Battle Plan

If you’ve been keeping track, about 3 months ago, I decided to push back the next release in order to get the initial version of the campaign implemented first. I thought I’d talk a bit about the progress that’s been made, and what to expect in the near future.

First, a minor matter of nomenclature – the next version is going to be called 0.5a (up from 0.35a) to reflect the large chunk of features it contains.

Now, what’s actually done already? I’ll try to keep this on a high level to keep the post from spiraling out of control – there is already a forum thread with the gory details, if you want to dig deeper.

Everything takes place within a single star system for now. You can manage your fleet, cargo, and crew, and engage hostile fleets in battle. You can engage in post-battle boarding actions and salvage what remains of the enemy (and your!) ships. You can refit your ships using available weapons and hull modifications. Ship weapons and engines can get damaged and disabled in combat, adding a whole new layer of tactical considerations. There have been many UI improvements – most notably lots more tooltips, and much-improved existing tooltips. There are also several new ships and weapons. You can create a new character – just a name and portrait for now – and there’s the save/load functionality you’d expect.

When I put it that way, it sounds just about playable, doesn’t it? The trouble is, right now those things are just disjointed features, and what I’ll be doing over the coming weeks is cobbling them together into something that’s actually fun.

The next step is to add factions and faction-specific fleets into the game. There won’t be any higher-level campaign mechanics yet – for now, fleets will spawn somewhere in the star system. There also needs to be a way to hire crew and buy/sell weapons and ship hulls – so we’re probably looking at some basics of interaction with a populated planet. I’d also like to add player skills and character and crew advancement – though that’s separate enough that it could be deferred to a subsequent build if need be.

But none of those are particularly time-consuming as features. The major, major task remaining is intangible – it’s simply going to take a lot of play-testing, balancing, and more play-testing to get all of the above right.

So, what can you expect?

First of all, I’m going to get a just-barely-playable version of the above together and put out a preview release to those interested. It won’t be balanced, it will have bugs, but it will help a whole lot to get some feedback. This should happen in January. After that, I’ll spend some time polishing it up and making it generally more enjoyable, while incorporating any feedback from the preview release.

I’d also like to release a demo. What I’m thinkining is to make the missions playable in the demo, and only make the campaign available after the game is activated – but to release both in the same version. That way there’s still just one download, you can make sure the game runs on your system before buying it, and it’s just all around simple.

All in all, I’m very excited that the initial campaign release is finally drawing close! … I guess I better wrap up this post and get cracking on it. That code isn’t going to write itself, you know.

Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 at 6:00 pm and is filed under Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

17 Comments:

  1. Awesome! :) Something very cool to look forward to in January! I’m loving the idea of getting the rough draft copy of the build to help play-test and offer suggestions about, great stuff, and wonderful news all around. :)

    by Zarcon
  2. A very insightful blog Alex,

    I can’t think of another indie game developer that puts so much thought into their blog posts and makes them so often. It really keeps me interested in the development of the game rather than long periods of silence.

    Really can’t wait for 0.5a, looks like you’ve been working non-stop!

    by Richard
  3. hip-hip-hooray! hip-hip-hooray! Can’t wait till the preview, I’m happy to play-test the shit out of it.

    by Tinsoldier
  4. finally!. campaign mode is all I have been waiting for! Thats what really makes this game up for me

    by Krelian
  5. Oh man, this is exciting. Best of luck with the actual coding, sounds like you have a potent array of features for us to explore and test. I look forward to it in a big way!

    Your demo model sounds great. That’s how I first discovered (and purchased a day later) Mount & Blade a long time ago. I think it restricted you to level 7 or something back then.

    Thanks for taking the time to write these posts, it’s very appreciated.

    by SeaBee
  6. And this is why, Alex is one of my favoriet devs along with Toady, constant really interesting updates that does not treat the read like a idiot. Im really impressed with your way of treating the people who have put there faith in you and pre ordered this game, and i feel like my faith has been well put.

    in short, thanks for the update 8)

    by SpaceOtter
  7. Thank you guys, I’m happy you find the posts interesting!

    @SeaBee: Yep, that’s just how I got into M&B, too.

    by Alex
  8. Yay talk about good news for the new year, great job.
    What I love about this kinf of approach is taht it lets common players help the devs to do what needs to be done,mainly doing every possible thing others don’t think about to make the game work in all conditions.

    by Troll
  9. Thanks for the update Alex and I hope you take the time to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Then back to the grind for the new year.

    by The Old Farmer
  10. I will think of these news of impending prereleases (And delicious, delicious informative progress report) and seech as a holiday present. It makes me feel extra joy over the holidays, in a way that few presents do. Yay!

    by Konstantin Vernikovskiy
  11. Sounds like a plan. For those of us who pre-ordered the game, How will we receive updated information for the games (I assume) serial activation system so that you can bundle the demo and full game together ? I know my pass to download from btmicro has expired all ready. Cheers o/

    by madpinger
  12. @The Old Farmer: Thank you! Heading over to spend some time with family in a bit :)

    @Konstantin: :D

    @madpinger: You can always download it from here. I’ve also set up BMTMicro not to expire passwords anymore. So once you download and install the new build, it’ll just work for you since you’ve already activated – but for someone that hasn’t, just the missions would work.

    by Alex
  13. “You can engage in post-battle boarding actions and salvage what remains of the enemy (and your!) ships.”

    I’ve always wanted something like this in a sci-fi game! Starfarer is definitely one of the games – if not ‘the game’ – I am most excited about in 2012! It is shaping up to be the immersive sci-fi experience I always wanted from a PC game.

    Good luck with the coding and Merry Christmas!

    by Rook
  14. In the interest of full disclosure – that may sound like more than it actually is :) You get to make some choices regarding what to do, but that activity happens behind-the-scenes.

    Merry Christmas to you too!

    by Alex
  15. “In the interest of full disclosure – that may sound like more than it actually is :) You get to make some choices regarding what to do, but that activity happens behind-the-scenes.”

    Don’t worry, that’s what I figured you meant! Of course, it would be awesome if the game would segue into some sort of tactical boarding action, but I can wait for an expansion to do that. :) No, I am just excited that you are including some post-battle looting opportunities!

    by Rook
  16. Alright, then, whew :)

    by Alex
  17. giving such a big sexy demo is very cool, makes me miss the days where you could really sink your teeth into a good game with just its demo, but for it to really take off it would take some money.

    by Milkthistle