Galaxy Beta V 2.0 has now been through internal testing and all beta backers will be mailed shortly with installation instructions and a download link. This beta is a major milestone for Predestination and a big step forward toward release, containing both the latest version of the Fleet Combat gameplay and the final major gameplay iteration on Predestination’s planetary gameplay. We’ll try to put together a video soon showing how the game now plays for those who aren’t in the beta, and of course the testers are free to make their own videos or streams of it since there’s no NDA on our betas.
In this post, I’ll look at what’s changed in this beta, and the next steps for Predestination. This beta stage consists of three main scenarios: Fleet Combat V 2.0, Planetary Colonisation V 2.0, and the latest version of the Galaxy map (which unlocks after you win the planet scenario). We’d appreciate any feedback you have on the beta scenarios, and we’re particularly interested in hearing how you like the revamped planetary gameplay. If you’re a tester and get a moment to check out the latest beta, please head over to the forum and let us know what you think because it really does help us a ton with development.
If you happened to catch our stall at Q Con in Belfast recently, you’ve probably already played the latest version of our Fleet Combat demo scenario. The scenario Galaxy Beta V2.0 is the second major iteration on Predestination’s Fleet Combat gameplay and has a number of key improvements over the original beta version:
- Attacking has been simplified. Now when you move the mouse over any enemy, you can see the firing arcs of all of your weapons. You can now just click on an enemy to automatically fire all available weapons at him. You can still individually target weapons by manually activating them, but are no longer forced to.
- Shields are now displayed as actual models around the ships, and moving the mouse over an enemy highlights the shield you’re going to hit. The current demo has a Class I Shield that has a lot of gaps, and more advanced shields will have more solid-looking models.
- Hitpoints and damage have been multiplied by ten and rounded to the nearest unit, so we’re no longer dealing fractions of damage. The damage numbers are also larger and more visible.
- Ships no longer have “free turns” as this was confusing, and the default firing arc for weapons is now the Extended arc to make aiming at enemies significantly easier.
- Your turn now automatically ends after firing. We’re going to make this an option as some tactics will require players to fire and then move.
We’ve still got some features to add, such as technologies that let you simulate ship movement before committing to a move, and a simple way to rotate your ship. The UI, animations and other graphics are also in need of some improvement before release. But before we go back and revisit the Fleet Combat, we’d like to get the rest of the core game finished and have fully released the custom 3D ship designer. Modular ships have been fully integrated into the Fleet Combat test scenario, so once we release the ship designer itself, the system is already fully compatible with the game.
Predestination’s most unique feature is its deep planetary colonisation gameplay, and we’ve spent a lot of development time iterating on it to make sure we get it right. Most space 4X games have very basic planetary interaction, so we’re really in unfamiliar territory and your feedback has been essential in guiding development. We’ve previously discussed the major Planet and City overhauls that introduce features like Roads and Infrastructure, but there’s one final piece of the planetary colonisation puzzle that remained to be tackled: Resource Deposits.
It’s been pointed out to us in the past that our old planetary resource system could feel a bit lifeless as all deposits functioned the same way; they were just isolated little dots on the map that you could use to build ore refineries, research labs and farms. We knew we could do better than that, so as part of Galaxy Beta V2.0 we’re pleased to reveal that the resource deposits themselves have received some love too. A summary of the big changes is below:
Ore Changes: Each planet used to have a few isolated hexes containing ore, each of which could support one ore refinery that automatically produced 10 metal/turn. That was a bit boring, so we’ve now made generate in seams of 3-8 deposits and refinery output is based on the number of deposits near it. The refinery extracts ore from all deposits within a range of 1 hex, so it can mine up to 7 deposits at once. Each refinery now generates 4 metal/turn plus 1 metal/turn for each deposit it’s mining, so it now produces between 5 and 11 metal/turn.
