So yeah, everything works except combat. I still can't figure it out. For some reason it is just horribly, terribly broken, except that it still "works". But it's as if the numbers suddenly decided it would be fun to randomly go to the wrong place. I can find no sane explanation. So, in short, everything went better than expected until it went worse than expected.
That's all I've got this week.
* Vista support! This was, in reality, my fault all along; Vista's stricter socket rules exposed the error of my ways.
* Sludge accumulated on the player ship now deteriorates over time. The rate of deterioration is inversely related to the ship's hull volume.
* Assault durations are significantly shorter and more uniform (~50-90 seconds).
* You can now pan the sector map camera by holding right click and "pushing" in a direction.
* Panels highlighted for a tutorial panels now blink briefly to make them more apparent.
* Fixed a bug that allowed notched sliders to be set to intermediary values.
* Light audio clean-up work
* A few bits of additional combat art
* Much dreaded porting to Verge 3.2
Really everything is going swimmingly. Beta player feedback is increasingly positive and I'm steadily progressing toward the finish line.
The strobe is now a significantly tougher customer. When it flashes, the player's directional controls are temporarily scrambled, making even basic evasion difficult.
And a couple ugly (but simple) bugfixes:
* Fixed a bug that allowed players to attack multiple planets simultaneously.
* Fixed a bug that could cause parts of the player hull to be drawn over the near-death flash.
I know I said I'd give some chatter about these changes, but I want to wait until I've actually pushed the next release out. I've still got a few more bits to tackle this week and then we'll be there. Stay tuned!
Shield / Damage Revision:
* All collisions lower the shield's level by (at least, see below) 1.
* Damage from a single source exceeding the shield's Threshold causes shields to fail immediately.
* After total failure, shields are restored after twice the normal restoration time.
* Value ranges for shields have been rebalanced with the new damage system in mind.
* Enemy damage outputs have been adjusted to better fit the new damage scale.
* Client can now remember password between sessions.
* Ship's now fire over their slime layer where appropriate.
* The mass penalty for raising hull capacity now scales with the hull's mass.
* Hull volume and mass values have been adjusted significantly.
Slated for next week:
* Soup up the weapon system. How? I'll never tell!
* Shorten the amount of time that a battle can take.
* Give the Strobes a much needed shot in the arm.
I'll likely take some time to actually discuss all of these changes in next week's post. After that it will be time to move to a Vista-friendly engine release. I'm not looking forward to it, but it needs doing.
Normally I review my SVN logs and turn that into a paragraph or two to give a more specific recounting of the week's work. This week's circumstances to not afford me this luxury. So, you get what I remember instead.
The sliders now have an arbitrary granulation, which allows their value range to be broken into sane increments. Honestly, you will never know the difference between 67 and 68 damage in any meaningful way. This results in a smoother, simpler player experience that still affords the same overall variety.
Previously, all of the administration behavior was through a debug build of the client. It has been reconfigured such that administration is now linked to individual individual user accounts and not the particular build. This allows me (or theoretical other admin) anywhere, provided I have an internet connection. Nifty!
Though you might not expect it, the single most time consuming task this week was making the blueprints save / load buttons highlight when moused over. I had a really hard time coming up with logic for this within the UI system that wasn't horribly ugly, but hashed it out eventually. After that it was a matter of getting the actual "glow" to look compelling, but generic enough that it could be used with other images (as it was implemented as a state of a UI image). AdditiveBlit saved the day; the actual effect is two AdditiveBlits at 50% lucent on top of the normal blit sprite. Now you know my trade secrets!
That should be enough rambling for now. Tune in next week for Wild and Crazy Damage Redesign.
* Fixed a number of small, weird, inter-related bugs affecting the sliders.
* Updated the credits to be more complete and better organized.
* Added a slight color pulse to the Streamer's pre-blast trail.
I also decided on a proper name, which took several days of passive thought to get something that worked for me. Thus, "Oxidus" was born. Then it was time to replace the old placeholder logo. It's funny how, awful as it was, anything else just looked wrong in its place after all this time. Kael once pointed out to me that my Cuddles logo looks like script-fu (it's not); I have since vowed to never let this happen again. Never again! So I poured a shamefully huge amount of time into working and reworking the logo to create something interesting. It's fairly obtuse despite the angles; have a gander at the result:
This is probably the single most "artistic" facet of the game now. It's the first real visual feedback in the game, so every player that runs the game will see it; what great exposure! I really enjoyed attacking something in such a freeform manner and the resulting cryptic future-speak fills me with an unusual sense of pride.
