Author Topic: Combat, and Alpha plans.  (Read 3704 times)

Offline x4000

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Combat, and Alpha plans.
« on: January 10, 2014, 11:30:40 AM »
Hey guys,

So I promised an update this week, and a video of the combat in action.  I'm going to deliver on one of those, at least. ;)

Combat
I've been doing a lot of testing, and while the outer simulation stuff is going swimmingly and the GUI for that is coming along, and so forth and so on... combat is something that needs refinement.  The single ship vs ship model simply was not working anymore as this game evolved, and some other things also were issues.  The good news is that we're on a very solid track to having combat that I am super duper excited about, and I think you will be too.  The bad news is that we won't be able to really show this publicly for another couple of weeks.

Alpha
Previously I also stated that alpha would start next week.  Well, at this point it will either start the week of the 20th, or the week of the 27th.  Which week it is depends on how much we get done next week.

If it starts the week of the 20th:
- We'll only be taking a select few people during that week if that's the case, and we'll specifically ask for people who are okay with having their first situation be much more "raw" than normally would be the case.
- Specifically, we'll still be using placeholder art in a number of places, and a number of the GUIs are kind of messed up right now in terms of the positioning of their buttons and elements.  Right now we're focused on getting all the information on the screen and working on accessibility and flow, and then working on refining the details of each screen so that they are fully aesthetically pleasing comes after.
- For this first week, we'll basically have an unusual embargo where we don't want people to show any pictures of videos of the game yet, and where we basically don't want any feedback on the interface aside from "I can't find this information and I need it" or "it was confusing trying to find this information."  Beyond that it would be all feedback on the game flow, simulation, combat, etc -- game mechanics, in other words.
- AFTER this first week, then the full gamut of feedback will be welcome, but during that first week we won't want to waste your time or ours with commentary on things that are going to be heavily refined imminently anyway.  The point of doing a limited alpha this first week will be about mechanics and information availability in the game, and nothing else.

If it starts the week of the 27th:
- If we choose to do this, then most likely it will be a normal alpha like any other.  We should have the visual hitches mostly out of the interfaces by then, although all the cosmetic beautifying won't be done until further into the alpha.  Still, a number of screens will be (and some already are) fully done visually, so you'll have an idea of what the overall style will be when we finish with all the bits.

Release Date
We're looking at either the week of February 17th, or else the day of February 24th.  With these latest combat changes everything feels like it is coming together fully now, and I'm confident that we can hit a date in that range and really wow you.  It does make for a shorter alpha period than we had with some games, but I'm doing vastly heavier personal end-to-end testing this time around, and I think that honestly makes up for it.  I haven't done this heavy of personal testing on any games except AI War and Tidalis, and I think that will show in the end product in a really positive way.


That's the news!
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Offline Shrugging Khan

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2014, 12:27:26 PM »
Excellent! Sounds like you're working your buttocks off!  :D

I hope Tigersfan hasn't lost my PM asking for Alpha participation - apart from AIW, this is definetly the Arcen game I'm most interested in.
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Offline tigersfan

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2014, 12:41:34 PM »
Excellent! Sounds like you're working your buttocks off!  :D

I hope Tigersfan hasn't lost my PM asking for Alpha participation - apart from AIW, this is definetly the Arcen game I'm most interested in.

I haven't lost any PMs. :) I have never deleted my PM box here, so I still have the PMs for every alpha I've been here for. :)

Offline Cyborg

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2014, 06:58:58 PM »
For the information presentation, are we doing this Europa style, distant worlds, space Rangers, or more dwarf Fortress style? I'm curious with whether this is going to be spreadsheets or something else.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2014, 07:50:56 PM »
It's... kind of a mix of things, really.  Here's a basic rundown:

1. Overall solar system map.
-- This has a bunch of things you can view on it, like fleets moving around, fleet buildups at planets, and a few overlays and such.  Still working this out fully, but this is kind of the "SimCity" view, I like to think of it.

-- This also has a lot of other sub pieces of information, like events currently happening, and a log of key events.  I kind of think of these like the popups on the right-hand side of Civ 5.  It also has a ticker-like feed that scrolls along the bottom and that you can click for a full twitter style feed.

2. There are various stats screens that show the current state of something.
-- These tend to have a background that is attractive and appropriate to that race or location, and they show thing like current populations, ships in orbit, whatever else.
-- Often these then have buttons that take you into subscreens for trend data or other sorts of logs.

3. There are various "raw logs," so to speak, that show you lists of things that have happened, and when they happened.  This is kind of like in a roguelike in a lot of senses, in that it shows you what happened, when, filtered in some specific context (type of event, planet, whatever).  There aren't that many of these sorts of logs, and you don't need to sort through them much.