Farm Changes: There used to be only a few food deposits on each planet and you could only build farms on those spots, which didn’t really make sense. Now you can place a farm anywhere on the planet’s surface if it’s the correct environment for your race. Farms now grow food on each hex of the correct environment within a range of 1 hex. The base building generates 40 food/turn and all farmed hexes in its area generate 10 food/turn. Specific food deposits are still generated on the planets as before, but these now give an additional 10 food/turn bonus. In addition, food consumption has been changed so that 1 unit of food now supports 10 units of population.
Resource Depletion: The biggest change with this overhaul is that Fossil Fuel and Ore deposits will now deplete as they’re used. They start out with 100-125 units of material and run out at a rate of 1 per turn while being used. Once an ore deposit disappears, the refinery it’s part of will lose the 1 metal/turn bonus that deposit granted. The base refinery building will continue to operate indefinitely though, producing its base of 4 metal/turn.
When a Fossil Fuel deposit runs out, it’s gone for good. You can extend the lifetime of all fossil fuel deposits by researching technologies like Natural Gas or Oil Drilling, but it’s just a stop-gap measure. Eventually you’ll need to switch to another form of power generation, like solar, geothermal, wind power, wave power, or nuclear (as uranium deposits don’t run out). Both this and the ore depletion are designed to allow players to use up the planet’s resources to expand more rapidly, and it stops players from just turtling up inside one or two solar systems.
Research Changes: We’ve changed things around a little with research. The research building that goes in cities is now called Research Lab and generates 5 RP/turn, while the infrastructure placed on Crashed Ships and Ancient Ruins is now called an Excavation and gives a 100% bonus to all research in the city it’s linked to. The big change is that after you’ve done enough research in a city connected to a Crashed Ship or Ancient Ruin, you’ll finish excavating the ship/ruins and could gain an advanced Artifact technology. These technologies are powerful and unique in each game session, so once you discover one, no other race can discover it in that game. They’re kind of like Wonders in Civilization but you don’t know what you’ll get until you excavate it. This system is in Galaxy Beta V 2.0, but most of the Artifact technologies haven’t been implemented yet.
I know that you’re all very eager to get your hands on Predestination, and we’re just as eager to get it finished and in your hands, so I’d like to discuss our current development plans going forward. The good news is that Galaxy Beta V2.0 is the final major change to our planet gameplay as we’re very happy with how it’s turned out; all that needs done to it now is some balance tweaking, a few UI improvements, and the addition of some new technologies.
Putting that aside, our primary goal is now to get the sandbox game mode to a fully playable state and then release an Early Access version on Steam. In order to do that, we need to finish the following features:
- Develop a Planetary Colonisation AI. This could also be used for people who want to automate their planets entirely rather than micromanage or use blueprints.
- Develop a Galaxy Level AI that colonises the galaxy and builds fleets of ships.
- Finish designing and implementing the start screen for the selection of galaxy size, type, race etc.
- Overhaul the Research dropdown menu. The current plan is to have an icon for each technology and to move all the important information to a detailed tooltip.
- Create a new Blueprint screen for the creation and editing of city blueprints, and ensure that updated blueprints are propagated throughout your empire.
- Finish the second iteration of the Diplomacy Screen and implement the Diplomacy dropdown menu for opening diplomatic contact.
- Implement a full diplomacy AI and favour/memory system for AI races.
- Implement trade routes and a UI for setting them up between your own planets, and integrate trades into the Diplomacy system.
- Integrate Fleet Combat with the Galaxy level gameplay so combats spawn when fleets of enemy/neutral races meet.
- Add Ground Cannons and space stations to fleet combat in defense of a planet, and make it so they can use the planet’s energy to attack.
- Create a bombing phase after combat where you can destroy cities, roads and infrastructure from orbit or land ground troops to take over cities.
- Design and implement the Planets dropdown menu (At least the Manage Planets and Blueprints sections)
- Finish Research Eras 2 and 3 and implement more of the Ancient Artifact technologies.
- Implement the Command Point system that will limit how many ships you have, and display the number somewhere on the UI.
- Implement a tax UI that will let you change your empire-wide tax rate. Link this feature to the Universal Currency technology.
As always, we’d love to hear what you have to say about the latest developments and you can head over to our forum to let us know!
– Brendan, Lead Developer