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.
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.
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.
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
April is over and development on Predestination is going well. This month we completed the internal workings for the ship design and weapon technology systems, finished hooking the tactical combat system into the main game and tidied that system up. We implemented tons of your ideas into the ship combat system, like smart-missiles that deploy mines around the target, weapons that fire clouds of charged plasma, and deployable minefields for planet defense. Thanks so much for all of your great ideas and feedback!
Character artist Connor Murphy has finished our final core race (the yet-to-be-named Aquatic race) and completed a fantastic visual reboot of our first robotic race, The Starforged. You can see the new artwork for both races below! We’ve also been working with Connor on figuring out the best way to approach the backer-sponsored race artwork.
Based on your feedback, Connor has already started to revamp the feline race we showed in last month’s update with more realistic artwork that matches the rest of the game’s visual style, and I think you’ll be pleased with the results when it’s finished. Once that’s finished, we’ll be in touch with all of our race designer backers to get started on getting them into the game. Read More
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.
The Sauros are Predestination’s first reptilian race! The race is composed of three distinct sub-species:
- The purple Monitor Sauros: The shamanistic ruling caste and diplomatic contacts for the empire. They are native to the desert regions of their home world and are worshiped as if they were gods.
- The white Albino Sauros: A rare breed possessing an immense intellect. They are native to desert regions and are responsible for all scientific discovery in the empire.
- The green Jungle Sauros: Have been selectively bred to be the perfect labourers and ground combatants. They are native to the jungles of their home world and make up the majority of the Saurosian population.