Design : Factions, diplomacy and pirates

First of all, obligatory screenshot from the version I am working on 🙂

Snap606While I am waiting for the latest alpha (to be released between Sunday and Monday) to crash on me, I think it’s time for an update on how factions will work and interact in the game given it’s what I am going to focus on next. As usual with design documents not much is set in stones until the code is actually written, so comments and ideas are welcome.


UG should feature 6 main factions, not counting the player. Four of them will actively try to conquer the galaxy, one is passive and the last one (pirates) will work in a different way. Here’s a quick summary of each one of them:

steelwing-emblem Human Federation

This faction expands into new territory quickly, it has also good trading and diplomatic powers but it’s not extremely aggressive. While humans have their own dedicated ship types, they can also build any ship that’s not the property of another main faction, making them much more versatile than all the others. They also outlaw slavery, drugs, and personal weapons.

animal-skullSirak Empire

While Siraks do not necessarily expand as fast as humans, they tend to be way more aggressive but they lack diplomatic and trading skills. They only use their own ships which are fast and pack quite a punch, however they lack good shielding, making them less likely to survive sustained fire. The Sirak Empire outlaws drugs.

trefoil-shurikenDrath Alliance

Drath are a fairly reclusive race. They do not necessarily hate other races, but they’d rather stay away whenever possible. As such, they expand slowly and they aren’t especially aggressive. However, when they decide (or have to) go into a war, not much can stop them. Their ships, while a little slow, are very strong with good offensive and defensive capabilities. Slavery is forbidden in Drath territory.

artificial-hiveAI Core

This is a mechanical race. Not much is known about it or who may be their maker. It is impossible to communicate with them. They are extremely aggressive and expand quickly. They do not trade and are constantly at war with everybody else. Core ships are relatively weak compared to other ships of the same class. While they use quite strong beam weapons, their shield systems are inefficient against modern weaponry. But due to their war focused economy, what they lack in strength, they compensate by their numbers.

black-flagIndependent Sector Alliance

The ISA is an uneasy alliance of independent planets and sectors who don’t want to be affiliated with one of the previously described superpowers. While, diplomatic wise it acts as a singular entity, the ISA cannot expand or declare war and each sector act independently, producing its own fleet. However, conquered worlds can revolt and join back ISA under some conditions. They can use commonly available ships only. Due to the nature of this faction, they do not outlaw any particular product.

skull-crossed-bonesPirate Guild

This is a loose alliance of pirates and renegades from all the galaxy. They specialize into contraband and fast raiding ships. They do not go to war directly against other factions and can’t take territory by military means, but some sectors may fall into their hands under the right circumstances. Also, they use nebulas to conceal their presence from other factions, meaning that those who look hard enough may find pirate bases in sectors owned by other factions.

Game Startup

When starting a new game on the “starting empires” setting, each main faction will get a cluster (3×3) of sectors with some pre-built stations and factories. The ISA will get many sectors which have a planet in them. Pirates will get random nebula sectors and a cluster. The four main factions (Humans, Siraks, Drath, Core) will then expand to every unoccupied sector in their vicinity before going into war with any other race. Once this is done, pirate owned sectors will be considered as possible expansions, but they may as well decide to declare war if a neighboring sector owned by another faction is more interesting to them.

ISA Diplomacy

Sectors owned by the ISA can be taken by other factions (except the AI Core) peacefully granted the diplomatic relation between both factions is good enough and granted that the other faction is able to convince the ISA with its diplomatic skill or with gifts.

Sector Revolts

Sectors which have been taken over by force may (low chance) revolt. Rebel ships will be spawned and will fight against whatever police / military forces available in the vicinity. If they are successful the sector will switch back to its original owner, to the ISA or to the pirates depending on the event triggering the revolt.

Unique Faction Skills

I am not really sure the specifics yet exactly, but I am thinking about giving each faction one or two unique abilities. Pirates could see in nebulas and use their bases as jump points which would make the whole ‘sector less’ faction AI much more manageable. Core ships could regenerate hull and so on.


As you’ve seen in the last pre-alpha, the game currently handle the pirates as a standard faction which doesn’t invade. This is what I am going (well, i already started) to work on first. The first step is to alter nebulas so they can disturb radar/detection mechanisms so it’s possible to hide ships and stations there. Next, I will include the very basics of my Pirate Guild plugin (the mod i made for X2 and X3 games) into UG. Then I’ll work on the ISA and sector trading / revolt events. As far as I can see, it shouldn’t be too hard of a task. Well, it’s still going to take some time, but I don’t think there’s a hurdle that would force me to change plans. And once I am done with all this faction stuff, the universe should be dynamic enough for me to start introducing some missions for the player.