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September 25, 2021, 01:17:50 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsRelic Space - a turn-based, space RPG
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Author Topic: Relic Space - a turn-based, space RPG  (Read 4626 times)
vivaladav
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« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2021, 04:51:07 PM »

This is just a short update as I have spent most of the time since the last update fixing bugs (so many bugs! Crazy) which is not that exciting to write about (though if anyone really likes reading through lists of changes, there's one here)!

That's a lot of bugs fixed!

Was that over 1 month or longer?
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« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2021, 10:36:28 PM »

I've also posted a time-limited download link over in the Tigsource Playtest forums here in case anyone is interested in trying the game - any feedback would be much appreciated!

Nice! Just downloaded it and will hopefully check it out at the weekend. I'm excited about this Smiley
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Devilkay
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Hi! First game-dev experience!


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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2021, 12:14:20 AM »

In games like this the IA is the biggest part of the work
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logophil
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« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2021, 12:54:10 AM »

In games like this the IA is the biggest part of the work

Just to check did you main AI, or is this an acronym I'm not familiar with (which is quite possible!)
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logophil
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« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2021, 04:35:32 AM »

That's a lot of bugs fixed!

Was that over 1 month or longer?

Glad to hear you think so, I worry that it's not enough, I still have a lot of lower priority bugs left on my to do list! The full list is everything I've done since the last Alpha so about a month. Those bug fixes are about 2 weeks work.

I find any individual bug can take anything from 5 minutes if it's an easy fix, to a couple of hours if it turns out to be particularly complex.

Thanks
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logophil
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« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2021, 04:36:02 AM »


Nice! Just downloaded it and will hopefully check it out at the weekend. I'm excited about this Smiley

Awesome, that would be great thanks!
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vivaladav
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« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2021, 05:34:42 AM »

I find any individual bug can take anything from 5 minutes if it's an easy fix, to a couple of hours if it turns out to be particularly complex.

Oh I see, nothing too serious then!

I almost enjoy fixing bugs like those... whereas I hate working on the ones that take days and many changes and code refactoring, but unfortunately we still have to deal with them sometimes.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2021, 09:54:30 PM »

DEV UPDATE 3: ALPHA 6


This is just a short update as I have spent most of the time since the last update fixing bugs (so many bugs! Crazy) which is not that exciting to write about (though if anyone really likes reading through lists of changes, there's one here)!

But hey, it's all in a good cause, as Alpha 6 is now out on the Discord, and includes the new features I've written about in the previous updates above.

I've also posted a time-limited download link over in the Tigsource Playtest forums here in case anyone is interested in trying the game - any feedback would be much appreciated!



Good update sir and good move to start the Discord community since early stages of game development
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logophil
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« Reply #28 on: May 21, 2021, 02:54:49 PM »

DEV UPDATE 4: COMBAT UI

It's been exactly one month since the last update, so it's high time for another!

I've been busy in a lot of different areas of development, but I want in this update to focus on a specific area that has been a particular challenge, namely improving the UI for the ship-to-ship combat that is central to the game.

This work stems in part from feedback from players of the last Alpha - in particular Alain (thanks again!) - who made me realise that it was not sufficiently clear what tactical options were available during combat. Relic Space has quite a deep simulation of many aspects of combat, including different damage types, effects of cover, impact of motion on hit chance, and managing heat and energy, so there are plenty of tactical options available: the challenge is to present this information in a way that is clear and without resulting in 'information overload'.

My starting point was a basic UI in which info about the expected results of firing weapons is shown in a kind of targeting tooltip when hovering the mouse over a target ship, as shown here:


While this kind of UI is quite common and is sufficient for the purposes of many other games, I realised the reason it was not working so well in Relic Space is because of some unique features of the core mechanics. Since it is not realistic for a spaceship to first move, and then stop and shoot, and then move again, I opted for a system in which the player both moves and shoots every turn. And to streamline these mechanics and provide a fluid experience for the player I also made it so that the player's ship automatically fires at its current target (which can be manually changed at any time) on performing a move.

