Another couple nights of really productive code are in the bag (or the repository in this case). I’m getting steadily closer to having the closed beta build ready.
One of the most exciting things about this project is how effective every work session has been. Prior to starting this game I participated in a series of monthly game jams with other devs in the FlatRedBall community. When you make a game, start to finish, in a single month you gain a lot more perspective on maintaining scope. Maintaining scope is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things about game development.
Every night when I sit down to code I ask myself one question: “What’s the least amount of effort that results in the highest payoff?” I feel like I’ve been more effective at nailing the balance of feature depth and code time than any other project.
Okay, enough of the philosophy. What has been accomplished?
- I fixed a ton of little bugs. Turrets were losing their weapons when the player warps to a new sector. Ships were collecting resources even if they were full. Friendly ships would accidentally destroy each other.
- I implemented faction reputation. Do too much damage to a faction’s ships and they will attack you on site. Factions also have enemies and will attack enemy faction ships.
- I implemented faction diversity within sectors. Sectors have a primary faction but now there’s a configurable chance that non-faction ships will warp in. This results in some fun mini turf wars.
- I added a random sector generator. This will not ship with the game. I don’t want the player to have infinite sector options that all look/play the same. That being said, it takes a ton of time to test ideas and do mundane things like lay out background decor. The random generator allows me to rapidly create and visualize hundreds of sectors, pick a few attractive ones to start, and customize them with an artist touch. The best of both procedural and human-generated content!
- I worked a ton on sector “prettiness”. I added a lot of 3D depth. The depth of stars, planets, asteroids, etc is much bigger. I also added a lot of new decor like background asteroids and debris.
- I improved AI. That started with implementing factions but continued with miners making smarter decisions and fighters being a little more aggressive at defending.
- I added the concept of “super asteroids”. All asteroids have a random resource payout when destroyed But now there’s a configurable chance to hit a “resource jackpot” asteroid that pays out much higher.
- I implemented game ships! The game now has 15 ships ranging from tiny scouts to large capital ships. The sense of scale in the game is important to the atmosphere and it’s exciting to see that coming together.
Ultimately this was a huge content and gameplay sprint. I built the tools to assist with more content creation and tested lots of sectors. I tested how the different ships feel and dumped tons of ships into sectors to watch them fight it out. For weeks I’ve had a vision of how these things would all work but I’m finally getting to a place where I have most of the key gameplay systems in place to actually feel how the game plays!
I’m excited but also insecure. I’m getting close to the place where people will really play, love and hate it!