So what has Lord of Rigel been up to?
It has been a frustrating and difficult few months for the Rhombus development team. Let’s start with the good news. We have lots of new art. All of the main species for Lord of Rigel have complete fleets. All of the economy ships such as freighters are complete and we are nearly done with menaces, having only the super capital ship for the rag tag fleet, planet killer and system killer ships. After that we have decided to add unique bomber/strikecraft for each species. We anticipate having this done in the next month or so which will complete all 3d art assets for the game.
Additionally our music has been completely written and is in the process of being mastered. We hope to have this completed in the next few weeks and each week we add more tracks to the game as they become mastered.
So let’s get down to code. This has been a struggle for the Rhombus Team on all fronts. We hit numerous speed bumps both with the Unity engine and with code done by former team members. As Lord of Rigel continued development over this past summer bugs began multiplying rapidly and instability was becoming an issue. Additionally, a lot of the formulas and values laid out in our design document were not performing as expected. Upon further investigation, it became clear that while we were a lean mean indie team, like other indie games who have had team members come and go we had a code base that was a hodge podge of code that created any environment that I can best describe as a ball made up of band aids. Use the ball and watch the band aids start to peel off.
We also found once we started implementing tool tips that numerous issues in game play related to values were not being calculated and implemented correctly. Some of these things made systems like pollution kill a population within only a few turns because the pollution was growing exponentially. The ability of the tooltips to provide clear breakdowns of values allowed us game designers to look at systems easily and see that values were off, which made us reexamine the code.
All of these issues made the current coder group reexamine every system from the ground up and figure out what code needed to be overhauled to provide a more robust codebase that would be more reliable and allow us to add DLCs in the future without the prospect of rewriting vast amounts of code at that point. We have spent from August to December 2016 evaluating and rewriting numerous systems, which had provided us a stable code base that was playing pretty well within the Unity editor.
We then decided to start making and experimenting with builds within the team to test gameplay, etc. Then Unity decided that while all of our art assets worked great in editor that their larger than 4GB size meant that we needed to begin using asset bundles due to 32 bit limitations of the Unity resource system. Since December we have been focusing on rewriting our faction system to work with asset bundles as well as continuing to bug hunt, rewrite systems, and add more features. All that being said it has been a frustrating few months as we hit the reset switch on our code base. However I will say that we have learned valuable lessons as a team and importantly have a code base in place that will allow us to fulfill our goal of both releasing Lord of Rigel and also being able to easily add DLC and expansions with ease.
For the moment, we are in the final stretches of getting an internal build out the door this week that will allow for species creation, galaxy generation, colony management, research, and numerous supporting menus and systems such as the leaders, empire and planet management systems.
Our next goal is to finish up reworking the ship designer and fleet controller which will allow players to build warships. After that we will begin focusing on finishing a write/refactor of the tactical and ground combat systems and then begin moving into more complex systems like diplomacy, end game, and AI systems.
It has been a long and tough journey for our team, but I feel we have a solid footing now. We have a plan that we are forming and we will have a build that we will feel confident to show you in the coming weeks. Knock on wood we don’t expect any more major speed bumps like we have had. We thank you for your support and patience!