[devlog] Combat Settings and Drones

asterianexplorerHey !

This devlog will mostly focus on a few features that are only partially implemented as it is. I usually try to focus on things that are already ready (or nearly), but I am not sure that telling you about the font switching in a few hundreds of user-interface elements would be very enjoyable for any of us. I will only say one thing on that matter, when making a menu heavy game, settle for a font before designing your menus, especially if it’s differently sized than the previous one.

Anyway, let’s get to what I have in store 🙂

Combat and Carrier Settings

Snap1This one is straightforward enough for me to be sure that it will be ready for 1.1. Basically, this feature is going to add a few new settings to the Ship Setup menu, allowing you to choose between (currently) 3 different combat behaviors for your ships. “Standard” is, well, the current combat behavior: mid range combat where distance is determined by the weapon with the shortest range. With “Keep Distance”, the ship will try to stay as far away as possible from its current target while still being able to hit the opponent. Finally “Ignore” will mean that the ship will go on with its current order (or stay still if no current order) when under attack. Note that weapon systems are independent from this setting, meaning that you can set the ship to fire back even in “ignore” combat mode, which will surely become a very useful tool to those wanting to micro-manage large fleet battles without the combat AI getting in their way.

Regarding carriers, in a similar fashion, you will be allowed to choose how your carrier(s) will use their fighters. 3 different modes here again. Offensive is the current one, fighter wings are sent to different targets according to their threat level. Defensive in which the fighters will try to stay around the carrier. And passive, in which fighters will stay docked unless given explicit orders (through new buttons). Simple enough. Another setting will allow you to choose which fighter you want to carrier to “rearm” itself when getting repairs. Before you ask, actual fighter equipment won’t be selectable (at least for now).

Speaking of fighters …

Fighters or Drones ?

While this is not technically devlog material, the question has to be raised. Do we really want to keep the fighter class ships as something that can be directly controlled/piloted by the player ? Let’s look at the current situation first.

Right now, except some pirate raider types, you won’t find any fighter class ship that has any other role than “escort” or “carrier/base fighter wing”. They are basically free when used in carriers and military bases. And beside speed, there’s absolutely no reason to ever fly a fighter yourself as your life expectancy in a combat is basically null, which is why none of the scenarios let you start in a fighter. Fighters, stats wise are drone-like too (weak, cheap, effective in large numbers).

Let’s see what the change would mean if i go through with it:

  • You can no longer fly a drone ship manually (well that’s debatable, may add a game setting to that effect)
  • You can no longer buy/build individual drones at a shipyard, drone supply cost drop to zero
  • “Hiring” escort drones will be made easier (not limited to pirate bases anymore)
  • Non carrier class ships allowed to act as pocket carriers (2 drones on a cargo ship for instance)
  • Drones come equipped with specific weapons (to fill specific roles → may lead to repair and mining drones later on)
  • A lot more drone types to balance out the removal of customizable equipment
  • The rare few civilian/pirate fighter “wing leader” or solo ships get upgraded to frigate
  • We could have factions that are more drone heavy than others
  • More carriers could rebuild their drone supply on the fly (so far, only AI Core carriers do that)

Also, code wise, it would resolve a bunch of money and supply related exploits. I wouldn’t have to make all auto generated fighters “civilians”, even the police or military base related ones. It would, in turn, improve RAM usage and game saving/loading speed. Lastly, it may remove a bunch of very ugly code used to determine which fighter should or should not count toward supply. It will likely make relations between ships easier to manage too.

So on one hand, there’s a downside that will reduce the selection of ships you can buy (and fly) in the very early game by a large margin. On the other hand, drones make a lot of sense in this game and may lead to more diverse ships and factions.

Your thoughts on the matter are welcome.


There are a few other features I am working on, like the ability to have “factory ships”. But that’s definitively not for 1.1, and will be the subject of a later devlog. Other than that, as warned in the last article, it’s still mostly polishing, testing the new features, and fixing increasingly obscure and small bugs. Here’s a few screenshots with the new font and the new dock menu.

That’s all for now. Depending on my schedule, I am not sure how many (if any) articles I will manage to write before the official 1.1 release. So, don’t freak out if you don’t see much action on the website.


2 thoughts on “[devlog] Combat Settings and Drones”

  1. Really good stuff EsKa! I especially like the drone question:

    I agree that the fighters/drones should be left as automated defenses with programmable behavior (large swarms for carriers, small amounts for pocket carriers/regular ships as simple escorts). Yes, someone might want to fly a fighter, but in the scope of the game this is really a fringe situation and in my opinion it is best left automated. Then you have one thing less to worry about when tweaking stuff.

    Of course the higher the variety of drones you can buy, the better, so that you can mix and match them however you like (and you can have your own role “style” that way).

    I really do not think removing player-manned fighters/drones will harm the game in any way – so go for the increased gains you mentioned!

  2. Hmm, a very interesting problem. Reading between the lines, I think you’d prefer the drone option and I can see how that would make things easier for you.

    Though I think I would actually prefer to keep them as dedicated ships the player can fly, mostly because it adds to the small scale gameplay, which is one of the unique things about Unending Galaxy: you can play it on a small scale or a large one – the decision is up to the player. The more you automate or simplify the small scale stuff, the more the game gravitates towards feeling like a 4X RTS, which is not a bad thing per se but not what Unending Galaxy is really about I’d say. I enjoy the freedom the game provides and having the option to jump into a fighter jet is part of that.

    There’s still potential for the player piloting fighters to have a actual utility instead of being purely cosmetical/immersive. Think infiltration, scouting, message delivery, etc. It’s risk vs. reward: fast & maneuverable but fragile – interesting gameplay implications, even if they are not fully realized right now.

    Just my 2 cents but I’d really prefer player controlled fighters over drones. Enough games have the latter already, while the former is still a rarity in games with the scale of Unending Galaxy and it’d be sad to see this aspect go away.

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