Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
An RPG, RTS, and sandbox space exploration game all-in-one.  Explore, trade, build, and fight in a beautiful, procedural universe.
An RPG, RTS, and sandbox space exploration game all-in-one.  Explore, trade, build, and fight in a beautiful, procedural universe.
An RPG, RTS, and sandbox space exploration game all-in-one. Explore, trade, build, and fight in a beautiful, procedural universe.
5,449 backers pledged $187,865 to help bring this project to life.

Limit Theory Development Summary: March 2017

71 likes

Happy early Saturday to all!

Seemed like last month's format worked out well for you guys, so we've kept the same format this month.  Except that we have eye candy this time :)

---

'Twas a long month. So much happened that it's hard to remember everything, but that's definitely better than the alternative. This month was all about big pushes toward the completion of big systems: assets, entities, and the physics engine. Major progress was made on all fronts.

I said last month that I'd be a happy camper if I had my primary assets 100% back, and I'm pleased to announce that I am indeed a happy camper! All my old mesh tech is back and accessible from Lua. Some of it even got upgraded; BoxMeshes (previously PlateMeshes) can take on cylindrical and other anisotropic shapes that weren’t possible previously, lending more power to ship & station algorithms. With all of this functionality re-packed into the LT Core library, I’ve ported the PCG algorithms for asteroids, planets, ships and stations. Seeing the ship and station algorithms again reminds me that I still need to put more time into them, but it was still glorious to have my assets back!

Oh how I missed you, bizarre procedural ships!
Oh how I missed you, bizarre procedural ships!

 

I uploaded a full gallery of screenshots for that week, so have a look:

Limit Theory Devlog Gallery ~ March 8, 2017

Sadly, while trying to delve into some gameplay programming in Lua, I ran into the same old problem...you guessed it: performance. Turns out I underestimated how badly LuaJIT has been hurting me (that is, in comparison to native C or C++ code). It became more evident once I had my assets back and was trying to push gameplay logic into fully-populated systems. Achieving the classic LT silky-smooth 60FPS was quickly becoming an uphill battle.

After much thought, a cascade of obvious insights befell me.  Moving some of the entity logic into C wouldn’t be the end of the world; some things modders will never need to touch. That line of thinking led me to more critical realizations: bottlenecks are always in the computations that happen every frame (especially if the computations happen across a large number of objects). Motion calculations and physics in general are obvious culprits. In fact, I realized that the most expensive, frequent computations are in the low-level logic...much of which need not be accessible in Lua. Most gameplay logic is far higher-level and need not run every frame. I knew this previously -- that costly code should be moved into C -- but never realized how well it could be done without hampering the ability to write gameplay quickly and elegantly in script. To make the high-level logic as fast as possible, I’m now working on an ultra-fast, event-driven entity system that will ensure per-frame processing is cut to the bare minimum.

Running performance tests for the first time even with only some of the above implemented shocked me. Moving low-level entity logic into C yielded absurd gains over Lua, but, perhaps even more surprising, it yielded gains over the old C++ engine. This I can only attribute to the fact that I've done a better job of structuring my entity code for performance! Suffice it to say, as of this month, I am completely convinced that our performance problems can be overcome with the right mixture of C and LuaJIT. 50K moving asteroids will back me up on that:

Spool up the FTL...something has gone seriously wrong in this system....
Spool up the FTL...something has gone seriously wrong in this system....

 

Once more, I couldn't resist and uploaded another full gallery of eye-candy for the week's work.

Limit Theory Devlog Gallery ~ March 17, 2017

 

Physics (collision detection, in particular) was the secondary focus of the month’s work. LT’s collision detection used to break down quite badly in cases that are traditionally ‘difficult’...unfortunately, with the scale of entities in LT, such cases are not at all infrequent. A complex ship navigating in close proximity to a complex station that’s 1000x larger in scale is, for example, a difficult case that occurs all the time. With several new collision detection structures implemented in the core this month, I’m well on my way to obliterating this bottleneck. Initial tests are showing great performance, although I've yet to finish the whole system. No big gallery for this work, but a little gratuitous ocular edification:

My God, it's full of...boxes!
My God, it's full of...boxes!

