About Brendan Drain

Director @ Brain and Nerd

Dev Update: V1.2 & V1.3 released – Ship models, optimisations, story missions, ancient ruins, AI improvements, diplomacy changes, and more!

Hey everyone! The V1.2 update has been in people’s hands for a while now and we’ve deployed 7 follow-up patches with bug fixes and small changes since then. We’ve just released V1.3 and want to get everyone caught up with the latest developments. These updates contained the final 3D ship part models for all races, huge optimisations in the map generation and End Turn code, two new story missions (with two more coming this month), Ancient Ruins improvements, AI improvements, some Diplomacy changes, and a series of small features and bug fixes.

The biggest feature in V1.2 was the release of all the 3D ship parts for all races. The Sauros have gold and sand coloured components with ornate wings, the Starforged have huge utilitarian blocks with pipes and grills, and the Kazzir have brightly coloured racers with floating cameras and completely unnecessary wings and spoilers. We’ve also added a default Dreadnought ship design for each race, and unique new models for the Revenant ships. Check out the screenshots below for more:

The V1.2 launch update included a series of major optimisations to speed up the game. We added a Planet cache system with hundreds of pre-generated planets of all types and sizes, drastically speeding up planet generation times in exchange for the game taking up 2gb more hard drive space. This completely eliminated the delay when opening a planet for the first time, and cut down Space Exploration and Space Colonisation era map generation times by over 70%.

We also extended this to add a Homeworld Cache for each race, with a collection of pre-generated homeworlds for each race. This reduces sandbox game generation times by up to 90% depending on settings as the most resource-intensive part of generating a new map is colonising the AI homeworlds. It used to do that completely from scratch every time even though the outcome is always about the same, and now it just uses one of 100 pre-generated planets and makes small changes.

A series of AI optimisations reduced AI processing time down from 200-500ms per turn to 0-10ms, which in turn allowed us to run the AI code on every race each turn to make them smarter. Previously the AI took turns executing some of their more complex tasks, and this could delay their response to a threat. Multithreading the planet End Turn code also yielded 25-50% performance increases, but we have disabled this feature temporarily as it prompted a number of unusual edge case crashes.

Story Mission: The Z’loq Emerge: “Having conquered the oceans of its homeworld, the Z’loq empire is now facing overpopulation in the Coral Spire. The legendary Z’loq Chieftain Grizn’q has demanded that additional spires be built and the planet’s oceans be exploited to their fullest potential. As the population grows, the Z’loq now look for new territories to explore … or to conquer.” This story mission is complete and released.

Story Mission: The Colonies Unite: “The colonies of Earth have united under a single banner and begun an era of space exploration and colonisation. Mysterious ancient ruins found on Earth have given hints of powerful technology scattered throughout the galaxy, and the new United Colonies Technocracy aims to find them all.” This story mission is complete and released.

Upcoming Story Mission: Renegade Republic: “The United Colonies of Earth have plundered ancient ruins throughout the star cluster and unwittingly awoken the ancient Revenant threat. As word of the United Colonies’ part in the disaster spreads, support for a new Renegade political faction is growing and the colonies are fracturing.” This story mission is releasing later this month.

Upcoming Story Mission: We Are Starforged: “Abandoned on an icy world, a United Colonies troop transport filled with Robotic AI soldiers has become the seed of new race: The Starforged. Trapped on the planet, these robots have adapted themselves to run on fossil fuels and are now emerging into sentience.” This story mission is releasing at the end of this month.

We improved the ancient ruin excavations system. Ruins on the homeworld now always give you a piece of ancient infrastructure when excavated, and ancient ruins or crashed ships further from homeworlds get more powerful technologies. We’ve added some more powerful pieces of ancient infrastructure such as the Ancient Robotic Lab, Ancient Robotic Factory, and Ancient Robotic Farm.

Crashed Ships can now yield Ancient Ionising Beam (beam weapon), Ancient Ionic Missile (missile weapon), or Ancient Ion Cannon (projectile cannon) techs. They can also give Ancient Alloy Design (+10% armour HP), Ancient Shield Design (+25% shield regen), or Ancient Thruster Design (+1 combat speed). More powerful crashed ships can give +25% beam, projectile, missile, or drone damage.

In V1.30 we also fixed a major bug causing ancient ruins and crashed ships to be deleted when colonising the planet in some circumstances, and made them more likely to spawn on uninhabitable planets (Barren, Molten, and Toxic).

When you reach the First Contact tech era and haven’t met another race yet, you used to get a popup saying you received a transmission from deep space, but nothing actually happened. Now you will automatically make contact with the closest alien race when the transmission is received. When the Galactic Council is formed by any race, all races who haven’t made diplomatic contact with each other will also automatically meet each other.

