Weekly Dev Update – February 6th, 2016

Posted on February 6, 2016 by Adam

Adam

Hey there space fans!

I’ve been spending the past few weeks tending to our other obligations, but now we’re back in full swing!

Since we last spoke, I did a lot of work on overall usability. I re-wrote the camera rig from scratch for something much more smooth, responsive and more functionally appropriate given how we go about navigating and building the station. I also had a chance to solve a few performance issues here and there and solve a metric butt-ton of bugs.

I spent this past week revisiting our AI system. Now that we’ve had a chance to put it through its paces, there were some obvious weaknesses. Since few of our other systems currently depend on the AI, it’s as good a time as any to revamp that.

It took me pretty much the whole week to research appropriate solutions (and fill my whiteboard with the scribblings of a madman), as well as sanity check my findings with AI experts I know. I’m pretty confident I’ve got a solid, flexible solution that’ll hold up in a few key areas.

Specifically, I needed something that could deal with needs-based decision making (eating, sleeping, socializing), while also being able to react to environmental elements on the fly (talk to Bob as you walk past, respond to a reactor fire).

If there’s any interest, I’ll write a more comprehensive post explaining how the whole system comes together. It re-uses some parts I’ve spoken of before (name utilities), but also has a bunch new bells and whistles.

Daniel

Hi Everybody!

It’s been a while! Since last time we last caught up I’ve been very busy. Mostly in nailing down loose nails and tightening screws to get what we had to a more solid state.

Shaping up the state of the game allows us to better evaluate where we’re at and what is left to do. During most of game development you often break the game in many ways at any time in order to add more features or change things. This of course leads to a difficulty in assessing the current state so in order to do that you need to at some point put everything to a fully(ish) implemented state before adding more atop of what already exists.

Oh! I also got the opportunity to dig into some paperwork. Paperwork is a source for everlasting enjoyment, oh boy it’s fun!

Dave

Hey there! I’ve been working on trait re-balance. Basically, the traits that are in the system right now have been more-or-less placeholder.

First I worked out the optimal number of traits and the rulesets about their construction to have a perfectly balanced personality system. I then reduced the problem to a math/combinatorics problem where there is one correct solution out of about 16 million possible configurations.

If I can solve the math problem, I’ve balanced the system. I’ve been working on this for about two weeks — finding the correct configuration which satisfies all my balance rules is not just hard, it’s NP Hard (actually it’s NP complete but that joke didn’t work as well).

We’re baaack!

Posted on January 15, 2016 by Max Shields

Welcome back to all!

After a short break (don’t worry, we’ve been busy chipping away at Astrobase even if you haven’t heard from us), we’re eager to take on the challenges that await us in 2016.

To kick things off, we’re sharing a short glimpse of some of the attention to detail that Daniel has been investing on the desktop.

We want you to be able to feel that you are part of the universe and part of that is establishing a sense of ownership over your desk. We’ve been playing around with the idea of having interactive items such as a bobblehead figure and a starglobe/snowglobe device.

They’re still Alpha assets, but even at this early stage they liven things up your space bureaucracy terminal!

See you next week!

Season’s Greetings from Jellyfish Games – December 23rd, 2015

Posted on December 23, 2015 by Max Shields

Well everyone, the Earth has made its way around the Sun yet another time and we have reached the holiday seasons.

We’ve recently spoken to some of the great strides that we have taken so far , but it’s still worth taking a moment to highlight some of the major achievements that we have made in the past year. Astrobase Command has progressed through a number of evolutions that have allowed us to migrate away from prototype code and assets into a far more refined and cohesive whole. What were once disparate parts that functioned in their own sandboxes have been linked together to create a complete game loop. Our AI storyteller comes up with engaging character experiences that have on more than one occasion made us laugh out our even get a lump caught in our throats due to its poignancy. Sometimes it still puts out odd statements that make us scratch our heads, but Dave is gingerly tending to it and making it smarter daily. Daniel has forged a glorious and unique visual style that has allowed us to find our voice amidst a galaxy crowded by so many stellar sci-fi offerings. Even more amazingly, this one man space art ninja army has coaxed enough performance out of his assets that we can run Astrobase on our old computers.

Throughout, we’ve also had to take arms against the many perils that await any startup and indie game development team. We’ve had to fend off storms of paperwork, figure out the niceties and unpleasantnesses that it takes to run a business of our own, and find a way to keep food on the table and roofs over our heads.

Your eager support has served as a beacon and lit the darkest of nights for us to continue finding our way. You make it all worthwhile, so we wish to thank you all for everything you’ve done so far. We want to give a shout out to Ethan in particular. You’ve given us some superb support!

We also want you to know that there are great things awaiting Astrobase Command in 2016. As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, we can’t quite get into the specifics just yet, but we have a clear path for the way ahead to Early Access. We are generating solid momentum and several key pieces beside making the game itself are now falling into place. We can see the light at the end of the hyperspace tunnel!

So we want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Enjoy this time with your family and friends. We look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.

