These last couple of weeks we’ve been really busy working up to a major internal milestone. Much of it for my part has been behind the scenes type of work, like creating path graphs so the crew know where to go and what to do, working on gui layouts and other functional parts.
In addition to that I got the chance to polish up the visuals behind both the Species Creation character visuals (the guys you see during species creation at the start of a game) and the Photobooth visuals (the little “photograph” images on ID-cards and character sheets), this all makes the crew of your astrobase way more relatable.
And I got around to finishing the effects package i talked about previously, the teleporter effects. For any classic Sci-Fi series the teleporter was always a fun place to get some special effects in that reflected both the setting and the era it was made in. Since I draw inspiration from several different classics I combined some of my favourite elements into one whole. A gold star to the first one to figure out the three main influences (which may or may not be very apparent) for this effect.
The Teleporter in action, sans a brave volunteer to be taken apart piece by pice, atom by atom, and risk arriving at the destination as a puddle of fleshy goop.
Lots done this week! I finally settled on the distribution that gives us some a great balance scheme for the traits, and went through and renamed them all based on their new configuration. Lots of cool synergies already emerging. Next step is to take another pass on the word bank to match the adjustments.
As Daniel mentioned, we’ve been pushing for a major milestone with the game. While our last milestone revolved primarily around making the station look good and feel good to build, this one was more about making it a living, breathing place and allow the player more interaction with that. As such, my main tasks revolved around 3 things: AI, contextual UI and mission flow.
As I’ve mentioned in previous weeks, I spent a bunch of time architecting and implementing an AI system that would meet our specific needs. With that in place, I developed the tools to allow us to design behaviors within that system. So, crew now have basic actions to meet all their needs: they can eat at the cantina when there’s room, sleep in their quarters if they have any, work their assigned jobs and socialize with their fellow crew members.
While that was a huge leap in itself, it wasn’t complete without contextual UI. There’s only so much you can glean from a character’s decision making when you can only observe their comings and goings up close. With the crew info panel, we can click on a crew member and and get information about their current action (“Going to eat at bla”, “Going to Teleporter”), their current job assignment and the state of their needs (currently labelled as Eat, Sleep, Work and Socialize).
Once we had this in place in a way that felt good, we replicated the same contextual UI for sections. We can select a given section and get relevant information, like storage capacity and contents, available beds, as well as jobs assigned, who occupies those positions and which skills are used in that job.
Finally, once we had all of the necessary tools to understand what is going on, I spent some time making more of the active gameplay available. So, armed with Crew AI and UI, I worked on assigning a crew member to a mission, seeing them walk to the teleporter and teleport out and see the mission being executed, receiving one mission report at a time. Also, we used Daniel’s punch cards as a notification system, dumping one into the inbox every time a new report comes in. Running that card through the datapad, you can now read the report (and the previous ones from the same mission) at your leisure.
As you can see, it’s been a busy week and we’re inching ever close to the time where we think we can get valuable feedback from playtesters. Stay tuned for that!