In July we continued our push to the quickly approaching alpha!
July in detail
Last month we tied up all of our systems into a cohesive whole as well as integrated our software tests.
Over the last year we’ve tried out out many different political systems and put them aside for one reason or another – they were too boring/felt like pushing paper, were way too complex to understand, didn’t add value to the game, or took the game in the wrong direction. Well, we’ve finally hit on a political system that we feel makes for good gameplay, is approachable and understandable, and fits well with the other parts of the game!
Briefly here’s how it works: there are five human factions in the game, and you start the game friends with some, neutral with others, and an enemy of at least one. Everything you do in the game (or fail to do) can influence your relationship with a faction. If you send a boarding party to forcibly take over a ship you can expect that faction to get upset about it. If you lose one of the ships in your fleet, that faction is going to be even more upset.
You can always persuade refugee ships to join your fleet — no matter how bad the relationship is, they have no other choice. And every time you put a refugee ship under your fleet’s protection, you improve the relationship with a faction. If your relationship is good enough, you can convince more powerful ships to join your fleet too — like warships.
Once in a while those refugee ships give you special powers, like the ability to bluff your way out of a fight, or jury rig a disabled ship.
Each faction has a relationship to every other faction as well, which allows for conflict within your fleet. You may also encounter fleets already in conflict when you arrive, and your actions will affect multiple relationships at once.
Scouting now requires you to risk one of the ships in your fleet; there is a chance that a ship may never return from its scouting mission. In return for the risk, you’ll know what kinds of ships there are (and which factions they belong to), and whether there is a station present at a given destination.
Last month Dominic implemented the final version of the camera and camera controls, created a new version of event dependency injection, worked with Brian D. on end game effects, and worked with Brian J. on player experience measurements. The improvements have already fixed all previously found bugs with restarting, level cleanup, weapons, and audio services to name a few.
Brian D. modeled weapon pods, experimented with several secret boss fight scenes, tested multi-level intensities for a new edge detection shader (with Dominic), did UI material testing and participated in design discussions.
Brian J worked up the final list of sound effects for SkewSound to implement, added your backer eponyms to the game (more on that at the end), decided on the measurements we will be taking on player experience in alpha to make sure the game is balanced the way we want, set our ticketing support system up in preparation for the alpha, and configured a new bug reporting server to receive bug reports directly from the game. But most of the month went to UI; he interviewed a bunch of super talented UI/UX people and chose the extraordinarily talented Jenny Graf. Jenny got to work right away and feast your eyes upon these glorious bits of in-progress UI for the game:
Alex worked the first half of July finishing up unit tests so systems will be less likely to
surprise us with bugs and quirks later in development. Recently she’s picked up some tasks that require more time and research to figure out how to implement them in the game, such as Steam Achievements and a bug logging system for alpha. Every day is spent chipping away at the to-do list so we can get the game ready and she can’t wait for the backers to see and experience the game we have so far.
Some of you haven’t filled out your kickstarter survey, please do so now. We want to make sure your name is in the credits, and the names you chose for ships/characters/planets too! Just a reminder, we are being very strict about not using anything under copyright.
(Note from Brian J): As a gift to look forward to, I didn’t let myself read any of your backer eponyms until just a couple of days ago… and wow! What a great bunch of planets, starships and character names you all came up with! I had a really fun time going through them all and sorting them into their respective slots in the game.
We are very close to announcing an alpha date! Thanks to all of you for your patience, trust, and all the kind words and encouragement you have shown us. We are so excited to put XO into your hands!