Monthly Archives: October 2014


As I mentioned in the last update – I’ve added a bunch of instant action scenarios. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time but didn’t have quite concrete direction in my mind. Via talking to players the idea crystallized – dogfights.

I hear feedback that some prefer the RTS aspect, or that they prefer the “first person” aspect, but don’t get a chance to pilot ships due to needing to be in tactical mode. My response is – play how you enjoy the game – not how you perceive it to be most efficient. This I believe that players are often “guilty” of doing and I have to admit that I do this too. In Void Destroyer I say that It is ok if some of your ships die – you can re-build them, that’s the great thing about games, no one is getting hurt.

I happen to think that Void Destroyer has the best space combat around – this might be a bit on the crazy side (considering my non-existent team and budget), but I truly believe it, though I admit that I probably brain washed myself over the years. This feedback is often on my mind and I think it is a waste for players not to get a healthy dose of this aspect of the game. So I decided to do a very simple thing – give players a quick and easy way to enjoy dogfights in Void Destroyer via instant action scenarios.

I believe I mentioned this before – the beauty of instant action scenarios is that they can be exactly configured – and I as the designer can know exactly what the player will have and what the player will face. Versus – in the “story” mode of Void Destroyer – the player is free to decide on their fleet and can lose and gain ships along the way depending on the fortunes of battle. So it is a great thing that both of these design choices are present in the project.

So these new instant action scenarios lean heavily towards ship to ship combat – especially fighters. For example – in one of the earlier ones your task is to protect the command ship – Wardrum. In the “story” mode of the game – this would be much harder to pull off – because the player can simply fly the Wardrum out of danger. But here the player can only pilot fighters, the Wardrum stays put and isn’t something that can be manipulated. The loss of player control gives me greater options – and gives the player a more focused experience, so the player can enjoy dogfights without having to worry about fleets.

Other cool aspects, one of them is that via contorting the player and enemy ships – some of the factions that don’t have larger class ships – aren’t push overs – now that the player doesn’t have a swarm of frigates in the fight.

Another great aspect is that I can be a bit more brutal – for example I can swarm the command ship with (many more) hull crushing drones – because the scenario is optional and not required to continue on the story of the game. Beating it can be its own reward – a source of pride – and the player is allowed to continue playing the scenario even if the command ship is destroyed – something that would usually result in the game being over in the “story” mode. The player can still enjoy the ship to ship combat until either all enemies, or all friendly ships are no more.


Happenings – and big changes – Pt2

I hit a bit of a wall with the “Hub” mission – it is a beast, but great things resulted from wrestling with it. For one – I fairly recently – added a “resource request’ system, where the player can request resources from friendly bases. This system only worked with “in sector” bases. It was added to help with the Hub mission and missions after it where the player has access to multiple friendly bases (through conquest!), but the Hub mission needed this system to work with “out of sector” bases as well. Adding that felt “complete” – it didn’t make much sense that you had bases that could build ships and send them through a gate to you, but not send a transport ship carrying an ore pod, so now you can.

The next big change is the ability for the player to define ship’s “posture” (as I call it internally in code). This is a fairly simple system which mostly determines ranges at which ships target enemy ships. Simple, but very powerful, for example if you set the distance to be very short or non-existent then ships will stand still (or in formation) and ignore enemies. Normally that would lead to death – but in a few missions it can be much better tactically to stand your ground rather than rush ahead into enemy defenses and ships. In a few missions in particular not being able to do have ships stand still would be greatly frustrating, they were too independent in seeking out targets.

So the three “postures” that I’ve made available to the player are (names pending):


HOLD – ships generally ignore enemy ships, but turrets still respond to enemies and fire

ENGAGE – the default posture, ships engage other ships in “combat range” (which is usually defined as a bit further than weapons range)

SEARCH AND DESTROY – ships will scour the entire map for enemy ships and engage


So these basic three give a lot of power, tactics and control to the player. For example search and destroy can be extremely useful towards the end of a mission where you basically defeated the enemy and want to mop up. It can also be very useful when you have several battles happening all over the area, and don’t want to micro manage your ships, instead you want them to seek out targets. This can also give you the opportunity to dogfight or manually pilot, knowing that your forces are engaging enemies on their own.

These highlight the several ways that the player can control their ships in the game. They can directly pilot, they can issue commands to a ship or group or ships, or they can say – have at it. Each level decreasing fine control – and each level having its own merits.

