I’ve been working on advertising art for when the big day comes. Gasp! The big day! Hold your space horses. Getting the products to the point where the look gives the voice we want to a marketing effort and fully exploring the realm of the useful takes time and iteration.
For example, my first piece looked great, but was suggested that Astrobase was more a space horror game than we wanted to.
Discussing these issues as early as possible with the team and receiving a continuous feedback helped me create a coherent product and is motivating me to keep coming up with more.
It’s also been a great excuse to look up fantastic retro sci-fi book and movie covers!
I have also been sitting in dark, smoky cantinas setting up shady deals with crystal dealers from Anarog IV. And there’s no doubt that I shot first when that slimy bounty hunter scum came for me. Some would call this “business development”. We’re starting to explore what the full range of what the Astrobase Command IP could represent.
Doing so takes fact finding and analysis. This legwork also takes a lot of time, so it needs to be conducted concurrently so that when we do actually release Astrobase, we’re not sitting around trying to figure out what to do next or how to leverage our success.
You may be wondering why we tackle these non-development specific activities when the game isn’t done yet? Since we’re a small team, we have to split our efforts from time to time and keep an eye on what is coming down the way and work on it early as a parallel effort to ensure that when the time comes, everything is ready to go in a synchronized fashion. It will also let us rapidly transition to new activities without undue lost time.
We don’t have a PR department, or any of the other wings/arms/divisions/branches that a major studio have. We have to wear many hats and try our hands at activities for which we have little or no knowledge of when we set out.
Although it sounds scary, it’s actually one of the joys of indie development. We were just discussing the other day how we have each immensely grown in unexpected ways as we have been on the Astrobase Journey.
This week, I’ve been working some more on AI implementation. I mentioned last week that I spent some time on creating a test environment, so I thought I’d show you what that looks like.
What you see here is a listing of 100 crew members, with their needs (hunger, fatigue, work, social) being simulated over time, as well as active actions. I can specify crew count and game time speed.
If I wanted to observe AI in-context in the game, I’d have to pick a single crew member and watch them go about their routine and how that affects their needs. While that’s relevant to the player experience, it’s not a very efficient way to validate that their brains are working properly over the course of multiple in-game days.
Now, I know bar graphs aren’t sexy. But what is sexy about this is that I can take up almost my entire CPU to simulate hundreds of agents at many multiples of regular game speed.
This is especially useful to test highly context-specific actions. Instead of praying for or faking the circumstances that trigger that particular action, I can just run the simulation really quickly for a lot of people and observe it normally.
I also spent some time implementing a custom version of path-finding, which manages how a crew member navigates towards their current goal. My implementation is a lot lighter and is tailored to our specific use case (navigating through modules on a grid) for maximum performance.
This week I got a chance to get back to designing modules and their devices. This is something that’s always fun to do, it’s just been a while since i got to do it last.
To go with designing stuff comes an opportunity to do some research and look at a bunch of pictures of stuff like the LHC and other nerd “porn”.
This week I was out of town on business. But I must point out It’s very exciting to be an indie studio that gets to send people out of town on business! (don’t worry, we didn’t pay for it)