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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsEmpyrean Frontier (RTS)
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Author Topic: Empyrean Frontier (RTS)  (Read 4315 times)
GaldorPunk
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« on: February 02, 2013, 06:20:00 AM »

Empyrean Frontier is a space RTS set in the lawless fringes of the galaxy, where warring factions fight over the vast resources of space. Construct a space station, colonize planets, and command massive fleets to achieve victory.

Empyrean Frontier is a singleplayer RTS developed for PC. The game is still in development, but I hope to release an alpha relatively soon.

Features:
-directly control massive fleets of diverse units
-customizable ships
-base building
-resource collection
-engage in trade or piracy
-2 different factions *(currently only one is ready)
-skirmish and campaign game modes

Links:
http://www.indiedb.com/games/empyrean-frontier
http://www.youtube.com/user/GaldorStudios/videos?flow=grid&view=0

Latest Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbgq3bL8TL8

Screenshots:

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« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 11:28:06 AM by GaldorPunk » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2013, 08:40:10 AM »

Awesome!
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2013, 07:23:30 PM »

Looks good. The hex base layout reminds me of another space strategy game I saw recently that I can't recall.

How do ship control and orders compare to Gratuitous Space Battles? How much of the gameplay will be city building versus battle?

Interesting lighting effect with the ship corona/silhouette. Is that so you can focus more on gameplay and less on texturing or just because space tends to be dark Smiley? I noticed a jittering of motion in the video.. is that a feature?

Hope to see more!
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2013, 08:24:09 AM »

The game has the standard RTS unit control in real time (select units and give them move or attack orders whenever you want) right now player controlled units donít move or rotate to attack new targets automatically, which is something Iím going to be adding, specifically different unit stances to tell them how aggressive to be. (In the videos a lot of the time Iím just selecting units and pressing a hotkey for ďattack nearest enemy.Ē)

Base building and battles arenít really separated, the game plays very much like C&C or Starcraft; you build a base, collect resources, and create shipyards to produce units throughout the game. Also, the combat clips as shown in the video are mainly just demonstrations, I do plan on adding a secondary game mode where itís just a tactical fleet vs. fleet battle, but the main focus is definitely on base building to create ships and then do battle with them.

The silhouettes are mainly to make the ships stand out in the darkness, (I just say theyíre energy shields so it makes sense) I wanted at least this factionís ships to be dark, but I also wanted the background to be dark, so this seemed like the solution. The jittering is a bit of a bug with the movement and collision detection methods, Iím working on a fix, hopefully without having to make really drastic changes to the code.
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2013, 09:20:59 AM »

Progress Update:
I've been doing more work on planets and moons as strategic resources: these large bodies in space have a number of upgrade nodes (depending on its size) which can be upgraded with resource structures, weapons, or improvements. The idea is for these moons or planets to be extremely desirable points to fight over, thus making map control and especially the control of strategic locations important in a game where there is no "terrain" in the traditional sense.

These screenshots show the visible effects of atmosphere factories, which also boost production from mines and reduce the damage taken from incoming projectiles. Not too impressive perhaps, but I've been working a lot on other features such as saving/loading, movement fixes, and an improved minimap.

(Now give these people air!)


see also:
http://www.indiedb.com/games/empyrean-frontier/news/colonizing-planets
http://youtu.be/0p4Fw9A122c
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2013, 01:00:18 PM »

Screenshots and gameplay look awesome. Keep it up!
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2013, 08:54:07 AM »

New update: Super Weapons

Added the first few super weapons and other similar support powers. Several tech buildings in the game will grant the player the ability to cast various game-changing abilities. These tech buildings require a large investment (especially for the "main" super weapon) and the abilities are placed on a significant countdown timer. So far, I've implemented 2 examples of what could be called super weapons, and I expect each of the two planned factions to end up with one main super weapon and 2 or 3 lesser support powers.






Check out the update on indieDB or youtube to see more of it in action:
http://www.indiedb.com/games/empyrean-frontier/news/super-weapons
http://youtu.be/JChmOm4DhpI

Super Laser: (ultimate super weapon)-the super laser has 2 different firing modes, each sharing a cooldown timer-the first mode fires 10 bursts at random enemies in the target area, causing heavy area of effect damage-the second mode fires a single high powered burst, ideally into the core of a planet or moon, instantly destroying it
 
Microwave Overcharge: (support power)-normally used to transmit power to expansions and outposts, the microwave transmitter can be overloaded to temporarily disable all ships in the target area
 
Other planned support powers include a wormhole generator for instant cross-map travel, temporary reinforcements, and eventually an EMP and nuclear missile for the second faction.
 
