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CD #43: Loans, Difficulties, Surfaces

Welcome to another edition of Captain’s Diary, this time with Captain Filip. As we mentioned in our previous post, the Update 2 is coming out on April 5th, which is super close. So, I would like to share a few final updates on what we've been working on. Let's dive right in!


Have you ever found yourself running low on something crucial? Or maybe you've been in a situation where, for the last 30 minutes, your excavators have been digging up nothing but dirt instead of coal? At moments like these, you probably wish for a magic button to instantly refill your coal supplies. It's scenarios like these that can lead to the dreaded death spiral.

To address challenges like this, we are introducing a new feature. You will be able to buy in-game products with your real money! Just joking! The new feature is ... Loans! The title gave it away anyway, I guess. This feature allows you to borrow all the essential resources from local settlements. The amount you can borrow will depend entirely on your production track record, meaning the more you produce, the more you can borrow. We believe loans are a perfect solution, especially since quick trades are often limited by the lack of the right products to exchange. We hope this feature will offer a lifeline when you're teetering on the edge of a spiral!

The new loans feature for Update 2.

It’s entirely up to you how you approach loans. You can keep them for emergencies or use them as a continuous injection to advance your progress. And here's the interesting part: the better your track record, the more favorable your loan conditions will be. And if you don’t pay back? The bank will kidnap your people and pillage your silos … just like in real life … I’m kidding; the settlements will simply be more hesitant to lend you products in the future.

Loan repayments, together with interest rates, are taken automatically from your trade dock.


We've heard your feedback loud and clear: CoI can be pretty challenging. Striking the right balance is tricky because everyone enjoys a different level of difficulty. We prefer realism because it allows players to optimize more than just layouts, as there is an entire economy to deal with. This route introduces complex systems that can lead to death spirals, which, understandably, some players prefer to avoid. To address this, we're making the game's difficulty settings more granular and customizable.

The first half of the new difficulty selection journey.

Game difficulty configuration is now split into two parts: difficulties and mechanics. Difficulties adjust factors like production, yields, and resource availability, much like what you're used to. Mechanics, on the other hand, alter your gameplay in more significant ways. We've taken existing CoI's realism features (like trucks stopping when out of fuel and machines breaking down), and grouped them into a new "Realism" mechanic. So if you are looking for a less “death-spirally” experience, simply disable the Realism mechanic.

New mechanics screen for simple but powerful customization of your experience. This one shows the pre-selected options for Admirals.

New mechanics screen for simple but powerful customization of your experience. This one shows the pre-selected options for Admirals.

To make the game easier for new players, we added the following simplifications (all of them are toggleable):

  • Vehicles now slow down rather than stop completely when out of fuel.

  • Cargo ships out of fuel? They can chug along on Unity now.

  • If your groundwater’s gone, pumps still work, just slower.

  • World mines out of Unity will keep mining but at a reduced pace.

  • Even when broken, machines and vehicles won’t quit; just slow down.

  • And if a machine runs out of power or computing, it’ll keep going at a reduced rate for a bit, thanks to a sort of "internal battery."

This approach also lets us introduce new challenges or modify gameplay without disrupting the core experience. For example, Update 2 will seamlessly introduce an ore sorting feature I'll discuss later in this post.

You can always go to the full difficulty settings menu to fine-tune every option.

Another big news is that you will be able to change difficulty settings during the game. This comes in handy when you’re 120 hours in and realize a certain setting just isn't working for you. Note that changing a difficulty option comes with a cooldown, and your adjustments are logged in your save file. This feature will work with your existing game saves too.

When you adjust difficulty settings, it's our little secret—just between you, us, and the NSA (and anyone you share your save file with).

Besides this, we made a couple more changes in the difficulty department.

  • Full Deconstruction Refund: Now an option, though we've removed the research nodes for gradual increases.

  • Research Costs: Sailors now enjoy a 25% discount, while Admirals face a 50% increase.

  • Disease Mortality: Halved for the base game. Admirals see a 100% increase (back to the original rate), while Sailors experience zero mortality.

  • Quick Actions costs: Increased by 25% across the board, with Admirals incurring an additional 50% on top.

  • Power Production: We've removed the multiplier for traditional generators. However, we added a multiplier for solar panels.

