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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.

Development Update #2: February 2013

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Hey there!  Let's get straight to the point...

Update Video!

I guess I don't need to tell you what this is all about...head on over to YouTube and see the monthly LT progress for yourself!

Watch the Update Video Here

Summary

As I mentioned last month, my focus for February was intended to be gameplay, not graphics.  Given that I stuck to this, you won't see much graphical difference, at least in the 3D world, from last month.  What you will see, however, is a boatload of new functionality surrounding the interface.

I'm also really pleased that we've now got sound in the game!  I've been working closely over the past month with François Jolin (http://www.eonsounds.com) to get a few of the sound assets in place.

Some of the more prominent changes of the month include:

  • Overhauled the user interface (for the last time, I promise!)
  • Implemented missiles
  • Implemented power distribution and preliminary interface
  • Acquired and integrated some preliminary sound effects
  • Dramatically improved command interface visuals

As always, for a more detailed report of the progress, visit the daily "Dev Logs" in the forums: http://forums.ltheory.com/viewforum.php?f=12 .

And now, some pretty screenshots and bold text, just in case you didn't get enough excitement from the video...

Windows within Windows!

View Full Size

Longer-Range Weaponry!

View Full Size

More Color Choices!?

View Full Size

What About the Prototype?

By now, I'm sure you must be starting to wonder about the combat prototype if you've pledged at that level. At the end of last year, I quoted "sometime in March" as a preliminary estimate. Now, I've got good news and bad news. The bad news, as you can probably guess, is that March is, realistically, looking a bit too optimistic. The good news is that I'm now planning to include more functionality in the prototype than I originally intended to! Granted, it's still fundamentally a combat prototype, but I'm beefing it up a bit, in ways that I will describe more as the time approaches! So, that being said, I will now say that April is seeming like the more realistic month of the prototype - I hope you don't mind waiting, but I think giving you a more fleshed out, enjoyable product is going to be worth a teensy bit of extra wait time :)

Please be aware that shipping the prototype has been and will continue to be my sole and absolute focus. I'm working as hard as I can to get that puppy on your hard drive!

Conclusion

I honestly have no idea how February slipped away so quickly! If someone knows how to slow down time, please let me know, as I'd really like to keep March around a bit longer. Despite the hasty passage of time, I still feel great about the work accomplished in February. I may not have gotten around to as much combat / AI work as I would have liked, but I ended up with a lot more on the interface front than I anticipated having at this point in time.  That's only going to make it easier to keep pushing gameplay next month, as I'm now in great shape to visualize and control the game with ease and style.

Thanks for watching/reading/caring! See you next month :)

~Josh

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Comments

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    1. WM on March 6, 2013

      Hey Josh - seeing you adjust fog like that and what some guys on here are saying: about that fog - I understand that the fog slider you have in there is for testing purposes, and whether or not that fog slider is accessible from inside an in-progress game or only at the beginning of one is not a big question in implementation (I imagine), but at least personally I would prefer not to have that control when I'm flying my little ship through the vastness of the universe. I think it would break immersion to be all "wow I've never seen this system before - let me just turn fog down so I can see the planets better"; it seems a bit too omnipotent, right?
      Then again, control for the user is important as well. I realize this is a tiny question, but could there be an option, perhaps at the start of a game, for "lock graphical sliders" so they couldn't be changed once the game started?

    2. Missing avatar

      Lorenz Jugel on March 5, 2013

      What a nice video, once again LT is looking great. Keep at it, Josh!

      Railgun looks awesome. I don't mind if it is nerfed to hell, I love the idea of pelting some ship on the other end of the solar system with nearly-instantaneous high-precision strikes. Sure, the power draw is probably out of this world, the machinery susceptible to wear and tear and the damage comparatively trivial.... but maybe the shield/armor piercing qualities would be nice to have.

      Also:
      I can't help but look at the "missile rain attack" part and lament the huge amount of wasted missiles.

