Here is another update on the progress of VoidExpanse! This time I would like to talk about faction system in VoidExpanse.
As you can see above we have several factions already in the game. The line color shows relationships between the player (in this case) and other factions. You can of course select any other faction and you'd get a very different result. In the example below the "Freedom" faction is selected and you can see how the other factions treat them.
Additionaly each faction has their own territory on the global map where they have the most influence.
In the example above you can see territory of the Order and Freedom factions.
Each of the factions have their own agenda and fleets of loyal pilots and worlds. Depending on who you decide to join you will get very different results. You can join Order for example, and many of the job they can offer you would revolve around getting the galaxy rid of Xengatarn influence. Or you could join pirates. In that case it would be a whole different story. You may be asked to take part in raids on some systems.
Ultimately our goal was to make each faction unique. And offer not just a nominal ability to join a faction, but actually completely new story depending on who you decide to join. And your choice ultimately can lead the galaxy to a very different future!
And finally, as with any other part of VoidExpanse - everything is completely moddable. You can create your own factions, their NPC characters, quests and everything else. We are looking forward to see what the players can come up with :)
Today, I want to share some details with you about the AtomicTorch team, about who we are and what we do for fun when not busy working on our first project; VoidExpanse.
I am one of the founders of the company, and the game designer and producer for VoidExpanse. I am the person who talks with our external teams and takes care of the general day-to-day business that keeps AtomicTorch running.
My story as a game developer goes way back to when I was still in kindergarten. My father bought a ZX Spectrum and I tried writing small programs that played sounds by following a guidebook. I didn't understand any concepts of programming back then, but it was a good fun for the five-year old me. Later, I started writing small games using Delphi in school, then online stuff in PHP, then C# in college, and now, here I am finally working on a something big with a team of other awesome people!
I also like to actually play games; my favorites are System shock 2, Stalker: Call of Pripyat, Morrowind, Gothic 1&2, and Evil Islands. For indies I would name Kerbal space program, Minecraft, Factorio, and Gnomoria.
I’m not really the sort of person who watches a lot of movies or television, but I would say that my few favorites are the Star Wars original trilogy, Terminator 1&2, and the Matrix. For TV series, my favorite is Stargate SG-1, which is an important inspiration for this game, as well as, Stargate: Atlantis, and Mythbusters.
When I am not at work on VoidExpanse, I enjoy studying linguistics and game design. I also play airsoft and dabble in electronics (as in soldering stuff together and programming ICs).
I’m a developer here at AtomicTorch. I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. I graduated Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, worked as a software engineer for a couple of years, then moved to Ho Chi Minh City to become a part of the AtomicTorch team. My history in game dev goes back to 1997, when my brother wrote his first program in BASIC and I watched over his shoulder. That was the first time I realized what I wanted to do in my life - create something.
I prefer video games that offer unique and interesting stories. Most of my favorite games are from 1995 to 2005 – my golden age of games, including Gothic, Morrowind, Dark Earth, Neverhood, Little Big Adventure, Quake, Drakan: Order of the Flame, Blade of Darkness, Rune, Outcast and many, many more. More recently, I’ve enjoyed Dishonored and The Cave.
I like to let loose creatively with a variety of hobbies in my leisure time; creating my own tiny games, composing music, writing novels or scripts, and other kinds of stuff. Of course, I enjoy spending time with my family - my wife and my son.
I come from Samara City Russia. My job on VoidExpanse is developing the client for the game and overall control of the code base. The game client is a piece of software that connects to the game server and actually allows people to play the game, while the server provides the connections and sends information back to the game client. As you can imagine, Dmitry and I work pretty closely together.
When I watch television, I am a fan of the Stargate series, Game of Thrones, and House M.D. For games, my favorites include Fallout, Gothic, The Elder Scolls, Need For Speed, and Operation Flashpoint.
One thing that sets me apart from my coworkers is that I am a fruit maniac! I live to eat fruits and veggies, so if you ever invite me over, make sure that is what’s for dinner.
I was born in beautiful city of Odessa, Ukraine. I am the artist here at AtomicTorch, doing both the 2D graphics and 3D modeling for VoidExpanse.
As an artist, I am inspired by science fiction, fantasy, and historical books and films. Among my favorites are Alien, Terminator 2, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings. My other sources of inspiration are folk metal music, nature, and of course my kids and wife. My favorite games include Dwarf Fortress, Mount and Blade, Planescape: Torment, DayZ and many indie titles.
Sometimes I wear armor and take part in battles, castle assaults and tournaments. I play airsoft and enjoy backpacking in the mountains, and I also enjoy reading about a wide variety of science-related topics, like biology, history, paleontology, astronomy, and so on.
So, that is a little insight into our team at AtomicTorch Studio. Remember, if you are a game developer who wants to work with a great team, you can check our Jobs Page to see what positions we have available. We want to work with the best people. If that is you, please apply to be part of our team.
Will modding tools will be available during alpha?
Yup, modding will be possible from the day one. Actually it is technically possible even now, before the game is released. Just head to our wiki, there is some info on modding already. You won't be able to do much now, but it should come in handy once the game is available.
How buggy the game is and what is your stance on fixing the bugs during alpha?
At the moment it works flawlessly for us, both at work PC's and at home. But we will certainly encounter some bugs when people start playing. Different configurations, different hardware. But it's to be expected. So we will certainly dedicate ourselves to fixing all reported bugs ASAP.
I personally like doing civilian things in space games and I'm interested in asteroid mining. How is VoidExpanse in this regard?
