Hey there Astro-friends! We’ll be posting this week’s Dev Update on Monday to let Dave enjoy a long overdue weekend with his beloved. No matter how hard we try, the guy won’t take time off, so this is an important event for us!
Tune in early next week for our update!
The Unity 5 upgrade brought about a lot of opportunities, both visual and otherwise. I was able to integrate Daniel’s new character models, uniforms, body types, genders and all. I was also able to integrate some of the missing UI and wrap up the desk content. I also had an opportunity to fix some early usability bugs (turns out it’s tricky having 3D GUI!).
This week has been spent mostly on some new Datapad programs, including the Equipment Manager. Once complete, it will allow us to managed gear assigned to characters in our crew. Since away teams sent out on missions have almost no chance of survival (what with the obvious environmental hazards), it’s a vital step of mission planning.
Here’s a little taste of the updated desk, as well as some of the characters in the background. See you next week!
Hi Everybody! Last week I spent looking at how we can best utilize the new shiny toys Unity 5 brings graphically. Since we’re a procedural game small changes tend to have big impacts compared to something more linear where you’d just make sure that the level looks good as it is right then and there. Just as the week before where I spent a lot of time running the game to figure out how to polish it best.
This week I’ve been re-lighting all the different rooms to get things aligned with what we can now do. It’s looking sweet if I do say so myself.
However I do prefer to hold off on showing it off until we’re sure its something we have enough performance to do in the actual game, since everything is procedural I work on the different rooms separately. Fingers crossed.
I took a bit of a breather this week waiting for code to come online that allows me to implement missions in such a way I can test them every step.
Breather was spent refining the mission design spreadsheets, tweaking stuff, and generally making sure everything is well organized and ready to go. Essentially, we’re talking “design polish” time, which I was very glad to have.
While Adam was working on the upgrade to Unity 5, I decided to tackle the largest unsolved design problem with missions which is making the traits fundamental to the character decision making. It can’t be +1 here -1 there, it has to be integral to the system.
Because I need the game to be able to say “this is an ethical decision, and ethical people do A and unethical people do B” (just using ethics as an example of one of the MANY possible aspects of a character personality).
Because Astrobase isn’t content-driven, I can’t just write it into some contrived custom narrative. Basically I need a novel solution here, that is simultaneously transparent (since I need to put procedural narrative on top of it that that describes why person A made choice X), deep, and meaningful. This is our core gameplay for missions, and I’m getting close to something but it’s not quite there yet.
As we gradually approach our target functionality for Alpha 1, Dave and Daniel have had opportunities to play the game more and more. As such, they’ve rained down a torrent of bugs, usability issues and the like that I’ve done my best to tackle as they came in.
I also spent some time working on upgrading our project to Unity 5, which was recently officially launched. This was a welcome upgrade as it came with a whole slew of performance improvements, as well as providing Daniel with a bunch of new graphics toys to play with to pretty the ol’ game up!
Hi Everybody. This week I’ve been doing a polish pass and playtesting to figure out what i need to do to polish best. Before you get too excited, this is really only for me as art needs quite a bit more time when polishing than the other disciplines.
This week I’ve spent mainly making parts for projectile weapons. The main challenge with this is to make sure all the different pieces work together while at the same time giving enough variety to be worth it.
Currently there are well over 1000 different permutations of them. I made a little video to illustrate some options. These combinations are completely random so some might not look as good as others.
This week I worked on upgrading our procedurally generated planet weather system into something more detailed that I could tie into missions.
One thing that’s become clear is that most missions will probably take place on lifeless/barren planets, and this case needs to be just as interesting and tense as the planet filled with creatures and relics of a lost alien civilization.
This week, I worked on cleaning up and converting the remaining desk elements like the inbox, rolodex, game clock, program cartridges, as well as improving how you interact with everything you can move around on the desk.
With all that done, I’ll be able to focus on updating our characters with Daniel’s new assets, make some graphical tweaks to improve overall performance and up the prettiness factor to 11.
Since last week I was surprised by Adam with the functionality to combine skinned meshes, which allows me to build characters from pieces instead in-game instead of having to have one mesh per permutation or some other dirty dirty solution to modularity in character visuals; I began this week by weighting the skinning (when preparing a mesh to be animated you bind its vertices to its bones, the default initial skinning is pretty good nowadays but in some areas it is lacking) for all the character meshes we have in game so far. This means that characters now don’t deform in an overly broken manner.
Aside from that I also spent time making sure the projectile weapon assets will export right and I coded a bit so that they now actually build themselves properly in-game. Which helps when wanting characters not to look broken.
This week I continued tackling the landing phase of missions. As expected, it uncovered several over-arching systems required for missions in general in addition to the systems used specifically in landing itself. For example, we need text generation for mission leaders to command their crew to do perform a given task (in this case landing, but we’ll need it for all tasks).
So for most of this week I’ve been doing the design work to get command sentences — and how this relates to task performance by the taskee, using the trait system — added to procedural text generation.
This week I decided to change it up and get the combined skinned meshes working for Daniel. His mocap work was so cool that I wanted him to be able to use his great characters instead of some pretty ugly placeholders.
Then I jumped back into datapad work, tackling the beast that is the module builder program. If I can finish the GUI conversion this weekend, that’ll be it for the desk for a little while!