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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Dev Update: The full plan for Diplomacy in Predestination

diplotitleimageSince our last dev update, we’ve released the Trade Routes and System UI overhaul we discussed in our last update and have fixed a truckload of crashes and bugs in other areas of the game. Anyone who’s been getting an OutOfMemoryException crash on saving the game will be happy to know that we’ve managed to solve this problem and tested it with a fully explored galaxy. The next patch will also add the highly requested sound and music volume sliders in the options panel, and we’ve added new graphical effects and race music to the New Game screen to add some much needed immersion.

The main focus of the next patch is on Diplomacy, so I wanted to take some time out to talk about our plans. Diplomacy is a huge part of any 4X game, and one that is often overlooked in favour of combat and economic mechanics, but we want it to be an important part of Predestination. Ideally, a clever player should be able to play a fully diplomatic game without ever being forced into war and combat if they don’t want to. We recently reached out to you for your feedback and ideas on Diplomacy, and in this article I’ll delve into our final design, which has been broken down into four smaller patches. Note that we may take a break between patch 2 and 3 or between patch 3 and 4 to work on other major gameplay systems.

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Development Update: June 2014 – City Revamp, Ship Designs, and Beta Plans

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June was a jam-packed month for us; We showed off Predestination at Comic Con Belfast and Q Con XXI, performed an iteration on the Fleet Combat gameplay, worked on a lot of new building and ship models, and completely redesigned the city system. We’ve also switched to a new newsletter system to make sure that everyone is definitely receiving important development updates, and are now working hard on the next beta release: Galaxy Beta V2.0. This update is due for release within the next two weeks and will contain all of the planet and city changes discussed in the May and June dev updates, in addition to a newly overhauled version of the Fleet Combat gameplay.

Update (2nd August): The next beta stage will be out within the next few days along with a full breakdown of the new gameplay. Read More

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

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

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

June Dev Update: Steam Greenlight, Artificial Intelligence, Scouts, New Feline Concept Art, Naming Races and more…

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Hello everyone! It’s certainly been a productive month here at Brain and Nerd, not to mention a very, very busy one! Between Game Development, two more Work Experience students, preparation for ‘Q-CON’ and preparing to launch our Steam Greenlight page we’ve certainly not been short of things to do this month!

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We’re very pleased to announce that the Predestination Steam Greenlight page is now LIVE! We urge all our Backers, Supporters, Friends, Friends of Friends, Acquaintances, Steam Friends, Social Buddies, Random Strangers, Wandering Monsters, Robots and Pets to go and up-vote PREDESTINATION! Help us to deliver Predestination worldwide on the PC’s most popular and widely used platform! We’re also on Desura and IndieDB, and we have a wishlist page on Good Old Games so be sure to follow us on those as well! Read More