But this created a problem in terms of the UI, since it meant that the act of hovering the mouse over an enemy ship to manually target it is the exception rather than the rule. In most cases the player will simply choose where to move, with weapons firing automatically, meaning that no information was being presented about the expected results of firing those weapons.

As a result the first step in solving this problem was to show the impact of firing those weapons even when the mouse is hovering over a destination for movement, not just when hovering over the target ship. This then allows the player to compare the results of firing on the enemy ship while moving to each of those destinations, and make a tactical choice as a result.


To allow for the fact that players will often want to use keyboard commands to move the ship, I also made it that the targeting panel is shown irrespective of where the mouse is hovering. Making it independent of the mouse in this way also allowed me to add tooltips to allow the player to drill down deeper into the figures shown, and thereby learn more about the core combat mechanics.



If the panel was to be shown at all times, it was important to me that it should not seem like an annoying obstruction. So to avoid this, I made sure it was always positioned in the opposite direction of the player ship, so as not to interfere with the player's movement options. Secondly, I also added a UI button and keyboard command to toggle this panel on and off, to allow more advanced players to choose not to show this info once they are more familiar with the mechanics.


And that's as far as I've got so far! It's a complex issue in a core part of the game so I'm 100% sure there will be further tweaks and improvements down the road. And I'm really interested to get further feedback on this new system, so if anyone has any thoughts or constructive criticism please do share!
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Ramos
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« Reply #29 on: May 22, 2021, 07:12:07 AM »

The gifs really highlight the tactical aspects of gameplay, and I particularly like, visual-vise, the animated derbies, it brings a certain depth to the environment polish.

Good to see you are still working on the project
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vivaladav
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« Reply #30 on: May 22, 2021, 02:24:07 PM »

It all looks very cool and I will probably ask you to try the alpha soon Smiley
but...

Since it is not realistic for a spaceship to first move, and then stop and shoot, and then move again, I opted for a system in which the player both moves and shoots every turn.

Why not? Isn't that a standard way TBS games play?

Also, if a player doesn't select a target and moves (and I assume it's possible), then can the next action be shooting without moving? Cause If so, what you are trying to prevent is still happening.
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Alain
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« Reply #31 on: May 23, 2021, 10:16:19 AM »

This work stems in part from feedback from players of the last Alpha - in particular Alain (thanks again!) - who made me realise that it was not sufficiently clear what tactical options were available during combat.

I'm glad I could be of service! From the Gifs it seems like you did a great job overhauling the UI and giving the player the chance to make informed decisions. While playing, I was really intrigued by how complex the game's mechanics are already and I feel like now it becomes easier to know how to interact with them.
Let me know if you want to do another playtest session in a couple of weeks or months when you have new things that need testing Smiley
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logophil
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« Reply #32 on: May 24, 2021, 12:13:31 AM »


Why not? Isn't that a standard way TBS games play?


Thanks for the questions, they actually get right to the core of the game mechanics!

You are quite right that having a choice to either shoot or move is very standard. But what I mean is it's not realistic in terms of what would actually happen in a space battle, there is no reason for a real spaceship to stop before shooting. (Whereas it is more realistic for ground infantry, which many turn-based games are about). There are few turn-based spaceship games, but they commonly solve this problem by using an action point system, which of course allows you to both move and fire. My solution could be seen as a version of that, except you have only one 'movement' point and one 'shooting' point each turn- and then I add some (optional) automation of the shooting part so that it feels like the classic 'one tile per turn' system.


Also, if a player doesn't select a target and moves (and I assume it's possible), then can the next action be shooting without moving? Cause If so, what you are trying to prevent is still happening.

