Monthly Archives: April 2012

Iteration 12 – back into it

Well its been about 2 weeks of little to no activity. Few factors at work here: its always a bit difficult to get back into the project after releasing an iteration (the question becomes what to do next), the end of a school semester, had a final exam yesterday (one (Summer) more to go till degre…) and of course Drew’s passing.

Yesterday had a fairly rough time, everything I started seemed to go badly, either I wasn’t very interested in that aspect or it was evading me due to lack of concentration, today was much better, I have a fairly good focus for iteration 12. Tactical mode enhancements. Focusing mostly on giving the player more control over ships. First few steps: a hold this position and patrol this position commands. Next up issuing go to this position via mouse right clicks and other misc commands to let the player communicate with his/her forces. Hoping to also put in the ability to issue individual turret orders – eg: in Tactical mode click on a turret – then right click on enemy.

So feeling good about the weekened right now – coding useful and interesting features, and back on track. I’m thinking that Iteration 12 is about a month and a half away going to try to focus on its scope to release it in a fairly timely fashion.


Andrew Roals – aka Slaor, the person I would refer to as “my artist” but always felt that it wasn’t an adequate description has left our world. He died of a sudden heart attack on Friday, April 20th, 2012. I was informed by his sister, prior to this I had an odd feeling because I didn’t get an email from Drew for several days, which is very out of the ordinary. Some days we’d email each other more than a dozen times.

Drew was more than I could ever ask for and now he’s gone. I feel incredibly lucky that we found each other. I feel selfish for even thinking of the project – I know it will continue, but I also know that it will be less because of this loss.

Link to Slaor’s blog including his sister’s message: ‘ardWare

His sister asked if I’d like to include a message that will be sent with Drew. This is what I wrote:

Andrew, we never met in this world, but I hope that we will meet in the next. We were a sort of a Ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail. You inspired me and helped fuel my motivation. I got to thank you many times, but I hoped to thank you more when this project was completed. It will not be the same without you, I will not be the same without you.

Rest in peace my friend.


Iteration 11 thoughts

Had a playthrough of iteration 11, conquered the nearby base, overall I’m very happy because I had zero crashes in the play through, also another strong aspect is the ship to ship combat. But there are weaknesses and glitches, that need to be addressed.

One of the major ones is that control over your units is fairly hard, the units are a bit too independent, I need to work on giving the player the ability to issue “hold this position” and “patrol this position” orders. Most likely this will be done via something like a “navigational point” in tactical mode, where the player will click a spot to designate a go to point and then select friendly ships and right click on that spot to bind ships to that point. Right now there is no way to do this, although behind the scenes the code exists for wait here, or patrol here AI.

The other weakness is waiting on resources, this is far too inactive, although it is great that bases automatically produce reasources meaning that the player can focus on combat or issuing orders, there has to be a way for the player to actively gather resources to speed up ship/station building. If you’ve noticed asteroids can be shot at which yields what we internally call baby roids, these will in the future be ablet o be “harvested” and then dropped off at a transfer station to gain more resources. This too will be automated with ship’s crew doing most of the work, however this will attract attacks so the player should defend these miners to keep their output strong.

Its funny because the week after a release, I do very little coding, instead I jump on the forums and talk about the game, but its also a neat break from the frantic and obsessive drive towards a release, it also gives me time to prioritize and decide what I want to work on next.

Iter 11 thoughts

In final stages of releasing iter 11, most likely sometime Sunday (so over 24 hours). Few minor tweaks left as well as – creating the installer, updating the website – creating screen shots and videos.

Had a play through tonight, its been a while since I played this long and with the focus on taking over the enemy base. Thoughts: it shouldn’t be very surprising that I like the game I’m making, but still it is a welcome feeling for me. The art has improved dramatically, very pleasing and rewarding to the eye (and I hope a “hook” to the player – just one more ship to destroy… feeling). Overall very stable, though I encountered (and fixed) a crash bug – having to do with the “Command” ability on the Command ship which lets you take over enemy ships.

At first the game is seemingly very easy because resources are plentiful, but once you build stations and start to want to build the marine frigate ships to take over the enemy base resources start to become more scarce and enemy attacks intensify. One of the the goal is for the game to be a challenge, but also hard to lose, and this is somewhat the case.

Right now however the game is too much waiting for resources and not enough of substancial combat. One of the reasons being is that enemies are mostly equipped with corvette class ships, while the player can build powerful frigate class ships as well as having the Command ship. Its not very fair to the enemy. I’ve removed the heavier hitting enemy ships because their art was placeholders, so while the enemy suffers the look and feel of the game improves. A good trade off I’d say.

The other reason is that the game is very simplistic, the enemy base AI is very unsophisticated, and really just throws wave after wave of ships. This will be remedied, the goal is to have complex encounters, missions and objectives. Bases will need to be weakened, defenses will need to be strenghtened, territory will change hands, battles fought and wars waged. And because (I feel) that the game is already fun… I’m very optimistic about the future.


Clawing our way toward iter 11… ok its not so bad, lots of new art has arrived, and much play testing and tweaking is happening.

Two important things happened recently – unified/made make sense the field of view setting, this is important because on wide screens with high resolutions models (the game world really) sometimes became distorted due to the fov settings, still may not have conquered this, but on a better path.

The other interesting happening is that the game would crash after about 2 minutes of a fight created via the battle editor. It started with getting reports from the other team member that the game would crash non-stop, which was kind of a shock to me because it didn’t crash on my side (for about a week now it has been very stable on my pc). When I can’t replicate an issue it worries me a lot, because its something I can’t fix/solve easily.

But luckily Drew sent over the instant action file that would trigger the crash and it crashed on my side as well. This is good news because if a bug/issue can be replicated then it can be fixed. Long story short: it turned out to be a crash due to the game using up its max allowed memory. The cause was particle effects, recently we’ve added a debri effect on explosions and impacts. These tended to linger for a decent amount of time while they float and spin away from whatever it is that exploded. The game engine is designed to re-use particles, but only if they stopped playing in the game world, if there aren’t any avaiable particles then the engine creates a new one, well if the debris were lingering then the particle system wasn’t stopped so new ones were being created, until a crash due to running out of memory. Interesting and new problem.

For now the band aid is to cap the amount of particle systems that can be created, but later on a more sophisticated solution will take place. Seperating the debris effect from the explosion effect so, because really they are somewhat independent is a start, testing distance to the player’s ship is another, and also putting limits on the amount of particles created.

Iter 11 update

Lots of things are happening behind the scenes, getting ready to release iter 11, ETA: next weekend. New models – ships, stations, etc. New tutorials. New effects, new sounds. Old ships removed, old files cleaned up. A re-vamped gui/interface and many other aspects.

The game is looking very nice and this enhances testing and makes me want to code/do more.

Very much looking forward to sharing it with you guys.