Hi all. Just thought I’d drop in with a quick development update since it’s been a while since the last one….
I spent the majority of last week completely disassociating the Main Menu/Front End from the in-game data. This was a HUGE change to how and when specific data was loaded. It took a fair bit of debugging to get it all sorted and running. The only thing that is retained from the campaign data now for the Front-End is the information for what system the player was in when the game was last saved. This is used as the background for the Main Menu (you’ll see). This isn’t TOO big a deal now as for the Core Module everything will occur in one system. Later though, when the Maverick Module is added (exploration, etc), it’ll give the UI a unique look with every load.
More importantly though, the disassociation allows me to load single missions from the main menu that will not interfere with the player pilot’s current campaign. The way I’ve designed it, players will be able to exchange single missions easily–a new mission just gets dropped in the single mission folder and it appears in the UI. These missions are important for two reasons:
1. they will help to extend gameplay throughout the early access period while the full-fledged dynamic campaign continues to evolve.
2. they will be used for tutorials — introductions to systems, new ships, etc.
Point two brings me to the bulk of this week’s work–tutorial scripting and control. Each single mission can have a tutorial script attached to it. Obviously, RogSys needs to know the contents of the script, the triggers that set each event off, how long messages are on screen for, etc. I also put in an icon that draws your attention to a specific item. This will help a great deal when learning the cockpit as you’ll be shown which buttons to interact with, and when.
Personally, while I understand the need for them, I never liked tutorials that much myself. I always preferred to read manuals and discover things on my own. While RogSys WILL have a manual, it won’t be ready for some time; and, I realize many people don’t have time to devote to manuals. Most folks just want to jump right in and play. The tutorial missions are, thus, the best way to go early on….
This weekend I need to build out a “docking trainer” platform. It is going to take more time that I have right now to get the large station working the way I want. And, to be honest, it was designed before I had a good understanding of the Leadwerks engine. Thus, the old station really needs a redesign to work better with what the engine expects. This training platform then will be a small “station” with several external docking collars. This will allow you to practice start-ups, shut-downs, docking, un-docking, and orbital rendezvous (which will be the bulk of the gameplay for the first early-access release). With the tutorial system I’ll be able to guide you through these items. When you’re ready, you’ll be able to disable the tutorials and try it on your own.
Finally, as you know, in late Feb/early March, I did a lot of work on system damage reactions and the Caution&Warning system. Michael provided some nice sound events for it and I really like the initial results. It’s great to see that you can get yourself in trouble by simply not paying attention to your ship (remember, computer aid isn’t available on a large scale yet, so many systems aren’t actively monitored as they would normally be). You can’t, for example, set the boost throttle to full indefinitely and expect the engines to NOT pay a price for it.
So, the new training platform, some visual effects, a few new HUD elements to add, tutorial missions, and some navigation functionality–this is really what we have left to complete. Internal testing continues to go really well, actually. There’s been the odd crash here and there–nothing that I’d consider unreasonable at this stage of development. In most cases these have been one-off events. I’m getting some good feedback from testers on things like TrackIR integration and such, too. So far, people seem to like the overall layout of the Main Menu–it’s a pretty straight-forward, simple affair.
All the fundamental code is just about in place and seems to be working well. I’m confident we’ll be able to build some great gameplay on top of it as we move into the next development phase. I’ll be glad to have you all along for this as active participants–helping me make RogSys everything I’ve dreamed it will be…