Stellaris

Gigastructural Engineering Dev Diary: The Blokkats, the ravenous galactic dismantlers (And the Hunters!)

Greetings! Once again, it is I, the Gigastructures guy. For the past few months I've been working on adding yet another endgame crisis to Gigastructural Engineering & More to give even more things to do in the lategame when the player is usually too overpowered for there to be any proper challenge.

Much like the previous dev diary about Aeternum, I'll be going over what this new fancy Endgame crisis, the Blokkats, is going to be about! Well, let's get to it now. And of course, as usual, the crisis will be able to be disabled through the configuration menu, so don't worry if you don't like it!

As they fit Paradox's depiction of the Hunters quite well (the Blokkats do harvest galaxies, after all), they will be described as such in their lore. (If Paradox ever decides to introduce the Hunters, the lore will be changed accordingly)

First and foremost, one of the big issues with endgame crisises is that they usually consist of just throwing your fleets at them and hoping you win. This is why the Blokkats are going to be generally a more research/tech-focused crisis as opposed to a fleet-based one, which will require you to conduct extensive research if you want to defeat them. Buckle up, this is going to be a pretty long dev diary.

BEFORE THEY SPAWN

The crisis will, by default (can be configured in the Gigamenu), spawn after Aeternum or another Endgame Crisis has been defeated, OR 100 years past the endgame date, whichever comes first. It will start with a seemingly innocent popup about an intergalactic object flying through intergalactic space. But of course, the object will then change course and begin to head towards the galaxy instead. From then on, the situation log will track how far the object is from the galaxy, which is effectively a countdown until the crisis actually starts. It will take about 10 years to arrive, giving the player some time to brace for the impact.

When the object gets close enough, you will be informed of its collision site, which is the system it will arrive in. The system will be completely destroyed so you better evacuate it before the impact occurs. The impact site will, in singleplayer, always be as far as possible from player's capital.

And when that light-year counter hits 0, the Blokkats will arrive and introduce themselves, clearly stating their intentions of dismantling the entire galaxy.

START OF THE CRISIS

Their mothership, the Blokkat-Vester, will appear in the impact site. It will then be revealed that it is surrounded by a massive shield which renders it invulnerable. But fret not! Unlike the Compound's old mechanics, the time the mothership stays invincible is ENTIRELY dependent on your own performance.

The Blokkat's two main ships are the Blokkat-Vester (right) and the Blokk-Dismantlers (left). The Blokkat-Vester is, well, the mothership, which has to be destroyed in order to end the crisis and is completely invulnerable until a proper counter is designed by the player.

The Blokk-Dismantlers will proceed to head to nearby systems and completely dismantle them over the course of a few months. Systems destroyed by the Blokkats are completely emptied of all planets, ships and stars (although the star is technically still there as an invincible planet class to avoid crashes). Why are they harvesting systems, you may ask? Well they're after that sweet sweet galactic energy, which they then send to deep space and convert back into matter in order to presumably construct some gigantic megastructure somewhere in intergalactic space. Ever wondered what the Great Attractor was?

Effectively, the Blokkat-Vester and its cohorts of Blokk-Dismantlers (the amount of which depends on galaxy size and difficulty), will proceed to slowly go through the galaxy, devouring system after system.

Unlike the mod's other crisises though, aside from relatively weak scout fleets with a couple million FP, the Blokkats are not inherently aggressive, and will instead slowly yet steadily devour more and more of the galaxy until they are either stopped by the player or consume everything. They just target the closest systems to their mothership and will not seek out the player in particular.

The Blokkats are actually rather slow and as they spawn opposite to your capital, are likely to take a century or more before they entirely destroy your empire. Effectively, the entire crisis is like a ticking time bomb. You can always ignore it but if it is not stopped, they will eventually get to you, even if it takes over a century for them to do so.

Both the Blokkat-Vester and the Blokk-Dismantlers are capable of destroying systems, but the Dismantlers can be destroyed to slow them down. Effectively, a competent player will be able to reduce them to just the mothership, further hindering their harvesting operations.

THE BLOKKAT RESEARCH BUREAU

That's all well and good, but how do you fight back if the mothership is invincible. Well, that's where the Blokkat Research Bureau comes in. Much like the Aeternite Intelligence Agency, it will enable you to monitor and keep track of your Blokkat-related research and eventually find a way to destroy their mothership's shield.

