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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: September & October 2017

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Hey there! How 'bout some space goodness to brighten up that Monday?

Yes? Well then, I've good news on the space goodness front: Octember was big. We're getting ever-nearer the event horizon of total-gameplay-focus, hastened by major improvements to supporting systems, and we've even picked up a new team member who's in the process of overhauling some of the procedural generation algorithms! I feel it's going to be an exciting recap :)

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Lindsey Joins The Team

Promises "At Least 300% Reduction in Ship Boxiness!"

Sean's departure left a noticeable emptiness in the office. For a while, it's been home to only Adam and I in our quest to bring LT to life. The abandoned corner desk brought to mind warm memories of AI sandboxes and colony mechanics. While we can never hope to replace Sean's zeal for flow-field AI, I'm very pleased to announce that this desk has found a new occupant: Lindsey Reid, technical artist extraordinaire!

Lindsey is a hybrid programmer/artist who comes to us from a major AAA studio at which she worked as a software engineer (making her, indeed, the only one of us to have worked in 'the big leagues'). When she approached me with a desire to help craft better generation algorithms for stations and ships, it was hardly a difficult choice...especially in light of recent 'concerns' about the so-called 'boxiness' of certain PCG algorithms for which I may or may not be to blame :S

When it comes to working on procedural algos, Lindsey can do something I can't: she can build spaceships and stations on paper, generating them manually while simultaneously analyzing her own creative process and translating it into code. I, much to my chagrin, can only draw very simple, boxy ships on paper. Perhaps we have found the root of the aforementioned concerns... At any rate, I have always asserted that, when it comes to procedural algorithms, failing to produce great results is never the failure of proceduralism itself, but rather of the one doing it. Lindsey, having been with us for little more than a month, is already showing this to be true with the highly-interesting shapes stemming from her foundational work.

Personally, I'm overjoyed to have someone with artistic capability working on generation in LT. Proceduralism is such a major part of LT's aesthetic and feel; I'm glad it's getting the dedicated attention it deserves as I focus mine elsewhere. Lindsey has already posted two devlogs detailing her progress and thoughts, so do check them out if you're interested in meeting her and seeing some truly-otherworldly geometries!

Related Logs:

Lindsey's Geometry Library in Action
Lindsey's Geometry Library in Action

 

 

Alien Geometry formed with Lindsey's Stellation & Extrusion Algorithms
Alien Geometry formed with Lindsey's Stellation & Extrusion Algorithms

 

Icosahedra now a part of the PCG Library
Icosahedra now a part of the PCG Library

 

You Shall Not Pass.
You Shall Not Pass.

 

 

 

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AI Maneuvering & Handling High Volumes of Gameplay Logic

You've all heard plenty by now about entities, components, data, and so on. 'ECS' we called it. 'CTypes' we called it. In the end, we were left with the most powerful tool currently at our disposal for building game data. Yet, what of the other side of that coin? If data is on one side...function must surely be on the other. Logic. Code.

Over the past two months I've been working to build, test, and profile different mechanisms for handling 'gameplay logic' -- the bread-and-butter code that underlies everything from how a piece of ore gets transferred to a miner's cargo hold, to how a pilot aims a ship turret to hit a moving target, to how an AI player in a high position makes difficult choices about starting or stopping economic projects, to how a colony's economy produces and consumes goods, to...you get the picture. Everything that you would call 'true gameplay code.' In the same way that entity data requires something to make it work easily and performantly, so does all of this gameplay code require a supporting system to make it easy to hook and unhook vast numbers of bits of logic to/from loads of different entities in the game -- and to ensure that everything gets done quickly enough to maintain that silky-smooth 60+ FPS feel.

Truly, once this system is finalized, we will have blown away every last obstacle to jamming on the fun stuff :) Good news: we've already got a working prototype that has withstood quite some demanding stress-tests. I've written a non-trivial bit of AI maneuvering logic that uses the prototype script manager to keep track of and intelligently organize the way in which said logic runs when 10K+ ships are all trying to stay in formation with me. Thus far, the tests have been successful for both the underlying script manager as well as for the new AI maneuvering algorithm! As usual, many, many more details are available in the dev logs for those who find their interest piqued.

Related Logs:

1000-Fighter Loose Ball Formation -- Don't Mess With Us.
1000-Fighter Loose Ball Formation -- Don't Mess With Us.

 

Hoard vs. Asteroids
Hoard vs. Asteroids

 

 

 

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Dynamic Asteroids Confirmed Thanks to Faster Physics

Previously (as in, back in LTC++), guiding capital ships through asteroid fields wasn't just dangerous, it was a nearly-suicidal proposition. A carrier-sized ship hitting a static object 1000x smaller than it is an inherently-problematic scenario. Since an unmovable object has effectively-infinite mass, it can apply an effectively-infinite impulse to colliding objects. All of the kinetic energy of a hulking ship creeping through space can end up being reflected right back on it as kinetic damage at the hands of the tiniest fleck of unmovable space trash! Such was a limitation imposed by previous performance constraints.

