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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Progress Report and Preview

This past week I've been working on the design and ship placement for the combat screen. I've finally finalized all the details for it, just need to implement them.

Here's the details. If you've played X-Com Ufo Defense, you will be familiar with this approach. On your turn, you can select any ship, in any order, then you can select a weapon to fire (it would default to first weapon). Once that weapon is fired, that weapon's "turn" is over. You can fire other weapons on that ship, or change to another ship and fire with its weapons.

There will be four buttons for selecting ships (you can also left-click on one of your ships to select it). They will be "Next Ship", "Prev Ship", "Done, Next Ship", and "Done, Prev Ship". "Done" means that this ship is done for this turn, so when you click on next ship, that ship won't be selected. You can select it by left-clicking the ship on screen, if you hit the done by accident.

There are also two other buttons: Retreat and Auto-Resolve. Retreat will tell your current ship to flee, and auto-resolve will let AI take over the battle if you don't want to handle it.

Finally, when you're done with your turn, you press "End Turn", then the next empire in list will have their turn, and so forth until it's your turn again.

I realized that if I include all the planets in a star system in one combat, it's not fair for the defenders (which it is IRL, if you've read Ender's Shadow, you'll understand why), as well as complicate the ship placement code. So I've modified my design idea to allow the attackers to pick a planet to attack, then the defenders will defend that planet. If two fleets encounter each other in empty space, then there won't be any planets. However, there's some random chance for asteroids to be present in the battle field.

There are five weapon types in Beyond Beyaan. They are: Beam, Projectile, Missile, Torpedo, and Bomb.

Beam have infinite ammo, can fire every turn, and is generally more accurate than Particle weapons. They will have similar weapon effect as MoO 1, as shown in my test code that I've posted previously:

Projectiles have finite ammo, but is generally more powerful than beam weapons. They're good for up and close combat. They can fire every turn.

Missiles have finite ammo, have "smart" pathfinding that will avoid obstacles in its path to its target, and are the most powerful weapon genre for ship to ship combat. They can be destroyed by other weapons.

Torpedoes have infinite ammo, can fire every other turn, and is generally weaker than missiles. They also have "dumb" pathfinding that moves directly to their targets, regardless if obstacles are in its way. It can hit other obstacles, such as asteroids or other ships (even your own ships if you're not careful!)

Now, before I talk about bombs, one thing that bothered me in MoO 1 and 2 is how fast the bombs get obsolete compared to other weapons. You can use torpedoes or missiles to destroy bases and population, without using bombs. While this may be theoretically realistic, it removes bombs as a weapon to be desired on your ships. So in order to effectively bomb planets, you need bombs, not other weapons. All weapons that are not bombs will have its damage divided by 100. For each 100 damage on planet, you kill a population unit. So in order to kill 1 population unit with a non-bomb weapon, it'd have to do 10,000 damage (10,000 / 100 = 100 damage that reaches the planet, and 100 = 1 population unit). If you do less than 100 damage, you still inflict damage (if you do 50 damage, you kill off 0.5 population unit).

Now, when you use a bomb, its damage isn't divided when it's used against planets. So bombs can kill a lot of people (if you have 10 bomb mounts with 20 damage each, you kill 2 population per volley per ship) for example. But when bombs hit other ships, its damage is reduced. So it's not good for ship to ship combat.

Now the description of bombs: They have limited ammo, can fire every turn, and can be fired from anywhere to anywhere (you can try and bomb other ships as a last resort). However, they travel slow compared to torpedoes and missiles, and if they miss their target, they will keep on going. They don't have any propulsion to steer them. They can be destroyed by weapons, or blocked by sacrifical ships. On the other hand, they're more armored than missiles, so it's harder to destroy them.

There are two parts to a bomb, the "Population" damage, and the "Ecology" damage. For example, a biological bomb targeted toward their population will be high in "Population" damage, but low in "Ecology" damage. On the other hand, a nuclear bomb deals half to population, and half to ecology. There are some bombs that's focused on destroying the ecology. You can turn a planet into a toxic or radiated during the course of space combat.

