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!
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!
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!
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 :)