What's Next: January 20th Update Plans
Hey Star Commanders!
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!