What are we up to?

Added on 22 October 2014 by Lurler.

Just a small update on what's going on with VoidExpanse. We've been working on many separate things required for the Steam release and it proves to be a lot more work than we anticipated initially, aside from that we are also working on the game itself.

So, here's what we've been up to recently:

  • Localisation system implementation is progressing nicely. Localization of UI, items and pretty much everything else except quests/topics is fully implemented. Quests are a bit more complicated, but we will get to that as well. We want VoidExpanse to be available as many languages as we can. Below is an example of a game running in a different language.
  • Steam integration is a bit more difficult as it requires us to change how authentication is handled. It is extremely important for multiplayer to protect your identity and make your connection to the server secure among other things. Right now it is handled by our own secure server, but in case of Steam it has to be changed.
  • Steam extras such as trading cards, badges, emoticons and other such things have been completed. I really like how everything turned out to be. And I'm sure you will find it fun collecting all that stuff. Here's a small preview of one of the cards.
  • Story - we've finally finished the story for VoidExpanse. Yay! But it doesn't mean it's working as intended... yet :) It requires some more polish before we can call it finished. But never the less it's a huge milestone being able to complete the game. And remember, we have a completely separate storyline for each faction. So your choices will determine what actually happens in the galaxy and not all of these choices will lead to a happy ending.
  • And many, many other things.

VoidExpanse: Music, long version!~

Added on 14 October 2014 by Lurler.

This time it's a long one :)

We are continuing working with Konstantin Glazunov, our composer for VoidExpanse to bring even more different music to VoidExpanse, but aside from that we decided that it might actually be interesting to have an in depth explanation on how music is created for VoidExpanse, and here it it.

Konstantin Glazunov:

"Music creation starts with a simple basic idea, where and when a particular piece of music should exist. Some text description, a few screenshots, maybe sketches, pretty much anything goes - as it helps to start the creative process. It is very important, at least for me, to actually like the game I am creating a music piece for. Even if it's a simple concept on paper.

For VoidExpanse we decided to use darker style, you will rarely hear elements like peaceful modulations of “heaven bells” in major key or something similar. The reason for that - the game universe, according to the backstory is a dark place, with many uncovered mysteries and tragic events. Everywhere you go is danger, such as pirates or hostile aliens. But there is definitely a place for heroism of the main character or interactions with other people and many wonderful places to discover. Music follows the story, sometimes it is heroic, sometimes insinuating, and there are some places where it is completely special – for example, in the “dump” star systems (that piece of music is one of my favorites).


I have two methods for writing – to use some music parts created earlier or to compose completely new one. For VoidExpanse I opt for the latter. I start to improvise, using my digital piano or MIDI-keyboard, to see what I can come up with. We, musicians, sometimes call it "to rave" :) But thankfully the more I work on a particular project the easier it is for me to generate interesting ideas in improvisation. The most difficult thing is definitely to start, create one or two first tracks. Though there may be hard tasks at any stage of work. So, I catch good ideas from my improvisation and create some sample or draft record (or several records). The sound used for improvisation is also very important, therefore I first try to collect rough sounds for my project and utilize them in this draft.


Then it is a long way to get this piece of music into shape. The main goal is to obtain intermediate version of the track which I can send to developers. And this version, first of all, must convince me. Choosing right samples and sounds takes the majority of the time in this process, and writing instrument scores is comparatively fast. All work is done in Cubase. I use different virtual synths, samples and sample libraries. I like to combine samples of classical instruments, such as strings or brass, with modern pads and effects. This gives music depth of symphonic orchestra, while at the same time modern “acid” sounds accentuate and diversify this symphony. In VoidExpanse many technogenic sounds are used, in addition to different kinds of variable frequency filters, stereo delay, phaser and flanger effects. This adds “space” character to the music. And, of course, it complicates selection and combination of sounds for arrangement, it is much easier to work with traditional instruments.


Maybe now I need to mention, what an “arrangement” it. It is the creation of all scores (melodic or rhythmic “lines”) of all the instruments in the music piece. Process of arrangement differs from track to track. If composition has expressed melodic line or written according to “classical” scheme (for example, “contrapunctum”), then I try to denote all scores for the whole track at once and don’t care about perfect selection of sounds, because main idea is obvious anyway. Sounds will fit together a bit later. Examples of these tracks: outpost station theme (“Mechanical Realm”), combat theme “High Energy Particles”, science station theme (“Tree of Eternal Evolution”). In other cases I compose only a part of the track but use the right sounds and make this part nearly complete, in order to hear the final music "picture". Then I compose the next part, and so on. I often use improvisation to create an instrument line, selecting the most appropriate version of the score after that.


