As said on our twitter feed, I fixed a bug that was causing a kind of global crash / meltdown of the game, usually happening after a few hours, but sometimes very quickly. And of course, it was trivially easy to fix. I am torn on publishing a hotfix just for that, especially now that many other features have been partly implemented and are still mostly untested. We’ll see in a week or two when the dust settles.
Speaking of features, the main additions are the new integrated galactic map, as shown on the screenshot, the addition of civilian mining ships and a new way to handle weapons. I will go into more details about those in this article.
The universe map is getting integrated in the main display as you can see on the screenshot. It’s possible to move around and zoom in/out easily using the mouse and movement keys. Using icons and colors it shows the ownership, infrastructure, warpgates and asteroid belts.
Some features of the previous map are still missing (the various overlays) but they will be integrated soon enough. Also, I am not yet completely set on how I will show additional information about the selected sector, but I think a popup info panel will be used to display the general data you don’t need to see all the time like the solar strength, populations, ships, factories and so on.
Asteroid Mining AI
So far all in-game AI ships are basically drones. They receive orders from their home-base or from the factional AI layer directly. While it works, it’s not a very interesting way to see things, that’s why I am currently building self sufficient AI modules that don’t need to receive orders for them to work. The first implemented one is the new Miner AI.
It’s a fairly simplistic AI but it already add some life to the game. Basically, those civilian ships (mostly transport ships) will equip the newly implemented Mining Lasers, look out for asteroids to mine and when their cargo hold gets full, they will sell their loot to make a profit, then they’ll either take a small break or resume mining. As said, It’s fairly simple but it’s a nice way to quick start the economy instead of waiting for the Faction AI to build ore mines. More to the point it can be expanded upon easily. For example I will probably add options for rich miners to upgrade their ship and buy an escort.
Once this module has been fully tested, I will write more advanced AI modules for bounty hunters, scavengers, pirate raiders and so on.
While it’s mostly a “behind the scene” change, it’s quite an important one. The weapon system you find on ships has been rewritten to be self sufficient (for the coders out there, it’s now a component). It basically means that weapons can be added to basically any game object. We can add all sorts of armed things like factories, warpgates or even bullets (yep, bullets shooting lasers).
While at it, I added different firing modes to the weapon system. That’s the kind of setting you’ll be allowed to set for your own ships too, of course. So far it can be set to:
- Defensive – It will only shoot at attackers
- Offensive – It will auto shoot at everything considered hostile
- Target only – It will focus fire a single target
- Disabled – Weapons disabled
I also implemented the damage types completely. Energy weapons (beams) are very efficient against shields but pretty poor against the hull while explosive ones (missiles) are the opposite. Particle weapons are the middle ground. And the new mining lasers are very effective against rocks, but they are very poor against anything else.
Asteroids are now destructible, meaning that they also block bullets and missiles. I hope it will make the fighting in asteroid belts a tiny bit more strategic. They will very slowly respawn, though.
And as said in the introduction, it seems that the bug causing a random crash / slow dying of the game has been squashed too.