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Shallow Space is a 3D Real Time Strategy game inspired by Nexus: The Jupiter incident and Homeworld. Guide a set of capital ships through a complex and intriguing scenario, using resources to advance weaponry and skills. Mine those resources to ensure your fleet remains prepared as you advance through the detailed narrative. Manage power distribution, damage and training on your flagships while at the same time producing smaller ships like cruisers, frigates, corvettes and fighter drones to compliment your fleet and prepare the front lines for what is about to become very shallow space. (Be sure to check the blog on the 'Official page' link for up-to-date news)

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So I’ve been focusing on AI, the sector generation parameters and getting everything playing a little more nicely together. The randomised asteroid fields will now cater for much larger play areas, the larger installations and ships will command an escort that will respond reactively to situations brought about by other AI or player ships.

Posted by mawhrin-skel on Jul 12th, 2014

Life's catching up; holiday on the horizon, moving house, couple of weddings - so it looks like Shallow Space might catch itself a little hiatus at least for a couple of weeks. Just as well really; I’ll stop far short of calling the project a curse but it certainly is life altering. I knew it from the day I started typing it would alter my place in life, any lone wolf will tell you that by sheer definition it's a solitary existence, coding is best done in a dark room without distraction – that in itself should speak volumes...

The bit I struggle with is criticism, you might have seen it on Twitter or YouTube, the occasional flippant remark from me in response to an offhand comment. I think a lot of indiedevs may hide away not for fear of copying or simply forgetting about the marketing factor but because of that fear of criticism. It's something I'm going to have to get used to I know, but I’m not here to pretend to be adequately socially equipped, I’m here to make a game and essentially the fans will have to swallow my erratic personality as a bonus prize.

So I’ve been focusing on AI, the sector generation parameters and getting everything playing a little more nicely together. The randomised asteroid fields will now cater for much larger play areas, the larger installations and ships will command an escort that will respond reactively to situations brought about by other AI or player ships. The trouble is that you hit play and sometimes it’s an exciting state of total war and other times the ships seem to evade you not particularly interested in the fight. Well the game isn't all about fighting though which will become apparent later on so perhaps it’s how it should be which leads me to another somewhat strange point; this game has a soul.

It’s true, but then when you continue to throw so many methods, classes and parameters into the pot, it’s easy to forget that the complexity of the output increases almost exponentially - especially when you're letting the computer decide some stuff for itself. I often sit here scratching my head thinking ‘I didn’t program it to do that’ and with the 3 dimensions of movement and the prohibitive turret arcs which the AI are aware of, it often has the feeling that there is something much smarter afoot as they seep into your lines, polluting your formations. I look forward to more of that surprise as the title continues to evolve but hope the public can stomach it.

On the other side of the fence Alex has sunk his teeth proper into the pretty, he's doing well - making the most out of our limited place holder assets. I sometimes feel he would be more suited spinning himself round in an executive leather chair overlooking Hollywood boulevard but it suits the project just fine. It’s the mechanics that matter most to me, but dressing the face of it seems is more important nowadays, undeniably good looking things sell; it’s an integral part of the human condition.

What makes space battles really shine from an eye candy point of view is the explosions. Sure, everyone knows there are no big booms in space but I’m not practising science fact, I’m practising science fiction. Even still they actually serve a purpose, soon I’ll be implementing missiles and once I’ve optimised fighters it’ll mean the flak cannons will need to make a return and as someone in the comments below rightly pointed out, that’ll really add depth to the battles.

Some more refined sketches starting to appear now from our mystery artist, some amongst you will recognise him from his style – it’s very distinctive. So we have 5 subtly different styles of ships, which style do you prefer? Hit the comment button and be heard - bit of market research, it’ll be interesting to find out…

This week I’ll put together another video, I’ll be playing the game a bit more this time which reminds me of the funniest part about all of this... The fact that I feel I might end up actually regretting making Shallow Space! Because you see I've little doubt now that this will be the game of my dreams, but when all is said and done I’m probably not going to actually wanna play it.

So I envy you as the future player, and the team and I salute your continued support.

James

Post comment Comments
Nanoelite001
Nanoelite001 Jul 12 2014, 8:34am says:

I really like #2. #1 would be a good frigate and #4 looks like it could be some kind of carrier

I'm guessing #3 is a long range ship and 5 is........ something. a utility ship mayhaps? what with the resource gathering and all.

2 for me my good man, anyone else think the same?

