Alpha 6 has just been released to everyone who's bought Paragon via the Humble widget, and the update should be rolling out to Desura purchasers today or tomorrow. This release features a number of changes including revamped npc AI and a re-written autopilot system, along with changes to the in-game nav map and several new ships.
The biggest change, Salwan's heavy re-write of the main ship AI, has taken up most of the month, it's massively improved player ship autopilot, which with a couple more tweaks will be feature-complete and at release standard. The re-write has also heavily changed npc AI; AI ships now use the same ship and travel drive systems as the player does, making them much more realistic and opening up lots of gameplay options for the future. Most importantly however, this core AI re-write paves the way for upcoming changes that will radically overhaul other aspects of ship behaviour such as combat, situational awareness and the ability to co-operate with other AI actors in a coherent and engaging manner.
The second biggest change of the month, the shift to a 2d navigation map, may prove less universally popular, but it is aimed at making navigation more straightforward and intuitive. While 3d maps sound cool in theory, and can often look great at first glance, it's almost impossible to find a truly user friendly implementation in any game, and Paragon's was no exception. Over the next couple of releases the nav map will continue to be improved, hopefully making further improvements in usability and winning over any doubters.
The update also includes several new ultralight ships, and some existing ships have also been redesigned.