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 08:18:04 AM by GaldorPunk » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2013, 09:27:17 AM »

Looking good. I usually don't enjoy space based games, but this one looks interesting.
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2013, 08:28:22 AM »

This week I added 2 new frigate units, the artillery frigate and the bomb frigate. The artillery frigate fills the long range support role, and the bomb frigate, an area of effect suicide unit, replaces the old ramming frigate and its close range, high damage role. Much like the old design, the bomb frigates are meant to be strong against clumped up armies and countered by long range anti-frigate ships or tractor beams, which can push them away preventing them from getting close enough to do damage.



Also, as the game gets closer to a fully playable state (and alpha release) I've been working on completing various standard features of an RTS, including control groups, unit stances, and generally better unit AI.

Control groups work much the same as in most RTS games; Ctrl plus any number key 0-9 will assign a control group, and pressing the number key on its own selects these units. Units can also be in more than one control group at the same time.

There are also new unit stances, (similar to those in Age of Empires 2, but with a few differences) to allow the player to automate basic behaviors. The stances available are as follows:
Aggressive Stance: units will move to attack any enemy unit within sight range
Defensive Stance: units will rotate to attack any enemy unit within weapons range
Hold Position Stance: units will hold their position and rotation, but still fire at anything within range
Hold Fire Stance: units will not attack or move unless specifically told to do so

 Additionally, I've changed unit AI to allow for better focus firing and fixed a few graphical movement related bugs. (the jittering movement has been fixed now)

See also:
http://www.indiedb.com/games/empyrean-frontier/news/new-units-and-rts-stuff
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e61GN2gJpyo
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2013, 09:15:38 AM »

Really hard to see the units. Space is cool though.
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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2013, 06:52:55 PM »

Really hard to see the units. Space is cool though.

Yeah, that's one of the ongoing challenges I've had. When you're more zoomed in or have things selected it's generally easier to see, but I think I really need to add some more color to the units and make it easier to differentiate between some of the different types.

Looking good. I usually don't enjoy space based games, but this one looks interesting.

I actually don't play many space based games either. For me, I think it's because a lot of space RTS tend to behave more like 4X, with the slower empire building and management, (which can also be good, but it's harder to get into) the RTS games that most influenced my design have really all been ground based.
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2013, 01:55:23 PM »

New Updates: Wormholes and more to come

Wormholes are essentially portals between two points on a skirmish map, which allow for instantaneous travel between the two locations. They function in a similar manner to a sneak attack tunnel network as in C&C Generals or nydus worms in Starcraft 2, however wormholes last very briefly and only provide one-way travel. The spawn wormhole ability is activated by the Wormhole Generator module (tier 4 building) and like other support powers, it will have a long cooldown.



I've also been busy creating tutorials and campaign missions, plus a lot of new features associated with the campaign, none of which is done yet, which is why this update is smaller than usual. I try to keep a semi-regular update schedule and in the next week or two, the campaign mode should be in a state to show off. Right now this is all I can show, but I'm in the middle of adding a similar warp mechanic for traveling between different playfields, opening up the possibility for multi-system maps and a more 4X-like game mode integrated with the RTS-style campaign.

http://www.indiedb.com/games/empyrean-frontier/news/wormholes1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-0gOg8Vfoc
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2013, 08:11:57 AM »

New Update: Solar System game mode

It's been a while since I've posted something new, but in this update I'm introducing a new game mode to Empyrean Frontier in addition to the single map skirmishes already in the game. Essentially, the idea of this game mode is to be somewhere between a normal skirmish and a full story campaign. The focus of the game at the solar system level is on taking and holding territories. You focus on the grand strategy in the solar system view, and play out the battles as skirmishes in order to settle the result. The idea of this game mode is similar to the galactic conquest mode in Star Wars Empire at War, or the strategic mode in the Total War series, but with some big differences. Empyrean Frontier's solar system view is a more purely strategy focused game mode than the standard skirmishes, but still uses the same basic mechanics of real time strategy and a standard map.


early screenshot of the battle interface in the solar system game mode

I've spent most of my time recently just working on game design and making sure that this new game mode makes sense in the context of the rest of the game, and most importantly that it's fun.

