Our latest expansion, Gamma Frontier has been out for a month now. According to your feedback, terraforming and colony mechanics are generally good, but there are some bits that need tweaking. Although the public test server helped us tremendously in solving bugs, the balancing aspect of the whole system is something that is still an ongoing effort.

Last Thursday we had a successful DEV - Player conference with selected representatives from major corporations, who shared their ideas and concerns on gamma mechanics. (There is a recording available here.) Although some of the issues have been already discussed on the forums before this, establishing the “big picture” with the people who had the most hands on experience with the system itself proved really productive.

This blog is meant to present our proposed solutions to the raised issues, separated into different sections regarding how long it would take to implement them, if you agree with them. So imagine an extra “would” beside all the changes listed here as you are still free to tell us how completely wrong we are, or iterate on the ideas.

Immediate changes (next patch)

Issue: Building on gamma is too expensive, needs to be more accessible.

  • Increase the manufacturing unit of construction blocks to 5. This means a manufacturing cycle will produce 5 blocks instead of one, so effectively this will also reduce its individual component cost, and thus, its price.
  • Halve the manufacturing time of construction blocks.
  • Since they are the most frequently used buildings, reduce the components in energy transmitters and energy backbones to 20% of the current amounts.
  • Remove infinite NPC-seeds for building foundations, so players can set their own price.

Issue: Terraforming is too expensive/slow.

  • Reduce the price of terraforming charges to 20% of their current value.
  • Restore the old terraforming cycle time bonuses to harvesting-specialized robots (5% per controlling extension level - 50% max reduction), by switching back their current defense-related bonuses. Increase the cycle time of terraforming modules by 15% to not make them too fast.

Issue: The risk of losing your whole gamma colony overnight is too high, and other issues connected to MPC defense.

  • Make every building able to enter emergency mode, except for command relays and turrets. This narrows down the risk of losing a base to the time frame when the owners are actually able to defend it.
  • Implement multi-phase emergency mode for main terminals only: this is somewhat similar to how beta outpost intrusions work. Depending on the technology level of the terminal, it has a counter of 3 to 5 times (for standard, advanced and hi-tech terminals respectively) when it can subsequently enter emergency mode. Every time the terminal goes into emergency mode, this counter decreases, and every time a phase passes without emergency (2 days), the counter increases. Once the counter reaches zero (ie. it enters the last possible emergency phase), the terminal becomes destroyable after the last emergency phase, like it is currently. Thus the worst case scenario (ie. not even one successful defense in between) for a standard main terminal would be 3 times 2 days (plus the set emergency offset time), so around 7-9 days.
  • Make newly built main terminals invulnerable for 72 hours, to make starting off on gamma less of a gamble (of course they can’t enter emergency phase either during this time).

Issue: The teleport construction range issue.

  • It seems that the consensus is that the increased range is a good idea, so we’ll stick to the 2000m no-build zone around gamma teleports, as that is the safe range where a fully boosted hi-tech turret can’t reach anymore. And we promise to discuss such features with you in the future before announcing them as an immediately incoming change.
  • Keep minerals from spawning in the no-build zone.

Issue: Gamma reimbursements required due to changes.

  • Reimburse the price difference of all purchased terraform ammo in proportion to the new market price.
  • Reimburse the price difference of all purchased construction blocks in proportion to the new market price.

Issue: Not enough to do / not enough rewards on gamma islands.

  • Double the number of normal military and industrial roaming NPC spawns on gamma.
  • Add an elite NPC into roaming spawns on gamma.
  • Remove level 1 artifacts from gamma, keep spawning only level 2 and 3. Make artifacts spawn only on passable terrain.

Issue: Too few NPC spawns in general, with emphasis on starter islands.

  • NPCs on Alpha 1 islands will only attack when attacked. This makes it possible to place more fixed spawns without interfering with mining, artifact hunting, transport and travelling. (Of course NPCs popping out of beacons and artifacts are not affected by this rule.)
  • Increase all normal (non-starred) distress beacons to 10 waves.

Issue: General changes to minerals.

  • Make epriton liquid again.
  • Although the cost of noralgis incubators has been already considerably reduced, and the mined amount per cycle has been doubled in the expansion, we plan to increase both the maximum harvesting cycles, and the additional cycles per growth phases in noralgis (exact figures to follow).

