July Dev Update: Global resources, scouting improvements, and new user interfaces

JulyDevUpdate

It’s hard to believe that another month has just rolled by, but it’s already that time of the month again! We’ve been hard at it this month to build on the good progress we’ve already made on Predestination, and while the team are beginning to resemble creatures straight out of a 1950s horror movie every morning, the game is really coming together! We here at Brain and Nerd can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on, so let’s get cracking!

Last month we talked about the work that has been done on the game’s AI, the Zl’oq and Kazzír were revealed, and we talked about scouting. This month, we want to focus on gameplay and show you some up-to-date progress on how the game is actually running. In previous updates, we’ve been able to mention what we’ve been working on and explain what we’ve been doing, but we really haven’t been able to show much in the way of gameplay because much of the UI wasn’t in place. It’s difficult to show anything when using placeholders and patching together screens with blu-tack and paper clips! We now have enough of the UI constructed and tied together to be able to join together some of the different parts of the game and show you some sample gameplay. Read More

January game development update roundup

Hey guys! It’s been a hectic month here at Brain and Nerd as we worked out our budget, gave a few talks about our Kickstarter experience, and got production on Predestination into full swing. Now that we’re set up, you can expect more frequent updates on game development, artwork and races. So what have we been up to this month?

  • Upgraded planets, they are now 100% more awesome :D. (video)
  • Added new colonisation mechanics.
  • Designed the Reptile race (race reveal to come with finished art).
  • Designed new buildings (building art update on the way).
  • Added Sandbox mode with different galaxy sizes, ages and types.
  • Backer Nineveh named our big bad alien race, “The Revenants.”

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90% funded on Kickstarter, help push us over our goal!

We launched Predestination on Kickstarter a few weeks ago and the response has been absolutely immense! Over 500 people have backed the project so far and we’re at around the 90% mark. There’s just 10% to go until we’re guaranteed funding and can press on into stretch goals. It’s very important that we hit 100% as soon as possible, because that guarantees we’ll get our minimum goal and we can take that guarantee to banks and government grant schemes. If you haven’t pledged yet, head over to Kickstarter and take a look at some of the rewards you can get for supporting Predestination. Read More

Funding a game project in Northern Ireland

I’ve been pulling together a lot of research on the market for my game this week and have started to piece together a business plan. As an indie game developer, my goal has always been to self-publish via digital distribution and without giving any share in the business away. I want to raise enough money from my first game to expand the current team of three into something larger, and then work on a bigger project. To do that, I need to raise funding for the first game without putting myself in debt or giving any percentage of the profits away. It’s a tall order, but one I think is very possible because of two things:

Invest NI: I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where there are programmes set up to financially support start-up businesses. I’ll easily qualify for grants and loans with extremely good repayment schemes that won’t leave me liable for the debt if the game doesn’t sell. I have a meeting on Monday 20th with one of the free business advisors we have here, and will soon find out what support is available. A friend of a friend pulled over £100,000 out of investors and grant programmes on good terms through this. As I’ve projected costs at a fraction of that, I’m feeling very positive about it.

Crowdsourced funding: This has really taken off in the past few years, with Kickstarter.com leading the crowd and a few others lagging far behind. People pledge money to support a project in exchange for perks like a free copy of the game, concept art, music, t-shirts, unique DLC etc. When you think about it, this acts as a zero-risk pre-order system for indie games currently in development. I plan to launch a campaign once I have enough gameplay and graphics to show off and really make an impression. Read More

A sense of scale on planets

In showing people screenshots of my game project, it’s sometimes difficult to get across a sense of scale. Below is a visual update to show the scale differences between the game’s three main zoom levels. The top one is zoomed out to orbit, the second is the level at which you’ll send scout ships on survey missions around the area to push back a “fog of war” style map and uncover resources etc. The third is the level at which you’ll manage the colony. The camera angle is different there just because buildings will look better with it. Read More

Planet graphics update

I came up with a new terrain shading technique that combines some clever texture packing tricks with normal approximations in the pixel shader to produce some awesome results. The lighting on the terrain is now extremely highly detailed, and zooming down onto the terrain looks perfectly smooth. I can also feasibly add more lights for particular buildings or the cursor to make some awesome effects. Below are a few screenshots of the current work in progress: Read More

Planet view and placing buildings

Most of this week’s work on my space 4X game has been in putting together a good system for placing items like 3D models of buildings on a planet’s surface. Part of the difficulty is in the fact that the planet graphics are generated entirely on the GPU, so the CPU doesn’t have access to that data. I came up with a fantastic system that works around that issue and gives access to not only height data but also details like what type of terrain is on a particular spot or whether it’s in an ocean.

So now I can place buildings on the surface of a planet, zoom out, rotate the planet and the building appears to stay put on the surface. When placing certain buildings like a water extractor, I can make it only placeable on water or make it fulfil any other criteria I want. I could make mining drills that you move around to find the best spot, or geothermal power stations that can only be placed on fault lines. There’s a lot of versatility in the system, so it’s been fun to work with this week. Read More

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRVbvG-TpJc Predestination 4X game Galaxy Map: System window demonstr

Predestination 4X game Galaxy Map: System window demonstration

Please watch fullscreen (1080p available). The video’s a bit darker and a lot blurrier than the actual game because YouTube is bloody awful at encoding videos, but you get a clear enough idea of the effect in fullscreen. Read More