Dev log 4 & News

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Its been some time since last update but that is not because of a lack of progress, quite the contrary. This update is very big so I will split it into 3-4 mini updates/dev logs a few days apart.

The first important news to get out of the way is that Star Zeal is no longer attempting to get funded on indiegogo and will release on early access. I decided to do this rather than spending all that time and effort setting up crowd funding which requires its own art, marketing and so on.

If you still want to support the development of Star Zeal, you can do so via the funding page here on this website. Support & Funding
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The other important part/change to gameplay is that the RPG aspect has been made more prominent and the “god” view of typical 4x games has been removed. Essentially the game was split into two parts then joined again. The old 4x style play area now functions as a map only and then in the other is full area as seen bellow is where your character and ships are. This is kind of like an RTS view. However your empire is still controlled through the map including other fleets, colonies etc.

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There has also been a lot of other progress on basically all the core features. However as mentioned above I will only make a summary here and dev log them separately with much more details in coming days.
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Summary of progress and changes:

Changes to rpg/character and fleet action.

-Your empire/faction is controlled less directly, but your lead fleet more directly.
-Each ship now has a captain including player him/herself and they can be promoted to commanders of fleets.
-Leaders/characters are more directly involved, and affect not only fleets and colonies but their own ships they captain.
-Ships within fleets are unique and not mere clones of a design. They have their own cargo bays for many different kinds of items, salvaged components, crew level etc.
-Empires/Factions is more geared towards tall style than wide. Thus planets have become much more important. Colonizing is rarer and more difficult but produce much more in return if you get it right.
-Inside warp/FTL travel is now visible/playable.

Essentially what has happened is that I kept to the original goal since this is a rpg 4x hybrid, not merely a 4x with rpg elements. This way its more of an even mix of the two genres. Another good aspect is that it works better with the large procedural galaxy, emphasizing exploration/discovery more.

This is the last major change in development, I am now satisfied with the direction. It was a much harder struggle to achieve a good fit for the hybrid rpg and 4x than I had  anticipated, however it seems to have worked out in the end.

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While inside warp all the normal functions are still there. So you can deal with your empire/civilization business while going to your destination.

More procedural galaxy progress:

-Procedural galaxy code is now mostly complete, sectors, clusters of stars, solar systems and planets are now procedural along with that being plugged into a procedural planet texture generator. You can view all the objects from galaxy level to planets on the map and get up close and personal with your leaders fleet.

There many different kinds of planets now, from water worlds to lava planets like below. They are also generated with realistic positions from the main star. For example lava/volcanic planets can only appear near the star and more commonly in young systems in the process of forming.

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-The stars and planets are now generated based on more realistic probabilities(not entirely) . You can even encounter neutron stars and black holes which will be a big deal for your civilization when you do find them.

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Each cluster of stars now has the possibility of generating many different kinds of stars, some very full of planets and moons and others can be near empty. Some don’t even have planets.

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Other major progress on all aspects of the game. 

-The UI got a major update and change. The “god” view map is gone and replaced by more abstracted like UI map.
-Research functions on a capacity basis, so you have to build more capacity in order to hold more research points at a time.
-There are multiple types of research eg: Military, Engineering or Space Time(fancy stuff FTL related stuff), along with a generalized main research.
-Planets and Solar Systems require charting to see whats there. This also provides research points.
-Sensors tech for seeing hidden objects are part of the exploration and military aspect of the game. An entire faction can be hidden to you by this mechanic.

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In conclusion for this dev log: There has been a lot of progress so stay tuned for more as early access looms in the horizon.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask right here in the comments.

Dev Log 3: Colony functionality change and procedural AI.

Star Zeal development has been quiet for over a month but for a good reason.
There was a lot of coding done on more core features and a few changes.

1: Major change in colony management and resources.

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Colony management is now dealt with by points allocation between four priorities, Civil, Industry, Science and Military. You no longer have to worry about constructing specific buildings to mine specific minerals and other similarly mundane tasks. However, the player can still construct special buildings like wonders and other unique objects.