The main idea is something that I've actually planned on and had some framework for since the beginning of development. The reason for this game mode is that I wanted to give the player the feeling of building up an empire and conquering multiple planetary systems kind of like a 4X game, but still primarily using traditional RTS game mechanics.

The two main concepts in this game mode are territory and battles. In a lot of scifi (Star Trek especially) there is often a discussion of territorial wars between different factions, where each side fights to control specific territory, for the trade routes and resources within those sectors or quadrants. This game mode is my attempt to simulate that kind of prolonged conflict between two or more space empires. The solar system is split up into a grid of sectors (currently a grid of 64x64) each of which, when controlled by a nearby planet or battle event, will give that player a small amount of income. Each battle event pauses the main system and takes place as a tactical RTS skirmish, granting the winner control of new territory back in the solar system view.



In the above screenshot, the yellow player and the cyan player both control a single planet, granting them control over the surrounding territory. In between these planets, a battle between two of their fleets has just started, (note the battle countdown, which gives other nearby fleets the opportunity to join in the battle) which will give the winning player control of the sectors within the smaller radius around that battle marker.

The mechanics aren't completely finished; I'm still finishing up how exactly planet upgrades will work, how the player will create new fleets, and how resource collection will work in the solar system view, but for the most part I feel the game is working the way it should.

http://www.indiedb.com/games/empyrean-frontier/news/fleets-and-solar-systems
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TEgT-qn-b0
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« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2013, 08:26:25 PM »

Update:

Iíve come to realize that the old art style, especially in the space station modules, was far too difficult to see and made it difficult to identify different modules. Iíve decided that before an alpha release, I definitely need to update all of these with higher quality models that also make it easier to differentiate between different building types. Part of the solution, I think is to make the shape and size differences between different modules much more pronounced, including the ability for larger modules to take up more than one node space. (The new command center now takes up 7 nodes, rather than the usual 1.) I still like the old color scheme, and I want to make it work if possible, but I'm planning to add at least some extra highlights and add different shades for different buildings.


New models (work in progress) for the reactor and fighter shipyard modules as well as updated connecting tubes between modules. I've started adding transparent glass and some light effects to make the buildings look better.


animation:
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 11:02:29 PM by GaldorPunk » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2013, 05:32:21 AM »

As I last mentioned in the previous post, I've been really struggling with the design of a lot of the older models, especially the space station modules(rts buildings) but at this point, I'm fairly pleased with the newer models and the art style in general. I haven't redone all of the models yet, but the most essential ones are pretty much finalized. I've also been busy doing a lot of back end optimization as well as working on some big design changes relating to the economy systems, the campaign storyline, and the second faction, but those will have to wait for later updates.

For now, I've been creating new models for each of the available station modules (buildings) that the player can construct. These new station modules can now take up more than one node in the hex grid, for instance the reactor takes up only a single node, while the much larger cruiser shipyard's layout occupies a total of 13 nodes. Each module can be rotated and placed in any position so long as it is connected to at least one existing module. By giving buildings different sizes and shapes as well as more distinct designs players should be able to more easily distinguish between different types of modules.

Many of the new models also have some kind of animation or light effect when in use. Apart from being more interesting aesthetically, these effects are meant to better convey the function of the structure. Shipyards show partially built ships being warped in, and the core of the command center shows similar effects, as its intended function is to remotely warp in other building modules.




In addition, several of the old building designs have been modified or completely removed. The main design change is that there will no longer be any dedicated "tech buildings," instead upgrades and unit unlocking will be handled directly from a research tab in the command center. (I'll have more details on this subject and a number of other design changes I've been working on in future updates.)

See also:
http://www.indiedb.com/games/empyrean-frontier/news/improved-base-building
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-XtZDFrLDk
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« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2013, 08:54:29 AM »

I want to live in that space station.
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« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2013, 11:33:24 AM »

Lately I've been working mostly on improving the interface. GUI design is definitely one of my least favorite parts of game development, but at least the game looks more polished now. Here's what's new since the last update:

Improved GUI:

Since the last update, I've primarily been working on updating the user interface in the game and replacing the old placeholder graphics. At this point, most of the in-game GUI has been updated to a more acceptable quality and in some cases, redesigned to improve readability on lower resolution displays. The major interface elements are all focused around my implementation of the fairly common bottom bar design. The metallic panel on the left displays the player's resources, as well as providing commonly used formation and basic unit control toggle buttons, while the right panel houses the minimap and system data for multi-system maps. An additional popup panel on the left houses production menus when the Command Center or any shipyard is selected, and the digital panels in the center of the screen display information on currently selected units.



