Alpha 3.0 is live

Posted On 20 Dec, 2013

This patch adds a ton of optimizations and under-the-hood improvements to gameplay, but most importantly it adds a new game mode: Galactic Conquest.

Galactic Conquest

is a replacement for the old survival mode that never really worked properly, and I find it much more satisfying. In this mode you are restricted to a budget and your tech unlocks, the game will not let you spawn in a ship you can’t afford, but as you explore an infinite procedural universe you will find enemies in systems with any sort of stellar objects. The enemies get harder the farther you are from your starting location, but killing them increases your budget. Also, every 3rd wave a cargo ship spawns that will have some special loot in it. If you can kill off the crew of that ship it will allow you to dock, which grants you the loot within. All new modules and effects are unlocked this way, and the most interesting ones are more rare.

A single play through could take a long time so I have not tested every balancing situation and I want your feedback. Does it take too long for loot to spawn? Are the enemies too hard? Do bullets not fly fast enough? Did your game crash when you tried to collect loot and you’re angry? These things are hard to predict, except I really hope I solved that last one.

Of course the “open space” game mode is still there, and all ship spawning restrictions have been removed from that mode. That is now the place to go if you just want to spawn enemies with debug commands and test things.

New Controls

  • Travel Mode = [T] from navigation console this allows you to move at ultra high speed so you can get from sector to sector
  • Universe Map = [M] from navigation console this allows you to see what is in nearby sectors
  • Fire Missiles = [E] from any console with launchers, hold it down to fire all missiles, or press it to fire one
  • Docking Mode = [LEFT SHIFT] This one is important because you have to dock with the loot ships to collect the loot. Try shooting them if they won’t let you dock.

Change Log

Additions

  • Significant version changes will henceforth be named. This does two things for me: 1. it allows me to easily test for feature compatibility on start up of a newly downloaded version 2. it allows me to make up hilarious names and force people to look at them.
  • Added a very large but mostly empty universe to explore, I plan to constantly add more things into the universe with future patches and then the server will make the universe come alive if/when it exists.
  • Added a new screen accessed by pressing “M” during ship navigation that lets you see the galaxy map.
  • Added travel mode, available whenever there are no other ships nearby. Activate by pressing “T” to drastically increase speed. I should write down these keys somewhere…
  • Moving past the invisible outer boundary of a session now moves you to the next grid in the world map instead of causing your ship to shake violently.
  • Added some objects to world generation that you can travel to, mostly just cosmetic at this point but I spent a lot of time drawing them and I think they are pretty.
  • Added a new game mode where your budget and technology is restricted, but by exploring and clearing areas of bad guys you can improve your budget and unlock new technology.
  • Since budget and tech unlocks are no longer unlimited, I changed the empty space mode to no longer care about budget or tech restrictions so you can test any ship design easily. Only the new game mode will force you to play by the rules.
  • Added a new damage type: kinetic damage. It pierces through things until it runs out of energy instead of releasing all energy on impact.
  • Added some new gun types.
  • Added some new ship hulls.
  • Added missiles to the game.
  • Added many new AI enemy types. Including an extremely wussy ship for fighting at early levels
  • Added the ability to spawn static terrain objects to a game session (ai is oblivious to them and attempts to fly through them) but these objects aren’t used by the game code yet so they can only be spawned with debugging commands. The server does it etc, you’ve heard this before
  • Added some new module artwork for existing modules
  • Rendering now uses a separate thread to upload graphic changes to the GPU. This means frame rate is no longer affected by ships spawning, breaking, or taking damage on multicore processors, and it provides massive improvements to FPS at the cost of sometimes seeing small graphical anomalies. For instance, in extreme cases you may notice visual latency on damage effects during very large battles. The damage still happens instantly, but your video card doesn’t draw it immediately to prevent frame rate stuttering.
  • Added a new drop down menu UI element for selecting the guns attached to mounts in the fitting screen, this will help a lot now that there is more than 1 type of gun for each mount.
  • You can now choose the quantity of crew members assigned to your ship from the fitting screen. Additional crew members will cost extra budget to add.
  • Replaced volume buttons with a volume slider.

Arbitrary Changes

  • Beds no longer magically create crew members. You no longer need them in your ship design, and the game tries to be a little smarter about placing you in your ship at the start of a game.
  • Asteroid backdrop has been modified to fit the graphical style of world generation.
  • Added a new less interesting backdrop for areas without interesting things.
  • Choosing your backdrop has been disabled, the backdrop is now tied to the region you are in.
  • I wanted to add some more turrets into the game but I found the low resolution to be very limiting when it came to trying to make distinct artwork. So I doubled the DPI value for turrets and I redid all turret artwork. I’d like feedback on how this looks.
  • The module creation pipeline has been overhauled so as to make it easier for me to add new modules. I can now add new modules about as fast as I can get artwork for them. Also it is data driven which means it is a step towards future mod mod support.
  • I overhauled the crew AI again. This time I took away a little of their free will, and in exchange I was able to make it much easier to command them and keep them alive. They now avoid the certain death of decompressed sections of your ship, and if you click a tile to repair they will work on repairing nearby tiles as well.
  • I also got around to overhauling ship AI finally. The code is much smarter, so the AI can be much more stupid.
    • small ships will make strafing runs on larger ships.
    • small ships will attempt to dogfight with other small ships.
    • large ships will behave differently depending on their turret arc coverage.
    • turret gunners can target things other than the closest target, and they won’t always pick the same target as eachother, so lots of gunners means tracking many targets at once.
    • large ships with good turret coverage will attempt to move around as apposed to just sitting and pointing at you.
  • When you die the game now shows you a message and allows you to choose when to go back to the menu, it doesn’t change much, but it seems less rude than instantly dumping you back to the menu.
  • After watching many testers try to connect things wrong I have added connectors to the ends of the standard shield emitter because it looks like it ought to connect that way. I have updated the artwork to make it official.
  • Small engines can now be placed on edges, this should open up many new legitimate designs while only allowing a few silly ones.
  • Large engines are similarly a tiny bit easier to place as they only require 4 rear edge tiles now.

Fixes + Optimizations

  • Optimized damage calculations to improve frame rates during large battles. (in addition to threaded rendering)
  • Fixed a bug that allowed spent bullets to keep hitting things that they shouldn’t hit.
  • Ai will now always try to fire at you if they are in range, they were doing the calculation wrong in some cases.
  • Fixed a potential crash that could occur if you managed to destroy every tile on your ship at once. This was fun to test
  • Fixed a source of many edge-related errors in shards that break off ships.
  • Deleting modules in ship design should be much less laggy now.
  • I Revoked 3d sound status from all instant sounds like guns firing and bullets hitting because it makes the garbage collector very sad. You can hardly tell the difference (these sounds don’t move while playing) and now the game actually sounds better overall. Also it no longer chokes when there are lots of sound instances during large battles. FPS goes down less and no more garbage collection stalling

I expect I will have to upload a patch to fix something by the time I am done writing this.