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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Stars, Like Dust

We're quickly approaching our first milestone!  This milestone consists of:

A working colony code with all sliders implemented.
Actual production of missile bases, ships, factories, etc.
Generation of research and tax
Exploration of star systems
Fleet movement
Colonization of habitable planets
And UI for all of the above.

Most of those are done, or being worked on. We hope to have the first milestone done within a couple of days or so.

With that said, time for another DG vs MoO 1 update!  This time, I'm focusing on the galaxy generation.  In MoO 1/2, all galaxies are random stars scattered across a rectangle.  While this isn't a bad thing, it does make gameplay follow a predictable pattern.  So what we did were to create a "density map" mechanism where players can create their custom galaxy shapes.  The map ranges from black to white (it averages the red, green, and blue values), with white being highest probability, and black being absolutely none at all.  Each density map comes in its own folder, along with a text file setting the star ratio.  The higher the ratio is, the more far spread the stars are.  This way, people can tweak the ratio until they're satisfied with the galaxy size (the size is based on ratio, one size may not be suitable for all galaxy shapes)

So, you can simply create a png image, and an accompanying text file for the ratio, and put it in a new folder, and the game will automatically include it in list of galaxy shapes.

Some of you may raise some questions: "How do you ensure that all stars are accessible?  Wouldn't having isolated stars break the game, if a homeworld is one of them?  What about anti-matter nebulae blocking all access to a star?"

When we considered those problems, we realized something.  In MoO 1, one issue in late-game is the size of the galaxy and the range/engine technologies.  Even in Huge size, going anywhere with hyper engines won't take more than 3 or 4 turns.  So the defenders don't really have much time to prepare.  Having the galaxy size small and making the stars cluster close to each other actually reduced the strategic aspects of star layout (I discussed the issue of having everything open in an earlier post, leading us to add new types of nebulas).  Imagine if stars were 15 or so parsecs apart, and the fastest engine tech only does 9 parsecs per turn, it'd give defenders more time to prepare.  This also make stargates more useful.

So what we're considering is upping the range technologies, but keeping the engine speeds the same, and spread the stars out a bit more on average than MoO 1.  How do we ensure that there's no isolated stars?  The answer is wormholes.  We will have an algorithm that ensures that all stars are reachable.  It generates a list of star groups that are not accessible to any other star groups.  It then picks a random star from two star groups and generates a wormhole, and repeat until all groups are connected.

With this, a person can create a galaxy that's so big that the only way to reach other stars are via wormholes, or so small that wormholes aren't needed.  There will be also random wormholes thrown in for variety and spice.  Without wormholes, we cannot guarantee that the galaxy is not broken.

With that said, here's some more screenshots!  The first one is our galaxy screen, with most of the UI finalized:

This next screenshot demonstrates the galaxy shape mechanism.  I used this image:

To generate this 250-star galaxy (You can easily see it's a part of the ring):


  1. That's some good changes.
    It was getting quite ridiculous in MoO2 too, when you had best drive, and unlimited range fuel cells. Sometimes you could destroy civilisation without ever engaging their ships, because by the time they arrived to reinforce invaded system, you bombed it into oblivion, and moved onto next.

    Would you call the first milestone fully playable? As in, from beginning to end, even if without many features to be added later? If list of features is of any indication, it appears to be fully fledged game.

    1. Well, while the ship designs and technologies are implemented behind the scene, there's no UI yet for creating new designs or picking research topics. So you'd be stuck with the starting ship designs and cannot colonize hostile planets. Wormholes aren't implemented yet, so not all stars might be in range of the starting range technology.

      Also, space/ground combat are not implemented yet, so there's no way of winning the game. But yeah, you could colonize as many stars as you could, develop those colonies, build missile bases, etc. I'm not downplaying those features, they're basically half the game. I think when we reach our second milestone, the game should be mostly playable (research, ship design, many UI components, and very very basic AI that's basically just random numbers). But we don't know when that'd be reached.