Battlestations! Battlestations! And all that nautical stuff. The newest update for Star Command Galaxies out and the primary focus is, as you can probably tell, ship-to-ship combat.
Planets have been disabled because we broke a bunch of stuff with our new changes. We updated our super objects to support some new features like breakable external walls which, in turn, made things like the villages and antorian fortress look funky.
There are a ton of finicky things (including repair and heal) but this should start to plant a seed of where the combat is headed.
Our next focus is on bringing it all together. Navigation, desires with a purpose, planets to explore, resources to collect, enemies with their own intelligent goals and day to day activities. We are very excited about the momentum we have now. This update has the most "fun" of all of them and the next one should be even better.
NOTE: Alpha 2 is out now, but ONLY for WINDOWS. Our MAC version is crashing, so we will get that up when it is fixed. APOLOGIES!
Reminder: you should be receiving updates from SendOwl about a new download link.
THE BIG BUGS (lots of little ones as well):
After the 2nd or 3rd trip down to a planet the game can crash (memory load issue)
Red thought bubbles will not disappear consistently
Beds use state is buggy
Characters will use objects in non-use spots
Combat: Crew accuracy not being ignored (super bad shots right now)
We titled this update after the day to day actions that your crew takes during their adventures. In terms of development we wanted to establish the core "needs" of your crew before jumping into exploring the galaxy, battling alien vessels and visiting all the worlds of the Galaxies. We feel like it's coming along. You can watch the video above to watch a playthrough of the game and read below to find some more details about each of the new additions to Galaxies.
The first new feature you will notice is your crew needs. Crew now require food and sleep (energy) and, depending on how well those needs are being met, a crewmembers' respective mood will go up or down. Eventually there will be appropriate rewards and penalties applied for good and bad moods but for the time being there are no effects.
To be clear, Galaxies will not be a micro manage my crew game - and you can see this with the addition of automation. Crew will take care of their needs from sleeping to eating. The only time these things are a problem is when there is an absence of these resources. All your food get sucked out of the hull during your last battle? Now you have a problem. Bed's caught on fire and now you only have on left? Gonna have some grumpy crew on board.
The next level of each crew member is their "Desires." This represents their hopes, dreams and
aspirations and are derived from their personalities. Desires will, in turn, guide the gameplay. The "missions" in Star Command Galaxies are the desires of other characters in the game - your crew, traders, other Captain's, villagers, Star Command admirals - you name it. Your goal is to fulfill these desires. Some may want you to visit a planet. Others may want you to capture the Captain of a trade ship. All of these things will be relayed to you in the form of a desire.
What happens when you fulfill a desire? Two things - first the character's mood goes up. But, more importantly, you earn loyalty. Loyalty is one of the primary metrics for victory. The more loyal your crew the more you will be able to accomplish in the galaxy since spreading your Captain's desires is dependant a loyalty. Ignoring your crew's desires? You might have a mutiny on your hands. Kill a Captain instead of capturing them for Star Command? There could be repercussions with one of your officers trying to take over your command.
Loyalty will continue to expand in the upcoming updates and become more and more central to victory for the player.
Toilets, TV's, beds - all these things and more are now available for your crew to meet their needs and waste their time to help pass the hours of staying on a starship. We have also added object animations! Awesome!
The biggest change (and what you will hopefully see the least of) is on our crew action and cursor manager system. For you, the player, the result will be filters when you commit to actions like repair and heal. But overall the game is way more stable and, for us, ready for some serious implementation of features. Our cursor manager was a huge undertaking and has cleared the way for ship combat, crew conversations, fixing some SCIENCE bugs and lots of other advanced features that just couldn't be completed until the foundation was ready.
Teleporters are two fold. First, they are just simply easier to use than the previous build - which was somewhat unintuitive. Secondly, teleporters have the groundwork for implementation of ship systems (shields, weapons, engines, etc). A ship system won't work until a crew is working at the proper console and, in turn, that console will drain power from your master generator. What that means is we can quickly add things like lasers that drain every time you use them, bars that draw from your food resource, shields that can be destroyed and repaired - basically every core system we need for ship combat.