I've started rounding up the usual suspects for some hot, closed-beta action. There are still some unfinished bits in the game and undoubtedly more will surface as people dig in. An open-beta period will follow in a few weeks, depending on how things go with this round. It's been a long road, but the end is finally in sight and I couldn't be more excited.
This week's work is a bunch of miscellany, including charting out a second galaxy sector to add to spacegame. I've also done some preliminary redesign work for the Gruedorf page. It was really only meant as a temporary solution. The idea was that if Gruedorf actually caught enough steam it would be made proper then. In spite of that fact that the majority of the participants are failing miserably (SHAME ON YOU!) I think it's time that it gets a much needed repair job. This will be my first priority after getting the spacegame beta running.
Next Monday closed beta will commence, with an open beta shortly after. All non-Vista Windows users are encouraged to participate. (Vista users will have to wait until I've had a chance to port to a more stable build of VERGE.)
The new galaxy is about what I want it to be, but all of the numbers are still very rough. At this point, there really isn't much for me to do without some player feedback. We're still waiting on a couple small pieces of art, but I was figuring on a release this week anyhow. Unfortunately I've since become indisposed and stuck out of town, so I don't really have the capability to do so. Believe me when I say that I am at least as disappointed as you.
* A handful of sprites need to be made. This is all Hyptosis' burden; I blame him entirely for not being able to release this week! Except that..
* I really need to take the time to sit down and plot out a better galaxy. The current one is just our own solar system with a couple extra planets hacked on and was really only meant as a placeholder.
So I guess it's still on me after all. This week I'll be designing a new and improved galaxy from the ground up. It should be ready to go by next week's update and because it'll be easy to adjust even after it's live, I really have no excuse for not opening testing by then.
* 100% Gossamer -- All done!
* 000% Bullet Art -- Still waiting; this is pretty low priority.
* 100% SFX Scripting -- All the behavior is in and working. Hooray!
* 066% SFX Selection / Mixing -- Clocked a good 20 hours this week just fussing with different sounds. I'm always amazed how much work this takes for me to be happy with it.
A couple of other loose ends have cropped up (don't they always) since last post, but nothing major. Everything should be wrapped up and beta caliber by next week's post.
* [050%] Gossamer - Redesign done; currently using middle-ground placeholder art. Waiting on final art.
* [000%] Bullet Art - Not done; waiting on art.
* [050%] Sound Effects - About 2/3 of the scripting is done and roughly 1/3 have adequate sounds. The hard stuff is done, so the rest should fall into place quickly.
* [100%] Combat Completion - Not on the task list, but I went ahead and smoothed out the way this works. It was the really rough edge in an otherwise smooth user experience.
Expect testing soon; I will solicit players for it next week (or sooner, if you're the proactive type).
Gossamer Redesign -- I personally really like this ship, but at the end of the day I have to accept that it's a concept, not a production model. Too many players are confused and frustrated by its lack of a weapon (and rightly so). A tentative solution is already in the pipeline (aka Hyptosis) for this. It will be replaced with a new design that maintains the spirit of the original, but includes lousy (but present) cannon on-board.
Bullet Art -- The bullet art for the turret and player need to be replaced with sprites that don't scream "placeholder". This is no big deal, but it needs to be done.
Sound Effects -- Up until now the entire game has been running silent. This is pretty standard for me; I know that audio feedback really cements an experience, but I like to have lots of visual indication too and find that having no sound helps me pinpoint things that need a flash or a flicker. Since this next beta round will be somewhat more public and the game is feeling fairly complete, I think it's time to get a sound-scape going. I will probably not be adding in music at this time, unless I stumble onto something that just clicks. If anyone is interested in making some fresh space-tunes for this project don't hesitate to contact me!
Once all of these are knocked out, I'll invite everyone to participate in the testing. I expect this to be in 1 to 2 weeks, mostly depending on Hyptosis' availability (no pressure!).