22nd July More Novakids and progression

July 22, 2014 in News

Lots more work was done today on the Novakids today. They’re now in game and functional though there’s still a great deal to do in terms of all the content that surrounds a race. From descriptions, to ships, to armor sets and weapons. Stephen is desperate to add a wild west style village at some point too.

Capture

We’ve decided that rather than craft swords, the Novakids are expert gunsmiths capable of forging guns from even basic materials. As such the Novakids are able to craft guns from the outset. We’re carefully working on balancing guns against swords so that no one race has an advantage over another. But playing a Novakid should change up the gameplay a fair bit.

Novakids are also getting a steam train themed spaceship. Upgrading the ship will add carriages to the end for extra building room.

I’ve been working on Novakids whilst Kyren and co finish up some engine features required for the next stage of progression. The engine features will allow us to create stand alone dungeon planets and shield generators to protect them. Shield generators will stop players placing or mining blocks in a given radius to force a proper playthrough of a dungeon or protect a progression fundamental structure.

Until next time!

July 21 – Novakids on the block

July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hey guys! Supernorn here with a small update just to let you know what I’ve been up to the last few days..

As most of you know, the Novakid were one of last years reached stretch goals, a super cool playable race of “interstellar gas-bag people”.

Towards the end of last week I started the process on getting these gassy guys n’ girls into the game. Today I’ve continued preparing the base sprites, creating hair styles, facial brands etc.

It’s a first step in what will be a fairly content heavy project, but I was excited to show you a little early work in progress of what I’ve got going right now.

 

novakid1

 

July 21 – Get the gate in the game!

July 21, 2014 in Dev Blog

Hey guys! Keeping it brief, I spent today taking all the assets that George produced for our gate mockup, and turning them into a functioning environment. As a side feature, courtesy of Metadept, we now also have the ability to make players spawn in specific locations on a dungeon piece. This is handy for quicker testing of dungeons (no need to locate them anymore) and will be ideal for our mission content that’ll come later down the line.

The gate in-game!

Good night!

Some thoughts on early access, release dates, the big 1.0

July 21, 2014 in News

Hi guys,

Some of this post will be lifted from a reddit comment I made earlier today. But I felt it was important enough that I should give it a bit more visibility.

I wanted to talk a little bit about early access and how arbitrary both the term ‘finished game’ and the version number 1.0 are when talking about a game like Starbound.

We receive a lot of criticism about pushing back the date of the ‘finished’ version of the game and often people claim we’ve broken a promise by not delivering that finished version already. But what does finished mean here?

The context that’s missing here is that unlike many early access games, the game is already fully playable, and although it doesn’t have everything we want to put in it yet (which is what’s holding it back from a 1.0 release) I feel we could have released what we currently have AS 1.0, outside of early access.

The average amount of play time a Starbound player has built up is around 26 hours, with many players playing for well over 500 hours. (this does not include the launcher being open).

We’re all still trying to figure out just what early access is, at what stage games should go in and out of early access and what the expectations are. As Starbound stands, our sharing of our future plans aside, it could leave early access and be an entirely reasonable stand alone game. The huge number of hours people have poured into it is a testament to that, given that the games purpose is to provide entertainment. Early access for us is a means of showing people that this is a game we’re still working on, that their feedback is important to us and that there are going to be big changes. It absolutely doesn’t devalue what’s there. In fact many publications have chosen to review the game in it’s current state and given it great reviews.

And whilst I’m sorry that we haven’t yet put everything in the game that we’ve mentioned wanting to put into the game, I feel as a developer we’ve chosen to be really open and communicative and that means just talking without overly vetting what we say. Sometimes that means getting excited about a feature we want to put in but it takes a lot longer than we’d planned. Our having plans that haven’t been implemented yet also doesn’t take away from or devalue what is already there.

We’ve been criticised for not updating the game enough, especially as we said that we’d be putting out updates thick and fast. Along side that, we also warned that these updates would be buggy and broken because of the speed at which we were pushing them. We started updating the main game in this way but people quickly lost patience with small / constant / buggy updates and we took the time to move those updates to a new opt-in branch in steam. So the nightly updates *are* the thick and fast, buggy and broken updates we promised. They appear every single day. And the game on the main branch exists as a perfectly playable stand alone whilst we continue to work.

The way games are developed and sold has changed dramatically in recent years and the language we use to describe the state of a game is changing too. What does 1.0 or finished mean now?

1.0 used to be the version at which the game was released and sold. Finished was the point at which a game went on sale. By this old definition Starbound is technically finished. However we’ve obviously decided not to label the game 1.0 or finished. Yet the game is available to buy. So what does 1.0 mean now?

I feel 1.0 is an arbitrary release number and it’s down to us to decide what 1.0 means in the context of our game. If anything, 1.0 exists as a guide for the people that want to wait and play the game when it’s in a state that we are entirely happy with it.

We’ve chosen to keep upping the ante for 1.0, but that absolutely doesn’t mean that what’s available and playable right now is any less a game, any less enjoyable or any less worth the £9 we ask for it.

 

 

 

July 18th Progress – Performance!

July 18, 2014 in News

Hi guys,

So today the tile rendering changes were almost completed. (Just a few bugs left with platforms and pipes).

On a lot of computers you’ll see an absolutely huge performance increase because of this and we’d love to hear about how it works on yours.

So if you’re playing with the nightlies, please give it a go. It should come out some time tonight/tomorrow.

You can find out what FPS you’re getting by using the /debug command and the /togglelogmap command. You’ll see your current FPS displayed under render_fps there. If you want to see what your maximum fps is you can disable vsync via config to hit above 60.

