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The Jovian Development #3: Skirmish Mode and Writing Code

MF

The Boar Studio
Patron
Developer
Joined
Dec 8, 2002
Messages
905
Location
Amsterdam
It rhymes!

How is development coming along?

Steady, but there is a lot of ground to cover and I'm a couple of months behind on my schedule. Not because I didn't work hard enough, but because I underestimated the time required to do certain things right. I put in a lot more hours than I anticipated and got a lot less done. In the grand scheme of things that's not necessarily bad. If I wasn't prone to a little hubris I'd have never started this whole thing.

What are you currently working on?

I implemented saving during combat, which isn't so much about saving during combat as preparing the combat data structure for serialization. While going over the data I realized how many aspects were still in development flux. Combat items and characters were hardcoded or loaded in from the editor. If I was going to have a decent Skirmish mode and release a combat alpha, I was going to have to tackle a proper interface and player facing structure for it first. Titan Outpost's inventory interface was never going to cut it.

Took me the better part of a month, but I'm almost there. You can add teams, add pre-made characters to them or characters you made with chargen and then assign gear to them. You can save characters, gear setups and teams, load them, etc. etc.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this screenshot.

I decided that since having multiple teams not necessarily allied with each other was going to be present in the story campaign, I'd want it in the skirmish mode as well. Might as well build it now. I was tinkering with some placeholder modular interface elements when I looked at the outboard gear of my recording studio setup. I dig Skeuomorphism, can't help it. The DB meter is the team's tech level/danger value, which limits the available item pool and stat points. Plenty of room for picking a team color and stuff like that, but haven't put that in yet.

I also created some armor pieces and a new suit, because I couldn't test gearing up characters when I had plenty of weapons but just the one suit and some placeholders with untextured graphics and filler stats. So I also spent a week building nothing but content, which always feels good. Somehow seeing things take shape before my eyes feels like progress, much more so than being in the code mines which is arguably more important.

If you're curious, the damage resistances are derived from the currently worn space suit and the equipped leg armor in this screenshot. You can have aimed shots so there is DR for each target point. The other suit in the available items inventory is heavier, but that helmet is full of sensitive electronics and has 0 energy resistance, for example. Things like that make applying damage interesting. I still need to add more stats like rupture chance and oxygen to the interface, and info for the weapons and some that are derived from the character, but I'm not sure yet where to go with mouseovers and what to keep on screen. Once all the functionality is in I can get to having satisfying drag & drop, item comparison and other QoL stuff. One thing I did add is sound and universal button audio capability, because I thought Titan Outpost was a little sparse in terms of interface sounds and I'm actually quite fond of auditive feedback.

SkirmishmodeSetup.jpg


Wait, I thought this was an RPG. Is Tactics truly the new RPG?
Yes, duh! No. It's going to be an RPG. According to some purists, more of an RPG than Titan Outpost precisely because it has combat. But it's also going to have exploration, a story, character progression, lots of dialogue, an improved negotiation system and, not necessarily RPG related but still tied to the character system, research, crafting and base building. It's just that I happen to really like tactical combat and I want to do it right. I also want to make something that feels new with the zero G approach, but kind of old-school crunchy at the same time.

Early 2023 early access release out of the question?

Definitely. I'll be happy if I get the combat alpha to a select group by the end of this year. Sometimes I allow myself to work on implementing quests, writing for the characters and doing world building, but I need to get the systems part right before I can completely focus on content. Writing, modelling and scripting is so much fun that it's easy to get carried away while I still have so much work on the systems ahead of me. It's a delicate balance that needs to skew in favor of programming. I thought I'd be mostly done with the core by now, but I think I learned from Titan Outpost and I'm guarding my ''technical debt' bit better. I've always been a really fast and efficient 'hacker' type programmer, but I'm forcing myself to stop and consider every now and then whether I'm writing robust code or not. I have plenty of experience and I know what robust code is, I'm just not in the habit of writing it when I'm working alone. That's a slower process, but I think it will ultimately be much better for the game. For scripting issues, quest threads and stuff like that, nothing beats rigorous testing, but Titan Outpost had too many bugs in the core systems at launch due to some fundamental mistakes that weren't strictly necessary and I don't wish to repeat those.

So, vapourware?

Fuck no. I had to adjust my roadmap a lot, but it's getting done one way or the other.

Can I help?

Yes! I'll be needing people willing to suffer through what I'm going to cautiously call alpha testing the combat system before the end of this year. Some might consider it beta, but I don't want to presume. Anyway, when the time comes you can apply in a message, or mail me. You could, now, I suppose. Wouldn't hurt and I love to hear from you. But it might be a while.
 
Last edited:

ShaggyMoose

Savant
Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
593
Location
Australia
Happy to help with testing gameplay systems, less keen on early end-to-end playthroughs because it tends to ruin the final release for me.
 

MF

The Boar Studio
Patron
Developer
Joined
Dec 8, 2002
Messages
905
Location
Amsterdam
Thank you, much appreciated. I'll keep tabs and contact you heroes when the time comes.

It would probably be most efficient/user friendly to put the alpha build on Steam and prepare a beta test package. I'll have to figure that out.
 

MF

The Boar Studio
Patron
Developer
Joined
Dec 8, 2002
Messages
905
Location
Amsterdam
Yes it will. Thanks! I will stagger platforms for testing though. I'll put test builds out for linux and mac as well, but iterate less frequent on those at first.

Working hard to have the combat test before the end of the year. Most of the major things are ready, but there's a lot of little things I have to take care of. Some of those lead me down rabbit holes, such as the interface for aimed shots. A few days ago I finally implemented clicking on limbs in the main view if you toggle aimed shots. That's the way I wanted to do it in the first place, but I had players picking target points from a list as a placeholder. I figured it made no sense releasing a test build with temporary UI widgets that run counter to the design. Things like that really add up.

Especially the AI needs a lot of work still, but that's precisely the kind of thing for which I need feedback, so that's a reason to get the build out sooner rather than later.
 

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