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.
There are some big announcements coming in the next week or so for Predestination, but until then we have some new screenshots of the game in action. These screenshots show the three main parts of the game: Galaxy Management, Planetary Exploration, and Tactical Fleet Combat. All three areas are still work in progress, but they’re really starting to come together. Read More
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
A video of the 3D galaxy map for Predestination. Please watch it in 720p fullscreen, otherwise a lot of important small details like the lines between stars and the galactic plane are lost. Read More
Space 4X games are typically played on a 2D map, not because of any technical limitation but for gameplay reasons. 3D maps are difficult to visualise and strategise on, for example they make it more difficult to see the area of space owned by a particular enemy. Those games that do have a 3D map tend to mechanically simplify it with a “star lane” mechanic where ships can only travel along set paths between certain stars. For all intents and purposes, that isn’t a 3D map any more; it has eliminated any mechanics that actually use the third dimension. The alternative is to use a 2D map (like this one below), which is requires a bit more suspension of disbelief.
While I don’t want to diverge too heavily from the fundamental mechanics of the genre’s previously successful games, I do want to have a crack at bringing a third dimension to the map in a way that avoids these problems. If you’re interested in space 4X games, please leave a comment on this post about whether you’d want a 2D map or 3D, or answer the post with anything else you’d like to add. I’d really appreciate it! Read More
An example of the playable galaxy map screen when it’s generated in 2D. It would also be possible to generate the map in 3D and then flatten it to 2D, this shouldn’t cause overlapping stars but might make the distances between stars unintuitive. Read More