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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Plans for Space Combat

Alright, now we're finally on the topic of space combat! This is kinda exciting for me, since this is the best part of 4X games in my opinion. As I said, the goal of the game is to make it very moddable and flexible, so I've been thinking of ways for providing users a way of testing their technology/designs quickly without having to go through all the preparatory steps (build an empire, research technologies, design ships, then finally see them in combat). I think I have a very good idea, and it will even let me add extra features later on!

The idea is that when you select a dataset to load (default or one of your mods), and click on "New Game", there will be a button in the galaxy setup named "Combat Simulator". The reason why galaxy screen is that at this point, it've loaded in all the relevant data, so it's able to do combat immediately.

When you click on "Combat Simulator", it will pop up a list of available battles to load. Those battles will be saved in "Battles" folder of the dataset, and will be .XML files. Each of those file contains the complete data for a space combat screen, including ships and their equipment, their positions on the battlefield, and any other items such as planets, asteroids, and whatnot. This also includes whether or not an empire is controlled by an AI player, and which AI it uses. So it will also provide users an easy way of testing the AI scripts for combat.

After you've selected an battle to load, it will jump directly to combat screen (which will be the exact same screen used in normal gameplay), and you can proceed to either watch (if all players are AI), or be involved and try out new technologies.

After the battle is over, it will return to the galaxy screen.

One other nice thing that this can provide is that people can create custom battles, and challenge others to beat them. This is similar to Chess challenges, where you're challenged to win in 2 moves, or move the right piece, or some other goal, using a pre-set game layout.

All in all, I think this is a win-win situation, it lets players to test their mod, and at the same time, allowing me to test new features in space combat quickly.


  1. Sounds great!

    It would also be great if players could add in ships, etc. manually during combat (or at the start) rather than just load from an XML file. However, that would require a fair bit of extra work--so maybe consider that for future revisions? :)

  2. I'm actually planning on an "editor" where you can set up the battle manually without loading in from a file. But that will be for after the release of the game. Right now, I just want to focus on testing features and such.

    This could very well turn out to be a game in itself, maybe I could add extra features (limited number of ships, limited amount of money to spend on ships, etc), and it'd be similar to Gratuitous Space Battles :) But that's for later.

  3. I've found a happy medium between loading data files and writing full-blown editor: use the F5 key to reload the file. You can edit and save the file while the program is running and just hit F5 to reload it. It's just a little more work to write than loading the file alone, but it's a heck of a lot easier than writing an editor.