Design sneak peek: City overhaul, new buildings, and blueprints

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Our next monthly dev update is due soon, but before that I’d like to take a more detailed look at the Predestination Beta’s upcoming city revamp, which forms the second part of what we hope will be the final major iteration on Predestination’s planetary gameplay. A short summary of the changes will be part of the next dev update or you can skip ahead to Step 4 to read them, but for those interested in the game design process, this post will go through the steps we took to arrive at the new version of the City and Blueprint systems.

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Development Update: May 2014 – Augmented planet gameplay, Beta feedback, and Diplomacy

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The first iteration of the Galaxy beta has now been in backers’ hands for just over a month, and we’ve been working hard on fixing bugs and addressing the gameplay issues it raised. Your bug reports have helped us track down and fix several major crashes and game-breaking bugs, and your feedback is helping to direct Predestination’s development. Feedback from the Galaxy beta indicates that the planetary gameplay needs more work, performance needs to be improved on low-end systems, and areas like the research system could use a little more work, so that’s exactly what we’re doing.

As we’re now well into June, there have been a few requests for an updated release schedule. We’re quickly learning that game development isn’t an exact science, that not everything goes to plan and that most games go through delays and feature cutbacks as they approach completion. Our number one commitment has always been to make Predestination the best 4X game we possibly can with the limited resources available to us, and to iterate on the core gameplay until it feels right. That means we’re never able to fully guarantee a release date or a schedule for future stages of testing, but the tradeoff is that we definitely won’t push the game out the door in an unfinished or unplayable state.

What we can promise is that we’ll continue releasing our monthly development updates to keep you up to date on how the game is progressing, and that we’ll listen to your feedback and ideas at every step of the way. In this month’s development update, I’ll run down all of the major changes being made in response to your feedback on the Galaxy Beta. These changes will be released later this month as part of Galaxy Beta V2.0, and we’re keen to hear your thoughts on the changes now. We’ve started a poll and discussion thread over on the Predestination forums and would love to hear your thoughts on the information below: Read More

The Galaxy Beta has arrived! Pre-warp gameplay overhauled, research expanded, shipyards implemented

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The first iteration of the galaxy beta is now complete, it’s been through internal testing, and we’ll be sending out links to all of our beta backers over the next few days. For those of you who aren’t in the beta, this post will summarise the new features and overhauled gameplay that has made it into this version.

Pre-warp stage: The galaxy beta starts with a focused test of the pre-warp stage of the game. Players start the game immediately after crash-landing on a planet and setting up a city near the crash site. To get back into space, you must research four key technologies to rediscover warp travel:

  • Stellar Cartography – After developing space telescopes or land-based observatories, this mapping technology unlocks the galaxy map necessary for plotting fleet movements.
  • Ship Fuel Cell – With your original ship’s fuel source depleted, you need to develop a new fuel cell capable of powering a warp drive. It uses either nuclear materials or sustainable biofuels, depending on which tech you’ve chosen.
  • Orbital Shipyard – A building necessary for the design and production of ships.
  • Space Programme – Launch a Satellite into orbit as part of a formal space programme. The satellite can expend 1000 stored energy to scan the entire planet’s surface and is exclusive to your capitol city on the homeworld.

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A quick update: The Galaxy Beta is almost ready

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We’ve been hard at work trying to get the Galaxy Beta into your hands, and you’ll be glad to know that it’s now less than a week away from completion. We had hoped to get the first iteration of this beta into your hands by the end of March, but have had some unexpected delays that have put us behind our initial projections. A computer failure has slowed work on the Galaxy Beta, and additional development time was also eaten up by preparing tax documents, putting together the final financial paperwork for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland grant, and continuing the process for getting listed on Steam.

The good news is that now that all that is complete and the Galaxy Beta is almost ready to deploy, we’re able to focus on releasing updates more regularly leading up to launch!  For this quick art update, we’d love to show you two of the diplomacy screen backgrounds in Predestination (the Kazzir and the Sauros), and two of our new promotional posters.

We’ve also put together a design pack for the race and level design backers from our first Kickstarter, which will wing its way to those backers alongside the Galaxy Beta update within the next week.

UPDATE: The galaxy beta is now ready and is undergoing some final in-house testing on various setups before we release it to backers. Your patience is very much appreciated. Read More

February Dev Update: Schedule update, and lots of progress to show!

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We’d like to apologise for the delay in getting this month’s development update together, there’s been a lot of development progress made this month and we’ve also been buried under a mountain of paperwork! We’ve now implemented the research system, temporal rifts, nebula effects on the galaxy map, shipyards, ship crews, colony blueprints, the renewable energy scanner, and over 40 functional technologies! We’ve also got concept art blockouts completed for the ships that will be in the game, which are broken down into blocks for the 3D Ship Designer, and our 3D modelers are still working away on getting new buildings complete.

Some of this month’s work has taken a lot longer than anticipated to complete, unfortunately, and we’ve had quite a bit of bureaucracy to deal with this month on the business side of Brain and Nerd that has detracted from development time. As a result, our original release schedule aiming for release at the end of March or start of April has had to be revised. We want to put this game in your hands as much as you want to play it, but we need to do this right and can’t release the game until it’s ready. Read More

January Dev Update: 3D Ship designer success and Predestination has been Greenlit!

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It’s been a crazy few months for Predestination, with our second Kickstarter meeting overwhelming success and Predestination finally being greenlit on Steam! We’ve opened the first two beta stages to our new beta backers, and work is continuing on the upcoming Galaxy beta.

We’ve made steady progress on the 3D ship designer and implemented several new features already. Cosmetic parts and ship items can now be rotated and scaled after placement using a simple slider and dial system (the UI below is temporary and will be improved on). Parts now have metal and powercore costs and are arranged into sections on the UI. The firing arcs of weapons fitted to the ship are also now displayed on the grid, and rotating the weapon rotates its arc.

This simplifies the selection of weapon arcs considerably, eliminating the awkward Left and Right arcs. Certain weapons will now naturally have wider or thinner firing arcs, and we plan to add weapon mounts or modifications that modify stats like range and firing arc. With over 100 applicants for the 3D modeling position we advertised, we’re still in the process of selecting someone to work with; If you haven’t heard back about the job yet, stay tuned as we’ll be mailing all candidates with a response even if they’re unsuccessful. Read More

November dev roundup: 3D ship designer, iterations, and work on Galaxy screen

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November was a very busy month for us, so we’d like to apologise for the lateness of this month’s development roundup. We’ve been working hard on putting your feedback from the first iteration of the Fleet Combat and Planetary Colonisation betas into the game, and now have most of the suggestions implemented. The combat and planet betas have now been successfully merged together into a combined client that will become the first iteration of the galaxy beta. Work has now begun on the Galaxy screen and main UI menus, and we’re working hard on getting that ready to show to all beta backers as soon as possible.

The big news this month is that we’ve been working on a new 3D ship designer for Predestination that’s been made possible thanks to a grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. We’ve got some great ideas for expanding the ship designer with extra features, and will launching a Kickstarter campaign exclusively for the 3D ship designer hopefully within the next week. We’re very excited to have locked in a basic version of the 3D ship designer as a feature, and will use the Kickstarter to see how far people would like to expand the feature. Check out the sections below for more detailed breakdowns of everything we got up to in November: Read More

The Predestination Combat Beta is now live!

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The Predestination Combat Beta is now live. If you’re signed up to beta test the game, check your Kickstarter mail or email for a message from us with a link to download the game. If you’re supposed to be in the beta and haven’t received the link by the morning of Friday 20th, please email combatbeta@brainandnerd.com or message us on Kickstarter and we’ll sort it out. We would appreciate it if you would refrain from sharing the combat beta or download link publicly as the game is not ready for the general public and is still using mostly placeholder 3D models and sounds. For those of you who aren’t in the beta, check out the video below of us playing through it and let us know what you think! Read More

The first Predestination beta stage is on its way!

Hey guys!

I know that many of you are looking forward to getting your hands on the first playable versions of Predestination, and I’m just dropping a quick note to say that the first beta is on its way! As we’ve previously discussed, our plan is to release the Predestination beta in stages to get more focused feedback on each area of the game before we combine it all together into the final beta. The plan is to release three individual stages covering the three main areas of the game, and then to combine them into one final beta stage:

  • Stage 1: Tactical Fleet Combat
  • Stage 2: Planetary Colonisation
  • Stage 3: Galaxy Gameplay
  • Stage 4: Final beta with all three combined. This will then undergo regular gameplay iteration and feedback cycles until it’s release quality.

We initially set a target of the end of August or start of September for deploying the fleet combat beta. The bad news is that this has been slightly delayed as we think it needs a bit more work before collecting feedback. The good news is that it should be released later this week and it’ll come with an in-game tutorial and four test scenarios. If you’re one of our beta tester backers, you’ll be sent the link via Kickstarter or email. We’ll also be doing our usual development roundup on Kickstarter at the same time the beta goes out. Read More

May Dev Update: User Interface design & Galaxy Map features

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Over the past few months, we’ve been designing Predestination’s main races and working on core gameplay mechanics like ship design, tactical combat, galaxy generation, and planetary colonisation. A lot of really cool features are now in the game, but it’s difficult to show how they work without a user interface, so this month we’ve been working on building a solid UI framework into the game engine and rolling it out on the galaxy map screen.

Our goal for the Galaxy Map is to make it look and feel like an advanced astrometrics lab, with all of  the information your race has about the galaxy at your fingertips. We want you to be able to do most of your turn-to-turn empire management without leaving this screen, and to be able to immediately tell what’s going on in the galaxy by keeping an eye on the map. When designing the Galaxy Map interface, we had a few rules in mind:

  • Every window or information pane should have a specific place in the UI, so that your screen doesn’t become a mess of open windows.
  • The player shouldn’t be overwhelmed with information. Information should only appear when necessary and text should be kept to a minimum.
  • The UI must be scaleable and easy for players to mod.
  • Every UI element has to have a smooth animation or transition and a corresponding audio cue. The audio is not currently in the game, but placeholder cues have been inserted into the code for every action.

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