Weekly Dev Update – January 23rd, 2015

Posted on January 23, 2015 by Adam

Daniel

Hi Everybody! (Hi Dr. Nick!)

This week I’ve worked on the graphics for more social sections. It struck me that we had an abundance of really useful super practical areas, like reactors and command and sleeping quarters.

However, what we lacked was somewhere for the crew to spend their time off. Not even in the more militaristic sci-fi settings (Battle Star Galactica and Babylon 5 comes to mind) do they avoid the types of activities that make up normal every day life.

Of course these areas might not be the first thing you build but they are definitely are important to the on-station life. If you imagine it from the view of a survivor of a civilization after a cataclysmic event the comfort in being able to do something like go to the gym would be immense.

quad_social_gym_01_wip02

As pictured above we clearly do not in any way view humans/humanoids as hamsters.

Adam

Hey everybody! My work this week is more non-sexy programming stuff. I’m in the process of gutting our GUI back-end to replace with one that plays nicer with Unity (the game engine we’re using). This’ll make it a lot easier to manage the 3D GUI components and won’t cause nearly as many visual glitches.

I’ve also been working with Daniel to get some of the coding problems of character appearance sorted for the models you’ll see walking around the station. He’s provided beautiful art for them as well as tech to stitch all the parts together. We just need to get the animations working with the merged version of that character.

Dave

I recently finished getting all the data that encompasses procedural text generation from my design spreadsheets into sensibly structured database tables, and I’ve moved on to writing the back-end data repository classes that loads that data from the db and stores it in code. Because ultimately the AI needs to be able to make heads or tails of the data, everything needs to be stored/structured in the correct manner to make that happen.

My workflow is something like: spreadsheet design->table/stage organization in excel->write exporters->table organization in SQL->export data from excel to SQL->write code-side data structures->load data into those structures from the DB->write AI that uses the data->output/test loop. Many of these steps happen in parallel.

For example, if I know the AI needs X,Y and Z then I want to build that into my tables and ultimately my design. There’s a lot of going back-and-forth to make sure I don’t accidentally paint myself into some corner by constraining the data in some way for some step that ends up being stupid for some future step.

TTDR (too technical didn’t read): the progress bar on procedural text moved from about 50% to 75%. (100% is working, integrated, and playable).

Weekly Dev Update – January 16th, 2015

Posted on January 16, 2015 by Adam

Daniel

Hi everybody! (Hi Dr. Nick!)
This week I’ve spent making the assets to go with the system I discussed in the last weeks dev update. This involves making different hair styles, enabling some customization of colors, making different body types (pictured below) and many more things. Meaning I got to have fun sculpting, retopologizing and uv-mapping.

As that’s quite a bit of character work in a row I also worked a bit on the graphics for the environment before I head back in and make procedural textures for the eyes, hands and faces in order to finish off all the work for this pass on the characters.

character_slots_wip01

Dave

This week I wore my tools programmer hat. For those not in the industry, whenever a designer needs to add content to the game he uses a tool. Some games that invest a lot of time in this might release their tools for modders to also use.

In AAA development, you typically have a dedicated tools coder team, but on Astrobase Command this job fell to me. The tool I’m writing is for getting the parts that comprise procedural narrative into the game. Not sexy, but definitely necessary.

Adam

This week, I did more super sexy UI work. I finished up the first pass on the character sheets, where all the stats, skills, traits and the like are shown. I also added the gear page to that.

I also got started on the promotion UI, which presented some interesting challenges. It’s tricky to find the right balance between presenting a comprehensive crew roster with their ranks while also trying to make the operation of promoting a crew member from one rank to another.

Looks like I’ll be tackling inventory management next! That’ll be the last missing piece to allow us to equip gear to crew members.

Weekly Dev Update – January 9th, 2015

Posted on January 9, 2015 by Adam

Happy New Year, space-friends! We had ourselves nice, restful holidays and we’re ready to kick some space-butt in 2015! Here’s our homemade, 100% organic dev update for you!

Daniel

Greetings fellow Organic Beings. This week I’ve been cutting the characters into little pieces. You know, so I can put them back together again. Basically by splitting up characters into different bits we can increase the variety in looks while not having to manually make and maintain every permutation possible.

Of course it means that you have to put in more time making sure different assets work well together when mixed and matched so its another balancing act of figuring out when it saves time to split them up and work on many files/parts rather than having to manually make permutations. Additionally you want to keep in mind future expansion, if you aim for that. With things split up adding more heads is a lot less work than if its not.

