VoidExpanse development update #18

Added on 2 January 2014 by Lurler.

Happy new year! And what is the best way to start a new year? Of course with a new build of the game! It's a shame that you can't try it yet. But we are working on it :)

Here is our list of updates this time:

  • New main menu. It is still work in progress, but even what we have now is way better than what we had before! The background is animated with a ship flying through space.
  • New galaxy map. As you can see it shows factions zones of influence and other information such as system names. You can hover the mouse over a system to see even more information.
  • New system map. There is not much changes compared to previous version, but it looks way nicer than before.
  • Aliens! I won't reveal much information about them, because I don't want to give you any spoilers, but here is one of their ships.
  • Conquest system is finally working. You can visit alien systems, do *something* to reclaim them.
  • Completed skill view and a whole lot of new skills for piloting category. Also a new skill system. Skill effects are divided into three categories for even more broader effects and ease of modding and extending.
  • Whole lot of new quests. For now these are only the quests you can take multiple times. We will work on the main plot later.
  • Music playlists. Depending on where you are you will have different music playing. And guess what? Even that is moddable. You can create new galaxy generator and make it setup new playlists for the systems it generates. Everything is procedurally generated :)
  • Fancy galaxy generation / loading screen with status updates.
  • Static turrets that defend some objects such as stations.
  • New ship explosion effect.
  • Optimizations: reduced memory footprint, some other optimizations.
  • Other things: alien hives, completed hud, automatic docking to stations, visual jumpgate effects.

Discuss this post on the forum!

Something big is brewing!

Added on 24 December 2013 by Lurler.

As you might have noticed there hasn't been much updates on the blog lately. The reason for that is simple - we are working on a biggest update for the game to date. That update will signify our first build that we will start showing to people with confidence.
Here is a small preview of the skill tree, but I will post a big update with bunch of screenshots and info once we are done. Hopefully it will be within this week.

VoidExpanse UI update

Added on 17 December 2013 by Lurler.

We are finally done with the current version of user interface for the main game screen!
Here is what it looks like now:

Things to note:

  • Ship stats on the left - energy, shield and armor bars.
  • Quick access bar in the center - which allows you to use consumables, such as shield boosters, and devices, for example mining gear or EMP generator.
  • Weapon groups on the right - where all weapons which are equipped on your ship will display its information. All weapons are divided into three groups and can be fired separately at will.
  • And finally radar - it simply displays all objects that are near your ship.

And that is it. I think it looks quite good already, but we will still polish it more to make it look even better.

Friday, the 13th

Added on 13 December 2013 by Lurler.
Who would have thought that Friday, the 13th is actually a thing? But apparently there is something to it :)
We have no internet in the office! That means hardly any work can be done, because all of our documentation and tools are dependent on the internet. Then there is a cup of coffee spilled on the carpet...
Anyway, we will work twice as hard on the next monday then!

VoidExpanse development update #17

Added on 6 December 2013 by Lurler.
Remember our weekly news? As it turns out they are not very weekly :)
So, I decided to rename them to just "development updates", I think it would be more interesting if we post them less often, but with more interesting updates on the progress, rather than just listing things from our logs.

Anyway, in these past three weeks were able to implement really a lot of new stuff.
Here comes:
  • Quest window with quest log and journal. You can see what quests you have at any time and their progress making it much easier to be aware of your progress and goals.
  • New engine and RCS trails system, with exhaust colors depending on the engine, and indicator lights, or as we call them "blinks". You can see example of these in our previous post.
  • Finally completed the target lock system that we mentioned in previous posts. Now you also get extra information about the target in a small window after acquiring the lock.
  • Options window where you can setup everything you need. We also implemented the ability to change graphical settings and optimized performance a whole lot. The game can now run on low-end/integrated GPUs. For example with Intel HD Graphics 2000 it is able to produce 40 FPS, which is pretty good.
  • Better interpolation of movement data, meaning that now you can play without any problems even with ping as high as 300 ms.
  • Finally added items bar for quick access to consumables, such as shield boosters or special equipment, for example EMP field generator.
  • Started work on a new jumpgate system. It will function in somewhat similar way to how it is done in EVE online. But with a twist.
  • Repair and refuel now possible on stations.
  • Tons of new icons for items and weapons.
  • Cruise mode for the ship. In this mode you get twice the normal speed, but almost impossible to steer. This mode is great if you need to travel long distances within the star system. We have also added warp-jumps that are great in combat for avoiding projectiles.
  • Finally implemented multiplayer chat. We are closer than ever for our first closed beta test and we will certainly need chat for that! :)
  • Low fuel notification.
  • Music! We got a deal with an awesome veteran composer. He is in the industry for more than 15 years now. And I love his works for VoidExpanse so far!
  • New awesome planets. You can see an example of that below.
  • And a whole lot more! The game is really coming together!
Planets, click to see animated version of the pictures.
Base window. All interface is work in progress and do not represent the final quality. But hey, it still looks pretty cool :)
Discuss this post on the forum!