This helps maintain the diplomatic pacing throughout the game, especially in large maps where you might not meet everyone quickly enough. We’ve also sped up the council voting animations based on feedback and the vote now takes place on the planet of the person who proposed the vote as that made more sense.

We made some big improvements to the AI in order to make them create better empires. The AI will now colonise non-habitable planets using biospheres and can set up trade routes between planets to supply them with food, which in turn allows you to passively harm their empire by sending ships to blockade the trade route.

The AI also now explores temporal rifts for bonuses, and it can now rush production on ships for money just like the player when it comes under threat. The value the AI places on money in diplomacy will now depend on how much money you have, and money is now traded in increments of 100 as the previous increment of 10 was insignificant and could still trigger the “gift” response from AI.

Portable switch: Adding a portable.txt file to the Content folder will enable a new portable mode where the ini file and save game files are relocated to within the game folder rather than in your AppData folders. This would be useful if you wanted to run the game off a pen drive and keep your saves with the drive so you can bring them to any PC. If you disable the portable switch, the game will automatically try to copy your local save games into your appdata the next time you launch the game.

Technology Tree changes: We realised that the pacing was off for players who wanted to conquer alien worlds more than colonise heavily, so we moved the Troop Pod technology to the start of the Space Colonisation tech era. This let us expand the First Contact tech era with a series of spying technologies.

Left Handed Mouse: We added left-handed mouse support to the game, which works automatically depending on your system settings. Before this version, left handed mouse users would have broken radial menus and some buttons wouldn’t click properly.

Tax Changes: The default tax rates are now automatically set to 30% Citizen Tax and 30% Industrial Tax when you start a new game.

Ship Shaders: Each race now has its own ship shader and shader variables, which are loaded in from moddable files. They allow us to add some animated effects etc to the ships, for example the blue parts on the United Colonies ships now pulse with light and the red crystals on Sauros ships now glow with a cloudy burnt orange light.

Star/Fleet Selector: When clicking on a Star or a Fleet on the Galaxy Screen, the game now opens whichever is physically closest to your mouse pointer on the screen. This should help you sellect fleets that are near stars more easily and stop the UI from getting stuck.

Text Updates: We’ve added the credits screen and dedication, final crew names for all races, star names, and nebula names.

The number of bugfixes we made in V1.2, V.13 and all the intervening patches is too long to list, but a few headline fixes include:

  • Ship Designs will now save correctly in computer systems that use commas as thousands separators.
  • We implemented a new music fade system to combat a problem where the game could rarely end up with two pieces of music playing at the same time.
  • Singleplayer missions now correctly update their progress when you close the Score screen at the end of the mission. You no longer have to quit and restart the game to see your rating appear in the mission list.
  • The Singleplayer Mission UI will no longer be drawn on top of the Fleet Combat or Diplomacy screens.
  • Fixed a large number of crashes. Thanks to everyone sending in those crash reports, please keep them coming any time the game crashes.
  • Fixed a SlimDX DLL problem that happened on some people’s games where the game would just crash on launching when trying to load the ship 3D models.

Cheers,
— Brendan, Lead Developer

Dev Update: V1.10 released. Simple Ship Designer, Refitting, Star Claims Overhaul, Asteroid Belts, Fleet Combat UI Overhaul, Race Iteration, and tons more!

Predestination V1.10 has now gone live on Steam! This is the first major gameplay iteration since we officially entered beta and it revamps a large number of gameplay systems, so this is going to be a massive dev update article. The 3D ship designer has been improved with the promised Simple Editor Mode, and shield, armour, and engine modules have been rebalanced across all ship classes. We’ve also implemented ship refitting, ship crew bonuses, and the ability to rush ship production by spending BC.

The Star Claims system has been completely revamped into a much more useful version and a new galaxy map option will let you see claimed star systems. Asteroid Belts can now be found in star systems across the game, and the economy gameplay has been completely rebalanced to give players plenty of options for generating wealth to spend on ships. All races have now been rebalanced, each one has been given two unique technologies that tie into its play style, each now has a useful special trait, and new AI Behaviours will modify how each AI plays.

The user interface has been pretty high priority for this update, with the Fleet Combat user interface being completely redesigned and the City Stat and Planet Stat tabs on the Planet Screen being graphically overhauled. New right click Radial menus on the Galaxy and Fleet Combat parts of the game now let you quickly toggle various visual options, and new scrollbar and smooth highlight systems have improved the UI all across the game. The few remaining building models are now in-game, new building base graphics add some visual polish to cities, and several buildings have been rebalanced.