+3 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 12 2014, 8:42am replied:

Well these are baseline concepts to 'seed' the rest of the fleet on. I like #1 and #2 but then I'm a sleek lines man and protruding nacelles kinda man myself...

+3 votes   reply to comment
Guest
Guest Jul 12 2014, 10:54am says:

#3, or #5 looks like it could be a broadside focused ship, which could be an interesting nuance to the gameplay.

+2 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 12 2014, 12:08pm replied:

An interesting and important observation, because the ships designs lend themselves to 'top or bottom' offensive load-outs which can lead to rare stalemate situations.

I don't really want the ships rotating on the spot as it'll look weird and mess with the movement routines. but broadside could be the focus of battle for the larger ships which my equal it all out...

+3 votes   reply to comment
Guest
Guest Jul 12 2014, 7:24pm replied:

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Banditks
Banditks Jul 12 2014, 12:58pm says:

I am not sure why anyone is giving you any grief. you are working very hard and that should gain you quite of bit of respect even if they don't agree with something.

I am also sure that we will understand if you take a break, doing other things can sometimes have a great restorative effect once you return.

I hope that somehow when this is all done you can sit back a be proud of you work. I am sure you will be, and i hope that allows you to be able to also enjoy playing the game with your fans. Its a sad thought you put so much in and then never touch it again.

1 2 and 3 look great to me.

+3 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 12 2014, 1:59pm replied:

It doesn't really bother me that much and you would think the respect would work like that. The trouble is with the Homeworld fanboys, they seem to think they have some right to dictate terms. I'm all for listening to ideas, but trying to make me feel as if I have to prove myself to them, well I have two words in response to that and I think you can guess what they are.

I always take breaks from time-to-time, I'm blessed with a high degree of focus, which has allowed me to render my thoughts so efficiently :)

I will be proud and I don't intend to make it and forget about it, but my enjoyment will be in the making and the tweaking and the presenting over the playing. But I do want to make a life out of myself from it that much i'm certain of!

Cheers, that seems to be the consensus amongst the team also.

+4 votes   reply to comment
DemoDreams
DemoDreams Jul 12 2014, 1:12pm says:

This looks so awesome! I love the ship concepts!

+3 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 12 2014, 1:59pm replied:

Cheer dude! Which ones do you like the most?

+2 votes   reply to comment
DemoDreams
DemoDreams Jul 12 2014, 2:17pm replied:

Hmmm, close call between 1-3 but i'm going with 2, just because it has a more realistic feel to it(in my opinion).

+3 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 12 2014, 3:17pm replied:

#2 is my favourite also

+2 votes   reply to comment
faxmaster
faxmaster Jul 12 2014, 2:27pm says:

Hey, you got Dae on this? Awesome!

Number 5 is my favorite, although all your choices look good. Guess I just like blocky shapes.

Excellent choice for your screenname, by the way. Any chance some of Banks' ideas will show up in the game?

+3 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 12 2014, 2:39pm replied:

God you know I would honestly love that, but his ideas are so far-fetched they would be difficult to even realise. Take the drones for example; able to affect matter, manipulate the fabric of reality - and then there's the ships; 'General System Vehicles' (GSV's) containing entire eco systems - weapons beyond imagination or even description and trying to put all that onto a computer screen, to fail would likely be the only outcome and to fail would insult the god-among-men Iain M Banks that is sadly no longer with us.

I like the idea of special circumstances though and I take the way he told the story, not his method of delivery but the timing - allowing the reader ample time to get wrapped up in the narrative.

Ah, i'm pleased I can talk about that man - love that stuff, thank-you. Star Trek I liked, but he made science fiction so potent every chapter was like a tab of acid.

+2 votes   reply to comment
Hell_Diguner
Hell_Diguner Jul 13 2014, 12:00am says:

I like 5 the most, followed by 2 and 1. Not a fan of the wing bits on 1 though.

For me, spacecraft designs are most interesting when they have complex forms in all three dimensions. A "test" is to look at the ship's outline from the x, y, and z axis. If any of those outlines are simple shapes, like a rectangle, oval, or the ever popular stretched hexagon ( Static.giantbomb.com ), I tend to like it less than something that's more complex. At the complete opposite spectrum, I don't like designs with thin connective parts that would easily snap if it was a plastic toy ( Insidepulse.com )

I hope you don't get the impression all Homeworld fans are hyper-critical jerks.

+2 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 13 2014, 8:01am replied:

A fan of number #5 then? I don't much like bits that look like they could 'snap off' either!

