Devlog: The Devil is in the Details

Snap18Devlog time !

When programmers say that the last 10% of a task tend to take 90% of the time, they are not kidding. One big exception aside, this week’s changes are mostly details, some big, some small, but all needed in a way or another.

I divided my free time between improving the user interface, adding the ability to customize your faction (as quickly explained last week), fixing a few limitations of the rendering system and further balancing the in-game weapons.

On a side note, I also fought against a massive spam bot invasion on most parts of the website. It’s under control now, but it is fairly unusual to see such stubbornness from a single spammer (as far as I can tell) against a fairly low traffic website like mine.

As usual, the full article will explain those improvements into details. Enjoy !

Faction Customization

Snap2 (2)As I briefly hinted at in the previous devlog, I am adding the ability for the player to customize his faction with the Tech Group, Laws and Traits concepts. Basically, when starting a new game you’ll get a few points (5 at the moment) to customize your faction.

The Tech Group will define what kind of ship your faction has access to. Some tech groups like the Drath and the SPQR cost two points while the others (Sirak and Human) cost only one. Additionally, you can elect to get the independent tech group for an additional point which will unlock the common ships (used by ISA, the pirates, and the Federation).

There’s also 8 different traits for you to choose from. Here again, some cost more than others. Here is a quick rundown:

  • Diplomat [1] : Grant +10% diplomatic relation
  • Bureaucracy [1] : +1 standard factory support per sector
  • Trader [1] : +20% tax income from colonies
  • Warmonger [2] : War weariness increase 2 times more slowly
  • Weapon Expert [2] : +10% weapon damage
  • Shield Expert [2] : Shields absorb 10% of damages for free
  • Builder [1] : Station building times reduced by 20%
  • Navigator [2] : +1 jump range on all ships

As usual, it’s subject to changes and it’s likely that both negative and positive traits will be added during development.

And there’s the laws. You can forbid civilian bounty hunters and asteroid miners, which will grant you points to spend, but on the other hand you won’t benefit from the money and security they bring to your faction. There’s also a few additional laws that are there more for flavor than anything else and that will decide what your police forces will consider illegal.

Of course, AI factions got their own traits (and obviously tech group).

Graphics and Combat

Yeah I know it’s weird to link the two subjects, but in this case it’s relevant. I fixed a limitation in the way my rendering system handled rotations which prevented me from using non symmetrical bullets. As a result, we can now have a whole lot more variety regarding bullets types, mostly replacing the little circles used before:

While at it, I added a few more missile sprites, which is good because you’d better be able to recognize the new Heavy Nuclear Warhead I added to the human federation (does a massive amount of damages with quite a large area of effect) if one is heading your way. I am still in the process of balancing the weapons by the way, it should be more or less okay in next release.

Oh, and more importantly, you probably have noticed that when shooting horizontally or vertically, your bullets wouldn’t align properly. That bug has been annoying me for a while, but it is now fixed (Yay!).

User Interface

I added a menu to save and load the game, it has 10 slots, it is possible to add a comment to a save-game and it shows at which date/time you saved your game.. I also added a proper game opening menu, replacing the old one which is shown when starting a new game instead. Added some help tool-tips to the left sidebar, statistics to the empire manager menu which also scale with to your resolution now, and probably a few more things here and there.

While dealing with the save-games, I fixed a few remaining issues. They are tracking control groups and invasion fleets properly now. I also found and fixed two bugs where they wouldn’t register sector information (colony and stats) and shipyard building queues correctly.

Misc Improvements and Bug fixes

I allowed the factions to spend their money to buy limited amount of ship parts in case of emergency (when they are getting stomped). They are also more likely to send their damaged military ships to repairs handling all classes instead of capital only and increasing the damage threshold from 50% to 33%.

I fixed the transparency option not doing anything and while at it made the default transparency much less aggressive. I also fixed an issue in the menu to setup your keyboard shortcuts that would display Japanese (i guess?) characters.

I noticed, by accident, a weird thing happening if you have disabled Windows’ Themes service (commonly known as Aero) : Unending Galaxy won’t use DirectX and fall back to a very slow, software backup renderer. Not sure if it’s a limitation of the library I am using or not, yet. It’s not really a critical issue but if I can address it, I will. So, if your desktop looks like Windows 98 and that you are wondering why UG runs so badly, that’s why 🙂

There’s also a bunch of minor changes and fixes (and also a new large map in progress) but nothing really worth mentioning at the moment.

Cheers,
SK.

5 thoughts on “Devlog: The Devil is in the Details”

  1. Update looks great! What would you guess as to your time line for completion? Are you still way out on features you want to accomplish, or are you in a beta stage? Itching to get into this…

  2. Hi !

    The “final” 1.0 version is planned for January but given recent events explained a few weeks ago, it is likely to be delayed by one month or two. Right now, we are at the end of the alpha cycle. Feature wise, it is roughly complete (apart sound effects) especially the “Empire” part of the game. On the other hand, content is often lackluster. What I mean is, for example, that the mission system is implemented but there’s only one kind of mission right now, or, that pilot to pilot comms are there too but there’s only one or two options. You get the idea.

    Content will be added during the beta, which I hope to enter in October or early November. That said there’s still a few features that will probably be added during the beta process if / when the need arises, but nothing game changing. It will mostly focus on balancing, content, bug-fixes and finalizing the UI.

    As a side note, I am also likely to release the alpha described here during this week (-end?), depending on my schedule and if I manage to check a few more additional items in my to-do list.

    Cheers,
    SK.

    Edit: To make it clear. The alpha can already give a good idea about the final product, it’s probably fun to give a go to the various starting scenarios and mess around as an empire, or even to observe the existing factions fight each other, but it’s not meant to be played for extensive periods of time right now.

  3. Hello Serial Kicked 1 week ago i tried to play your nice little game, but it ran very slowly and laggish and my computer covers at least the minimum requirements so I though about writing that to you but I really don’t know why I didn’t. Now I see that you managed to at least pinpoint the problem was with the windows aero feature and yes I have it disabled on my comp cause I don’t like it. I will download the game and try to play it with an enabled aero to see if that is the problem. Also thanks for creating and sharing with us this little(big) game you have here.

  4. No problem, just let me know if it “resolve” the lag for you.

    In any case I will try to fix this issue before the next release, or at least provide a second executable which enforce DirectX10 rendering without the initial check.

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