Superheated steam and returns HP steam. Superheated steam gets produced in one of our new nuclear reactors, so this is an end-game tech. Many of you will starve your colony to death before you even get there :)


Thermal storage

We had lots of requests to store steam in storage tanks, and we always said no :) One of the reasons was that we wanted to do this properly even though that’s more work for us. So we are adding a new building – thermal storage. It contains molten salt, which gets heated by incoming steam which gets discharged in the form of depleted steam. Its internal heat can then be used to convert incoming water back into steam. So it is essentially a thermal battery. We didn’t introduce continuous heat loss but we added a one-time conversion loss when charging heat. It also comes with a cool animation of the hot/cold tanks moving up/down based on the heat stored.


Surplus consumer / producer

When observing some of the backup solutions players created, we noticed that there is an important concept we were missing, which is something we call a surplus consumer / producer system. It allows marking an electricity consumer as a “surplus consumer”. At that point, that consumer will only consume power from producers that are marked as “surplus producers” which typically are solar panels (by default). This means that you can, for instance, synthesize hydrogen in cases you have an abundance of solar power. Also, surplus consumers do not complain about low power.


Large diesel generator

Having an array of diesel generators as backup is a good idea. But with energy demands continuously growing, the starting generator was not enough. So we are adding a large generator that produces 6 times more power and provides you with savings on maintenance, workforce, the space occupied, plus an option to filter its exhaust.


Nuclear energy


With electricity changes covered, we can now dive into new nuclear energy chains. We cover nuclear in a separate section because it is beefy.


When working on this we have spent several days buried in presentations, articles, and lectures on nuclear energy, fast breeder reactors, MOX reactors, and waste reprocessing. What we came up with is based on real science, but it is simplified in order to be playable. Some of these technologies were tested in lab environments but never used on a commercial level. So we are a little bit improvising here.


Nuclear reactor T1

We have a reactor in the game already, and we didn’t change much except the entire model got reworked :) But the recipe stayed the same. It still converts uranium fuel to spent fuel. The reactor used to generate 15 MW, but we bumped up steam density by 50% (mentioned in the previous chapter), which raised it to 22.5MW and then we inflated power production 4 times, so it now generates 90 MW.


Nuclear reactor T2

After some time, you will be able to upgrade to a new reactor - Nuclear reactor II. Besides burning regular fuel it can also burn MOX fuel. It also provides an extra power step which allows it to produce +33% more steam. So this plant can provide you with steam worth 120 MW of electricity. It also comes with automated heat regulation if supplied with computing. However, safety cooling is still strongly recommended.


You might be wondering how to obtain MOX fuel. MOX fuel is a mix of plutonium and uranium. And to obtain plutonium, we added another machine, the nuclear reprocessing facility, which is able to separate plutonium out of spent fuel.

It also extracts reprocessed uranium, which can go back to enrichment, and also fission product which goes back to spent fuel storage. Fission product has a nice benefit; which is that after 120 years, it decays and turns into retired waste. The retired waste can then be sent to a shredder and get converted into recyclables.

However, burning MOX fuel creates Spent MOX fuel which can’t decay on its own as it’s nasty. For that, you will need the next tier of the reactor. So the TL;DR is that this new MOX reactor allows you to cut down significantly on the amount of waste you need to store long-term.


Fast breeder reactor

The final and most advanced reactor you get is a new reactor we call a fast breeder reactor. It is, however, vastly different compared to its early brothers. A fast breeder reactor is the most advanced reactor in the game. In the research, it is actually behind the space rocket.

The fast breeder reactor contains molten fuel dissolved in molten salt so no control rods are involved. It also operates at higher temperatures which means it generates Super-pressure steam (SP) instead of HP steam. SP steam requires an SP turbine, but a single SP turbine generates the same mechanical power as HP and LP turbines combined. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this reactor can output steam worth 240 MW of power. Rumors say that this might be enough to power a couple of arc furnaces.


Now comes the complex bit, which is how this reactor fits into the entire uranium chain. Initially, you need to fuel it with highly enriched fuel, and there are several ways to get it.

The reactor consists of two parts – a core and a blanket. The core contains highly enriched fuel which produces heat for your turbines, but it also bombards the surrounding blanket of fuel to enrich it. The process goes as follows:


Core fuel => Spent core fuel

Blanket fuel => Enriched blanket fuel


What you also need is to build a nuclear reprocessing plant to extract fission products out of the spent core fuel and send the good fuel back to the FBR. You also need to build a chemical plant to extract the enriched fuel out of the enriched blanket fuel and refill it with more fuel. So basically, you have FBR that runs the reaction and enriches its own fuel and then surrounding facilities that continuously filter the good and bad stuff and act as a “kidney”.