Short-term changes (~2 weeks)

Issue: General improvements to gamma.

  • Terraform suppression building: slows terraforming in a certain radius for everyone. Owners can easily turn it on and off if they want to make changes to the terrain, but it can slow down offensive terraforming when active.
  • MPC Aura buildings: basically a copy of outpost auras. Place down a building and select an aura it should provide for the owner corporation’s members on the island.
  • Turret priority setting: set up a priority list for turrets that controls which classes of robots they should attack first.
  • Make turrets return fire when attacked, regardless of relation settings.

Issue: Just stuff we've been working on.

  • Spark teleport: this has been announced way back, but now I’m happy to tell you that this feature is close to complete. What’s it good for? You can place down teleport targets in any terminal or outpost you are, and you can teleport your spark back to it from any other terminal in the world, for a certain fee. This means that you can’t bring any robots or items with you, it’s only your bare spark. The feature should make market, production, and remote (corporation) storage management much easier and faster.
  • Private transport assignments: place items into a secured container that only you can open, set a pickup and a destination terminal, add a reward and a collateral amount, and let other players do the transport for you. This was obviously possible so far too and is nothing new, but creating a framework and adding safety rules to it should make it actually a viable mechanic.

Mid-term changes (~1 month)

Issue: Not enough rewards on gamma / Give more meaning to colixum.

  • Completely new tier of modules using colixum.
  • New robot variants using current chassis, with colixum-based components. (Manufacturing still possible anywhere for both.)

So again, this is only what we propose. The list doesn’t include bugfixes, as those are obviously things that need to be done and don’t need player feedback. It’s also not meant to be a complete and final solution to all the problems mentioned - there is always room for improvement.

Now it’s your turn to tell us if we missed something important, changes where you would take a different approach, or even if you simply agree with all this. In order to keep the relevant discussion in one place, please post your opinions and ideas in this forum topic. If we reach a general consensus, the changes in the immediate section could be deployed already in the next patch, expected early next week.

Gamma Frontier

Finally the day has come, when we unleash what we essentially consider as almost a rewrite of the game (considering there's barely anything left untouched in it), and open the Gamma Frontier. This has been a frankly unreasonable amount of work, but having seen some of the things already built on the test servers, I feel it was already well worth it.

A big big BIG thank you and massive respect goes to anyone who gave the test server a shot and systematically uncovered our occasional mishaps through numbers and lines of code; we hope the final product lives up to your expectations. (And if you didn't join the test server, now you know who to blame.)

The massive list of changes and upgrades are available here, the help pages are available here, and a fairly accurate representation of the dev-team can be found here.

And now, it's your turn: Last one on Gamma is a rotten Arkhe!

The time has finally come to announce the opening of the floodgates - PBS will roll out to our temporary test server and you're all welcome to rip it to shreds during the following few weeks.

The server will open on Friday, 12:00 CEST, and you can already start preloading the test-client here. An important technical note I'd like to make: There's been a number of considerable changes in architecture, so it's important that you make this a separate installation! It is not recommended to install this over an existing Perpetuum installation or to try and skip ahead in preloading by using an existing datafile - this test client will only work with the test server! Other than that, it's the same old download-run-watch-progress-bar-login routine we all know so dreadfully well.

Now, this isn't the only thing to keep in mind. The test server, being somewhat different from the usual environment, needs a few things to be explained or taken note of:

  • If you have a valid, paid account when the test server opens up, your account will be valid for the test-server as well. On the other hand, we will not perform continuous syncing; if you're late for the party, you won't get in. (That doesn't mean we won't do syncing later, but you have to have your best puppy-eyes in store.)
  • The test server is subject to the same EULA/COC as the live one - be civil, even if something's broken (and oh yes, there will be blood).
  • PVP on the test server should be strictly consensual; we won't limit your options via technical restrictions, but assuming that you're on the server to test, breaking someone else's gameplay won't help any of us, and we might revoke your access if you keep continually disturbing other players.
  • For obvious reasons, some things will run in "cheat mode": The market will seed everything for low prices, you will get large amounts of EP and NIC, time-dependent processes will be sped up to minutes instead of hours, and robots will get automatically reimbursed after they've been shot. Of course this makes economic balancing difficult, but at the same time we don't want to wait two months for the first base to be built either.
  • The test server will cease operation as soon as we consider testing complete and deploy the patch to the final live server. No data will be migrated back.

