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Video Game / Star Ruler

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Yes, that's a galaxy in the center.

Star Ruler is a 3D Real-Time Strategy 4X title from indie developers Blind Mind Studios. The game focuses on annihilating every other empire in the randomly generated galaxy.

Research has a massive focus in Star Ruler — you unlock subsystems by researching its specific upgrade (i.e. researching Energy Weapons will help unlock lasers). However, when a subsystem is first researched, it's usually weak — you need to continue to research in that field to make it more powerful. Eventually, you research how to build Ringworld Planets, blow up stars in an instant, build ships larger than the galaxy, and make ships that can carry itself inside its own cargo bay.

The game's starships have (somewhat) realistic physics, in that there is no friction — or a top speed, for that matter. Ship's effective speed is measured by their acceleration power. Ships moving between star systems accelerate halfway to their destination, then flip around and fire their engines backwards to slow down. The more engines a ship has, the faster it goes — but the faster it burns through its fuel supply. You can make the ship larger to fit in more engines, but then you have to push around even more weight.

Ship-to-ship combat is fast and brutal, with ships annihilating each other often in just a few salvos — sped up by the fact that weapons damage ship subsystems, and many subsystems are also explosive, such as ammunition or anti-matter. Entire fleets can wipe each other out in mere minutes, so positioning your ships to prevent mass losses is necessary when fighting equal forces.

Ships are designed by the players, who place different subsystems (such as engines, armor, guns, or support equipment) inside a circular "blueprint", which has a max subsystem size limit note .

The game's economy is simple at first glance, but very nuanced. Ships require Metal note , Advanced Parts note , Electronics note , and Labor note  to be built, but planets, and your race as a whole may have modifiers on each stat. Food is necessary to keep your population from starving, and they want goods and luxury goods otherwise they'll produce less — unless you just enslave them. Unlike other games, ships, stations, and planetary facilities have no "build time" — if you have enough resources stored at the build point, you can build anything virtually instantly. If you don't have enough resources, the planet (or mobile shipyard) has to pull the resources from your Galactic Bank, the empire-wide resource depository.

Although it is completely lacking in narrative, its main appeal is probably... see the page image.

Star Ruler also has strong support for modding, with many aspects customisable in a humble text editor. Among the most popular of them is Galactic Armory, which makes quite a few substantial changes to the gameplay. GA tropes go into a separate section.

Star Ruler 2 was released on March 27, 2015 after about a year in Early Access. Among a host of new features, micromanagement of planets is less painful, ship movement is smarter, combat is deeper, and diplomacy is more important.

Star Ruler 1 Provides Examples Of:

