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Weekly Star Atlas Newsletter #129

Star Atlas - Crew

Welcome to our 129th newsletter on Star Atlas! This weekly newsletter, published by Aephia Industries, focuses entirely on the development of this ambitious game. Here, we try to aggregate all the newsworthy tidbits revealed [mainly by the team] throughout the past week.


This week, we got more than we hoped for! We not only got detailed information on the Crew & Crew Packs combined with a first pre-sale, but we also got to see some awesome progress on the ONI CSS! On top of that, Michael also announced and showed off the much-anticipated move of SAGE 3D into UE5.

But that is not all. Back in the here and now, we also have a ton of great Starbased changes!

There is much to explore, so let’s dive in!

If you missed Michael’s Solana Crossroads presentation, check out the recording—it is worth it!

Screenshot 2024 05 13 at 20.29.36
Star Atlas – ONI CSS – Sogmian District [Work in Progress]

Project Rosegarden – ONI CSS

It’s been a while since we’ve last heard the team speak about Project Rosegarden, but Michael prominently mentioned it during his presentation at Solana Crossroads. Originally, way back in late 2021 and early 2022, this project enveloped a handful of non-Showroom UE5 development initiatives the team was planning to work on in the short term. Most of these developments were stand-alone projects that were to be outsourced to the various co-creation studios the team was working with. Among them, and one of the few confirmed efforts part of project Rosegarden, was the ONI Central Space Station.

During his presentation, Michael showed off the awesome work done by the two former Star Citizen-level designers the team hired. During the February Town Hall, he shared that their first job was to work on the ONI CSS, with the other Central Space Stations following afterward.

Suffice it to say the space station’s current state (mostly the Sogmian District) blew the community away. It is a major upgrade to the current super early stage of the ONI CSS, which can be found in the Experimental Mode of Star Atlas (UE5). Plenty of work is still needed, the other districts require the same treatment, and textures are all missing, but this provides a great glimpse into where Star Atlas is going!

Star Atlas - Fleet Command
Star Atlas – Fleet Command [Work in Progress]

UE5 SAGE – Fleet Command

Another major reveal during Michael’s presentation was that SAGE 3D is being deprecated in the browser and will instead live on in Unreal Engine 5. Michael had previously teased a big reveal related to the future of SAGE 3D, and well-known community member Leeks had already unearthed the presence of an early-stage SAGE within the UE5 Star Atlas game. So, though it was perhaps well anticipated, the footage shown on stage by Michael did a great job of selling it!

Michael shared that recreating SAGE 3D in UE5 allows the team to benefit from all the Nanite assets it created over the past years. For instance, with the flick of a switch, players can zoom all the way into a ship and even enter its interior in first person.

Perhaps an even cooler addition is that you can control individual fleets directly, moving them around in real-time, in the first person!

SAGE 3D Deprecation

It’s no secret that the team has struggled for quite a while to release the WebGL (PlayCanvas) version of SAGE. Given the scale of the features the team required, PlayCanvas proved pretty difficult to develop with. The team also discovered some serious PlayCanvas-related development issues late in the process, which further drained resources and morale.

This caused the team to abandon the SAGE 3D browser game as soon as they released it and deprecate that version soon after. At this point, Starbased is only playable in the 2D Labs version.

Command Deck vs SAGE

The UE5 version of SAGE 3D has been named Command Deck, and it will initially become available through the Star Atlas game client. In the future, the team plans to spin this out of UE5 into a much more optimized, mobile-friendly game called Star Atlas: Golden Era (SAGE). This future SAGE will be made available on many more platforms, come with gamepad support, and will try to push hardware requirements as low as possible. Simply put, it should alleviate any concerns about a browser version being able to reach more gamers.

But the team is not there yet! Command Deck is expected to go into Beta in Q3 of 2024. The new SAGE will come a lot later, and while we are waiting for this, the 2D Labs (browser) will remain available! In fact, the team has no plans to deprecate the browser experience anytime soon.

Star Atlas - Crew Packs are coming!
Star Atlas – Crew Packs are coming!

Crew

As expected, Michael announced the imminent launch of Crew Cards (aka Crew, or Crew Members) during the Solana Crossroads conference in Istanbul. He showed off a fun video and launched a limited-availability pre-sale of 5000 Platinum Crew Packs.

