New and exciting things continue to happen in the StarDrive world. We will be posting a patch tonight which should hopefully be approved by the weekend. This patch brings in a host of bug fixes and new features, and continues to push the ball forward toward's a more complete and stable release.
One major addition you will notice is that we have minimaps added in the lower right hand side of the screen. One of these minimaps is keyed to whichever ship you have selected as your flagship. You can separately zoom this view in and out to get a wider view of what's going on around your ship as you manually control it, or alternatively, to get a closer look at combat while you're off managing some other portion of your empire. The second minimap is a higher-level, galaxy view map so that you know which part of the galaxy you are looking at. Clicking on either of these minimaps will quickly zoom you to that view, eliminating a lot of annoying scroll time.
We have also added some classic RTS conventions when controlling the camera. So long as you do not have the camera attached to your flagship, you can scroll the screen around by mousing to the edges. You can easily detach the camera from your ship with a middle mouse click. Also useful is that you can middle mouse click anywhere to move the camera to that position. We hope this makes the game experience a little more enjoyable and manageable.
A second major feature that we have added, and shall continue to improve, is ground combat. To engage in ground combat, one must first build "Troops". For now, there is only one troop type available and please note that these graphics are placeholders while our artist creates proper isometric troops. You can build troops in the Colony Screen like you would ships or buildings, so long as you have a military outpost at your planet. Troops are pretty cheap for now but will be balanced price-wise later.
When you build a troop, it gets placed onto an available planet grid square in your colony, and an icon will indicate this appropriately. If you want to rebase your troop or send him on a combat mission, just right click his icon and he will be launched into space on his (weak, unarmed) troop shuttle. That troop shuttle can be sent to another one of your colonies, or you could order it to go to an enemy planet.
Troops will not automatically land on enemy planets, defaulting instead to orbit these planets. If you want to invade a planet, then you select the planet and bring up it's menu with Q. There you will see the invade planet dialog. You can drag your troops from orbit to any available square for a landing.
Troops start with their move and attack timers on cooldown, to represent their landing. They can be attacked during this time. Each troop has its own timer. When the timer is reset, it gains a move action and an attack action. It should be fairly intuitive. For now, enemy AIs have not been programmed to create troops and so you should not expect any ground combat action. That said, if you want to get a feel for mechancis, you can have your own troops shoot each other!
As I said, this ground combat mechanic is essentially "roughed-in" at this point. Over the coming weeks we'll see it fully fleshed out with the supporting AI, with terrain bonuses, different troop types, and so on.
Look for the new patch soon. Until next time, ZSG signing off.