 

Toward the end of the month, I began implementing a full-blown entity component system (ECS) in the C core. The ECS is the part of the engine that controls how the data that underpins objects like ships, stations, colonies, asteroids, etc. is defined, managed, and altered over time in response to gameplay. From the point-of-view of the would-be LT modder (as well as Gameplay Josh), it's the most important part of the engine. I'm excited to see where this work takes me, since I believe that the new ECS along with an event system is going to simplify gameplay constructs dramatically, while providing superior performance to anything we saw in previous incarnations of LT!

On a side note, I got an opportunity this month to exhibit LT in New Orleans at the 'New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week' event. Since it was less amenable to interaction than previous events, I wrote a quick 'cinematic camera' that flies around a system, smoothly moving and panning while hunting for interesting things to look at. My demo was, essentially, 'Limit Theory Screensaver' :P It was quite lovely and I got very positive feedback. One guy even mentioned that he used to love playing Freelancer, and was excited because LT looked like a modern version of it. Naturally this made my day :) I made yet another gallery for the event, although this one is smaller and has less variety since not much was different, content-wise:

LT @ New Orleans Entrepreneurship Weekend, 2017

---

Big thanks to Nathan for managing to summarize what apparently added up to 7K words worth of devlog this month! Remember to hop on over to the forums if you're up for digging into the details, and be sure to check out the three screenshot galleries linked above!

I don’t think I can stress how big of a month it’s been for cold, hard progress. I’ve got assets back, I’m well on the way to defeating the performance issues that ended up killing the old LT, and, most importantly, I've got my eye on the gameplay ball. April should prove to be very interesting indeed.

Thank you all for caring :)

~Josh & Nathan

Limit Theory Development Summary: February 2017

74 likes

Hey everyone!

Since the response to 'how should I handle KS updates?' from the last one was overwhelmingly in favor of monthly summaries of my weekly development logs, that's what we're going with. Here's the first one. I'd like to note that this summary was actually compiled from my logs by the new Limit Theory Community Manager, Nathan (known as 'Talvieno' around the forums). You can read more about that exciting development below!

---

In the first half of February, I explored the performance characteristics, and, ultimately, the feasibility of the current LuaJIT solution. LuaJIT has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. At first, I was cautiously hoping it would be the solution, and became very hopeful when I saw that it ran more efficiently than any other solution I've tried... only to become extremely worried whether it would actually be performant enough in the long run. This caused me to look into other related solutions (which didn't work out so well!). Fortunately, I didn't give up there. I continued to put some more work into it using LuaJIT's built-in profiler, which was helpful in weeding out the worst areas of performance. At the end of it all, my heavy-duty laptop was able to run a 1000-ship battle at 60fps. Remember, of course, that not all of the logic is implemented, so this isn't representative of what you'll be able to do in LT. The goal for me has always been to allow ~100-ship-battles at decent framerates, and at this rate, I believe we'll be able to do that.

What I've seen has allowed 'Practical Josh' to conclude that we will be able to (tentatively) proceed with LuaJIT. This is also taking into consideration that, if things start to get too heavy, I'll likely be able to make enough little scale cuts here and there to push out a still-high-quality LT 1.0. I'm keeping practicality in mind and am open to, for example, having to slightly lower the scale of system economies or out-of-system simulations, etc, if it means the difference between 60 and 10 fps. I'm also devoting some relatively-small amount of time to researching other potential solutions guaranteed to be more robust than LuaJIT, just in case LuaJIT doesn't work out.  All-in-all, this is great news since it means that FPLT will not be holding up development any longer!