And the last stage – finalizing of arrangement and a rough mastering. This happens after developers approve my version of the track. Often all work is done towards this moment except some details; the more filled is arrangement, the easier it is for me to deliver music idea to customer. As for mastering, this is volume and frequency levelling to make the track shine and to comply with some technical specifications requested by the developers. The stage of mastering is very important, but it’s not so critical in case of game music, it comes much more critical while creating music albums and singles.


And this is how music composition for VoidExpanse comes out."

Well, that was definitely an in-depth explanation. I personally found it extremely interesting to read and I hope you did too!

VoidExpanse - Update v0.10!

Added on 8 October 2014 by Lurler.

And here it is! The final update inside alpha branch. The next update will bring us beta! But let's not get ahead of ourselves and concentrate on what we have now :)

This update was meant to be a small content addition while we are working on the big features for beta release, but we realized that we can also push some of already implemented features here as well. So, what's new this time?

Female characters

We were able to finally add female characters into the game along with a complete overhaul of the avatar system. Now each face feature has a different chances for generation (no more aviators on 90% of people) and different filters making characters look more realistic.

We also touched on the graphics as well, improving overall look of all characters in the game.

Alternative controls scheme

We've been asked to introduce an alternative control scheme for quite some time to allow for more casual play and here it is. You can choose between classical mode or switch to a new simplified one, where the ship automatically follows your mouse.

Navpoints and autopilot system

Yes, no true space game can be without autopilot! We've introduced a navpoin system where you can put markers on all system maps for easier navigation (they will show up on your radar) as well as selecting autoilot destination both on system and on galaxy maps.

All new graphics for items

Up until now almost all items in the game had placeholder graphics. Not anymore. Every single item now has a completely unique icon associated with it.

And much, much more!

You can read the patchnotes on our forum, as always. And while at it, feel free to join the discussions! We are always glad to hear more feedback as it really helps us see the impact of all the changes we make to the game.

VoidExpanse: Autopilot

Added on 30 September 2014 by Lurler.

As you probably know we've recently released an experimental version of the new update. That update already contains most of the features that will be available in v0.10.x, but we actually still continue working on that version and one of the latest features pushed in v0.10.x is the autopilot. You can use it to navigate both a system map and travel long distances on the starmap. Below you can see our work in progress of the system. To travel to a different star system you simply need to select it and activate the autopilot. It will then build a course and fly your ship to a specified destination automatically.

And as usual, let us know what you think of that addition on our forums!

VoidExpanse ships: Yamato

Added on 18 September 2014 by Lurler.

Here is another small preview for the upcoming update. This time I would like to share our new ship with you. As you know in one of the previous updates we inroduced mines into the game, but not many existing ships were able to equip them. We've adjusted it in previous updates, but there still wasn't a ship specifically designed for carrying mine systems as primary weapons. And here is that ship! Well... not exactly. It does have two heavy mine slots, but aside from that it can also mount heavy ballistic weapon and medium energy weapon, plus very good maneuverability and speed, making it very versatile. That effectively makes this ship into something completely different compared to other heavy cruisers that are already present in the game and it's really a lot of fun piloting one!

Yamato

Class: Heavy Cruiser.
Price: 54000 d.
Armor: Light armor, Heavy structure.
Hardpoints:

  • Heavy Ballistic (forward platform)
    • Rotary mounted
    • Firing arc: 145°
    • Tracking: 60°/sec
  • Medium Enegy (right wing platform)
    • Rotary mounted
    • Firing arc: 100°
    • Tracking: 90°/sec
  • Heavy Mines (rear bay)
    • Stationary mounted
  • Medium Mines (left wing bay)
    • Stationary mounted

Utility slots:

  • Consumables - 3
  • Devices - 2
  • Boosters - 4

Specials:

  • Maneuvering +5%
  • Acceleration +5%

Description: The Yamato class heavy cruiser was designed specifically for service for special forces. Being extremely versatile in its offense and defense capabilities as well as maneuverability provided unmatched versatility for any operations.

VoidExpanse: Female characters

Added on 15 September 2014 by Lurler.

So, now that VoidExpanse has finally being greenlit (yay!) we can now work on the game with even more confidence! And we are already half way with the next update.

The new update won't be as big as some previous ones, but it isn't meant to be. The thing is - our programmer, Vladimir is working on serious engine extension to allow for localization, autopilot and many other features that will come later, for Steam launch.

So, while he is at that, me and Andrei decided to make a smaller, but still very cool content update.

So, what can you expect in it? That post is one of several previws for that update and you can expect...

