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Star Command is a spaceship management game for iOS, Android and  now for PC/Mac. Build your ship, hire your crew, explore the galaxy!
Star Command Galaxies is the sequel to the 2012 hit mobile game. Manage your crew and explore a randomly generated galaxy with planets, ships, and more! Join the alpha today for PC/Mac/Linux.
Star Command Galaxies is the sequel to the 2012 hit mobile game. Manage your crew and explore a randomly generated galaxy with planets, ships, and more! Join the alpha today for PC/Mac/Linux.
5,613 backers pledged $151,806 to help bring this project to life.

What's Next: January 20th Update Plans

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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.

CURSOR MANAGER

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:

Don't look too long. You will get an aneurysm.
Don't look too long. You will get an aneurysm.

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

Unpowered objects are highlighted in yellow.
Unpowered objects are highlighted in yellow.

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.

Door status filters.
Door status filters.

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!

DESIRES

Somebody is hungry....
Somebody is hungry....

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 UPDATE

Object creator in action!
Object creator in action!

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!

Cheers,
Warballoon

P.S.

Here is a quick capture of ship weapons being tested. Ship-to-ship is coming in February!

Zzzzzaaaappp
Zzzzzaaaappp


Paweł K., lonejedi, and 22 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Star Command 2-time creator on January 19, 2015

      UPDATE: We will be delaying the Alpha 2 update to next Tuesday, January 27th. We are having some problems with layered objects and wanted to polish those up before we sent the next update. Apologies!

      Cheers,
      Warballoon

    2. Star Command 2-time creator on January 15, 2015

      Just a reminder - we are streaming live development right now! Check it out on our twitch channel: http://www.twitch.tv/warballoongames

    3. Arlo Collier on January 15, 2015

      Sounds great. I'm not ready to jump on board yet but once you hit beta I'll probably be in, if not that glorious Steam release.

      Happy to be getting a game that it more than what I backed but at the same time exactly what I would have wanted when I backed.

    4. Jerason Banes
      Superbacker
      on January 13, 2015

      @Star Command - I appreciate the flattery. Time is not something I have a lot of, but I'll try to touch base with you when I get a few free moments.

    5. bgannin
      Superbacker
      on January 13, 2015

      It sounds like a potentially significant bottleneck to have so much state and inspection tied up in a singular interface.

    6. Star Command 2-time creator on January 12, 2015

      @Jerason

      You should message us. Love to chat about your thoughts. You seem quite knowledgable.

    7. Jerason Banes
      Superbacker
      on January 12, 2015

      I should probably also point out that the extreme pain and suffering you're experiencing trying to get your flowchart right is why the industry abandoned flowchart-based development a quarter century ago.

      More modern approaches rely on hierarchical thinking, breaking concepts down into modules which are broken down into sub-modules, until a correct level of implementation is reached. This allows the engineer to mentally "walk" up and down his abstraction tree until he finds the level of abstraction he needs to consider at the moment.

      UML was the first major attempt to capture these aberrations visually, but failed due to its deep level of detail: (I.e. Everyone wanted to generate code off of it and the abstractions got lost in the shuffle.)

      A more useful tool is something called a "mind map". You start with a concept (e.g. Star Command Galaxies) then hang each of the attributes off of it. (e.g. Ships, Planets, Characters)

      Next you hang attributes off of those and keep drilling down until you feel like you understand all the concepts and how they fit together. You're done when the design of the code modules basically falls out of your mind map into implementation.

      If you still aren't sure how to architect, go back to your mind map and figure out where things are breaking down.

      (As an aside, TDD is critical to making modular code work correctly. You are doing TDD, right? Do you know your code coverage?)

    8. Jerason Banes
      Superbacker
      on January 12, 2015

      @Star Commmand - Don's point is something called "Separation of Concerns".

      Your game universe is a simulation. The information of where and where not a character can go (or do!) exists independent of the user interface. If your software was broken up to have highly cohesive modules that are loosely coupled, the subsystem determining what characters can do would be separated from the systems that maps your cursor into the simulated universe.

      The rendering on the screen would then directly respond to the state of these subsystems without any in-built knowledge of their internal workings.

      This, BTW, is known as the "model/view/controller paradigm" or MVC for short. It is (to the best anyone has yet figured out) the most effective way of designing your code for scalability, refactoring, and separation of concerns.

    9. Missing avatar

      faust_33 on January 12, 2015

      The flow chart text is blurred, so I can't tell what you're doing there ... but wouldn't you want each object to have properties that are available upon mouse click? Such as a food generator object, onClick: getFood();
      It sounds like you are building a subsystem for mouse behavior as an in-between layer for objects, or maybe I'm just not understanding.

    10. Don Reba on January 12, 2015

      @Star Command
      Well, here you seem to have an object that is coupled with all parts of the game and carries out responsibilities far beyond its core purpose. Ideally, you want loose coupling and small objects that do only the thing implied from their name.

    11. Zombra on January 12, 2015

      I want to read the high resolution version of that flowchart!

    12. Star Command 2-time creator on January 12, 2015

      @Don - yeah maybe tougher wording than it sounds, basically cursor manager HELPS every part of the game - so it is a big one to get right. We had a janky version working in Alpha, so it is something that def needed solidifying/improving.

    13. Star Command 2-time creator on January 12, 2015

      @Don Reba

      What about it sounds so horrible?

    14. Don Reba on January 12, 2015

      > cursor manager - which literally affects just about
      > everything in the game

      > This is all an extension of the cursor manager which
      > tells the game what any object can and cannot do at
      > any given time.

      I hope you realize how bad this sounds from the software architecture point of view.