To celebrate the opening of this new site, we invite you to discover our latest progress on the development of Galactic Princess. Because of this progress and, in parallel, development of this site, our last update was published in December. We’re catching up with the delay through a short interview with Chmyke, our project leader:
What were the latest advances in the New Year?
Recently, I worked - especially - on dynamic lights and the process of docking between spaceships. At the same time, I try to get rid of bugs - some bugs appear very rarely; however, they can crash the game. Sometimes they are just inelegant. This is my priority, especially with the approach of the beta (reserved for backers of the Kickstarter campaign, scheduled for late spring 2015).
With the approach of the beta, we focus especially on the heart of the game...
Yes, we work on the A.I. of the units (the way they behave, and how to convert them to join our crew) and the behavior of the vessels. And - most importantly - the management of the A.I. of the spaceships: their evolution, their movements, their behavior. Are they aggressive? Are they neutral? Will they go away? Are they going to turn aggressively around our ship? Are they going to get us in? Are they going to approach us? At what point will they deploy their boarding tube? Etc...
The management system for the loyalty of the units is close to our heart...
I've previously talked about it, but it's not finished yet: I reworked the unit conversion system. Currently, if you attack a ship, you are forced to kill all units inside. I'm seeking a solution to manage their conversion, so they can join the ranks of your crew. For now, the units have a random setting. Their loyalty is random - except for the enemy captain, who has a 100% loyalty. He can’t be converted. But loyalty can also depend on the alien's species.
In the future, when they have reached a certain number of points, the units will drop their weapon. You can no longer damage them; projectiles will pass through them - as if you’re not aiming at them. Then you can select them: they belong to you. Then you'll be able to equip them with a new weapon, etc. Obviously we will further improve this concept, but it isn’t easy to imagine, to conceptualize and to transform this idea into code. This is an important aspect of the game, because it is one of the main ways to get slaves or new units in your crew (other than buying or building them - which is not yet possible, for that matter). But one thing at a time.
Recently, we have made significant progress on the docking system between spaceships…
Yes, although it's a little more difficult than I had expected. But it's going well. Although the addition of this feature did reveal new problems. To summarize: I will apply physical forces to the ship for the docking to work like a magnet. But if you try to approach a vessel which is on autopilot, the autopilot will try to counteract these forces with its engines; it has a goal (go left or go right, etc.) This will create an imbalance (The autopilot will try counteract these forces with its own engines). In the end, the ships will "dance" in space. So I turned off the autopilot during the docking phase. And I added a docking detector, which starts from a certain radius of action and requires some improvements.
There is another problematic aspect, for the narrative and logical design: If you want to dock with a ship, there is a possibility you intend to attack. You don’t just want to say hello to the occupants. Except in certain quests, of course. So, this is strange that the enemy being attacked has their docking port active! We must find a trick, because the door of the opponent can’t necessarily be opened. In short, everything that we add to the game thus causes a cascade of things to fix and rethink.
One last thing: we will rework the design of the docking port. I'm not satisfied.
In autumn 2014, we wondered if we had to remove the dynamic lights...
Finally, I handled dynamic lights. Before, there were a lot of dynamic lights, too many dynamic lights. They were visually spectacular, but I have reduced their intensity. In fact, there was once a vibrant light in each module. And even on some systems. Now, there is a dynamic light on the ship's center of gravity - this may sound strange, but it allows me to already have a light located near the center of the ship. There is also a light on the A.I. system - the big system we must capture to take control of an enemy ship. So this is a visual feedback allowing the player to quickly identify this system. I also added a light on the pile of gold. My goal is not to put in too much light. If I ever put a dynamic light on each generator, it'll make a “Christmas tree” (laughs)! With particles, I might do some cheating. But suddenly, this would not be dynamic lights.
With Dynamic lights / Without dynamic lights
I could add more lights, but less intense. So, there would still be a small effect. But that still require more graphics resources. Now we want as many people to play Galactic Princess. We have to find the right balance...