I spent the latter half of the month getting more content brought over to the new system and sanitized. PlateMeshes (stations, ships, turrets and the like) are 90% back now, and I've spent some time making them more robust and performant than in the past, since they turned out to be the cornerstone of many of my procedural algorithms. Planets are back and at 100%, including atmospheric scattering. Asteroids will be back as soon as I figure out scalar field extraction in the C core.

In summary, a LOT of stuff is coming back very quickly, as I promised it would, since the real work of thinking through problems is already done in many cases. It feels so nice to get to focus on putting content back in! This time around, I'm not going to make the mistake of going for long periods without a playable version of LT. I intend to keep the PAX demo in working shape and updated with relatively-recent content, both so that I can continue to feel the inspiration of being able to actually play LT, and because I'll be pushing myself to go to more local tech events where I can continue to demo the game (I'll give you all a better heads-up from now on as well).

As long as we're talking about the community, it's also worth mentioning that I have appointed LT's forum admin, Talvieno, as my official community manager. His new role as CM will ensure that the amount of non-coding LT-time I spend in the future is kept to a minimum! I'm really happy to have Talvieno on board. You can see the full post about it here. I’ve also kept my promise of delivering weekly textual devlog updates. They're viewable here, and go into much more technical detail on my recent developments. If you're not pleased with this summary, do have a look!

And in a rather unexpected note: part of my time over the past week was dedicated to developing a networking and remote 'control panel' system for LT. It's a technology investment that I'm sure will pay dividends. Specifically, in an attempt to gain better control over LT's procedural generation algorithms, I implemented a multi-platform TCP & UDP socket API, then used it from LuaJIT to spin up a very simple HTTP server run in the background by the engine that serves up a simple control panel webpage when connected to via a browser. It can change internal engine variables automatically in response to controls like sliders or buttons being changed in the panel. This makes it fantastically easy for me to work with large amounts of parameters and see results in real-time (which is exactly what's needed for building good procgen code). As a bonus, since it's based on sockets & HTTP, I can connect remotely and use another machine like my tablet to control parameters while I develop on my main box. There are a whole lot of other ways I can envision using this to boost my productivity! Also, the tools are now there for anyone who wants to give an LT multiplayer mod a shot at release. (May the force be with you...)

Finally, I experienced one of the happiest development moments in memory when I got to see my universes in VR for the first time! VR support had always been planned, but I had never gotten around to adding it until a couple of weeks ago. Playing the PAX demo on my HTC Vive blew me away! It reminded me of why I became a graphics programmer: I wanted to build worlds. I always dreamed of getting to explore the worlds I'd built. Eight years ago, when I started learning 3D programming, I also looked into VR, but the hardware just wasn't around back then. I saw how I might be able to build worlds with enough learning, but I didn't see how on earth I could learn enough to build the technology that would let me experience those worlds. Fast-forward less than a decade, and a bunch of really smart people have done exactly that. I never dreamed it would happen so soon...if you had told me back then that in eight years I'd be able to code nebulae, planets, stars, and ships, AND that I'd have access to hardware that would let me SEE them (almost) as I see objects in reality...there's no way I would have believed it. But there I was this very month, floating above a planet, staring at nebulae and stars, and watching the occasional pulse-laser fly by my face. Even the most trivial experiences in LT were made absolutely thrilling :) I'm planning to do a lot more visualization and testing in VR, simply for the inspiration factor. After two years of relatively-uninspiring work, I'll take all the motivational boosts I can get.

---

Again, if you're really interested in details (all of the developments of February can't possibly be packed into a neat summary), dive into the logs!  In March I hope to see completion of the porting process for most content (actually, that's the goal for the end of this week, not the whole of March...!)  With all my toys back, it'll be time to resume the process of assembling them into a universe.  Full steam ahead.  I look forward to being able to post new visuals again :)

~ Josh & Nathan (Talvieno)

PS ~ This format is a work-in-progress.  Please let us know if you have thoughts about the format of the KS monthly summary (too much text? need bullet points? rather just have tiny per-week summaries with links to the full log?)