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  • 2-D Space: Planets will always be along the ecliptic plane, but stars are all at different "heights" along the Z-axis, and player ships can fly in any direct — holding down a button while giving a movement order will allow you to order them to fly up or down as they move to their destination. Attacking from above a system is effective, as you likely will not come into range of any enemy orbital defense stations.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The "AI Paranoia" Trait bans you from using Computers under the pretext of your faction having had bad experiences with rogue AI.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted. Some are clearly not.
  • Anti-Air: Point defenses are largely for shooting down incoming missiles. However, point defenses on large ships will fire at smaller ships, such as fighters and incoming boarding pods. Build a big enough ship and it'll start firing its point defenses at stations and planets.
  • Antimatter: It has has the advantage of needing almost no fuel storage, and mods add very efficient yet extremely powerful thrusters and weapons, but requires Antimatter generators, which are expensive and extremely fragile. Ships with antimatter tend to explode violently when their armor is breached.
  • Apocalypse How: Planetary assaults with big enough ships will cause the planet itself to break apart. You can then go blow up the star that the planet orbits. Blowing up the quasar at the center of the galaxy will destroy almost everything in the central half of the galaxy.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: Weapons all have relatively small maximum ranges — but the ranges are measured in thousandths of AU (Astronomical Units, basically the average distance from Earth to the Sun, roughly 500 lightseconds).
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: There are weapons that partially or completely ignore armor, but deal less actual damage.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI thinks nothing of it when a neutral player warps his entire fleet into their home system.
  • Artistic License – Space: The orbits of planets do not affect each other, nor will ships. It's possible to have a station the size of Betelgeuse orbiting a planet not much bigger than Earth. Likely for the best, though — otherwise, planets would be shot out of the galaxy by players warping their ships everywhere.
  • Asteroid Miners: Asteroids can be mined by ships with Mining Lasers. Some "systems" are actually just a very large asteroid without a star, with some debris scattered around it.
  • The Battlestar: Ships can mount any combination of weapons and ship bays. With Quantum Space Compressors, you can have Clown Cars. Behold.
  • Beam Spam: Laser paired up to rack mounts, equipped en-mass, will result in what is essentially a flying disco rave when in combat.
  • Bigger Is Better: Used and averted. While almost everything improves with size, various disadvantages such as reload times also go up.
  • Bigger Stick: The ship design allows you to customize your ship's equipment and the ship's scale. When engaging an enemy more powerful than you, it's common to simply start flinging enormous battleships and orbital defense stations at the enemy, who will often counter with even bigger ships, and so the cycle continues.
  • Boarding Party: Boarding pods can be used to take over enemy ships. It's very effective to swarm enemy mega-ships with thousands of boarding ships. You can also make boarding pods have several thousand marines on them.
  • Boring, but Practical: Railguns, which are the bread-and-butter weapon of the game. At small sizes, they're great against fighters, and at large sizes they can wipe out millions of people in one hit against a planet.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted with kinetics; when designing your starships you must take into account how long they can fire with the ammo stocks they have on board and add more ammo caches if they do not pack enough. Or you could design dedicated ammo colliers and send them with your expeditionary forces, but best hope the enemy doesn't shoot them first... Energy weapons on the other hand have no ammo requirements. Later research allows you to unlock the Matter Generator, which can generate ammo; with a high enough research level you can generate more ammo than you expend, conforming to this trope again.
  • Clown Car / Clown-Car Base: The usual result of high-level Spatial Dynamics research. See above entry under The Battlestar. Even without it you can build ships or stations bigger than the constructor used.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Used and averted. While you need to manually order the construction of ships, you can set different types of Governors to automatically build structures to your specifications (food planet, metal factory, et cetera) on the planets you colonise.
