Dev Update: 3D Ship Designer update released!

devupdateseptI’m pleased to announce that we’ve just hit another major milestone with the first release of our awesome 3D ship designer tool. The tool has now been integrated into the game through the shipyard screen and allows players to design their own ships from the ground up using a simple drag-and-drop interface. Unlike most other ship designers that force the player to attach parts on specific join points or hardpoints, our designer lets you place ship parts literally anywhere on your ship for complete creative freedom. You can rotate parts around the X, Y and Z axis, change their sizes, make them invisible, and flip or mirror them on any axis. You can even copy and paste entire groups of parts if you want to duplicate something multiple times on a ship.

We’re extremely proud of the 3D ship designer and so excited to be able to finally start delivering it to backers. This release contains ship parts for the Renegades faction, which all races currently share. Our art director Steven Pollock is hard at work on the ship parts for the other races and we’ll be deploying those in future updates along with a slew of new researchable ship weapons and modules and other promised features such as player-designed space stations and custom ship decals.

We’ve started a thread on the forum to collect your feedback and suggestions explicitly for the 3D ship designer, and will be watching the crash reports and bug reports carefully this week in case the designer has unexpected bugs with certain graphics cards or systems. Check out the rest of this update for more information on the 3D ship designer and a video of it in action!

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Dev Update: Diplomacy released, new release schedule, and General Feature Patch #1

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It’s been an exciting month for Predestination, with Gamescom behind us and a lot of progress made on the game. Diplomacy Patches #1 (Patch Notes) and #2 (Patch Notes) have now been released, adding the core diplomacy features and a new Strategic Resource system to the game. We’re now going to take a break from Diplomacy to work on some more essential features like wormholes, planet specials, random events, race stats, and the 2D map option. These will all come asd part of this week’s General Feature Patch #1, which we hope to deploy on Friday September 4th. In this update, I’ll summarise the diplomacy updates we’ve added to the game this month, detail everything in General Feature Patch  #1, and talk about our new weekly development and release schedule!

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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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Predestination Early Access / Alpha is almost here

alphatitleHey everyone! I’m happy to report that the bulk of work on the Predestination Alpha release is now finished and it’s nearly ready for release! All that’s left to do is to finish up a few pieces of the user interface, add some new research items and tutorial popups, do some internal testing to catch obvious bugs and crashes, and then roll it out to our beta backers for a while to catch any bugs that slip through the net. Since Steam is busy with its Christmas sales all December, we’re going to aim to get all that completed and get the alpha polished and ready for public release for the end of the month.

I want you all to know that we aren’t wasting any time here. We’ve already started moving forward with Steam to deploy the game as an Early Access release, and we’re now applying to Desura’s Alpha Funding programme for a hopefully simultaneous release. We’re also putting together some PR and advertising for the alpha’s release and we have a writer working on race histories and short stories in the Predestination universe to update our website with. In addition, we’re putting together a full development roadmap with version numbers and feature milestones to help manage expectations and keep everyone in the loop for the rest of development. Read More

Development Update: October 2014 – Research overhaul, bombing, survey ships and more

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Last month I estimated there to be around 180 hours of programming tasks remaining for the Early Access release. Although that estimation proved to be a bit optimistic and other unforseen tasks popped up throughout October, we’ve made a lot of progress toward the Early Access version and are confident that it will be ready for deployment by the end of November.

In October, we completed and began testing on the Planet and Galaxy AIs, implemented a system for bombing planets, added a new survey ship mechanic for pre-scanning planets before colonisation, a Command Points system, and transport freighters. We’ve also added right-click radial menus to cities, infrastructure and buildings, revamped the shipyard screen, added the graphics for each race to the Race Select screen, filled out some of the dropdown menus that were missing in previous test versions, and overhauled the boring old research pane with shiny new graphics that we think you’ll love! Read More

The road to Early Access

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Hey guys! Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the lack of a development update last month. We’ve been working hard on getting our upcoming Early Access version ready, but I realise it’s important to keep our backers in the loop with regular updates. The Early Access release will be a fully playable version of the game’s sandbox mode with most of the major features implemented. You’ll be able to colonise the galaxy, research new technologies, make diplomatic deals with alien empires, manage your planets with blueprints, engage in tactical combat with AI-controlled fleets, and bomb enemy planets into oblivion. We aim to release this version on Steam to expand the beta tester pool and get more feedback on the game.

We’ve compiled a list of the remaining features that need to be completed for this release, broken it down into a series of tasks and estimated how long each task will take. We’re fairly confident that the Early Access version will be ready by the end of October. In this update, I’ll look at what we’ve accomplished recently and the tasks still to complete before we can hit Early Access. Read More

Galaxy Beta V2.0: Planet Overhaul and Fleet Combat Iteration

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Galaxy Beta V 2.0 has now been through internal testing and all beta backers will be mailed shortly with installation instructions and a download link. This beta is a major milestone for Predestination and a big step forward toward release, containing both the latest version of the Fleet Combat gameplay and the final major gameplay iteration on Predestination’s planetary gameplay. We’ll try to put together a video soon showing how the game now plays for those who aren’t in the beta, and of course  the testers are free to make their own videos or streams of it since there’s no NDA on our betas.

In this post, I’ll look at what’s changed in this beta, and the next steps for Predestination. This beta stage consists of three main scenarios: Fleet Combat V 2.0, Planetary Colonisation V 2.0, and the latest version of the Galaxy map (which unlocks after you win the planet scenario). We’d appreciate any feedback you have on the beta scenarios, and we’re particularly interested in hearing how you like the revamped planetary gameplay. If you’re a tester and get a moment to check out the latest beta, please head over to the forum and let us know what you think because it really does help us a ton with development. Read More

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

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