The State of Limit Theory Development, 2017!

109 likes

Hi everyone!

So, we've got quite a bit of catching up to do.  I know that those of you who don't keep up with the forums have been in the dark for quite a long time now, and I hope you'll accept my sincerest apology.  It's been a rather rough time for LT development over the past two years, and that situation has made me less than keen to communicate, since I've grown all too fond of communicating good news over the course of LT's dev cycle.  That being said, it was a very poor choice to leave so many in the dark for so long, one that I now regret deeply.  As of last week, I've launched a serious campaign to rectify my communication habits, bring everyone up to speed, and ensure all who care about Limit Theory that, despite roadblocks, it's coming :)

For those who want the full, gritty story on development over the past two years (and why it's not been nearly as fun as usual), I'm going to refer you over to the forum announcement that I made last week.  Though I don't wish to trivialize that beast of a post with a summary, I understand that not all of you want to read another Josh Novella, so a rough summary is: LT development has run into a very difficult technical problem with no clear/easy solution (in particular, achieving high run-time performance while also being maintainable by one programmer).  The result is that I've had to spend a great deal of time exploring solutions, all of which have thus far failed (although the latest one is currently looking more promising than any before it).  Quite honestly, it's been a rather bleak period for me -- where once I got to have fun building things freely, I've had to shift to the much less fun problem of figuring out how to do so 'sustainably,' so-to-speak.  Anywho, I won't ramble on about it, if you want more details, please do have a look at the post.

Second on the agenda, as some of you may already know, I attended PAX South this past weekend with a small LT combat demo!  I should have announced my attendance beforehand, as I'm sure some people would have wanted to come -- unfortunately it snuck up on me and I was absolutely swamped with work getting ready for it by that time.  I did get to meet a few forum members, a few backers, and a few general lurkers, which was a great deal of fun!  Although the demo was very simple (being built quite hastily on top of the current 'attempt' at solving the aforementioned problem), it's quite fun if I do say so myself, and should also serve as a bit of comfort to anyone who's genuinely concerned that I've quit working on LT or am not making progress (really, if you read the posts I link, you'll know how far that is from the truth).  For more details on the demo and PAX experience, you can read the recent devlog that I posted, which summarizes the past week.  Or, if you're only interested in the screenshots, you can have a look at the LT @ PAX South 2017 album I made, which contains some shots of the demo as well as a few bad pictures from my phone of people playing it.  If you're wondering why the ships are rounded boxes, you'll have to read the devlog :)

Since I can't resist popping something shiny into this post, here are some of my favorites from the album:

 

 

 

Speaking of dev logs!  As I mention in the first forum post, I'm going to resume a regular development log series, albeit at a reduced frequency.  I understand that I can't keep doing this irregular, unpredictable communication style.  It doesn't work, it's hurting the community's trust in me, and it makes me feel bad on top of it all.  So, the current plan is weekly or bi-weekly (I'll have to feel out which is best) 'low-pressure' logs.  The idea is that, in an effort to make sure that I communicate regularly, the understanding with these logs will be that I'm going to summarize development whether it be positive, negative, shiny, unglamorous, etc.  The fact of the matter is that a lot of weeks aren't going to be glamorous, but you guys have made it clear to me that communication of news, even if it's not unicorns and rainbow nebulae, is far preferred to no communication.  Got it!  The first such log is already up and is, again, mostly about building the combat demo and the PAX experience.

Finally, in terms of Kickstarter updates, I'm not quite sure what to do, so I'm open to suggestions on this matter.  I don't really want to flood you guys with a weekly / bi-weekly KS post just for a dev log that may or may not be of interest to anyone.  Typically I reserve KS posts for 'bigger' matters.  Perhaps, then, I should do a sort of 'monthly aggregate,' wherein I take all the logs for a single month and pull them together so that you guys get a monthly digest?  Or something else entirely?  Please let me know what you, personally, would like in terms of KS updates -- it'd really help me get a sense of what to do!

