It's been an incredibly productive couple months for Starfighter's campaign. Here's only a few of the things that have gone into the game:
- You can start and win a real campaign and it even has soft-locks that act as power (or skill) checks
- The campaign map generator went through several iterations (about 9 major updates if my change notes are to be believed)
- AI fleets are now able to move from one side of the campaign map to another
- AI fleets have behavior types such as watchdog, transport, patrol, or escort
- ALL Harbinger fleet movement can now be handled from the tactical mode
- Related: Keyboard and mouse controls were brought up to par with the gamepad controls
- LOADS of AI fixes, mainly in regards to weapon usage
- EX: Wingmen must be specifically ordered to use their heavy weapons (since they are limited)
- Harbinger Fleet warp state got a polish pass
- Faction paint schemes have been implemented
- Shader work, mainly making shadows work again on objects that pull ambient lighting from the skybox. This was broken in the last trailer (and PAX)!
- A lot of work went into making the tactical mode and star map feel awesome in VR
- Traits went through a rework, making them simpler to add to units (and save across star systems)
- A few more skyboxes have been created (with many more to come) along with per-skybox settings like dust color/density
- Last Stand is dead, long live Last Stand! Everything that was interesting about this mode has been rolled into the campaign itself, so it will be re-imagined at a later time.
- Renaming your ships works again!
Campaign Map Iteration
Some of you might be interested to see how the campaign map progressed from a simple minimal-spanning tree (top left) to where it is today (bottom right). Instead of one minimal spanning tree, multiple are created and designated as kingdoms, then they are connected. This creates choke points into the core systems (and is desired).
Most kingdoms are in the frontier, where the local outpost is responsible for responding to any incursions.
Over time, a lot of subtle stuff was implemented, like the core worlds being elevated over frontier kingdoms. This puts the king/queen on the hill and clarifies its importance.
- The design goal of the campaign is to provide the player with a system of behaviors that can be learned, poked at, exploited, and finally defeated. A few things I'm exploring are:
- Jump Gate Traps: What if you can disable a gate and prevent reinforcements from entering the current system?
- Cloak: I used to run around in a stealth bomber in EVE and had a wonderful time, even when they were completely ineffective.
- Warp Fuel: Make warping to and from landmarks cost something without becoming obnoxious
- Traits can be earned by eliminating priority targets or collecting bounties for the Empire. More work needs to be done figuring out the most interesting way to dole them out. This has been constantly changing.
- It's time for another earnest balance pass. High level goals for this are:
- Imperial fighters need to be more effective against light capitals (such as Destroyers)
- All fighter movement needs to be balanced, particularly with the new armor traits that change the speed of the ships (EX: House Vykorr has Juggernaut Armor which forbids shielding, increases their hull vitality, makes them invulnerable to AOE like flak, but slows them down considerably).
- Starting fleets per-faction. This is already in, but I am experimenting with giving you bigger starting fleets on lower difficulties (and starting alone on Harbinger difficulty).
- Leaderboards: See who is the most ruthless pilot
- Bug fixes (as always)
Early Access Release?
Soon. Getting the campaign critical path in was a big deal. I'm now regularly doing campaign playtests of 20-35 minutes (even in VR) before I get fed up with something and fix it. That time is quickly and steadily growing as I knock these fixes out.
Over the next few weeks I'm also running old colleagues through the campaign to get some feedback and items to focus on for the next pass. These meetings will help clarify how much work is left before the campaign is sent out into the wild.
Thanks for your patience!