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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
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.
The past month has been jam-packed for the Predestination crew. We made a lot of progress with the fleet combat part of the game, designed our first reptilian race (The Sauros), and hosted work experience weeks for two students aiming for careers in the games industry. We also moved to a new house with more office space to work in and applied for some government funding to help your pledges stretch further.
Update notes for fleet combat:
- Added projectile weapons such as mass drivers, with their own graphical effects.
- Added dumb missiles that travel to the target hex and explode, or explode early if they enter a hex with another ship or object in it.
- Implemented smart missile AI that locks onto a ship and follows it, avoiding obstacles.
- Added interceptors. They use the smart missile AI and attack the target ship every turn until destroyed.
- Implemented area-effect weapons (smartbombs, area missiles).
- Implemented proximity mines and cloaked proximity mines.
- Created some basic explosion effects with screen shake, and a timing system to synch explosion graphics and screen shake with sound effect volume.
- Implemented a module system that lets us create interesting non-weapon ship technologies. Modules added so far include: Holographic Projector Matrix (creates decoy holographic ships), Afterburner (double movement for one round, then takes a round to recharge), Shield booster (consumes movement points to boost shield hitpoints), Cloaking device (ship is invisible until its next turn, but then takes a round to recharge).
- Fleets can now engage each other in the galaxy view, which switches to the fleet battle screen.
- Ships can now retreat from combat. They will wait for one full round without moving or attacking and then warp out.
- Combat now detects the winner when one side’s ships are all destroyed or warp out.
- Ships destroyed in combat are now removed from the galaxy view.
Throughout February we’ve been working on Predestination’s planetary exploration and colonisation gameplay, designing the first Reptile race, and sorting through the ideas from our Kickstarter backers. With the core planet gameplay complete and the reptile race reveal in the works, we’re shifting development focus to a part of the game we didn’t really get the chance to properly show during the Kickstarter campaign: Tactical fleet combat.
Every space 4X game has some kind of ship combat system, but most games have chosen to discard the MOO2-style tactical combat in favour of realtime 3D gameplay or even automated fights that you have very little control over. With Predestination, we plan to not only revive turn-based tactical combat but revolutionise it!
Read on for a breakdown of the Tactical Combat system, details of some fun new weapons we worked on with our work experience student Niall, and to submit your own ideas for awesome ship weapons and special abilities!
As we mentioned during the Predestination Kickstarter campaign, one of our biggest goals with the game is to help kick-start the game development industry here in Northern Ireland. There are currently no established development studios here able to offer jobs, and so each year dozens of highly qualified university graduates are forced to move abroad to get jobs in the industry. We may not be able to offer full-time employment just yet, but we’re doing what we can to help build up the local games industry by engaging with students who are aiming for a career in game development. Read More
Last week Predestination officially succeeded on Kickstarter! Thanks to a huge push in the last few days of the campaign, we managed to hit over double our initial goal and smashed the three biggest stretch goals. We’ll now have a full singleplayer story campaign, play-by-email and full online multiplayer for release.
We’ve decided to wrap up the campaign in the same spirit of transparency that we intend to keep up during Predestination’s development, so I’m releasing a ton of stats that are normally kept for the project creator’s eyes only and discussing some of the lessons we learned throughout the campaign. This kind of info from previous projects was invaluable when I was researching and putting together this campaign. I posted this originally as a Kickstarter update, but am posting it as a blog post so it can reach more future Kickstarter project creators. It’s a bit of a wall of text, but hopefully future Kickstarter creators will find it useful!
(More updates on the way)