The combat ends when the only fleets (including the planet) left are those that's either allied or non-aggression towards everyone else. For example, four fleets meet for combat. One is allied with two others. The last empire have non-aggression pacts with two empires. The other two are non-aggression toward each other. This is a tough situation because only two empires can directly fire on each other, the other two will have to either pick sides, or retreat. When one of the two empires are defeated, the battle ends. If the two bystanders decides to pick sides, it will damage the relation with the empire they attacked, and improves the relation of the empire they supported.

If you're attacking a planet, its population must reach 0 before the battle is done, or if you retreat. However, if you've destroyed all the defending ships, it will ask you if you want to completely bomb the planet, or retreat. So you don't have to do the tedious task of bombing it each turn. If you think you can't fight off the defending fleet, you can send bombers on a suicidal mission to destroy as much as possible before they die.

TL;DR - Space combat will be awesome!

I've finished the ship placement algorithm for now. It looks to be working correctly, so I'll start work on other areas. I've added a display for which empire's turn it is (it also lists all empires involved). I'm now working on selecting ships as described earlier. When that's done, as well as the end turn, I will then start work on actually firing weapons, and damage handling/display. If all goes well, I might have the combat working within a month!

Also, I've got new artwork for the title screen, here's a preview:


  1. How about adding a kinetic or projectile weapon type. A rail gun or rapid firing vulcan cannon comes to mind...

    Looking Great!

    Georgia Boy

  2. Thanks for the word! When I created the five weapon types, I couldn't remember the proper name for the particle genre. You just said it, it's actually projectile! I will change the name from particle to projectile. It includes all non-energy based projectiles like the weapons you mentioned.

  3. Cool! I have a few more questions. Will there be a vulcan cannon in the game? Area of effect weapons? A quantum detonator? Reflection Field and all of the MoO II goodies (Antaran and standard)? Also, how about them Borg and Ithkul races?

    I check this blog daily. How can I pre-order the beta?

    Georgia Boy

  4. Also, will there be achievements that effect the entire empire immediately once a tech level is reached (see Space Empires V and MoO 3 for examples). Finally, will there be optional limitations on the facilities built (namely one per planet, system, or player?

    Georgia Boy

  5. What do you mean by a vulcan cannon? If you mean rapid fire cannon, yes, different projectile weapons will have different rate of fire. How weapons will work will be more clear when I've got the combat screen working and made a video.

    One thing that I want to make clear, I like MoO 1 more than I did MoO 2. This game is heavily inspired by MoO 1, with some other 4x game's elements that I liked. There's no special equipment, and no area of effect weapons.

    One big reason why there's no special weapons is the fact that you can add or remove technologies in a data file. "Special" technologies would have to be their own code files, so I decided against that.

    Yes, there are achievements, I call them Infrastructure technologies. If you research "Hydroponics Farming", it increases your agriculture output by 25%, for example. However, there's no individual facilities on planets. Output are determined directly by the amount of population. So the more people you have, the better. And you can research technologies that improves their output automatically.

    This game focuses more on diplomacy and battles, not planetary management. There are still some management, but it's very simple compared to other 4X games.

    I have a friend who will create a website for me, where people can pre-order the game. I will follow up with him and see how that's going.

  6. Hi Brent,

    Yes, a vulcan cannon is a rapid fire cannon. Thanks for the clarification on the game emphasis on MoO 1. I am assuming racial technology will not be in the game? Would I be able to mod in equipment not in MoO 1, but exclusively from MoO 2 and/or MoO 3? Finally, what inspires you from the Space Empires Series?

    Thanks for the responses!

    Georgia Boy

  7. Earlier in the development, it was possible to have racial technologies (still is), but then I realized that there may be a problem when there's two technologies with the same name in two different places. So that's still not determined yet. Maybe just throw an error when loading, so the player can fix it?