Yes what you describe is possible, and I'm fine with that. I don't want to make it impossible, just penalise it - as that is realistic. In a real space battle you could choose to stop the ship before shooting, but it's probably a bad idea (e.g. as you will be an easy target!)
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logophil
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« Reply #33 on: May 24, 2021, 12:18:51 AM »

This work stems in part from feedback from players of the last Alpha - in particular Alain (thanks again!) - who made me realise that it was not sufficiently clear what tactical options were available during combat.

I'm glad I could be of service! From the Gifs it seems like you did a great job overhauling the UI and giving the player the chance to make informed decisions. While playing, I was really intrigued by how complex the game's mechanics are already and I feel like now it becomes easier to know how to interact with them.
Let me know if you want to do another playtest session in a couple of weeks or months when you have new things that need testing Smiley

Thanks that would be super useful, especially as you helped identify the issue in the first place! I find this area particularly hard to make an assessment of myself, I suppose because I know the mechanics so well, it is hard for me to judge how useful these kinds of displays are in making things clearer.
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logophil
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« Reply #34 on: June 12, 2021, 08:35:04 AM »

DEV UPDATE 5: SKILLS OVERHAUL

Over the last few weeks I’ve made significant progress on a really central part of the game: pilot skills. Like skills or abilities in many RPGs, they can be activated during combat to have specific effects, such as repairing a part of your ship, boosting some stats, or performing a specific maneuver.

The reason I’ve prioritised this recently is that it’s all part of the project of improving and polishing the core tactical combat game loop (which I also discussed in the last dev update). As in many RPGs skills are central in offering the player specific tactical choices, in addition to moving and shooting.

STARTING SKILLS

My initial plan had been to introduce the skills quite slowly, with no starting skills at all, but feedback from players of the early Alpha convinced me that I should bring these forward so that players could get more quickly to the full combat experience. I now think this makes perfect sense, as otherwise I am essentially presenting players with an incomplete game experience in the crucial early minutes of the game when they are making up their minds about whether they like it or not.

The way I have implemented this is with the common idea of having your starting skills based on choices made on character creation. In particular you can now choose from one of three character ‘backgrounds’, each of which has three starting skills, and a 'trait' which determines which skills can more easily be developed in the game.


SKILL TREE OVERHAUL

Alongside this, I also wanted to improve my skill tree to a) more easily distinguish different types of skill b) introduce more interesting choices when selecting a new skill to acquire by having interdependencies between skills and c) bring out the thematic or narrative aspect of developing skills associated with your background trait.

So let me do a quick before/after presentation! The ‘before’ skill tree is not really a tree at all, there is no tree structure and skills are categorised as either active or passive - which is a useful distinction, but not particularly ‘interesting’.


By contrast the new version below has a more familiar division of skills according to themes, e.g. combat, movement, engineering etc. It also has a proper tree structure in which new skills become available as you unlock previous ones - though at the moment the structure is quite simple - as more skills get added I will add extra complexity to the structure as well.

In addition I have simplified the overly complex system I previously had for using skill points to acquire skills. Skill points are now assigned to a skill category and clearly shown at the bottom of each category. Active and passive skills are still distinguished, but in a more subtle way through the background colour of the icons, and in the tooltip descriptions.

And there are also six entirely new skills, to make the three starting skill choices more balanced and equally playable.


SKILL UI OVERHAUL

I also made a number of tweaks and improvements to the main UI for activating skills. The colour scheme for the icons has been tweaked to visually represent what kind of skill it is (e.g. a red icon indicates a combat skill, blue a movement skill and so on) while the background hexes all have the same colour to give a unified feel. And I also added keyboard shortcuts, animations to show when the skill is active, sound effects, and improved the tooltips.

Here’s a final gif showing the skills in Action.


