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A development update covering progress on the core game, upgrade to Unity 5 and the state of VR.

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Hello everyone!

Wow, it's been 4 months since our last update, that went by awfully fast. We knew updates would be slower but I didn't plan to leave it so long. TL;DR: We're still hard at work on Flagship.

Refactoring/optimisations
A month or so into my work on the core game systems I realised the current code wasn't really going to support what needed to come. Flagship started out as a rough prototype, and all the work done since then has been retrofitted onto the original code. By the time we ran the Kickstarter we had something of a vertical slice, but the code was inflexible and getting increasingly difficult to work with (also known as spaghetti-code). Sorting all of that out has cost a few months, but the game is in much better shape now and performing better than ever. It's also laid the groundwork for reading in game data from external text files - which not only makes localisation a lot easier but also means modifying unit, weapons and faction stats is just a matter of editing the appropriate file.

Core game
As for the core mechanics themselves, resource management is a lot more fleshed out and the system now keeps track of the human population, food, water and metal across the galaxy. Metal is required to build units (we may rename that to something more generic), while food and water are required to keep the human population alive. Each planet and station will have its own requirements that grow with the colony. A percentage of the human population will join your military, so keeping your colonies happy will be important (conscription is an option for those that aren't). At the moment resources have a flat percentage per-planet (based on planet type), but we're working on the probe system that will allow you to find richer deposits of ore, more fertile farmland or underground lakes etc.

Combat is coming along too, we're not quite ready to talk about how it works yet but we're keen to move away from the standard RTS paradigm of moving units around a map and hoping you've got more guns than the enemy.

Overall there's still a lot of work to do, but things are starting to click into place and I'm really pleased with the progress we've made.

Unity 5
I don't think we ever formally announced it, but we moved to Unity 5 a few months ago. There are various benefits to the latest version of Unity, but I'm most impressed with the new Global Illumination and physically-based rendering systems. We aren't making full use of either at the moment, but the game already looks much better. In the past I had to fake bounced light by setting the global ambience value, whereas now the ambient light on the bridge is automatically affected by the surrounding space.



The top image is with ambient light turned off, this is roughly how it would have looked in Unity 4 (I say roughly because the screenshot was actually taken in Unity 5). The others are examples of the new physically based rendering in different environments. Unity 5 also has better physics performance, built-in support for VR and an integrated UI system that's the best I've ever used. Speaking of which;

UI improvements
The old UI has been ported to Unity's new system. It's a lot more efficient than the system I was using before and does pretty much everything we need right out of the box. We're still roughing things out, UI design is a tricky business and the fact that we're operating in world-space presents some challenges. Luckily, a benefit of the new UI system is that we can dynamically switch between world-space and screen-space, so those not playing in VR will be able to view any of the in-game UIs fullscreen if they want.

The current state of VR
You may have heard that Oculus formally announced the consumer version of the Rift, due for release early next year. More importantly for us, they've also announced their input solution, which for us was a pretty major piece of the puzzle. We're currently using keyboard and mouse input, which works okay but isn't ideal for VR for various reasons. Luckily Oculus will be releasing motion controllers in the second quarter of 2016. We're yet to try them ourselves, and there's no word yet on a developer kit, but I'm fairly certain this is the input solution we'll be using for VR. Using hand gestures to manipulate the map and interacting with the world using your hands is what we've always wanted for Flagship.

We had previously planned to integrate the Sixense STEM system, but due to various unfortunate setbacks they still haven't shipped any hardware and it looks like they won't start shipping until late November. We're still keeping an eye on it though. Potentially it could still be a great input system, but with the exception of OSVR, the major VR players all have their own motion controllers and it's hard to see how the STEM fits into that ecosystem.

I'd just like to reiterate at this point that you won't need a VR headset or any motion controllers to play the game, we're designing it so that it can be played with a normal monitor using a keyboard and mouse.

Moving forward
We still aren't ready to talk release dates, but we are aiming to release something to coincide with the release of the Rift, providing the game is good enough by then. I think we're still on target for that, but game development is unusual in that the workload grows exponentially the closer you get to the end. We probably aren't going to be sharing many screenshots or videos for a while, partly because we're still pinning down our final art style (most of the art assets that you've seen up to now have been placeholder) but mainly because we're saving it for the runup to release.

We'll try not to leave it so long before the next update, but rest assured that Flagship is still being made until we say otherwise. As always, we really appreciate the kind words and support we've received over the last few months. Until next time!

Comments  (0 - 50 of 69)
Garak(KillaBC)
Garak(KillaBC)

Progressing nicely, seems like a good few months well spent.The last thing you want is code that restricts the game in some way.

Here's to a smooth additional 4 months!

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Darmanator
Darmanator

Ever heard of Space Engineers? They seem to be having severe problems with their netcode. They've been working on it, but I can definitely sense the community getting restless. Glad to hear that Flagship won't have similar problems though!

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Guest
Guest

Yes, this is why you don't release your game for early access too early.

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Guest
Guest

congrats :D, I've just stumbled upon this today, but I think the concept is amazing and I believe its going to be executed well :D

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Vouroboros
Vouroboros

I'm really excited for this game, I've been watching a lot of Star Trek lately which isn't making the wait any better.

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Wookienator
Wookienator

I was worried for just a second :) keep the fantastic work up!

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MagicHead
MagicHead

Huh, I was just thinking the other day, " I wonder how Flagship's coming along". Well it's good to here about the development is coming along, and I will look forward to future updates.

Keep up the great work.

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Trunks518
Trunks518

Keep up the good work guys. I'm really looking forward to this game.

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Darmanator
Darmanator

Words on a screen can't express how incredibly hyped up about this game I've been since I first knew it existed months ago. I'm ecstatic to find out that development is continuing as quickly as it has been. If there's ever going to be some sort of beta testing or pre-ordering with this game, sign me up.

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nightovizard
nightovizard

Its been a while Since I have been this excited. Any considerations for steams early acces? I think I havent seen it in steam greenlight.

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

We are considering Steam Early Access, but we're still waiting to see how it develops it's discoverability tools. I'm actually surprised Greenlight is still around, but we haven't ruled out putting the game on there.

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Jarnis
Jarnis

I want this game today :) i will pay good money :) full speed ahead.

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Thaiauxn

Nice work guys! Always excited to see you update.

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joker169
joker169

When can I throw my money at you? I already have my wallet open.

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Taquito
Taquito

Nice to read from this project again.

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Sev40
Sev40

So will the game have a sort-of planet specialisation system (e.g. Dedicate a planet to agriculture, industry, research, etc.) or will the planets just have the 'probing' feature?

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

Reading the news post I did gloss over planetary resources and probes which might have confused things a bit. Planets will have various resources depending on planet type, which will tend to dictate what you use them for. For example, water planets are quite rare but are (obviously) an excellent source of water. They aren't easy to mine or farm on though, though you can still attempt either of those things. A desert planet might be rich in minerals but have no water. This means water will need to be shipped in from elsewhere (that's handled automatically, but may cost resources depending on the circumstances).

Probes are just a way of performing a deeper scan of a planet, but they are expensive and you can only scan a limited area. In the example of the desert planet, you may discover a deep underwater reservoir which will reduce the overhead of having water shipped there.

We have lots of other ideas about how to flesh all this out, but we'll talk about those at a later date. :)

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davo001
davo001

exellent news

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Maguis
Maguis

Glad to see a new update and such a positive one as well! Very excited about the potential of this game and the VR interface for it. Sorry I missed the original kickstarer campaign, but will be keeping a close eye on this game's development. Keep up the good work!

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harrisonpounds
harrisonpounds

Really glad to see this is still being worked on. I can't wait to see more.

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Cheggsie
Cheggsie

where are you! i really want to here what exciting things have happened to the game!

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

Sorry, it'll be a while before our next news update but rest assured we're still working on it. :)

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Lorflord
Lorflord

Please tell me it is still alive, otherwise i'll cry and whine and probably invade Poland, and besides i think a lot of us would like to know, we've been waiting long time to see at least a little bit of this game, also, what about an Early access on steam? i mean users could mod the game, which means you could implement some of those mods into your game and put them in credits, it'd make the game development faster, if you want an example there's a game called Rimworld by Tynan Sylvester, he released the game on alpha and has implemented some of the other players mod into the game which has made his existance a lot easier. Also made the development faster. Looking forward to this game. Cheers i know it will be a hit.

Greetings from México.

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

We're still working on it, news updates will be slow for a few months as we're restructuring things a bit. We'll post a news update once we know for sure what we'll be delivering.