First gameplay demo!

Added on 2 December 2013 by Lurler.

Here is a small demonstration of gameplay. Click on the picture to see animated gif version (like a short video). Please remember though that gif animations do not convey real colors, plus to make it smaller we had to use compression which degraded the picture quality somewhat.

Anyway, here it is!

Some things to note:

  • Engine trails including RCS thrusters.
  • Shield effects on collision with the station.
  • Light indicators on the ship (with dynamic lighting!).
  • Planet and space station (still work in progress, though).
  • Weapon mounted on the top of the ship.
  • Space background with parallax effect.

Discuss this post on the forum!

Character generation & development

Added on 27 November 2013 by Lurler.

I will make it short, but I would like to share our views regarding the RPG system and character development in the VoidExpanse. We had a lot of discussions about this ourselves, but the basic idea was always the same - to only add features that make the game fun!

So, here are some principles of our design for the game:

  • Make the game an RPG. That was, after all, our most important decision from the beginning. This would enable the player to advance their character, and subsequently the ship as the time and game story progresses.
  • There must be a character generation when you start a game. Here is what we have so far - work in progress character generation screen.
  • No stats for character. That wouldn't make much sense to add attributes such as "strength" or "dexterity" as in classical RPGs. We could have, of course, made that work with attributes like "reaction", "intelligence" or "accuracy", but there is just no reason for it. It wouldn't add anything to the game.
  • What we wanted to add was skills, and a whole lot of them! Skills as in "Diablo 2 - skills"! Here is an example of skill tree in VoidExpanse. It is an example of asteroid mining tree. It is of course work in progress, but it is very close to what we will have when we launch beta. Oh, and this skill tree is procedurally generated too. You can add as much skills as you want and the game will automatically generate a skill tree for you! That means all the skills can be modded.
  • The skills themselves are mostly passive, granting you access to a particular technology or ability, or increasing your character efficiency with something. In the example above the first skill in the mining tree grants access to asteroid mining in general. It means that anyone can start mining quite easily, but to become really a proficient at it you will have to spend some time advancing down the tree to get better skills and increase your efficiency.
  • Now, how do you get these skills in the first place? For this you will need to spend skill points. Each skill can cost anywhere between 2 to 10 skill points, but usually around 5. Each character level you acquire 10 skill points which means you can usually get around two skills each level.
  • To advance your character to a new level you need experience points. You receive these from a lot of sources, for example in combat when you defeat your enemies or from missions and a few other sources.
  • Now what about character classes and pursuing a particular path? That is interesting topic and I want to talk about character classes in details, so I will make a separate post for it. In short - we want to give players the ability to develop their character in a particular direction. But at the same time I want to allow for multi-classing.

Well, I think that pretty much sums up the basics of the character development system!

What do you think of all this? Do you possibly have ideas to make it better? Let us know what you think on the forum!

Why VoidExpanse?

Added on 20 November 2013 by Lurler.
Today I decided to change the usual routine of posting only about updates to the game and do a post on a topic not directly related to the development of the VoidExpanse. Instead I would like to talk more about the game in general. So, why are we making VoidExpanse? That is actually a long story, but I hope it will be interesting to read.

The idea to make this kind of game actually came to me a few years ago. At that time I was playing several great Sci-Fi games such as Space Rangers: Dominators, System Shock 2, Master of Orion 3, and a few others. I always loved the space theme and it was while playing these great space games that I finally decided to start writing a concept document for a game in that genre. However, at that time, I wasn't really going to start the development of an actual game any time soon. I was just thinking on how it could be done and what would be fun to see. The document went over much iteration over the years but eventually I was happy with it.

So, how did actually making the game start? That is actually the funniest part of the whole story. In January this year I decided to start building a kind of prototype for the game just to see if the concept would even hold. I did a basic game where you could fly around in space shooting things that was a very simple at its core. Once I had the basic game made I mentioned my idea to one of my acquaintances at the time, including the idea that I might possibly make it into a big project. He was like "OMG dude, let's create a company and totally do this thing! This game sounds awesome!" You can guess what happened next! So, there we were in Singapore in February earlier this year creating a company to start a full blown development of this game and (I hope) many other games to follow.

By June all of the formalities were ready and we started looking for people to join us in our new company. We immediately found two great people: Vladimir, a Unity3D god and Dmitry, C# etherlord. With their help we finally started the development on what has become VoidExpanse. A few months later Andrew, the art almighty joined us in a role of 2d and 3d artist.

Now here we are, working on this great game!

Discuss this post on the forum!

Weekly news #16

Added on 15 November 2013 by Lurler.

