May Dev Update: User Interface design & Galaxy Map features

maydevupdate

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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March Update: Fleet Combat, Backer Reward Update, and Work Experience

marchdev

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.

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Tactical Combat ideas: Crazy weapons, The Junker and more!

tactical

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!

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Say hello to work experience student Niall!

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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

Kickstarter success! Wrap-up post with stats and graphs

kswrapup

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)

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