The team also published an article that shared many more details about what to expect. We’ll cover some of the important bits below, but we recommend reading this article in its entirety as well.

Packs

We know the team discussed selling multiple pack types to allow players to pay more to get a better shot at rarer crew members. With the announcement, it became clear that they indeed followed this path. There will be three different pack types at three different price points, each with 5 Crew Cards. The difference is the rarity of those Crew Cards, and the below infographic shows the exact percentages.

Star Atlas Crew Packs - Rarity percentages & Price
Star Atlas Crew Packs – Rarity & Price

The Silver Packs will contain all rarities, with a heavy emphasis on Common Crew Cards. Gold Packs will only contain Uncommon Crew Cards and up, while Platinum Packs will only provide Rare Crew Cards and up. These heavily favor Uncommon and Rare Crew Cards, respectively.

There will only be 50 anomalous Crew Cards available in total among the ~7.5 million Crew Cards the team plans to sell, and the ~2.5 million Crew Cards dropped to ship owners.

No Referral Rewards

Though the team has not yet commented on the why, they did share that referral rewards have been deactivated for Crew Packs. This became apparent with the pre-sale packs, but it has meanwhile been confirmed that the same will hold for the official sale.

Pre-sale – Sold out

The pre-sale went live shortly after Michael finished his presentation. The sale was limited to 5000 special edition Platinum Packs that, instead of 5, would contain 10 crew members. Instead of costing $100, the team sold these for 90 USDC instead. The aforementioned article mentions this would be a time-limited sale, though did not make mention of the actual window of time during which these packs would be available. The team later clarified it would run until the official release.

Clearly, this was irrelevant, as the team sold out within 24 hours, unfortunately causing some to have missed it in its entirety.

The 5000 packs now sold contain a total of 50k Crew Cards. The team plans to offer an additional 140k (5 Crew Card) Platinum Packs during the official sale!

Ship Crew

We’ve known for a long time that the crew members required to operate the various ship assets would be dropped to us in the future. By all accounts, this will still happen as part of the Ship migration, where you’ll need to supply your current ship asset in exchange for its hull, components, and crew members.

With the pre-sale, the team also announced how the rarity of those crew members will be determined. In essence, as many requested, the ship’s rarity designation will determine the type of Crew Packs that their owners will receive. These packs will not contain 5 crew members. Instead, they will contain one crew member each, and owners will receive a number of 1-Crew Packs equal to the crew required to operate the ship (as listed in the details on the Galactic Marketplace)

This means the rarity is not fixed to the ship’s rarity. Instead, the likelihood of getting a rarer Crew Card simply increases with ship rarity. The team plans to translate ship rarity to Crew pack rarity as follows:

  • Common & uncommon ships: Silver Crew Pack
  • Rare & epic ships: Gold Crew Pack
  • Legendary & anomalous ships: Platinum Crew Pack

Rarity

The team’s goal with the Crew collection was to ensure there would be no Pay-2-Win elements. That is why higher rarity crew does not come with any stat/ability bonuses. Instead, higher rarity crew will come with more minor and major aptitudes. Aptitudes come in 7 variants, and having a minor aptitude means that the Crew member will learn new things in the related area 25% faster. In gameplay terms, this translated to them earning 25% more XP. A major aptitude will give a 50% bonus, and an anomalous aptitude will give a 100% bonus. The below infographic shows the distribution of aptitudes over the various rarities:

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Star Atlas Crew Packs – Rarity Aptitude Bonuses

The aptitudes are all connected to stations on ships. For the purpose of SAGE Starbased, aptitudes play no role in crafting whatsoever. It would obviously be best to ensure the Crew members you assign to the various stations on your ships have a major aptitude related to that station.

As Common Crew Cards come with a major aptitude already, you really only need Common members to get the most out of your crew. Again, there are no other stats that get boosted due to rarity. The only difference, utility-wise, is the number of aptitudes they have. There is no difference between a Legendary or Common Crew member piloting your ship if both have a Major Flight Aptitude. It is not relevant that the Legendary Crew member has additional aptitudes for this use case.

The idea here is that players likely want to play with a crew member with multiple aptitudes, as they will likely perform many different activities (unlike the NPC you put on your ships).

