So the Indie awards are upon us, it's our first time on the competition and it's quite exciting but what's more exciting is the progress on the game. With the core now resembling a complex state machine many of the tricky bugs associated with inconsistent targeting and movement states are a thing of the past. Launching and docking is now capable from bays located anywhere on the ship (a bit trickier than you might think that one) and fixed weapons are now written in for Frigates. I'm looking forward to adding huge spinal mounted special guns, gonna be cool.
On the subject of weapons the bulk of the effects palette has been delivered so we'll be injecting a variety of new guns over the coming months, we're particularly chuffed with the oscillations of the lightning gun. One thing that I did have a little panic about was sound. Unity comes with a damn fine sound system rolled into the package but we've written our own pooling and delivery system allowing us to prevent overloading by limiting the amount of sounds played and preventing lag spikes while playing them, also allows us to easily loop the sounds of the beam weapons which, simply put, sound amazing.
Adding sounds to this thing is going to open a few eye's I can tell you that, but we're not ready with that yet really - there's one thing worse than having no sounds and that's only having half the sounds!
The UI has seen some more changes, with the inclusion of Frigates (and potentially fighters further down the line) it became necessary to make wing management as autonomous as possible. The little buggers are fiddly to click on and while they are in combat the player will need a way to pull them back to the carrier and dock them for replen/repairs with minimal fuss. If you look at the screenshot above you can see status icons next to the wings, by clicking these icons when the ship is in a specific state invokes a specific action. So clicking the status icon when the ship is moving means the ship will break course to pursue a foe, clicking it when a ship is docked will launch it. The aim here is to make it intuitive and reduce the number of actions per minute therefore making the game more enjoyable.
You've probably also noticed the inclusion of some new icons on the screenshots. Well I have to say I had somewhat of a reality check, me and Alex play the prototype and talk about the experience regularly and I surmise that it makes no sense for me to come bounding through the doors with some uber-complex ‘Total War-in-space' type thing. The only people I'll be trying to satisfy with that are the people most likely to pick it apart. So instead I'm going to go with the tried and tested ‘abilities' method, different weapons systems, skills and upgrades will give the ship special abilities which can be activated at the required time. Again this reduces the actions per minute leading to a better experience and I have to say it'll be a LOT easier to code.
Besides, I feel that people will be more forgiving if I increase the complexity down the line, but no-one will forgive me for removing complexity when the rubbish reviews come in - forgetting not that the damage to the games good name will probably already done. So in-game; ‘Energy' will become a conduit to these abilities rather than the planned systems management approach. The game will be juicy enough without the planned energy management features and trust me there will be enough to do as it is!
Coming soon are two new videos, the first is another progress video showing just how far we've come in the last 4-5 months and the second will be showing off Frigates and their various abilities (fixed weapons, mining) our German friend has been churning out ships like a madman so there's plenty to show off there also, along with the changes to the UI, weapons effects, the huge Outpost model maybe... Well I'm rambling anyway - so just watch this not-so Shallow Space because there is more greatness inbound!
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