This means that once this is running you can skip the enrichment phase. And secondly, you can burn & use some of the nasty stuff such as Spent MOX and Plutonium.


Depleted uranium

This all comes with another addition which is depleted uranium. Before Update 1, the enrichment plant provides enriched uranium, and we conveniently ignored the fact that there are tons of depleted uranium that comes with it. Now it’s there. The main benefit is that it provides more motivation to create advanced reactors. Because depleted uranium can be mixed into MOX fuel. But what is even better is that it can be used in an FBR reactor to be enriched into usable fuel. We have also added the option to dump depleted uranium onto the terrain (this also happens in real life!).


Another benefit of SP steam

Another benefit of superheated steam is that we added a new recipe that allows the creation of hydrogen from water more cheaply than via an electrolyzer. In practice, this is called the Sulfur-Iodine cycle.

And this is the new nuclear chain! It took 5 days after the launch of Captain of Industry for someone to launch a rocket, we are now wondering how many days will it take before someone has a functional FBR. Let us know when you do!


Storages & belts power consumption


What bothered us for some time was that storage units were outperforming transports on efficiency and throughput.


To close that gap, we have reduced the throughput of storage units, but more importantly, anytime a loose or unit storage accepts products via ports, it also consumes power in the same way as belts do. But we actually made this a bit more fine-grained for each game difficulty.


Sailor (easy): Belts & storage units will not consume any power.


Captain (balanced): Belts & storage units consume power with the highest priority, but if there is no power, they still work (this was always the case for belts).


Admiral (hard): Belts & storage units will always consume power and will not work without it. But you can change the consumption priorities.


Another change is that if storages get chained together, they will now automatically unregister from truck deliveries where needed. This improves logistics performance and makes things a bit more obvious.


Vertical pipes


Speaking of transports, in the previous post we sneaked in a screenshot of one massive change: vertical pipes! :) It took some time for folks on Discord to notice it, but they did! Congratulations! Anyway, now it is official. Old blueprints will still work should your heart desire a good vintage curly pipe.

This was actually not a simple change because our transport construction and rendering system relied on non-verticality. Pipes with 90 degree corners are also tricky to texture as the “top” of the texture can move to a different side after a sequence of 90-degree turns. We have solved this by cutting such transports to multiple segments and connecting them via a ring that allows texture to snap back to the correct orientation.


We have also leveraged instanced rendering. To make it even more effective, similar transport pieces were grouped and rendered together by applying various transformations. This resulted in transport rendering being approx. 3 times faster. Huge thanks to Captain Jeremy for making this happen!


New content

Electrolyzers

Our electrolyzer was one of the first models we had, and it was asking for a revamp as it was looking a bit sci-fi. So we did that, and whilst at it, we also introduced tier II.


Mixers

Our Mixer couldn't keep up with large factories, so we added tier II. And since we wanted to have it as an in-place upgrade we revamped the original model as well.


Large crusher

To make crushing ores a bit more exciting we have added a large crusher. It takes approximately 4 times more resources but comes with a 6 times larger throughput. This should help with getting all that sand and crushed ores!


Captain office

Our current office is a bit of a palace that can’t come early and is costly, so we relabeled it as Captain Office II. Which made space for a new Captain office I, which is a bit more humble. This office comes much earlier in the game and is cheaper. So it provides blueprints earlier than before. Captain Office II is still needed to run any edicts that are tier 2+ and also provides a passive boost on quick trading volumes.


Changes in production chains


Sand

Silicon production now requires sand instead of quartz. Sand is no longer made by crushing rock but by crushing quartz instead. This simplifies things a bit and removes the initial dependency of Electronics 2 on quartz mines.


Gold

Gold ore now yields half the gold and comes with increased crushing costs. You might need the large crusher here.


Changes in computing, maintenance III, research

There was plenty of feedback on microchip production being tricky by having a dependency on computing. The biggest issue here is that maintenance III requires microchips to provide computing which is required to produce microchips. To break this loop and make initial production less stressful, we added a new type of building - a Mainframe computer.

The mainframe computer has the advantage that it does not require microchips to provide computing. However, it has super high power demands.


Another issue we have been noticing is that players got trapped in robotic assemblers being expensive on maintenance, especially maintenance III. This was initially the intention as these assemblers were supposed to produce end-game stuff and push the demands up, but it didn't combine well with the fact that they also provide upgraded recipes, so they turned out to be a trap. We made several changes to balance this besides reducing maintenance costs for the robotic assemblers.


