Author Topic: A Guide To Aliens In The Last Federation  (Read 3264 times)

Offline x4000

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Re: A Guide To Aliens In The Last Federation
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2013, 10:04:53 AM »
Teethworms cracks me up every time, and makes Josh shudder like crazy.  We were coming up for disease names for Starport 28, and he had to go to the dentist the next morning.  I suddenly started laughing and managed to get out "We should call one Teethworms!"  All of the non-robotic diseases (aka not computer viruses) were actually thought up for Starport 28, and then got carried over into The Last Federation along with the races (though there were 20 races in Starport, we just took the best 9 for TLF).

When it comes to the start of an alpha, I'm honestly not quite sure where we are, it's hard to tell.  Mainly it's one of those "you know it when you see it" sort of situations, and right now we still have a bit too much going on for me to feel comfortable with an exact date.  It is looking like it may be closer to mid-December, though, with a 1.0 version of the game coming February instead of January.

Things are continuing to go really well development-wise, but it's just a huge game.  Given how it is turning out, I'm being really careful to make sure that we give each thing the time it needs even prior to alpha, rather than running to alpha too fast.  I'd like the interface and so forth to be as close to final as possible before people start getting into the alpha, so that if there is any confusion it's not because it was stuff we just hadn't gotten to yet.  Whatever results from the alpha, which I'm sure will be plenty, should all be stuff we didn't already know if we can help it.

Status on a number of things:

- The simulation for this game is bloody complicated, but almost all of the major systems for it are designed (and most in place) now.  The big thing that we still have outstanding are the political systems, of which there are 8.  The first one is done (Skylaxian Senate), but the rest are still needing their detail design.  We've been using a simplified model for that aspect of the game up until now.

- The coding for the game is something Keith is doing exclusively, as it's taking me and Josh fulltime on the design side; it's that intensive for design, which has never been the case before for an Arcen title.  Anyway, he's flying along with things, so that's really good.

- Once the last of the simulation subsystems are in, then it's going to be a matter of a lot of small bits of cleanup, and I still have to really get going on making about a dozen interfaces really as intuitively designed as possible, and then Keith has to code them.

- All of the ship graphics are to the point of being shaped out and thus are usable from an alpha standpoint, and about half of them are 100% to completion.

- Special effects and some of the cutscenes and background stuff are lagging, but those are less important for the early alpha, and the special effects in particular will be quick.

- The solar system map is basically done, although more variety in some of the 11 planet classes will be needed prior to 1.0, but that's really a minor thing.  The battle starfield backgrounds that we have are also done and awesome, although we want a bunch more and in some more varied colors.  Those will be prior to 1.0, but right now are minor.

- The drones that get launched by ships are currently to the silhouette and sketch stage, but haven't been colorized or anything (except one of them, the phaser drone, which is done).  So that's a big thing for now that we are working on.

- The HUD styling for the battle screens has been a major ongoing project for weeks, really something we've been pouring endless time into, but finally that has come to a point where it looks amazing and we're ready to move forward with that.  That's going to be informing a lot of other parts of the HUD, including the icons work, so now that essentially that R&D is done we're getting to where we can do more than just use temporary graphics there.


So you can understand why we haven't released more screenshots or any videos, basically.  We'll still be working on adding certain types of noncritical art (that still adds a lot in terms of both variety and a sense of place) into January, but all or most of the critical art should be past the placeholder stage prior to Christmas, I'm pretty positive.


Somewhat conversely, we're also going to be adding more events and racial actions and so forth as we get into the alpha.  Right now we have enough to really verify that it is working well and makes sense, and it already gives a large sense of scope, but I want even more to truly get into the crazy-AAR zone.  Right now we have something like 90ish types of events that can happen, and I want to roughly double that.  We have about 60 planetary technologies, and that will be expanding even prior to alpha, although that's still a pretty good number.  There are 45 resources, which is probably plenty.  Right now there are only 36 different racial actions, which actually is plenty in a lot of respects, but I expect that to more than double prior to alpha.  We have about 35 different types of contracts, plus another 30ish kinds of political deals, but both of those will be expanding greatly.

Planetary modeling for citizens, economy, medical, environmental, public order, AFA, pirates, combat, and so forth are all done already, though I'm sure there will be some tuning.  All of the ship hull types for the game are designed and implemented, and so are all the races and their features.  There's a goodly number of weapons and special abilities and such for combat (39 I think), although I hope to double that number by 1.0 as well.