But I continue to work on the lights. For example, one may encounter small neutral vessels - vessels of three or four modules. And there will be, based on these vessels, a central light in relation to the center of gravity. Generally, in these small vessels, the center of gravity is right next to the A.I. module. Provided they have some gold, the gold pile will be right next door. In the end, the result is too bright. It messes up the contrasts, etc. So I think we'll manage the power of dynamic lights in proportion to the size of the vessel. For every problem, there's a solution.
The save system has recently undergone changes...
We actually spent a lot of time on the save system. But it still needs to be improved a bit.
Regarding the structure (of the save slot depending on the version of the game): I'm trying to have a final procedure, right now. We are thinking about a way to convert backups and make them compatible with the latest version of the game. It’s possible that there is sometimes no choice. As a developer, it’s more positive to suppress a bug (a random example). As a player, it is clearly intolerable. We are aware. So, for now, while the game is not officially released, we enjoy this way, and our backups are not necessarily compatible between different versions of the build. But finding a way to convert backups – from one version of the build to the next - is one of our main objectives.
Do you want to talk about other improvements?
We changed the animation of the generator system: now, you have the impression that it literally pumps the fuel oil (laughs)!
We have also added new types and shapes of modules. Our goal is to have the possibility of creating any type of ships. Since February, we have more shapes, with diagonals (left / right, top / bottom), and a preview system to allow you to know what the result will look like. By the game's release, we plan to offer many modules with very different shapes. But that is not our immediate priority. Although we will soon solve the problem of self-destruction (laughs). You should know that today, in the current build, when deleting a module (which is set by mistake, or simply when changing the shape of part of the ship), the game considers that it is destroyed. So there is an oxygen leak and the crew is drawn into the interstellar void (laughs)! We don’t know how many hundreds of units are now floating in space ... Our apologies to the families! In reality, it’s easier for us. When we "sell" a module, it's as if it were destroyed: the same command, in fact, is used. It is as if we applied 100 points of damage! This allowed us to quickly make iterations of our ships, without having to code the sell system (or the removal) of modules. But when we’ll finish the Forge (the headquarters of the player, where the vessel may be revised and where the player can access the quests), we’ll take the opportunity to complete this process... and thus save millions of units from certain death (laughs)!
About the Forge, it was decided that there would be no units in your ship when the Forge would be used (that is to say when the ship is under modification or repair). When the player goes out of his headquarters, the units will return to the ship. We have many ideas and solutions... We'll see which solution will be the best!
There is also the question of the music; the ideal would be that the game starts these more intense pieces during fights... But we shall speak about this in a future update!
In the coming weeks, I will also work hard on everything related to random generation (generating what types of vessels, etc.). Then we will focus on the management of A.I. units by the adversary. Then we can start putting up quests.
Currently, I think what works well in the current build of Galactic Princess is the heart of the game (the gameplay loop). You control the ship, but you can instantly zoom in to take control of the crew inside your starship. There is no transition, and there is a gameplay change between control of the ship - thanks to directional arrows - and the "RTS" (real-time strategy) mode. You make units selections and I move them from point A to point B. It's really nice.
But there are things to fix in the way we control the camera; you're constantly trying to refocus your ship. And you have to simultaneously move your ship, aim and shoot. But the current build still lacks the active pause, which should help to temporize the action. Then we have to add depth: add content, quests ... But one thing at a time. A few bugs aside, we already have the heart of the game. We have lots of different systems, which allow very different things.
But now, our main objective is to stabilize the game in anticipation of the beta. At the moment, there is a lot of games coming out in alpha or beta; most of them are super buggy. The concept of early access is good, but when the game is unplayable, we reach the limits of acceptability. We must crush the bugs. Then we will add additional features.
We give you an appointment for the next devlog, to be published in mid-April. In the meantime, we invite you to participate on the forum!
Until next time,
The Galactic Princess Team
Thank to our marvellous proofreader, L. Moor !