It’s been a while since the last update, clearly we cannot call these updates “weekly” anymore It isn’t entirely a surprise though, as we’re getting closer and closer to the Early access launch (September 2019) so I’m getting busier and busier.
A few weeks ago we released patch 0.4.7.0 which contained the first version of the UI. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish the star map in time, so it’ll be delayed until the next patch, end of July.
Asteroid Backer Week-end: 26th - 29th of July
Our first Asteroid backer week-end will run from Friday the 26th of July ( around 19:00 GMT ) to Monday the 29th. This means that pretty much everybody that participated to our crowd-funding campaigns on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo ( or our own website at the $30 tier ), will have access to the game.
Our goal is to start production of the game trailer for Steam around the end of July. We’ll use the asteroid backer week-end as an opportunity to record the new footage.
In the past 2-3 weeks and until mid July, we are focusing our efforts on visual polish for this footage, to make the game look as attractive as possible, within our limited time and budget of course.
We’re doing a pass over all the placeholder effects and replacing the worst offenders to improved versions. There are a number of effects that we think are good enough for now ( like the warp jam or the ship explosions ) but there are many others that we are upgrading. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:
- We are adding a glow / haze effect around the sun. It is a volumetric effect, which means that as you get closer to the sun, the “size” of the effect starts to surround your entire ship - to the point where the entire screen goes white. In terms of gameplay, getting too close to the sun causes radiations damage over time.
- We are playing around with a warp tunnel effect. It looks pretty generic, but sometimes simple is good. It is fully animated; we’re still working on it. We’ve experimented with a white spot in front of the tunnel ( and black behind ), but although it does look nice, it quickly becomes annoying in terms of gameplay ( you can’t see where you are flying in warp ). In the picture below we’ve tried adding a hole at the tunnel center. It helps a bit, but it’s still not good enough. We’re going to play with a smoother fade and a larger “visibility” spot at the center, next.
- Battle smog: we finished implementing lit / volumetric particles. We’re going to upgrade most of our smoke-like effects to use it ( ex.: atmospheric clouds, smoke damage, contrails… ). We’re also adding a new battlefield effect, kindly called “battle smog”. The idea here is that damaged ships and explosions leave smoky remnants that linger on the battlefield. Their lifetime at the moment is around a minute. It looks a bit like clouds-in-space at the moment, but it does look pretty nice, especially as the smog particles reflect nearby explosions.
In my opinion, the best thing is that the effect isn’t just an artistic / static backdrop, but fully dynamic. The smog particles tell the story of the battle due to their nature. They even inherit a bit of the velocity of the original explosion and spread in various directions randomly.
- The max shadowing range was increased, for roughly the same performance cost. The previous maximum range was 8 Km ( so any pixel further away than 8 Km was in direct light, even when occluded by a mountain ). The new range is 26 Km in high quality and 120 Km in extreme quality.
We’re also revamping / thinking of revamping the following effects:
Projectiles are curently a billboard; we’re experimenting with 3D particle meshes instead. They should look a lot better, especially at narrow angles.
Missiles, torpedoes and proximity mines effects have all been replaced. We’re trying to stick to a color theme in general: red-orange for kinetic weapons impacts / explosions, green for laser / beams ( not implemented yet ) and cyan / blue / purple for energy-based weapons / shields. Oh, and be happy: bomber AIs can now use torpedoes against capital ships !
We’re reworking the projectile impacts. They’ll use the actual mesh of the ship instead of the bounding box; at low angles they’ll be bouncing / causing a reflected sparkles cloud. We’d also like to have large projectiles pierce through small ships, instead of just having the projectile disappear.
We’re also looking at implementing particle ribbons for contrails and similar effects.
Kristian has finished texturing the corvette. In the pictures below you can see the Scoria default skin. He’s started texturing our last ship, the carrier. It is unlikely to be 100% finished by the end of the month, so we decided that we’d concentrate on the major areas of visual interest for the trailer, and apply some basic texturing on details, and revisit the details texturing properly at a later stage.
In terms of gameplay, we are ( admitedly at a lower priority, since we’re focusing on visual polish ) iterating on the UI / menus, AI, cleaning the HUD / making it more intuitive. I am also hoping to get the ( finally ! ) capital ships missiles / torpedoes / counter-measures / flak canons in, for the next patch.
Ideally, we’d also get the ship ugprading system in, but I’m not sure there’s enough time left in July to do that. We’ll see where we stand at the end of the month.
Note that I will be leaving in a vacation trip to France next week, for a couple days, before we enter the final stretch to the game’s launch. I’ll be very busy on producing the next patch when I’m back in mid-July, therefore there will be no more development update until the next asteroid backer week-end.