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!
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)
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
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
Most game developers work behind closed doors and don’t let players see early work in progress designs. With Predestination we aim to give fans a front row seat to the game’s development and let you help develop the game with your feedback and suggestions. We have a community website launching soon where you can suggest ideas and discuss the game, and we should be finally launching our Kickstarter campaign within the next few weeks, but today we want to give you an inside look at how we’ve been designing our first race:
We wanted the robots to look like they were originally designed as humanoid robots to serve another race but have had to adapt to survive when left to fend for themselves on their starting planet. When their power sources began to run out, they had to adapt to using fossil fuels and became all steampunky. They began building new robots and reprogramming them to do new tasks like mining for coal and designing new technology. Now they’re pretty much a fully-fledged race with workers, scientists, and military robots. Our new character artist Connor Murphy turned those ideas into the five concept sketches below: Read More
Not all the races in Predestination will be organic; The race below assembled itself from a crashed transport full of worker droids, service bots and military hardware. To survive, they had to adapt themselves to their new home and fossil fuel energy sources. We haven’t named the race yet, but the population and ships will have a steampunk visual style. Different tasks like industry or research will be completed by specialised robots, so the military robots may look very different to the researchers or workers. Below is concept art for the race’s industrial worker droids, produced by our new character artist Connor Murphy: Read More
This week we did a major design iteration on the planet colonisation system. In the previous design, the planet was split into a huge square grid and you could send scouts anywhere to find resources. Extractors were built on the resources and they were piped to the planet’s main colony for use, so if you found a mineral deposit you’d build a mining station on it and the colony would then have +1 minerals/turn for use in factories.
After some testing, I found that it felt like I wasn’t really colonising the planet; I was just exploring it because I had to get it out of the way, and that’s not fun. Since I could see the terrain and knew where resources would spawn, I tended to go straight for those areas and there wasn’t much left to find in the entire planet. There were also unanticipated problems with designing a reusable colony blueprint: How do you know how many fossil fuel power plants or factories to build if each planet has a different number of resources? And what happens if the blueprint finishes building all your factories but you haven’t found the minerals to supply them yet? This week’s design iteration solved all of the above problems. Read More
I haven’t posted an update in a while, but rest assured I’ve been making a lot of progress on ship combat system. Ships now have armour, regenerating shields, structure hitpoints and weapons; they can shoot at each other and destroy each other. I’ve also implemented the reactive strike system that lets ships fire when an enemy flies through their firing arcs and players can hit a button to highlight all the squares the enemy’s reactive strikes cover so you can make tactical decisions quickly. There are firing animations for beam weapons and projectile weapons, which I’ll put a video up of once I’ve built the hotbar user interface to show it off properly. Below is what I’ve been working on this week: Read More
Made good progress on the combat system this week. It now has:
- Movement mechanics: Left click moves ship to the selected square, right click turns toward the selected square, end turn button cycles to next ship in initiative order
- A glowing line indicates the path ship will take to the square you have the mouse over
- A ghost ship shows where your ship will end up and what diredction it will be facing
- Ships smoothly animate along the selected movement path
- Ships now have weapons
- Weapon firing arcs are working and show on the grid when you activate the weapon
To see the system in action, check out the prototype video below. Please post any comments you have on it and I’ll use them to help refine the next iteration. Read More
This week I’ve been working on the fleet combat system for Predestination. When all of the core mechanics are implemented, we’ll be releasing this as our first beta test to get some feedback and improve it. Fleet combat is an important part of a 4X game, and it will have to be iterated on extensively to make it as awesome as possible. Our goal is to create tactical turn-based combat system that’s more like a game of chess than an RTS. We’ve already tested the movement and combat mechanics with a pen-and-paper prototype, and this week I started putting it all in code.
It doesn’t look very pretty yet, but I want to show you what I’ve got so far. I’ve finished the hex grid system and ships can be placed on the grid and rotated to face any of the adjacent hexagons. All ships involved in the combat roll initiative and then take their turns in order. For moving ships, I developed an efficient recursive algorithm that determines the shortest route to a hexagon based on the three simple rules below:
- Moving into any of the three forward squares costs 1 move point
- Turning by 60 degrees costs 1 move point.
- Two ships cannot occupy the same square
The result produced the exact pattern that my prototype design predicted: Read More