Alpha 3.16 available

Patches, patches, patches! There are no fixes for game-breaking bugs in here unless you are playing on really large maps and are experiencing long Next Turn times. If you are, you will like this version

You can download 3.16 here:

What’s fixed:

  • For the first time, I’ve started looking at improving next turn times using a saved game for a very large map provided by a tester. Just getting the low-hanging fruit has reduced times from 23m to under 6m. Still a long time, but this is hopefully just the start. NEW BUG RISK: Moderate
  • The notice that displays when hitting Next Turn now presents more information about what’s going on, which should give a good indication of whether the game is locked up or just slow. If it’s fast, it won’t be up long enough for you to notice the difference. NEW BUG RISK: Moderate
  • The entire Advisor box is now selectable if you want to dismiss it, rather than just the tiny OK button. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • You should be able to send transports by keyboard alone. Press Ctrl-T to bring up the transport pane, use Tab to switch between allowable destinations, 1 or shift-1 to move the slider up/down, then space to accept the transport (or escape to cancel). NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • The AI has been tweaked to be less spammy when requesting trade agreements. Previously, if you rejected a trade request, it would wait a minimum of 10 turns and then ask you again if the potential trade amount had increased (it would never ask for the same amount of lower). Now the AI will not try to renew trade treaties unless there is at least a 25% increase in value. Diplomacy spam is bad! Always point this out if you experience it! NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • The GNN screen now has a title across the top to help new players understand what is going on. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • Once you deploy a fleet,  it will always deselect after deployment. This should reduce mouse clicking. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • The System Display that showed when you selected a system on the map has been displayed. The plan has always been to replace the big orbiting planet with a landscape view, but there’s no point in keeping it until that’s done. Plus, I lowered the maximum resolution of all of the generated planets so now it looks really pixelated. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • When a player builds one of his ships that doesn’t have a ship special, such as a fighter, the Intelligence display on the Races UI will no longer show “unscanned” in the specials list for that design. Does not fix the problem in old saved games, but this is cosmetic so no worries. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • The result on the ECO slider will now include natural population growth instead of just purchased growth. This is not a change in game mechanics! Players should now have a much more accurate idea of how fast population is growing on their planet. NEW BUG RISK: Low

Alpha 3.15 is here with more tweaks

I’ve enjoyed a nice Saturday off, only starting to address any reported bugs late this afternoon. Only one game-breaking bug, but that’s enough to trigger a release!

You can download version 3.15 from this link:

(replaced by a new version. Check for more recent updates)

What’s fixed:

  • If you’ve learned Stargates, there’s a chance that changing you colony to build them can cause a crash. This was game-breaking, imo. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • Using the F9,F10,F11, or F12 keys to tab through fleets on the main map could cause an error if some of those fleets had recently merged with other fleets. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • Sometimes the right-side panel would disappear and not come back until you reloaded the game. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • Synching transports to destination planets was not working. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • Improved logic to reallocate memory on when Windows does not allocate enough to the game. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • Adjusted formula for maximum map sizes allowed on extremely low memory systems such as the Pi Zero. NEW BUG RISK: Low

Alpha 3.14 has arrived with pie

Sorry, but the patch fixes will continue until you guys stop finding game-breaking bugs. But seriously, thanks! You guys are the testing team for the project and doing a great job!

I’m also going to try and start estimating the scale of each change and the associated risk of new bugs from the change.

