Homeword: Deserts of Kharak gets its first update in over a year, adding tactical pause


Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak launched in January last year, doing for ground combat what the original Homeworld did for space. Yet it seems like we’ve barely heard a peep from Blackbird Interactive since, and updates have been few and far between. So the 1.3.0 patch that went live yesterday has come as something of a surprise. It squashes some bugs, tweaks the AI and introduces a tactical pause feature to skirmish mode and the singleplayer campaign.

Tactical pause was a prominent feature in Homeworld, but was nowhere to be found in Deserts of Kharak thanks to strategy nerds who think it dilutes the RTS genre. Yeah, I’m calling you out. Anyway, Blackbird Interactive has realised its mistake and finally rectified it.

Here’s how it works:

The player can now pause the game in the single player campaign and in skirmish games using the “P” key. During tactical pause players can issue combat, movement, and build commands to units which will be carried out once the game has become unpaused. There is audio feedback for any commands issued while paused, with visual feedback confirming the commands once the player unpauses the game.

On the AI front, two major improvements have been made to stop the AI from struggling during the middle of the game because of a lack of resources. Now, hard AI opponents will be able to harvest faster, while the nodes are depleted at a slower rate. AI air sorties will also no longer prioritise attacking support vehicles, instead favouring combat targets. Blackbird Interactive says that this should increase their effectiveness both offensively and defensively.

Check out the rest of the patch notes to see the long list of bug fixes and balance tweaks. Patch 1.3.0 is available now.


  1. Stevostin says:


  2. Hoot says:

    Nothing to do with Homeworld, but as a long time reader I find this heavy handed (disable AdBlock or be forced to click a button saying “I’m a bad person”) crap you’re now pulling to be pretty damn weak.

    I just don’t like ads. I understand that they generate you revenue but not from me because I quite literally NEVER click on any internet advertising.

    • Ghostwise says:

      Sounds like you’d love becoming a supporter of the site !

      • Megatron says:

        Does becoming a Supporter remove the ads? The Support RPS page doesn’t mention them at all…

        • Premium User Badge

          wsjudd says:

          Nope, being a supporter doesn’t remove the ads. It makes me feel a bit better about using adblock, though.

          • Megatron says:

            Next question: do you see the passive-aggressive ad-block message Hoof is referring to or are Supporters exempt?

            RPS should consider offering an ad-free version of the site (£5 a month? Done, no problem – it’s about the only site online I would pay a sum like that for without question). But I’m not paying a penny/cent if I’m still being fed adverts. That’s the only way I’ll stop ad-blocking: I have mental health concerns that are alleviated by ad-blockers. But if you’re paying as a supporter and STILL seeing the “I’m a Bad Person” guilt-trip, some hard questions need to be asked.

          • tigerfort says:

            I’m a supporter running an adblocker, and actually said “what message?” out loud. Which suggests the message is turned off for logged-in supporters. (Although it might also be that I’m using a smarter adblocker, which is bypassing the message. According to a comment lower down, that’s now a thing.)

    • v1tr1ol says:

      It’s not about your clicks, it’s about rendering Ads on the page, called impressions (views). You don’t have to click on any of them it will still generate a revenue. All Ads are polite, meaning, no sound, pop-ups covering content etc. I don’t like Ads either, but have nothing against supporting a site which I visit several times a day.

    • mike22 says:

      That would only be relevant for PPC advertising, RPS likely trades in impressions and eyeballs, which would mean you’re literally stealing the content.

      If you hate ads so much then don’t frequent the website, that’s your choice, not to take the content via illicit means.

      Honestly the fact you feel entitled enough to come here and complain about an innocuous popup while depriving the creators of revenue is kind of staggering.

      • Hoot says:

        RPS is no longer owned by a small group of people. It’s now owned by a corporation (link to rockpapershotgun.com) , so pardon me if I’m denying some rich arsehole 0.0025 pence or whatever every time I come to the site.

        It’s not about entitlement, it’s about the way the message is handled. Of course if you were less of a supercilious corporate shill you might have realised that after reading my first message.

        If the popup just said “Hi, please disable AdBlock as it helps out the site!” then had the 2 options be “Disable AdBlock – Not Right Now” I likely would have disabled it, but trying to tell your readers they are bad people for not wanting to see ads IS goddamn weak.

        • Ghostwise says:

          If I had a cent every time a gamer claims “it’s not entitlement !”, I reckon I’d have a NVMe drive by now.

        • urbanraccoon says:

          If the website is generating less revenue for the corporation through fewer “eyes”, then it still effects and endangers this website. Maybe they won’t hire new writers for this site, or get rid of some, or not give raises if its not making enough.

          “Oh no a gaming website is passively showing me ads for GAMES?! THE NERVE!”. If there is one website I turn my adblocker off for, its this one. Ads can be annoying, yes, but for the most part they are non-intrusive and fund so many things on the Internet that you take for granted you get them for free.

      • Neutrino says:

        Nowhere near as staggering as your suggestion that using an Ad Blocker is theft.

      • popej says:

        Pedantry time!

        Strictly speaking it isn’t stealing or theft because by definition this depends on you relieving the victim of the thing, so that they no longer have it. This is significantly more severe from a moral standpoint if you think about it.

        It would be more accurate to say that the adblocker prevents potential revenue generation.

        edit: I should point out that I agree with your general sentiment though.

    • neems says:

      Oddly enough I have the ads blocked but I haven’t had any notifications.

