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Monday, January 30, 2012

Start of Battle Simulation

The cold is almost gone, but I still didn't feel well enough to go back to work. So while I stayed at home, I managed to work on combat simulation a bit. I've finished the battle selection window, the loading/setting up of battle, and started a bit on the space combat screen itself.

This is what I have in "Beam test.xml", I'm going to test a very simple configuration. One armor, one weapon, one reactor, and one engine of each type. Note that the first empire is human controlled, and the second is AI controlled. At this point, there's still no AI.

I then load up the game, and click on "New Game" from main menu. I then click on "Battle Simulator". It lists all the files inside the "battles" directory:

I select the beam test.xml file, and click on Commence. It loads in the data file, using the existing data files that are loaded from the current dataset. So far, I only have the background stars and the ships being drawn. This week I will add the UI elements for space combat screen.

As for the Desura, I'm waiting for the results of some people who said they'll test the game. When I recieve their feedback, I will fix the issues/implement any missing features, then submit the game for their review. Let's hope that it all works out!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

High Def!

I managed to upload a high-def video this time! You can view it in 1080p, which allows you to actually read what I'm typing in the files :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New video

I've uploaded a new video. However, I'm disappointed in its picture quality, I was hoping for higher resolution options so you can see the text in game and the data files that I'm modifying in the video. But this video clearly shows ground combat, so if you want to see that, skip to 5:00.

I will see if I can upload a higher resolution one. In any case, this video demostrates the new features that I added over the past months.

Beyond Beyaan Alpha Footage 2

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Version for Pre-Orderers

I've released a new version for the pre-orderers. For you who've pre-ordered, please check your paypal email for instructions on obtaining this version.

I'm going to make a new video soon showing all of the new features, hopefully it will be done by end of this week. After that, I will submit to Desura and see if they approve my project for alpha funding. If it's approved, then I will remove the "Donate" button, and set up accounts for the existing pre-orderers. If not, then I may look at Kickstarter and see if they will accept my game. I'm now at the point where I will need a lot more art assets. The reason is space combat, I will need special effects and particles for it.

Lately I've been not feeling well, so I'm going to rest this week. Hopefully by next week, I'll feel better and will start on space combat.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Plans for Space Combat

Alright, now we're finally on the topic of space combat! This is kinda exciting for me, since this is the best part of 4X games in my opinion. As I said, the goal of the game is to make it very moddable and flexible, so I've been thinking of ways for providing users a way of testing their technology/designs quickly without having to go through all the preparatory steps (build an empire, research technologies, design ships, then finally see them in combat). I think I have a very good idea, and it will even let me add extra features later on!

The idea is that when you select a dataset to load (default or one of your mods), and click on "New Game", there will be a button in the galaxy setup named "Combat Simulator". The reason why galaxy screen is that at this point, it've loaded in all the relevant data, so it's able to do combat immediately.

When you click on "Combat Simulator", it will pop up a list of available battles to load. Those battles will be saved in "Battles" folder of the dataset, and will be .XML files. Each of those file contains the complete data for a space combat screen, including ships and their equipment, their positions on the battlefield, and any other items such as planets, asteroids, and whatnot. This also includes whether or not an empire is controlled by an AI player, and which AI it uses. So it will also provide users an easy way of testing the AI scripts for combat.

After you've selected an battle to load, it will jump directly to combat screen (which will be the exact same screen used in normal gameplay), and you can proceed to either watch (if all players are AI), or be involved and try out new technologies.

After the battle is over, it will return to the galaxy screen.

One other nice thing that this can provide is that people can create custom battles, and challenge others to beat them. This is similar to Chess challenges, where you're challenged to win in 2 moves, or move the right piece, or some other goal, using a pre-set game layout.

All in all, I think this is a win-win situation, it lets players to test their mod, and at the same time, allowing me to test new features in space combat quickly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Final parts of transport done (mostly)

I pulled another half-nighter and got the remaining screens done for the transport mechanisms for the game. First up is the landing of troops on planets. This is what it looks like:

All planets that are owned are available for landing. This pops up during turn processing, after the colony prompt (so you could colonize a planet then fill it with people on the same turn). There's some polishing to do, but this screen is functional.

What happens if you decide to invade a planet that's not yours? When you set the amount of people, and click on "land" button, it will pop up a ground combat screen:

Please pardon my lousy background art. I've commissioned my artist to create new artwork for it. When he's done with those artwork, and I've fixed the bugs in the new screens, then I will release this version to the pre-orderers, as well as create a video demostrating all the new features.

I'm very tired, so I'm going to bed. Tomorrow I will detail my plans for space combat, I actually have some exciting plans for it, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First two parts of transport done!

Note: I focused on getting the screens functioning, I will make them look pretty and more informative later.

