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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3 comments by masternerdguy on Nov 7th, 2014

Intro
Alpha 3 covers a lot of ground. There have been fundamental gameplay changes, new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements. This is the most stable and complex version of Outlier so far. I think you'll like what I've been working on.


Disclaimer
I want to point out that this version is not compatible with either the saves or config files from Alpha 2, the first thing you should do is delete the .outlier directory if you have one. Having an old version's files around would cause problems, it's safest just to delete the directory. This is located at

Windows: C:\Users\USERNAME\.outlier
Linux: /home/USERNAME/.outlier

Remappable Controls
Almost every control is now remappable. This was requested by a real world friend of mine who pointed out that this is 2014, he should be able to remap controls. In Alpha 2 you could remap some aspects of your joystick. Now, you can remap almost every control by editing a config file. See the Controls.txt file in the download for details.


Improved Lead Indication
The indicator you've seen in the past wasn't really a lead indicator, it was a relative velocity indicator that showed you what direction and how fast something was moving relative to you. This is handy, but doesn't help you aim guns.


This marker has been rewritten into a proper lead indicator. It takes into account the average speed of your cannons and shows you about where to aim to hit the target. In case anyone is wondering, the indicator is calculated like so:

java code:
Vector3f targetLoc = target.getPhysicsLocation()
                    .add((target.getLinearVelocity()
                            .subtract(getLinearVelocity()))
                            .mult((distanceTo(target) / speed)));
            return targetLoc;

Where speed is the muzzle velocity of the projectile being fired.

This new indicator works so well that I've given it to the NPCs too! They are a lot better at hitting things now, and surviving in an outnumbered fight may be difficult. If you're upset you can no longer take on several pirates at once in a light fighter, remember you wouldn't be able to take on several pirates at once in reality either.


To make up for the lost relative velocity indicator, a dedicated reticle has been added for it. This is a cyan circle, the lead indicator is a square.

Turrets (Watch Your Back)
What good is a really heavy fighter if it isn't bristling with independently targeting turrets? No good at all, in my opinion, which is why Alpha 3 has introduced this wonderful weapon system. When enabled, a turret will automatically attack the closest enemy (that it has a line of sight on) to the ship it is mounted on. Turrets use the same lead indication calculation as the main guns do, but they calculate it relative to themselves instead of the entire ship.


Right now, the Crow and Raven have received turrets. The Crow has a rear turret, for shooting at things while running away, and the Raven has a rear turret and 2 flank turrets. This makes the Raven a much better heavy fighter because it can lay down fire in multiple directions. Ravens are now quite dangerous.


In the future, the work done with turrets will allow for gunboats, destroyers, and carriers to be added. These all depend on turrets and could not exist before this point. But that is for a later release, for now the existing fighters have received some upgrades.

Missions
In High Albedo, you could talk to NPCs and, if they weren't hostile to you, you could get missions from them. These missions were very challenging and in no way scaled with your progress as a player. This same mission system now exists in Outlier.


To get a mission, find an NPC you are on at least mediocre terms with and hail it. You'll be able to ask for jobs, and will be sent an offer. The following kinds of missions are currently available.

  • Bounty Hunt - The hardest, by far. You'll be told the last known location of an NPC the agent is hostile to somewhere in the universe, but that's it. You'll need to track this NPC down and destroy it to get paid. Note that this isn't a Freelancer style "go here, shoot this" and that you'll need to actually find the NPC.
  • Ware Delivery - You need to deliver a bulk shipment of something. You have to deliver the entire shipment at once, so make sure it's possible to deliver before accepting.
  • Station hit - You have to go destroy an enemy station. These are usually deep in hostile space. The bright side compared to a bounty hunt is stations don't move.
  • Wingman - You have to stick with an NPC for a period of time and follow its movements, and keep it from dying if it is attacked. These are the easiest mission if you have the patience to stick around for the time required.

A cool thing about the mission system is it never spawns anything, all missions are against an NPC that already existed long before the mission was proposed. The dynamic universe's population affects the mission pool.

