Another feature implemented this week was mining. It is now possible to equip mining gears and go extract some useful minerals from the asteroids. Although the visual effects for this are not quite ready, so no screenshots :)
We have also added completely new ship called “Boomerang”. It has quite unique shape.
Aside from that, there are a lot of other changes:
- We have finally started work on the active devices. These could be either combat devices such as some EM field generators or shield boosters or these could be something like mining laser.
- New particle effect for “space dust”. Now it really conveys the movement and makes it much easier to navigate in space.
- System map. It displays all the objects withing a current star system.
- New backgrounds for space, it doesn’t look that good yet, but at least we are on a right track :)
- And finally we started work on a new website. This will be a completely custom engine ensuring complete feature set we will need for this game and all possible future projects.
This week signifies our first build of the game! This is for internal use, but never the less it is a fully working game now (without much to do yet, though). Anyway, this week our main feature is the character generation screen. Just look a the screenshots. I think it looks amazing! Kudos to our artist and programmers. One thing to clarify though is that the GUI is obviously temporary and will be replaced before release. Aside from that there are not that many other features implemented this week as we were mostly trying to fix all the bugs there were so far and make it into a fully working application.
As usual, here is list of other things this week:
- We have ported SMAA to Unity which will be one of the possible effects for the game.
- We have implemented multithreading for dynamic resources loading. This way load times will be almost instantaneous and all other resources will load upon first usage.
- NPC can now dock to space stations.
- We have added strafe movement to our ships and also rewrote how ship control works. It is much nicer now.
Second big feature is that the dialogues are more or less working now. We even created a small quest! The quest is given by Darth Williams – “The base is under attack, go and kill these pirates” :)
Next, improved AI for NPC ships. They can now avoid collisions with objects and generally behave in much smarter way. The AI scripts are also working about 100 times faster now since we have offloaded most of the logic to the main engine. As a result even around 100 active NPC ships flying and fighting only take about couple milliseconds per frame to execute. What that means – expect HUGE space battles and custom servers with a lot of players online.
Other notable changes:
- Added cursors graphics, such as mining, picking up loot, etc.
- Changed physics engine, now we use Farseer with some slight modifications to make in platform independent.
- Extended debugging statistics. It is not important for players, but it certainly helps us!
- Shield / structure bars and names for NPC ships.
- New asteroids models and textures. There will be several types of asteroids for all your mining needs.
- The sun!
- The server build for Debian. That is about confirms cross platform compatibility!
So, to summarize the full list of important changes this week:
- Model for our first space station is done. We had to use ship model to represent a space station before. It is much better now :)
- Some new graphics such as proper laser beams and cargo crates.
- New interface for weapon groups. We decided to put that into the bottom-right corner of the screen.
- Server logic for quests system and NPC dialogs.
- Leveling of the game character.
- Factions and relations between characters. NPC disposition system.
It is achieved by providing a transparent API to anyone interested in creating the content. As a result any player can create a mod for the game that would add new dialogs and quests. It would be as simple as just adding a new file for each of them.
We will have a more detailed post about our questing system in one of the following weeks. Stay tuned!
Also new this week:
- Changed the scripting engine completely. It provided a 100x boost in performance. That’s what I call optimization!
- Now all the stats of all in-game items actually take into account data in XML files. This means we can now start adding content to the game. Though, we will wait a bit before we do this as we want to finish all other essential game mechanics first.
- Started work on the new GUI.
So, here is a list of additions this time:
- Moved planets from a prototype build to the actual game.
- Added new ship model into the game.
- Added very nice space backgrounds and stars with parallax effect. Everything is procedurally generated of course.
- Started working on a procedural star generation and animation.
- Did some work on the HUD. Now it actually displays current information and updates in real time.
- Added radar to the HUD.
- Implemented weapon grouping. Each ship can equip several weapons (usually between 2 and 5) and you can bind each of these weapons to one of the weapons groups. By default you can fire each group with left, middle and right mouse buttons making it really easy and convenient to use different weapons configurations in the game. This will make space combat much more diverse than just firing a single weapon all the time.
- Did some work on the inventory. For example now it is possible to combine and divide stacks of items.
- Added slight tilt to the camera, as a result all objects in space now look much better and feel more “3D”.
This week everything changed completely. Now we don’t have to draw graphics in Paint anymore – a new artist finally joined us here :).
As his first task he prepared a new ship for us. It still needs some more work, but I thought I would show it.