You also have a brand new ship so that you can see your cargo hold full of food, your kitchen area, crew quarters and other areas that give you more of a window into the experience of running a ship.
long with the new cursor manager mentioned above we have revised map generation. Our map generator was creating many erroneous game objects compromising the stability of the game. This has been much improved. We will continue to refine asset loading and unloading along with game object generation, but for now you should see a pronounced improvement in overall game stability.
REMOVAL OF INVENTORY (FOR NOW)
Inventory has been removed while we reimagine it. Our initial implementation of inventories existing in the game world was good on paper but not as intuitive as we had hoped. Rather than continuing to try and polish the way your characters use that inventory system we have taken it back to the drawing board. It will likely be a much more traditional "item in a box" system so you can quickly see what your character is carrying.
Because of all the cursor state manager changes we had to push the SCIENCE update off a bit until the SCIENCE cursor states are all revised to match the new system. We are hoping to get SCIENCE revised and out sometime in the next two weeks.
Hope you all enjoy the new update. This update is huge for us as we have a very solid, stable foundation to quickly add content. We still have some big things to tackle like the fact that we are currently topping out Unity's memory management with our asset textures and we will have to address that sooner rather than later, but for now we feel really good about where the game is heading. Tell us what you think!
We are currently hard at work on the next update for Star Command Galaxies which will be released on Tuesday January 20th.
We're calling it the "A Day in the Life" update. We are focusing on how you interact with your crew and, in turn, how they interact with their world. There are a couple big steps/features that will be introduced.
Our first big focus is on revising our cursor manager. No - that doesn't sound very sexy (and it isn't) but it is incredibly necessary for everything moving forward. What is the cursor manager? It's basically the code in our game that communicates between your mouse and in game objects.
As we developed our prototype and alpha every function in our game was custom written - so if you right click with a character they move. If you left click on an enemy, you get their information. These things were written independently of each other and therefore don't take each other into account when, ideally, there should be a set amount of things you can do at any given moment in the game. Now that we have all of our functionality vetted for Crew members we know what you can and can't do at any given moment. Or to better illustrate it, here is our user flow for selecting crew, objects, NPC's and other things you can interact with in the game:
Once we had finalized our user flow we started re-writing the cursor manager - which literally affects just about everything in the game. It's a massive undertaking. But why? Why in god's name are we doing that? One word: filters.
Filters give us the ability to draw your attention to different elements in the game. So, for example, if you have your medic selected and you hit the "Heal" power, everything that you can heal in the game will be highlighted. These will be the only thing you can interact with - so the choice is very clear. Want to see what objects are powered? Turn on the power filter. Locking doors? Click the door icon and you can quickly unlock and lock doors. This is all an extension of the cursor manager which tells the game what any object can and cannot do at any given time.
This overhaul is critical as we continue to move towards ship systems and ship combat (our February update). Your crew in Star Command Galaxies will have a broad array of powers - what systems can be hacked? Who can be healed? What systems can be targeted? Relaying this info to the player extends from the elements we are working on now. To put things in perspective, working on the cursor manager has taken us a solid 3 weeks. Implementing the filters themselves will take us about 8 hours. Our foundation for quickly creating new filters is laid down and we can add many new features. Awesome!
So with filters out of the way the next feature you will see are desires. What are desires? Glad you asked!
First, let's discuss where the idea for desires came from. In Star Command mobile your crew was always ready for battle. You would get into a skirmish, win, and then proceed to repair your ship and heal your crew. Everything ready? Ok, onto the next battle. It didn't lead to much tension or interesting choices. We wanted to remedy that with Galaxies. Your crew won't always be in optimum operating condition making interesting decisions that you, as Captain, will have to make.
Desires are also the central element to the AI and storytelling elements of Star Command Galaxies. At it's most fundamental level, characters (this includes your crew, crew on other ships, captains, traders, etc) all have their own personality and motivations. Antorians might lean towards war, trilax might lean towards luxury goods but overall every character has independent needs and goals.
