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Another week of progress. Alpha 4 contains mostly UI changes and additions in this release, but some other new things as well as lots of bug fixes.

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Alpha 4 (v1.0.5080) of PewPew has been released!

There are some specific changes based on feedback in this release, but mostly it's UI stuff. The biggest addition being a new screen where you can see information about a star system, as well as it's planets. The store screen has also received some love and you can now see descriptions of items before purchasing them.

Missiles are now fired using the CTRL key and they also only fire one missile at a time. This should help avoid the field being flooded with missiles. Note that they also do more damage now, so be careful.

A new shield has been added, and the two the existing shields have been tweaked. There's a generic all-round shield that provides decent max health and decent recharge. Then there's a rapid recharge shield with low max health, and a high health shield with slow recharge.

Any and all feedback is welcome!

Alpha 4 for Windows
PewPew Alpha 4

Screenshots

Incoming missile warningStar system information screen
Star Proximity WarningMap screen

Comments
CMDKeen
CMDKeen - - 647 comments

I must admit, it was the Tyrian graphics that have drawn me to even try the game. I'm glad they did, as it's a pretty fun game, even if it's still just an early alpha. I really like games with newtonian physics, and you have already managed to make the combat fun too! Do you plan to keep the art direction similar to Tyrian?

Bug reports: Found 4 different things making the game crash: Opening the map, opening the inventory, trying to click any of the thrusters and trying to fly a ship without shields. The map thing is especially annoying, as it keeps me from seeing more than one system.

Suggestions:
- The Fang- uh, I mean Banshee, is extremely overpowered if you install cannons in all three weapon slots. Being able to trade missiles for guns or the other way around is a nice gameplay feature, so perhaps the rate of fire of all guns should be slowed slightly if there is more than one gun installed?

- I find the "space friction" to be pretty annoying, as it forces me to hold space all the time just to go where I want. Which is not bad in a game with varied terrain and such, but this is space, after all.. Maybe allow us to toggle "inertial dampening" so that we can float in space if we want to?

- Missiles shouldn't be locking on your own spaceship, even if they are heatseaking. Or well, not right after you launch it - if an enemy flies by you and you are much hotter than it, fine, let the missle change the target, but having it turn around just to kill you when you are there alone is just silly.

- Drag and drop in planet buy screens? Much more intuitive than having to double click, even if it's slower.

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frodeaa Author
frodeaa - - 7 comments

Thanks for the feedback! I haven't decided if I'm sticking with the Tyrian graphics indefinitely, but for the foreseeable future that's what I'll stick with. I loved Tyrian when I was younger and I think they're really great graphics.

Re crashes:
Awh, shucks. That sucks. I wonder if it's because I botched the installer and it can't find some files, or if it's something else. Did you get a specific error, or did it just crash to desktop? I'll try and include error catching and logging in the next version.

Re Banshee: Yes, there's some balancing to be done here. The rate of fire should be limited by your generator output, and the amount of generators is limited by our module slots. Larger generators add more mass, so if you have lots of power and lots of weapons, you should essentially be an easy slow moving target. Rotation speed isn't linked to mass yet however, so it really only affects your acceleration right now.

Re space friction: Yep, you're not the first to notice this. I'm going to put the inertial dampeners into a "software" and allow them to be turned on and off. Hopefully I can include this in the next update.

Re missiles: Equipping the Banshee with missiles and chain gun probably wasn't a great idea. The chain gun gets really hot, so if you use it while firing missiles, you'll be the hottest thing around. A weapon cooling system will help, but replacing the chain gun with a plasma gun will make heat output less. The heat seeker is just the first of three types of missiles and is intended to be the dumb cheap one, and thus target the hottest thing in vicinity (including the star, eventually). The other two kinds of missiles will only target enemy ships.

Re drag+drop: Yeah that'd be nicer I think. Unfortunately I have to build that functionality from scratch, and I really hate UI code, so it's not on the todo list for a while yet. It'll get there eventually though.

Thanks for giving the game a try, and thanks for all the feedback!