Read on for a full breakdown of everything in this enormous update, screenshots of new or changed gameplay, and details of other changes and major bugs fixed as part of the update.

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Dev Update: Major iterations on the way for Economy, Race Bonuses, Star Claims, Random Events, Asteroid Mining, Planets, Ship Designer, and AI!

It’s been some time since the last major dev update article, so this is going to be a big one as we have a lot to catch everyone up on! First I’d like to say thanks to all the people who offered words of support recently when I mentioned on Steam that my dad had passed away. We’ve been working hard on the game since then and the big news is of course that we hit a major milestone with the release of V1.0, which marked the point at which Predestination officially left alpha and entered the beta release stage.

All of the gameplay is complete in V1.0, and we began a series of iterations and overhauls touching on almost every part of the game using your feedback. We’ve already deployed several hotfixes and our first gameplay iteration on the Resource system, and have started a whole series of other iterations across the game that should make it a lot more fun and cohesive. The upcoming V1.1 major iteration update will contain a total economy balance overhaul, new economic options, a sweeping rebalance of race bonuses, an overhaul to the Star Claims diplomacy gameplay, random event improvements, asteroid mining, planet gameplay improvements, a ship design overhaul, major AI improvements, and more.

In this dev update, we’ll briefly break down all of the improvements made in V1.0 and the subsequent V1.01 to v1.03 hotfixes. Then we’ll delve into the details of major iterative improvements we’re working on or considering for each area of the game.

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Dev Update: Upgrade to MonoGame, Score Screen, Diplomacy Voice Recordings, Challenge Maps, Fleet Combat Overhaul, and more!

Recently we released the massive V0.9 update to Predestination, our second last major update before we hit V1.0 and officially enter our final beta phase, at which point we can start delivering all of the remaining content (singleplayer missions, kickstarter backer content etc) and heavily polishing the game up for full release. We’ve been busy working on V1.0 and on a few unannounced things since V0.9 went live, and in this Dev Update we’d like to share details of all of that with you along with an updated estimate on the impending release of V1.0.

The biggest change is that we’ve upgraded the Predestination engine from using parts of the old XNA 3.1 framework to using the newer MonoGame framework. This took considerable work but is now complete and will lead to performance improvements, 64-bit compatibility, memory problems solved, more scope for modders, and possibly even cross-platform support. We’ve also recorded voice lines to spice up the Diplomacy system, added a Score screen after each game to let you know how well you did, and we’re part way through developing the first Challenge Map. Also on the agenda for V1.0 are major improvements to fleet combat (both gameplay and graphics improvements), graphical improvements to weapons, new sound effects, notification improvements, building models, and AI improvements.

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Dev Update: Threats & Coercions, Star Claims, AI Memory, Spontaneous AI Offers, Spying Overhaul, Main Menu overhaul, and more!

We’ve just released the enormous V0.9.9.0 update, the last update before we hit the big V1.0 release and enter the iteration and refinement phase. This update includes a massive overhaul of the Diplomacy gameplay with an all-new favour system, new diplomatic advisors, several new technologies, the Threats and Coercions system, a new Star Claim feature, and significant improvements to the AI diplomacy algorithms. The Spying gameplay has been improved with a simpler deployment system (including Send Spy shortcut buttons), changes to the spy missions themselves, new technologies, and Spying being finally tied into the Diplomacy AI.

This update also completely revamps the main menu screen with new visuals and highly requested features such as a load game panel, finishes off the New Game screen with the ability to pick your race colour and crashed ship types, and completes the dropdown menu interface with the final Fleets menu to let you see all of your ships at a glance. We’ve also improved the galaxy generation algorithm, tweaked the Aquatic race balance, added our second-last set of building and infrastructure models, filled the remaining gaps in the diplomacy text, and more.

Read on for a full progress report on everything in the V0.9.9.0 update. This update is so big that we’ll be releasing information on what’s coming next in the big V1.0 release and beyond in a further update article soon!

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Dev Update: Dropdown menu tools, custom starbase designs, UI updates and graphical improvements live! More to come!

Following the recent implementation of the singleplayer mission system and robotic race overhaul, we successfully deployed V0.9.8.0 earlier this month. We’ve released a number of fixes for reported bugs and the game is now running smoothly as V0.9.8.4.

This update adds all but one of the dropdown menu interfaces that help players organise their growing empires a lot more effectively, keeping track of planets you’ve discovered and alerting you to problems in your colonies. We also took the opportunity to implement custom player-designed starbases, improve starbase technologies, and improve the 3D ship designer user interface to make it easier to find the ship parts you want and modify existing designs.

Read on for a full breakdown and progress report on everything in V0.9.8.0 and details of what’s to come in V0.9.9.0.