  • Deflector Shields: One of the early subsystems to be unlocked. Shields are very light (unlike Armor) and regenerate (only one type of armor auto-regenerates), but require large amounts of power, and as the shield loses "health", damage can bypass it and hit the ship's subsystems directly.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: The ship design menu allows you to set the size of your ship (anywhere from smaller than a can of Coca-Cola, to larger than the galaxy)), place subsystems (armor, engines, support equipment, guns, storage bays, etc), and set how the AI handles targeting and automation (automatically distribute goods, automatically refuel, etc)
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Do enough research into weapons tech and make the weapons on your ships big enough and you can destroy planets.
  • Easy Logistics: Played with. Ships will, by default, restore their own ammo and fuel from planets (or other "tender" and "tanker" ships), provided there's enough to take. However, the resupply settings on ships often need to be tweaked to prevent them from flying between two stations to resupply their fuel and ammo indefinitely. In Galactic Armory, fuel and ammo are actual Galactic Bank resources that must be assembled by planets or ships/stations with the proper subsystem — good luck invading that enemy planet when you don't have the fuel to gas up your ships or the ammo to load the cannons!
  • Energy Weapon: A weapon choice. Averts the usual depiction by being continuous-beam and hitscan, though it gets ridiculous when you research them to where their range is measurable in AU (~8 light-minutes/~500 light-seconds) and STILL hit instantly!
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Of the Jump Drive variety. Ships without the drive have to go the slow way — flying to the target star on their own engine power. It should be noted, though, that "slowboating" can also result in low-end FTL — a light-second is roughly 0.002AU, yet ships can accelerate past that/second fairly early on.
  • Fragile Speedster: Ships using the Fighter hull can suffer Subsystem Damage on any hit and have pathetic health, but can actively dodge incoming fire and support extreme thrust-to-weight ratios. Small craft with the standard hulls, notably the default scout ship (which is often scaled down to the size of a soda can), will die from so much as a glance from an enemy fighter, but can accelerate very quickly.
  • Game Mod: The game is easily modded to include more subsystems.
  • Ghost Ship: Crew death, loss of power, or running out of fuel will cause a ship to go derelict, and drift until it's destroyed by the game several minutes later. Derelict ships can be salvaged and reclaimed if it's only the crew that died — doing so on an enemy ship will also allow you to steal the design and build it yourself. Additionally, ships with analyzers can make a copy of the ghost ship's blueprint.
  • Glass Cannon: Ships with little/no armor, but a very big gun. Works well when the gun is paired with a Targeting Computer, allowing it to fire much longer distances.
  • Higher-Tech Species: Remnants at first, though you'll overtake them eventually in most aspects. Some of the things they have though, like Jump Bridges, you will never get.
  • Hive City: Cities can become mindbogglingly dense jungles of steel as the Lensman Arms Race progresses, resulting in more and more efficient forms of urban planning, causing population density to skyrocket.
  • Inertial Dampening: Appears to be present, as to stop human crews from becoming human paste on the walls when their ship suddenly accelerates at 100 g.
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: All of the ships models follow this design philosophy.
  • Jack of All Stats: Most of the default ship designs fall into this, being very balanced in their armor, weapon, and engine loadout.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Initially they are, but energy weapons improve such that a parity of sorts is eventually reached.
  • Lensman Arms Race: You start the game barely able to field a small navy, with size ~50 ships being flagships. As you (and your enemies) develop their economy and research facilities to improve and innovate their technology, navies become progressively larger and more powerful, with single ships capable of wiping out entire cities with a single shot. Towards the end-game, both sides will be flinging ships the size of stars at each other, building multiple Ring World Planets, bombing planets to dust, and killing the stars themselves.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Salvage gear largely seems rather useless at first glance, since most enemy ships tend to explode faster than any reasonable salvage operation can go. Because it returns resources as a multiplier of armor values, and because more efficient simple armor can cost less than one resource to build, entire Dyson Swarms of space stations around creating and destroying unmanned and underpowered hulks can have net positive metal income. Because stations, unlike planets, aren't limited in construction time by manpower, such arrays are the fastest way to creating truly impressive Big Dumb Objects faster than the tech tree normally supports them.
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...: It's set in a randomly generated galaxy with no real life stars.