Another big feature we are implementing is the inventory system. So far we are extremely satisfied with underlying mechanics on how it works, but there is still a lot of work to be done before we can call it finished.
And finally we started working on the planets for the game. They will be semi-procedural, with some aspects being randomly generated, and the others prepared by our artist. The generation procedure will be specified in a special file. And yes, it is moddable.
Some other small feature is that we added space dust or solar wind or however you can call it. When you move your ship, you can perceive motion thanks to moving background and small particles in the world.
Quite a lot has been done this week, but we were mostly fighting to make GUI work properly in Unity, but thanks to the might of our programmers it works now (more or less anyway). But at this point the work is mostly "under the hood" and there is not much to show yet.
Aside from that here is a short list of new things so far:
- We have implemented a galaxy map used in the game for navigation.
- We have also added Jump Gates that you can use to travel between stars. This would be your main means of transport for getting anywhere in the galaxy.
- Another thing that we did is that galaxy background is now procedurally generated and looks quite cool. It will most likely need some more tweaking, but still so far we are quite satisfied with the results.
News so far are quite interesting. First we have finally gotten ourselves an artist / 3d modeller. He will be joining us in the office in a couple of weeks, or maybe sooner. Also we will probably introduce the entire team in one of these weeks.
Another thing that happened is that we are now negotiating with several PR agencies to decide which one we are going to work with. Initially we wanted to do all this ourselves, but realistically looking at it we decided to ask for help from professionals. This is our first project and we want to be sure we don’t ruin our chances of success due to poor PR and Marketing.
And now on to things we have been working on this week for VoidExpanse:
- We have started using NoesisGUI for our GUI needs. It is still quite an early build for Unity, but it is the only thing that can satisfy our needs and is platform independent.
- We have implemented rotary mounted weapons on the ships. Now it follows your cursor and you can shoot the weapons in an ark. We also introduced tracking speed and ark restriction for this to make it realistic.
- We have implemented some basic AI. Now it tries to kill you and in many cases quite effectively I should say. It can also follow rally points, avoid asteroids and can do some other fancy tricks too. And all of this is of course using our scripting interface, meaning anyone can implement their own IA behavior scripts in mods.
- We have added some basic support for our planned RPG system. So far there are only couple of skills with some basic effects. We plan to expand this system later.
- We have created a special physics editor to define physics behavior of our ships. We could have done it by hands, but it just makes it much more easier to create interesting and believable physics models for our ships, asteroids and all other objects in space that going to have a physics model.
- There were of course more things, but the rest is not as interesting and is mostly just a backbone stuff.
If you have any feedback you can hit us at firstname.lastname@example.org
VoidExpanse is our first project – a space themed open world top down action RPG. Quite a mouthful but there is no other way to describe it! :)
The player takes the role of a spaceship pilot, and may explore vast expanses of space, engage in space combat and military missions, trade with NPC and space stations, mine asteroids, undertake various types of quests and generally do whatever he wants as the game is completely open ended. It doesn’t mean, though, that there is no story, on the contrary, we believe that without a great story all this openness wouldn’t be worth anything as there will be nothing driving you to devote yourself to explore the game world.
Now, there are three things distinguishing this game from all the rest, especially in this genre.
First, VoidExpanse is being built on top of our custom scripting interface allowing us and any player to extend the game indefinitely with any new features and content or completely redefine how some systems work within the game. That also enables you to even create a completely new game with this engine. Making mods for this game will be a blast.
Second thing is the fact that we are building this game multiplayer enabled from the day one. In fact even single player is played with the server being silently run behind the scenes on your PC. This great multiplayer ability enables everyone to create their custom servers with any custom mods installed. What we want is to enable anyone to have basically his own small “MMORPG” with a community of followers. But just be clear, it is not a MMO title, it is a single player game but which you can also play in multiplayer. Much like Minecraft.
And lastly, but most importantly the team! We are all avid fans of games and especially of space and Sci-Fi genre! That means we hold it dear to us and will make every effort to make this game into something we would love to play ourselves!
Oh, and since we are using Unity as our engine the game will be available not only on Windows, but also eventually on Linux and OSX.
We will talk here about our projects and in particular about our game – VoidExpanse. There will be more information in the upcoming weeks, and I will try to make these new posts more or less regular, although since the game is still in very early stages, there might not be much to talk about yet. But it should change soon as we are working very hard to turn our ideas into reality. So far everything is going great, and even more so, soon more people will join us to work on this project!
Anyway, that’s enough for now. Stay tuned! :)