At the bottom of the tree of needs are things like Food and Energy. Our goal is not to introduce micro management to the game - it's quite the opposite. Your crew will automatically fulfill basic needs like food and energy. But when you run out of food - now you have a problem. The same is true with energy - if you have beds your fine. Crew will lay down when they are tired and get to work when they aren't. But when you have sent the same three guys on exhausting away team missions to alien planets they may not be ready when you need them. Now you have some choices to make.
Above Food and Energy is Stress/Comfort. Stress represents the traumatic events your crew goes through. Small things like away team missions on a lava planet will add a bit of stress to a crew member. Big things like watching their best friend die will put a ton of stress on a character. The inverse of this is comfort - sitting, watching tv, drinking at the bar with friends, exploring on a holodeck, going on shore leave on tropical worlds. Comfort and stress are compounded by your crew's relationship. If some no name, "redshirt" ensign is killed there is little trauma. Change that scenario to two characters who are very close and have been together since you started your ship - the stress will be pronounced. Getting drinks with two friends will add to comfort - having drinks with strangers will just be a little bit beneficial (unless he's an alcoholic of course).
This will all lead to the mood of your character. Good mood and crew members will perform better. Bad mood - they will slouch around and perform terribly. Crew personalities come into play at this level and this is the one you, as the Captain, will be the most responsible for. Food, Energy, Comfort and Stress will come and go (almost automatically) by simply playing the game. The opportunity to take control is at the level where crew members will desire things like art, antorian sculptures, new weapons, exploration - the luxury items that make life worth living. Your goal as a Captain will be to weigh the wants and needs of your crew with what your goals are as a Captain.
Finally you have your crew Loyalty - a measure of how well you are doing overall managing your crew. High loyalty and your crew will die for you. Low loyalty could eventually lead to mutiny.
But that's not all. We need more S.C.I.E.N.C.E!
S.C.I.E.N.C.E. will also be getting a new update. Our object creator is now ready for showtime so that you can bring in your own custom objects and create LUA's for them. We have also streamlined a lot of the bugs including deleting objects, placing walls and other problems you may or may not have seen.
LIVE DEV - Thursday at 3:00pmEST on TWITCH
Also we would like to invite you to join us for a live dev on Thursday on our twitch channel, http://www.twitch.tv/warballoongames where Tim will be putting together some of the filter elements of the game. We also encourage you to follow us on Twitter and Facebook if you want to check out more of our Twitch streams - which we do weekly!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on January 20th!
Here is a quick capture of ship weapons being tested. Ship-to-ship is coming in February!
So this morning got an e-mail this morning from SendOwl. The short of it: their system simply wasn't built for what we were doing. We did vet them before picking a delivery service and other kickstarters like ourselves have used SendOwl for digital delivery, so we felt confident going choosing them. However some of the smaller things like the uploading of CSV files with special formatting were simply not supported. That small problem turned into a 5 day affair.
We have our own internal thoughts about this and overall we have found the situation to be as frustrating as you.
With that said - the last of the list has been uploaded! By now you should have received your SendOwl link. So check those inboxes.
IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED AN E-MAIL
Drop us a message. We know that we asked you to do this once but after we had an influx of 100+ messages we knew it was a larger problem than just a small group of bad e-mails/filters/whatnot. So moving forward - anyone without an invite we will directly address your problem ASAP.
Apologies for the delay. We know its been a long wait. The good news is that once everyone is in the system delivery is easy and painless. We are already hard at work on the next update introducing FESS: Food, Energy, Social and Stress. We will post an update in early January outlining the changes and estimated delivery later that same month. Monthly updates are now our bread and butter.
We have sorted out who did and did not get an invite. The problem was the speed at which we uploaded the 7000+ names to SendOwl. For some reason some names stuck and some just didn't - it was random in nature so we are putting up everyone that wasn't on the initial list up. We will be doing 500 names per hour with a total of 2300 remaining, so the download link should be slowly trickling out across the day. We will also be doing a third check after all the names have been added to make sure everyone got an invitation. Apologies for this.
PROBLEMS WITH PC INSTALL/NO SHIP AT STARTUP
We have issued an update to the Windows version of the game that should address the install errors and problems with the ship not appearing upon startup. The filename length seemed to be the problem. Please tell us if you are still having the issue though.
Thanks for all your patience! This will get smoother and smoother as we go.