Monthly Archives: October 2013

Iteration 18 – released – and work towards 19

I missed last week’s update and now I’m drawing a blank… so I’ll just keep it very short. There were many crash bugs, there was a lots of needed polish and finally late last week iteration 18 was released.

Right after releasing iteration 18 I took a look at some new effects code from the effects contractor – the goal was to enhance the “Sun” – it did do so but had a limitation – if the player’s camera was too far from the sun the effect has a negative effect on the sun visual. But then I noticed a subtle glow… and the effect had a unforeseen (by me) bonus – a cool “general glow” effect. Really like the extra polish this has on the game. Very excited about it.

In a lot of ways iteration 18 is incomplete – most of them having to do with formations. Iteration 19 should fix most of that. I started last week doing some enhancements to tactical mode, stuff that I should have been in 18 but I didn’t want to delay any longer. So now things like – double clicking a turret to select them all, and the ability to click on the “model” image (on the lower right hand corner) being the same as selecting the object itself – for use in double clicking. Also I’ve updated the base manage gui – with a list of bases – just like the shipyard has a list of shipyards. Minor – yet obvious things like that.  Then I started to finally address ships traveling through gates – out of the sector. These are almost always player ships – and before the changes they would get lost if the game was saved and loaded. I added them to the save/load system and am very happy for it.


And finally the late weekend came and the main focus of iteration 19 – AI polish and enhancements. I ran through a lot of “attack patterns” and “attack nodes” – basically combat ships have a “attack nodes” that has one or more “attack patterns” – I’ve added a bunch of new ones and added code for the combat AI to more intelligently pick and use them, and in some cases fixed bugs that prevented the AI from using existing ones.  So fighters and corvettes should display some new maneuvers and intelligence. Frigates will be more mobile in combat and ships that collision weapons should smack into other objects in a improved way.

Once I’m done with this – I’ll have to tackle issuing orders and giving the player better control over ships using the gravity drive – I’m looking forward to this very much.


As I was running out of weekend time – I also re-added “projectile life expiration” particles – little explosions when a projectile runs out of its “life timer” – and would previously just disappear, now there’s a little blip of an explosion – this is optional as there is a tiny performance penalty.


Speaking of performance – I’m basically at the point of needing an updated PC – the funny thing is that the need is for making videos of the project – I don’t want to advertise the game running below 60fps and with the new effects we are headed that way.

Road To Iteration 18 – Part 3

This week was spent on polish towards Iteration 18. Each one of the days I thought I’d be getting very close to releasing only to find more and more things to do, fix, improve and test.


When I started wanting to finish up the new story content I realized that I couldn’t bring myself to just have it be another sector in space like the rest so I wanted to add in some variety via “dust clouds.” A sector wide “nebula” – and I fairly quickly added that system in place. The cool thing about this variant of dust clouds (there was an older variant that I didn’t use much) is that it is highly and easily moddable and you can stack a dust cloud on top of another dust cloud (as many times as you want) so create a layered sort of nebula/dusty environment. I think it looks pretty cool – I’m very happy with it. The goal is to not have the game be so mechanical – which I think is a result of the programmer (aka me) doing much of the design.

Speaking of not having the game be so mechanical, I spent a good amount of time on using the newly acquired (via Kickstarter funds) consulting help towards tactical mode visual enhancements. I’m happy to say that tactical mode looks much closer to the final vision. Still a bunch of work to do, but I think it is a huge improvement.

The weekend was spent on finishing up the story content, working on the cutscene, prepping the installer and finally bug testing. So many bugs! I lose track of how many crash bugs, but each one I fix is one less that a player will have to deal with. Still I think that iteration 18 will be one of the buggiest, the new formation and rally systems are fairly complex additions to the game, they go across the board in their effects. Plus the tactical mode ui improvements – are hard to test given that they span the entire mode – meaning that there are a lot of combinations of actions that a player could do that might trigger a bug.


Hopefully iteration 18 will be released early this week and I can then move onto focusing on iteration 19 – whose goal is to vastly improve the AI. A part will be to make new formation system much more solid, another part will be to make AI ships much better at avoiding collisions and path finding, and a third leg will be on combat maneuvers and general AI intelligence. Exciting stuff!

Road To Iteration 18 – Part 2

Pretty tired at the moment, so I’ll probably skip a few things.


During the week I worked on the rally system (lots of improvements there) and more Tactical mode polish. Meanwhile a special effects artist sent me over some neat effects and I did some experiments with them. I’m looking forward to unveiling them in the near future and to getting even more effects. This is a great opportunity afforded via Kickstarter funds.

During the weekend I spent time on new content, bug fixes, on the new effects, on dust clouds, and even on the HUD via some new art - hoping to be able to say that it has reached a release ready state soon.


Iteration 18 should be ready this week.

Road to iteration 18

Kind of a late update… usually I try to do this late Sunday night, but it is now late Tuesday night.

The last week was pretty bad, there were several factors – I guess it might be interesting to some reader to know that there is a human being at the end of this – or maybe it is completely boring – anyway last Monday I visited the dentist for a crown after a root canal. Took very long since nowadays they literally 3D scan your mouth and then carve up a tooth out of a ceramic block – on site. Either way I was burned out, so Monday was out.

Tuesday I spent fighting a crash bug that cropped up when formations were disbanded/deleted. Pretty silly bug, took forever to find, but as usual I was very happy to have fixed. Some bad news on Wednesday – the HUD/GUI artist that was working with me has had a string of unfortunate events and can’t reasonably deliver for the project. This actually reminds me that I’m very lucky to be able to work on this project, given how much “free” time it requires. A reminder that not everyone is as lucky as I am and that is something I shouldn’t forget when I feel down or burned out of what not.

Wednesday – at my “day job” once a year a bit of a shake up happens and the office crew (which I’m part off) has to go to the warehouse and count inventory. This is unfortunately extremely exhausting (since it often involves physically lifting often heavy material), mind numbing and a bunch of other negative aspects. So the rest of the week was spent like that and when I got home later than usual I tried to focus on little things and surprisingly got a bunch of things done – mainly little improvements to tactical mode. It is not as rigid as it was before and hopefully much more user friendly. I should create a post just on this, or maybe a video.

Weekend - I wanted something quick and easy so I wanted to create a “rally” system. Where the player would first select a base or a shipyard then right click on the map and have ships go to that spot on launch from the shipyard. This was easy, and I fairly quickly set this up (in terms of basic functionality) and then I thought – hmm why not integrate the new formation system? This is where things took a turn for the worse. I spent a lot of time (practically all of Sunday) trying to jam the formation system into the rally system. I kept writing code, deleting it, restoring from a backup of previous code, etc etc. I finally gave up Sunday night and decided to keep the code separate. A few moments ago I setup a fairly decent rally system, so at least that’s that.


So what’s next? I want to put out Iteration 18 soon – I have to add in saving/loading to the formation system and the rally system, do a bunch of bug tests, finish up new story content for the Kickstarter Beta backers and then release. So seemingly a bunch of work, hopefully it will go smooth :)

In other news – I’ve started contracting out “graphics/effects” programming work. This is an area where I struggle a lot so I thought contracting this work out would be more efficient, so far some promising developments. This will also mean that I’ll learn a bit so overall should be a huge win for the project.