I really like our new feature this week! Target locking and homing missiles are finally implemented. It is extremely rewarding to see your weapons chasing after the enemy ships. But let me tell you how it works. First you need to equip a radar capable of acquiring a target lock. Then after pressing [R] button and pointing in general direction of where your target is you will get him into a targeting reticule. Then depending on how powerful your targeting speed and enemy ECM (electronic counter measure device) you will acquire a target lock. Usually it happens withing couple of seconds, but could take longer on some ships. So, then what? Then you can fire all missile weapons your ship has equipped (with homing capabilities of course) to bring down hell on your enemy! Of course they can do the same to you, though :)

What else is there this week?

  • We are almost finished with the space stations. Shops are fully working now, and other features are almost completed too.
  • Added jettison / destroy functionality for items you are carrying.
  • Improved shield collisions with objects. Now it will activate on asteroids and other static objects too.
  • Implemented new NPC scaling system that would make it much simpler for us to reuse the same enemy profiles thus enabling us to create really a lot of variations even for the same enemy types. It would make game difficulty progress more steadily throughout the game.
  • A new save system also got implemented this week. It works in an incremental way making save times almost instant. You won't even notice it in single player, and for huge multiplayer servers it could be just 100-500 milliseconds which is also perfectly okay.
  • And finally we have improved latency handling. Now in single player there is no latency at all, and in multiplayer it is perfectly okay to play even with 200-300 milliseconds lag. Most likely you won't even notice it thanks to interpolation and extrapolation algorithms that we use.

Here is also a wallpaper for you to put on your desktop. I think it looks pretty old school :)

Download 1920*1080, press "save as..." on the link.

Discuss this post on the forum!

Welcome to AtomicTorch Studio website!

Added on 11 November 2013 by Lurler.

Hi and welcome to AtomicTorch Studio website!

Today is our first big milestone in the development of VoidExpanse! We are finally at the point that we feel confident enough about showing our project to people and the press. This post will highlight some general information about the game we are making and our plans for the future of this project.

So, what is it?
VoidExpanse is a spacefaring action-RPG with boundless freedom to forge your own path in a galaxy rife with conflict.

Once, we looked to the stars with dreams of peace and immeasurable prosperity for all. We reveled in our limitless potential as we conquered space travel and ventured deeper into the unknown. Then, the aliens struck, and we lost.

Faced with insurmountable odds, some of us continue to fight, while others turn to self-serving greed. Regardless of our motives, the battle for survival is only beginning.

With robust skill-trees, multiple factions with their own agendas, and extensive customization of your ship, VoidExpanse allows you to truly shape your journey to defeat the alien threat and restore the galaxy. Will you be the stalwart savior of humankind, the opportunist playing every angle for financial gain, or the down-and-dirty renegade?

A single-player campaign with a masterfully crafted story of open-exploration and difficult choices is only the beginning of VoidExpanse. With moddable sandbox modes, you can create your own procedurally generated galaxy to discover, or create persistent multiplayer worlds to band with other players – or destroy them.

Key features include:

  • Spacefaring action-RPG with open exploration of procedurally generated galaxies.
  • Carve out your destiny with extensive skill-trees and ship customization.
  • Battle, trade with NPCs, mine asteroids, and explore the unknown.
  • Real-time combat with serious dangers; no auto-leveling enemies.
  • Play through a carefully crafted story in procedorally generated galaxy.
  • Join with friends or take them on in persistent multiplayer worlds.
  • Every aspect of the game is fully moddable and extendable.

Visit our forums to discuss the game.
Or like our page on Facebook.
You could also follow us on twitter.

Below is a screenshot of early in-dev alpha version of the game. Everything will change upon release of course, but it should give a rough idea of what the game is like.

Weekly news #15

Added on 8 November 2013 by Lurler.

Hello again. It's Friday and here is another developers update!

This time we finally started implementing space stations, or "bases" as we call them. In the game you will be able to dock to many different stations and use their services such as shops, shipyard, visit canteen, etc. Different stations will provide you with different options of what you can do. For example on a mining outpost you can sell your ore for a better price.

Anyway, here is a detailed list of changes this week apart from implementing the bases as I described above.

  • It is now impossible to change your ship equipment while in space. Well, it does not make much sense if you can just swap your weapons in the middle of a fight, right? :)
  • Now it is also possible to change your ship hull. What that means is that you can now buy better ships with the progression of the game.
  • Better galaxy generation. It is now all script based and can be easily changed in mods. We are also continuing working on the map editor that would allow us to make the game campaign as awesome as it can be!
  • Many enhancements to the faction system. All factions are now defined in XML files and you can add your own. You can also script any custom features for them. One of such features is that when you belong to a particular faction they will offer you better prices when trading. It will be in the game by default, but you will be able to add any other features like this.
  • And finally we tweaked the physics of the ships a little bit. Now it is possible to precisely define the mass distribution across the hull. For example a ship might have it's center of mass right in the middle, or to the side which would completely change how it behaves in combat.
  • Oh, and we added money! Yes, no game like this can be without money! :)

Here is a picture of our map editor in progress and an example of galaxy that it can generate. I think it is quite nice gameplay wise. Colored zones represent zones of influence of a particular faction.

