General Category > The Last Federation

Where we are with TLF, in general, 3/14.

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So!  Bit of a (relatively) brief update, both for staff as well as players.

Release Date / Public Beta Date
We know the release date will be in April.  We'd thought maybe on the 2nd, but Diablo 3 is getting increasingly scary.  Also, I'd kind of like to have more time to work on the game into April, given the testing feedback at this point and our marketing timeframe needs.  So I'm guessing that mid or late April is our ticket for the release date.  After April is not an option.

For the public beta?  Well, I don't want to really get into that too early, honestly.  If the experience isn't already highly accessible to a large degree, that will hurt more than help.  Right there we aren't there yet, and we're just kind of hauling up rope from a well of unknown depth. ;)  My guess is very late March at the earliest, or maybe we'll do this on April 2nd, who knows.  With each passing week this will get more clear.

Auto-Combat Resolution / Text-Adventure Combat
This is something that I'm excited about, and I have it maybe 15% implemented at the moment.  This basically takes out any hint of action-oriented combat, instead just giving you buttons that you click to "destroy this" or "capture that," etc.  And each action has a certain percentage health-lost range on your ship.  You then approach the battle that way, getting to make all the major decisions against the flagships and outposts and other specialty ships, while completely ignoring the squadron-level aspect of the game. 

This is a lot more interesting than a "push here to auto-resolve" button, and this type of thing is going to be its own special combat difficulty rather than just something you do when you don't feel like engaging in a specific fight.  This is something that I feel like will be really vital for capturing the attention of certain kinds of grognards who might hate the current style of action-y combat (which I just love, as do a number of other people).  So people can have their cake and eat it too, essentially.

This is something that I'm working on as I have time, and I expect it to be ready within 2 weeks, give or take, depending on how much time I am spending sucked into other stuff.  This is a major selling point feature for the game, I feel, though.

Early Game Options
Right now there are not enough options available to you in the early game.  To some extent that is good, in the sense that in Civilization IV or whatever you just have a settler and a barbarian, and you make that choice and it gets more complex over time.  That said, it errs too much on the side of too-little right now.  I was intentionally trying to gate things to not be overwhelming, but I need to tune that some more.

More Ways To Affect The Sim - Mercenary Base
The solar map is so huge and robust, but as players have noticed, sometimes there are not enough ways to really affect your will on things.  That is something I aim to fix with a new form of "mercenary base" that you can establish for yourself from the black market, and which would then give you a new category of mainly dispatch-style missions to run.  You'd be able to hire mercenaries at the black market to come staff this place, and that would increase your capabilities if other mercenaries of yours get killed.  This is going to mean a bunch of new contracts, but most of them are not combat-oriented in the sense of you being directly involve in combat.  So this is a fair bit of work for us, to put it mildly, but I think it's something that is really lacking right now and will be a big impact on how you can affect the game.  Particularly how you can affect it in a non-combat non-politics way.  It also gives you something to build.

More Explanations
Holy moses, there is a lot of text in this game.  I spent almost all yesterday working on just the politics screens, getting them attractive and clear.  There is a lot of stuff to communicate to you, and it all has to be contextual so that it's not telling you things you don't care about at the moment, or missing telling you stuff you DO need to know at the time.  So this is an ongoing work in progress, basically.  Almost all of the major screens are now attractive and well laid out, with some exceptions like the planet/outpost summaries and the aliens list, etc.  But nothing is such an unholy mess as the politics screen was. ;)

More Interfaces
One of my goals is to keep the number of interfaces to a minimum in the sense of not just throwing the kitchen sink at you, but at the same time this game already has and does need a ton of interfaces.  There are still a few more that we're going to need to add, like a general ledger for past actions that you've taken, and where BP went, etc.  Being able to see what has happened to you personally, and why, is important.  We already have that sort of thing for the races themselves for the most part, but not for you.

Sound effects.  A few new overlays.  Cleaning up some various screens visually.  Adding in a few other visual effects and tweaks.  Remaining achievements.  Remaining advanced options.  Integration of the intro movie.  Etc.  A lot of this can be taken care of pretty quickly, thankfully, but there are pretty sizeable number of these things.

Simulation Improvements
When we made the shift to having multi-party combat, we did a few hackish things where we started making up some alien armadas on the fly, that didn't really come from anywhere in the sim.  Useful for having the battles we needed, and proving that out as (relatively) quickly as possible.  But now we have to go back and tie those better into the real simulation, so that in those instances the armadas aren't coming out of nowhere.

These are ongoing, obviously, and will be until we stop adding features and then beyond that.  Thus far we've been making what I feel like is very pleasingly rapid progress on these, but it's largely been at the expense of new feature additions for the moment.

I need to start doing a lot more videos and blog posts, etc, and getting on the interview circuit.  This is something I really enjoy, but it takes away a lot of my time to actually work on the game.  So this is yet another thing that is competing for the overall time.

Anyway, that's where we are.  Every so often it's good to do a birds-eye view of what is going on, I think.  I'm super pleased with how this is shaping up, but there is still plenty to be done.  On the positive side, Blue is hitting a point where there is comparably little art for her to work on at the moment, so she's starting work on the art for the next game.  And Pablo will be out of work to do on the music and sound within a couple of weeks, so then he can start on the next one, too.  So that's always good. :)

Sounds good. Despite expressing some misgivings over being able to toggle on/off the action bits, what you have planned seems pretty cool. I'm especially interested as I used to have a strong interest in text-adventures, indeed actually helping write and program one. Although, I'm sure your mode is not going to bear much of a resemblance to a traditional text adventure, nevertheless it sounds very cool.

You encounter an armada of Evuck warships, outnumbering you 10 to 1.

> look around

There is a debris field to your East and the Armada approaches from the North

> go East

You enter the debris field.  The Armada is reluctant to follow you.  The Armada begins to send smaller ships to locate your flagship.

> shoot small ships

The smaller ships don't stand a chance against your superior firepower and are soon destroyed.  With no way to safely pursue you, the rest of the Armada turns away and withdraws.

You win the encounter!

Text adventure is really the wrong term for this, haha.  It's definitely not a MUD.  Though a fun fact is that the very first game I ever coded was in QBASIC and was a text adventure for DOS.

I'm really looking forward to the new "button driven" combat style.  :)   Although, i might love the action-y stuff too, who knows?  Anyway i'm looking forward to seeing how it plays and enjoying it. 



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