GIF Roundup

I’ve been working on a lot of content recently – some hand-crafted missions, new weapons (and ships), some endgame material, and so on. While that’s all terribly exciting, it unfortunately doesn’t leave me with a whole lot I can talk about without spoiling things. There is another feature I’m working up to – somewhere at the intersection of “mechanics” and “content”, a bit more the latter – that I’ll be able to talk about (at least, if it pans out), but that’s still a little ways off.

In the meantime, I thought I’d revisit some of the gifs I posted on twitter while working on a new set of weapons. (There are also ships that go with these weapons, but those are not to be talked about, I’m afraid. Hegemony COMSEC was quite clear on the subject.) I’ll also talk a bit more about the effects, so even if you’ve seen these already, there’ll be something new – and there may be one or two you might have missed, even if you’ve been following along!

First, a picture of the glorious mess these can produce when employed against a hapless Paragon. This is a bit over the top; I wouldn’t imagine things would look quite this extreme very often.

(Lest you think I hate Paragons, since they seem to be commonly used for target practice: it’s only because they’re the only thing sturdy enough, I swear.)

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Raiding for Fun and Profit

I’d started out trying to add a story point option that would, to quote my TODO list, “make ground raids more of an early-game activity the player can engage in”. Some time later, I ended up with a total revamp of the ground-raid system, and no story point option. I promise, I can explain!

(If you’re unfamiliar with story points, see this blog post. In brief, they’re limited “do cool things” points that you’ll gain as you level up. Both the points and the cool things to spend them on will be in the next release.)

Now then, back to how this happened. Story points are not an end unto themselves – the goal of the TODO item was, after all, entirely about ground raids in the early game; story points were just a possible way to do it. So, the first thing I’d tried was letting the player use a story point to stage a “surprise” raid, with higher effectiveness. This means you don’t need as many marines to accomplish something useful, which in turn means you can do it earlier in the game. Technically correct (the best kind!), but also, doesn’t hold up.
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Skills and Story Points

I’ve wanted to update the skill system for a while, but that’s part of the challenge with early-access style development – if you update something too early, you might have to update it again, when yet more things change and make that part not-quite-fit once more. With how many parts of the game the skill systems has tendrils into, it wasn’t something I wanted to do more than once.

Now, finally, the game is in a place where I can do that – I’ve got a good overview of what I actually want from the skill system, the number of unknowns is low, and most of the unknowns are probably known.

(Please note – some of the graphics and text in the screenshots to follow are placeholders.)

So, what are the goals of the skill overhaul? First and foremost, the skill system should increase the replay value of the game – that is, depending on what skills are picked, the player should be able to explore new ways to play the game.
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Once More, with Feeling

If you’ve been keeping up with development progress, you’re probably aware that I’ve been doing some playtesting in preparation for making the next release. Sometimes, playtesting results in relatively small balance tweaks or content and mechanics adjustments. Other times, one finds themselves redoing the economy system for – if I’ve been keeping track correctly – the 5th time. So, that’s what I want to talk about today – briefly! – before diving back into the depths of my TODO list.

The good news is, this iteration of the economy 1) is simple, 2) keeps most of the elements of the previous one, 3) is based on colony playtesting, so is likely to actually really stick this time, and 4) as of this writing, fully implemented. This ended up being roughly a week-long detour, by the way, so, all things considered, not too bad.

food_producers

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Salvaging Mechanics Update

This is going to be a shorter blog post – I’d just like to talk about refactoring one mechanic to work a little differently, since I think it’s an interesting one, and thinking it through gave me some trouble.

One of the things you do in the game is go to the fringes of the Sector and “salvage” various derelicts – abandoned stations, Domain-era probes, and so on. It’s a good source of valuable materials and lost technology. With the next release, salvaging will become even more important, since it’ll be the primary way for the player to get ship and weapon blueprints that in turn feed into the manufacturing capabilities of their colonies.

approaching_a_REDACTED

First, a quick look at how it works now:

  • Each derelict has a “salvage difficulty rating”, from 0 to 100%
  • And based on that, also a required amount of heavy machinery and crew to carry out the operation
  • A “Salvaging” skill lets the player salvage higher-difficulty derelicts
  • If the crew of rating requirements aren’t met, the player has the option of blowing up the derelict and scavenging through the resulting debris field
  • Bringing along Salvage Rigs (a type of ship) increases the amount of salvage by up to the difficulty rating of the derelict

This is definitely workable. The main issue is that the amount of salvage without investing points into the skill is too low, but that can be tuned because it’s just a numbers issue. Or… is it?
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