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!