There will be a separate forum for the testing server topics here, so please open topics or post opinions there instead of other forums so we don't have to fish all the ideas and death threats together from other forums.

That's all I suppose, happy preloading, testing, and Lord Have Mercy.

Welcome to the third and final instalment of our blog series showcasing the upcoming Player-Built Settlements (PBS) system. This part will tell you about the new island layout, the various building types and their purpose, and the concept of control and assimilation. If you haven’t read the first two parts, it’s highly recommended to do so, in order to better understand the things I’m about to explain here. The first part about terraforming is here, and the second one about building and planning is here.

24 new islands to explore and live on

There’s been a lot of speculation going on on the forums about how many new islands there will (or should) be. Some said an absolute minimum of 12, some argued we shouldn’t stop under a few hundred :)

The new teleport network layout

While we’d love to have the latter number in the future, for now we have settled for 24 new terraformable gamma islands. We feel that this should provide ample space for our current and anticipated playerbase without creating a vacuum. Of course we’ll be ready to add even more islands in the near future if the demand arises.

We’re not only adding new islands, we’re also revamping the entire connection network of the current alpha and beta ones. Some of you have voiced your concerns, and we also feel that the current teleport network is so dense that it makes the world feel rather small. Being able to jump quickly from one end to the other also renders any kind of long-range transport routes near obsolete. The same is true for living on beta islands, with the main trading hubs (currently the alpha terminals) being just a few minutes away.

The basic concept and the reasons for the the new layout:

  • Less complex teleport network: can’t reach “anything from anywhere”, gives individual islands more importance and makes them more unique.
  • Breaking up the Alpha 1 triangle: factions get more meaning, and the trading of faction-specific items should be more induced (this will be complemented by further industrial changes, details in the next blog).
  • Inserting Alpha 2 between Alpha 1 and Beta islands: this is intended to give Alpha 2’s a middleground role between the starting haven Alpha and the total hell that are the Betas. Alpha2’s have higher level NPCs, and those venturing there should already be aware of the dangers that Betas hold.
  • Strategic variance in Gamma island connections: we have both relatively easily reachable islands with many entry points, and hard to reach “hinterland” islands with more defendable entries. We’re very curious which ones will be more craved for, and how they will be used.
  • No island with only one entry point by design.

We also intend to create an unlock mechanism for opening the new islands, so they won’t be available from the get-go, and we’d also like to provide certain exploration rewards for the first pioneers. We’re still looking at our options on how exactly this will work, so I’ll get back to you with the details as soon as it’s settled.

The structure network planner

The structure network management and planning interface

I have already shown you a crude concept of the network planner in the previous post, and before I start with the explaining of various building types, I’d like to show you our progress on it. As you can see, it all happens on a new tab in the world map window, and it’s available when you’re inside a terminal or out on the terrain, too. One grid cell in the planner is equivalent to one tile on the terrain, so buildings are shown accurately as they occupy an area.

Types of buildings are mainly identified by their icons and their size, but there is also the optional name-tag, and you can even rename any of them. You can also select an individual building to bring up an information panel with all its parameters and settings. We have a number of connection types between buildings (energy, control, booster, etc.), each of them having a specific shape and color for easy overview.

Building plans are displayed just like completed buildings, but in purple color. There are various options to help you in planning your network, the proper connection distances and validating the terrain where you intend to deploy a building. As said, it’s a fairly complex system and I could go on forever but I’d rather continue with the rest of the features. You’ll be able to read all about the details in the game guide and test it yourself :)

Building types

As you already know, the basic concept of PBS is a network of interconnected buildings. There are a number of building types, each of them having a special role within a structure network. In this section I will tell you a few details about each of them, and I hope this will help you get the big picture on the whole system. There is one important fact to remember while looking at the list: structure networks are limited by the number of connection slots of each building in the network, and by the balance of generated and consumed energy. Note that names can still change and some of the more specialized buildings may not make it into the first PBS patch.

Main terminal

The central hub of your network, everything starts and ends with it. You can dock into it, equip your robots and store items, just like in any other NPC terminal. It doesn’t need any upkeep or energy to work - once built, it will stay there until someone destroys or deconstructs it. (Oh yes, it will be possible to deconstruct your buildings.) The main terminal comes in three different sizes, varying in number of connection slots, amount of HP, and physical size.