4. There are various line graphs that show trends over time.
-- Race populations over time, planet populations, fleet strengths, various planet health indicators, etc.  Makes it easy to see at a glance what has been happening in these sorts of fashions.

5. There is an overall race relations screen that shows in a kind of visual node-graph format how all the races feel about each other and you.  You can hover over the race icons to get textual details in addition to the visual lines that are shown.  These show you how races feel about each other and you NOW, but not at all why -- it's good for gauging the overall relationships, though.

6. There are more detailed bar graph screens that show the reasons for relationships between you and each race, and each race and each other race.  It keeps track of the sum total of reasons of various sorts, but not specific events, in this case.  So you can see that the Burlusts most hate the Evucks because the Evucks have a weak military, for instance, and secondly because the Evucks gave them a virus or whatever.  And the Andors most hate the Burlusts because they've been at war, while they have positive feelings towards them for trading technology (that in no way make up for the war, but it's a positive factor weighed against much stronger negative factors).

7. There are some spreadsheet-like grids that show you things like the technologies learned by all the various races, and which ones you yourself have.  And for your inventory and what it is good for, as another one.

8. There are then Dwarf-Fortress-style textual "intel screens" that you can click into to get a small narrative summary of what is going on with X recently.  A military adviser in general, or a report on a race, or whatever else.  So and so got caught in the rain lately, so and so witnessed death lately, etc.  (Examples from DF, not from TLF).

---

Overall the idea here is that we have a very robust amount of internal data -- a data cube, in a business intelligence sense -- and we're giving you various "reports" that are in a variety of formats tailored to answering specific questions you might have.  So it's basically different rollups of data, aimed at letting you answer specific common questions as quickly as possible and then move on with your life.  I'm sure that some other such interfaces will be suggested by players during the alpha, too.
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Offline Penumbra

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2014, 08:09:10 PM »
  I'm sure that some other such interfaces will be suggested by players during the alpha, too.

You know us so well.... ;)

Offline x4000

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2014, 08:11:57 PM »
Ohhhh yes.... ;)
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Offline Cyborg

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2014, 08:22:10 PM »

Overall, it sounds most like Distant Worlds style presentation. Looking forward to it, looks like something for everyone. The raw log sounds useful for after action reports. Is this something that can be copied and pasted? Being able to share stories would be great not only for your publicity but for our entertainment as players.
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Offline Misery

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2014, 08:26:16 PM »
I gotta say, I'd sorta expected that the combat bit was going to get changed after first hearing about it.   No matter how I thought about it, I just couldnt quite see the 1vs1 idea working out all that well with the rest of the design. 

So you'll not get any complaints from me on a delay from that, nope.

And I'll just say right away that I'll of course be willing to help if you guys should do the slightly earlier alpha start in the game's more "raw" form. 

I'm sure that some other such interfaces will be suggested by players during the alpha, too.

Over and over and over again.  ;)

Offline x4000

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2014, 08:29:36 PM »
@Cyborg: Ooh, nice! Yeah, making effective LPs is definitely something I want to make easy. I'm not sure hat we can access the clipboard... Maybe though. At worst we can have an "export LP info button that makes a big text document with everything that might be of interest, so that you can then cut it up how you want. Please remind me about that later if you will.

@Misery: Yeah, I know that several of you we're thinking along those lines, and that was definitely in the back of my mind. And sounds great on the alpha! I figured as much, with you. :)
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Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2014, 01:21:25 AM »
Everything sounds like it is coming together really nice! Way to go!  :)


Offline nas1m

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2014, 03:17:01 AM »
To be honest, Combat was the sole aspect of what you shared of TLF's design that I was not completely sold on. So count me even more intrigued now that you announced a major and exciting rework :D.

Regarding a possible first alpha step using a more rough build I would be willing to help as well. I would be okay with chiming in along with the rest using a more stable build as well, though.

Just make your call on where you think you can make the best use of me ;).

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Offline Cyborg

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2014, 11:27:50 AM »
I'm ready to go whenever, but only if you want me to attempt to break/exploit the game systems. If you know those are already broken, then there would be no point.
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Offline Rekka

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 03:00:31 AM »
All in all good news. A slight delay for the greater good and a better game. :)

Offline Tridus

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Re: Combat, and Alpha plans.
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 07:43:25 AM »
Based on this, it sounds like waiting for the later date would be a better idea for me. Initial impressions of the UI are pretty valuable and I can only get those once, so getting them when the UI is known to be not-done is something of a waste.