      • Megatron says:

        Perhaps your blocker of choice has defences against webpages’ “Hey, stop blocking our ads” scripts, which I only found out were a thing a week or two ago.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Yeah, we don’t need your clicks, just the page impressions. We need them to keep providing this service to you for free, in fact.

      We’re owned by a larger media company now – not a huge one, but one bigger than the eight people who worked here before. That doesn’t mean that we’re not still in need of revenue. See all these sites “pivoting” to video? See that Mashable just shut down? See that Gothamist, etc. shut down not long before that? Etc. etc. It’s because the ads market is horrible, and it’s horrible in part because people ad block uniformly across the entire internet and never both whitelisting even the sites that try to offer only decent advertising (like us).

      We don’t currently offer an ad free version of the site through the supporter system. It’s something we plan to offer in the near future.

      Users who are signed in shouldn’t see the ‘please don’t adblock’ message, for what it’s worth. If you’re a supporter, you’re probably signed in so you can read the supporter posts. If you’re a supporter, thank you a million times. It really helps.

      If you’re not a supporter, if you’re adblocking, and you don’t want to stop, then fine. I don’t like it but there’s nothing I can do about it. If you’re cross that you were asked to stop reading our work at cost to us while giving nothing back with a joking spiky message… Well, I’ll take your word for it that it’s not an entitlement thing.

      • Hoot says:

        You could just change the pop-up to something less snarky?

        The ads themselves are less of an issue to me than the implication that I’m some kind of bastard for not whitelisting the site and as I’ve said, if the message wasn’t a blatant dig then I’d do it in a heartbeat.

        Other than that I appreciate the hard work you guys put into the site and the articles.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          You are some kind of a bastard for not whitelisting the site. You’re a freeloader – someone who uses a resource whilst refusing to contribute to it’s upkeep. It’s not a compliment.

      • jonfitt says:

        The mobile ads are vile Taboola “targeted” ads. With ones like: “The one thing drivers in need to know”.

        link to imgur.com

        link to imgur.com

        They’re all dirty spam ads.

        • Premium User Badge

          Graham Smith says:

          Send me links to any of the ads you find objectionable: graham@rockpapershotgun.com. I’ll get them blocked.

          (You don’t have to click the links to get the URLs: just right-click (or hold-tap) and press ‘copy link address’ or similar.)

          Some Taboola ads are fine, some are crappy. We block the crappy ones. They come back or show up only in certain regions or to certain users, so we don’t always see them ourselves if people don’t send them in.

          We moved to Taboola recently from another service that paid a lot better, because Taboola had better ads and better options for blocking ads. If you’re signed in (at least on desktop), you don’t see Taboola ads either: you see Google ads which are more than half just links to RPS articles.

          Advertising is never perfect, but it’s the best model/only model that works for funding writing on the internet. I don’t think adblock is a solution, because all it does is encourage /worse/ advertising to get around it or compensate for it, and ultimately encourages people to move away from traditional content and towards sponsored content, video, etc.

          That said, hopefully we’ll have that ad free version of the site available to supporters really soon. Fingers crossed!

  3. Janichsan says:

    Now, hard AI opponents will be able to harvest faster, while the nodes are depleted at a slower rate.

    Meaning: the AI cheats?

    • Dewal says:

      Devs use these kind of tricks to buff up difficulty in games since forever.
      More HP, more damages, more resources, starts with more buildings… you shouldn’t be surprised.

      • mike22 says:

        They didn’t say they were surprised.

        It’s a valid observation, there are better (but harder to code) ways to implement difficulty in a strategy game other than making a number bigger.

        I’d personally want to be facing a more capable adversary, one that makes more interesting choices. Not just the same choices with n+x units.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          More than just harder to code. Orders of magnitude harder to code.

        • Werthead says:

          That would probably have required Blackbird to have had a much higher budget than they had available. This was a pretty low-budget game until the last two years or so of development when Gearbox gave them a cash injection, and that was then spent on moving the game into the Homeworld universe, adding the single-player campaign and stripping out the always-online elements.

          Assuming that Homeworld Remastered and Deserts of Kharak sold sufficiently, I’m hoping the AI is something they work on for Homeworld 3.

  4. medwards says:

    Oh thank God… several really cool units require extensive micro management and I’m just not up to it. I’ll probably replay the campaign now :)

    • Diziet Sma says:

      My sentiments exactly, this is a good thing. I can dive back in now! :-D

  5. mike22 says:

    I legit didn’t even know this existed!

  6. Maxheadroom says:

    So is this good now? I loved Homeworld (1 & 2) but remember being a bit underwhelmed by the reviews when this came out

    • dylan says:

      It was a very, very good RTS campaign at launch, and is better today. After the first game (remastered), it’s my favourite in the series.

    • Werthead says:

      It was good on release (if you didn’t happen to hit the game-breaking bug on Mission 4, which fortunately was quite rare) and it’s better now, so yes.

  7. cairbre says:

    Well I was planning on going back to this game so this is good news indeed.

  8. Duckeenie says:

    People who don’t get what an oxymoron is. Yeah I’m calling you out. :p

  9. Werthead says:

    Excellent game, now even cheaper. And you can buy both this and Remastered for £12! I’ll dive back in now and see how good the bug fixes have been for both games.

  10. Premium User Badge

    alison says:

    About freaking time. I deleted this game and left a thumbs down review because it is way too fucking hard if you are not a fan of modern RTS games. This might actually make it enjoyable for someone who is only in it for the story.