And here is a render of the space station.

Discuss this post on the forum!

Weekly news #14

Added on 1 November 2013 by Lurler.

I noticed that I start each of the developers updates with some variation of "this week" or "another week" :) This time I decided to do it in some other way for the variety sake!

Anyway, main addition to VoidExpanse this time is a new ship which you can see in the screenshot below. I think you can guess its purpose from its look. Yes, it is a cargo vessel. It has very spacious cargo holds ideal for trading missions or transportation of mined ore. Now, thinking about it, it is actually a very smart idea if one player does mining in a specialized engineering ship, while other player helps him to transport ore to a processing facility in one of neighboring star systems. I should certainly try it to see how much more effective it is compared to mining alone.

And here is our usual detailed list of other important features this week:

  • Crates. Now it is possible to loot destroyed ships. Or you can jettison some or your cargo for others to pick up. The crates themselves were done some time ago, but this week we finally implemented UI for actually picking up these crates, or rather their contents.
  • Better planets. We have adjusted how the atmosphere is displayed and increased the polygon count for the planet models.
  • Better shaders for the sun, now they take into account actual 3D space fore more realistic look.
  • Energy calculation. Generator, capacitor and all energy requiring equipment now take into account all associated ship stats. That means you can be left off without energy if you spam-shoot your weapons non stop for some time.
  • Tractor beam. You can use it to draw containers closer to your ship if you are too lazy to pick them up manually. I know, I will certainly use it often!
  • We have also started working on the galaxy editor that would help us in creating the campaign for the game later on. For now though, it is mostly needed to tweak the galaxy generation in the game.

Discuss this post on the forum!

Weekly news #13

Added on 25 October 2013 by Lurler.
Despite the number of this blog post I think this week brings one of the most important updates! Today we finally rolled out our new website that supports all needed functionality such as master server for our games to play online and ensure that your multiplayer identity is protected, then of course the ability to actually buy our games (although none is available for sale at the moment, naturally), subscription to news, proper security for users and many other features essential for our future launch of VoidExpanse and other games that we will be making after that!

Also this week we implemented following features for the actual game:
  • Added static and dynamic decorative objects to the game, example of this is debris left after destroyed ships.
  • Weapon icons that will be displayed in the inventory.
  • Actual 3D models for turrets that will be displayed on your ship in game.
  • Started working on a new ship that will be added to the game next week.
  • Added quite a few new icons for skills.
  • Containers with loot that is left after destroying enemy ships.
  • Grapple beam and the ability to grapple items in space.
  • Some more improvements to AI system.

Weekly news #12

Added on 18 October 2013 by Lurler.

This week we have completed probably the biggest update to date. A whole lot has been accomplished, but let’s go one by one:

  • We have finally implemented the logic for skill system. There are about a dozen skills now, but by the time we release the game we will surely bring it up to possibly one hundred or more.
  • New space station. You can see it in the screenshot below.
  • A lot of improvement for AI. The NPCs and enemies now behave much smarter and can accomplish tasks such as delivering goods or mining asteroids. Funny thing here, since they all belong to a different factions, as soon as we run the simulation they started fighting each other :) That was unexpected, but that’s what makes the system good. They can make decisions for themselves.
  • New planetary system generation. It works now and things such as asteroid belts, proper planet orbits, jump gates, etc. are generating properly.
  • New logo for the game. Which you can already see in the top of this post.
  • Icons for items and skills are now properly loaded from resources.
  • And finally we have added a new type of effect for weapons. It is now possible to add sprite effect such as plasma ball and such.

This week we also finally completed our second internal build of the game. Now it finally looks more or less like an actual game! :)  Still, there is not much content though, but that will come later as we continue working on the game!

Weekly news #11

Added on 11 October 2013 by Lurler.
Another week of hard work! We are still mainly working on creating a new website. The site will provide all needed functionality to power the game’s community and allow such obviously important functionality as buying our games :)

But aside from that we also implemented several new features in the game:
  • New ship, gorgeously called “Crab” for it’s shape.
  • Several new weapons. Among them are several lasers, plasma cannons, new rockets and missiles.
  • Identity protection for multiplayer. This way no one will be able to hijack your nickname and pose as you.
  • And finally we started implementing character skills system in the client. It will take a long time to finish, but even now we can see how awesome it is and how fun and rewarding it is to advance your character.
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