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.
I’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!
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
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
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
We’d like to apologise for the delay in getting this month’s development update together, there’s been a lot of development progress made this month and we’ve also been buried under a mountain of paperwork! We’ve now implemented the research system, temporal rifts, nebula effects on the galaxy map, shipyards, ship crews, colony blueprints, the renewable energy scanner, and over 40 functional technologies! We’ve also got concept art blockouts completed for the ships that will be in the game, which are broken down into blocks for the 3D Ship Designer, and our 3D modelers are still working away on getting new buildings complete.
Some of this month’s work has taken a lot longer than anticipated to complete, unfortunately, and we’ve had quite a bit of bureaucracy to deal with this month on the business side of Brain and Nerd that has detracted from development time. As a result, our original release schedule aiming for release at the end of March or start of April has had to be revised. We want to put this game in your hands as much as you want to play it, but we need to do this right and can’t release the game until it’s ready. Read More
My original plans for tactical space combat in Predestination involved making a good attempt at turn-based 3D combat, which is something no game has done well yet. I had intended to make line-of-sight mechanics and area effects a big part of the gameplay, but every combat would have quickly become a chaotic mess. Our main goal with Predestination is to bring proper turn-based strategy back to 4X games, so after discussing the idea with the rest of the team we decided to use a classic 2D combat plane on which tactical decisions are much more obvious.
I started prototyping the combat system last week with a chess board and some coloured squares, but I quickly ended up with pages of complicated rules and movement/attack tables. The Art Director suggested a hexagonal grid and we quickly hashed out a very simple, intuitive system using that grid that we’re all very happy with. We prototyped the system using a big hexagonal gaming mat and paper cutouts and ironed out all of the flaws we could see. The end result is a tactical combat system I’m really excited about: Read More
One of the things I’m particularly fond of in 4X games is custom ship design, both for cosmetic and gameplay reasons. There’s something special about designing your own ship setup and then testing it out in battle, and I really want to capture that magic in Predestination.
To achieve that, I’m developing a 3D lego style ship designer in which you slot together pre-made blocks to create your own ship designs. Most of the blocks will be purely cosmetic, but some will affect gameplay. You’ll add modules like shield generators, thrusters, weapons, armour plates etc to design your own custom loadout. You’ll also be able to research special mount blocks that give certain module types bonuses or modify their operation in some way, like long range or point defense mounts for weapons. A mock-up of the system is below: Read More