Naaah they can't all be, but whenever I receive a message that's 'off-key' it always seems to be from a HW fanboy. I just wish there was a bit more in the way of positive feedback from them, i'm not trying replacing their beloved game meerly offer an alternative and they can't even be bothered to click like. Damn insulting.

Gearbox have a very tough job ahead of then with the HW remake I tell you, a very tough job indeed.

+2 votes   reply to comment
Hell_Diguner
Hell_Diguner Jul 14 2014, 6:10pm replied:

No kidding. I was looking forward to Hardware: Shipbreakers because I knew a new game in the Homeworld franchise wouldn't live up to my hopes and might not live up to my expectations. I also knew the new IP would give BBI much more creative freedom than if they had to work under the Homeworld IP. After that announcement I lowered my expectations quite a bit.

///

Another thing to consider in ship design is a clear visual identity for different types of ships... making it easy to identify what ship is what so you know off-hand its strengths and weaknesses.

+1 vote     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 14 2014, 6:57pm replied:

Yeah I saw shipbreakers, they chickened out by setting it on a planet though. It seems space has been all but abandoned, Reddit showed me that earlier with a true eye-roll moment; I post my latest vid 15 upvotes, someone posts an animated GIF of some clouds from yet another mobile game 250 upvotes. I should have made a zombie kitten FPS, my marketing machine would have assured me ascension by now.

The Homeworld IP should have been resurrected 5 years ago, they've left it too long and take it from me they face a somewhat immutable crowd, left to fend for themselves for over a decade.

Yes very good point that, although I think both the concept artist and 3D modeller know that one :)

+2 votes   reply to comment
Guest
Guest Jul 13 2014, 5:01am says:

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mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 13 2014, 5:18am replied:

Noted - thanks! Like the idea of dedicated railgun ships btw :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
StrangerDanger
StrangerDanger Jul 13 2014, 11:19am says:

Three as it seems a lot more practical than the other designs.

+2 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 13 2014, 11:28am replied:

Ah so you chose function over form eh? Sadly though what is practical doesn't make for good theatre and I think a real cruiser would be a very unimaginative hunk of metal.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Shedovv
Shedovv Jul 13 2014, 1:15pm says:

I am not sure about sizes, but to me 1st looks like a fighter at smallest and light cruiser/carrier sort of thing at biggest. 2nd looks like an assault/drop ship and I like it's look THE MOST. 3rd looks like a... how to put it... a space analogue of a submarine that torpedoes enemy and/or as a solid carrier with very decent armor angling (which should provide possibilities for ricocheting missiles and such). 4th albeit slightly weird looks like a flagship due to the possible observation/bridge deck locations, a clear presence of a decent sized hangar and a possibility for a "doom laser" in it's nose. 5th I dislike the most, it looks like it has a part missing or rather than it it's self is a part of something else.

+2 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 14 2014, 7:00pm replied:

Yes big spinal mount weapons are essential and ricochets will be a finishing touch but I love them also :)

All other points noted.

+1 vote   reply to comment
samuelmetcalfe
samuelmetcalfe Jul 14 2014, 7:41am says:

#3 is my least favourite though it could easily be redeemed if the side panels opened up to reveal a devastating broadside array as others have suggested. Would need some funky animations to bring it to life I think.

IMO, #1-2 are the current 'in' concepts, of which I'm a fan. They look like military vessels that cost big bucks. #4-5 don't(!), more merchant navy in my head.

Good luck finding an elegant solution to angles and not rotating on the spot - could be tricky! Things rotating on the spot to face bugs me too, one of the parts of Nexus that I liked.

+2 votes     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 14 2014, 8:17am replied:

I'm favouring #1 and #2 also.

Yeah I think the firing arcs is probably going to be the focus of combat, what makes matters somewhat worse is the it isn't clear whether a target is in an arc of fire.

It's why I'm ditching energy management and damage control in the short term because missiles will need to be managed much the same as fighters and the player will need to fly around the ships with the camera making sure they are making most use of the fire potential. Who said life as a fleet commander was easy?

Saying that, they may not need to - the enemy suffer from the same flaw and it'll depend how tactically focused the player is. Of course it'll sadly mean I'll have to resort to dirty tactics to ensure the AI remain challenging especially during endgame as the alternative would be confining the possible parameters thus ruining the sandboxy type surprises..

+1 vote   reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 14 2014, 8:48am replied:

One things for sure, it gets better and better as the months go by and what I might can a potential issue, some might see as a feature lol :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
samuelmetcalfe
samuelmetcalfe Jul 18 2014, 5:13am replied:

Why not dedicate a dynamic UI element to present viable firing solutions - a list of hostile targets that are in sensor range where those that have valid firing solutions are highlighted and have small icons indicating the weapon type(direction etc.) that has the solution?