I've finished the screen that will pop up when you click on "Transport People" to put people into your fleet. This is what it looks like:

If you select too many people to put on board, it will gray out the transport button on right. You keep adding people, but you can't put them back (to avoid exploiting by moving people in the same system). You make adjustments to how much of each race you want to take on board, then click on the transport button to confirm.

When you order some or all of your ships to a destination, and the fleet have some people on board, it will process whether or not to pop up the split population window. The following cases are when it won't pop up:
If all of the transport ships are selected for the new destination
If all of the transport ships are left behind
If the total capacity equals the total population on board, and there's only one race.

Otherwise it will pop up and let you choose how much of each race to go on each fleet. This is what it looks like:

Note that I don't have a transport ship selected in top, and I didn't fill it to the maximum capacity, so the prompt popped up when I right clicked on a destination. On the left column are the amount of each race to leave behind in the unselected ships. On the right are the people to put in the ships moving to the new destination. The confirm button will be greyed out if one side have too many people.

Next up is landing of those people, and ground combat. Is the population transport system clear, or are there some aspects that I need to clarify?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Transports and Plans

I thought doing transports would be simple, but I realized that it will require four different screens/prompts. One for moving people onto ships, one for when you split up a fleet (dividing up transport ships), one for moving people onto your or other's planet, and one for ground combat. Fortunately I already have most of ground combat done, just need to rework it a bit.

The first window (moving onto ships) is almost done. My plan is when I'm done with the four screens I will post screenshots, and a new video showing the completed features in the game. I will also release a new version for the pre-orderers.

Then after that, I will start work on space combat. I'm excited about that, finally I can do the fun part of the game :)

Anyway, I've been thinking about the release date of May 31st, and how to achieve that. I think some features will have to wait until after the release. My goal is to have a playable game on release, which means the bare essentials (diplomacy, combat, and empire management, as well as AI) will need to be done first. This means that I may have to hold off on extra features such as random events, stacked ships, and others that are not critical for making the game playable. If things go well with the core game mechanics, then I may look into adding extra features before release. However, polishing and balancing will be a priority at that time.

The reason why I'm saying this is that I don't want the players to be disappointed by lack of random events and other extras. I plan on maintaining this game for a long time, fixing bugs and adding new features and content. Part of the reason for the release without all extra features is that I need funding to obtain artwork. So far, about 20% of the artwork were paid by the amount I got from pre-orderers, and 80% from my personal funds.

I'm thinking of following the Killing Floor's example of content updates. All updates that affects gameplay will be free (such as adding stacked ships and random events). They usually will be code updates, which are unmodifable by users, but may include new technologies and scripts which take advantage of the new features.

Updates that require artwork, excluding UI artwork, will be provided as a paid DLC. This would generally mean new races, but may include other content depending on how much artwork are required for the new content. The reason is that code updates are performed by me, so I'm able to do it without paying anyone, unlike artwork which I need to pay the artist for.

I planned on having 8 races for the game, (5 planet-based, 2 space-based, and a hybrid race that combines both planet and space entities), so if I release with less than 8 races, the remaining races will be added in the future for free. Then after that, it will follow the update process as outlined above. Race artwork is expensive, and the game may be released with only four races (3 existing races, and a new space-based race).

I hope this update plan is satisfactory for you guys. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Colonization Mk 2

As per suggestion, I've made uncolonizable planets more visually discernable from those that are colonizable by your ship. How does this one look?


It's now implemented, mostly!

Screenshot first!

It shows all the planets in the system that your colony ship(s) are adjacent to. It shows the planet's number underneath the planet - If it's white, it's colonizable by the selected ship. If it's grey, it's uncolonizable. If it have color, it's owned by an empire.

It can have multiple ships listed if you have more than one colony ship in the same system. So if you have a ship that can settle radiated planet, it would show radiated planets as colonizable if you have that ship selected.

If you don't want to colonize anything, just click on "done", the left most button. If you do want to, click on the right button to confirm colonization.

Let me know what you think of the UI layout!

Friday, January 13, 2012


I've started on the colonization/ground invasion/population transfer system. Right now I'm focusing on colonization. I've added the data support for which planets a "Colonization module" can colonize. Now I'm working on the UI for selecting which ship to colonize which planet. It's possible to have two or more colony ships in the same system, and you can colonize all the planets in the system in a turn if you have enough ships. Also I'm working on detecting whether or not you can colonize planets, in order to prompt you at all.

If there's no hostile ships adjacent to a system, but you have ground troops, it will prompt you asking if you want to invade planets. This is to avoid unnecessary space combat where all you do is move the ships near a planet and invade it.

When the colonization, invasion, and population transfer works, I will record a video showing those and other features. At that time, the game will be ready for space combat, finally!

