Shaders, and Character Trait Evolution

Posted on December 2, 2016 by Max Shields

Adam – @adam_blahuta

Hey space-friends!

This week, I continued work on re-designed characters to include trait evolution! This allows hidden traits to unlock and known traits to change when characters are faced with difficult situations that challenge their beliefs. I still have a bit of work left to do before it’s ready to go, but the early results are really interesting!

Daniel – @Polygonatron

Hi everybody!
This week I’ve continued learning how to write shaders. I managed to make a usable dot-matrix printer effect (which is what i needed) with my newly gained knowledge. I also started working on the second iteration of the generation of the local star system which is going to be pretty cool if everything comes together as I’ve planned. Which it should.

Max – @Max_Shields

Hello everybody,

I’ve been busy administerizing some of the team’s administerativeness this week.

AI Personalities: Adam Recounts His Journey Down The Rabbit Hole

Posted on November 25, 2016 by Max Shields

Adam – @adam_blahuta

Hey fellow space junkies!

The creative journey of game development is very strange. If your goal is to engage players with novel experiences, design innovation is a powerful tool. The inherent challenge is that it’s difficult to understand a problem in a vacuum. You have to try different approaches and see how they succeed and fail before you start getting an accurate picture. And you never know how deep the rabbit hole goes until you’ve already started falling into it. In order to do justice to the thing you’re trying to build, you have to be willing to see that through to the end. I’m just so happy that we were able to build a team that was willing to take that risk!

When we first got together to discuss Astrobase Command, we knew we wanted to build a space-station-based survival simulation that delivered on the experiences provided by TV shows like Star Trek. We also understood that characters were key to that experience, but we didn’t really know what that meant for the game.

Last week, Dave walked us through a design that not only communicates the character’s personality to the player but also provides the context in which that personality can shine and evolve. The beauty of his approach is in how personality traits are built and communicated to the player. Each one is unique but they often have elements in common, which nicely models how people can have different value systems and still have common ground. They don’t simply translate to some universal game mechanic, like “Brave = +5 to Initiative”. Instead, every other system in the game is designed to challenge that personality in some way.

As a result, personality becomes a key component to a character’s decision making, how they perceive the world around them and how they interact with others. It then becomes the player’s responsibility to decide where each character fits in their crew. Who do you send on dangerous missions when you have specific goals? Who are best suited to work together? Who can bunk together in quarters? How do you best cater to your crew’s needs? How do you break up recurring fights between two crew-members who hate each other?

This lays out a beautiful process of discovery where the player needs to understand personality in order to ensure the survival of their crew. The only way to do this is to get to know the personality traits of each character and see how they act in different situations and how those situations can change them.

As you may have guessed from the wall of text above, I was very excited to start implementing this approach. My week has been entirely consumed by delivering on Dave’s vision for characters at their most fundamental level.

Daniel – @Polygonatron

Hi Everybody!

This week has been one of visual effects for me. I started out working on some text scrolling tech for the datapad and I’m currently in the middle of trying to learn shader programming. Tricky stuff, but fun!

Dave – @Dave_Astrobase

This week I’ve been working on station gameplay, and the correct level of depth in the simulation. In gameplay terms, this essentially corresponds to: “what are the physics rules of this universe.” Also, I’m super excited to see Adam bring the personality system come to life with the magic of code!

Max – @Max_Shields

Hello all!

This last bit is to see if you’re sufficiently dedicated to make it to the bottom of Adam’s wall of text. 😉

I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing some Astrobase Command fiction which could take many forms. It could be a periodic short independent or interconnected short stories published directly to this site, a novella, or even a novel published in electronic format.

Now hold your spacehorses, this isn’t a hard plan, but rather an idea that I’d like to float by you fans to get your opinions. Please leave your thoughts and comments below.

Systems Design, Spreadsheets, and Data Visualization: An Astrobase Command Weekly Update

Posted on November 18, 2016 by Max Shields

Hi everybody,

We’re going to keep this week’s update very short because we’ve been driving hard to tackle a key milestone, and have been focusing our efforts on production.

We’ve just wrapped up a meeting where Dave exposed his latest (and hopefully final, Stars Willing!) systems design in its glorious entirety. It’s super exciting, as we’ve really been into the weeds for quite some time, using interim systems, and haven’t had an opportunity to see Astrobase Command as a fully integrated project in a while.

It’s also a thing of beauty; at least if you’re into spreadsheets and elegant mathematical models!

Dave and Adam still have a full slate ahead of them as they work on integrating the systems, but our momentum is building.

Daniel’s committed a lot of brain power this week coming up with ways to efficiently view station and crew data without breaking the Fourth Wall and found the time to whip together a neat Jellyfish Games splash screen harkening back to the good ol’ days of the C64.

Have a great weekend, Starfarers!

Revamping Space Bureaucracy: Upgrading the Desktop

Posted on November 11, 2016 by Max Shields

Adam – @adam_blahuta

Hey everybody!

This week was a continuation of last week’s desk work. Along with a bunch of bug fixes, I got the new rolodex up and running. Not only does it look a lot nicer than the last one, but its interaction flow is a lot better and its shape allows us to use a nice graphical trick to reduce the number of actual cards displaying inside it, which helps performance. I also started integrating the filing cabinet, which will allow us to better manage character personnel profiles and provide an accessible dumping spot for documents players want to get to later.

Dave – @Dave_Astrobase

Two words: mission tables. I’m working on the tables that determine and direct mission flow on a planet. This is essentially a data modelling task, and the bridge between design and implementation.

Daniel – @Polygonatron

Hi Guys!

This week I’ve been working on desk stuff to ensure Adam could work without being blocked on anything. Aside from that I’ve been working more on the social rooms, which are proving to be a lot of fun for me to make. They allow for some pretty out there visual designs.

Metabolic
The metabolic plant is seen here digesting its workload for the day.

The Membranous Plant: Your Generator When You Crave That Sweet Biochemical Energy

Posted on November 4, 2016 by Max Shields

membranous_plant_wip01
The Membranous Plant! For all your biochemical energy production needs!

Daniel – @Polygonatron

Hi everyone!

This week I’ve been continuing my work on the social rooms. It’s great fun to be able to put in some focused time to get these right and create interesting new designs.

Adam – @adam_blahuta

Hey space-friends!

I’m glad to finally be coding full-time on the project again! My first priority this week was to improve our development quality of life. I started with a bunch of overdue bug fixes that were blocking off areas of the game and freezing our editor on a regular basis. I then tackled a new loading feature that allows us to only load the parts of the game we need at that moment (station, crew, scenery, desk, debug terminal). This saves us a lot of loading time when we’re focused on a particular feature.

I was also glad to be able to pick up desk work again. My primary focus for this week was working on the inbox, since it’s our primary means of communication with the player with regards to important events. With the new functionality, it’s now possible to receive a new recruit application, read it over, stamp it for approval and then toss it into the outbox to confirm the recruitment order. It’s incredibly satisfying!

This week was also about making Daniel happy as he’s been chugging away on desk assets and hasn’t been able to see them in action yet. Looking forward to share some screenshots once everything’s up and running!

Dave – @Dave_Astrobase

Hey guys,

This week I’ve been working on the part of missions that has to do with the interaction of the planet, and the systemic game balance for all the things that can happen to a character!

Max – @Max_Shields

Greetings, glorious crew members!

I’ve been working on some strategic outreach options to synergistically leverage launch exposure (i.e. chatting up people that can get the word out when the time comes). This sort of thing needs to happen well in advance so that everything is in place and ready to go at the right time to achieve maximum impact.