April 25th, 2017 – Notes for Cinth on how to use Mesh Baker Pro to do our atlasing instead of Pro Draw Call Optimizer. Pros and cons and troubleshooting galore, although it all works out in the end. Good tool, bad interface, great results. Translation: long tutorial.
We’ve had several releases since I last did a blog post announcing one, and that was mostly due to me simply not having time at the end of a long day each time.
What We’ve Been Up To
That said, the prior versions were not really fully reflective of how much work is going on lately, even so. The new planetary sidebar is an awesome thing (even in a somewhat early state), and the new shot lerping and smooth rotation of ships helps to improve the visual polish a great deal. There’s still a lot more visual polish things for me to do (and some visual performance ones) prior to the Early Access launch about a month from now, but it’s proceeding on a good pace.
Less visibly, behind the scenes Blue has been cranking out new ship designs with great gusto, and Cinth has been wiring them up so that they can be used. Keith has been doing massive amounts of underlying code work to support the various systems that all sorts of ships need in order to function. These things were frustratingly invisible, but now they’re starting to bear visible fruit.
Version 0.119, which is now out, is the first of seven ship batches that Keith has planned for during alpha. Overall there are 24 new ships in this one, so I believe that about triples the number of ships the game previously had. There are about 70 overall types of ships planned for during the pre-Early-Access alpha. After that, there’s another 60ish ships planned prior to 1.0.
Art For Ships vs Logic For Ships
Progress is happening well on all of that, although when it comes to actually having ships in game (playable) versus art-is-done (looking like the actual ship) is a mishmash. Some of the ships are in the game without having graphics completed (or wired-up) yet, and those just show with their name and little rock-shapes.
Some actually do have their art done, but they’ve been left as rock-shapes because Keith was in a hurry I think. Others have their art done, but the actual logic for those ships won’t be ready until another few ship batches from now.
From the look of things, we should have all of the alpha ships done in the next month (visually speaking), so that should coincide well with the Early Access date. For the post-alpha stuff, I don’t have an estimate on how long that will precisely take, but I’m guessing 3+ months after EA starts.
Backer Art Commisions
And then lastly, there’s 21 specific art variants that high-level backers commissioned; 10 custom arks, 1 ark or flagship (up to the backer), 2 derelict fortresses, 4 flagships, and and 4 gold-merc-backer-level merc ship paint jobs. These are things that we’ll start discussing with those backers once all of the other ship art is in, so that they can see what is there already when they’re trying to decide what they want to ask Blue to cook up. 🙂
All in all? Things seem to be on schedule. We’re behind in some areas (I had planned on doing sound effects before now), but ahead in others (some of the modding and balance capabilities are more advanced than I’d expected at this point).
Just thought that this was a fun video to do, since a bug in the shot lerping made this an ideal case to show what the shot lerping IS and how it makes a difference in the final visuals of the game.
The video came out longer than I had intended, but it’s a neat look into some of the math challenges behind having a “liar liar” 3D battlefield representation above an underlying coarser 2D simulation.
None of these are intractable problems, by the way, but if I waited to take a video after I fixed the problems, it would be a lot harder to see the innards of how this works. 🙂
As a reminder, we have a video playlist for our AI War 2 dev diary, which includes a variety of videos that are marked as unlisted on our main channel video listing.
Oy, I’m tired. So I’ll mostly let the release notes speak for themselves. 😉 Also, here’s a screenshot:
The release notes are fairly lengthy, but mainly because they go into a lot of detail. There’s a lot of cool stuff in here, but nothing like the last release in terms of scale.
Keith added a couple of buttosn and menu commands to make things easier on players, and extended part of the modding interface to make things easier on visually-oriented modders.
On my end I cleaned up some various things related to the icon graphics, along with Blue doing the same. I also made some adjustments to the overall bloom effects; it should be better-looking and more performant now. Wormholes should also be better-looking.
Most of my time on this one was spent on the icons themselves, though. Both in terms of making the new system look better than it did before, but also allowing for a two-version system for players to choose between (in the settings file only right now, sorry about that). Basically the ability to see everything represented with shapes, along the lines of this:
Instead of ship-oriented (with flair for sub-types) icons like this:
Even in the latter image, you can see a lot of the various improvements, though. The icons have more definition to them, the borders and bars are better, and so on. Frankly I’m not sure which system I completely prefer, but fortunately we don’t really have to choose between them. Hooray options menus! 😉