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.
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!
Since 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.
In the previous dev update, I showed the tax system, ground combat, and the fleet combat overhaul that we’ve added to the Predestination Alpha since its release on Steam Early Access. This month we’ve built the Trade Route feature that will really make your space empire come together on a galactic scale, improved the UI, fixed an enormous number of bugs and crashes, and we have been texturing our building models for inclusion in a later update. Check out the video below to see the Trade Route feature in operation, and read on for the full details of recent development progress on Predestination: Read More
We’ve just launched the second round of the Predestination beta, introducing the planetary exploration and colonisation gameplay. If you’re one of our beta backers or are otherwise signed up to test the game, check your Kickstarter mail or email for a message from us with a download link. If you were supposed to be in the beta but didn’t get an email, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll sort it out for you.
As with the previous beta stage, there’s no NDA and you can talk about it or make videos if you like, but we would appreciate it if wouldn’t share the beta or download link publicly. It’s not quite ready for public consumption yet and is still using mostly placeholder 3D models and sounds that may change before release. If you’re not in the beta but still want to see the progress we’ve made this month, check out the video below of us playing through it and let us know what you think! Read More
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.
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
I got to work on the planet exploration a bit more this week, and added in a lot of the planet exploration features I described last week. You can now queue up as many scout missions as you want and they will be executed in sequence. When a mission starts, it takes an energy cost from the planet’s reserves, and if that energy isn’t available the mission will wait until you have enough energy before starting. You can now delete scout missions, and they are now sent from the nearest settlement you own for reduced travel time. Below is a video showing some of the new mechanics: Read More
This week I’ve been working on a prototype of the planetary exploration feature discussed on the Colonisation page. The plan was to split each planet up into a grid, and then have the player survey squares to find out what’s there. Exploration only needs to be done once for every planet, and it’s the only way to find resources or increase a planet’s maximum population. The idea is that every time you colonise a new world you’ll explore it and decide how to capitalise on what you’ve found. You might find the planet has a lot of ore deposits, for example, and build extra factories to take advantage of it. Or you might find ancient ruins to build research outposts on, or a uranium deposit that would let you put up a nuclear power plant.
As you progress in the game, you’ll get technologies that make scanning a planet faster and easier, like scanning tech that can spend reserve energy to scan a square, several squares, or a full screen instantly. Ultimately, you’d get the tech to automatically scan all planets from orbit so that when you’re in the late game war stages you don’t have to deal with the micromanagement of exploring new planets. Below is a video of the current gameplay prototype of this exploration system (using massive placeholder models for ore deposits etc). Watch in 1080p fullscreen if possible: Read More