Then you are just like me! :) That's what I like to do in this kind of games too. Rest assured that civilian stuff is going to be a big part of VoidExpanse. Mining for example is already quite complex with how the mining devices work. Additionally we plan a complete overhaul with even more features and complexity once we are done with more pressing things needed for alpha. But we want to keep the game simple and accessibly to anyone, while offering very deep gameplay possibilities for hardcore players.
There won't be any capital ships but what about mining barges and frigates/corvettes? Do ships have a cargo capacity?
There is already a cargo ship that can be used quite effectively for mining, but it only has two utility slots. So, I would say it's not exactly ideal for mining.
But there is also an engineering ship with higher number of utility slots, but small cargo space. So you can mine the ore, then jettison it, and then come back and pick it up with the cargo ship. Be careful though, as someone else may snatch your ore. Or you can mine with your friend. He will be hauling your ore for you! Later we will add more ships specialized for different tasks.
Also here is some information on the cargo ship I mentioned which is called - Freighter. As you can see it has two device slots that can be outfitted with mining modules.
Will there be a dynamic economy? Crafting?
Not in the early access for sure, but these are a few of the planned features. We will most likely add it during the beta phase.
Additionally to crafting we will have upgrade system where each item in the game will be upgradable to make it better in some areas. Basically you will be able to fine tune a particular piece of equipment to better suit your play style.
Will some (possibly larger) ships be able to carry a squad of fighter/mining drones?
We plan to have different drones that you will be able to put in your ship, but it won't be available for early access / alpha and will most likely be added during beta.
Skills that affect mining/trading?
Already there. A whole skill tree specifically for characters specializing in mining. You can mine using civilian miner device, but if you really want to get serious results you can advance down that path and get access to even more miner oriented equipment and abilities. Example of one miner skill is the ability to see contents of the asteroids you are mining which would be really helpful for dedicated miners.
And that is it. Thank you for reading and I hope you will find the game interesting! Stay tuned as we are very close to early access!
And please join our forums where you can discuss this post and VoidExpanse in general!
While we are preparing for early access here is information on another ship that will be available to you in VoidExpanse.
Class: Light frigate.
Armor: Light armor, Light structure.
- Small Energy (left side)
- Firing arc: 120°
- Tracking: 200°/sec
- Small Ballistic (right side)
- Firing arc: 100°
- Tracking: 100°/sec
- Consumables - 1
- Devices - 1
- Boosters - 2
- Increased targeting defense.
- Increased maneuverability.
Description: Fast, light and maneuverable interceptor type hull. Perfect ship for quick attacks and is especially useful against slow, heavy ships. But the best point - it is extremely cheap which makes it ideal as one of the starting choices.
- 2x Small Ballistic (left and right side)
- Firing arc: 90°
- Tracking: 180°/sec
- Consumables - 1
- Devices - 2
- Boosters - 2
- Extended cargo holds
- Shields deflection bonus
- Reduced maneuverability
Description: Very spacious cargo holds is what makes traders and miners use this ship more than anything else. It could fit as much cargo as several other ships of similar class put together. Generally a very good choice as one of the starting vessels for miners and traders.
With the closed alpha test going on we are closer than ever to a solid alpha version of the game. It is holidays now and I too spent a good ten hours playing the game myself. It is pretty fun to play already but there is a lot more we need to add. Anyway, here is a short report on how the game is now.
Combat feels very solid and is actually a lot of fun. We plan to add a lot more different weapon systems and especially active devices (such as EMP generators or such). This will make combat even more different each time you engage in combat with someone. Our goal here is to make each and every encounter with enemy feel and play different.
Skill system and skill trees
We are super happy how skill system in general turned out. It is extremely rewarding advancing your character down the skill trees and getting more and more stuff available to you.
While still a placeholder it is fully functional now. The way asteroid mining works now is you extracting minerals from the asteroids directly by using different mining equipment. You can make a decent money and get some extra EXP for your character by mining. Later during development we will completely overhaul this system though. We plan on adding many other interesting steps to this process such as refining of ore and such.
Aliens. You can now actually rid the galaxy of them. It is possible to visit their systems and work your way through their territory and slowly liberate all systems controlled by them. I will not go into more details here but it's pretty fun fighting them. Here is a little screenshot though.
Networking and performance
Networking is really good now. The game runs perfect even with 200-300 ping. We spent a good deal of time polishing the protocol and switched from TCP-IP to UDP.
Performance is decent, but there is a looooong way ahead for improvement. I will not stop until the game runs at 60 fps at my old laptop at home :)
The game is progressing very nicely. We are super happy how everything develops! And I hope you can soon enjoy the game too!
Almost two weeks passed, huh? Anyway, we have a new category for the blog. From this post onwards we will occasionally post a review of the ships in VoidExpanse. We will start with the first ship that you will see in game - Shuttle.
Class: Light frigate.
Armor: No armor, Light structure.
- Small Energy
- Firing arc: 120°
- Tracking: 180°/sec
- Consumables - 1
- Devices - 1
- Boosters - 0
Description: It's design is one of standard civilian ships. As a result it is only outfitted with basic energy hardpoint and not a lot of other systems. Being a starting ship it is practically free and extremely easy to maintain, but it would be a good idea to replace it with something more serious as soon as you have enough money.
In preparation for our first closed alpha test (which you can be part of!) we are finishing with the sound system in the game. But who would have thought that it would be one of the most difficult things to do? The problem is the dynamic sounds for equipment. We made really powerful system to create weapons and other equipment for ships, but with it we made ourselves a major headache to sync all the sounds to actions performed by these items, since everything is dynamic and cannot be hard-coded as normally done in games. But oh, well. I am sure we will figure out how to best solve this problem in the end!
For now here is another screenshot of the game.
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!
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.
- 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.
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!
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.
- 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!
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!