SRG Weekly June 18th

Tinkering provides the main path to growth, currently

Tinkering provides the main path to growth, currently

Tinkering with the warp drive module can pay off.

Tinkering with the warp drive module can pay off.

The first real 'user options'

The first real ‘user options’

Context icons showing that you can find minerals most places, and shopping at stations.

Context icons showing that you can find minerals most places, and shopping at stations.

Bare-bones sector map with some jumpgate placeholder art.

Bare-bones sector map with some jumpgate placeholder art.

Jumpgate lanes between star sectors in a well-connected part of the galaxy.

Jumpgate lanes between star sectors in a well-connected part of the galaxy.

First display of 'tile toughness', helping you know how much more work it'll take to clear those tiles.

First display of ’tile toughness’, helping you know how much more work it’ll take to clear those tiles.

New element-associated backgrounds for mining, and a look at the 'mine surface' line above which tiles are destroyed for free.

New element-associated backgrounds for mining, and a look at the ‘mine surface’ line above which tiles are destroyed for free.

Textual explanations aren't the best approach, but better to have them than leave players in the dark.

Textual explanations aren’t the best approach, but better to have them than leave players in the dark.

The block deck shows you basic block stats, as well as lets you decide if they're part of your games.

The block deck shows you basic block stats, as well as lets you decide if they’re part of your games.

Teaser screenshot for the first combat-related mode.

Teaser screenshot for the first combat-related mode.

Hard to believe it’s been over a year since I took the time to write something.

Work’s continued unabated in the meantime, so what’s new?

BAWD

Tons of BAWD work!

  1. BIS has a new name, placeholder ‘BAWD’. I’ll refer to the project this way going forward.
  2. The first version of Tinkering is in and functional. In general, anything you tinker gains levels as you do so, which raises different item-specific stats. This is currently the primary way you can increase your ‘power’, enabling you to dig deeper into any given planet/surface/what-have-you to get at the sweet, sweet, underground riches.

    As you can see, tinkering is in need of some love on visuals and gameplay alike – it’s quite spartan right now. The gist is that you have one of 3 blocks to choose from at any given time (at the bottom), and as you fill in the shapes, you get points towards your next upgrade.

  3. We have sound and music now! And a UI to turn them off because sometimes mobile game audio is obnoxious!
  4. Space travel leveled up:
    1. First, everything in the heavens above and earth below is now properly persistent. By which I mean, the game saves your progress mining each planet/moon/what-have-you, and the locations/properties of everything in space.
    2. Second, I’ve added what I’m calling “context icons” to the starmap, to hint at what you can do in each location. For now, this is simply “Hey, you can shop at space stations!” and “Mine pretty much everything else!”. I’m still working on getting the look right, but it’s a start.
    3. Third, you’re able to travel between stars and ‘sectors’ (groups of stars).
    4. This is all enabled through upgrading your engine by earning enough gold to buy those upgrades. There are 4 engine tiers:
      1. Starter/basic (intrastellar), which you start with. This lets you travel to planets, moons, and nearby space stations.
      2. Interstellar: Allows you to travel to nearby stars (and jumpgates, though it won’t do you much good at this tier).
      3. Jump Drive: Enables you to travel along the jumpgate network, so you can visit many more star systems.
      4. Warp Drive: Provides the ability to travel directly between star sectors, without requiring a connection to the jumpgate network.
  5. Mining received some love:
    1. You can now see when blocks are partially cleared, in case you want to be tactical with your tile placement. Still trying to find a more aesthetically appropriate way to communicate this information, but it’s functional, at least.
    2. Added more mining backgrounds, and they’re somewhat related to the elements on that planet.
    3. Added a placeholder reward while I work on the systems that will enable something better, but for now as you clear lines, you gain XP, which gradually levels you up. Each level, you get a free random block. Yay!
  1. New, simplified tutorial to help demystify some of the game.
  2. Added a “block deck” mechanism to help manage which of your blocks appear during play. This will be transforming into something a little cooler prior to release, because it turns out it’s more and more cumbersome as you gather more blocks.
  3. A great many other small tweaks, fixes, and the like.

In addition to the above, I’ve been working on prototypes for the space combat modes. I’m still not sure I want to include these in the initial release, but if not, they’ll likely be the first patch afterwards.

SRG-2

I’m nearing a functional prototype for game #2, though it likely won’t get much attention until later in the summer. My intent is to get BAWD tightened up and released before I invest much more time in other projects.

The Pipeline

I wrote before about this idea, and so far I think it’s working well.

However, still being in that nebulous area prior to shipping game #1, I feel like game development remains a hobby. One I invest a surprising amount of time in, but it still isn’t invested with the weight I want it to have.

As a gamer myself, I place a lot of weight in extrinsic motivation. Even something low-risk like writing these posts feels rich with meaning, whether or not anyone reads them. When you’re writing with an audience in mind, it feels real enough, and it makes me feel like the hobby is maturing into a profession. How much more impact would an actual product have?

Shipping – succeed or fail – is a declaration of identity.

Next Sprint

The next sprint – delayed a week due to travel – will be aiming at making the game more intelligible in general. First, I will be adding additional tutorial dialogs to guide players through more of the initial gameplay. Following that, I hope to break ground on the new lightweight questing system. (Think Heroes of the Storm, not The Witcher).

Quests will be used to help differentiate locations around the galaxy, and to ensure there’s at least a modicum of direction within the game – not everyone loves playing in a sandbox.

Quests may also be used later to provide a number of unique rewards, such as:

  • Unique crewmembers (rather than the standard folks you find around the galaxy)
  • Special modules for your ship
  • New profession modules for you or your crew

I find the concept of “quests” to be a bit of a two-sided sword, however. I doubt I’m the only one tired of quests asking me to “Collect 12 Wild Boar Liver” quests, or “Kill 20 Wild Boars of Unusual Size”, or “Locate the Golden Wild Boar Statue”. Kill and/or collect quests aren’t exciting, but they are a staple of the game industry at this point, for good reason. I think there’s room for innovation in BAWD, since it’s a puzzle game, at heart. Here’s hoping.

Posted in BAWD, Developer Blog Posts

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