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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Preview of Diplomacy Screen

There's still a lot of work to be done, but I thought I'd update you all on my progress with the diplomacy screen. The interface placements are not final, I'm still tweaking and seeing what looks good. The relationship bar is fully working, it shows your current relationship with that empire, along with a label for it.

The plan is to have each item in the list on left be a button, and when you click on one item, it brings up that empire and list of actions you can do with them on right. When you've selected an action, it saves your selection, and is sent to them the next turn.

If you've received a message, you can open it and choose to accept or not the message (trade, etc).

I'm thinking of adding icons to represent different statuses, such as War, Allied, Non-Aggression, Trade, etc somewhere on each contact. The diplomacy framework is done, just need to set up the interface in a clean and clear way.

Here's the preview of the diplomacy screen. It is subject to change, but thought you'd like to see what I have so far:

Yes, that is the human art that my artist provided. My "Zero People" race art totally stinks compared to human art!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Planet bonuses and new stuff

I've implemented planetary bonuses that affects different fields. The artist completed a new batch of artwork, so I was able to finish the final layout for some areas. The planet list/information screen as shown in screenshot is in their final positions. The population information doesn't feel right, but for now, it'll do. I really like the visual display of planets in the list, makes it feel more alive.

I also was able to fix the star's shading so it's more white in middle. Per a user's request, I've zoomed out for the screenshot.

Here's the screenshot!

Diplomacy screen still need to be finished, as well as relationship updates, then the new screen (notice the new button in taskbar?) for viewing your list of designs and scrapping/obsoleting them. After that, the remaining tasks are the AI, saving/loading, and space combat.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Good news and bad news

Let's start with the bad news. I researched what would be required to get the game to support multiplayer, and realized something. In order to have network multiplayer, I'd have to restructure the whole game to work with it. Since I've never experienced programming with networking, I can't accurately estimate the time required for such a task. So the plan is, the game will remain single-player and hot-seat multiplayer. After it is released, if there is sufficient interest in network multiplayer, I may work on that. It depends on how much effort it will require, and players' interest.

However, the save/load will save all changes in your current turn, so you could have a hot-seat multiplayer game, save at end of your turn, then email the save game to the other player. It will be basically PBEM (Play by Email). I will see if I can support that a bit better (forcing you to quit after your turn, password to enable start of your turn, or something)

Now, for the good news! I researched into AI programming, and realized that I can do something that programmers will love. I can have AI scripts in either C# or Visual Basic, and my game will compile them, then run them as third-party DLL. So the game's default AI will run from a script, and you can see the structure required to create your own AI. So if you think the game's AI is weak, you can create your own AI! The game will pass in critical data to the functions in the script, then expect certain data in return. What happens in the middle is up to you.

I plan on implementing ability to watch a game if there's only AI players and no human, so you could set up a deathmatch between different AIs and see which one is the best :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More work on user interface

Sorry, no screenshots today, but I thought I'd let you all know what I'm up to.

I'm working on making the game more accessible to users. What that means is that instead of a planet generating "23.3 points of agriculture", it now says "Starving (-1.3 Pop", "Feasting (2.1 Pop)" or "Content". So users can gauge if their people are starving or not, instead of trying to guess the growth factor.

I've also reworked the growth formula, and now it won't immediately kill off all people if you set agriculture to 0, but it stills need a bit more tweaking. Right now it is a bit too extreme in growth factor (+12.5 pop in one turn!). The formula itself is final, but need to tweak some variables in it.

Another thing that I'm working on is replacing the "Waste" with "Environment". Environment includes cleaning up the waste generated by other fields still, but now also includes terraforming. So if you invest a lot into Environment, you can improve your planet's terrain type. Not just that, having surplus points in Environment increases your planet's max population. When your max population reaches a threshold, the planet's terrain changes. Also, if you pollute the planet too much, it will change to a worse climate. Polluting reduces the max population.

Each planet will have one of two "types" of climate path that it will go through in terraforming. Every planet's worst climate is "Radiated", I will show both paths here:
The "Dry" climate
Radiated -> Toxic -> Volcanic -> Barren -> Badlands -> Desert -> Steppe -> Terran


The "Wet" climate
Radiated -> Toxic -> Arctic -> Dead -> Tundra -> Ocean -> Jungle -> Terran

If you pollute, the path is followed in reverse. The "Wet" climate planets are more likely to have agriculture special bonuses (Fertile that does 2X agriculture for example), while the "Dry" are more likely to have construction bonuses. There may be negative special "bonuses" such as "Poor" or "Infertile" that adds extra penalties. Special bonuses for planets are permanent and don't change with climate changes.

They are:
"Ultra Poor", "Poor", "Rich", "Ultra Rich" - Affects Construction
"Desolate", "Infertile", "Fertile", "Lush" - Affects Agriculture and Environment
"Insipid", "Dull", "Sensational", "Exciting" - Affects Commerce and Research

The bonuses are -50%, -25%, 0% (normal), 25%, and 50% of normal output. They will be represented by icons next to the planet's name. A planet may have more than one special bonus, for example, a planet may be Ultra Poor and Fertile.

When those are done, I will post screenshots of those in action, along with the new information display.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

System sharing and art update

Finally I can show you what've been going on in background! I've overhauled the migration system so now it requires you to park at least one ship next to a system for at least two turns before your people will migrate there. The empire influence will need to be reworked, but it's not important right now. The influence map will be used for "radar" and ai processing, and showing your terrority, but that's it.

Systems now can have different planets that's owned by different empires. I've reworked the star name drawing so it will draw different empire colors if the system is occupied by more than one empire.

The first batch of artwork is complete for interface. They are for modular items that can stand by themselves and don't rely on other items, so not everything is replaced yet. The stars are nice, but I miss the white in center, so I will work on that and see if we can work out something. But one thing is for sure, they sure make my placeholder art look really bad :)

Here's the screenshot of a multiple-occupied star system (Sceticrap), and single occupied star (Flous). Note the new fleet icon art, selection art, and other stuff.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Diplomacy and other stuff

No, the diplomacy screen isn't done. But I thought I'd update you guys on its progress, as well as other stuff that I'm working on.

The artist and I agreed that in order to successfully market this game, we'll need screenshots with final artwork and final layout, so as soon as he finishes the first race (Humans), we will start work on replacing the interface artwork. I will post a screenshot of each screen as they are completed, so expect to see professional-quality artwork soon!

The diplomacy screen is halfway done (implementation-wise, not artwork), and most of the framework for it is done as well. There will be various kinds of agreements:
Research (get bonus research points)
Trade (get bonus money)

And there are options to break (or make peace) any of the above agreements. There also two extra options: "Reconcile With" and "Increase Aggression with", where you can demand the other empire to either improve or hurt their relations with a specified empire. If their relations improved enough, they may get allied at your urging. Same as war if you urge it. But if their relationship is stronger than yours is, they may take offend at your urging and declare war on you instead.

If you fight an empire's fleet or system that you're not at war with, it will hurt your relationship.

Now, here's the details on the "other stuff". The artist has specified three certain shades of red that I can use to swap for the empire's color. So if your empire's color is blue, it will swap the red pixels to blue pixels, for example. I had to learn how to use a pixel shader in order to swap the color, but it's now working. Here's a screenshot, and a preview of one of his ship art (it's the smallest ship, 32x32):

Also, see that empire influence in the screenshot above? It will be gone soon. The reason is that I ran several games, and I've discovered that the stars are pretty spread far apart, and some systems start with only one planet, so your influence will not cover the other star systems in order to have your people migrate. So people that start with more than one planet in their system have an huge advantage over those that only have one planet. As a result, I will be overhauling the migration system so that instead of using empire influence (it will be there in background for AI processing however), it will check to see if your ships are adjacent to a system for more than one turn. If so, your people can migrate to that system. So I will be tweaking the code to allow for more than one empire in a star system at the same time. I will also tweak the color display of the name so it will show the different empires. For example, if a blue empire owns 3 out of 4 planets, and a red empire owns the last planet, it will show the name as 3/4 blue and 1/4 red.

If your empire is in a non-aggression or alliance treaty, you can have ships that's next to their star system without attacking them, and your people will be able to migrate there. Otherwise you'll attack automatically.

Next post should have screenshots of this in action, as well as diplomacy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A lot going on in background

It've been a bit quiet for a while. A lot of things are going on with my game. I've implemented most of the diplomacy framework, but no screen yet for it. Next post should show the diplomacy screen. However, that's not the biggest news. The big news is that I've employed an excellent pixel artist, and he's almost done with the first race's art. The art is looking very good, and is similar to Master of Orion 1/2 art style.

After he's done with a couple of races, we will work on replacing the artwork in Beyond Beyaan. When each screen is done, I will post here showing the new and final screen that you will expect to see in the release version.

When the diplomacy screen is done, the only remaining core features are the space combat and saving/loading games, then the game is done. After that, I will work on adding AI to the game. I will add in race customization later on, when I work on network multiplayer.

If all goes well, hopefully this game will be done in a few months, but no definitive release date yet.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Research Screen Done!

I had some extra free time today, so I decided to go ahead and finish up the research screen. Screenshot is shown below. You now can select a technology from the list of available technologies on the right. The list on right shows how much progress has been made on that technology in case you've started a project, but decided to change to another one.

The lock is enabled for some fields, so you can see what it looks like. In case you haven't noticed from my previous post this morning, you can see stars in the background. I felt that the blank black background needed something, so I added in galaxy drawing to fill in the space.

So, in sum, the research functionality and research screen are done, barring any bugs. Be sure to read the previous post, there's some important things I'd like your feedback on there!

This is what the research screen looks like for now:

Preview of Research Screen

Here's what the research screen looks like right now. Each tech name is a button, clicking on the tech name will change the list on right (not yet implemented) that lists all available technologies to research for that field.

For example, if I click on "Rail Gun", it would bring up a list of particle weapons that I can research on right, and clicking on one of those will change the current particle weapon I'm researching to that selected weapon. All progress that you've made on a technology will be saved, so when you decide to come back to that technology, you can pick up where you left off.

The progress bar on right of tech names shows how much has been researched, how much will be researched this turn, and amount remaining. The white color represent amount researched, green represents this turn's research amount, and blue is the remaining amount.

You can lock a field from any changes, which isn't shown, by clicking on the padlock on right of the slider.

The research code is done, just need to finish the research screen, and fix the bugged sitrep so it'd correctly report events, then I will move on to diplomacy screen.

I saw this game in development, Xenonauts, which is kinda a x-com ufo defense remake. They're offering pre-orders so they can get funding for the artwork and sound. I'm seriously considering that approach. I would need to set up an official website for the game, and set up forums where you can discuss the game, and set up paypal so people can pre-order this game. The money will go to obtaining professional artwork and sounds, the website, and tools to help me develop this game. One such tool is Resharper, which will help me clean up and fix bugs easier. So I'm gauging your interests, would you pre-order this game in its current state? All pre-orders would be non-refundable however, due to me paying the artists for their work.

Those who've pre-ordered the game will have access to beta versions, so they can participate in testing of the game.