This one had a lot of under-the-hood work to further the architecture goal of building the “Major” factions (human player, The AI) with mostly the same toolbox used for the “Minor” factions (Dyson, Devourer, Nanocaust, etc). This implicitly makes them all much more moddable and flexible.
But the result that stands out is that the Special Forces mechanic now stands out. Or rather, it used to be a mechanic, but now it’s a faction in its own right. The main AI makes donations to the SF, but the SF decides what to build and where to go. As in AIWC it acts to defend the AI’s planets against attack. Unlike AIWC, this behavior is more emergent (it should defend the AI against attacks from factions other than you, for instance) and is entirely moddable. If you want to make a SF sub-type that only builds long-range ships and only does sneaky drive-by attacks against the player, that can be done by modding. Or if you want a sub-type that only builds Etherjet Tractors and Widow Guardians and tries to tow the player’s fleet to its destruction, that can be done too.
This one is an assortment of changes, including another graphics pipeline shift from Chris and some neat stuff from community member BadgerBadger (if you notice a wormhole name glowing red to tell you where a wave is coming from, that’s who to thank).
There are also some further efforts to limit shots being wasted on overkill, so that units on all sides fight “smarter”. In the process of doing that, I might have transformed the Devourer from an imposing menace to an unstoppable killing machine.
One long-anticipated change was support for variable-intensity minor factions. Only the Dyson has it right now, but it can be added to other factions easily now.
Oh, and the game will actually tell you if you’ve won or lost now.
The above is a tutorial for Blue, our artist, though if any modders who are creating custom models are also using substance painter, this shows you how to set up your setup, too. You can also infer pretty easily how to do combinations manually using Photoshop channels to create packed maps, too.
Anyhow, we’re moving away from the Alloy Shader Framework to instead use custom shaders that give us an equivalent look with a vastly reduced workload and with definite compatibility with future unity versions, and this tutorial covers Blue’s side of what needs to change.
The above is a tutorial for Cinth, but this also is useful for any modders who are creating custom graphics for the game.
As noted in this video, this saves us a ton of manual work. A ton.
Also in this video I randomly stumbled across a visual improvement to the custom player ark Rorqual Hegira, so you can see how that evolved a bit thanks to the extra flexibility of this new shader set.