  • Made of Explodium: Anti Matter generators explode in the ship when they are damaged.
  • Magikarp Power: Fabricator-type subsystems aren't much good when you first unlock them, but with enough research they can outproduce planet-based factories. Use them right and you have a massive A.I. Breaker that the computer has no hope of matching.
  • Matryoshka Object: You can build ships that do this — be it smaller ships carrying progressively smaller ships, or if you're crazy, making ships carrying progressively large ships inside each other. With about a dozen transitions at high level Spatial Dynamics and Cargo Storage, you could go from a size 1.0 fighter to a size 256 battleship.
  • Mighty Glacier: Ships with lots weapons, but small engines. The ship has no top speed, it'll handle like the state of Wisconsin, and have trouble getting to its destination in a reasonable amount of time. However, it'll be able to instagib much of what dares to attack it.
  • Mile-Long Ship: Exaggerated. Ships larger than size ~50 will be larger than most moons, and have crews numbering in the thousands.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Some time in, you will be building and facing ships more durable than planets and with the firepower needed to destroy each other. This can easily mean that you target a planet to cleanse it of enemy life and end up accidentally fragging it because you underestimated just how just firepower you have in play.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Large ships have crews of over a thousand. The megaships that the player can build can have crews of millions. Planetary assaults with smaller (aka not planet killing sized death machines) ships result in millions (or billions, in the case of high level cities) being slaughtered indiscriminately by orbital bombardment.
  • Min Maxers Delight: At game-start you can choose traits for your faction through the juggling of points. Some give you bonuses (such as better research), while some are nerfs to gain points (such as prevent you from using a certain class of weapons)
  • Mobile Factory: Placing a Mining Laser, storage, the 3 part refineries (Metal, Electronics, Advanced Parts), and a Construction Bay on a ship will allow it to start building ships once it has an asteroid to mine. It's possible to build what are essentially Von Neumann self-replicating ships using this — order them to build 10 of themselves, then order them to mine a large asteroid. Keep repeating this, and about an hour later there will be several hundred ships mining the asteroid.
  • Necessary Drawback: A key part of the game design; new subsystems unlocked through research are not just incremental improvements on the existing ones but have their own flaws to balance the advantages they bring.
  • One-Man Army: Due to military strength calculations, one mega-battleship can be worth whole fleets.
  • Planet Spaceship: Beyond around size ~1000, ships will start to become larger than the planets that built them. There is effectively no limit to max size, allowing players to build a ship larger than the galaxy so long as they have sufficient resources. Players can also make literal planet spaceships, by building Planetary Thrusters on the surface of a planet, which allow the player to control it and order it around much like a regular ship.
  • Point Defenseless: Averted for the default ship designs, which typically feature Flak Cannons. However, many of the hostile AI ships (Pirates and Remnants) lack them.
  • Portal Network: The Remnant Gates allow ships to instantly teleport to anywhere in the galaxy.
  • Ram Scoop: One of the possible propulsion methods. Ram engines have the advantage of using zero fuel, but they have very low thrust. A separate Ram Scoop subsystem available at the start can be used alongside non-ram engines in order to reduce, and at higher levels, virtually eliminate, fuel consumption, long before the matter generator becomes available.
  • Regenerating Health: Crew quarters provide a small amount of regen. Repair bays give you more regen. Nano armor repairs itself, but does nothing for the rest of the spacecraft's systems.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Ships with Computer Cores and shield generators function like this. Shields will regenerate, but the health and armor will not, unless additional equipment is installed such as repair bays.
  • Ringworld Planet: The player can eventually research how to build ringworlds. They take several gigatons of material, and will take several real-time hours to build without sufficient infrastructure, especially if you're fool enough to try and build them as soon as available.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Hyper-averted. A technologically advanced empire will absolutely crush a lower level empire. To emphasize this — A fighter with level 40 armor, engines, and weapons will curb stomp a level 1 mega-battleship.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: FTL travel through pure acceleration and FTL lasers. Enough said.
  • Shout-Out: The Achievement for doing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom is "Thanks for all the fish".