Once unlocked, you will be able to open it through a button at the bottom of your screen, which will bring up a nice custom UI, split into several parts. As the Blokkats are more of a research-based crisis, the Bureau will play an important role in helping you research how to defeat these ravenous extragalactic harvesters.

Blokkat Knowledge is the most important part of the crisis and is required to undertake basically any sort of Blokkat-related operation. Your main goal during the crisis will be to acquire as much of it as possible.

Blokkat Research Tasks consist of various things you can do to gain Blokkat knowledge that don't involve actually researching a tech or a special project. In a way, they're like "missions" that you can undertake at any time in order to gain more knowledge. Only one is available at the start but several more will open up as the crisis progresses.

Blokkat Research Projects are the important research operations related to the Blokkats. A project can be started by selecting it in the Bureau UI, which will give you a technology or a special project that will have to be researched in order to progress through the crisis. It is important to note that only one Blokkat Research Project can be undertaken at once.

The first project you'll have to do is one to investigate the seemingly invincible shield. It unlocks a special project which has to be researched in order to complete the Blokkat Research Project.

Once completed, you'll get a nice popup about the shield, aka the Hyperdimensional Bulwark (Get ready for a lot of dimension-related stuff). Effectively, your goal will now be to conduct research in order to unlock a specialized Gigastructure (This is Gigastructural Engineering & More, after all) which, once activated, will bring down that nasty shield and let you destroy the Blokkat-Vester, subsequently ending the crisis.

When that project is done, the Research Bureau will be expanded with more tasks and projects. Three of the new Projects will involve conducting research on the Blokkats in each field of science. They will require you to research a technology which when complete, will give you some neat lore and unlock further repeatables in the respective field of science that grant Blokkat Knowledge when researched. These repeatables can grant large amounts of knowledge but are rather slow and expensive, so there will be a lot of other opportunities to gain knowledge, such as the Research Tasks.

The tasks, as shown above, include destroying a Blokk-Dismantler, sending a ship to a harvested system and so on. How much Blokkat Knowledge they grant can be viewed by hovering over the task. It is worth noting that the mothership's shield extends to its entire system and as such the Dismantlers should be attacked when they are busy harvesting another system.

THE HYPERDIMENSIONAL DESTABILIZER

The main "questline" will consist of gathering enough Blokkat Knowledge to design the "Hyperdimensional Destabilizer", the gigastructure capable of knocking down the Blokkats' shield to let you end the crisis. Each stage of the Destabilizer has to be researched through a Blokkat Research Project. The construction site requires 10 knowledge, the first stage requires 20, the second stage requires 30, and you'll need 40 Blokkat Knowledge in other to fully unlock the megastructure.

Once the megastructure is completed, you will be able to activate it, which, after spending the energy, will bring down the Blokkat Hyperdimensional Bulwark.

With that, the Blokkat-Vester and its system will be fully vulnerable to damage and you have two years to either destroy it or inflict as much damage as possible while it is vulnerable.

The Blokk-Dismantlers regularly return to the mothership's system as part of their movement cycle and as such it is important to figure out how the Blokkats move their vessels in order to strike the mothership when it is the most vulnerable. Unless the difficulty is set to be very high, the mothership will have no escorts (and why would it? it's supposed to be invincible!), so good timing is key here.

Also note that the Dismantlers/Mothership firing their harvesting weapon will destroy every other fleet in the system, so they should be attacked after they are done harvesting their system.

After two years, the Bulwark will be brought back online. You will be able to bring it down again using the Destabilizer after a two-year cooldown.

If you inflict enough damage, the Blokkat-Vester will eventually fall and the crisis will, at last, end. Every other Blokkat vessel in the galaxy will be destroyed and you will be able to repurpose the Destabilizer into either a giant generator or a glorious monument to your victory, whichever you prefer.

Well, that's the main "plot" of the crisis, but you might have noticed the Bureau's UI had two locked slots, which are used to keep track of some of the crisis' supporting mechanics which I will now go over.

BLOKKAT INQUIETUDE

A weird thing about crisises is that nobody in your empire really seems to care about them. Sure they might be eating planets left and right but that has seemingly no consequences of your citizens' daily lives. Well, not with the Blokkats! The Blokkats feature a mechanic known as Blokkat Inquietude, which basically represents how utterly terrified everyone is as the Blokkats consume more and more of the galaxy.