      An idea to keep in mind would be to differentiate between "dumb" rockets and fire-and-forget missiles.
      The straight-to-target nature of the current missiles would be perfect for rockets and would make countermeasures really easy. Luxurious high tech missiles surely need some sort of evasive pattern in their approach routines, right? Will there even be point defense weaponry for bigger ships? So many questions...

      Watching Josh adjust that fog slider gave me the idea that weapons could very well be influenced by local circumstances. Say, intense particle dust clouds eating away at railgun slugs, or interstellar gases impeding/improving/disabling missile motors. An unstable star could impede energy-based weaponry. Would add even more individuality for solar systems - and a whole new layer of tactics. This could even be expanded to ships themselves, influencing shield/engine/power grid efficiency...

      Gah. So much feature creep potential.

    3. rightfulError on March 3, 2013

      Love the way this is shaping up, Josh! I'm extremely excited for this game and impressed with the huge undertaking for a one-man team.
      A few things:
      For the power distribution, could you please also include a non-slider way to manage it? I'm a little anal and would prefer a quick way to distribute my power evenly without having to finagle with the sliders.
      I noticed that the pulse weapons lagged behind if you fired while in motion, is that how they will remain? Or is the intention for them to move as the missiles do and have the speeds of the weapon and ship stack?
      And could you humor me and detail the design choice to include sound effects? I'm sure you understand my hang up given the nature of sound and space, but I can also imagine that the game would feel a little empty without them.
      Thanks and I'm looking forward to see where you take it!

    4. Steven Langevin on March 2, 2013

      @Josh please keep it up! The game is unfolding in a large manner. I like what I see :)

    5. Josh Parnell Creator on March 1, 2013

      @Treatise - Sure, like I said, I completely understand, feature creep is a very real and legitimate concern as you said, especially for one-man teams. But yes, I would not consider what you will be getting for the prototype feature bloat, just a more natural and in-context experience.

      Ultimately, the best way to get it done quickly is to make it more fun for me, since my drive to play this game is pretty much what keeps me so focused. I'm working on making the prototype something that I can really get excited about, since I'm not that much of a combat man myself :)

      @Jean-François Hren - Sorry, but multiplatform is not planned for the prototype. Much more likely for beta!

    6. Missing avatar

      Godewijn on March 1, 2013

      Shit lol... I wish I had the money to have pledged to get that prototype... with Rogue System, Star Citizen and Limit Theory I am ITCHING to play anything space (X3 doesn't really work for me at the moment...).
      (Yeah Elite: didn't feel it... did back it for the minimum amount... but... not feeling it.)

      Thanks a bunch Josh for the update, can't wait to play that vid, and in fact I shan't :D

    7. Harry Torque on March 1, 2013

      @Josh I wanted to point out a painfully obvious POTENTIAL flaw in your reasoning, but your explanation is a reasonable approach, and it sounds like you in fact do have things under control. Nevertheless, it is prudent to keep scope creep and feature bloat to a minimum on a one-man project, and concentrate on getting the core experience right before adding stuff.

      @Kaeroku yes, I acknowledged I'm being an ass, thanks for re-iterating that. Doesn't change the fact that feature bloat and missing deadlines due to "can we do this sure we can let's do it" is a legitimate concern, something I've seen in professional life done by experienced project managers time and time again.

    8. Iron Jason Hahn ~Komurin~ on March 1, 2013

      REALLY excited for the upcoming features and also what I see already I can only be struck with awe, just WOW Josh you are a god at this!
      Just one thing regarding the sound, over headphones I found the engine sound to be really irritating, I know it's just a pre-pre-pre-pre placeholder (I think^^) so no big deal, but that's literally the only thing I could say constructive and negative! :D

    9. Missing avatar

      Kaeroku on March 1, 2013

      @Treatise - sounds more to me as though he looked at his current progress, and looked at a foreseeable future point where he would have something to offer in a state that would best fit the spirit of the alpha, and decided that instead of pushing for an arbitrary deadline which was given as a *probably* anyway, he'd delay long enough to do it right - and still well within a reasonable period; also, you really are kind of being an ass.

