With Necroids and the overall trend toward integrating portrait packs and game play, Stellaris is ready for a full portraits/trait overhaul.

Content of the article: "With Necroids and the overall trend toward integrating portrait packs and game play, Stellaris is ready for a full portraits/trait overhaul."

Title says it all, there's no meaningful reason that portraits, or for that matter ship types, are still treated as a meaningless skin for the vast majority of possible combinations. I would argue that the original introduction of portraits this way was the result of a different game play philosophy and a far narrower game play experience then the current stellaris meta, and that the species system is far more in need of an overhaul then either the space travel system or planet system were when they were changed.

When this gets brought up, people tend to bring up fringe situations where linking traits and other effects to portraits would negatively impact role play. What if for example, you wanted to role play an evil, carnivorous looking species of plantoids who were in fact peace loving hippies?

The problem with this argument is that people in the far more common reverse situation currently have their role play decisions completely unrewarded. There are no options to role play as a parasitic fungous or a plantoid species that makes its own food (or for that matter, one that eats people)) because despite such functions being heavily implied by what the portraits look like, there just isn't any game play mechanism for these things to even be implied.

Converting portraits into a richer bundle of aesthetics and game play effects would be an adjustment for some players, but there's almost no question that it would lead to a richer equilibrium for everyone. Consider the options it would open up for traits that deal with sensory experience (blind, eagle-eyed, hyper-tacticle, etc) mobility (crawler, flyer, swimmer, etc), size, and diet, all of which are heavily implied by the visual look of each portrait, but could vary considerably even within portraits. This doesn't even get into the mechanics you could build up for species packs, plantoids making their own food, insectoids having an exoskeletal mechanic, etc.

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Consider, for example, the changes made in another paradox title, Crusader Kings, where portrait selection was previously more or less random within a set of cultural and 'genetic' parameters, CK3 introduced portraits that reflected the traits characters had, craven characters look craven (hunched over, timid, etc), strong characters look strong, I have not seen anyone argue for going back because they want to role play a strong character who looks deceptively wimpy.

The resistance to this kind of change (as evinced by the fact that no one has even tried to mod this kind of change) is, to me, indicative of a broader problem with the fan base where people oppose the imposition of a more limited but far richer set up of choices and defend the existence of extremely sub optimal choice sets that virtually no one would think to pick. Players deserve a rich gameplay experience with choices that actively help them role play an empire with a lot of flavor and unique mechanics, not just the total freedom to role play whatever they want (which could be achieved with a cardboard box).


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