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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Demo Download

I haven't been able to fix the demo download on desura yet (I need to modify all files in some way to trigger "changed file" on Desura). So I uploaded to a separate file hosting service for those who want to try it out while I work on this issue.

The download is here:

To run it, be sure to have June 2010 SlimDX RunTime installed. It can be downloaded here:

Meet the Salix Cybornia!

It's been a long time since I added a new race to the game. Part of that is because it's expensive, and part of that is because I've been focused on adding user interface artwork (icons, buttons, etc). But now I'm proud to present a new race for Beyond Beyaan! They're the race of Salix Cybornia, or tree cyborgs! A long long time ago, they were tasked with protecting the environment, especially forests. After disposing of a bad wizard that was polluting their lands, and finding the females, they proceeded to flourish. Eventually they decided that the best way to maintain the environment was to get rid of all parasites, which includes small people with furry feet, and fought a war. Eventually they won, with the aid of a time machine. Now they've turned their eyes (or the equivalent thereof) to the stars. They will make each planet a paradise, or die trying!
In the game, they have an environment/pollution cleanup bonus, as well as reduced food consumption since they draw their nourishment directly from the soils of a planet. They like races that terraforms planets to better environment, and will immediately declare war on anyone who dared to allow a planet to degrade. Trade and cunning words do not impress them, only terraforming will. A good way to make them declare war on your enemy is to have your spy destroy that planet's environment, framing that race. The artwork for this race isn't yet complete, but will be soon! 0.5.3 will include this race, as well as the icons/improved display. I'm still working on those, hope things will wrap up soon! 0.5.3 is turning out to be a big patch!

Friday, April 20, 2012


I've got the icons up and running. There's still a lot of work to be done, such as updating of information after activating an equipment, or obtaining information from each equipment. Right now, it just grabs the information from the ship itself, but not its equipments. So if you have an armor, it don't add to armor absorption right now. When the icons are fully fleshed out in space combat, ship design, and fleet/ship window in galaxy screen, then I will release 0.5.3. I don't think this should take too long, maybe a week. Here's the screenshot of the icons in action! Note the improved layout for displaying name/empire:
I've noticed that since the game got released on Desura, the number of comments dropped to virtually zero. I'm wondering if it's something that I did? Did I put too much gel in my hair? Does my breath stink?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Future patch 0.5.3 Details

Here's what I'm working on for 0.5.3:

I'm working on adding support for data-driven icons. What are icons? They're usually something that displays a graphic icon, as well as a "text" displaying some information. For example, in the planet window, there's five sliders, one for each field. There's a graphic icon, along with the amount of something being produced. An example:

[Commerce] 3.6 BC

Why is this important to have it data-driven? Being able to specify which icons are in your game, as well as how they format the information display, allows you to add your own icons for ship information display. Right now, Beyond Beyaan's default game will have five basic ship displays - Shield Absorption, Armor Absorption, Hull Points, Time Units, and Power Units. Shield and Armor Absorption will show how much each absorbs before the damage is passed on to the Hull (your ship itself). So they'd look like this in combat screen, with [] being graphic icon:

[shield] 4
[armor] 3
[hull] 34/50
[time] 100/100
[power] 23/80

In each race, you will be able to specify which icons a ship will use for information display. What this means is that you can decide that a race may use "Skin" and "Health" instead of the Shield, Armor, and Hull, if the race is a space race. Or you can duplicate MoO 2's shields, with "Front Shield", "Left Shield", "Right Shield", and "Rear Shield". Or you can just have MoO 1's single health display.

The information is controlled by the ship and equipment scripts. This will allow you to create unique races with their own ship stats. However, in the default game, all races will share the same stats (shield, armor, hull, time, and power). So yes, you can create a mod that removes the "Time" factor, leaving the power, or remove the Power and Time, and have each weapon fire once per turn (or every other turn based on scripts). You can create your own icons and add them to the game.

In the future, I plan on adding scripts for stars and planets, so that they can influence your population growth/outputs, such as a volcanic planet randomly decimating some of your population with a volcano eruption. With the scripts and this icon system I will be able to add support for custom sliders for planet management. This means that I will then be able to add support for each race having their own sliders for planet management. For example, Silicoids in MoO 2 don't need farming, so you can simply remove the agriculture slider for that race, so it only have the other sliders. Or you could create a new slider that controls how fast your zombie race consumes another race. Or you can change how it all works to be similar to MoO 2, with three sliders (agriculture, industry, and research), and having income automatically generated using race/planet scripts.