    10. Missing avatar

      Geoff Hannam on March 1, 2013

      To those worried about scope creep, you should be reading the daily dev diarys. You would then know that it's not scope creep as seen in standard projects, but a clear and logical choice by Josh based on the way development has progressed. Regardless, read the dev diarys...

      Anyways, amazing update Josh. The UI is looking freaking amazing - and that's always been my biggest let down in space sims. It sounds like with the unified base you have for the UI now we should see one of the best game UI's around.

    11. Jean-François Hren on March 1, 2013

      Maybe this question was already answered but will the prototype run under linux ?

    12. Dan Ormond on March 1, 2013

      Wow Josh! This is looking better and better. I love the missile trails - really can't wait to have a go myself :D

    13. WM on March 1, 2013

      Josh - thanks for the response. I'm still not sure I agree with you, though it's true that people are different and work in different ways. I know/am confident you can do it though, looking at the amazing progress that's been made so far. I guess on a philosophical level I'm very suspicious of scope creep =P

    14. Missing avatar

      Jan Panek on March 1, 2013

      Hello, I really hope there will be some antimissile defense as it seems really overpowered right now.

    15. Sandu Bogi Nasse on March 1, 2013

      I can't wait to play in your sandbox Josh, it looks more and more wonderus as the days pass.

    16. Missing avatar

      Raymond Lee
      Superbacker
      on March 1, 2013

      Watched the video in HD on a 50" TV and it looks gorgeous - hell, I'm already thinking after a day of work, it might be relaxing to just sit back, listen to the music and watch capital ships duke it out :)

    17. Josh Parnell Creator on February 28, 2013

      @Rembrandt, Hahaha wow, Timespare© sounds excellent, I can't wait to pledge :) Will you also be offering a product that allows one to maintain focus on a task under extreme pain?

    18. Styggron on February 28, 2013

      Good on you Josh! You're awesome ! When ever the prototype is ready is fine. :-)

    19. Kevin Dietz on February 28, 2013

      I couldn't help but laugh with glee when you showed the wall of missile coming towards you!!! To be fair, with you working on this on your own, building from the ground up every aspect of the game, including what is in my opinion one of the most ambitious sounding AI's ever put into a game, I fully expect their to be delays. Please don't take offense to that Josh, there's just a lot going into this game, Even large companies with teams of people working on their games have difficulty sticking with any dates they put in place in the beginning.

      I come from a time of dealing with Blizzard's predicted timescale, I think it was Diablo 2 that came out like 2 years after it's original release date. (maybe it wasn't that long but I seem to remmeber there being multiple push backs on that game) It was frustrating at first but they came out with one of the best video games ever made.

      Please continue the effort you are putting in to this game (I'm actually glad to hear you are taking a day off ;-) ) I feel that with the exception of a few people here and there, as long as you continue to give us updates on your progress and inform us ahead of time of any delays we will all be understanding.

      For those of your who like to complain, by all means please program a game that's as ambitious as Limit Theory from the bottom up, completely on your own, and try to guess months in advanced when certain things are going to happen. Once you have done that then you will have every right to complain. ;-D

    20. Josh Parnell Creator on February 28, 2013

      @Treatise, WM - The answer lies in my development style. I am not fantastic at implementing a single system in a narrow way - I'm much better at taking a large group of systems, and building them together from the ground up. The downside of this is that it takes longer to have something finished. The upside is that, when it is finished, it is finished in a very big way. Sure, if I really forced myself to, I'm sure that I could put out a narrow-scope combat prototype in March. But the point of that message is that I've decided that it's not a natural thing for me, to deliver small snippets of functionality. It's not how I work, so I think it will be much more natural for me to develop larger thing with more context, and deliver it for the prototype.