  • Space Fighter: Present. Very cheap and quick to accelerate, but thoroughly useless at killing most enemy ships beyond size ~50 without a large tech disparity, though they make very good cannon fodder to distract enemy guns.
  • Space Friction: Averted. The game utilizes newtonian physics, so ships will need to use fuel to both speed up and slow down. If a ship runs of out of fuel mid-flight, it'll just keep on drifting towards its destination, then keep on drifting past it until the effects of space dust destroys it.
  • Space Pirates: Pirates will occasionally attack poorly defended systems. As such, it's best to have a small garrison force on each system, or a big carrier with a jump drive for fast response.
  • Space Station: Player designs usually fall into either "Defense Platform" or "Dry Dock". Space stations armed with weapons have the advantage of being ridiculously hard to kill, and Dry Docks don't have the labor requirements to build ships (or other stations) like planet based shipyards do. It's also possible to build refinery or trade docks. Refineries will take Ore from the planet, and refine it to Metal, Electronics, or Advanced parts, allowing the planet to focus entirely on just mining out the ore. Trade Docks will simply take material from the planet and put it into the "Galactic Bank", which any planet with a Space Dock can get materials from.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Default designs include fighters, bombers, cruisers, dreadnaughts, capital ships and carriers. However, you can choose to invoke or defy this depending on your designs.
  • Star Killing: Pump enough energy or several teratons of ammo into a star, and it will go nova. Once your tech level is high enough, it's possible to one-shot a star using a planet sized ship.
  • Stealth in Space: There is stealth tech, but all it does is make ships harder to hit.
  • Subsystem Damage: Damaging enemy ships will cause their subsystems to fail (destroying their generator, ruining their ammo cache, killing the entire crew, etc) once you get past their armor — which is also a subsystem.
  • Superweapon Surprise: Save for capturing enemy ships or finding derelict ships, it's impossible to know how advanced an enemy is — leading to things like a enemy fighter wiping out your battlefleet because you weren't researching. Additionally, it is not possible to view how many ships an enemy planet or ship has docked. You could be invading a ripe, undefended system... only for hundreds of enemy battleships to come pouring out of the planets to wipe out your battlegroup.
  • Tractor Beam: A pulling (and pushing beam) are available as subsystems. Largely pointless, but they can be used to grapple onto enemy stations and pull them out of orbit, or send enemy ships catapulting out of the system.
  • Units Not to Scale: Units are to scale with each other, but not celestial objects (planets, asteroids, stars). A size 2500 station is several times the size of a planet, but will have a crew around ~200,000, whereas a planet will have a population of about a ~100,000,000 at low levels. This is present to ensure that your ships are actually visible at a decent zoom level. The planets themselves are not to scale with each other, as having a realistic scale on celestial objects would mean that a world would appear as a single pixel compared to the sun, unless you were to massively zoom in.
  • Universal Ammunition: All weapons draw from a source of ammo with no attempt to distinguish.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Big offender. Getting many planets early allows you to get more research capacity. Research not only improves economic and military capabilities, but also begets more research. Play your cards right, you'll be out-researching and out-producing everyone while also building bigger and more advanced ships, spiraling until victory is effectively guaranteed. The game tries to discourage you from colonizing too fast by having pirates appear to blockade and raid undefended systems, but past a certain point in the tech race you'll have powerful enough weapons that even a puny task force can keep them off your backs.
  • Villains Want Mercy: When an AI player realizes it's losing, and losing badly, it will begin bribing the attacker with most of their remaining resources to try get a ceasefire, so that it can build up a fleet and attack again
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Planets and asteroids have a limited supply of Ore, which is refined into metal, the basic building part. Metal is then turned into Electronics (two metal turns into one electronic) which is the intermediate building part. Advanced Parts requires two metal and one electronic, and is used in the more advanced and complicated ship parts. Running out of Ore drastically slows down production. Food (produced in farms) keeps your population from starving. Goods keep your population from becoming unhappy (which slows down production), while Luxuries make them happy (speeds up production). Labor is generated by cities and shipyards, and is used in the production of ships, stations, and buildings.

