It's been a busy few months and too long since I've updated the dev blog, so here's what is happening in the world of Enemy Starfighter.
- Solar systems are now "real" and not simply skyboxes as they were before
- Landmarks such as planets, moons, belts, and nebulae are generated outward from the star based on a simple set of rules
- You can warp the Harbinger Fleet to any known landmark in the solar system (ANIMATED)
- ...but the same applies to enemy fleets, some of which respond to your last known location or destination
- Factions have been implemented, and each faction has its own set of traits that are applied to the unit
- Traits modify unit stats or enable alternate weapons, making every weapon or ship I create stretch further
- Some factions are always present in a solar system, such as Lane Marshals that run overwatch on jump nodes
- Others factions are determined during solar system generation
- Lots of bug fixing and polish on other systems
- After a lot of iteration and pain, the game's overall direction has been focused even further
Grand Theft Starfighter
Battle-planning has been replaced with hunting and hiding. Before, each battle was fed to you via a simple mission generator and menu. It wasn't dynamic, lacked tangible persistence, and it certainly didn't fulfill the fantasy of being a starfighter harassing the enemy deep in their territory. I can go into this in detail if people want, but I won't bore you with that here.
Now, when you enter a system you are told what flagship to destroy and are given free rein to hunt and deal with it as you see fit. Do you build up your forces and take out the flagship head on? Do you misdirect their escorts to a bogus landmark and then jump the vulnerable capital with a small group of beam frigates, knowing full well that you will lose them?
Once combat begins, gameplay is structured very much like a police chase with your fleet at the center of it. If you've ever played GTA or if you've ever done small-scale skirmishes in a game like EVE, you should have an idea of what to expect. In fact, a lot of what makes this game tick comes from countless hours I've spent running around in EVE's Syndicate region in an interceptor.
While a few of these systems are super rough, they are at least functional. They mainly need passes on readability and polish, which will happen soon.
If you are watching a stream and go, "Damn these fighters are chatty!" you would be right! It's mostly because I use their VO to help me debug what they're doing. If they say a certain phrase at the right time, I know the AI is working correctly. This will be appropriately tuned and varied for the final game, I promise!
One thing missing from the game was a satisfying currency reward loop for killing fighters. The tumble alone felt good and you earned points for it, but a new layer has been added: the escape pod.
A majority of your currency is acquired from killing the crew of downed vessels. If you have an autoturret, it happens automatically. As a capital goes down, the famous loot-piñata situation occurs as the crew abandons ship.
It's one of the first things I've put in the game that makes people feel like a villain. Several people reported feeling conflicted about it. Good!
Here's the roadmap for the next month:
- Iterate on the fleet AI and solar-system mechanics
- Pass on the cockpit art (it is woefully out of date, and I know more about what my requirements are)
- Create new models for units that share them (for example, the Federation torpedo frigate uses the pulse cannon model). It was done this way to get functionality working before worrying about the art
- Start capturing footage for a new trailer/gameplay video