We’ve added a new feature to the main page. It gives a neat interactive preview of some ship modules and the new animated internal artwork. Check it out here.
Also I want to talk a bit about what I have been working on so much lately: Singleplayer gameplay.
Gameplay has been coming together nicely. I have a persistent world full of competing factions that patrol around causing trouble for the player and for each other. I have moved most of the game’s functionality to a space station that exists inside that persistent world. I have made improvements to the AI and to asteroid interiors and to loot and to all sorts of other things.
Regarding the persistent world and your space station: you can spawn ships, configure turret attachments on ships, repair ships, scrap ships for credits, and reverse-engineer ships you have captured, all from inside the space station. When you die anywhere in the universe you respawn in your space station, and if you like you can even fly back to where you died and find your corpse. Assuming you won’t just get killed again.
I’ve also been working a lot on crew inventory and the item system in general. Ore is a thing now and asteroids have ore veins that are worth mining. Actually procedural generation of asteroids places ore, caves, and sometimes buried treasure so asteroid mining is going to be both interesting and lucrative in the early game. The main purpose of ore-type items is now also realized with the matter-furnace that is part of your space station. You can dump any item into the matter furnace and it will be recycled in return for the credits you use for spawning and configuring ships, of course ore and other valuable items will produce much more credits when recycled than useful loot items like a gun or a piece of body armor. All of these gameplay mechanics were relatively simple compared to the massive feat of just getting persistent inventory across every ship in the universe to work, but it certainly is working. One of the neat effects of that is that enemy ships with cargo hold are probably full of useful loot items now.
Speaking of useful loot items, one of the new item types is research blueprints and they tie together with yet another function of your space station: research. Guns, modules, ship hulls, ship design variants, and some space farming improvements can all be found and unlocked in the form of data-chips found hidden through the galaxy. When you use these data chips, a research job will be sent instantly to your space station, and when you get back there you can spend your credits to research the new blueprints you found and ultimately unlock the new technologies. This system will basically let you build your own modified version of any ship you can find in the universe while exploring, but it also means that as developers we can now start hiding all the best loot in really interesting and/or hard to reach places. For me that means the game just became the best Easter egg hunt ever, and I get to hide all the eggs.
Also did I mention space farming? I know I had released a little information about space farming in the past, but the system was only about half finished when Wayward Terran Frontier got rebranded and our team changed size and work focus shifted in other directions. Anyhow, space farming is back under development, and it is going to be a persistent and hopefully interesting part of life on a space station. This is really meant to be a garden for you to tend to between exploration and adventures. The space farm will slowly grow crystals that you can harvest for the same energy credits you use to build ships and research technology, but there will be a lot of depth to the system. Early on your farm will grow very slowly, and your crystals will be very small. By exploring and finding new genes to research for your crystal genome, you can improve your farm plot over time until eventually it becomes a very reasonable source of income for your station. Also worth noting is that the plot you grow crystals on will be very limited in size, to expand it you will need to search the galaxy for neutralino shards: a type of dirt that has a strong binding to the dark energy that space crystals consume when growing.
I’ve also made lots of improvements to core mechanics that you will probably just take for granted. For instance AI ships now use beam weapons and missiles equipped to their ships, and they can fly across an entire sector without crashing into asteroids and killing themselves. That last bit is important because of how the galaxy is now populated. Various factions have home bases where ships spawn, and are sent out to patrol the galaxy. The AI enemies can actually move from sector to sector now, and when they enter your sector it isn’t instant-kill-the-player mode anymore, they actually patrol like normal until they see you. Oh, did I mention that most enemy crew members have been given weapons, and when you try to board their ships they will shoot at you? Honestly the list is too long to remember so I am sure I left something out. Hell, I should make a video to show some of this stuff off, but every time I try I end up finding new things I want to add like a mini-map, or procedural generation of nebula sectors.
Anyhow I think the TL/DR version of this article is that I’ve gotten to the point where I get to develop the fun parts of gameplay instead of boring web development or core features, and the game is actually becoming something that can be played. I’m very excited about it.