Fighter Redesign

Let’s begin by taking a look at how fighters started out, to see how they got to the point of needing a redesign.

The first playable release of the game only had combat missions, and the way fighters worked was heavily influenced by that. My understanding of how the campaign would work was at that point quite fuzzy, and so once the campaign did come about, fighters had to be adjusted to fit in. This led to some awkward mechanical interactions and obscure rules.

fighters_mora

For example, if you have any ships with flight decks in your fleet, then you can’t lose fighters permanently. However, you can still have fighters in your fleet if you don’t have any carriers, they just don’t get any replacements in combat, and if you lose all of them, you permanently lose the wing. And if you do have carriers deployed, and lose all the fighters in a wing in combat, they may get replacements or be lost for the duration of the battle, depending on whether any flight decks were available at the exact moment the last fighter was destroyed.

Very much a “good enough for now” state of affairs, and something that’s been gnawing at me for a while. It’s too much of a mess to continue ignoring indefinitely, but why clean it up now, seemingly when there’s exploration, salvage, and everything related to work on?

The answer is, of course, that fighters tie into those things. Can you recover fighters through salvage? Can automated defenders use fighters? What about the eventual/upcoming skill revamp? That certainly needs to include fighters. Despite being a relatively small part of combat, fighters are still a part of that foundation, and it’ll help moving forward to finally have it be solid.
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Exploration & Salvage

Exploration is a bit awkward to write about – a large part of the fun is discovering stuff for yourself, and I don’t want to totally ruin it for you. On the other hand, I think it’s an interesting topic, so, a compromise: most of the blog post will be focused on the mechanics and systems in play, with less in the way of specific examples and screenshots.

If you’ve read the previous blog post about planetary surveys, you know that procedural generation is already in the dev build. In a literal sense, flying around new star systems every game and checking them out is exploration, but clearly that by itself wouldn’t really merit being called that, not as an official feature. Even if (if I do say so myself!) the procedural generation produces some pretty nice starscapes.

salvage_trinary

So, what makes exploration fun, and why do we want exploration in the first place?
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Planetary Surveys

To begin, some context: a planetary survey is something you do to figure out whether a planet is worth establishing an outpost on. There might be other reasons to do it – for example, thinking about whether gathering survey data could be a good way to earn some early-game credits, and/or influence faction behavior – but those things aren’t central to the mechanic. The main path is: find a planet, survey it, and then establish an outpost.

This implies some level of procedural generation, so that the planets and star systems you’re exploring differ from game to game. I don’t want to go into the details here – it might be worth it’s own blog post, and I’m not sure how much I want to dive into how it works in the first place, to avoid spoiling the experience – but will say that yes, procedural generation is now officially a feature.

neutron_star

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Developing the Mora-class Carrier

There’s no large low-tech carrier in Starsector; today we create one!

[HEGEMONY COMINT // RHYME AMBER // CONFIDENTIAL // communications intercept dated 12-2015]

David: [discussion of new ships] – a lowtech cruiser carrier, 

Alex: How is this going to be substantially different from the Heron? Could go with either 1 deck + heavy armament (more in line with Hegemony doctrine? but also kind of the Venture, but stronger and with less useful out-of-combat stats) or 3 decks and almost no armament (which could also fit in with the Hegemony doctrine, if looked at as greater specialization…)

D: Ooh, I’ve got this: So given that Hegemony doctrine inherits the ‘traditional’ doctrine of the Domain at the time of collapse – of heavy line battleships, though at the start of a transition back to cruiser/carrier doctrine – this specialized lowtech cruiser carrier could be a holdover from the previous wave of Domain doctrine that had a larger role for fighters.

So why are these in the field? The Domain navy decommissioned them from military service, so they were de-militarized and sold to budget-minded civilian enterprises in development on the Domain’s frontier, as having some former carriers with big handling/construction bays can be a very useful thing. Once the Collapse comes around, these former construction/mine drone handlers slash ersatz mobile drydocks are re-militarized (thus less useful out-of-combat stats than one might expect). Used perhaps more by pirates, independents, and the Luddic Church more than by the Hegemony or TriTachyon, so that the big carrier fleets of these guys can be supported by something better than Condors but not so good as the Heron or Gemini. 

A: That sounds good (especially the lowtech cruiser) – but it might make sense to do these later (either for this release [ed. 0.7.2.a ] or, uh, more later) – I’d like to change up how carriers work at some point [HEGEMONY COMINT :: REDACTED // MOST SECRET]


Decommissioned then recommissioned ships reminds me of shipbreaking, of which many dramatic images can be easily found. I pulled a few together for palette & aesthetic reference.
shipbreaking_images

Economy Revamp

To start off, I’d like to clarify what I mean by “economy” here – just the underlying simulation that moves around commodities and is responsible for matching up supply and demand across the Sector. This does not include things like trade disruptions, which are events that cause price changes. These are certainly part of a more expansive and player-centric definition of “economy”, but for this post, I’d like to focus purely on the commodity distribution algorithm.

Overview
So, what does the algorithm need to do? We’ve got markets and commodities, and each market has a supply (i.e. production) and a demand (i.e. consumption) for each. What we need to do is figure out where commodities will end up, given the supply/demand situation. For example, if one market is producing food, its output should be distributed among food-consuming markets according to their demand.

mi_eventide_main

There are some further complications, but the above is the gist of it – fairly straightforward supply and demand stuff, though getting it to actually work out is anything but.
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