The really fun thing is that this is just blazing along, though, so in a week if you ask me the same question this list will be way shorter already.  The main thing is getting the game to a point where we can say "yes this is an accurate representation of what we want 1.0 to be, minus extra content that will contribute to longevity of the game as opposed to anything that really bothers you for the first dozen hours or so."  As it already stands, you could in no way see all the content of the game without maybe... I don't even know.  50 hours of play?  It's a lot, but I want to push that even further, and know how to do so without going into crazy scope mania like happened with Valley had.  A lot of the content here has more to do with the simulation and AI and text and so forth, rather than art, which is one of the key differences.

Anyway, the TLDR is that I'm really excited both with where the game already is and where it is headed, but there's a certain point I want to make sure it is at before we invite in other folks.  Mainly to do with accessibility on the one hand, and on the other hand making sure that we're not making you relearn the game with things that we are changing that we already knew we were going to change (for instance turning some of the contracts into political deals, and adding the 8 different political structures; though that will be done far before alpha anyway, and there isn't anything else of that scope left).


Hope that makes sense!  I figure it's a better reply than just a vague "well, probably more like middle of December now."  Gives some context to why, and what is going on internally.  It's a very busy time for us!
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: A Guide To Aliens In The Last Federation
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2013, 04:12:47 PM »
At one time, there was talk that the player can influence one of the starter races directly, depending on where they crashed landed (or for some other reason).

Are there still plans to do so, at least for the advanced mode? I could imagine some hilarious combinations if a normally peaceful races is more belligerent at start due to your influence.
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Offline x4000

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Re: A Guide To Aliens In The Last Federation
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2013, 04:15:48 PM »
You do still get to choose which planet you crash on to, and that has some unavoidable effects on that race.  Mainly:

1. They hate you more than other races, since you stole their flagship-candidate.
2. They get a jump-start technologically and economically, and thus are likely to have an upper hand on other races more often than not (depending on how well suited they are to their planet, anyway).
3. If you start smuggling spacefaring tech to the other races, and get caught, this race is likely to hate you even more.

There's not much else that is affected by this, but those things alone can really cause the start of the game to play out differently.  In terms of advanced start options, I'm sure we'll wind up adding all sorts of interesting options like "hateful ewoks" or whatever. ;)
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: A Guide To Aliens In The Last Federation
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2013, 04:19:31 PM »
Gotcha :)


Another note, how does end game, and the federation itself play out? Do its members merely sign non-aggression pacts, or is it alliances? What happens when the critical mass of the galaxy occurs where a large part of the galaxy is in the federation. Doenemies attempt a rival government to try to combat the federation, or does the federation become inefficient due to its own weight? Etc.
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Offline x4000

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Re: A Guide To Aliens In The Last Federation
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2013, 04:30:29 PM »
The end-game is something we are still tuning, since obviously that has effects from a lot of factors.  That said, I'm already pretty pleased with how it's coming out so far.  Let's see, some various notes:

- Federation members might hate one another, but they'll never leave the federation or attack one another.

- Federation members who like each other will aid one another in wars, but ones who don't like one another will not.  Think of this like the UN in that regard. ;)

- The formation of rival government types (Solar Axis Pact, Pirate Empire, Fear Empire, etc) are things that happen independent of the federation, and usually happen in the mid-game if they are going to.  They make winning the game harder, typically, and aren't related to balancing the end game.

- Anti-federation sentiment (the Anti-Federation Alliance) is something that you have to contend with at a variety of times in the game, but moreso toward the end of the game.  AFA demonstrators and insurgents can cause problems even on federation planets, and they will also actively attack you, specifically, once everyone is catching on to your role in things.  Depending on how your game is playing out, they may be a major factor or not -- if non-federation races have a lot of rage near the end (which they may or may not), the AFA may be more or less of a thing.

- Assassins from the non-federation governments sent to get you is another thing that you may have to cope with if they hate you personally.


These things balance out the majority of cases, but there are a few minority cases that are not yet adequately handled.  Specifically if you have a very peaceable solar system (in terms of inter-governmental warfare, not speaking of piracy, etc), which is something I very much want to always remain a possibility, I'm not sure that there are enough counterbalances yet.  That situation is comparably rare so perhaps it's okay that things just snowball to victory if you manage to actually pull that off (or circumstances are just that kind to you).  That's one of those things that needs to be explored more in alpha.
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: A Guide To Aliens In The Last Federation
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2013, 06:40:47 PM »
All sounds interesting to both tune and test. Looking forward to an alpha in late December
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