While working on the characters I’ve also started going through and making a pass at taking the characters from a very prototype level of completion to a much more usable setup when it comes to materials, uvmaps and procedural textures. Ensuring that the characters are easier to work with and align with the overarching visual style.

Dave

I’m working on something super exciting — fully procedural conversations (this is a 3rd version / upgrade of an existing prototype). The conversations use the personality of the characters to construct a back-and-forth narrative that results in an increase or decrease in friendship and respect between the two parties.

We’re building the conversation up from scratch, and there is no pre-written text. Right now the conversations are about mundane topics that one might expect on an Astrobase, but later we plan to use topics that relate to events, missions, and other things. So the characters can discuss what’s going on in their lives.

Adam

This week, I focused on wrapping up some features and fixes relating to the desk UI. Presenting UI on 3D assets presents a unique challenge in terms of font sizes and layouts because it’s a trial-and-error process to use them, see what you can see clearly and what you can’t and to tweak it.

I managed to knock out getting rolodex cards looking nice and I’m almost done with adding character sheets, which contains all the important stats, traits and the like for crew members, as well as their gear loadout (weapon/armor/device).

The desk was a bit of a gamble, what with it being an in-game 3D GUI, but the more we use it, the more we’re convinced it was worthwhile. It’s really effective at pulling the player into the world and giving them a place to rifle through files, reports and the like in those calmer moments of gameplay.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Jellyfish Games!

Posted on December 22, 2014 by Adam

We’ve had ourselves a great year over at Jellyfish Games. Between bringing Daniel and his wonderful art onto the team, making a whole heap of Internet-friends and getting ourselves into IndieDB’s Top 100 Indies of The Year (out of 10 000 projects!), it’s great to see we’re on track to deliver on the vision we had for this game from the get-go.

But none of this would be possible without you fine folks. It was your support in getting us greenlit on Steam last year that convinced us we needed to make this game. Many of your contributions on social media, Reddit and gaming news sites got us great coverage. And it’s our day-to-day interactions with you that keep us going, that remind us who we’re doing this for. Thank you so much for that!

We’ll be using this period of merry-making for some much-needed rest and recuperation (I’m writing this wrapped in blankets while fighting a nasty cold), but we’ll be back to our regular dev update posting schedule on January 2nd.

Next year is going to be a big one for us. So, drink your cocoa and mulled wine, roast your chestnuts on open fires and gather your strength, because we’re going to be counting on you more than ever!

Weekly Dev Update – December 12th, 2014

Posted on December 12, 2014 by Adam

Adam

This week has been chock full of tying up loose ends in desk-related features (rolodex, datapad, paper reports, etc.) to get all that to a usable state. I won’t list individual tweaks but I’ll say again that I’m really happy how all that is coming together!

Go vote for us on IndieDB! We’re in the top 100 so let’s rock that leaderboard!

Daniel

Hello, Biological Units. This week has been another where I focus on the different sections. Some additional work was done on finishing up the Holding Cell and Decontamination section. After that I worked a while on the Main Computer and the Life Support sections, each with their own complications.

The former needs to both be a potential work place and act as a transit hub in smaller stations. The latter is a collection of very complex hardware (irl) which, on the ISS for example, tends to be something packed into a metal box, hiding away all the techy goodness. Both of these of course, as most everything, requires me figuring out the visual balance between what looks useable, what looks good and what isnt insanely high-poly.

quad_security_holding_cell_wip04

Dave

This week, here’s what I did:

  1. Finished the game code and database tables for the V3 story system. (system is done, working, etc)
  2. Wrote a tool that auto-converts my human-readable story design into the database format.
  3. I also did a number of smaller (unplanned) upgrades to the system as I thought of them. The goal is maximum flexibility when creating the plot points which stories navigate. We take the words “anything can happen” seriously.
  4. Got about 2/3 of the way through a design-review of my test-case, which is the narrative options that are triggered when a crew member on an away mission is tasked with exploring a forested location.

By monday, I should have it all ready for an internal demo. Keep in mind this is part of the basic underpinnings which will constitute our AI Storyteller (since it needs to manage all ongoing “stories” and keep track of how they all connect), so I really want to get it right before rolling it out, and hooking it all up. (It’s currently running in a stand-alone mode).