There would still be plenty of camera spinning to work out the 'next move' but at least then you wouldn't have to faff with eye-balling angles before hitting the fire button...

"Who said life as a fleet commander was easy" - IMO, if you end up with a tactical combat system that is seemingly too complex, that's not a problem. The player wants to feel overwhelmed sometimes and the pressure to make split-second decisions on what to fire at what and when in messy situations is an important part of making gaming fun. I'd like to damage control at least in there just to add to the feeling of ' oh ****, everything is falling apart, what do I do?!'

...and everyone knows the AI always fights dirty.

+1 vote     reply to comment
pavlosG
pavlosG Jul 14 2014, 10:02am says:

Like the #1, then the #2, then the #5. The first two have geometry complex enough to get away with a simple texture, but the last 3 will need a kind of camo pattern (like ww2 US/ UK navy) to enrich the rather dull lines.
The way I see it, #3 has weapons that can recess into the hull, #4 could do with even more 'modules' or hull parts arranged vertically and #5 could do with a clearer bow/ stern differentiation. #1 might have trouble with weapon arcs.
Perhaps more use of asymmetry ?
Some heat radiators ? (like in #1)

Nice use of slanted hull faces to catch the lighting. Very nice designs !

Will factions differ a lot in design, or will they be human-square centric like those designs ?

+1 vote     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 14 2014, 1:01pm replied:

In the first part of Shallow Space, all factions will share the same designs. This isn't an MMO and we want to keep the timetable realistic and bottom line, the more ships we have the more it will cost. I don't want to start putting people on commission or having free designs from multiple artists so I have to be realistic.

If it does well then we'll invest the money we make into the second part where we'll really push the boat out. The first part focuses on different factions (or corporations) of a specific strain of Humanity - so it stands to reason they'd all have similar ships anyways.

Cheers for your thoughts on the ship designs :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
pavlosG
pavlosG Jul 15 2014, 5:54am replied:

I think you should aim for something different, in fact. Bolder. Do not forget that you will have to fight among a fierce crowd of other SF space combat games that either:
- follow the now typical no-risk trend of squarish designs
- use procedural methods to make ships (limit theory)
- keep very basic designs but add tons of meaningless details to make up for the total lack of imagination (yes, elite dangerous, I mean you)
- simply transform ships into spaceships (wing commander carrier)
... all those approaches show serious limitations, and make for very forgettable ships (limit theory could surprise us though, I mean, look at Shipwright, the module for shapeways).

Why not stand out ? Why not pose some constraints, some architectural or technological characteristics that will be used to build around some original-looking ships ? I mean, Chriss Foss was used for Homeworld to great effect, but now everything looks like a bloody F-117 Night Hawk!

Design boldly where no human has designed before !
(and now, my coffee...)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Daemoria
Daemoria Jul 15 2014, 12:52pm replied:

When I was tasked with this design project I was mainly trying to establish several distinct feeling styles. Each of those 5 designs just serve as a nucleus for the entire fleet.

Just curious if you are saying that these designs in general need to stand out, or just the last 3 styles.

Thanks in advance for clarification.

+2 votes     reply to comment
samuelmetcalfe
samuelmetcalfe Jul 18 2014, 5:19am replied:

I think pavlos meant in general. They're great concepts (I personally LOVE #2) but if you perform some reduction on the designs above, they are all essentially horizontal cuboids facing +y, with engines at the back.

I guess boldness as mentioned above is trying to think outside that box (pun fully intended).

+1 vote     reply to comment
mawhrin-skel Author
mawhrin-skel Jul 19 2014, 11:13am replied:

Horizontal cuboids are the name of the game, I prefer those standard style ships - plus. They are easy to model. Are you thinking Myrm styles from eve?

+1 vote   reply to comment
samuelmetcalfe
samuelmetcalfe Jul 19 2014, 4:52pm replied:

I prefer them too, makes physproxies(/whatever) simples. Yea, guess vertical cuboids certainly deserve a place in the the concept stage at least, right?

...One of my personal favourites - the B-Wing - think that's a little sexy.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Xankar
Xankar Jul 15 2014, 9:22pm says:

(#3) I really like those big and clunky ships with some crisp refinement and edging; Number 3 certainly fits the bill for that :P

+2 votes     reply to comment
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Shallow Space
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mawhrin-skel
Engine
Unity
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