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Monthly Archives: March 2015

2015-02-28_12-40-19

It’s been a long time. How have you been? Do you remember that time when we jumped from Unity, to Panda3d, to Unity again?

…well.

 

The Plan

Science of the Spheres is now on Unreal Engine 4, and has been for a while now. I won’t go into too many specifics as to the why, but the gist of it is that we’ve concluded it to be a better choice than Unity for many of the things we wish to do, and as well can achieve a much higher level of fidelity in the game than we could otherwise. In addition, UE4 provides access to the engine source, which is a godsend given a few of the things we wish to make in the future can be implemented more or less directly into the engine rather than clumsily affixed onto it. As one example, this will greatly aid the creation of the voxel terrain system in the future. At the present time though, that goal is at an indeterminate point in the future. The current direction of development is to produce a playable demo/prototype on the new engine, containing a small selection of the main features for the final game, to serve as an effective example of what the future will hold. This includes the following:

  • Headquarters scene and surroundings
  • Construction and operation of spacecraft
  • Basic scientific observations
  • Single pre-made “showcase” solar system

 

In more descriptive terms, this means that for the demo, the player will be able to wander around the headquarters at their leisure and interact with things, build spacecraft (with unlimited funds and supplies), deploy them, and fly them around a specially made solar system, designed to show off what the future procedural generation will be able to produce. This demo will be released for free, and followed shortly after by the opening of the Kickstarter campaign which I have just announced in this sentence. That will be used to get a bit of seed funding (I do mean only “a bit” – a pittance compared to what many campaigns ask for) to give a boost to development until the game is ready to begin the alpha period after the remaining major features have been implemented.

Now, the alpha period for SotS will be private, carried out by a group of testers selected for the task (please don’t request a position, that will be handled much later). During this time, the game’s features and content will be developed and implemented as the testers dissect it, until all main features have been implemented and the biggest game-breaking bugs have been destroyed. After that, beta begins, and with it Early Access on Steam. This will effectively just be a public beta test available to those who have pre-ordered the game, focused on killing bugs and polishing that what remains, with no major feature additions beyond that point.

After that, after a very long, joyous, terrible, bug-filled road, Science of the Spheres will be released. And then? I have no idea.

 

2015-03-01_02-13-04

The Rest of the Plan

Now, beyond the demo features listed above, things are a little bit more nebulous. But, by now the concept for the game has matured enough that I feel confident of making a Big Damn Features List to articulate what currently is planned for the game. Eventually I will be making a big periodically-updated list with little blurbs about what each feature means, but for now, of the top of my head:

Headquarters

  • Management of finances
  • Part and item inventory
  • Over-the-phone part and item purchase
  • In-house part manufacturing
  • Staff management
  • Construction, deployment, and operation of spacecraft
  • Unprecedented vinyl record simulation
  • Time-based mechanics
  • Random events (goon avoidance, toaster bounty, etc)
  • Records and results of scientific observations
  • Facility equipment upgrades

Spacecraft

  • Propulsion and attitude control systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Communication systems
  • Scientific observation
  • Resource detection, extraction and return
  • Sample collection and return
  • Moving parts such as wheels and general-purpose servos
  • Human-carrying vehicles

Microverse

  • Procedurally generated infinite* universe
  • Destructible voxel-based terrain system
  • Interstellar travel
  • Special objects
  • Special locations
  • Life forms of various dispositions

(* – Not really, but close enough: each galaxy is based on a 64-bit seed, which would allow every single person in the world to spend the rest of their lives seeing different galaxies)

Things in this list will most certainly change in some way or another. I’ve also likely forgotten a number of things, but the eventual Big Damn Features List will be updated semi-frequently whenever it does show up.

 

intothestorm

The Right Now

At the present time, the main focus has been setting up the two game scenes, and getting a few base systems programmed. Specifically, implementing the Bullet physics engine, and re-jiggering a few things in the engine code to allow two scenes to co-exist at the same time. There has also been a considerable amount of theory-crafting, as well as some simulation/prototyping of how planet formation can work with the new physics provided. Here are a few more random pictures:

2015-03-01_13-46-35

2015-03-01_13-49-19

2015-03-01_13-50-50

2015-03-01_13-51-34

 

And lastly, here is a video version of the first picture in this post, with sound effects added to enhance the mood: