In the proudest tradition of the genre, Outlier: Open Skies will allow you to travel through space taking up odd jobs and hauling goods for a profit. You have the ship, and you have the freedom, to explore the universe and go where your adventure takes you. However, space is not for the faint of heart and even your trading habits will cause the factions of the galaxy to change their opinion of you for better or worse.

Upon release, this game will feature...

  • Dynamic universe populated by thousands of NPCs who are in direct competition with you. No matter where you go, or what you do, they will continue to go about their daily lives.
  • Challenging missions based on the current population of the dynamic universe.
  • Multiple story lines to complete.
  • Dynamic economy where all goods are manufactured from raw materials by stations.
  • Empire building features. Build space stations, own as many ships as you like, and use those ships to automate your trading or military empire.
  • Complex standing system that will go beyond the conventions of the genre to deliver a more varied and realistic experience. Faction relationships with you will be more complex than simple friend or foe.
  • Vast procedural universe filled with stars, planets, asteroids, and nebula.
  • Joystick support (naturally)!

Are you big enough?

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2 comments by masternerdguy on Jul 27th, 2014

Intro
You've waited very patiently, and it's about to pay off. I am pleased to announce that the Alpha 1 release of Outlier: Open Skies is available for you to download and test! In other words, it's happening!

Up close and personal

Getting Started
This version is an early, ground floor (more like unfurnished sub basement honestly) release that is designed to gather initial feedback and to test performance and stability on a variety of hardware. It is nowhere near complete and probably doesn't look much like the imaginary final product.

In this version, you will start with 2 well armed Sparrow fighters and 50,000 credits. You'll start near a station, and 1 jump from a system with a shipyard. You should be able to get started pretty easily. If you've played High Albedo, you should be immediately familiar with the interface too.

What's Included?
More than you might think! The following things are working pretty well.

  • Space - Space works great. Procedural planets work great, nebula and asteroid fields work great, spaceflight works great. Space is just great!
  • Asset Management - The core of the game is the idea of owning as many ships and stations as you want to build your empire. This is working great. Ships and stations are available from shipyards. There are currently 3 craft to fly.
  • AI Behaviors - Working pretty good. The combat AI is reasonably challenging and the trade AIs are cut throat competitive. Remember that these are the same behaviors as in High Albedo, so they are well tuned by this point.
  • Dynamic Universe - This game simulates its entire game world no matter where the player is, so NPCs continue to go about their daily lives. The universe is emergent, built out of the interactions of hundreds of NPCs as they trade and fight. The economy is a supply and demand economy where stations need to be supplied to produce their products. It's really beautiful!
  • Procedural Universe - Generated from a seed number, and textured from derivatives of that number. This is not an infinite world (it can't be - the economics would require an infinite number of actors), but it is pretty large and it will take you a long time to explore.
  • Extensibility - This game is designed to be easy to mod. All data files are plain text, audio files are WAV, the 3D models are all BLEND files (the working format Blender uses before exporting!), and the entire thing is open source and written in a cross platform language.
Flying through an asteroid field

What's Not Included
Most of the features of the game are incomplete, but some are simply not present because they have not been written yet.

  • Full Joystick Support - On my test system (Debian + Logitech Extreme Pro) the joystick is working great. However, there are no re-mappable controls and I have not tried other joysticks. I would love to know how yours is supported.
  • Muli-Axis Standing System - It isn't done yet and is not in this build. The one axis standing system from High Albedo is present.
  • Storyline and Random Missions - Also not written yet. There isn't even a way of talking to NPCs right now so it wouldn't do much good anyway!
  • Sovereignty Features - In High Albedo it was possible to claim a system using the sov transfer papers. This isn't in Outlier yet.
  • Capital ships - As mentioned previously, there are only 3 ships right now and all are fighters.
  • Factional Distinctions - A lot of the factions are in place, but it's hard to make them different than each other with only 3 ships and 2 station models. Future passes will resolve this problem.
  • Planet Side Gameplay - Planets are, simply put, not done yet. They are actually off limits in this build, but it's easy to hack around that if you want to experiment.

Now that the depressing part is over, lets talk about the future.

Friendly Ship


Future Roadmap

What happens next mostly depends on your feedback. There are a lot of things to improve upon and add, but my initial priority list (discounting any serious bugs or issues, which will be bumped to the top) is as follows.