That's for the future however. I'm implementing the icon system so that I can add information display for ships in fleet window and fleet management screen. Then I will go back to space combat and implement the information display as well as having the weapons affect the information.

Also for 0.5.3, I'm modifying the "Add Equipment" window for ship design so that it don't close after adding a new equipment. This should improve your experience with the ship design UI.

Monday, April 16, 2012

0.5.2 now live, and demo

I've uploaded 0.5.2 to Desura, and it is now live. What it contains:

Added ability to clear fleet movement orders. You can now cancel movements, and it will merge the ships with the idling ships automatically.

Fixed internationalization issues with loading data files (in some cultures, it expects "," instead of "." for decimals such as 0.5, causing the loading to fail) - This one was very educational for me.

Started adding logging to loading of data files, this will help for debugging purposes and for modding. You can see exactly where it's failing with the logs.

Fixed the 2D engine issue with loading graphics from files that have the same name. In this instance, having different races but with the same files inside each folder causes the engine to use the first graphics (Humans) for all three. This was fixed earlier, but when I upgraded the engine to use SlimDX June 2010, this fix was lost. So I fixed it again

Added "Effect" script support, like ship dying. Space combat is still incomplete, but we're getting there. I will focus on other stuff in the game before I come back to space combat.


I also added a "Demo" version that closes the game after 30 turns. It have everything that the normal game have, except for saving/loading, and it's limited to 30 turns. The thing is, Desura is having issues with the installer again :( The full version is working correctly, but the demo is not. To run the demo for now, install the demo version, then download the stand-alone zip file and run that instead. When this is fixed, I plan on adding an announcement about the new patch and demo on the desura page.

Edit: I just realized that it didn't show the zip file for demo download, so here it is.

So if you're on the fence, and would like to try the game before making your decision, here's your opportunity!

This is what it looks like at end of demo trial:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Video and Details

I've just finished adding effects and support for it. Effects now can spawn particles as well as modify ship's attributes or remove the ship. I've made a video showcasing this. After a ship is removed from the combat field, its equipment no longer collide with the particles.

The video is here:

I'm exhausted from working on Space Combat. In it, I basically had to do everything twice. First, I need to implement scripting system for something, then I had to write scripts for it. There's two major features that I haven't implemented yet (movement and shaders) as well as a bunch of small stuff like victory/defeat screen, information display for HUD that shows a ship's power/hit points, etc.

I'm taking a break from space combat, it's very intensive and time consuming. I want to work on smaller features and make the non-combat parts of the game more feature complete, which results in the game feeling more polished and playable. I will return to space combat when I feel up to it.

With that said, I'm beginning to doubt that I can make the May 31st release. There's just simply too much that needs to be done before the game's fully playable, even with just the basic features. So here's my plan: Since the game have missing features, it's currently in "Alpha" stage. I hope to have all basic features done before May 31st, this includes the space combat features I mentioned above. When the basic features are added, in that the game is fully playable, but no AI, and not much content (technologies, scripts, races, etc), it will become "Beta". Beta basically means that the game is feature-complete, but not polished or balanced. At that point, I will need your help in testing the AI and balance, since I'm only one man. I'm not sure how long the Beta phase will last, I guess I'll say "when it's done" :)

However, the main difference to you end users is that in "Alpha" stage, the price will be 30% off. In "Beta" stage, it will be 15% off, and the full release will have no discount. I'm not sure how Desura does sales, so I'm letting you all know the release plan and pricing.

Sounds good?

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Version Now Live!

The new version, fixing both SlimDX error and missing files, is now live! Yesterday night a previous version got approved, but it was missing critical files. So I uploaded a new version, the same one as shown in the video in my last post, and it fixed the missing files issue.

If you still encounter start-up issues, please let me know.

If you want to discuss the game, I've set up some forums on Desura here where you can discuss the game, mods, or report bugs. The forums are over here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New version and video

As some of you may have experienced, the installer for Desura don't quite work out of the box. It installs SlimDX June 2010, but the game is an older version which uses SlimDX March 2009, therby throwing an error on launch.

I submitted a new version, but it got rejected due to a SlimDX error. I talked with them about this, and found that they had SlimDX 2012 installed. The problem with SlimDX is that it's not backwards compatible. They didn't realize this, so hopefully they'll approve the new version soon! This new version should work out of the box. It also contains some improved support for Equipment Scripts, but not the new UI artwork as shown in the video below.

I've also been working on adding Effects and Ship Scripting. Ship Scripting is now done, and I'm halfway through Effects. Hopefully this week I'll have the effects done!

