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

Dev Log 5 Part 1

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Finally! The next development log.

As I mentioned in my previous update/news article, this dev log is quite large compared to  previous ones. Its so big that I decided to split it into multiple parts, so as not to drop a massive wall on text on everyone. Doing it this way also helps me organize everything for my own benefit and allows me to finish each part off for early access more smoothly.

The main reason I couldn’t post logs as quickly as before was that it was more useful to work on everything at once instead of completing one smaller thing at a time and updating. I could get away with that earlier in development when the code was simpler and not as connected together.

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The first part of this dev log will deal specifically with colonies, resources and the freight/cargo system. All three parts are linked heavily together and depend on one another.

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(Do note that I will add more detail into surface views, but first I want to complete more of the game and see how it performs along with everything else. That way I won’t have to down scale.)

Colony progress:

First thing to mention about colonies is mostly visual. The surface view has been returned to the semi 3d view I had used earlier from the purely 2d view. It turned out the semi 3d fixed camera for surfaces was the best option. Its much easier and faster to work on than the pure 2d method. Counter intuitive I know, but that’s just how it worked out in this specific case. Also, I already had 3d assets ready for it and they only needed a little sprucing up. Its a good thing I had them backed up, you never know when you might need them.

Other than that the surface view is also linked to the outside of the planet now. For example other planets that you are near can show up in the horizon, if the atmosphere or lack there of allows it.

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(Please note the above image is from a slightly older build, hence the different UI text. These UI elements have since been made more clear as visible in the other screen shots below).

As for the colonies themselves, I made outposts possible to be built on planets while differentiating them from normal colonies. These outposts essentially use the colony functionality but are too small to be counted as one. For example, they do not grow in population naturally. Outposts can serve as mining, military or science bases, or simply to store your stuff.

Other smaller changes/additions to colonies:

-Populations are now split per species, each with its own population down to the last person.
-Crew for ships are “made” via the academy. Each academy gives a max of certain amount of crew at a time. This also depends on population.

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Resources:

Resources come in multiple forms, even population IE people, are considered a resource . Even ships are technically the same and can be stored on planets or in the cargo holds of other ships so long as you have space. The other important feature is that certain resources can be combined, aka manufactured into other resources. These are typically minerals found on planets.

Manufacturing on colonies:

Manufacturing is an important aspect of resource management, though its automated and mostly controlled by the ai of the colony. Resources on planets are refined/turned into manufactured products that are then required to build your ships and other important things.

Manufactured resources depend on the minerals available on the colony. Multiple minerals are required for certain manufacture goods. However common manufactured resources like alloys require very easy to come by resources like metals and gases which are found on most planets. Manufactured commodities are automatically transferred gradually with a freight link when you begin construction. At the moment, manufactured resources are only produced based on demand. (Specified storage of certain amount to be produced is planned to be implemented).

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Freight/cargo:

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The basic functionality that is used for transferring cargo, IE the resources mentioned above to and from ships and colonies has been completed. The same functionality will later be used for trade, aka freight lanes.

As an example using freight, when colonizing, the fleet fills up with colonists from the source planet before heading off to colonize a target planet. You can pick how many colonists you want before the transfer begins. It also takes a certain amount of time depending on the tech of the freighters or shuttles at the colonies and or fleets disposal.

Essentially you can move around whatever ever you want between ships and planets if they fit in the cargo.

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Some minor but related UI updates and the conclusion:

-Reorganized and completed more of the UI related to colonies.
-Split the colony/planet UI window as can be seen in most of the colony screen shots.
-Freight window to go with the freight functionality, mostly complete.

I’ll be honest, the UI is one of the most troublesome and annoying parts to work on. Good thing I left most of it until later when more of the other elements of the game were completed, otherwise a lot of time would have been wasted.

Overall, a lot of progress has been achieved even though it was a bit of struggle as the code became more complicated as I completed more of game. However its more complicated in a good way, more options for the player, more meat for the procedural generators.

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Part 2 up next and it will deal with my personal favorite section of the game, ships and the rpg element.

One last thing, if you want to support development please check the funding page here: https://starzeal4x.com/funding/ or you can use the paypal widget on the upper right hand side of this page. Any support will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.