With this change the player essentially sets the direction of the colony depending on what is wanted/needed. You can create different types of colonies based on priority points set and the capability of the planet, after which the colony will gradually develop accordingly. For example, you could create a pure military, or a mining colony that provides resources and production or military support to linked colonies via trade lanes.

Different planets have different capacities or capability that determine the maximum amount of priority points you can set. Many planets are desolate and have little going on but it might be useful to create a small colony on them to get a bit more access to resources. You could even set lower priority points than the max of a planet so it won’t grow larger than you need.

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These changes to colony management are meant to allow for more automation and less micromanagment and to make room for manufacturing of certain resources. Previously  there was too much the player had to worry about on the colony level which took away from other parts of the game.

Another change are to resources, as they now function on the basis of availability instead of raw counts, IE the number in mega tonnes. You don’t have to worry about specific amounts of resources, only that they are available to whatever needs it. Trade lanes can provide resources for places that don’t produced or have them on the planet on their own. The player still has control over what resources are available, particularly those which are manufactured as they require certain levels of the colony like production to be reached. Other resources that are special and very rare will have limited counts like void crystals.

The resources themselves have also changed somewhat. Basic minerals are now condensed into metals and gases making way for more important resources like Zorium and Tritanium.

Finally the colony governor dialogue system was added, the governor basically tells you whats going on in the colony and gives you some suggestions or opinions with a bit of personality added to it. Do note the current dialogue in the screenshot above is very early. Proper dialogue will come after more of the lore per faction is fleshed out.

 

2: Progress AI factions, particularly procedural pirate and criminal factions.

Procedural AI factions and random unknown fleets WIP

Procedural factions and random fleets that are based off main factions now show up depending on some global situations, like political upheaval, rebellions and particularly factions vulnerable to crime, aka pirates. Also they can be discovered randomly while exploring. These factions are generally not as powerful as main factions and don’t expand much but they can still grow and colonize new systems and given enough time, can become a serious threat… or good ally.

3: Small graphical improvements.

This dev cycle had little art but there were some improvements in the UI and some general progress on other art like planet surfaces and so on.

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Remember, if you want to support development check the funding page or use the direct paypal widget on the right hand side of the website.

Dev Log 2: Procedural Galaxy Progress

This week I have been working on the procedural part of the galaxy IE: The play area of the game.

Procedural galaxy sectors etc wip.

At the highest level is the galaxy view, then below that are the sectors within a quadrant, then clusters within a sector, then solar systems within the cluster. I had to be quite careful while working on the procedural galaxy. In order to depict massive distances there had to be a lot of trickery and illusion, while taking a lot of care to keep memory usage in check. Efficiency is very important while working on procedural generation, as it can especially become an issue in the late game in space 4xs.

As of now the core system is complete for generation and saving/loading of clusters of stars, sectors and what is inside them along with colonies, fleets and so on. There are also procedural factions based off some of the pre-made ones like the many pirate factions based off the Solarians.

In Star Zeal 4x, exploration is important and the feeling of massive scale and mystery is conveyed through this procedural system with huge distances for fleets to cover, get lost in etc. Who knows what you will find out there, or who/what you will meet. This also allows for escaping enemies even if all your colonies are lost.

Essentially there was a lot of toiling with the code and bug fixing this past week.

Dev Log 1: Progress on graphics and the most important AI.

This is the first official dev log for Star Zeal!

After about one year worth of progress, and not giving up I was satisfied enough to create a website for the game.

So, for the first dev log, there are some major changes and many minor ones to mention.

1: New cartoon style shaders for ships and other 3d objects. Also more art progress in ship details, backgrounds etc…

2: Replacement of the 3d planet surface with a 2d one. This was done because the 3d one was much too clunky and sapped the FPS a bit too much. Also the new one has more character and fits better with the rest of the art.

3: On the coding side there has been heavy work on the AI! Now the AI factions auto generate themselves with the procedural tech/research. The ships warping in here are from a generated pirate faction using the human designs of ships.

Don’t forget to check the Media(older builds) in order see much more of the progress so far.
Media(Older builds)