Here is a new video showing the new ship script. This shows the ship stopping a beam, and spawning explosion particles at point of impact: Battle Video 2

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Big News!

Hey you all, remember the big news I mentioned in my last post? Well here it is!

As some of you may remember, I've been working on my shower. When we first bought our house, our master bathroom's shower handle was broken. To fix it, we had to rip out the fake plastic insert thingy, and we're now replacing it with a nice tiled one. It's almost ready for final tiling!

What? What did you say? You're not interested in my shower, and it's not qualified as big news? What's up with the new stuff on top of this blog?

Alright, here's the real news:

My game has been approved for alpha funding on Desura. Yes, you heard me right! It is now available for purchase through Desura! The price is still $10, but I'm giving a 30% alpha discount til the final release of the game.

I have to warn you, I've struggled with uploading the files onto Desura. Desura offered two SlimDX options for its normal game installer, and my game wasn't compatible with either. So I had to upgrade the 2D engine (good thing it's open source) to use the June 2010. However, my attempts to update the version on Desura has failed today. I hope that this problem will be resolved soon. So for now, if you buy the game, you can either install the game normally, then uninstall SlimDX June 2010, then install March 2009. Or you can download the stand alone and make sure that SlimDX June 2010 is installed.

I hope to have this glitch fixed shortly! No more shady donation with uncertain emails. You can now download updates automatically!

For those who've pre-ordered the game, please provide me with your desura account name using your paypal so I can validate your email, and I will give you access to the Desura version. If you have problems with Desura, you can use the stand alone which can be downloaded through the desura website that don't require Desura installation.

This is why I've not done much programming lately. I hope that things will pick up again soon, after I've resolved the version updating on Desura.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Almost April Fools

Yesterday I thought of posting a joke about the MoO 2 curse finally catching up to me, but I felt that it's too close to home for many of you who've been waiting for something like this game, so I decided against it. The curse is that it seems like projects that start out as MoO 2's clone either end up abandoned, or strayed so far from the game that it's something else. I think I'm doing well, probably because I declared that this game is more similar to MoO 1, therby avoiding the curse :)

Actually, I think the cause of that is that many people near my age started on their own projects years ago, but they don't have the experience required to complete their projects. Now that my generation is maturing and gaining experience, I'm starting to see many new games coming out that's similar to MoO 2:

Star Drive

and of course, this game :) As well as some other games that I may have missed. Each game offers different features. For example, Star Drive offers 2D map using 3D models, and real-time combat. Predestination offers 3D map (that is excellently done, in my opinion), and TBS combat (right now it's just the galaxy map). My game have everything in 2D, like the old classics, and have TBS combat. I think that's a good thing, different games having different features, so they don't all overlap.

Now about my game, I'm working on something big behind the scenes not related to game development, and I hope that things work out with this big thing soon! I will announce it as soon as it's all set up!

For the development side, I've implemented the UI buttons, so that now you can do turns and go to next/previous ship in space combat. Right now, "Auto" and "Retreat" buttons will do nothing since those will require quite a bit of work to implement. I'm now working on adding "Effects" to the game. There are two different types: Permanent and Temporary. Permanent is something that affects your ship over a while, such as cloaking, lightning field, or stasis field. Temporary is something that takes place immediately, and pauses input until it's done. Some examples are the teleportation effect, or explosions.

There are also three types of particles: Instant, Cosmetic, and Missile. Instant is something that can impact ships, and pauses input until it's done. Laser beam, plasma bolt, railgun bolt, etc are examples of Instant. Cosmetic is something that don't pause input, and don't collide with anything. They're just visuals. Explosions would be a good example, as well as shield field flaring up on impact.
Missile are particles that exists over more than one turn. They will be updated between turns.

Permanent Effects can only spawn Cosmetic particles, since Permanent effects are constant throughout a turn. If you try to script it to spawn other types of particles, the game will ignore those.
Temporary Effects can spawn any of the three types of particles.

I hope to have all of those implemented this week, then the only things remaining for space combat are ship movement, ship information display, and wrapping up of combat (victory/defeat screen, lost ships, etc). I got bad news about movement; I've done research in free-form movement, and found that it's a lot more trouble than it's worth, so I'm reverting back to a grid-based movement for the ships. However, they're still using the same coordinate system as the particles, so your scripts can affect their position/angle. For example, if you have a "Displacement Device" from MoO 1, it can move the ship around randomly in a small radius.

Will keep you guys posted on upcoming news!