Another important role of the main terminal is that it provides ownership, or in other words, broadcasts control to all its connected buildings, which in turn further broadcast it to their connections and so on. If a building loses the chained control link with your network, it stops providing whatever its role is and you won’t be able to change its parameters until you regain control of it. More importantly, it’ll become open prey for an enemy network to “assimilate” it.

Control tower

Like the name suggests, control towers broadcast control, and they can do this through relatively large distances. They can be used to create watchposts or mining outposts far from the core of your network and your main terminal. Control towers themselves do not need energy to operate, however they don’t transfer it either, so you need to build a reactor at your outposts too, in order to operate the surrounding buildings.

Control towers also function as defensive bastions, which I will explain further in the control and defense section.



Reactors provide the necessary energy for your buildings to operate. They work very similar to a robot’s accumulator, but since they’re much bigger, they are also much slower regarding recharge (think days here). Like robot accumulators, they also have their peak recharge potential at 50%. However, a deployed reactor starts with 0 energy, thus the recharge starts out very slow, and if you connect many consumers to it at this point, it will never “kick in”.

There is also a quicker but more costly way of generating energy in your reactor: by fueling it with certain commodities, like vitricyl or prilumium. You can use this method if your reactor or reactors can’t provide the necessary amount of energy for your network, or if you want to kickstart a newly built reactor. Reactors can also be fed from other reactors, so if you already have a working energy network (with the necessary surplus energy), starting a new reactor should be easier too.

Energy transfer nodes

These little nodes are used to transfer energy from the reactors to all of the consumer buildings. They have a certain cycle time for this, so energy propagation through the network takes some time. There is also a little bit of energy loss when it goes through them, so taking energy via a long chain of nodes will “leak” a small but notable amount on its own.

Energy transfer nodes come in two sizes: the large one can transfer large amounts of energy per cycle, and they have bigger connection ranges (can be linked together from further away), but have only a few connection slots. These are intended for your main energy lines, the “backbone” so to say. Then there are the small transfer nodes, which are pretty much the opposite: small throughput, small connection ranges, but more connection slots. These will be your endpoint distributors.

Standard facilities

Basic main terminals don’t include any industrial facilities, you have to get the DLC for them. What this means is that you need to build the factory, the prototyping facility, the refinery and all the other individual facilities, and connect them to your terminal; only then will they appear in its facility menu. The trick here, of course, is that the main terminal has a limited number of inward connections.

Facility upgrades

Facilities have low efficiency on their own, but luckily we have facility upgrades to boost just that. Naturally, the increased energy consumption will not make it as easy as it sounds.

Special facilities

We’ll introduce two brand new facilities, which will only be available to be built on gamma islands. One is the Calibration complex, which will let you combine calibration templates of an item to get a higher efficiency CT. The other is the Decoder forge, and as you can probably guess, it will combine lower level decoders to provide you with a higher level one.

Defensive turrets

Your trusty watchdogs when you’re not home. They hit hard, and they hit far. In their current implementation they work with pure energy, but later on we might convert them to ammo-consuming beasts too, so you can chose your damage type.

There are three basic types: EM turrets have the highest dps, missile turrets have very long range and have the highest burst damage, and laser turrets are the most accurate at the cost of damage.

Mining tower

Mining tower

The name may be deceiving, as it’s not something that does the work while you’re not there. Instead, it works as an aura to allow you to exploit a new type of mineral, available only on gamma islands. This new mineral will be used to manufacture higher tier buildings.


Provides a masking aura for the robots in its range, making them harder to detect for other robots. Has no effect on buildings.

Repair nodes

These can be connected to any building and they will automatically start repairing any damage done to them, provided they have enough energy to do so.

Booster nodes

Currently, booster nodes can have either of the following functions: reduce the cycle time of turrets, increase the range of turrets, or increase the armor resistance of any building. Once you have a working booster node, you can simply select which one of those functions they should provide, and you can change this any time later on too.

As said, not all of these may make it in the first round, and we still have more ideas, for example solar panels which generate energy depending on the time of day.