My artist just provided me with some new artwork, so I took some time to clean up some code and make some improvements here and there. One thing that's new is that each race now have its own fleet icon. So you can easily at a glance determine which race an fleet is. I've asked him to provide some artwork for ground combat. The video will wait until those comes, because I don't want to give bad impression to newcomers :D

Here's the screenshot showing two different empires with different races, therby different fleet icons. Note the new "Production Screen" button artwork, it now looks like blueprints.

To orbit, or not to orbit, that is the question.

I've finished up some code related to production screen, so that it now actually processes the projects and adds the new ships to your empire. I also cleaned up some other code.

When I sat down to do the orbiting code, I played it through my mind. I visualized the players clicking on orbit for each colony ship, and splitting up fleets to orbit in order to attack, and so forth. I realized that it'd be more annoying than useful, so I think that I should remove the orbit button, and just have the game automatically prompt you if you want to invade, colonize, or attack, and allow you to pick planets in those prompts. That would be one less step, because even if you ordered the fleet to orbit, it would ask for confirmation.

Now my issues are the following - Bear with me, I'm thinking out loud, I want you guys to see my train of thought :) :
If two or more empires wants to invade the same system, who goes first? Imagine that a planet have 100 Zero People, and you have 100 humans in transport ready to invade, and the space hamsters also have 100 units ready to invade the same planet. How should this be handled? Remember that it can be a hot-seat multiplayer, so it's possible for two human players to invade the same planet.

Should it let players decide how much units to invade a planet, then have all the sides battle it out at the same time? A problem with that is that the second human player can see how much the first human player allocated for an invasion, and can up the ante a bit to ensure that he wins.

Another issue are the planets themselves during space combat. It'd have to be an all or nothing deal. If you're attacking a planet, you're attacking the whole system. This is because if two empires are attacking the same system, all sides will have to be accounted for.

I just had a thought. What if you can't do ground invasions after space combat, but only DURING the space combat? That would require you to move your transport ships near a planet you want to invade, then launch the ground troops to the planet. When the ground troops arrives (it could take more than a turn, depending on distance and the troop pods used), it would bring up a ground invasion screen and the ground combat will ensue until one side is killed off.

I think I like that idea. It'd present opportunities for you to capture a planet and turn its weapons (when buildings are added) on its former owners. Sub space teleporters would be very handy for transport ships. It also allows you to try and ward off invading transport ships before they arrive at your planets, or intercept the troop pods.

Now with that system, the only remaining issues are colonization and planet placement in combat.

First, with colonization, if you and an allied player want to colonize the same planet in the same turn, how do the game resolve which colonizes?

Second, with planet placement, you don't want your ships to be on the fringe of the space combat, with your planets inside the system, or even close to the other enemy ships. I'm thinking that if you have at least one planet in your system, when the combat starts, your ships will be near your planets. That'd resolve one issue, but presents another. The game don't have a hard limit on how many planets can be in a system, so how should it handle 10, 20, 100 planets? Just have a combat field with the area based on the amount of planets? It may get tedious bombing 100 planets that have weapons. Any ideas?

Those two issues need to be resolved before I go ahead with programming any part of invasion, colonization, and combat.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Production Screen done for now!

Finally, after what felt like a long time, I've finished the production screen! At least, it's mostly done, there will be some extra features that I will add later to make managing projects easier. Anyway, now you can open Production Screen, add or remove projects, or manage output allocations!

In the screenshot, you can see that I have three projects, each at a different system. All three are building scouts, but each have different amount of production allocated to it. The top one have about 66% of the empire-wide production efforts, and will build 4 scouts this turn. The second one have less, but enough to build 2. The last one will take three turns to complete.

The number above slider is the amount of production (not percentage). The green bars shows how much will be done this turn, and how much so far has been completed. This is the first turn, so it's only two colors, green and grey.

The bottom right button is a placeholder until I get new artwork. The space on left of the button will be for sorting options. You will be able to sort by:
System the project is at
Cost of the project
Name of the project

Clicking on a selected sorting option will reverse the sort order. Anyway, that's the plan, but since everything's functional now, I will focus on other things. They are:
Orbiting planets with ships (required for colonization)
Invasion (it's already there, but have to be re-done)
Population transfer (it was there, but need to be re-done to use the new ship system)

After those four items are done, I will finally work on *drum roll* combat! Yes, space combat finally!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Preview of Project Selection

I'm almost done with project selection window. It's when you're in production screen, and want to add a new project. On top left area is the list of systems with at least one available project. Bottom left shows where in the galaxy the selected system is, to help you plan on where to build stuff. On right are the list of available projects in the selected system. I plan on adding "OK" and "Cancel" buttons on bottom right.

