Devlog: Missions (and lot of other stuff) !

Snap688Hey, It’s time for our weekly development update and it’s a big one !

Changes to the user interface went faster than expected, so I found some time to implement the mission system that would have been delayed until next week otherwise. I also implemented a basic support for music (announcement coming up, by the way), added a few new art assets while improving existing one, and made several improvements both in terms of performances and gameplay.

As usual, the following post explains all this in a more detailed manner. Also, expect a “design / state of the development” kind of post soon to summarize how far we are and what’s left to do.

Enjoy ! 🙂

User Interface

Most of the changes are in the Empire Manager, the badly named window, with three new tabs as shown in the screenshots below.

Snap685Asset List

The first screenshot shows the new Asset List that, well, list all your assets in a nice convenient way. You can list everything or sort by sectors, object type, and so on. From this list you can also access the setup menu of the relevant ship or station, you can also center your camera on the object or take direct control if it’s a ship you’ve selected. More information and sorting options will be added later on, but right now it’s perfectly functional.

Snap687Log Options

The next screen allows you to setup how events relevant to your empire / fleet / lone ship will be handled. For each type event you can have it logged in your journal, on screen, both or none. And for some relevant ones you’ll have the ability to center the camera on it, giving you a (slim) chance to save this poor transport choke-full of weapons from nasty pirate raiders.

Snap686Mission Tab

And the last new tab displays all the missions you have accepted with the time left you’ve got, a short summary and the rewards you’ll get if successful. More about missions in the next part.

Other UI changes

In the miscellaneous category of GUI improvements, I added a ‘center camera on player ship‘ shortcut key that became quite useful now that’s very easy to decouple the camera from said ship to look at something else. I also made window transparency optional, because even if lovely, transparent windows aren’t always extremely readable. The ‘zoom sensitivity’ and ‘maximum zoom out level’ sliders are now working. I also increased how far you can set the said ‘zooming out’ before switching to sector map.

Missions !

Snap684So, the mission code (after 3 full rewrites during the last 2 months) is implemented. Missions can have several steps like ‘go there’, ‘kill that’, ‘bring cargo’, ‘give money’, and a few others. They can handle several reward types (money, cargo, wares, reputation) at the same time and have a time limit. There’s no handling of a penalty for the failure of a mission yet, but that’s trivial to add. I am also in the process of adding the highlighting of relevant mission targets on the map / screen.

The new Reputation system introduced by the mission rewards will be used the same way as I did with my Pirate Guild X-Universe plugin. It will unlock higher tier missions, equipments, ships, and dialog options with other pilots. Basically, when you’re not an empire yourself, this is your main relation indicator with other factions.

Right now, the only spawned missions are from factories requesting wares they need and that are ready to pay maximum price for it. Faction will pay with their actual money and the wares you provide will indeed be used by said factory. But, of course, many more will be added (pirate base assault is already on its way). Hopefully, most will be directly tied to the current game’s state instead of “spawning X enemies to kill in Y minutes”.

The way it’s implemented in code should permit to run an in-game tutorial and theoretically short small scripted campaigns through that system later on.


Basic music support has been implemented, it can play mp3, wma and wav files natively. It’s not yet perfect (noticeable delay when loading a track) but the ability is here. Support for sound effects is next. Regarding the music again, we have some good news, but an announcement will come when the game is a bit more ready for prime time 🙂

Gameplay, Graphics & Optimization

Stations are now placed in a more logical way. Legit stations are in the inner circle of a sector while pirate bases will be in the outer ring. HP indicator on loot drop is proportional to how much time they have left before disappearing. I also prevented asteroid miners from buying an unlimited amount of escort fighters (that was kinda getting ridiculous after a few hours of play), and while at dealing with ships with individual AI, I fixed a stupid bug that would cause bounty hunters and pirates raiders to become brain dead.

Last (bug fixes aside) but not least, I found the main bottlenecks that were causing bad performances in very large battles and fixed them. I also added a few fail-safes so that even if a battle become way too big for the engine to handle, it will cut down the amount of bullet that are spawned to give a chance for the situation to resolve itself. Honestly, I think that performance wise, it’s enough, we’re talking 1.000 vs 1.000 battles in the current “spawn as much crap as possible to find bugs” pre-alpha game. That’s largely beyond the amount of ships I want in a single battle for the final product anyway.

Final words

We are slowly getting out of “pre-alpha” status. There’s still the sound and the music to sort out, and a feature or two that are not yet at least partially implemented. But all things considered, most of the code base is here and relatively stable (for such an early stage). It may take a few more weeks but nothing major.

Next part will be the full blown alpha. And it will be much more fun than the currently rather dry devlogs, as we are going to improve upon the current feature set to get something that’s actually a playable game.


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