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CMDKeen
CMDKeen - - 647 comments

It would make sense to abandon the graphics as there's only a limited amount you can use until you run out. Still, it would be amazing if you could get your own graphics in a similar style.

- The crashes give just the generic Windows error that the game encountered a problem and needs to close. I'm still running WinXP if that helps.

- Ah, that sounds like a good way to balance high mass. Perhaps in addition to diminishing turning rate and acceleration, high mass could reduce max speed to a degree? The acceleration penalty is nearly enough as it is to provide a proper disadvantage, as it's only really noticeable when you unload everything but the thrusters and shields from your ship.

- That would be great. I noticed the ship can go backwards, but trying to go backwards to slow down does not increase the rate of slowing down at all. Is the rear motion used to slow down the ship already? If so, that's pretty awesome.

- The missile mechanics are much deeper than I have expected, and playing around with heat mechanics affecting the is a lot of fun already. Perhaps a flare dispenser could also be included that would deploy an object with the temperature of several thousand degrees to lure any heatseaking missiles away? Of course, it's "ammunition" would be limited and you could make it so that a missile impact would destroy the flare so that one flare wouldn't save you against a missile swarm. That said, it strikes me as slightly strange that a plasma cannon heats less than a chaingun.

- UI programming can be a real pain, so I understand why you don't want to do now. There's a host of more important features to be implemented sooner anyway.

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frodeaa Author
frodeaa - - 7 comments

The stars and planets are from other sources, but the Tyrian tile set is actually pretty large so I might be able to find most things that I have planned. For now it's good enough, but we'll see down the road I guess.

Re crashes: I'll try and include better error logging in the next version. I tried replicating the errors on my laptop after installing, and it worked ok, so it might be a specific error with your setup I guess.

Re mass: I'm definitely going to reduce turning rate with addition of mass, and although I've considered max speed as well, I'm not sure if it's necessary. I'll try and play around with it and see. Some of the larger ships I have planned have a very reduced max speed to begin with and will be able to add a lot of mass because of large cargo holds, so I'm a little vary of changing the max speed.

Re thrusters: Right now the ship itself has smaller thrusters (100k for Phoenix and 60k for Banshee, I think) in four directions (controlled by Up/Down/Q/W). The engines has a much higher thrust, but only in one direction (Up arrow). Right now the dampeners use the ships thrusters to slow down. I'm thinking about allowing it to use the engine as well if it's pointing in a direction where the engine would help, but it's a bunch of math to figure out so I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Re missiles: Yep, flares are on my idea list. And yeah, I suppose a weapon that shots "hot bolts of plasma" should probably generate more heat than a weapon that just fires bullets. I was trying to balance the chain gun because it's actually very good, even with limited ammo, but it does kind of go against intuition so I'm going to have to fix that.

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CMDKeen
CMDKeen - - 647 comments

There's a few more remarks I have, too:

- The explosion and bullet hit sounds are quite loud compared to the other noises, as is the chaingun sound. It would also be great to have separate sounds for when shields and the hull are hit, it was an indispensable audio cue in Tyrian and I think it would work just as well in PewPew.

- The sun damage is done fairly weirdly, doing nothing until you almost fly into the sun in which moment you are vapourized in less than a second. The damage should be done more gradually in a much larger area, with more damage done closer to the sun. Ideally, the sun would only raise temperature of the ship and that would do the actual damage.

- The speed of the ship is not added to the speed of the bullets shot, which makes aiming rather unnatural in fast ships as the bullets travel barely faster than the player does. Would be nice to see that fixed.

I have had a great time playing the game so far, so giving back some feeback is the least I can do! ;)

Edit: Huh. I'm sorry, I had to split my comment in two parts as the it was longer than 2000 characters and forgot to post the second part..

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frodeaa Author
frodeaa - - 7 comments

Re sounds: I believe the shield has a sound right now, but it might not be loud enough. It's probably just drowned out. I still haven't quite figured out the sound levels and it's something I tweak on a regular basis.