Ore sorting plant

After we added the mixed cargo feature, many of you expressed a need for a more realistic approach - having to sort the cargo through a sorting plant instead of having trucks magically sort it. It doesn’t happen often that you ask us to add more complexity, so we couldn’t miss such an opportunity and added a new ore sorting plant. Now, whenever your trucks carry mixed cargo, they must stop by the sorting plant to get everything in order. It works similarly to the waste sorting plant.

A truck delivering mixed cargo to the new ore sorting plant.

The nice thing about our new mechanics system is that we were able to add the ore sorting plant without disrupting existing game sessions. We placed it under a standalone mechanic called “Ore sorting”. This mechanic is pre-selected for Admirals. But, of course, it's available to all players. Plus, you can activate this mechanic on save files created before Update 2, ensuring everyone can enjoy sorting through piles of rocks.

Ore sorting can be enabled in the new mechanics' selection screen.

With the introduction of the ore sorting plant, power generation will be required from the very start of your game. This adjustment allows that even the assembler I and research lab I will require power.

Custom surfaces unleashed

Remember when we teased the ability to lay down your own concrete? Well, we might have gotten a little carried away—in the best way possible. You're not just getting concrete; you'll have 10 different surfaces to choose from! And for our Supporter Edition, we're adding an exclusive golden surface to complement the golden Statue of Maintenance. Given our variety of surfaces, we also implemented automatic curb generation to provide a neat separation between surfaces.

Check out the first set of new surfaces, featuring a fuel truck comfortably parked on one, basking in a 20% maintenance cost reduction.

The second set showcases our metallic options, each ready to add a sleek touch to your island.

To ensure these new surfaces look great on large areas, each surface comes with 8 unique textures. These textures are randomly arranged to give a seamless and dynamic appearance. That's a grand total of 88 new textures!

You can also replace the default concrete that comes with the original buildings.


As we expanded the surface options, we considered adding some hazard versions for each. That's when a lightbulb moment happened: why not offer something far more versatile? And the idea of custom decals was born. In the upcoming update, you’ll be able to paint lines, stripes, arrows, and more directly onto any surfaces.

Decals in action. We can’t wait to see your creations!
You can choose from 70 different decals in 8 different premium colors hand-picked by our scientists.

New trees

So far, we have just one single tree type. With the upcoming map editor, it was the right time to add more variety. We are adding several new tree types, including dry variants.

Each tree is harvestable using a tree harvester and features levels of detail (LODs) for optimal performance. You’ll be able to place them in the new map editor.

Timeline details

We've been on quite the journey since launching Update 1 in May 2023, and I want to clarify a few things about our process. Post-launch, we didn't just sit back; we squashed bugs, enhanced pathfinding and logistics, and in August, rolled out new animation textures that significantly boosted FPS in large factories (CD #37). This set the stage for the main work on Update 2 beginning in September 2023.

Not counting the performance patches, Update 2 still took us quite some time. But there are reasons. Besides working on the large map editor, we were building infrastructure supporting a few features, such as roads and trains. We had hoped to introduce roads in Update 2, but that would delay the update until summer, which wasn’t reasonable. So, with a heavy heart, we had to postpone that effort. This was a difficult choice for us as well. On the bright side, Update 3 will come this year with a shorter wait than Update 2, mainly thanks to the investments we made during our work on Update 2. So, no progress was lost.

We are also working on improving some of the particles in Update 2. The big balls in the background won’t be included though, you’ll need to bring your own when playing on Admiral.

Answers to your comments

I've noticed some discussions suggesting we don't support mods. Let's set the record straight: CoI has built-in mod support. We also have a sample mod on our GitHub to get you started. While modding in CoI still has rough edges, adding things like machines or new recipes is actually fairly straightforward. We still plan on improving the modding experience, but at this point, we had to prioritize features like map editor and CoI Hub as we believe these will benefit the game in the long run, even if it means mod support isn't as smooth as it could be at this moment.

I will leave this one to your interpretation.

Regarding the new CoI Hub, I’ve seen questions about why we're not utilizing Steam Workshop or other third-party services. Our vision for CoI's future is ambitious, and we want to ensure that our community's creations remain in the community's hands, the same as with our self-hosted Wiki. The new CoI Hub allows for more independence, deeper integration, and better support for features like blueprint and map parsing and version management. While third-party platforms offer reasonable services, they can't provide the level of integration and control we aim for. Also, when it comes to mod security, caution is always advised, regardless of the platform.

I admit it: the decals can get a bit addictive.

My final confirmation is that Update 2 will be fully backward compatible with your existing save files from Update 1.

That wraps up what we wanted to share today. See you in Update 2!


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