Welcome to the first Public Relations Update of 2012!
First of all I would like to thank you for being patient while we moved to our new release schedule. By moving to the monthly updates we will be able to bring you a greater range of features and get you guys involved in different ways! Both Colette and I, as well as the entire ST:E team, are working hard to put these Updates together for you.
And now to our main feature:
The Hard Point Editor: An interview with John
Many of you will have seen Tweets from members of the ST:E team over the last few weeks mantioning our Hard Point Editor (the HPE), and no doubt some of you wondered "what is the HPE?" or like me - "what is a hard point?!?" So we decided to speak to John, the Technical Lead here on ST:E.
What is a Hard Point?
In the real world, a hardpoint is any part of a vehicle designed to carry an external load. In Excalibur, a hardpoint is a subsystem on a ship - like sensors or engines.
How does it affect ST:Excalibur?
Without hardpoints, we would have no flexible way of saying what kind of properties the ships have. So for example - we could just assume that all ships have engines. Using hardpoints, we can attach different engines (types, power outputs etc) to different ships to help build a more interesting and dynamic universe.
What’s different with our way of placing these?
Firstly we can place hardpoints relative to other hardpoints. Say we add three hulls to a ship and a light to each hull, if the hulls separate then we can work out which hardpoint goes with which hull and automatically move it accordingly.
Who designed the HPE?
Loads of people have had input. In the early stages, we created a high-fi animation which walked through some key use cases. Its also influenced by industry standards and other proven game dev techs.
How long did the HPE take to create?
Like most things, it will continue to evolve until we are happy with it. In terms of dedicated coding time, it took about 2 weeks over Christmas. I'd say there are about 1500 dedicated lines of code for both the interface and the logic - not counting librarys, game code or the engine.
What is the hardest part of creating the HPE?
Logically speaking, making it all live and event driven so that an update in the game will be immediately reflected in the HPE. This will make it a really useful debugging tool for scripters because at any point they can open up the HPE and visually check any additional properties their mods add to the ships.
What was your favourite part of creating the HPE?
Other than seeing the live colour picker for the first time interactively changing the colour of ship lights - or the cool maths behind the HP placement code, I'd have to say working with the UI team who have produced these amazing UI widgets which just fall perfecting into place. They have made making cool, complex UI's for Excalibur an absolute treat.
Why did you think it was integral to the users experience to include this in the game?
It is the first step to making mods. If we can smooth out the learning curve, hopefully we will encourage more people to have a go at modding the game and getting excited about creating things within the tools we give them (and the tools we don't!)
Will it be available for the community to use when modding?
Do you have to ask. Silly PR team, how silly of us to ask
In what ways do you see the HPE being developed further by the community?
Don't forget to check out our latest Wiki releases and our 'Meet The PR Team' section. Also follow us on Twitter (@stexcalibur, @excalibur_rick)