The Bureau can keep track of Inquietude, which grows by 1% everytime the Blokkats eat 1% of the galaxy (how much of the galaxy they've eaten is displayed in the situation log. Inquietude will apply a scaling modifier to all your planets and is refreshed monthly. It increases crime (+4% per % of inquietude) and decreases stability (-1 per % of inquietude) to represent the slow breakdown of societal order as the Blokkat threat gets ever-closer, but increases researcher output (+3% per % of inquietude) to represent your civilization pouring more resources into finding out how to defeat the Blokkats. As for gestalts, it represents the consciousness and its subconsciousnesses getting scared because they sure as hell don't want to get devoured alive by some geometrical aliens.

Inquietude will also unlock a number of Inquietude Edicts that can be enacted to help you combat the Blokkats. These edicts are powerful but will increase Inquietude slightly when used. The Emergency Evacuation edict lets you evacuate entire worlds through a decision, which can be useful if the Blokkats are closing on your empire and you don't really want to lose a colony.

Inquietude can be managed either through the "Combat Paranoia" Inquietude Edict or by using the "Bolster/Suppress" buttons in the Blokkat Research Bureau. Generally, you shouldn't expect to get above 20 or 30 inquietude unless things get really bad.

BLOKKAT SCRAP

Another important mechanic is Blokkat Scrap. I previously mentioned that the Blokkats regularly sent out small scout fleets (only 11 fleet power, totally a weak fleet ;> ) throughout the galaxy (they don't specifically target players and just fly around randomly). If you manage to blow up some of these scout fleets, you will acquire precious Blokkat Scrap, which, after you've done a Blokkat Research Project, will let you use this scrap to do some pretty nifty things. One of its use is increasing your Blokkat Research Speed & Damage, either through permanent buffs granted by techs, or temporary but intense granted immediately.

Destroying small Blokkat ships grants around 10 Blokkat scrap each so you should expect to get 60-70 scrap per scout fleet deployed. The Blokkats regularly deploy them so they can be used a steady source of scrap. The scout fleets won't attack your planets and will simply fly around the galaxy wrecking anything they come across.

Scrap's other main use is letting you reverse-engineer the Blokkats' very powerful components. You will be prompted to pick what sort of components you want, which will then grant you a random component tech in the selected category. The Blokkats components are extremely powerful but have high energy upkeep. Their stats are about 10 times that of vanilla T5, comparable to other lategame mods such as ACOT's Phanon tech but the energy upkeep means you're gonna want a couple (read: a lot) of Dyson Spheres. These components will help you gain a much-needed edge over the Blokkats.

BLOKKAT CAPTURE

So I've talked about how to fight the Blokkats, but what about the Blokkats themselves? What even is* a Blokkat? Well, the crisis also features a **Blokkat Capture mechanics which will be unlocked after completing a few of the early Blokkat Research Project.

You will be notified that Blokkats have been sighted exploring your worlds, and after completing the appropriate Research Project, will gain the ability to build Blokkat Containment Nexuses which are basically Blokkat prisons.

Once you have at least one Nexus, you will be notified whenever a Blokkat is sighted on one of your worlds. Deciding to capture the Blokkat will spawn a hostile Blokkat as a ground army (With about 10k-15k army strength so better keep some armies close. If the Blokkat beats your armies, it will just fly away and won't destroy the planet).

If you manage to overpower the Blokkat, it will be taken to one of your available nexuses, where it can then be viewed and managed. The captive Blokkats have a name (drawn from a nice namelist based off the usernames of the mod's discord), an age, and several traits that determine how it behaves in containment. There are 48 trait permutations, and if the name & color of the Blokkat are taken into account, there are approximately 19872 possible unique Blokkats to be captured.

The Nexus passively produces 750 of each research with an upkeep of 1000 energy, as shown in the previous screenshot, can be specialized to produce more of a particular type of research. Experiments can be conducted on the captive Blokkats, which will produce one Blokkat knowledge after a few months. The time it takes to generate one knowledge increases every time and multiple experiments can be undertaken on multiple captive Blokkats at once (there is no cap on how many captive Blokkats you can have, provided you have enough nexuses).

However regardless of how safe the nexuses might seem, Blokkats remain dangerous and an eye should be kept on them at all times, lest you might face some pretty nasty consequences. But if you manage to keep them captive for long enough, and amass enough knowledge, you might very well be able to reprogram these Blokkats and turn them into valuable allies… And of course, you can keep track of how many Blokkats you currently have in the Research Bureau.

And finally, during your Blokkat research, you will be prompted to investigate a mysterious repeating signal, which will lead you to a particular planet that's been around for a while and potentially use it to uncover the origins of the mysterious Blokkats. But I shan't spoil that part, you'll have to find out yourselves!