  • Get AI ships properly avoiding collisions.
  • Adding loot drops and transporter devices to steal loot from other ships (for piracy).
  • Adding bailing ships.
  • Mining - Both asteroid mines and shooting rocks apart one by one mining.
  • Improvements to control scheme and joystick support based on feedback.
  • AI Conversation system, random missions.
  • Adding the second axis in the standing system.
  • Adding more ships and weapons.
  • Adding campaign scripting from High Albedo.
  • World building passes, adding more ships / stations, more factions, and incrementally making existing factions more distinct.

That will keep me busy for a while, but I would love to hear your feedback. After all, that's the whole point of releasing it in such an early state!

Jumphole!

Performance
On my test system, this game runs at a smooth 60fps except when in very heavy combat with a dozen fighters missile spamming, in which case it gets into the 20-30fps range. The development and testing machine has the following hardware.

  • AMD Phenom II (x6) 3.2GHz CPU
  • Nvidia 560TI Graphics Card
  • 12GB Ram
  • Logitech Extreme Pro Joystick
  • Debian Linux running XFCE desktop with Nvidia's official binary graphics card driver.
  • Java 7, although the game is known to work with the recently released Java 8.

After testing, I'd love you to send me your performance information with a similar hardware report and anything else you want to add, especially if you are reporting a problem.

Shooting the pirate

Known Issues

  • On Windows 7, the game takes about 10x longer to load and save. I have no idea if this is an issue with Outlier, Java, JMonkeyEngine, or Windows.
  • On Windows 7, the game may drop to frame rates below 10fps for a few minutes at a time, after which it spikes to 60FPS and remains there for the rest of the game. Once again, I am not sure why this happens.
  • Joystick may have inverted control on Windows 7.
  • On Linux, running the game with desktop compositing enabled may cause the desktop to freeze if you switch to a different virtual desktop.

It works on Windows but it is clearly best played on Linux. I'm sure I can get these issues nailed down with your help.

Near the sun

Conclusion
Thank you for your interest in Outlier and following me in this project! I am always open to feedback, feel free to leave your suggestions (or more likely bug reports, it is Alpha 1) here or send them to me at masternerdguy@yahoo.com . Fly safe!

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Source Snapshot (Alpha 1)

Source Snapshot (Alpha 1)

Jul 27, 2014 Source Code 0 comments

Everything you need to alter the game! Requires Java 7 or higher.

Outlier: Open Skies (Alpha 1)

Outlier: Open Skies (Alpha 1)

Jul 27, 2014 Full Version 0 comments

First public alpha. Requires Java 7 or higher. Please read included documentation.

Post comment Comments
Guest
Guest Jul 13 2014, 7:05pm says:

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masternerdguy
masternerdguy Jul 17 2014, 9:51pm replied:

It starts with a seed number and generates planet textures on the fly. A simpler, less advanced, version of the algorithm can be found in High Albedo.

There's also a function that keeps the universe fresh by adding and removing NPCs as needed.

+1 vote     reply to comment
darkhuntx7
darkhuntx7 Mar 27 2014, 8:18am says:

Quite ambitious project of yours, but if I may ask why the jMonkey engine??

+1 vote     reply to comment
masternerdguy
masternerdguy Mar 27 2014, 8:32am replied:

It's the only decent 3D Java game engine. It's open source and I've been using it since it was in alpha so I've got a lot of practical experience with it.

It is capable of solid frame rates and scenes as detailed as any other major engine, you just have to play with it a little. And since it's open source I have a lot of freedom to modify it if needed to get something to work.

Java was also the language for my previous project High Albedo, but I wrote my own engine for that one.

0 votes     reply to comment
fbucur
fbucur Mar 18 2014, 5:18am says:

Hey masternerdguy, why did you delete my comments? I thought you didn't steal any ideas, so why delete the conversation?

+1 vote     reply to comment
masternerdguy
masternerdguy Mar 18 2014, 6:27am replied:

I sent you a private message explaining why they were removed, not enough space to leave that comment here. I haven't stolen any of your ideas, but deleted the comments because they are advertising.

0 votes     reply to comment
fbucur
fbucur Mar 18 2014, 6:35am replied:

I didn't receive any messages from you or anybody else on that matter, plus I thought you said there are no similarities that can lead to "competing" titles, so where's the harm?

+1 vote     reply to comment
masternerdguy
masternerdguy Mar 18 2014, 6:39am replied:

Check your mail now, I was proofreading the draft :)

0 votes     reply to comment
JprogDev14
JprogDev14 Mar 14 2014, 10:50am says:

This looks awesome!

+1 vote     reply to comment
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Outlier: Open Skies
Platforms
Windows, Linux
Developed By
masternerdguy
Engine
jMonkeyEngine
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