Over the past month, I've implemented enough major optimizations in our physics engine to entirely remove those constraints. As a result, we can afford to make virtually everything dynamic (movable)! In particular, the contents of asteroid/ice/debris fields can be made dynamic without fear of your machine starting a fire! The gameplay implications are vast and certainly not yet fully-explored. But at least one immediate consequence is that battleship captains need no longer worry about voyaging through asteroid/ice/debris/cardamine fields. So long as they avoid the largest obstructions, the impulses from clearing smaller obstacles will be effortlessly negated by shields. Large ships will simply 'tunnel' their way through debris, pushing it aside. This is a very cool thing to see in action :)

I've done some fun stress-tests with the system by spawning 1000 NPC followers and zipping through large (~10K) asteroid fields at 60+ FPS! It's *really* cool to watch the formation as a whole either bump into (and subsequently compensate for) large obstacles, or clear smaller ones out of the way. With everything being movable and collidable at the same time, what would otherwise be a mundane scenario turns into an entertaining one!

I'll be keenly interested to see what opportunities this opens up in the future. For now, I look upon it as yet another system that's "ready to go" with respect to supporting LT at-scale.

Related Logs:

100K Dynamic Asteroids @ 45 FPS, Only 2% of Frame Time is Physics
100K Dynamic Asteroids @ 45 FPS, Only 2% of Frame Time is Physics

 

Contrived Example: Plowing a Hole Through an Asteroid Field with a Massive, Spherical Ship
Contrived Example: Plowing a Hole Through an Asteroid Field with a Massive, Spherical Ship

 


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Screenshot Galleries

Octember was unusually-abundant in screenshot galleries, so for those who aren't keen on diving into the logs but would still enjoy some visuals, have a look:

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On top of all that, Adam is in the midst of a major push to convert what started as a 'dev UI' into a full-featured system that we can use for game UIs, since performance seems to be holding steady. No doubt there's more to come on that front in the near future.

From a big-picture standpoint, each of us is sailing toward the same goal: architectural lock of everything that's not gameplay. It's a goal that's eluded me time and time again in my previous lonesome journey to the center of the Limit Theory. But now, with three brains homing in at the same time, well...I hope you all feel as I do that the progress speaks for itself :)

From now until the end, thank you all once more for making LT possible.

~ The LT Team

Greg "Scorpio" Myers, S.D., and 50 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Nathan Weeks Collaborator on January 19

      @Kaeroku: I'm actually working on writing the post right this moment. :) The reason it slipped this time was completely unavoidable: The two-month mark coincided exactly with PAX South. After that, Josh had me wait until he wrote an update post on the forums before I started compiling the next Kickstarter update. It's not quite to schedule, but it's as close as we could make it.

    2. Missing avatar

      Kaeroku on January 19

      Slipping again on updates. "Maybe 2018" isn't all that reassuring when we've had problems with those promises before, and the current comms promises aren't being met.

    3. Ian Perley on November 25

      Well hot diggity. Things do seem to be coming together nicely, and congrats on the new hire! Welcome Lindsey! Less blocks, more... socks?

    4. NobleBrutus on November 19, 2017

      Ooooooh, much eye candy.

    5. Nathan Weeks Collaborator on November 17, 2017

      Personally, I do think it will be finished in 2018, yes, but we aren't planning on releasing any specific dates until we're sure we can hit them. After all, our "release-by" deadlines haven't exactly gone well in the past. :)

    6. light487 - Kickstarter Junkie on November 14, 2017

      Are we slating a beta release for 2018? No pressure or anything, but it seems that there is a lot of work, a lot of accomplishments, but no end in sight.

    7. Flatfingers on November 14, 2017

      Hurrah! Another solid update for Kickstarter backers -- thank you to Josh and Team Limit Theory.

      1. As fun as the other sections of this update are (and I'm not dismissing them), "architectural lock on everything that's not gameplay" is the sentence that will rightly be the pull quote in every story that deserves to be written about LT to this point. Good focus!

      2. May I submit a request for some news on the status of NPC AI and (in-game) "projects" functionality for the next KS update? ;)

    8. Missing avatar

      GWAL on November 14, 2017

      Keep up the good work!

    9. Missing avatar

      Victor Tombs on November 13, 2017

      Thank you for this update Team LT. :D

    10. BruceP - Chameleon Prime
      Superbacker
      on November 13, 2017

      Yay for non-boxy ships/shapes! Great to see some more alien-looking things in there. :)

    11. AGN1964 on November 13, 2017

      I glad this is still moving along! Lovely pictures.