Thanks for reading, as usual any feedback welcome!
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Ramos
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« Reply #35 on: June 12, 2021, 12:28:05 PM »

Introducing skills gradually seems good in theory but yea, without actually testing you can never know for sure.
Just make sure you also provide for testing the new skill unlocking design just in case "what player wants is not always what player needs"

Stil the same + on your avatar(game avatar, not forum avatar   Wink ) and interface, very good looking.
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Alain
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« Reply #36 on: June 13, 2021, 10:39:28 PM »

The new skill tree looks well-arranged and polished. I am sure the categories make it a lot easier to understand!
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vivaladav
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« Reply #37 on: June 16, 2021, 07:12:27 AM »

Nice one logophil!

Something that it's not completely clear is how skills affect your ship/player.
Looking at your GIF it seems like they are special actions/abilities you can use during battles (but I might wrong). Are there any skills that affect attributes and stats as well?
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« Reply #38 on: June 17, 2021, 07:53:44 AM »

Thanks @Alain and @Ramos for the supportive words! And yes I agree you need to be careful that what the player wants is actually good for them, though in this I like the improvement myself.

Something that it's not completely clear is how skills affect your ship/player.
Looking at your GIF it seems like they are special actions/abilities you can use during battles (but I might wrong). Are there any skills that affect attributes and stats as well?

Thanks for the question! Yes some skills give a permanent boost to ship stats or other calculations rather than being an action or ability. This is what I meant by 'active' and 'passive' skills in my update - passive skills can not be 'activated' they just have a permanent effect. For example the 'laser focus' skill gives a permanent to hit bonus when using laser weapons. In the old version of the skill tree this was the main way I divided the skills, but now they are grouped by theme instead, meaning it is a little harder to distinguish the active and passive ones, but my feeling is that this is quite common in RPGs and easily understood.
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logophil
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« Reply #39 on: July 01, 2021, 03:19:22 PM »

DEV UPDATE 6: NEW ALPHA (AND A BIT ABOUT MUSIC)


ALPHA 7

Alpha 7 is now out on the Discord! It's the biggest update yet in terms of sheer number of changes, and the focus is on bringing out the tactical depth to the game from the start. As mentioned in previous updates, there's a complete overhaul of 'Pilot Skills' systems, and the combat UI has also been redesigned, with more scope to drill down and understand the key stats underlying the combat simulation.

In addition, there’s a brand new original soundtrack, which I’ll go into in a bit more depth below. The tutorial has also been augmented in various ways, and extended to cover the first Relic mission, to introduce players to the relic/research mechanics. There are also a host of smaller graphical improvements and bug fixes that should make for a smoother, more playable experience.

PLAYTEST

If you want to playtest the the game, I've also posted a time-limited download link over in the Tigsource Playtest forums here - any feedback would be much appreciated!

A full changelog can be reviewed here: https://www.fourfoldgames.com/devblog or within the build itself.


ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

I’ve been working closely with talented composer Peter Gagliardi over the last few months to add an original soundtrack that fits the mood and theme of the game. As you can see from his bandcamp profile Peter has a lot of experience creating sci-fi works with a grand cosmic scale, which was exactly what I was after.

To create adaptive tracks that change in response to what’s happening in-game, Peter and I have been using FMOD studio which is a great tool for this purpose and can be fully integrated with Unity.


Using FMOD you can set up parameters that control for example the volume of specific tracks within a larger ‘event’. The Unity integration then allows these parameters to be changed by code during runtime.

At the moment there are three main music states. The most intense music occurs, not surprisingly, during combat, and the least intense - a quieter, more relaxed, ambient loop - occurs when the player is just travelling with no current mission. Then there’s a state of intermediate intensity that plays when the player has accepted a mission, though is not yet in combat.

In addition to being adaptive in this way, the music is also themed around the main factions in the game, so that music with characteristics corresponding to a given faction plays when you enter a sector primarily controlled by that faction. When you enter a sector that is contested by two factions, the music itself becomes a mix of the themes of those two factions. And there are also variations that occur to keep things fresh when you enter a new sector that happens to be controlled by the same faction as the previous sector you were in.

Here’s a short video that gives a taste of the way the music transitions smoothly to become more intense when a mission is acquired, and again when hostile ships are encountered.




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