There is a bit of a story of how search and destroy came about – originally I gave it to enemy ships. Often in the game there are mission scripts that wait for enemy ships to be destroyed. This means that it is important for enemy ships to bravely seek out combat and die. Otherwise an enemy ship might be sitting still in some far corner of the map and the player is left waiting for the next leg of the story being blocked by some wayward ship. So search and destroy was given to enemy ships so that’d bravely throw themselves at the player – wherever they are.

The need for this became apparent for me during a play through where a physics glitch pushed a ship into the outer edges. I then added the search and destroy posture and the enemy ship rejoined the fight. I originally didn’t intend to give this to the player – but right after I did – it became apparent how great this is, I use it and enjoy it often in my play thoughts and tests. In terms of mission scripts, I often use it to


The other big news is that I decided to do something about instant action scenarios. I’ve been planning them in my head and finally got down to writing them. Some are fairly simple and others are fairly complex, but they work in a bunch of ways with the strengths and uniqueness of the game. Going to do an update later to talk about them in more detail.

Happenings – and big changes

I polished the “alternate” paths to the story line I talked about in the last post. They weren’t as bad as I thought, I had to decide where to force certain things and where to keep them open ended. I do my best to hide these things from the player in – hopefully – clever as I can be ways.

For example – it would be very hard for the player to destroy a ship, a ship that I need to be alive for the next few steps of the story, then the player can either wait a bit then destroy it or destroy it right away. So anyway the “clever” trick I do is to make the ship immortal. Ok before you start rolling your eyes – what I also do is allow the player to damage it up to a certain point. Still rolling your eyes? The final clever aspect is reducing the amount of damage it takes. Setting the ship to be immortal ensures that it will be still alive, but setting the damage reduction hopefully keeps the immersion of – you can do anything – intact – while increasing tension – ooh the ship is so tough!  Once the ship does what I need it to do in the story I set it back to normal. So I am sure that it will do steps 123, and then leave 456 up to the player.

After a bit of polish – I added another mission to the game – this one has what I believe to be a very unique fight. It’s different from all the other fights in the game because it doesn’t have the usual swarms of ships or fleets versus fleets deciding who wears the space pants better. The battle has a different flow and at the end of it I hope that the player feels like an absolute warrior. I’m very proud of that section of the new mission.

However – the segment following that was fairly similar to previous encounters – swarms of ships, I toss in a bit of variety in there, but it feels off, still its place in the game might dictate how it should be and there’s not much to do to change it.


With the new mission added – the game needed its final mission and I have a pretty clear idea what it is. Although I was very excited and happy about this – I really didn’t feel like working on it. Having played the earlier missions I kept seeing issues that I wanted to resolve, change, polish, etc. So I decided to do a run through the game from the beginning (something I haven’t done in a while).

I decided to go through the game and treat every mission as final. If I see an issue – I fix it – versus leaving it for later as I sometimes did before. That is the goal – and for the most part I believe I succeeded.

There’s been a tremendous amount of tiny, small and big changes over the past few days. It’s actually a bit scary. Tiny ones like changing which music plays, moving a camera in a cutscene a bit to the right (due to having scaled up an object [months before] and that now obscuring where I wanted the camera to look). Small ones like changing the number of ships in a map and huge ones – like changing the way bases build ships.

Having played and worked on the later missions – I realized that ships build too slowly. Often I wouldn’t want to build fighters because it would mean having them take up a slot to build a frigate or larger ship. To put it into a perspective – rebuilding a wing of 20 fighters would take 10 minutes, that is 10 minutes of not being able to build another ship. So the solution that I decided to take is to allow bases to always have a slot to build fighters – so a base can build a fighter and a non-fighter class ship. This basically means that building fighters is a given in bases (stations still have the same limitation as before – one ship at a time).  Still the 10 minute aspect remained – though now you could build a fighter and another ship – it would still take 10 minutes to build that wing of 20. So I reduced fighter build times, and kept going and did the same to corvettes and frigates. I looked at enemy ship build times and adjusted those as well.

This has the aspect of affecting enemy bases as well – something I decided was only fair. This means that enemy bases attack more frequently. This is a bit scary – worrying about players new to the game. But the aspect of them being able to build ships fast should take care of that – and result in more action and space combat. Either way this is necessary for the end game, so it had to be done.

There have been a lot of other changes, and now I’m close to the 1/2 way point of the game – today I added functionality to get resources via gates. I’ve fixed numerous tiny issues and put in numerous improvements, I’m feeling very optimistic about the game – that I will be very proud of it for years to come. As always there is a long way to go.