Let’s start off with this:
While getting these two ships into this position would seem simple, let me tell you that it was NOT. I mean, sure, it would be easy to just link two ships together in the proper position and orientation. However, there is a lot to consider to get this to happen. Here’s some “for examples”:
–RogSys needs to know, when the mission loads, which ship the player is flying
–It needs to know which ship is the player’s host
–It needs the position and orientation of both the player’s external docking collar, as well as the collar it will be docked to
–No matter how the player’s ship is orientated, the player needs to be able to walk around inside of it
–at any time these two ships can be decoupled. Changing hosts needs to be handled seamlessly
–etc., etc., etc.
It took me all of last week to be able to handle all of this (remember, up until now only interior docking was coded). Once I had ships joining up properly at the start of a single mission I could then work on managing STC communications, and the final decouple. While all of this worked a few months ago, again it was only for interior docking. Exterior docking presented some unique situations that needed to be managed. Finally, I was able to do some refinement of how ship systems behave under low-power conditions, such that you’d find during a start-up.
The tutorial system is now working pretty well and I can reliably script out tutorial message events with many types of triggers. I really think these will be a big help for new players. They won’t be all-encompassing obviously; but they certainly will help you get familiar with what’s going on,,,,
So, this week then focuses on allowing you to dock to an external collar. In some ways this will be easier since the two ships are separated to start with; and I’ve practiced maneuvering in close proximity with another ship more times than I could count. So, the work then is to make sure STC handles your approach and docking request properly. You also need to be able to orient your ship’s docking collar with the host’s. To make this trickier, you can’t see either of them with the FireArc’s current design. This means you need to be able to fly completely by instruments. This, then, is the even larger task–the displays to help you do this. I start on these in the morning….
I’ve also been trying to continue to hammer out the small bugs the internal testers are finding as they come up. Many of these were with controller assignment and command bindings. Things look pretty good now overall. As mentioned in another post, I’m intentionally keeping things simple to start with until I’m comfortable that all the large bugs have been found. Soon though I should start adding more advanced binding options….
I’ve done some more work on the Main Menu presentation. It’s something that often gets overlooked; but let’s face it, the Front End is the VERY first thing you see of a game. A good presentation there definitely helps to get the player “in the mood”. Obviously it’s no where near final, but I think it makes a very strong statement considering the phase of development we’re in. A nice feature that just got added is the Message Of The Day. Via ISI’s launcher for RogSys, I post a MOTD at any time that you will see in the Main Menu. This will very quickly allow me to update you guys on update availability, latest changes, etc. It’s a simple thing that will just help me communicate points of interest with players very directly…
Finally, last week I worked on adding the preliminary visual effects manager. This allowed me to add first-pass effects for RCS and Boost nozzle thrust, simple weapon impacts, etc.
So, what’s coming up? As I said previously, this week is all about preforming an external dock. Next week I want to spend the bulk of my time with some very simple 1 vs 1 combat–making sure systems are taking damage properly, perhaps adding some more effects, and handling different ending scenarios. Nothing fancy for now by any means, probably no more than messages letting you know what’s happened and ending the mission accordingly. That will leave the rest of the month to make sure the tutorial scripts are working.
I am pushing for May 1st. I’m not saying it WILL release then; but I want to be able to say it CAN release if it needs to. It’s very important to have that goal to help maintain focus, force you to work on things you have pushed back for a while, etc. I know EXACTLY what I need to do to make the date and that is MORE than half the battle. In fact, I’m already planning what the first update will have. That’s a good sign
Until next time, take it easy….