Yes! Female characters are finally being added into the game. The examples above are still work in progress, of course, but I think you will definitely like what you will see in the game. At least I do for sure :)

As always, leave your feedback on the forums!

VoidExpanse has been Greenlit on Steam!

Added on 10 September 2014 by Lurler.

We are very happy to announce that VoidExpanse has finally been Greenlit! We couldn't even imagine how much support we would get from the community when we launched that campaign. And now, after just one month after the submission you helped VoidExpanse get on Steam. That means a lot to us, and to the future of the game. Thank you everyone!

We can now shift our focus back to the development again and continue with the updates as we did before the campaign. We are really striving to make the best game possible and we hope you continue supporting us in the future!

We will also provide you with more information on the Steam version of the game and release date fairly soon. So stay tuned and don't forget to check our blog once in a while! You could also join the discussion on our forums.

Mod highlight: Breaching the Core

Added on 3 September 2014 by Lurler.

Today, with this post, I would like to start a new series of posts featuring the most prominent mods for VoidExpanse that are created by the community.

And today we are looking at a mod called Breaching the Core.

It is a total game conversion completely replacing all items, ships, skills, characters and pretty much everything there is in the game. I can only imagine how much work it took to do something so ambitions as this. I would say if you enjoy vanilla game you should definitely check our this mod as well!

A few words from the author: "The mod seeks to creatively use a lot of stuff provided by the game in interesting new ways. It's still a work in progress and being designed as a multiplayer mod in the end.".

You can grab the latest (v1.0) version of the mod on our forums here.

The mod is still being developed with new features added regularly, so feel free to join in the fun and help the author (Hammish) with playtesting, new ideas, constructive criticism and possibly even with your contributions.

And while at it make sure you check all other mods that are already available for the game!

We are in top 100 on Steam Greenlight

Added on 25 August 2014 by Lurler.

Here is a long awaited update about our greenlight campaign! We've finally reached top 100! And to be precise we've reached #62 (upd: #59 now!) place at this point! Out of 1900 other titles. And I think it warrants at least a little bit of celebration!

We still aim for 50+ to be absolutely sure that we are accepted by Valve, but I think now it is only a matter of time!

Take a look at the statistics yourself:


Please share this campaign with your friends and help us make it happen!

And if you haven't voted yourself yet - you can find our campaign here, and hopefully vote!

Thank you everyone for your amazing support! :)

Behind the scenes

Added on 21 August 2014 by Lurler.

There haven't been much updates in the developers blog recently. So, what is happening, what are we up to?

Well, mostly two things: pimping our greenlight campaign (for which a separate post will be on Monday), and working on making the current version of the game as stable as it gets as we want to make the next update really huge! And that will take time. For that we need to be sure that for the next couple of months the game will be stable enough for people to play without any major issues.

We've also been working on improving our workflow and project structure that would help us in a long run. For example here is a list of changes that are also implemented already or in the progress:

  • Separation of common components to dedicated projects. That will enable us to maintain the code more easily and make this work more parallel. Therefore more people can work on it at the same time without interrupting work of other people.
  • Completely rewrote the build scripts. Now to make a debug or release version for PC, Linux, Mac or all together we can just press a single button and it will magically appear.
  • Added server start/load argument handling and other nice things.
  • Changed build naming, now it is [game]_[version]_[platform] which is a little more nicer than before.
  • etc.

So, that's more or less it.

Come next monday for a big update on our progress with greenlight! I hope you are as excited as we are! :)

VoidExpanse is half way to the top on Steam Greenlight!

Added on 6 August 2014 by Lurler.

Just a few days have passed and we already reached 50% of total "Yes" votes needed to enter into top 100 Greenlight projects, meaning we are half way to be greenlit! And this makes us really happy, that our work wasn't in vain, and people actually find this project exciting :)

Please share this campaign with your friends and help us make it happen! As soon as the game hits steam we will be able to achieve so much more thanks to the community support.

Below is the statistics page showing the results!

Visit our Greenlight page: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=290154703

VoidExpanse on Steam Greenlight!

Added on 4 August 2014 by Lurler.

As you've probably noticed there is a big button for Steam Greenlight for VoidExpanse! That's right. Not only we have released the latest update to the game, but VoidExpanse finally hits Steam and we need your support to make the game pass Greenlight!

Please support our campaign!

Steam Greenlight

And if you are enjoying the game - consider joining the forums!

VoidExpanse - Update v0.9.3

Added on 31 July 2014 by Lurler.

It's been exactly two months since we released the last big update. And the last time we also mentioned that the update was the biggest ever. But it really pales in comparison to what we have been able to accomplish this time!

