Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Good Morning, 

It's been awhile since I've posted anything but work has still been progressing, my two main focuses have been GUI for ship designer and the research system. This post I'll just do a quick summary of the ship designer changes and there will be a post later for the research GUI and it's system as there is a lot to that one :)

Here is what ship designer looked like before I started this work

Here is a mockup of possible what I'm aiming for, this is with a module selected to show the details of that module (not in-game yet):

This might be a little overdone with the lines and extras but would like to try it in game as they all actually show some useful info at a glance but they might be removed if it appears too much. 

Some of the main changes are adding backgrounds for the stats which I think really help and grouping the stats by type (Movement, Hull, Power, etc). I also moved the preview stats to the left which seems to work better as on some of the larger stat names it could overlap which was no good.

The hull selection list has also been updated, mainly focusing on the stats and how to display them. Now the research system adds a lot more variation to the hull options I needed to show more stats and in a useful way. I was mainly thinking if players care when the ship has 10hp or 100hp then realizing it only matters how much it compares to other hulls, i.e. "It's twice as strong as the cheaper one". So along those lines hull GUI has been changed to be bars (tooltips can still show the actual figure), these get the values by finding the highest value for each stat that any hull has that is available to the player and basically displaying it as 0-100% of the best available one.

Hopefully at a glace this will make it easier to choose what you are looking for. One thing I'll be paying attention too when testing is how it feel as tech advances and the bars actually change for hulls that haven't changed stats. For example if you get new hull for Battlecruiser that has twice the HP as your previous best design that previous design will now be half a bar (it used to show a full bar). So it should always show up to date information but it will be a dynamic comparison. I will need to see how it will feel as a player, as I can't think of information been displayed like this in other games but think it should work.

Here is a current screenshot of what I've been able to implement so far, very much a WIP and nothing final but starting to feel more developed:

I've also done a lot of work on research systems and the GUI. Halfway through it was redesigned as I began to see limitation to the initial approach, so I'll talk over that with some before and after screenshots next blog. 

Happy to answer any questions or feedback in the comments.
Til next time!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Hi All,

Sorry for the lack of information lately I've been having a little break for dev work and had a Hawaiian holiday during that :). I was finding it hard to be motiviated for dev work outside of my full time IT job but every time I went to play a 4x game I just find myself thinking about what it do\don't like and would add or avoid in my game...

One thing that keeps bugging me in games I'm playing are the combat mechanics, using Gal Civ III as the latest example are complete combat rounds. The fact that if you attack it's either a total loss or victory (perhaps with some loss). I'm my game its more like Civ V (not one unit per hex though) in that you can attack, do a little damage each way then wait to next turn. I like how this allows harassing or testing the enemy strength, without having to commit to a total loss if you estimated strengths wrong (or the GUI estimate isn't detailed enough). So I get a bit more motivation for mine when I keep seeing this or similar in turn based games, I just want to have some starship skirmishes! :)

On another front I've done some design work especially toward research and tech systems in the game. Current system is looking a little complicated but very dynamic and interesting... I will start adding the features and test to see if too complicated or hopefully works well.

The process might look something like this:

1. Design the customized module you want. Pick using the amount of points researched in the stats you want. i.e 3 pts dmg, 2 pts accuracy, 5 pts cost reduction, etc. These modifiers have diminishing returns shared across all stats so it will be adifferent result if you pick dmg then accuracy second compared to if accuracy is first then dmg.

2. Once design complete you order a prototype from a research corp(s). This will lock in the stats you have chosen but each corp will produce a prototype with stats chosen and also a random modifier based on corp stats (some corps could be more reliable and consistent results or others more random but have chance to produce higher quality prototype)

3. Pick the prototype you like (can discard ones that didn't work out as well) for a ship you are designing. Ships can go through the same prototyping stage allowing variation from ship builders (you could still keep all the prototypes produced to use in your fleet if you want but only mass produce one variant)

4. Now comes the interesting part... Once you have a module up to a certain modified level you can research the next tier, lets say you have fission reactor up to required level then you can research Fusion reactor based on the last (or best) completed fission module. This will inherit the improvements from the fission reactor and add it to the base stats of the fusion reactor.

4a. So here you have a choice to research the next tier module so you get the base boost offered from the next tier or continue to refine the fission reactor for small increments but those improvements will add good bonuses to the next tier fusion reactor. The base bonuses are stacking so if fission reactor has a 40% boost researched and fusion has a base of 100 it's base will be 140 and then if you research 40% for the fusion reactor you get 196 instead of just 140, which will continue to stack throughout the tiers this can accumulate to large differences in the later tiers

4b. You can always start a new branch at any time, you could even simultaneously research a high output reactor and a low cost, high reliability one, and continue these through each tier. This will very quickly provide you with 2 quite different variants from the same base module

Now Corps will always have their versions of modules and pursue their own research so first you don't always have to design the modules if a corp has one you want already. They also might have higher tech available then you would want to pay for, so you could have an expensive high tech fleet or a cheap larger one. Corps could also have their own ships for escort\defense of their property (research stations, freighters, etc) and will probably be using cutting edge tech as they don't have to pay for licensing costs for their own stuff. All this to be balanced of course with lots of trial and probably AI games to watch how easily a change give a team an advantage.

One way I plan to avoid it been to much to micromanage is by having module modifier research take a decent amount of time and not much can be done to decrease the time, research capacity will expand parallel as empires expand so more projects simultaneously not increase research speed. We don't want to be redesigning modules\ships every 10 turns... and because prototypes will cost a decent amount it's not economical to research a new prototype every tech that you complete.

I'll leave it there so this post doesn't get any bigger, it's a bit of a brain dump so if I missed explaining a critical point just ask and I'll hopefully explain it, once I have the framework in I'll try to provide some screenshots to show it better hopefully :)


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

I've uploaded another demo version v0.091 (once moderator approved in IndieDB) with fixes and some more useful AI for anyone interested. I've also done a video blog as a test to see how it goes and if it helps explain where I'm up to and what I have planned better then just a blog post.

And Part 2 as I crashed the game (fixed now) during recording... lol

Don't hesitate to offer any suggestions or feedback on the format, also if you would like a video blog detailing parts of the game you specifically want to know about just let me know!


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Hi Everyone,

Got another preview release for anyone who is willing to try it out. Added piles of stuff since my first demo including: Ship Design, Sounds, Damage, Research, Etc though some at a very early state.

If you want to provide any feedback on the general feel, would love to hear a general Pros\Cons summary or even just 3 points below:

* The first annoying\incomplete thing you noticed
* After playing a bit the most noticeable\incomplete thing you found
* First or biggest bug you find

I hope this release will convey a little more of the feel of the game I'm aiming for even though still very incomplete.