A year ago today I discovered a game called “Vega Conflict”.
It’s a space combat game, but with elements of base-building, farming, diplomacy and tower defence. So impressed was I about the game that I wrote a book about it.
I have been thinking of all of the changes that have occurred in the game, both good and bad, over the course of that year – and thought I would put my thoughts out here for my loyal (and not-so-loyal) followers to see.
The Rise, Fall and Retirement of the Nexus Destroyer: This Tier-2.5 hull was the lowest-level destroyer with a shield slot. It was introduced as a special hull for Android players. Kixeye (the publishers) didn’t seem to know what to do with this one; during the time that I have been in the game, they first made it impossible to build unless you had unlocked the tech in the Android version of the game, then they withdrew the ability to research the hull, them they briefly provided Black Market Broadsword-to-Nexus upgrades, then made it impossible to build them even if you *had* unlocked the ship. They subsequently reversed their earlier decision, presumably because of complaints, so it is now possible to build one if you unlocked the tech way back when it was available… though most players who have it have unlocked better destroyers, such as (in order of awesomeness) the Trident, the Scythe, the Machete and the Lance. This leaves the Nexus destroyer as an orphaned hull, along with the Rapture (see below).
The Commerce Module: one of the first major changes that I encountered in the game was the Commerce Module; an add-on module for your base that costs 300 gold to build, and produces three coins a day for the base model, but can be upgraded all the way to Level X, which produces an impressive 25 coins a day – more than one per hour.
Daily Missions and Blood Amber: When I started the game, Daily Missions earned resources, but that changed with the advent of “Blood Amber” (BA), a mysterious and highly-prized contraband item which effectively became another currency in the game, though a very limited one.
The birth of the Black Market: With the rescue of Larus from the clutches of the Vega Corporation came the rise of the Black Market (BM), which makes an occasional appearance around one planet in each sector about once every week to ten days. It stays there for one or two days, and offers goodies in exchange for your hard-earned BA.These goodies include instant upgrades to useful and not-so-useful tech, along with ship upgrade credits.that can be used to upgrade a single ship to a “Mark II” version. These were highly sought-after as the MkII ships were substantial improvements overt the base model.
Carriers: The introduction of the Flagship Class was huge, and separated the players into two groups: those with Carriers and those without. In my opinion, this has been the biggest game-changer — literally — in the past year. Though I do wish that Carrier fleets were not able to pick on non-carrier fleets.
Cutters: The game originally consisted of three classes of ships: Frigates (fast, lightly-armed, small engagement envelope), Cruisers (medium speed, medium-heavy, large small engagement envelope) and Battleships (slow, heavily-armed). The three classes represented a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors, where each class had it’s own strengths and weakness. The introduction of Carriers did not upset this — Carriers were weak if not escorted and protected — but this balance was, in my opinion, broken by the introduction of Cutters — Very fast, heavily-armed and armored, with no readily-discernible weaknesses (besides its lousy turn rate). This is not to say that Cutters were invincible – a poorly-flown Cutter fleet could still be beaten, but a single cutter could outrun anything and run out the clock.
The Iron Star Company: To this point, the game had consisted of two-and-a-half factions: The Miner Rebellion (the players), Vega Mining Corporation and Vega Security (VSec). Enter stage right the Iron Star Company (ISC), a mysterious faction that bought us new event tech including the Python Cutter, the Vigilante Battleship, The Machete Destroyer and the Hurricane Frigate over the following months.
The Crafting System: This was a complicated (overly so, in my opinion) system of upgrading ships all the way to Mk V. To avoid confusion, the original MkII upgrades were renamed “Enhanced” or “Mk E”. Previously, you did daily missions to get Blood Amber, exchanged BA for upgrade credits in the BM, then upgrade your ships. Now you have to:
- Build a workshop (one-time)
- Research Hull Upgrades in the Ship Lab (once per Ship/Mark)
- Collect patterns (1 per ship), Cores (1-4 per ship), parts and armaments from special “Crafting fleets”
- Craft the upgrade credit in the workshop
- Apply the credit to the appropriate ship
This was a whole lot more complicated than the original Black Market Mk II Upgrades. To make matters worse, the Crafting fleets turned out to be a complete waste of time. The drops from these fleets is so poor that the sheer amount of grinding required is prohibitive, necessitating the introduction of Supply Run Fleets below.
Fleet Bay Wings: Just as the addition of Squadrons to a carrier gave it a massive offensive capability, someone came up with the bright idea of adding “Wings” of fighters, bombers or interceptors to the Fleet Bay. This had the effect of turning a big fat liability of a target into a formidable defense installation capable of reducing enemy ships to shreds in short order..
Resistance Technology. Most mark-upgraded ships have a resistance slot; that accepts a “Resistor” that makes the ship’s armor tougher against certain types of enemy fire. Resistors are only available from the Black Market in nine different types; three different flavors (projectile, explosive and energy) and three different strengths (10%, 20% and 30% damage reduction).
The Deprecation of the Rapture Cruiser. The Mark-upgrade system allowed upgrades to Miner, Vega and VSec fleets, but not ISC ships (yet!) or certain “orphaned” hulls like the Nexus Destroyer (see above) and the Rapture Cruiser. the latter was an event hull that was released before I started playing and was never made available during the time that I was in the game. It was one of the most sought-after ships in the game, as it was both fast and powerful — “too powerful”, accordnig to Kixeye. The introduction of Cutters, along with mark-upgrades for the Apocrypha Cruiser, have left the once-awesome Rapture Cruiser so far behind that it is often referred to as the “Crapture”.
The senescence of the Black Market: The BM is still around, but besides resistance tech, it has become almost totally useless. The fact that many BM items are now available for coins shows that Kixeye are really after your money after all (surprise, surprise).
Sector activities and Supply Run Fleets: Killing Crafting fleets for mark-upgrade materiel was initially successful, but Kixeye soon dialed back the drop rate to the point where folks were farming hundreds of fleets to get a single core. So Kixeye created one-hour mini-events in which “Supply Run Fleets” could be killed for guaranteed drops of boxes relevant to a specific ship. This worked so well to the point where I don’t know why they bother with crafting fleets anymore.
The increasing irrelevance of a story-line: Nobody cares about it anymore.