Research System:

Tech trees and the ability for players to research or otherwise unlock more advanced and more devastating weapons are an essential part of any RTS. The following is an early look at how these mechanics will be implemented in Empyrean Frontier.

In the current design of Empyrean Frontier, all of the research and unlocking of new technologies will be handled directly from the Command Center. Command Centers will share the same tech database, but multiple Command Centers will be able to research separate techs simultaneously, adding an additional incentive to expand to more than one base. Command Centers currently serve as the hub of each of the player's space stations, and are also responsible for constructing new building modules, so giving them the role of researching as well seemed fitting. Additionally, this simplified design eliminates the need for separate tech buildings and lets the player see all available techs in a single screen, which should make the game easier to understand without really losing strategic depth (as well as making it easier for me to finish it.)



At this point, most of the actual techs are not implemented or even fully designed, however the goal is to include many fairly standard kinds of tech including weapon, armor, and engine upgrades, plus certain unlock-able units and abilities. Currently, the only fully implemented techs are the three upgrades to higher tech levels, which serve as bottlenecks in the tech tree, with each tech level unlocking the ability to purchase all buildings and techs available in that level.

When a player upgrades the Command Center, it undergoes a visual transformation, becoming larger and more elaborate with each tech level. These visual changes are important from a gameplay standpoint in order to allow for some way to scout the enemy's current technological progress.

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« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2013, 10:48:21 AM »

I've been back to working on optimization and mechanics for the last few weeks. Trying to get the game ready for an alpha before the end of the year.

The first improvement in this update is the addition of geometry instancing to the main draw methods. This optimization has greatly increased performance by drawing all units of the same type together, rather than calling each one as if it were a different model. This change is most noticeable when there are a large number of fighter groups, since there can easily be hundreds of individual fighters on screen in a normal game.



I've also added exhaust trails behind ships in order to better convey movement and direction of ships. (Plus it frankly makes the game look a lot more interesting.) In addition, thanks to some rewritten movement methods, fighter groups are now able to circle in place when not moving, which is also mainly a visual change.

In the backend, units will now move with more efficient collision avoidance algorithms, again reducing lag without sacrificing precise movement. I've also written some simple flocking behaviors, so large groups of units will move together efficiently. For the most part, unit movement is now pretty much on par with what you'd expect from a modern RTS; the player can also queue up multiple move or attack orders by holding the shift key, and even large clusters of units are able to follow any waypoint path with reasonable accuracy, intelligently altering their courses based on other nearby units.



Formation Drawing:

Finally, I've implemented a new formation drawing system, one that is much more customizable and all around better than the old one, which had only a few preset formation shapes. With the new system, when the player has a group of units selected he can hold down the formation hotkey (which for now is the Alt key) and by right clicking and dragging, draw a line of any shape in order to create a formation move order. Drawing a simple concave formation facing an enemy position is probably the best example of how the formation drawing system enables the player to very easily perform a useful task that would normally require many actions in other RTS games, but it allows for many other tactics as well. You can even scatter or split the selected units into multiple groups for a flank attack by releasing the right mouse button during the movement and drawing another separate line. In the same manner, the player can create formations several lines of units deep or add higher concentrations of units at certain areas on the line.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVv1f70zWak

Ultimately, I think this system should elevate the level of gameplay for players of all skill levels, by providing a more intuitive control scheme for complicated tasks involving unit formations, especially considering that the largely projectile-based combat system in Empyrean Frontier heavily incentivizes good positioning. The formation drawing tool doesn't automate any of the strategic or tactical decision making, it simply enables the player to give detailed orders with significantly fewer mouse clicks.


Next I'll be working on optimizing projectile/ship collision detection since that's still quite inefficient in the engine. After that, the big tasks on the schedule are revisiting the economy, improving the enemy AI, finishing up the tutorials, and updating the save/load game system, as well as replacing some of the older placeholder models and GUI elements in a few places.

http://www.indiedb.com/games/empyrean-frontier/news/optimization-movement-and-formations
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« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2013, 08:56:24 PM »

This looks great! I noticed that on the gameplay vids you haven't got music.
If you need music, I have a few composers that would suit. We're actually doing a space-themed RTS right now.

www.theotherworldagency.com

Check out Cedric, Matt and Thery.  Smiley

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