The first one is that we made Electronics II cheaper to make. This makes Electronics III transitively cheaper as well. We also densified data-centers. So a single server rack now costs 40 servers instead of 20 but provides twice more computing. But we kept the same maintenance III requirements for the entire datacenter, which reduced maintenance costs for computing. Before, just maintaining a datacenter required 1/4th of its computing, now it is 1/8th.


All these changes allowed us to reshuffle the research tree. Electronics II now comes earlier because it does not require quartz and is cheaper to make. So Research lab equipment III now requires Electronics II. Construction parts IV also come earlier together with Maintenance II, and both are now leveraged sooner. Also an added benefit is that solar panels now come earlier. This should reduce the steepness of going into Electronics III as things are now spread a bit more.


Desalination balancing

Reduced desalination cost by 15%.

Almost doubled the throughput of a thermal desalination plant


Contracts

Some contracts were removed, some added and some rebalanced, either due to changes in recipe costs or just to balance them out. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a screenshot of the new contracts screen.


Recycling plant changes

The recycling plant used to come with dedicated output ports for each recycled output. This was way too limiting if we or modders need to add new recyclable outputs. So we changed the plant to have just a single output port. This means that the final sorting has to be done via sorters - they are finally useful! :)



Quality of life features

Besides features work, we have also focused on several quality-of-life improvements.


Combined designation

We are introducing a new type of designation, we call it leveling designation. It facilitates mining and dumping at the same time, based on the current state of the surface. This should make building ramps and flattening terrain easier than before.

This designation is still considered to be experimental. We locked it behind a research node, and we will be evaluating how well it does and if there is a chance it could even replace the standalone mining and dumping designations.


Vehicle replacement / upgrade

You will be able to replace a vehicle with any other vehicle directly from its UI. This should streamline your vehicle fleet upgrades. Once the replacement is requested and built in a nearby vehicle depot, the vehicle will go there to be replaced.


Blueprints improvements

Blueprints now automatically downgrade their locked items on placement. This is mainly done to allow building blueprints with higher tiers of transports. This is just a best effort feature, we can’t always guarantee that each downgrade makes sense. Also, each locked blueprint now also lists what items are missing / needed to be researched.


New dashboards

We are also adding new dashboards that provide a breakdown of the consumption and production of electricity, computing, workers, and maintenance.


Other improvements

Research locks

We also added a feature that allows us to lock research nodes with production goals. For instance, you can’t build advanced reactors until you get experience with the basic ones.


Vehicle jobs scheduling

Another change we made is in how we schedule cargo delivery jobs for vehicles. What we used to do is that when a vehicle got free it asked for a job. At that point, we would search through all the buffers to find a job. This was completely rewritten so that now a vehicle just registers for a new job and waits for a result. This way, we can group requests and resolve them at once.


There are two significant benefits of this new system. The first one is performance. The theoretical limit of how many jobs we can schedule increased a lot because the duration required to find a job for one truck or several of them is almost the same. The reason is that the most expensive part is to go through all the buffers in the game and build the caches, the final search is relatively cheap. And the second most visible benefit is that if there are multiple trucks that are idle we always assign a job to the truck that is the closest.


Graphics

As mentioned in our previous posts, we also worked hard on graphical improvements.


Dynamic skybox & fog

We implemented a dynamic skybox, so there are now clouds that appear and disappear based on the weather. We also added fog which is also dynamically affected by the weather. And since our horizon looks much better now, and rendering performance is relatively good overall, we have allowed even steeper camera tilt.


Forward rendering

As we promised several posts ago, we have ditched deferred rendering. Unity’s implementation just did not cut it, and the forward rendering looks absolutely great. It comes with MSAA anti-aliasing which you can control from settings.


Loose Product Textures

We’ve also revisited the textures for various loose products.


Terrain

Terrain has improved a lot. First, we have created new textures for nearly all terrain materials and they look gorgeous! The terrain now uses tri-planar rendering, making textures on steep walls nice and crisp (see CD#35 for more details).


Next, you will notice new beautiful trees that come in two variants: fir and spruce. They not only look better but also use less triangles, our artist Mira really outdid themselves on these! This allowed us to place more trees on maps for more realistic forest coverage without hurting performance.


Finally, the terrain is covered with new grass, four kinds of flowers (can you recognize them?), many rocks, and other details. Take a look yourself!


Music

Update 1 will also arrive with extra 30 minutes of new music! The soundtrack DLC on Steam will be automatically updated as well.


Conclusion

This is all we have for you, and we can’t wait to see you all having fun with the new update!

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