Really happy to be back in communication with you all, I've missed it.  We all knew LT was an ambitious project from the beginning.  Some knew from the start that it would be..errr...'slightly' more difficult than my youthful optimism led me to believe.  Nonetheless, we have come entirely too far to throw in the towel at this point.  I'm 25 now (can you believe I was 20 when I started LT??) and the world isn't as rose-colored as it used to be, but I still see so much beauty in Limit Theory.  It's a beauty for which I'd happily wrestle issue after issue.  Many days when I sit down at my desk to start work, I imagine the day that LT is released.  I imagine all the happy people around the world creating their stories in a limitless universe.  It's enough to keep a guy going no matter the difficulties :)

~Josh

LT & Josh are Both Alive and Well! / "Why the half-year silence!?"

178 likes

*crackle* Incoming Transmission! *bzzzzz*

Warmest greetings Limit Theorists!  It's been way too long since we last spoke, so this is going to be a rather massive update to finally fill you all in on what's going on with life, LT development, infinite universes, and me.  Please bear with me since I've got a half-year to catch you guys up on!  Before we get started, two things:

First, I'd like to say that I'm sincerely, deeply sorry for how long it's taken me to work up to this update.  It'll be by far the most personal update yet (which scares me), since the com silence and derailment of RTB was due entirely to personal issues of a serious nature.  It's a really rough subject for me to talk about, especially to an audience of 5,500.  But I'm ready, and you all deserve answers.  When I explain it all, I hope some of you will find it in yourselves to forgive me for the time it took me to step out of the shadows.

Second, as a bit of a TL;DR before we even get into it, I want you all to know right now that LT development has been and is continuing at full speed, as of several months ago.  So let's just get it out of the way right now that I've not abandoned the project!  In fact, I've been working hard to create a healthier, more productive, and more professional development atmosphere for LT.  More on that later....but first!  Story time.

What follows is a cringingly-personal account of what's been going on in my life (hence, in LT development, since that's my life).  But in the spirit of full transparency, I'd like to share it.  I've already shared gory details on the forums, primarily because I felt more comfortable disclosing preliminary info to a smaller circle until I made it back into good enough shape to step back into the light of KS updates.  So.  Let's get into it.

Chapter I: The Dark Days

The last time you heard from me was during RTB.  The Road to the Beta was designed to be the beginning of the end for Limit Theory's dev cycle.  Ultimately it, along with a solid year of unhealthy work habits, spiced up with the onsetting of some pre-existing conditions unknown to myself, ended up backfiring and, ironically, was the beginning of the end for my sanity.  I wish that were a joke, but it's not really.

In preparation for the third chapter of RTB, I was pushing harder than ever to deliver several new pieces of game content that I thought would really please you all (it included a working custom ship editor...to give you some idea of how hard I was pushing).  Unfortunately and much to my surprise, roughly a week before the deadline on RTB 3.0, I very suddenly started to experience new, strange, and scary things, mentally speaking.  I'm not going to go into more detail than that...but the point is that it threw me into a world of panic.  It also disconnected me from objective reality for an extended period of time (again, I won't go into detail about what that entails).

Retrospectively, I can basically summarize it as such: the mental health issues that had been creeping up on me for about half a year, combined with my drive to wrap up LT finally came to a head and set off a mental condition that drove me into a very scary place.  Again, I don't want to dwell on that too much, but in hopes of making my absence a little more understandable, I'll just say that these weren't garden-variety anxiety or mood issues -- what I experienced was frightening and ultimately disabled my ability to work effectively for roughly three months.  I still woke up every morning attempting to code, but, to be perfectly honest, my mind was so far gone that I accomplished little.

