It's been over half a year since the previous version. My intention was to implement and release things more frequently bit by bit, but this bit got a lot bigger than it was supposed to. Whereas version 0.5.0 concentrated on better 3D models and graphics, 0.5.1 is more about gameplay mechanics, controls and overall usability.
Cooperative game mode
Up to three players can now team up against one AI opponent. Battle ends when either AI or all humans are destroyed. Beware: friendly fire is a thing.
There's not as much new cosmetics as in the previous version, but the arena and space background have been improved a lot. I also fixed tons of small glitches, though many still exist.
New Input System
Device handling is completely rewritten using Unity's new input system. Keyboard, mouse and gamepad controls can now be rebind, device (dis)connections are handled in real time and gamepad rumbling is used if it is supported by the device. In menus, gamepads act as a virtual mouse. Instructions should be available where needed.
The game should be fully compatible with Windows and Xbox controllers. Other platforms and devices should work also, but may suffer some deficiencies. Feedback is highly appreciated on this.
The settings page (shown above) is now also available in pause-screen. In the main menu, a tutorial page is added to explain the core game mechanics (tutorial arena still needs work). Menus should be fully usable with gamepads, although the user experience may be far from perfect.
Battle UI is also improved. Player widgets are moved to the corners, which leaves top and bottom of the screen free for info texts.
Additionally there are now gamepad-friendly selection widgets, lots of new instructive texts, more consistent shortcuts for both keyboard and gamepad etc. Code base is refactored to allow future decorations and extensions.
New built-in ships
Old build-in ships are replaced with ships that are more balanced, more specialized for their purposes and easier to use. As an extra, there's a big stationary ship that is recommended for the AI in coop-mode.
Balancing and gameplay tweaks
Modules have more variation in their properties, which offers better balancing and more interesting gameplay. Losing the ship by accident should no longer be a major issue; for instance, exploding reactors don’t necessarily destroy their neighbors anymore, and energy balls only paralyze modules. Many module types have unique specialities that require free text to be explained.
An Ejection Seat
... since we don't want anyone to get hurt.
Fixes and smaller improvements
- It is now possible to skip player introductions at the beginning of the battle by pressing any button (also when AI ships are present).
- Camera controls are removed from the battle. I rather concentrate on better overall camera movement.
- AI shouldn't shoot detached modules or other meaningless stuff anymore. Neither should it blow up its energy sources with continuous functions. AI code is refactored to allow more personified computer opponents in the future.
- Vertical sync and fullscreen mode can be toggled from the settings menu.
- Menu states are stored between sessions. Player name is no longer needed, so it is removed from settings.
- New mouse cursor!
- Audio is properly silenced when the game is paused.
- Energy overflow warning is muted when a ship gets destroyed.
- Cockpit light is turned off when the ship is paralyzed (runs out of energy sources).
- Modules cannot be placed outside the game window in the shipyard.
- Lost functionalities no longer cause FPS issues when browsed in the crosshair selector.
- Unscaled time is used in all GUI widget tweenings.
- Scene transition text is scaled properly.
- Default graphics quality level is now "high" instead of "low".
- ... and lots more.
- Controller handling is still lacking features. For instance, the menu navigation is mostly disabled; only the virtual mouse cursor is supported. Only XBox-compatible controllers are fully tested and officially supported for now.
- Tutorial arena has issues with texts and goals. It is also easy to end up in a deadlock situation. To make things clearer, I may do a separate testing ground for each seven tutorial pages.
The next versions
Summer is coming and heat tends to slow down my progress. There are lots of interesting new things to study for the future enhancements, so the next version will probably be out in the autumn. Nowadays I'm writing a weeklyish dev diary where you can follow the development process.
Here are some of the things I'll be concentrating next:
- Arena lighting looks terrible, and I’ll be adding some baked/mixed lighting to improve it. Audience is also needed, which is rather hard to get performant.
- More vivid audio and better aural transitions. Perhaps some music.
- New GUI skin and layout improvements.
- Personified AI opponents. Each will have unique skill levels, combat style characteristics and portraits.
- Lots of meaningless lore and backstories for AI pilots and modules.