      Although I understand your point, there really is a fundamental difference between adding features on top of something, and building something bigger in the first place! This is the latter situation, I am not just piling more features onto the original plan :)

    21. Taragon on February 28, 2013

      it may not be feature bloat so much as needing to have mechanics that turn out to be more fundamental in nature than originally thought, and need to be included to prevent the game from being broken?

    22. Missing avatar

      AstralWanderer on February 28, 2013

      As long as backers are kept up-to-date and informed of any delays, then I have no issues with deadlines being pushed back. An (alleged) Origin Systems saying could apply here - "It's only late until it ships, but it sucks forever".

    23. WM on February 28, 2013

      Much though I think Josh is capable of delivering on the new deadline (not that it matters much to me since I'm not at the relevant tier anyway), Treatise is right. If there's a pushback of a deadline, especially when it's due to too much to do (which is what this sounded like), justifying it with scope creep as some sort of balance is unwise, surely?

    24. Harry Torque on February 28, 2013

      What does that even mean? Just because it's video game development doesn't make it ok to make hairbrained project management decisions. I know the developer is doing it on his own, is young, and it's his first major project - but that's even less of a reason to start bloat as resources are much more limited than if there were teams of people to delegate to.

    25. Anthony Migues on February 28, 2013

      @ Treatise: Because....video game development?

    26. Harry Torque on February 28, 2013

      Hate to be an ass, but feature bloat is not an answer to slipping deadlines. If you realize that March is an overly optimistic deadline for the prototype, how do you plan on delivering it AND MORE in April?

    27. Malexmave on February 28, 2013

      Feb. only has 28 days, surely that's why it went away so fast, and not the fact that, as usual when programming, everything always takes double the time you allocated to it.

      Really looking forward to this. I can really hear your enthusiasm for your game in your videos, and that alone made it worth to pledge for this. Plus, hey, I loved Freelancer, too.

      At the moment, as you said, the UI is pretty rudimentary and lacks a few comfort features (like a "divide evenly between all systems" button for the power distribution, labels for the buttons, a "center on my ship" button in the radar view and so on), but you said that it was far from final, and I am absolutely sure that you will deliver a great UI in the end. It's just that I am a computer science student myself and they try to indoctrinate us with good UI design, but internal prototypes don't need pretty UIs anyway. ;-)

      So, yeah, as I said, looking forward to this.

    28. JC Ford on February 28, 2013

      Well done Josh the games looking tighter, and enjoy reading the dev diary everyday.
      JC Ford

    29. John Schneider on February 28, 2013

      I am really happy with how the user interface turned out! Being a veteran Eve Online player, I was concerned that a poorly designed ui would restrict the gameplay. Seeing what you have made, Josh, gives me great hope that your game will bring a lot of gamers back to space sims!

      Keep it up, and you will have made a masterpiece:)

    30. Missing avatar

      Guillaume Couture-Levesque on February 28, 2013

      Slow down time eh? Didn't Eve do that?

    31. Lee Newsum on February 28, 2013

      @Rembrandt: lost LOL

      and good work Josh the Man

    32. Rembrandt on February 28, 2013

      Slowing down time eh?
      No problem!
      .
      I am planning to start my own Kickstarter project for my Timespare© invention.
      Basically it is a small threelegged stool with a long nail driven through the bottom, sharp end up.
      If you sit on it for one hour, it -that is the beauty- seems like forever!
      Brilliant or what?
      You may want to try out your own prototype, Josh!

    33. Tom Fink on February 28, 2013

      Really great. Thx for the good work. :) Looking forward to see what will be coming next and next and next.... ;)

    34. Richard K on February 28, 2013

      Great update! Looking awesome! Can't wait for the final game.

      As part of my powers, I grant you three more days than you had in February. Use them wisely.