In what seemed at the time like just a matter of days, three months of my life blew by without any sign of the Josh that you've all come to know.  Not surprisingly, I've very little memory of that time.

Chapter II: The End of the Dark Days

By some miracle, the thought "something is very wrong" entered my head one day.  It must seem so overwhelmingly obvious from an outsider's perspective.  But from inside the belly of that kind of situation, and being in total isolation, it's nearly impossible to actually recognize and do something about it -- hence three months seeming like days. But finally, the realization hit me.  The very next day, I moved home to Louisiana and told my parents that I needed help from medical professionals.

The next two months were consumed by trying to get that attention and make headway in figuring out how to diagnose and 'fix' me.  Towards the end, after long last and with the right treatment, I started to feel Josh coming back again.  It was a long and arduous process, but the moment that I felt the first flicker of light return to my mind was one of the most beautiful moments in my life.  I'll never forget it.

The dark days were over.  The recovery to full-speed was far from complete, but the shroud had been lifted.

Chaper III: The Beginning of the Golden Days

Fast forward another two months or so -- more doctors appointments, new treatments -- and I was back.  Back.  Not back to the frantic Josh that had taken hold of LT development during the last few updates and RTB.  Back to the calm and inspired Josh that wrote the original KS pitch.  Back to seeing the beauty of the big picture.  It was incredible.  If any of you have ever been through something similar (and, statistically, out of 5,500, some of you almost certainly have), you may know what a cathartic feeling it is to be 'back' and only then realize how far you'd drifted from being yourself.

Despite continued treatment, I knew I had to change my habits to make sure this kind of thing would never happen again.  I needed to keep my eye on the finish line, not lose track of the big picture.  I needed to keep the full vision and beauty of my dream game in the forefront of my thoughts at all time, and make sure I never slid backwards.

Rather coincidentally, it was at this exact time that I learned of an organization in my very own hometown that was looking to give small tech companies the facilities, mentorship, and office space that they need to succeed -- all for next-to-nothing (it's all part of Louisiana's push to bring the entertainment and tech industry down here.)  Two weeks later, I had applied to this organization, been accepted, and had moved all of my equipment into my very own office to dedicate purely to LT development.

And so began what I now call the Golden Days -- the days in which LT development as well as the developer are both being handled as they should be.  Work and life are now separated, work hours are reasonable and fixed.  If it's Monday through Friday and between 8am and 7pm, you can bet that I'm in that office plugging away to finish this wonderful project!

Hindsight is 20/20, but I know now that this is the paradigm shift we needed.  Not a different update cycle, not a new technical gizmo to make development faster or more elegant, and certainly not MORE ALL-NIGHTERS!  No, what we needed was for me to act like a sane person, separate my work from my personal life, establish a normal sleep schedule, surround myself with mentors and friends who tackle similar problems, and act like a professional working on a professional project rather than someone hacking on a smaller indie game.

I've got to give a loving shout-out to the Louisiana Tech Park, whose existence and support has changed everything about LT development.  I love them.  And to think, I'm paying about half of what my rent was in Tennessee for everything they provide.  Wow.

Moving Forward at Full Speed, Albeit Quietly

So now that you all know the full story, let's talk about what's happening from here on out.  I'm going to stay in touch, (much more so on the forums than on KS, so if you'd rather see me more often, get on the forums!)  But I'm not going to establish a regular update schedule. Right now I'm in the thick of finishing development, and I'm going to keep my focus split about 95% on development and 5%ish on community interaction.  In other words: I'm playing this part close to the vest.

I'm sure some of you still miss the monthly videos and the daily dev logs, but, looking back, part of my problem was that my burning desire to see smiles and happiness from you guys in response to my updates shifted my focus away from the thing that's most important: producing the game of my dreams.  Yes, it was my standards that caused me anxiety, so I take full blame for maneuvering myself into an unhealthy place, but that's just part of me that I can't get rid of.  So, for now, my solution is to keep my focus where it belongs!