Weekly Dev Update – December 4th, 2015

Posted on December 4, 2015 by Max Shields

Greetings space gardeners!

 

This week, we’re pulling the curtain back a little bit on Astrobase Command’s development. We’re giving you a virtual peek over Daniel’s shoulder so you can see his work on the garden module.

Much of what we’ve been doing recently is trying to optimize our art assets to get the best frame rates possible while still achieving the visual effect we want. This leads to a lot of experimentation with design and different kinds of software.

Space hues

In this case, we’ve been testing SpeedTree to see if it could help us enhance the generous amounts of greenery that will be placed around the astrobase. The video above demonstrates SpeedTree’s hue variation over object instances. It will allow us to add more visual variety to our plants while minimizing the amount of memory needed to do so. It may not seem like much, but little details such as these will contribute to making the astrobase feel more alive.

Blowing in  the wind

Since your crew will for the most part be stuck in deep space, we thought it’d be nice to give them a nice place unwind and contemplate the meaning of life. The video above shows Daniel at work as he designs the garden module. We’ve also tested our vegetation’s wind animation…because explosive decompression.

 

Astrobase Command Progress Report – Weekly Dev Update – November 27th, 2015

Posted on November 27, 2015 by Max Shields

You, fine members of the Astrobase Command community, have asked for a bit of big picture visibility on our progress since we’ve started and a better sense of where we are heading.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been almost 2 years since we launched the Kickstarter for Astrobase Command. Even though it didn’t turn out quite the way we hoped, we’ve been busily pushing on with the project.

In the course of those two years, we’ve put out quite a few updates and as we burrow deeper and deeper into our respective areas to get the game ready to go, we sometimes get pretty focused. Our friend @AztechConsulting led the way recently by pointing out that we were getting so far down into the stardust that you can’t see the galaxy for the planets (how’s that for mixed metaphors?)

So we spent some time gathering some notes that would help give you a better picture of where we stand at this point. In the process, we cast our gaze all the way back to our pre-Kickstarter era and then took note of key events and developments to take stock of the challenges and accomplishments we’ve undertaken so far.

We were quite surprised by how much we have actually pulled off. It’s easy even for us to lose sight of the mountains of work we’ve had to conquer to get to this stage. Here are some of the key themes and events that we’ve tackled to date:

  1. Created an original IP and set a distinctive retro visual style;
  2. Set up a collaborative workspace in which we can efficiently create and share content despite being separated on two different continents;
  3. Developed our dev tools;
  4. Emerged from the chrysalis of our prototype coding with wholly new builds to improve code efficiency and integrate new gameplay elements;
  5. Developed a mechanism for characters to have conversations;
  6. Developed AI Agent utility systems;
  7. Handled the business of actually setting up a company. It takes more time than one would think;
  8. Created a slew of procedural generation technologies for character portraits, planets, planetary locations, weapons and equipment; and
  9. Most importantly at this stage, we are in the process of wrapping up the foundational work for the AI Storyteller. We are getting diverse stories that are tailored to each character’s attributes and presenting engaging dilemmas for them to tackle in their own manner.

All of this leaves us only a few features away from having the full game loop that we can start polishing up in anticipation for its release to EA. Mind you, some of these features are hefty, so Astrobase won’t be on EA in the next month or two, but the light at the end of the hyperspace tunnel may be coming into view.

Also, each of the team members have undergone a number of personal challenges, ranging from cross-country moves, to changes in the situation on the home front, and even medical challenges.

As member of the gamedev community, we’ve also lived through the shift in perception when it comes to the level of finish expected of Steam’s Early Access candidates. It would have been a poor move for us to hop on just to try to get a revenue stream too early, as we believe that it would have ended up representing a greater risk to the ultimate outcome of successfully delivering a full-featured Astrobase Command to all of you.

And yet, despite these obstacles that have been thrown in our paths, we are still here, we are still working, and we still burn fiercely with the desire to deliver Astrobase as soon as possible.

Now that we’ve cycled through some major internal milestones, we have a strong understanding of the time it takes for our small team to tackle different challenges. It’s also clear what we’ve got left to do before we’re ready to get Astrobase Command into your hands.

We have carefully planned our Path to Early Access. In the short term, we’ll keep scheduling details For Internal Use Only because we’re still finalizing our PR strategy. Announcing a specific date is a card we can only play once, so we want it to make as much of a bang as possible to the media.

What we can say is that our EA release date hinges on how much we like our next internal playable build. It is scheduled for late December. We only want to release something to EA that is good enough that we can ethically charge money for it.

Because we haven’t taken any money yet, and that we don’t intend to until we are happy that we have a special nugget of gaming unobtainium, we’re not under any commitment pressure. This is a luxury we want to keep because we’ll keep cutting builds until we’re satisfied that you will be satisfied.

We do enjoy being open with you and sharing some of what makes making games so engaging and challenging, and hopefully pass on some useful learning points and tips for you to use in your own projects. So hopefully this update will meet that objective and at least let you get a feeling for where things are at this point.