Control, defense and capture

As I mentioned above at the main terminal details, control linking is a very important aspect of holding your network together. If you build parts of your network in a way that they depend on a single junction point, it will easily become a weak spot that you’ll have a hard time defending, even if you surround it with turrets of doom. When you lose such a junction point, you risk losing control of entire parts of your network, together with any connected defensive buildings, so redundancy will be pivotal in planning a solid network.

It’s not just a matter of losing control, but you may even find that the neighboring network snatched away your buildings. Such assimilation operations will be entirely possible: if there are any “orphaned” buildings in the connection range of your own network, which noone has control over, you can simply connect them to one of your buildings and they will start working for you.

Of course, losing parts of your network is one thing, but losing your main terminal with all your assets in it can be disastrous. Thinking about various defense mechanisms that allow you to get some sleep while not worrying to lose your main terminal made me write this post on the forums. While the idea of making the main terminal invulnerable as long as any other building is connected to it sounded good at first, it also made us realize that it makes a capture mechanism near impossible. If you have to destroy everything first in order to break control, there won’t be anything left to capture. This is especially true for the expensive high-efficiency facilities, which are connected directly to the main terminal, with no way to break control other than destroying the terminal itself.

We also tried to avoid any timer mechanisms, but in the end there is no way we can control the number of players attacking a base, and there needs to be some kind of solid attack window that you can count on as a defender.

So the final concept of the main terminal defense mechanism looks like this: as I mentioned above, control towers function as bastions, which means if at least one control tower is connected to it, the main terminal is invulnerable.

Once there are no control towers connected to the main terminal, you can start shooting it. When its armor reaches 50%, its emergency shielding activates, and once again it becomes invulnerable. This state lasts for 3 days, plus an optional 0-24 hours that the owner can set before it gets into emergency state. This makes sure that the defenders can set their own time of day when the terminal comes out of its emergency state, and becomes vulnerable. Once an emergency phase ends, it cannot be activated for 4 hours - that’s the window when the attackers can finish it off. The time when the emergency period ends can be scanned the same way you can scan for outpost intrusion times.

The combination of these two mechanisms should make sure that a lone terminal can’t be lost overnight, but it also makes sure that complex networks with many control towers and extensive defense systems will be much harder to take down, and then some more.

It's the little things

Besides giving you the possibility of building your own empire, we're also trying to add in some little extras that will make you stand out, and let you feel home. One of these things is that every corporation will be able to set a signature color, and this will be used for all the owned buildings' tint stripes, as well as the terminal inside background color.

Furthermore, what is an empire good for if you can't show it off? From the beginnings already, we really wanted to show territories in some way. Now with PBS, the occupied area of buildings finally provides a way to actually make your territory visible on the world map. We're aware that this is not something everyone would like, since it obviously gives away some strategic information, even though no individual buildings will be visible, just a colored "blob" (which also uses the color mentioned above). So this feature will be optional, CEOs can decide whether they want to show off or not.

We need your help

By now you should probably have a rough idea of the sheer complexity of this system. Since we are still merely a group of 10 people, it would be pretty much impossible for us to test it on our own. The outcome would most likely be an unbalanced patch, crawling of nasty bugs.

We have already set up a separate test server and as soon as we are finished with all the features, you’ll be able to come and fiddle with terraforming, planning and building before we deploy it to the live server. How and when exactly this will happen will be announced soon, stay tuned.

Well, I think that’s about it regarding the basics of PBS. Of course I’ll try to answer any questions, and I’m sure you have a few of those.

In the next blog I will tell you the tale of how we turned the industry upside down, to the extent that we probably should call it Industry 2.0.

I love cliffhangers.

With the upcoming patch dealing with terraforming and player built settlements we also need to upgrade some of our current tools to better suit the challenges these new systems pose. The most basic such system involving the terrain is the one visualizing where players can go - the slope display.

As part of the work on the PBS patch we have upgraded the slope display so you'll not only be able to see where your robot can go, but also where robots of other classes can venture. More importantly the new slope display will also show areas which need to be flattened before a building can be raised at a certain area.

As these new tools won't be needed all the time we're making them optional. You'll be able to cycle between the different display modes using the slope toggle button.

Also, most of the server side code work on the individual PBS nodes has now finished and we're in the process of building the terraform blueprint system while the artists work on the gfx for the nodes. And before you ask, the next part of the PBS series blog should be out next week ;)