Dev log 9: tactical Control

Overview:

The tactical level is the “lowest” level of the game, ie: the hands on control of your main characters fleet, where your empire building and role playing comes to a head. Tactical is technically the first part of the game I got functioning about 3 years ago, in a sense I have come full circle in development.

This dev log has been a long time coming. Now on to the actual development update:

The first major change is that Star Zeal now uses Unity’s physics engine almost entirely to control ships in space, other than certain rotations(aiming). Previously it was done exclusively via code and ignored physics which was more precise but didn’t feel so good. Now however, the moments are more realistic and allows for more emergent results, especially during combat. The only draw back was that it required a lot of time to refine the ship control code to reach a playable state.

Ship Movement:

Ships use two types of researchable/upgradeable components for movement, thrusters(main engines) and vectoring(eg: inertia dampeners and vectoring engines).

Main engines dictate the forward speed, acceleration and top speed. This is calculated by multiplying the engine count and things like the mass and even weapon fire speed limits. I also added an uncapped speed for positioning at long distances, which can reach very high speed. It can take a while for ships to accelerate to the top speed, especially for ships with high mass to thrust ratio, same applies to slowing down.

The vectoring stat dictates ship maneuverability, IE: turning, aiming and avoiding speeds. Similar to main engines being modified by engine count, ship designs come with their own vectoring factor modifiers depending on the base ship design. Larger ships are generally more sluggish due to the mass calculation. However they can technically be as maneuverable as smaller ship classes depending on the tech used. Vectoring is also used for avoiding collisions which doesn’t always work out as intended for the captain.

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Weapons:

I have now added most of the major types of weapons, beams, missiles(includes torpedoes) and plasma based. Also weapons now use “free” power/energy left on the ship and or ammo that will require resupply when expended. There are more planned to be added but that will be during early access. Another added weapon feature is the aiming and missing system based on spread. Its not an random number roll for hitting but a roll for the spread when shooting.

Missiles have been around for a while, but now they have better movement and targeting code along with the ammo mechanic mentioned above. Missiles are also able to be launched in salvoes depending on the ship and or ship part used to contain them. Beam weapons on the other hand are a completely new addition. They do constant damage until needing to recharge or energy runs out. Beams can also hit anything that passes between the beam even if its not the intended target, ie: beams are actual beams. I made the base damage output of beams an order of magnitude lower than for other weapons because of the rate of damage, but with enough research investment they can be extremely potent.

Some more additions to ship functionality:
-Turrets and independent vs normal forward firing weapons. Now ships can fire independently at targets that cross the range of weapons.
-Implemented crew injuries and death during combat.
-Ship parts and components are able to be destroyed.
-Stance and attack modes have been added and improved. This needed a lot of refining due to the change to use mostly physics based movement.
-Added engagement range control. Min and max depends on weapons.
-Speed indicator, this works for non ships also. It is technically a velocity indicator.
-Ship and fleet ui improvements including real time info on specific components of ships in action.

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Tactical Map:

The tactical map and tactical orders control are now mostly complete. There should not be any more major changes to it from now on. Most of what I did was make it easier to control everything from the tactical map view. It was mostly UI related stuff, annoying to work on but very necessary. If you want to you can stay on the tactical map and give all necessary orders to your ships without ever having to go down to the full 3d view.

Important note: You are only able to give direct orders in the tactical level to ships in fleets that under your main character/leaders command, whomever that may be. There is an auto battle system in progress to deal with the other fleets outside of this level.

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So thats it for dev log 9. The steam page is coming up next along with finalizing, adding and refining everything needed for the early access release. Thanks for reading my latest log and don’t forget to leave a comment if you so wish. See you next time.

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If you want to support Star Zeal, check out the support page here https://starzeal4x.com/funding/ or use the paypal link to the right of this page.

You can also follow Star Zeal 4x on:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKCFIhlv7VuJpNfMKxeE7qw

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Akuu_D_E

IndieDB: https://www.indiedb.com/games/star-zeal-4x

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