As always, if the game is crashing on startup in the nightlies, just delete the universe and player directories (after backing them up) and delete starbound.config.

Hopefully the performance increase will be as huge as it’s been on our test machines!

 

 

 

July 17th – The challenges of making a microdungeon!

July 17, 2014 in Dev Blog

Hey folks! I’m afraid I don’t have anything terribly exciting to report today as I’ve continued chipping away at the same task I have been for the past week, which is making more cool stuff to find underground.

I must confess, it’s been a bit tricky working on underground content of this nature. These things can’t be terribly big and it’s not really possible to know what kind of terrain to expect around a given piece without manually painting it yourself, and doing so can cause a couple of distinct problems.

First, it can drastically decrease the ability for any given microdungeon to appear, as it tends to result in increasingly larger pieces. The smaller a microdungeon is, the higher its success rate of it spawning. The other problem is chiefly that manually carving out the surrounding terrain to form the kind of shapes you want can be really time-consuming, and that clashes with the objective of pumping the underground full of as many of these things as possible. As a result, I tend to keep the shaping of terrain around these things fairly minimal.

For now, I’ll be continuing to work as I have until I’m needed on the progression stuff again. Allow me to leave you with a sample of one of the many Avian microdungeons I designed today.

Surprise Guest Incoming

Most microdungeons won’t be as easy to spot as this one. ;)
Until next time guys!

July 16th Progress

July 16, 2014 in News

A lot of work has gone in to the gate system today. We’ve been designing exactly how it should look and producing mockups. Most of the art here is George’s but I wanted to show you what we had so far.

It’ll likely change a bit by the time it’s finished.

gate

 

Click for full sized gif!

July 15 – Everything changed when the tile rendering system attacked

July 15, 2014 in Dev Blog, News

As you’ve heard from metadept and omni, I’ve been working on a *complete* rewrite of the tile rendering engine.  The old code was a nightmare of huge repeated hard coded blocks of logic, had long standing bugs, was *dog* slow, and was actually 3 systems running in parallel (one for regular materials, one for platforms, and one for neighbor based tiles like pipes).  I’m nearly finished now with a brand new system, replacing the old complicated set of systems with one simple(r) rule based system that is about a 10th the size in terms of lines of code.

Even though the new renderer is running the new tile neighbor rules system for every single tile every single frame, the fullscreen cpu usage of starbound has actually gone *down* by about 30%*.  The next step is to add caching of chunks into the system so that the geometry for each chunk is re-used for future frames if the chunk has not changed (the system was designed from the start with this in mind).  This should further reduce the cpu usage *dramatically*.

This isn’t committed quite yet, as there are some small missing graphical features which would freak the artists out like not color shifting the materials properly and messed up preview tiles.  Once those small issues are fixed, and caching is added, it can be committed to master.  I’m hoping I can finish this up by early tomorrow, and I should have some better performance numbers then.

(*) The 30% figure is partially due to the new tile rendering system and partially due to some other related changes which also improve perf, it’s hard to tease out which is which.

HALFWAY by Robotality!

July 15, 2014 in News

Happy Tuesday, guys! I’ve got some more exciting publishing news– last one for a bit, actually, but it’s exciting stuff!

halfway_logo

Halfway is a turn-based strategy RPG taking place a few hundred years into the future. Humanity has branched out and begun to colonise new worlds and until now, they were alone.

In Halfway, you take control of a small team of survivors faced with a violent invasion onboard the colonial vessel Goliath. As their leader, you will guide them through the dark and cramped corridors of the ship in an effort to reclaim control of your ship.

If you have any hope of surviving, you’ll need to fight for your life, face your fears and outsmart the enemy!

Halfway will be released on Steam and Humble Store next Tuesday, 22 July 2014 for Windows, Mac and Linux with modding support in the form of a campaign editor coming out soon after release. The game will cost $12.99/£9.99 with a -10% launch discount. Go check out their new website and participate in discussion over on their new forums. :)

Key Features

  • Tactical turn-based battles are at the core of Halfway. Use cover, position, equipment and skills to your advantage in your battles.
  • Unique characters: Your team is formed of unique characters you pick up along the way. Each one of them brings their own story, skills and experiences to the journey.
  • Find yourself in the middle of an engrossing story-line. Step by step you’ll uncover the mysterious events that took place and what it means for you and all of humanity.
  • Mod support coming soon! Map and campaign editor soon to be released.

Halfway was developed by Robotality- an independent game development studio founded at the beginning of 2013 and consisting of two brothers, Simon and Stefan Bachmann. They’ve worked together for the last year and a half to produce a fantastic (and gorgeous!) strategy game. Check out the launch trailer:

More information:

Halfway Website
Robotality Blog
@Robotality on Twitter

Halfway on Steam

 

July 14 – Works in Progress

July 15, 2014 in Dev Blog

Today’s been a typically busy Monday so we didn’t get around to making any flashy GIFs, but here are a few highlights of the day’s development:

  • I’ve been fixing bugs with flying monster behavior, working with kyren to make some big improvements to the Lua entity queries, and playing around with skill balance for small monsters
  • Kyren is continuing her rework and optimization of the tile rendering system
  • OmnipotentEntity is updating and improving the status effect and character status system
  • Supernorn added some new, more military-styled human armors
  • Armagon added more microdungeons to improve underground variety
  • GeorgeV is still working on some major progression-related art that I probably shouldn’t spoil
  • …lots of other bits that I’m sure I’m forgetting. Good night, everyone!

EDIT: Didn’t see Omni’s post when I wrote this so there’s some overlap, but better two posts than none I suppose!

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