Re sun damage: Yeah, I've been trying to spread it out more... It was actually much worse in the previous build, where it actually killed you so fast you didn't even see the shields come up.

Re bullets: I used to do this but I temporarily removed it when I added the heat seeking missiles I believe. Regular projectiles only travel in a straight line, so if you fire from standstill the max speed is only 9 or whatever, but if you fire from full speed, it'll be let's say 18 (assuming the ship is travelling at 9). Which isn't really an issue. But for missiles, if they have a max speed of lets say 12 from a standstill, they'd have a max speed of 21. But because they can control their path, now they're suddenly almost twice as fast as missiles fired from a standstill, even if they are travelling in the opposite direction of what they were fired from. Right now missiles derive from the bullets class, which is why they behave the same. I might come back to this in the future and see if I can solve it somehow.

I'm glad you're enjoying the game. I hope to be able to add the trade goods store back in soon, so players can do some trading and looting and be able to make some money and stuff.

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CMDKeen
CMDKeen - - 647 comments

Sounds: I finally noticed the shield sound, it was much easier now that I was actually looking for it. Previously I just considered it to be some weird noise.. It would certainly be helpful in the bullets didn't play a sound every time they are destroyed but just when they hit a shieldless ship. As of now, one can hear random detonations when there are two AI ships battling nearby and some of the bullets they shoot disappears next to the player ship, and it feels somewhat strange.

Sun damage: Well, at least seeing it does damage is certainly an improvement. Are you using the collision system to check for damage currently, by the way? It seems the damage is done as soon as the ship touches the faint corona around the sun. Maybe checking the distance to the nearest sun would work better in this case?

From a gameplay standpoint, luring the enemy ships to come closer to the sun to get themselves destroyed is very fun, although quite hard. Making the damage more gradual and at longer ranged would make it more risky but also more rewarding, especially if some kinds of dropped cargo could withstand the radiation/temperature near the sun.

Bullet speed: Perhaps making the missile quickly slow down to its maximum speed would help? Ideally, the missiles would have inertia just like ships do, but that would make it much harder to write the targetting code. Although there's an example of it done here: Codeproject.com

I definitely am enjoying the game, yeah. I keep coming back for the newtonian combat and because of how unforgiving the game can be if you are not careful - often when two AI ships are battling, I get my face full of stray plasma bolts and am out of shields and at half hull integrity in moments. Same when the AI ships spawn right next to my ship. Giving the game more depth would be wonderful!

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frodeaa Author
frodeaa - - 7 comments

Re sounds: Yeah the bullet hit sound is tied to the bullet dying right now, so it plays regardless of how the bullet "died". I'll probably move this to the ship so that it plays when the ship is hit instead.

Re star: It's bounding sphere collision with the sprite right now, yes. Although it does grade it so if you're only slightly inside the sphere it does less damage than if you're in the middle of the sphere. The problem is that it's still far too high I think.

Re AI: Enemy ships will eventually know to avoid stars, but I haven't written that part yet. The AI right now is very very simple. I like your idea and I've been thinking about doing some sort of hydrogen harvesting from stars where you have to fly close to scoop up hydrogen, but if you get too close you're toast. The Elite series does this and it's pretty neat (especially since it uses hydrogen for fuel, so you can wastly expand your exploration radius).

Re missiles: Missiles actually have inertia. They use the same physics as the ships do, but their mass is much smaller which is why they are pretty precise right now. I took a glance at the link you posted and it looks similar to a principle I used for targeting in another prototype I built a few years back, which I'm going to reuse for this game as well. I used the Quadratic formula, but that link seems to use Quartic, and I'm not sure what the difference is so I'll have to do some more research. Missiles and turrets will eventually both use assisted targeting, but both will also come in cheaper non-assisted versions.

I've added an option to turn off the inertial dampeners, so you should be able to play around with that in the next build. I might put it up on Friday, but I'm not sure. There's little else new except for the installer, which I've spent the majority of my time redoing. I'll see if I can get anything else done by then.

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