Ship customization is a big part of Project Orion. It's the best way for us to allow players to tailor their experience to their specific strategy and playstyle. This month we’ve been working on everything from the user interface to how we handle weapon and attachment data internally.
The first thing we should talk about is how you get more weapons and attachments while playing. Previously we tried an approach based on a currency we were calling “research points”. Completing missions would reward you with these points which would in turn allow you to acquire a new attachments. They were limited, so you could only acquire a limited number of attachments by the end of the campaign. While this added to replayability and made choosing a bit more difficult we also realized it limited the player's ability to try new things. We’ve now moved to a tiered approach, with new tiers being unlocked as the story progresses. You can then mix and match all the new weapons and abilities without any artificial limitations.
The only limitation now is how much power you have to work with. Different attachments have different power requirements, so you’ll have to balance more powerful attachments with those of other systems. Another important consideration to make is that remaining free power is available to use in combat when routing energy, so maxing out your energy usage with attachments might not be the best decision.
We’ve also been spending a lot of time implementing the new user interface for customizing the Orion. While the layout and appearance are likely to change down, the road the UI is now fully functional and ready to go! This is one of the last big milestones we needed to reach before we felt comfortable releasing a new Alpha build, so stay tuned for more information on that in the coming weeks.
Here is short video showing how the interface functions. Excuse out placeholder assets!
This month a lot of work has gone into deciding which attributes of the Orion are controlled by the attachments you have equipped. Some are fairly straightforward, like top speed, hull strength, and shield resilience. Others focus on the Orion’s unique energy abilities, and in many cases there is an entirely separate set of specifications for when energy is routed to a system.
All of this information was previously saved in a way that made it impossible to modify once the game had been built, making it very difficult to test and balance these values. To remedy this issue we spent a lot of time converting all essential data to be read from external files. This is typically how this kind of data would be stored, but unfortunately it wasn’t how we initially designed these systems two years ago. While this isn’t a change you will see directly when playing Project Orion it will really help our internal testing and balancing, resulting in a better experience overall.
We’ve got something really impressive from the art team to showcase this month; the new Arckin medium fighter! This ship is the most common enemy in the game so we wanted to make sure it really captured the visual style of the Arckin properly. The old model has been unchanged for almost a year and a half, so we’re really excited to finally update it.
Other art tasks that have been in progress this month include designing the OSA fleet. The Outer Systems Alliance plays an important role in the story of Project Orion so we’re excited to get started on the design of their ships. The OSA style is based around being practical and rugged, if not very aesthetically pleasing. We should have the first of several ships ready to showcase in the near future so look forward to that!
We’ve also directed resources toward creating new models for all the Orion’s various weapons attachments. As with the old Arckin medium fighter the existing weapon models are legacy assets from over a year ago. With the new customization UI in place it really highlighted the need to overhaul these models to be both realistic and visually impressive.
That wraps everything up for this month. As always we’re doing whatever it takes to deliver the best game possible. The coming month will be focusing on updates to the AI, improvements to the cockpit experience, and more. We greatly appreciate the trust you’ve put in us to make a game you (and we) really want to play. Until next month!
- The Project Orion Team
Want to know more about Project Orion? Visit our website for more info about the game and the full Dev Blog archive.