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.