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Dev Update: Singleplayer Mission Update is now live, User Interface and Content update in development!

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We’ve just released V0.9.7.0 and activated the first Singleplayer Mission in the Predestination storyline. You can play this mission after updating your game to 0.9.7.0 by pressing the Singleplayer Mission button on the main menu. In this dev update, we’ll be talking about the Singleplayer Mission system and getting an in-depth look at the mission editing and modding toolset that we’ve built as part of our mission framework. We’ll also discuss the significant improvements to the Robotic race gameplay in this patch, small UI improvements, the Morale/Health/Security V2.0 overhaul, and a slew of other gameplay improvements. Finally, we discuss plans for the next update, which will finish off the remaining dropdown menus, completely overhaul the main menu, add more content throughout the game, and make some much-needed UI improvements.

Read on for a full breakdown and progress report on everything in 0.9.7.0 and details of what’s to come in 0.9.8.0.

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Dev Update: Spying, War AI, Advanced Weapons, Planet Tweaks and more deployed. Singleplayer missions & UI update next!

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For the past few months we’ve been working on some big features and AI upgrades for Predestination, which have now been deployed as Update V0.9.6.0. This update includes the Spying gameplay and its associated technologies, advanced new weapons designed by some of our Kickstarter backers, planetary resource distribution improvements, and a brand new War AI system that intelligently selects targets and wages war against enemy nations. Also included in this update is a revised version of the morale, security and health systems, robotic race improvements, Galaxy AI improvements, and a huge number of bug-fixes and other changes.

This update paves the way for us to start work on the final major features for the game before we are feature-complete: The first episodic storyline mission, mission-modding capabilities, and the unfinished Fleets and Planets dropdown menus. We’re working hard on getting these features complete as quickly as possible and will be deploying them as V0.9.7.0, and after that all we should have left before we’re at the main version 1.0 release is content such as additional races of ship models, more random events and disasters, some new technologies, Kickstarter backer content, and UI improvements. At the same time, we can focus on polishing and iterating based on your feedback and get ready for the main launch and to get started on free post-release updates.

In this dev update, I’ll go into detail on everything in version 0.9.6.0 and talk a little about what’s coming in 0.9.7.0.

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Dev Update: HD planets, New Ship Models, and Victory Sequences deployed. Spying, War AI and Singleplayer Storyline in progress

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In our previous dev update, we showed off the complete overhaul of our 3D ship designer, the Galactic Council that meets to vote on matters of galactic importance, and improvements to the sociology tech tree. We also discussed plans for our ambitious Art Patch (V0.9.5.0), which was to introduce HD planet textures, ship models for several races, a start sequence animation, and victory sequences for the various victory conditions in the game.

The Art Patch took a few weeks longer than expected as we decided to add narration voiceover to all of the victory and start sequences, and adding new races of ship models to the 3D ship designer turned out to be a bigger technical challenge than we thought, but this update is now live on Steam! Since then we’ve implemented all of the core mechanics for spying and have begun writing the storyline for the singleplayer campaign. The next milestone for the Predestination Alpha (patch V0.9.6.0) will include the UI for Spying, add all of the spy technologies proposed in the previous dev update, and a War AI system that will analyse enemy empires for weakness, declare war, and send ships to attack.

Read on for a full breakdown and progress report on of all of this and more.

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Dev Update: 3D Ship Designer Overhaul & Galactic Council now live, Spying and Art patch to come

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The Galactic Council update (Version 0.9.4.0) has now gone live on Steam Early Access, and it’s a big one. The core feature of the patch was the addition of the Galactic Council discussed in the previous dev update and an overhaul of the Sociology and diplomacy technologies. Using feedback from people testing the game recently at Q-Con, we decided to dedicate some time to completely overhaul the 3D ship designer’s mechanics and user interface in preparation for adding the ship parts and designs for the remaining races. This patch also laid a little bit of the ground work for Spying, made improvements to Trade Routes and Commanders, and fixed various reported bugs and crashes.

The Galactic Council and Spying are two features that we had originally intended to hold back for a possible free update or expansion after the main V1.0 release, but after careful consideration we decided to spend the extra development time to make them part of the main game. Competition in the 4X genre has become more intense with the release of several new games with triple-A funding, so it’s even more important for small indie games like ours to focus on making the gameplay as good and complete as it possibly can be.

In this dev update, I’ll discuss the 3D Ship Designer overhaul, the implementation of the Galactic Council, and changes to the Sociology technologies in the recently released V0.9.4.0 patch. I’ll then delve into the details of our plans for the upcoming Art Patch (V0.9.5.0) and tentative plans for the spying gameplay.

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