DIFFICULTY SETTINGS

Much like the Kaiser and the Aeternites, the Blokkats will come with 4 different difficulty settings, each intended to cater to a different set of mods and playstyles.

The difficulties will automatically adjust to your current modset and can be manually changed, of course. If only Gigastructural Engineering & More is enabled, they will be set to Blokkittens, which actually debuffs them slightly.

If Extra Ship Components or New Ship Classes are enabled, they will be set to their default difficulty. Indeed, the Blokkats' base stats are intended to be fought with other strong mods enabled.

If Ancient Caches of Technologies is enabled, they will be set to the Bismuth Blokkats difficulty. They gain some extremely powerful ships to escort the mothership with. (Fleet power is meaningless by that point and you'd probably be using the ACOT Defines to fix overflow anyways), specifically meant to counter ACOT's extremely strong components and provide a good chllange

And last but not least, the final difficulty (has to be enabled manually) is the Endtekk Blokkats. With that difficulty, the scout fleets are replaced by one of the mighty Blokk-Terminators and said Terminators escort both the Blokk-Dismantlers and the Blokkat-Vester. They have fleet power in the billions and this should only be used if you have some REALLY powerful mods enabled or are a serious minmaxer.

The Blokkats' spawndate can also be altered, from the default "100 years past endgame or after endgame crisis" to endgame/midgame and even game start if you're feeling bold. Considering they take a century to destroy the entire galaxy, it might not be as impossible as it seems.

By default they have a roughly 50% of spawning but can of course be guaranteed to spawn at their spawndate through the menu. They can also be made to spawn at a random date between game start and 2500.

CONCLUSION AND Q&A

This covers most of the mechanics of the upcoming Blokkat crisis. Just like the other crisises, they also come with 8 new Gigastructures achievements. I will answer a couple of questions you might have about them below:

Q: This all seems a bit overwhelming.

A: While all the mechanics might seem a bit complex, they are introduced gradually during gameplay and should thus be manageable.

Q: Can the destroyed systems be restored?

A: Yes, assuming you complete the investigation of the mysterious signal shown above, that is.

Q: What happens if the mothership is destroyed by an instakill or in an unconventional way?

A: Destroying the mothership through a "cheese" will cause it to respawn and the Blokkats will kindly tell you that it's already been tried before. Overpowering the invincibility before you're supposed to will also trigger the respawn.

Q: Won't they break other mods if they destroy important systems?

A: Compatibility is built-in for ACOT, Ancient Empire and the Infinity Stones mod, to ensure the Blokkats do not delete important systems belonging to these mods. If you know a mod with systems that should not be harvested, DM me either on Reddit or Discord (Elowiny#7047) so I can ensure compatibility.

Q: Some stats feel off or weird.

A: Feel free to suggest any adjustments you think would make it more balanced.

Q: There's incorrect grammar or typos in the events.

A: I encourage you to correct me in the comments if you find an error in an event.

Q: Will 3.1 screw the crisis up?

A: No, as shown by the various dev diaries, the modding changes in 3.1 will be pretty easy to account for with some batch-replacing. Fixing it should not take very long. Expect a release a couple of days after Lem at most.

Q: Why are they called the Blokkats, they don't look like blocky cats at all!

A: It's a long story but they can be made to look like actual blocky cats in the Gigamenu if you really want to. It looks really stupid and out of place though so don't use it if you want to keep it serious.

Q: The higher-dimensional stuff is hard to understand.

A: A nice trick to "understand" higher dimensions is to imagine how a 3D object would interact with a flat 2D world. That's basically how a 4D object could interact with a 3D world. But well, it's still sci-fi technobabble, so don't read too hard into it either.

CREDITS

I received explicit permission from all of the following mod authors to use their assets, and credit will be given in the mod's description (if it is not there already).

The Blokkats and the Hyperdimensional Destabilizer use assets from Erin's Machine Shipset mod. Their small ships are taken from the Networked AI Shipset mod by ECHO.

Their Blokk-Terminators, Strikecrafts and Blokkat-Vester rings are taken from MadamLava's amazing Enigmatic Shipset which you should definitely check out. Some assets are also taken from Garyx's Ascendant Shipset mod much like Aeternum.

Well, that should be all of it for now! The crisis is practically done and shouldn't release in too much longer, presumably within the next week or so. I hope y'all will enjoy the extra challenge it'll provide!

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