petak, 11. studenoga 2016.

Preview release v0.5.2

It's almost as if I have a monthly schedule, new preview release is available for download. Semi-exclusive research is a new feature and there have been a number of improvements and bug fixes.

Download Stareater v0.5.2

Semi-exclusive research had it's own post so I'd focus on under the hood improvements. I won't bore you with coding details this time, let's just say that the game is back to 1000 FPS. As usual whenever the game starts lagging it's my fault, I either forgot to remove debug info collection or performed steps in wrong order. This time it was order of the steps, text rendering was initialized during the scene rendering instead of before it, making invalid OpenGL calls. Unfortunately it didn't crash the program nor bugged out graphics (which it should), driver made an effort to control the damage so I didn't notice the issue right away. After playing a bit with GLIntercept, an OpenGL debugging tool, I've found the culprit and was relieved that the cause was my sloppiness instead of something in programming language + OpenGL + driver combination.

I've also made a bit of code clean up and some refactoring. I've decided to drop T4 text template technology because editor support is not on the level I'd like and it cumbersome to work with it. Once you make it work, it works but when you have to make a change it ends up taking whole week. So far I've reworked two "classes" of T4 dependent code but the final and the most complicated class still remains. I have a prototype of an alternative approach in making but it will take me some time to incorporate it. I'm most probably postpone it and focus on something else.

So in a mean time enjoy the preview and feel free to give feedback!

srijeda, 9. studenoga 2016.

Semi-exclusive research

A hybrid between Master of Orion II exclusive research system and Space Empires V incremental system is done. When research breakthrough happens a player unlocks new topics and chooses their priorities. Higher priority items have lower development cost making lower priority items harder to acquire but not impossible.

In Master of Orion II research works by accumulating research points until breakthrough happens in a selected field. Each field level unlocks between one and three applications (building, ship component or passive bonus) and normally player can pick only one. Other applications can be acquired from other players through trade or espionage if they happen to research them or by having a creative race trait which gives all applications on breakthrough. Some players hate this exclusivity because if you don't play creative race you will miss out some very useful technologies and creative trait is quite expensive which limits amount of traits you can pick with it. Other players love the system because it gives the reason to use diplomacy and can make the game play a bit differently every time. Anecdotally my best MoO II experiences were when there was an uncreative race in the game. Uncreative trait gives random application (no choice) on breakthrough which makes otherwise predictable AI take interesting paths which in turn may make them actually stronger. It can make AI design better ships by preventing them from getting technologies for making their usual jack of all trades (but master of none).

How to make AI is currently hot topic in 4X community, I should address it at some point too but the topic of this post is research system. I wanted to make a system where player can have a cake and eat it. A system with good parts of exclusive mechanics and ability to eventually go back to missed out choices. One idea was to make some way of reresearching missed out application but that would either make research rewards random or would make reward list increasingly longer. The idea I settled on was to have research give all rewards every time and move the problem to development, where long list of possibilities and varying investment costs would be normal. How exactly would development cost vary with priority is still open question which I intend to iron out when I add more technologies. Speaking of which I have made a spreadsheet with tech "tree" and added to the game small part of if it. I'll add more as game mechanics get implemented and I fill more blanks in the spreadsheet.

And finally, this is how breakthrough screen looks like in game. On the left is the info about research field where breakthrough happened, name, level, description and in the middle are unlocked development topics. At the top is a list of topics which can be rearranged with buttons next to it. Order of topics determines their priority, higher on the list, lower the cost. Below it is currently mouse over or selected development topic description and accept button which finalized priority selection. I'll make new build soon so stay tuned.