    Yes, you can add in weapons and equipment in the technology data file. I plan on having different folders devoted to different mods. The data files I have are in "Default" folder. If you want to add "Star Trek" mod (for example), you can create a new folder, create your own artwork for the different races, as well as their racial specifications. You can also create technology data file and AI code file and put them in the "Star Trek" folder. Before starting a new game, there will be a drop-down listing all folders, and you can select "Star Trek" to play in that environment. Races aren't hard-coded, you can have as few as 1, or as many as you want. But there must be at least one race :) If data files are missing from the mod folder, it will load from the default folder, so you don't have to do a full mod. So it's recommended that you don't modify the "Default" folder :)

    Heh, there's only one thing that I "borrowed" from Space Empires, and that's the ability to re-research the same technology to improve it.

  8. Hi Brent--

    I understand I can mod in weapons, but would I be able to mod in rapid-fire, multi targeting weapons (simulates AoE weapons)?

    Here are some thoughts I posted on the Distant Worlds Forum:

    Some ship component ideas:
    Stasis Field--Freezes ship in place for that turn
    Limpet Mines--Launches like a torpedo, but with each hit, slows down the target ship by X%.
    Shield Depleting Weapons/Shields that are immune from depletion.
    Anti Missles-Defends against missles only.
    Antimatter Vortex--Destroys any one ship in one turn per ship size.--must destroy ship creating gateway to save ship.
    Plasma Web--Slows target and does damage for each turn the target remains in the web or the web is destroyed. The web can be targeted.
    Ionic Pulse--Area of Effect weapon inflicting damage on every enemy ship and missle in range.
    Repair Drones
    Energy Draining Field--Substitutes for shields, drains X% of incoming energy weapons.
    Refraction Field--Any energy directed at field is refracted at X% damage back at the shooter.
    Displacement Field--Lowers chance for weapons to hit.
    Hard Shields--Exempt from 'ignores shields' modifier. Stops/slows damage from every weapon.
    High Energy Field--Area of Effect weapon, destroys any missle, fighter, or bomber in its range.
    Self-Destruct Weapon
    Shield Rechargers--Recharges shields at X%
    Tractor Beam--Slows enemy movement, makes hitting enemy easier.
    Warp Dissipator--Prevents escape of targeted ship.
    Nanite Streamer--Takes control of an enemy ships systems, giving you control of the ship.Some races immune.
    Spacial Compressor--Enables more conponents (X% or raw number) on a ship.
    Subspace Phasing Device--Enables ship to 'phase out', so energy or a projectile passes straight through.

    Flag so components can only be used by AI or not.

    Some racial trait ideas:

    1) Assimulation--A la Borg.
    2) Parasitic-- A racial trait which a race eats other organic races to grow stronger and reproduce.
    3) Cybernetic--Not organic (a plus), but eats production as well as food.
    4) Gaseous-- Species exists only on gas giants. Low reproduction.
    5) Astral--Can exist in outer space. Cannot tolerate gravity, so cannot colonize planets. Reproduction verrrry slow.
    6) Geodic--Rock colonies only--Atmosphere does not matter.
    7) Shapeshifter--Can change appearance to fool scanners into believing another race is there or nothing at all...does not gain the bonuses (bonii) of the impersonated race, though.
    8) Pure Energy--Achieved through research at the end of the tech tree (plus a ruins finding(s)--possible victory condition).

    Expeditions--I liked the 'Antaran X' expeditions from MoO 3--finding X number of artifacts also allows you a victory. Of course, these artifacts of the Guardian of Beyaan, and whatever other races would be just a little difficult to get. One of these artifacts could be Unification government, which would be the best government in the game!

    Just some random thoughts....

    Georgia Boy

  9. How weapons work in this game is a bit different from MoO 1/2. For example, if you have 10 mounts of "Rail Gun", each with 75% accuracy, you will fire 10 times per turn. Each pellet will be "stacked" so if you have 20 ships with 10 mounts each, each pellet is actually 20 pellets stacked. They don't always go straight to your target, hence the 75% accuracy. So it's possible for you to hit multiple ships from one firing of your weapons.

    The problem with specials is that they require special code. For example, a technology that freezes a ship for a turn would require me to add some code for handling that particular case (skipping the ship on the frozen turn, etc). Same for each special item. I will try and see if I can add in support for special items, but no promises.