Galactic Armory adds or changes the following examples:

  • Absolute Xenophobe: Inhibitors will declare war often and early as their goal is to kill everything that isn't part of their own race.
  • Abusive Precursors: Remnants are changed into this from vanilla. It's unknown how they were like before, but nowadays the artificially intelligent remnants of their vast fleet attack anything in sight. Unlike in vanilla where they were content to bum around in their systems and chase the kids off their lawns, GA's Remnants send out roving kill-squads to purge the younger races every now and then.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: There are now weapons that are great at killing shields, but...
    • Crippling Overspecialization: Don't do jack against physical things like armour or hull.
    • The returning Muon cannon and The Phased particle beams prove just as good against ship Armor, fortunately enough.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: Galactic Armory adds a slew of ancient superweapons, megastructures, and perfectly terraformed planets from the Remnant's long-gone empire. Warp gates, shield sapping generators, starkilling cannons, et cetera. Players will need to scramble in order to claim them or capture them from other players. Of course, the players will also need to battle their way past the AI ships that still guard said superweapons, and it's no easy task when the Remnants have antimatter engines and phased railguns when the players are still putting along on solid-fuel rockets. Remnant superweapons are not critical to winning a game, but can provide a decisive advantage, especially if the other players begin to edge ahead of you in research.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The AI in Galactic Armory will use mobile mining/refinery ships to greatly expand their economic power. And now the AI can use boarding pods.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Aggressor AI focuses entirely on war — research be damned.
  • The Battlestar: The mod adds two hulls meant for this; the Carrier Hull, like the name suggests, leans more to normal carriers in being relatively thin-skinned and trades some space away for having strikecraft bays integrated right into the hull, while the Mothership Hull is closer to a Battlestar, trading out some space and not having the option of extra ship bays in order to accommodate more weapons and stuff.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Lunatic AI has no rhyme or reason in its logic — they might go to war because they consider it a hoot. Their ships suffer from Crippling Overspecialization since they are all geared to do one specific task. The Research AI also considers war to be an effective way to test out new technology.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: The Spinal Mount Hull lets you make these. It vastly improves the statistics of the weapon, but forces the ship to turn and face its targets. Due to how quickly defensive techs can render ships nigh invulnerable, this becomes a lifesaver in the battle between super-dreadnaughts. Doubly so if you somehow cannot not deploy super-weaponry.
  • Homage: The original creator of the modified Remnants code stated that he was inspired by AI War: Fleet Command.
  • Honor Before Reason: In earlier versions, one Trait you can take is "Code of Honor", which prevents from using a variety of subsystems. No WMDs, fair enough, but when the thing prevents you from using sensible things like Armor-Piercing Attack it goes straight into this. Later updates have changed this, dividing it into two groups: WMD fear, with the remaining traits of honor being ported into the Religious trait. Strangely enough they are both mutually exclusive.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Missile numbers scaling with level has been removed, but there are now Barrage and Cluster launchers. These are particularly important when fighting ships utilizing EM defenses, as they cause a percentage of all shots fired upon them to miss. While missiles are seemingly able to recognize that they missed, turn around, and try to not miss a second time, the more missiles approach still proves to be significantly more effective in dealing with ships that are utilizing EM defenses.
  • Min-Maxing: Taken to a new level with added Traits that allow you to improve or worsen certain weapon types, further encouraging you to specialise your research than in vanilla.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: One Trait allows you to invert this. It prevents you from using certain esoteric tech, most to do with Spatial Dynamics, with the reason that your people's religious beliefs forbid it.
  • Proud Scholar Race: The Researcher AI focuses more on research, naturally. They prefer to stay at peace because it's beneficial to researching, but they view war as another way to test out new technology. Their ships are fragile but pack powerful lasers and shields.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Knight AI isn't warmongering, but they enjoy combat and typically do not use "unfair" weapons like superlasers or space-time bending weapons. Knights are generally the most balanced faction in terms of economy, military, research, and overall ship design. The Aggressor AI also has elements of this, but is much more bloodthirsty.
  • Shout-Out: The Inhibitor AI is a major shoutout to Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series — they have the same name, both want to extinguish any life they find, and both rely on physics-bending weaponry. The backstory even says they took on this "mission" from contact with a race called the "wolves" — another name for the Inhibitors in Revelation Space.
  • Point Defenseless: An explicit PD efficiency mechanic has been added. It caps out at 80%, meaning that statistically you will never have perfect PD.
    • EM defenses work similarly, except that it is possible to have two separate layers of EM defenses, resulting in enemy targeting computers having a very small chance of hitting, without the ammo expense of Point Defenses. Naturally EM defenses don't stop fighters or Macross Missile Massacre very effectively.
  • Terra Form: GA allows you to terraform any planet to increase the amount of living space, allowing you to build more facilities on a planet. Interestingly, you can also terraform a gas giant.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The Warmonger AI is run by Mega Corps which stand to make profit during wars.
  • War Is Glorious: The Aggressor AI goes to war to further the glory of their clan.
  • Zerg Rush: A favored tactic of the AI in GA is to spam hundreds of bombers to attack, with some large battleships following behind the bomber spam.