As a followup to the last development log, I think that giving a summary of what has been done and what is left to do regarding Unending Galaxy is in order. Dev Updates can only be interesting to people who know the current state of development after all. If you have been playing with the X2 or X3 games, it will probably help a lot.
Ships AI and Commands
Ships are able to execute most of the basic commands you’d expect in any RTS or trading game: Attack, protect, attack same as target, invade sector, buy from, sell to, flee, follow, move around, idle, standby, move to sector. patrol sector, build station and docking.
What command ships have to execute and when is, depending on ship, decided either by their home-base or by their faction. There’s no independent ship AI (or agent AI) so far. I will add such agents, like free traders, pirate raiders, or asteroid miners, at a later stage.
Ships will react when attacked, and call for help. Depending on current relations and faction settings, available police and military ships in the vicinity may interrupt their current orders and help the endangered ship.
Combat routines are simple but effective. When low on shield or energy, ships will try to get out of range, otherwise they will circle around their target. Weapon slots not used to shoot at the main target (out of range for example) will shoot at other enemies if available. There’s still room for improvement, though.
While the faction themselves are not set in stones, their logic and systems are in place. Factions will claim sectors, favoring those with resources. They can build stations, factories and ships. While the way they plant factory isn’t optimal, it’s still relatively efficient. The best part about the system, is that factions can understand and use any new ware or factory I add to the game. I don’t need to write additional lines of code to manage it.
Factions can also declare war on one another if they can’t expand otherwise, and use their military fleet to do so. Also, even if it’s not yet used to its full potential, they know which of their sectors is endangered.
Diplomacy wise, they remember who attacked them, they know their standing relation with others and their relative military might. They, however, don’t actively pursue diplomatic goals or forge alliances yet. Basically I have the data in place, but the logic to handle it hasn’t been written yet.
Trading & Economics
While the economy is not yet linked to the production (ships are built out of thin air to speed up testing), things are working here. Each factory has dedicated trading vessels that will buy and sell the resources and products according to the needs and trading vessels will try to avoid enemy sectors when possible. What’s left to be added is a dynamic pricing (less of a product available = more costly). No real difficulty here.
However I am working with a very small selection of ware and factories. The part that will take time, and be (to be honest) boring as hell to implement correctly is the pricing, balancing, production cycles and so on. It can be automated to a point, but yes, to a point only.
While the definitive map is not done, all systems are in place and working. It’s more about finding art assets for sector backgrounds (planets, stars and so on) and naming the damn sectors than anything else. Well, there’s still the building and management of Jump-gates to implement, but that’s a semi trivial task.
[update 0.4.1] Ability to control multiple ships at the same time on the Sector Map using realtime ‘strategy’ games control schemes. Ability to switch ship with the press of a key. Keyboard shortcuts, rebindable keys. Still a bit clunky, and though.
I still need to add a few menus and icons, support player factories, and trading. Later on I will try to integrate the Galactic Map into the same system, it probably won’t be as well executed as in Sins of a Solar Empire, no smooth transition 🙂
Thanks to the various editors I made, adding / modifying / removing game assets is a piece of cake. However, there’s not enough weapons, ships, factories, wares and so on. And obviously, nothing is really balanced. That’s normal as this is a work that will be done during the beta phase. Here again, I lack art assets, the ships not so much, but I really don’t have enough stations / factories.
Military Base and carriers use the same logic as my ADS plugin for X3 to defend themselves (in other words it looks good, and it works well). The Galactic News system is implemented, even if it’s not used much at the moment.
Things I have yet to add
There’s quite a lot of those. But here’s a list of things that haven’t been implement at all yet.
- Pirate faction specific AI (see my Pirate Guild plugin for X3:TC)
- Mission System (based on actual events on the map, not click me to spawn X enemies missions)
- Bounty system, rewards for killing enemies
- Ship agents (bounty hunters, miners, free traders, pirate raiders, …)
- Game saving and loading
- Sound and music
- Player to AI pilot communications
- Special effects (ship explosions, weapon hits, nebulas)
- Asteroid Mining (non factory based)
- Most of the user interface
About the public Alpha
[update 0.4.1] Demo version available for download
Well I still plan to release a public alpha “soon ©” that will probably feature a big read unskippable warning. It will showcase what has been done so far, but do not expect a real game out of this alpha, it won’t have save/load features, sound and you won’t be able to build much, if at all. However you’ll be free to explore the galaxy, try to fight against AI ships and look at the various factions battling each other. That is all. The reason why I release something early is to prove that I am not lying regarding my game with photoshop-ed pictures (you never know ;)). It will also allow me to check if the game even launch on a wider range of machines than I can test it on myself.