Get Rich or Die Mining
A classic income generator, especially in the early phase of space sandbox games, you can now go shoot asteroids and collect the ore they split off to sell. This is probably the lowest entry barrier profession in space sandbox games, and provides an income source even if you've hit rock bottom (hehe).


Simply find a suitable asteroid field and fire your weapons at one of the asteroids. It will split off units of ore that you can collect and sell. Collecting the ore is the hardest part, you'll have to maneuver your ship into the moving ore fragment. This is where that relative velocity indicator and a steady hand comes into play.

UI Improvements
The user interface has been overhauled to make it easier to use. Firstly, you'll notice that it is now hover-to-focus instead of click to focus. This is handy, because you just have to move your mouse to something to start using it. It also makes using the UI easier in a combat situation since you don't have to click as much.

Secondly, you'll notice that ESC no longer quits the game. Now, quitting requires pressing F4 and clicking on an "Exit" button, so accidentally quitting the game is virtually impossible. ESC now dismisses all the center-screen windows allowing you to easily clear your field of view.


You can now use SHIFT when typing into an input box. Not every character is available, but you can do cool things like type a lower or upper case character (which I find handy). Scroll bars actually work now, they stopped working in the transition from High Albedo to Outlier. You can scroll through lists using the mouse by dragging the scroll bar.

A few other edge case UI bugs have been fixed too, which I don't find important enough to go into but I'm sure will help someone somewhere.

Cruise and Combat Mode
I've added a penalty for keeping weapons armed all the time. When a weapon is armed, a ship experiences a velocity penalty. When weapons are off, you can go much faster than you can now.

This solves the problem of balancing travel time against combat mechanics, because previously a ship could go just as fast fighting as it could traveling, and it made balancing mechanics hard. Now, ships that are traveling can travel fast and ships that are fighting can fight at manageable speeds.

AI ships have to observe the same restrictions you do, and they will turn their guns on and off based on what they are doing to optimize their travel times.

Bug Fixes, Balancing, and Performance Improvements
There have been lots of assorted bug fixes and performance improvements.

  • Lists will stop scrolling if they lose focus or visibility.
  • Hostile stations are no longer discovered without getting into sensor range of them, making finding hostile bases hard as intended.
  • Ships will now take the planet safety radius into account when flying to planets.
  • Fitting and unfitting modules now requires being docked.
  • God script will no longer spawn way too many NPCs (which eventually caused serious performance problems as the population ballooned out of control).
  • Patrols are no longer omniscient. They don't magically know the location of enemy stations, and have to actually happen by them to find and attack them.
  • Traders no longer get stuck if a station won't accept their sale. If
    a station became 100% full of a good the trader was trying to sell, the
    station would refuse delivery, and the trader would get stuck in a try
    to sell loop. Eventually it might succeed, but not necessarily. Now
    traders will move on in this case.
  • Stations have had their health multiplied 10x.
  • Projectile sizes for cannons decreased on average.
  • Number of Rogers NPCs increased.
  • Number of Frontier NPCs increased.
  • Frontier NPCs will now longer populate out of control.
  • Frontier can now have bases in NC, SC, and Commonwealth space.
  • Various fixes preventing long term performance drop with old saves.
  • You no longer start with a jumpdrive.

Future Vision
With all these mechanics working properly, I want the Alpha 4 release to focus more on world building (new ships, new stations, new factions, overhauls of existing game assets, new wares, new missions, rumors, etc). This was pointless with so few mechanics in place, but since Outlier is becoming a proper space combat and trading game, it is time to revisit this.


When adding new ships, I want to add carriers and transport ships that you can dock large numbers of fighters to, as well as wing command mechanics to make commanding fighters easier. This goes along with adding capital ships, freighters, and other ship types currently missing from the universe.

Feedback
I am always open to feedback! Feel free to leave comments here or email me at masternerdguy@yahoo.com. I really appreciate it. Fly safe!