This screen needs some polishing and some bug fixing, as well as new artwork for the buttons which aren't in yet. I thought I'd give you an idea of how you can add projects to the production screen.

I'm also almost done with production screen, but most of it was under the hood. So hopefully soon I'll have a good screenshot of that for you as well.

Here's the project selection screenshot (The system name color will perform the same as the galaxy, in that if more than one empire occupies the same system, it will be partially one empire's color, and partially the other empire's color):

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Production screen is almost done, just need to finish up some UI components. Next post will have screenshots of it.

Warning, wall of text ahead!

What I want to discuss today is some more details on production and space combat, as well as some other modding changes. First, let's start with production. For balance reasons (and to be kinda realistic), I've decided that all the production sizes of a system will be added up (if a planet can do 5, another planet does 3, you have 8 total in that system), then for each project in that system, it will be reduced. So using a system with 10 size production capacity, you can have one project building a size 10 ship, or two projects of size 5 each, or any other way that you want to divide up the 10 points. This will prevent a player from establishing a system then having an insane amount of projects there. However, he can specify one project then commit the whole production capacity of his empire there (such as terraforming or building a huge ship).

To terraform planets, you will need a large amount of capacity, determined by the planet data file.

When a ship is done building, it will be added to that system, and a new ship will be started, unless you cancel it. It's possible to build more than one ship for a project in one turn. Projects are infinite, similar to MoO 1's production, unless it's terraforming, in which when a planet is fully terraformed or capacity is no longer sufficient, it is removed from the list of projects. It will notify the player when it does so.

The amount of production capacity of a planet is determined by the amount of population on it. Ships can generate production capacity via special equipment as well. However, they are required to orbit planets before they can contribute to a system's production capacity.

Now for the space combat, I really want to have planets included in space combat, but how to do it in cases where there are 30 or 40 planets in a star system? I thought about the "orbit planet" feature, and realized that the solution was there all along. So I've decided on a combat system where I think will help even the playing field between the attackers and defenders. This is how you attack a planet:

You must have a fleet adjacent to a system. Once they're adjacent, you specify which ships to attack a planet by selecting them the same way as you'd select ships for sending out on a trip, then click on the "Orbit Planet" and clicking on a planet that you want to attack. Next turn will bring up the space combat for that planet and your ships. Defenders having ships adjacent to the system will be presented with options to include some or all of their ships.

Colonization and Ground Invasion will require you to have ships orbiting the target planet as well. It will prompt you for confirmation before they commit to their actions.

Before I proceed with modding design items, I want to clarify that the full release will be a complete game with all of my desired gameplay mechanics implemented. There are some elements that I don't like in some 4X games that others love, so I decided that if I want to really support modding, I will need to support those that I don't really like. They are: Leaders, buildings on planets, methods of travel (starlanes and others), and some others that I can't remember now. The additional features will be added as an expansion after the release.

First, with planets being able to be included in space combat, I'm thinking of the capacity of planets having buildings. They will be similar to how ships are done, but the build progress will be incremental. This means that you design a planet with different buildings (not queued like MoO 2 but it will be a complete "design"). Then you start a project to develop a planet so that all buildings in that "design" will be built (some may be finished before others). This won't be in the base game data, but will be there for modding purposes.

In space combat, those buildings can take damage similar to how ship's components can take damage. And the planet may return fire if it have weapon platforms. But again, those will not be in the base game data, but will be available for modders.

Another thing that I will add is support for leaders (this also won't be in base game, but will be there for modders). There will be six different types of leaders:
Empire-, System-, and Planet-wide leaders for boosting (or penalizing) areas of operations, and Empire-, Fleet-, and Ship-wide leaders for boosting (or penalizing) areas of efficiency. Leaders can be specified in data file, and they can be restricted to a certain range of races, turns, and which kind of leader they are.

I'm also thinking of allowing the users specify how galaxy travel are done, this may be a bit more tricky than anything else that I've done so far. By this, I mean if you want a travel system that's similar to MoO 1/2 (direct line to a system), you can specify it to be that way. Or if you want the current grid system, you can specify it as well. I may explore other systems such as starlanes. The base game data will use the grid-based travel system.

Also, I would like to add network multiplayer, but due to my inexperience in that field, that will be after the full release. I promise to at least give it a try.

Now with all of that discussed, I want to give you some good news. My friend showed me his draft for the new website, and it's looking good! We also discussed about how to do the pre-orders/purchasing system, and decided on a simple one. When a person decides to buy the game, he creates an account and purchases the game. That account is now an "paid" account meaning that the person now have access to list of major builds for download. At full release, the list of major builds will be removed, and the full release will be the only download there. This will be a better system than the one I have currently. I hope that the new website will be up soon!