Cool things on the cards this week as a few of the team are meeting up in Europe. Myself and Alex will spend a few days working together to balance the scene a little more and do a code handover and we’ll also be meeting with Vincent to discuss what happens after the Overhaul update is complete and we need to start looking at the campaign. He'll have answers to the tricky questions like managing lines, voice actors and localisation. Vincent has produced more video games than we can remember, including the heavenly spawn ‘Nexus: The Jupiter Incident’ (may golden petals fall forever at its feet) so we’re in good hands I feel. We’ll try and snap some photos!
Meanwhile John Harper, the resident scribe is plotting the treacherous path of the campaign and side quests, very exciting stuff – we have quite a tale to tell interwoven with all the short stories and vignettes you’ve no doubt seen on the blog but don’t worry if you missed them – they are all right here.
Ship configuration makes it's way over to the Overhaul. All the descriptive text for the modules will be hidden away in a comprehensive tooltips system, which will enable you to do things like compare modules very easily.
So regarding the overhaul, we've finished moving across the mechanics we want to keep from the current alpha but one thing that has been left behind you’ll be happy to know, is the camera. A number of you have been screaming out for a Homeworld style ‘planar’ camera and we’ve added exactly that. In the current alpha our six degrees of freedom took 6 keys, 2 modifier keys and the mouse to master, in the overhaul it now takes just 1 modifier key and the mouse. Combine this with some inventive ‘adaptive scaling,’ the camera knows to adjust the sensitivity of movement based on zoom making things far less cumbersome. Try to look out for it in the smooth circular camera movements in the video below.
The game also now has a rudimentary AI that will simulate such tasks as auto-attacking, mining and trading (soon to be extended with patrolling etc.) and it’s all driven by a background concurrency simulator dubbed ‘Cerebrus’. This concurrency thing is cool because it means if you are in one zone, activity in the other zones continue in the background. Also of note, the ship configuration screen is now fully integrated and ships can be assembled using procedural weapons and modules that can now be found as loot.
Take it from us this is a but a small eclectic cross section of the progress made in the background really, the evolution is both rapid and exciting but sadly not something we can really show.
The fleet panel evolves with some better hologram icons along with the addition of the ‘Action icon’ which is designed to give an at-a-glance status of what each ship is doing. Feedback from yourselves also suggested that there should be enemy and allied ships listed in the fleet panel so you don’t have to fumble about clicking in 3D - so we have added collapsible sections for those ships also.
It’s obvious that when you look at the fleet panel, it doesn’t leave much room if the player has a number of vessels in play. Also if the player has stations and support platforms in the current zone that could add additional clutter still. To combat this we’ll be bringing back the ‘Flotilla’ icons from the current alpha. But rather than have the groupings fixed before the game starts, you’ll create these groups using traditional shortcuts (eg. CTRL+2, CTRL+3, etc.)
When a group is selected, all player fleet icons outside that group will be hidden. Hopefully that will make things much easier if you have groups of ships missioning in different zones. But In the end, I wouldn’t be surprised if we added an alternative high density collapsible icon view similar to SoaSE – just for the sake of completeness.
We’ve put together a little video shot 1080p 60fps (below) just to highlight how well this thing is running. Maybe we should have left it a little longer before pushing anything out because parts of it are blatantly unfinished but hey it’s an alpha. The zone map at present is a fine example of programmer’s art – functional but not particularly beautiful! But the basics are there and you’ll be surprised at how quickly it gets bought to life.
We’ll draw inspiration from the 4X genre, notable SoaSE and Endless Space and make the zone 'jump-link' lines pronounced and contextual, highlighted if available, hidden if not. We’ll also add summary boxes to the zone giving a rundown of material composition and fleet strengths. Looking at the zone map, it’s easy to forget that there will be other planets, each with their own zones filled with topical resources and ultimately missions, so with all of that, still lots of work to do there.
So as usual, big progress everywhere and still lots to do. It’s just crazy, some tasks that you think can take hours might take days and vice versa. One thing is for sure however, the to-do list is getting smaller, so every day we get closer to the cake and that can only be a good thing!
Cheers from the team anyway, we're loving the likes and comments coming in.
Also enjoy this preview video which incidentally happens to be our 50th!? Checkout the channel page to see videos going right back to the very start (wincing here!)