Phew, is anyone else tired of serious talk?  Me too!  I think it's time for some fun stuff, yes? :)

Tour of Limit Theory Headquarters!

As I said above, I'm playing it close to the vest right now for good reasons.  Which means I don't have much eye-candy to share with you.  The next time you really see LT will be...a happy moment for everyone ;)

Still, I can't leave you all without something pretty to look at!  So instead of LTcandy™, I took some time to take a few shots of the 'LT Headquarters,' aka my office where I get in the LT zone every weekday.  Naturally, the graphics monkey wanted to decorate the office a bit to make it inspirational for coder Josh ;)  LT HQ is chock-full of positive space vibes!  Don't forget to read the captions!

Limit Theory HQ Gallery

Grand Opening of LT Flickr Gallery to the Public!

I've slipped up once or twice on the forums and mentioned that I've got a massive, private Flickr gallery of LT shots dating back to the prototype.  Since then, I haven't heard the end of "how 'bout a glance at that gallery?" :P  So...why not!  A lot of it is stuff you've all seen before, but some of it is new (new as in old shots that weren't released publicly).  There's also a bit of content that was coming with RTB Chapter 3 (yes, I'm going to let you all puzzle over what "Observatory" means, and why there's colored paint on some ships).

Despite it not being exactly 'new,' it's most definitely shiny, and it's also pretty neat to travel back in time through what has been.  I'm still trying to locate all the LT development shots from before the prototype (I mean, like, going back to day one).  Hopefully they'll turn up at some point, and when they do I'll upload them as well!  So, without further ado...enjoy the 600+ shots!

Official Limit Theory Flickr (flickr.ltheory.com)

Conclusion

It's been a rough year for me and LT.  But now you all know the truth behind my disappearance.  I really hope you'll grant just a teensy bit of empathy with regards to my failure to communicate effectively during the past months.  But let's look at the positive side.  I hit my wall, I hit bottom, I hit the point at which I thought I'd never get back and never be able to write a coherent line of code again....and, with the help of professionals, conquered it.  In a big way.

If ever there was an 'ultimate test' for Limit Theory, it was the first half of this year.  And yet, here we are, on the other side, still alive, and with a better development set-up than ever before.

All I ask now is that you all keep doing what you've been doing for so long -- trust me.  LT is my passion, my full-time job, and my greatest dream.  It's coming, way later than any of us wanted it to, but by God it's going to be something truly special.  Once more, with every fiber in my being, I thank you all for making it possible.  Now let me get back to my dev machine so I can go fulfill my end of the bargain! :)

<3 Josh

PS ~ Anyone else find it weird that the last update was #42?  And it was the one that took so long to recover from?  Weird.  Also, anyone else notice that the place where I work has the same abbreviation as LTP, the Limit Theory Prototype?  Ok ok, enough reading the signs for now.

The Road to the Beta: Chapter 2

56 likes

Well hello again...can you believe it's already (past) that time of the week?!  I can't either!  In fact, I've spent the last 46 hours trying desperately to let go of week 2 but...the end did not come easy...there's too much fun around every corner now, I'm really going insane...but...I guess it's a good insane?  Anywho, you know how it is -- when the code calls, you listen :)

(Disclaimer: All jokes aside, I really am a "bit" on the crazy side right now from the past two sleepless days, in which I was inexplicably yet completely possessed by LT coding to the point of not being able to give it a rest...so please forgive me if I'm not so as coherent as usual...it's for a good cause! :P )

Alright...let's take a look at week 2!

Now Show Me More...

Last week we focused on making some of the basics more visible to the player via the HUD.  But there's still a whole lot left to uncover.  In week 2, I continued to focus my attention in the general direction of "uncovering that which already exists," but now starting to look towards things larger than the HUD.  I wanted to reclaim higher visibility of the details of objects, cargo, hardpoints, assets, so on and so forth -- some juicy stuff!  Show me the numbers!  Show me the shapes!  SHOW ME THE UNIVERS--eh, alright, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.

