We’re officially announcing this thing for the end of the week. We’ve been in testing for a while and polishing and such, come check out the change list.
We’re going to be uploading this thing on Friday to the alpha backers only, then we will be taking the store down for a short maintenance. We did a lot of debugging and are pretty sure it is bug free which means the existing alpha testers will probably find about a hundred bugs while we spend a day or two changing things in the store. The $40 option is going away and the $20 option is being reworded to indicate that it grants access to the early version of the game. Once we’ve published our last minute fixes for anything found by the testers we are going to reopen the store and activate all existing accounts so everyone can access the current version of the game for $20. If you are a $20 backer I apologize in advance for the delay. I want to make sure the game is polished before you get it because there are a lot of you. It shouldn’t be more than a day or two after Friday.
Patch 0.3.0.00 changes
The game is still far from finished, but once again this is going to be a very big step forward in the level of polish. If everything goes as planned, here is what will change.
XNA framework is no longer required to play the game, only .NET which most people already have. This gives us access to 64 bit memory and modern frameworks. We are taking advantage of the 64 bit memory so the minimum system requirements is going to suggest more than 2gb of ram and a 64 bit OS. That’s what we get for simulating the interior of every ship and station.
Note that if you have only 32 bit, the game should still run, however it will be susceptible to rare out of memory exceptions. There is a pretty good chance the final version will require 64 bit, but this is 2015 so I really hope that will be a non-issue.
New rendering engine
We’ve updated all of our shaders to incorporate about 10 years worth of progress in graphics technology. A lot of fancy things we wanted before became possible and went into this patch, and the result is a highly refined rendering pipeline with better AA, faster draw calls, new post processing effects, more graphics settings, and an overall increase to both shininess and environment quality. Those dust specs are in 3d now!
I want to show off the new rendering in a video at some point which is why this section doesn’t have bullet points.
New UI systems
This was the main focus of development and our UI has gotten a lot of love from the main menu all the way to combat.
- When piloting a ship there are all new UI elements that show the status of your ship and what systems you have active.
- The mini-map has been completely redone and it now ties into the view you get when zooming out on your ship.
- When fully zoomed out there is a lot of new visual information available to the player related to ship sensor range and visibility range
- There are new widgets and UI elements for features added in this patch.
- The screen layout engine has been upgraded and improved.
- We added a bunch of new screens for new features as well as for improving old features such as the in game menu screen which allows access to settings while in a game.
- Lots of existing screens and menus have been upgraded with new layouts and artwork.
- The research screen can now be accessed from anywhere in singleplayer so you can research things while you are out exploring, and research progress is always visible.
- You can now rebind keys.
- Sensors were added as a module type, all existing ships were updated to include sensors in their designs and the mini map now shows objects based on sensor range.
- View range was implemented and view distance is now a stat provided by different bridge modules. You now have a reason to choose one bridge over another when designing a ship.
- Ship design was implemented in single player, but researching module unlocks was not. (next on todo)
- Cargo can now exist in space, and it spills out of cargo bays when they are destroyed. Shoot a hole in the right spot and the loot will spill into space for you to scoop. All ships can scoop cargo if they have free cargo space.
- Reactors now drop a valuable material when they explode that can be recycled for mass credits, thus further encouraging the player to blow stuff up.
- A fancy new system was put in place for ship systems: modules which can be activated by a console for combat effects. All existing bridge modules were updated to have different amounts of system slots thus further providing a reason for choosing one bridge over another. We plan a lot of systems in the future.
- The player’s crew and their status is now tracked at all times via a UI widget. They have faces and names and they are slightly less stupid. The first crew upgrade is available to research from the beginning of the game.
- We built a dialogue system that lets us pause the game while the player talks to an NPC or AI. We can now start writing lots of dialogue for the story and other stuff.
- You no longer lose all items when you respawn, in fact respawning was reprogrammed from scratch to fix the various bugs it caused.
- Space terrain has gained a lot of variety with new generation algorithms that will make space less homogenous. Asteroid densities and placements have a lot more variety now.
- There are a ton of new tier 1 modules and the entire beginning tier of ships has been remade. Low level enemies are balanced better and start ships suck less, meanwhile everything has had an aesthetic upgrade.
- New enemies and patrol paths were added to make space combat more common and also more fun. Since reactor explosions drop loot, blowing up small enemies is now much more rewarding, so their population has increased.
- Stations are now sometimes surrounded by defense turrets, now you have to fight your way to the loot.
- There are now about twice as many pirate ship variations.
- All projectile weapons have had their damage outputs tweaked. Seriously we looked at every single weapon and made a new system for procedurally generating damage maps. Overall damage has been slightly buffed across the board with larger weapons gaining the biggest buffs to bring them in line with fast firing weapons.
- An introductory quest dialogue was added that irritates the player in the beginning of a game by telling them some basics of gameplay mechanics.
Usually adding new features adds new bugs, but we spent a lot of time removing existing bugs with this patch and somehow the game seems more stable than it did before adding all the new stuff. We squashed lots of bugs in this update and everything seems to be running better than ever, hopefully the testers won’t prove us wrong. All the fixes combined with added memory of 64 bit means this should be the most stable patch yet, however it’s still alpha so please don’t hate us if something goes wrong.
This is probably the biggest patch we’ve done in a while, but we already know what we want to work on for the next patch and it may be equally exciting. This patch added a lot of new features that will enable new types of content, and as a result we want the next patch to mostly focus on adding in that content. Ship systems and singleplayer ship design both are huge mechanics that went in with this patch but will be mostly ignored due to lack of content. We hope to change that in the next major release by adding new ships, new modules, and by seeding new loot through the game world.
Anyhow, see you Friday.