Devlog: Tech Groups and User Interface

Snap783Weekly devlog, also a bit of design.

I am fixing the few issues specific to the 0.7 release, improving the GUI and adding more options to define the maps. More importantly I am slowly implementing Tech Groups. Normally, ship and dock designs are mostly locked to specific faction, with the exception of ISA ships which are available to all races which elect to use them. Instead I am going assign them to tech groups. Each AI faction will, of course, have its tech group, so no change here. However, the player will be allowed to choose its own group at the beginning of the game. So if he wants to use Drath or Sirak designs, he can. This new feature will also allow the player to buy designs from other factions later on.

Game Setup Menu

The game setup menu has been improved, with the ability to preview the selected map, and additional settings to define your own faction.

As you can see in the last tab, you can give your faction different traits, setup laws and choose a tech group. The actual traits are not yet defined, more will be added, good and bad. AI factions will of course get such traits too.

User Interface

I reviewed the shipyard, trade and equipment menus. Weapon and shield information are more user friendly. In instance, information given about a weapon now includes its DPS against both shield and hull and a readable energy consumption (energy per second). It is also possible to reinforce your control groups directly with what is built at your shipyards. While at it, i added the selected ship design specs to this menu.

I also “fixed” an annoying behavior of the selection both in the sector map and the standard view. Beforehand, selecting a 3rd party ship would deselect your own ships if you had any selected, as a result giving orders (like ‘attack this, protect that) to your ships was cumbersome. Not anymore ! While dealing with orders, [select all] won’t select civilians anymore as you’re not supposed to give them orders. I made attack and protect orders queue-able with [shift].

Graphics and Map Design

Nebulas can be more or less dense, and I can set the color for said nebulas in the map (was randomly selected before). As a result I updated the Galaxia map so the nebulas regions are uniform. Ships can use any rotation angle instead of ‘locking’ into one of the 8 default 45° no matter where they are going to. And I also made the parallax scrolling more noticeable (planets and suns scroll somewhat faster).

Misc Changes

I fixed 2 issues from 0.7, one menu crashes happening only if you change the color of your empire, and the fact that your empire manager ignores the “Select war target automatically” flag (always on).

Most of the other changes are minor behavior fixes, both in ship AI and Faction AI. Added the ability for police ships to scan traders for illegal wares and react accordingly. I also rebalanced the weapons and shields: initial values were fairly random with, in instance, some L weapons much stronger than XL ones. This is more or less balanced now. I have still to set  prices accordingly.

To Do

I still have to implement the tech groups and faction traits properly, as it’s only in the menus right now, but it’s not really a big deal. I will then probably continue working on the mission system.

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