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Cheggsie
Cheggsie

have you been working on anything special lately, if so please let all of us know!

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Sweetship
Sweetship

Oh my gosh, I want this game! Is there any kind of date you hope to reach for any kind of pre-alpha release just so we can finally have a sample of the awesome treat that awaits?

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Cheggsie
Cheggsie

they said that they aren't saying a release date because it is still very very early in production.

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Cheggsie
Cheggsie

OMG! 8 months without a peep from them! hope they update this soon

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

The next update might be a while, but rest assured we're still working on the game.

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AltoSaxon912
AltoSaxon912

I hope you guys have something to show us soon! We're dying for more info here! You know you've got a great game in the works when people are checking up years later to see how its going.

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AltoSaxon912
AltoSaxon912

Also, I meant to ask whether you guys drew any of the inspiration for this game from John G. Hemry's book series, The Lost Fleet. Part of the reason I'm so excited for this game is it's similarity to the book series I enjoyed so much. If you haven't, I'd suggest you add it your to-do lists. It's a military sci-fi series from the perspective of an admiral woken up from cryo sleep. It delves into a lot of the strategy of space combat, and some of the science too. All in all a great series, and relatively quick read.

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Guest
Guest

Oh,that book? Ive seen it on the web before
Sorry to crush your hope due to a comment not made by urban logic

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AltoSaxon912
AltoSaxon912

Lol, rip me. Got all excited seein a reply.

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

Sorry, this got overlooked somehow! I haven't technically read the Lost Fleet series but did listen to the first 6 or so audiobooks. I quite liked the them, but his tactical model is very different to ours as combat in Flagship takes place at much lower speeds.

For instance, formations make much more sense in Geary's universe since ships are only in combat for a fraction of a second and need to maximise their offensive/defensive abilities over a very short amount of time. In Flagship, battling ships can pace each other so tight formations actually become restrictive after the first shots are fired. You also have to carefully time your shots, it's not just a case of 'fire everything' and hoping for the best. :)

That being said, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't inspired by the books. The whole thing with Navy tradition surviving long after we leave the seas is brilliant. The giddy excitement of leaping into the unknown every time they go through a hypernet gate.

Getting the itch to return to the series now...

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DogOfTheLog
DogOfTheLog

Hey, guys. This is something that's bothered me for a while, are you guys planning to switch to the Vive from the Rift? Just wondering, guys. Good luck with the development!

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

The plan is to support both Vive and the Rift eventually (along with any other major PC-based hardware). The snag is I don't actually have the Vive hardware yet, but once I do adding support should be fairly easy.

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DogOfTheLog
DogOfTheLog

Alright, awesome. Again, good luck with development!

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Guest
Guest

I am really starting to get worried here. Even if you don't have anything important to say can you at least have an update saying "Hello! We're not dead".

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

We're planning to post an update in the next month or so, but trust me - a news post simply saying 'Hello! We're not dead' will not make people happy.

In the meantime, I posted this on Twitter a few weeks ago.

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AltoSaxon912
AltoSaxon912

I don't know, I would have loved a "We're not dead" update. I was stalking across Brad's twitter in hopes of finding a quiet, "The projects dead guys, sorry." type post. Instead, I was very pleasantly surprised to see you guys weren't dead after all.

I think you might find that while most people have forgotten about this game by now, you still have a very significant number of people still riding the hype train and checking in for updates.

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

If we ever cancel the game we'll announce it here and on the main website, I promise we wouldn't just disappear quietly into the night and leave people guessing. :P

In any case, definitely still working on it. :)

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Guest
Guest

Would any sort of background be given on the (commander?Adimral?)
Or would we be allowed to create one?
Also would any sort of perk be yiven at the start of the game?

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

The player is deliberately a blank slate and we're leaving you to fill in the gaps and decide who this person is. There aren't really any perks or attributes to choose from, but you will likely choose your own name and name your own ship.

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Guest
Guest

cool . so the new mission simulator thing,what can we do

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UrbanLogicGames Author
UrbanLogicGames

It's a skirmish/mission editor that lets us create missions for the game. I'm really only getting started on it so not ready to talk specifics yet, but the hope is that we'll make it available with the game so people can create their own missions/campaigns. That really depends on how much custom scripting we end up doing outside of the editor though, if the editor isn't flexible enough on its own there's a chance it won't be included on release.

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