The above screenshot is from our internal Alpha 7.0 development branch. You might notice the steep mountain in the background. We have increased the max height of mountains to 500m.
Hi Galactic Survivalists!
We just released Alpha 6.7. It is a relatively small update for our standards because behind the scenes we are already working hard on Alpha 7.0.
In Alpha 6.7, we implemented the signal logic (sensors and triggers) also for SV and HV and updated some textures on building blocks (yes - we now have a nice metallic looking hull texture). We are planning to update a lot more building block textures for Alpha 7.0. We also updated the model for the Pulse Rifle and added more tiers for it.
Please report remaining and new issues in our bug forum: Empyriononline.com
We prepared a first blog post for the "Road to Alpha 7" (see below). We are planning to update you regularly about the development process of Alpha 7.0.
Empyrion Dev Team
Changelog: Alpha 6.7.0 (Build 1211)
- Added sensors + triggers to SV / HV
- Updated model for Pulse Rifle + added Pulse Rifle T2 and Epic Pulse Rifle
- AI Planet Vessel does not auto-repair anymore when it is shot down. In addition, you can now enter and loot it
- Slightly adapted formula to calculate size class: we are now using a more accurate formula to calculate the triangles
- Updated stock prefabs to update triangles count to new formula
- Updated holo screen 05 + other texture tweaks for holo screens
Texture Update for Building Blocks:
- Updated standard hull texture (it now has a cleaner and more metallic look)
- Updated combat hull texture
- Added old standard hull texture as an extra texture to the texture tool
- Increased texture resolution of several building blocks
- Adjusted detail normal tiling and reduced strength on building blocks
- Reduced strength of detail normal on some devices
- Added deco block "Wardrobe"
Localization and PDA Update:
- Updated several languages (a big thanks to our different contributors - we are proud to have such an active community that helps us to keep the localization up-to-date)
- Added PDA partly in GER: thanks to moonsugar
- Completed Spanish translation: thanks to capi_x
Updated Scenario "Shadow of Starlight"
- Turrets and sentry guns in the Weapon Research Center are now active
- Added decorations to "Security Airfield"
- Minor text updates
- Fixed: Mirror issues: device and building blocks > please test if there are still blocks that do not mirror correctly (note: all blocks that have a left&right version do not work with the mirror tool yet)
- Fixed: Trapdoors and Explosive blocks do not work with Admin Cores
- Fixed: Texture artifacts on constructor
- Fixed: Freighter / PV / Patrol Vessel did not respect the "Fixed Max Speed" setting in playfield.yaml
- Fixed: HV was sinking under water when crossing green wall while driving over water
- Fixed: When a HV with a HV booster has gone through the Motion sensor field it could become stuck above that field.
- Fixed: Problem with firing minigun of stock prefab SV Tier 1e
Road to Alpha 7.0: New Handmade Terrains
What is the first element that you will notice in Empyrion when starting a new game in your escape pod?
Of course, the planet you are landing on - in particular: the terrain. Thus, the quality of the terrain or terrain generation has a huge impact on how a player perceives Empyrion.
We’ll do a quick recap on the current mechanics, so you can better categorize what the planned changes will encompass. Currently, all of the terrain is procedurally created. That’s what the description says. Although you might know what “procedural” means, we will give a quick rundown on what the effects of this terrain creation method are, as the implications and details might not be as obvious in this context.
Procedural terrain does not just mean “randomly created terrain”. Actually the random factor, the SEED you pick when starting a game, is only the final part of the terrain creation, applied to a previously created set of rules on HOW a specific terrain should be created. So procedural terrain is not really random - by changing the Seed you do not completely change the appearance of a terrain but you create variations of the same type of terrain.
To give you an example: When you work with our procedural terrain generator (Empyriononline.com) you are basically defining a set of rules on how the terrain should be built up by the algorithm. These modules can work in different ways and will influence the terrain building in different ways. The more awesome or special-looking you try to make your terrain, the more modules you will need to use. This comes at a cost: performance.
This is because procedural terrain is NOT just printed to something like a fixed “heightmap” and then modified, but it is always created by the modules and the instructions for the terrain building algorithm they hold (randomized by the SEED), delivered by a .DLL or .XML file in the Content folder.
What does this have to do with the terrain in Alpha 7.0?
A lot because of this ever increasing, non-avoidable performance draw, the level of details for terrain you can do, have a natural limit to an extent, as a too performance-demanding terrain will result in artifacts, chunk load-issues and other visible hiccups when you play the game. So, possible optimizations aside, our procedural terrain is limited in its scope by performance. Plain and simple: creating high-quality awesome procedural terrain is possible, but may be very slow (at the moment). That’s where Alpha 7.0 comes into play, adding the “handmade fixed terrain” as an alternative.
What is the difference to procedural terrain?
Handmade terrains allow much more terrain details on a higher quality level. It is created in a heightmap editor, modifying the shape, canyons, hills and other specialties mostly by hand.
Other than the procedural terrain, the shape of the handmade terrain is not affected by the Seed. It’s like picking a Seed for a procedural terrain and always playing with this Seed, which a lot of players do anyhow, as we learned from the feedback we evaluated. The teaser screenshots you have seen in the last update notes and this update are made with heightmap-based, handmade terrains.
What is the biggest advantage of handmade terrain?
You can create awesome terrains with a high quality level that will not demand more performance than any of the procedurally created worlds. Since the terrain is a fixed heightmap, sometimes those terrains might even use less of your PC power as there is no algorithm eating up CPU and GPU time. In addition, handmade terrains will allow a more interesting distribution of POIs and resources. Thus, a scenario creator has much more control to create a specific setting or story.
Will the handmade terrain replace the procedural terrain?
Absolutely not. We will try to improve the procedural algorithm to make it less performance demanding. For us, the handmade terrains are an alternative to the procedural terrains - not a replacement.
For those arguing about the priorities: the team of terrain creators does not work on the programming of the game, so no other feature for 7.0 will be skipped or postponed just because we will have a new variant of terrain.
Said that, a quick Q&A on the terrain topics:
Q: Can I create the handmade terrain myself?
A: Basically yes. We are internally using a paid 3rd party terrain creator. You can buy a license. In theory, the game can also work with the export of any editor if it is using heightmaps and splatmaps (texture maps).
Q: Can I modify the handmade terrain heightmap (shape)?
A: Not directly, but although the heightmap is fixed, we plan to release several different versions of a “base heightmap” so you’ll have different variations for customization.
Q: What elements can I customize?
A: A lot: Decorations, terrain textures, NPCs, POIs and everything else that is defined in the playfield.yaml (except the shape of the terrain). For terrain textures, we have even created a handy in-game Terrain Editor which will allow you to quickly switch terrain textures! Changing a green world into a desert planet is only a matter of a few clicks!
Q: Will the orange and green barriers vanish with the new terrain?
A: Not yet, these barriers are result of the planet creation and not terrain creation