Next steps, baby steps

I decided that I want to move towards a playable alpha version as soon as possible. There are two sets of tasks that I need to do to get to that point:

  1. Fix all bugs that exists in the current set of features. I want to make sure that everything that a player can do in the game now can be done without issues and that it looks polished.
  2. Add any remaining features that are required to make the game minimally playable.

Today I started making progress on item number one. I fixed a bug with the NPC threat calculation that was making more powerful ships run away from weaker attackers and weaker (even unarmed) ships try to attack much more powerful opponents.

Next there are some bugs with the new target selection class I built last week – it generally works, but there are a few edge cases where it behaves unexpectedly. So, I want to sort that out first as it’s a core function of the gameplay.

There are also some bugs with the shipyard and outfitter screens, specifically:

  1. The outfitter sometimes shows that you have items that you don’t actually have, and you don’t have items you do.
  2. The shipyard button is available to click even if there are ships available at that particular shipyard.

There are also some adjustments to features I want to make which aren’t necessarily to correct bugs, but just to make the game work a bit more smoothly. For example, if you land on a planet and take off it restores your shields and armor to 100%, but any escorts you have remain damaged if they were damaged when you landed. Similarly, I want to make escorts automatically by more ammunition if they’ve spent anything like missiles and that should be deducted from your bank account if you land on a planet that has an outfitter that can restock their ammo. So, it’s really just little things like that.

Once all that is done the game will be playable, but perhaps still not fun or interesting. The next BIG step is in completely overhauling the way that missions are shown. Currently, a random “take X amount of X cargo to X planet” missions are generated on the fly when you land on a planet that has a mission computer. Instead, I need to have a server-side script that returns missions that are specific to the pilot. Then I can start building actual storylines/quests/narrative and allow the player to follow through a mission thread. I’ll also need to create more interesting objectives than just “go land on a certain planet.” Luckily, when I build the current mission objectives/events/triggers system it was with varied objectives in mind, so *hopefully* this shouldn’t be too complex. The hardest part I think will be tracking which missions have been completed and so which are available for any given pilot at any given time/location.

I may decided to hold back on the alpha version until the new mission system is implemented and there’s at least one coherent storyline for the player to follow, but I’m not sure.

Another major thing that’s missing are a variety of ships and outfits. Currently, there are only three ships in the game, and only a handful of outfits. I think a variety of ships and outfits is necessary for there to be much sense of progress in the game or to give the player some reason to keep playing.

Finally, there is no sound. I personally don’t play games with the sound on all the time and have never thought sound effects are super important, but I know I’m in the minority here and even I find the game a little flat and think it would be much improved with even just some simple sound effects. Sound is not something I’ve ever incorporated in a game before, however, so it will require some research to determine the best way to do it.






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