Since my mind isn't functioning at full capacity right now, I think pictures are going to speak more powerfully for my week of work than I can.  So, behold, here's what an 'object' looked like in the UI at the beginning of the week:

Hmmm.  Not too enlightening.  Of course, some types of objects would have shown a little more, and there was a lot of stuff in progress under the hood.  But this week, I am much happier to say that I can actually show you something that looks like part of a game:

(WIP) Object Overview
(WIP) Object Overview

Welcome to the new object interface -- this time, a serious push toward getting it in beta-capable working order!  This particular 'overview' tab is intended to be a quick summary of basic information, as well as rendered depiction of the object.  Much like the HUD, it offers a selection of smaller 'summary' widgets.  Note that, also like the HUD, these summary widgets act as 'links' to more detailed information (clicking the cargo summary links to the cargo tab, clicking the location links to the object interface for the current location, etc.)  Although I wasn't able to finish it this week, I'll have hardpoints overlaid on the hologram, so that subsystem information is available here as well.  But there's more...I wanted to take a splash in as much of the object interface as possible, so why not...

(WIP) Cargo Management
(WIP) Cargo Management

Cargo!  At least until something more exciting came up...

(WIP) Asset Management
(WIP) Asset Management

Assets!

Reach Into Your Heart

The object interface is really the heart of all UI-based information and interaction in LT.  Nearly every other major UI is, in some way, a part of (or related to) this one.  For example, the market, with which we're all familiar from the work shown in the last video, is naturally a part of a (trading) station's object interface:

"Market, I am Your Father" ~ Darth Object
"Market, I am Your Father" ~ Darth Object

So the drive to complete the object interface is, in reality, a drive to bring together and finalize all previous UI work.  I pushed hard into it this week, which resulted in a major explosion of new visible content.  That being said, since the effort was spread, none of these pieces individually are perfect as of yet (hence the perhaps-unnecessary 'WIP' on the captions...oh man...letting go of perfection now on a weekly basis is truly the ultimate personal challenge...).  Next week I'll no doubt be filling in more of the incomplete pieces.  For me, the most important thing right now is to uncover as much of the game as possible -- to reconnect with the player-side experience before progressing onward to finishing the game itself.

---

There are so many details to talk about just from the new shots above, but the point of RTB is not details.  So I'll choose one detail and call it a day...fair?  You have to let me get excited about some small detail...!  To make navigating the interface fast, I've chosen to go with these little circular icon 'tabs.'  I'm obsessed with these things.  They glow.  They make a little click when you press them.  It's relaxing.  I could do it for hours.  When you have a hard day at work, just come on home, boot up LT, and start flipping these things back and forth.

Example Ship Interaction Bar. Very Soothing.
Example Ship Interaction Bar. Very Soothing.
Example Player Interaction Bar.  Even More Soothing.
Example Player Interaction Bar. Even More Soothing.

On a side note, won't it be a fun day when we can open that 'messages' tab and use it for AI communication?  Not today I'm afraid, but hey, the icon is already there ;)

---

Well, week two of RTB has come and gone, and I'm growing ever-more-convinced that we're moving faster than before.  Ultimately, I'd still like to compare one month of RTB toe-to-toe with the previous methodology, but at this rate, I think the answer is going to be a happy one :)

And of course, in closing, a shot of this new stuff in context!

It's a Family Name.
It's a Family Name.

See you all again next week!  And, with any luck, I'll be a bit more rested and entertaining :T  Thanks for bearing with me today!

PS ~ I don't know if you noticed, but I'm having a kind of mid-life crisis with respect to deciding on flowing, circular forms or hard edges :P I'll figure it out sooner or later...in the mean time, feel free to tell me whether you prefer the style of the market (more angular) to, for example, the style of the asset management UI (more circular / smooth)!