The primary reason for wanting higher rarity Crew Cards is because they come with more exclusive cosmetics. Though the team expects people to play with multiple characters, which may introduce some demand for rarer crew members, the real reason to acquire higher rarity Crew Cards is to get more of these cosmetics, as those not fixed to the body will be exchangeable.

Release Date

The team plans to officially release the Crew sometime during the next six weeks. When this happens, you will be able to buy the packs, get the Crew members for your fleet, and use Crew in Starbased. Crew transportation in Starbased will also be supported out of the gate.

You will also be able to update your Star Atlas Profile Picture by selecting one of your Crew Cards.

In the UE5 Star Atlas, Crew support will come with R2.2.

Starbased Updates

This past week, the team rolled out some quality-of-life changes and announced some major changes to come over the next few weeks. Both Chris (Head of Game Economy) and Chip (Director of Game Systems Design) shared their thoughts on the changes during the Atlas Brew this past Wednesday, which makes the recording a must-watch! Alternatively, you can just read on as we compiled all the data below!

These changes went live this past week:

  • Increase the total daily ATLAS emissions to 6 million ATLAS (from 4.5 million ATLAS)
  • Increase the LP reward for supplying SDUs to 1,100 from 450
  • Starbase upgrades will now persist into the future. (Note: While they will persist now, we can and will still change the map in terms of size and number of starbases as we see appropriate
  • Crafting fee update

These were just simple flips of a switch to update the game. The following changes will take a little longer, but should be going live relatively soon:

  • ATLAS emissions will now scale with Starbase upgrades within a faction. Each Starbase upgrade will increase faction daily ATLAS emissions. Full release details will be public when this change goes live.
  • Changes to upkeep. When the Upkeep levels of food are high, crafting speeds are faster, and upkeep burn rates are faster. The other way around, when the Upkeep levels of food are low, crafting speeds are slower, and upkeep burn rates are also slower.
  • Adding a game resource export tax. There will now be a fee to export goods from the game that will make hopping factions more difficult. More details closer to release. Note: This change is only intended to hit those constantly hopping factions, not the everyday player (This can come in the form of 2 options: 1. Wait for local markets to implement this change or 2. Have the option of paying a tax or going through a waiting period of (x) hours.)

These updates require changes to the underlying gameplay and will, therefore, take longer. That said, the team has been working on them for the past three weeks already.

Let’s go over all of them one by one!

ATLAS Emission Increase

The team increased the daily ATLAS emissions from 4.5 million to 6 million, meaning each of the three factions increased their allocation from 1.5 million to 2 million.

Chris clarified that the mean daily emission during the six months preceding the launch of Starbased was about 6 million ATLAS. That means that this change brought earnings back up to the level we were used to previously. These new emissions still keep us below the originally planned emission curve, which gives the team some leeway to do more cool things (see below).

All players have to deal with the fixed cost of playing this on-chain game, and obviously, smaller players are (relatively) impacted more by this. The team can’t influence this directly, so instead, they implemented this blanket change. It affects everybody, but most importantly, it will lift some people who are currently underwater back above the water level again.

Increase SDU Upgrade Reward

The team increased the reward for supplying an SDU to a Starbase from 450 LP per SDU to 1100 LP / SDU.

Chris shared that the original 450 LP / SDU rate was really a conservative estimate. The team did not know how the SDU market would settle exactly after the release of the new scanning mechanic. Now, having analyzed the real-world (on-chain) data, and having done some theory crafting using the game’s design, the team feels comfortable to more than double the reward to 1100 LP / SDU.

This change should increase SDU contributions to Starbases and make the scanning game loop more interesting for smaller players.

Persistent Starbase Upgrades

The Community has been eagerly anticipating the answer to the question: Will the game be reset when combat is released? Though that question remains, the primary reason for why it was asked has now at least gotten an answer: Starbase upgrades will persist across games, even when they are (otherwise) reset. The team needed to confirm this was a possibility from a technical perspective, but the engineers gave them the green light!

Note that the map will (likely) still change in a number of ways, but the Starbases that are upgraded today will remain upgraded.

Some important notes regarding Starbases and their future in SAGE:

  • When Fleet-2-Starbase combat is introduced, upgraded Starbases can be destroyed, which will reset their progress
  • Additional Star Systems, including Starbases, will be introduced in the future to accommodate more players
  • The mineable resources available at the various asteroids will be randomized in the future! This means those handy resources next to your Tier 3 Starbase will change at some point.