Media RSS Feed Latest Video
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Outlier: Open Skies (Alpha 3.1 Patch)

Outlier: Open Skies (Alpha 3.1 Patch)

Nov 7, 2014 Patch 0 comments

Requires downloading full version of Alpha 3. Fixes an issue preventing players from buying ships from busy shipyards.

Source Snapshot (Alpha 3)

Source Snapshot (Alpha 3)

Nov 7, 2014 Source Code 0 comments

Everything you need to alter the game! Requires Java 8 or higher and Netbeans IDE.

Outlier: Open Skies (Alpha 3)

Outlier: Open Skies (Alpha 3)

Nov 7, 2014 Full Version 1 comment

Missions, mining, turrets, and more. Requires Java 8 or higher. Not compatible with saves from Alpha 2

Source Snapshot (Alpha 2)

Source Snapshot (Alpha 2)

Sep 7, 2014 Source Code 0 comments

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

Outlier: Open Skies (Alpha 2)

Outlier: Open Skies (Alpha 2)

Sep 7, 2014 Full Version 0 comments

The second alpha features bug fixes and new features. Requires Java 7 or higher. Not compatible with saves from Alpha 1.

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.

Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 15)
Vladiskov
Vladiskov Nov 27 2014, 9:40pm says:

thanks, i did, but in both times i got a java exception

+1 vote     reply to comment
masternerdguy Creator
masternerdguy Dec 2 2014, 4:58pm replied:

You need to have Java 8.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Vladiskov
Vladiskov Nov 27 2014, 2:48pm says:

tu puta madre y la peleas con el otro tipo i going to get this game too for the sake of it XD

+1 vote     reply to comment
masternerdguy Creator
masternerdguy Nov 7 2014, 8:20pm says:

Be sure to grab the Alpha 3.1 patch or you might have trouble buying a new ship if NPC traders are swarming the shipyard.

+1 vote   reply to comment
xinsavior
xinsavior Sep 9 2014, 1:07am says:

Hey, this seems like an interesting game, I was brought here by your post at SpaceSimCentral and I really like the idea of mixing X3 and Freelancer, though those games seem pretty similar as it stands in my opinion haha

I just had a few questions to ask and I hope you do not take them as an attack on your game, just simply wondering about the direction you are planning to take with the game:

1. Now that there are many sandbox-esque sci-fi games coming out such as Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen, to make the front runners, in which direction are you planning on taking this game's gameplay that will differentiate it from the rest of the games coming out in the next year or so?

2. You talk about the game being a blend of X3 and Freelancer, could you possibly expand on what exactly it is you are, and aren't, taking from the games that would help to expand your game into something greater?

3. Are there any gameplay aspects that are you really focusing on, whether initially or in general, that you hope to make the keystone feature of your project?

Thanks in advance and I will be keeping a close eye on this game to see how things progress! I have high hopes for a very cool game :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
masternerdguy Creator
masternerdguy Sep 9 2014, 8:50am replied:

My reply was too long to post here, I've sent you a message.

Short version:

1. First and foremost, none of those are open source. Besides that, neither of those games are going to have the kind of economic simulation and empire building features I am working on. This game is also cross platform.

2. The games aren't really all that similar, although both are set in space they are quite different. In Freelancer you have faster paced action and a more open world than X3 but you don't have the ability to scale (you can't own more than one ship, build space stations, etc). In X sectors are just 200km grids, in Freelancer they are (not scaled realistically) solar systems to freely fly through. I want to combine the fast paced action and exploration in Freelancer with the economy features and scalability of X3.

3. I want to focus on the behind the scenes simulation. I want a universe that evolves over time because of the actions of individual NPCs interacting with each other, where all actions have consequences. I'd like to have a simulation complex and challenging enough that no matter how good the player gets the world is always a threat to them, and ideally they'd learn something new about it every time they play.

I want my factions to eventually be show don't tell. Instead of telling you that they are pirates / navy I want to show this by having the NPCs behave differently. I want factions to be more than just sliding standings bars with different ships.

Hope this helps!

+1 vote   reply to comment
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masternerdguy Creator
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.

0 votes   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 Creator
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
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Outlier: Open Skies
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masternerdguy
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