Please take a look at our new trailer for VoidExpanse:

VoidExpanse is now available not just for Windows, but also on Mac and Linux! Yes, it has finally happened! :)

But what are the changes to the game itself? Let's get right to business!

The biggest change is of course implementation of the skill system. It was one of the features without which the game simply felt incomplete, and now it is finished! The skill system includes four major skill categories with several skill trees each, making the total number of skills more than a hundred! You can read a detailed description of the skill system in a separate post.

Then we have implemented the trading system which again, was completely missing. Now it fully simulates all prices in the galaxy as well as generates stock, creates trade routes and many more. Again, you can read a detailed description in a separate post.

We have also worked on the game story. You can now finally join the Fanatics faction and do their quests, if... you are crazy enouch to accept their values :) But I will let you learn this all by yourself!

Our composer has finished 18 tracks for the game bringing the total play time of all in-game music to almost an hour! And these tracks are really something! You can listen to one of them and learn more information about it in a separate post.

We have finally implemented all weapon types including missiles. You can now find really diverse weapon systems on all stations and purchase for your ship. Not only that, but being in a particular faction will open you access to some number of special guns available only to their members.

Character classes have been implemented as well. Now each class offers you some unique play style with different starting abilities and equipment. You choice early in the game does matter now.

New content! The game received a whole lot of content to each part starting from different new NPC types, to a whole load of new equipment for your ship, new space backgrounds, decorations (such as space garbage), complete sound system overhaul with more than 50 new sound effects, new random quests, new ships, new "bosses", new better physics, and a whole load of performance and general usability improvements. We have also updated bonus content such as wallpaper and concept packs available to platinum edition of the game.

But that is definitely now all! You can find a detailed list of changes in our patchnotes.

I hope you will enjoy playing this new version of VoidExpanse! And make sure to join the discussions on our forum!

VoidExpanse: Character skill system

Added on 22 July 2014 by Lurler.

And here is the final preview before release. This time I would like to talk about the skill system which was finally implemented.

Funny thing is - this feature is exactly the reason why this update is taking more time than we initially anticipated. The skill system was supposed to be the last addition to the game in the current iteration but when we started working on it it turned out more or less like this. But it is finally complete and only a round of polish and some final fixes are left!

Anyway, here is a small preview of the new combat skill tree.

You may notice right away that there are now two types of skills. Essential and non essential. The essential ones are highlighted by special border and in the example above these are the ballistic weapons skills which will give you access to use higher level of ballistic weapons. All major skills such as ship piloting, weapons, and a few others will be highlighted in this manner giving you a clear picture of what skills are the most important.

Aside from that we have also implemented more than a hundred different effects that can affect your ship or your enemies in some way. These effects are already used for the new skills and could be used for items as well. For example a booster that will give you some bonus to damage of energy weapons or such.

Overal the game has more than a hundred skills now separated into four major categories (piloting, combat, engineering and social). This will give you plenty of opportunies to specialize your character the way you want to play.

We have also finally implemented different character classes so now your choice when you start the game will matter!

VoidExpanse: Trading system

Added on 17 July 2014 by Lurler.

Hey everyone! Here is another preview for the next big update! And this time I would like to discuss the trading system.

The trading was one of the very important features still missing from the game, so we wanted to implement it as soon as possible. And this update finally inroduces proper trading implementation. This was especially important feature before the game goes on Steam Greenlight as it is a big part of fun gameplay.

Anyway, here is an example of what you can expect to see in the game in terms of trading now (there are some new items too).

As you can see VoidExpanse now features different goods that can be traded between different station (all goods are marked in gray). But that's not all. Let me give you a quick list of main changes to the trading system.

  • The equipment selection is now different for each station. If you are interested in buying weapons it would be a good idea to visit a military station, while if you need some high-tech stuff the science station is your best bet.
  • Each station has different goods available in its stock for trading. You won't find the same goods on all stations. Especially if the station doesn't produce something there is a higher chance that there won't be any of it available at all, unless there is a group of merchancs supplying the station.
  • The prices of goods will heavily depend on the supply and demand scheme as well as the number of items available in stock.
  • Supply and demand will change over time and a trade route that was once profitable may be no longer relevant.
  • Oversaturation of the market is possible. If a group of merchans start delivering loads of the same item to the station the price will eventually drop to floor bottom making it no longer profitable.

That's more or less the general idea of how the trading will work, but that is definitely just the simplest overview of the system and internally it is much more complex and has definitely more to it making the trading an interesting and viable profession in the world of VoidExpanse.

Even if trading isn't your thing you will still find different items for your ship available at different times and different stations fun. So, if you are hunting for a particularly powerful item it will now take some effort to get it :)

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