The team expects the difficulty of upgrading starbases to be rebalanced when combat comes out. Right now, it still needs to be challenging without combat, which is why it is so high.

ATLAS Emission Bonus

Soon, the team will introduce an ATLAS emissions bonus for each faction on top of their (new) 2 million ATLAS allocation. These bonuses are directly tied to the Tier of the 16 non-CSS Starbases present in each faction.

There will be a bonus if a certain number of Starbases has been upgraded to a specific Tier. The way the team envisions this at the moment is that this progress will increase non-linearly, meaning one Tier 3 Starbase delivers a greater bonus than two Tier 2 Starbases (and similar for higher tiers). Chris also mentioned that a single Tier 5 Starbase is more valuable than four Tier 2 Starbases.

This will become even more powerful when combat comes online, as adding (conquering) a Starbase to your faction will increase the ATLAS bonus for your faction. Note that there will be other, unrelated repercussions/bonuses on top of this as well.

In the hypothetical situation where all 16 Starbases have been upgraded to Tier 5, the total bonus will be somewhere between 500k and 750k ATLAS. This means a single Tier 5 Starbase would produce somewhere between a 31.25k and 46.88k ATLAS bonus.

Updated Food Upkeep & Crafting Mechanics

The team is planning three significant changes to the Food Upkeep & Crafting mechanics:

  • Crafting at a Starbase will never stall (stop) completely. Instead, it will just slow down to a trickle when a Starbase has run out of Food.
  • A Starbase’s crafting speed can be influenced by controlling the amount of food supplied to the Starbase. The higher the Food reserve (supplied Food), the faster all Crafting processes operate at that Starbase.
  • Food burn at a Starbase will be directly related to the crafting speed. If there is a lot of Food in the reserve and crafting goes quick, more Food is consumed then where there is not that much Food and crafting goes slow.

The benefits of this are obvious. It will reduce the dependency of smaller players on others to supply their Starbase with Food. With these changes, even without food, they can still craft. More importantly, if they supply a little, it may be enough for them to more speedily craft the items they want to craft, which is an impossibility at this moment.

As part of this change, the max crafting rate will likely exceed the one currently in place. Of course, achieving this rate will require the Food reserves to be (near) full.

Note that this change only affects Food upkeep. The team wants to see how this works before deciding how to change Toolkit upkeep.

Discourage Moving Components Between Factions

At the moment, some players move their components between factions to optimize their earnings. They do this by moving assets to a different account that is part of a Faction where fewer Loyalty Points (LP) are earned, or fewer LP were sold that day for ATLAS (aka “sniping”). This is a problem for player sentiment, and the team is looking into ways to limit this type of behavior.

The goal is to implement this in a way that allows “normal” gameplay to continue unencumbered. The team has not yet figured out how to do this exactly, but they are thinking:

  • Freeze assets for a moment of time when moving them out of the game into the player’s wallet
  • Later, when Local Markets have been introduced, introduce an export tax

Local markets may alleviate the issue of players just wanting to sell their assets. When they are able to do this in-game, they won’t be affected as much by an export tax. But players who seek to move assets to an account in a different Faction will be.

You’ve reached the end of this week’s issue. Thanks for reading!

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Another, mostly uneventful, week has passed. But the few things that did happen were certainly enticing to Starbased players! The team re-introduced ship redemptions in SAGE and, on top, introduced ATLAS Emission bonuses based on Starbased Tier upgrades. And two more great changes are scheduled to go live this week!

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After the torrent of news last week, finding newsworthy bits for this week’s issue of our newsletter proved difficult. Thankfully, the team allowed us to share bits and pieces of information from the Foundation Room with you all! This enables us to share some more details regarding the Crew & Ship Component drop and a statement by Michael regarding gameplay.

Read More »
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Weekly Star Atlas Newsletter #128

Last week was pretty quiet. The biggest news was that the team made a change to the minable resources in Starbased. Other than that, we have a few small Roadmap updates and Busan pulse Sneak peeks. Fortunately, it looks like we’ll have more to share next week! Solana Crossroads is taking place in Istanbul, Turkey, at the tail end of this week, and it should come with a few new announcements from Michael! Last but not least, a small community meetup will be organized on May 7th in Istanbul as well!

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