Alpha 3.14 can be downloaded from here:

(new version available, check more recent posts)

What’s fixed:

  • If you trade for a technology from the Races screen, the game would lock up trying to display the technology discovered UI, which was originally only designed to work within the Next Turn process thread. Now what happens is that any techs you trade for are queued up to be received when you hit Next Turn. The purpose of this is to even the playing field with the AI. After all, when they ask you to trade techs, they don’t get to use the new technology until the end of the next turn. Fair is fair, right? I had to add some code to keep the AI from offering you techs that you don’t know but have traded for. This was a decent, but necessary, code change. NEW BUG RISK: Moderate.
  • Fixed another bug on the tech trade UI where you had to accept a counter-offer tech. Attempting to refuse had no effect. You can now walk away from the table! NEW BUG RISK: Low.
  • When you receive a technology via trade, the tech discovery UI now has a different title along the lines of: “Psilon scientists learn technology from Sakkra scientists” NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • Fixed a Next Turn lock problem where a ship combat with >2 empires in orbit would not end for situations where one of the fleets was armed and aggressive but retreated before entering combat. Now the trespassing dogs will be recognized for the cowards they are and combat will complete successfully, allowing Next Turn to finish. NEW BUG RISK: Low
  • The incident where the AI thinks you are expanding to aggressively was recently changed to check every turn instead of just turns you added new systems. This had the unfortunate side-effect of triggering them to harrass you every turn about your expansion. Now the incident will be recorded every turn (as intended), but a diplomatic warning for it will only trigger on turns in which you expanded (as before). We do not want the AI to be spammy! That is stupid and breaks immersion. Please always report this is if you experience it. NEW BUG RISK: Low

The Plan for Alpha 4

Time to really start on Alpha 4!

Work towards the next Alpha will proceed a little differently than on previous versions because, for the first time, I will be maintaining support on a live version of the game (Alpha 3.x) while working on Alpha 4.

The advantages of this will be the hopeful elimination of bugs that pop up when I release the next version of the game onto the world after months of being cloistered in my software development bunker.

The disadvantages will be that my time is split between support and development, which could slow down development.

The work on Alpha 4 will be spread across several code branches, as follows:

Master branch – this is the main branch of the game that will be released to players for testing. Bug fixes and incremental features will pop up here for players who want to continue testing. In addition, writing additions from Jeff and translators will show up here as they are received.

Mrrshan branch – this is a separate branch of code containing all of the artwork for the Mrrshan race as it is being created by Petar. Once it is complete in about 3-4 months, it will be merged into the Master branch for players. This is a significant milestone for the Alpha and will reset the version to 3.5 or something.

UI Revamp branches – these will be short-lived branches lasting about a week or two to support the rework of particular UIs as they are redone by Kaitlin. There are at least 4 UI revamps planned for Alpha 4, and each will get their own branches. Planned are the Tech UI, Ship Design UI, Sabotage UI and the Galactic Council UI.

Ship Combat branch- this will be a long-lived branch to develop ship combat. The work should be divided into 4 stages with each stage merging into the Master branch when completed:

  1. Basic UI – this stage will replace the current UI with the tactical mode that shows ships moving around and shooting at each other. No player control yet, just auto mode. This stage must be complete for Alpha 4.
  2. Player Control -this stage will allow the player to move his ships in combat and generally play against a really stupid ship combat AI. This stage must be complete for Alpha 4.
  3. Ship Combat AI – this stage will focus on improving the ship combat AI to be not stupid. This stage needs to be “good enough” for Alpha 4 as improvements to the AI never really end.
  4. Visual Effects – this stage will focus on creating a variety of visual effects for the various weapons and specials used in combat to give them distinction. In addition, updated ship artwork from Petar will be added here. This stage needs to be “finished, but not necessarily polished” for Alpha 4. Like AI work, polish is always a continuing process.

Timeline – I have no idea. I want to say by the end of the year, but I can’t predict technical difficulties or, more importantly, the occasional code burnout that requires me to take  a month or so vacation away from the project (happens about twice/year).

Alpha 3.13 arrives with more goodies

The last patch really quieted things down since the memory leak was fixed, but the rule is that I will still rush out patches as soon as possible for any game-breaking bugs. I almost made it an entire evening, but a couple came in late. This version is only just changes to reported bugs, which is all I had time to work on tonight since I had dinner with friends.

Download the Alpha 3.13 here:

What’s changed:

  • Fix for game locking up when trading techs and you had nothing the AI wanted.
  • In situations where a colony changes ownership, a transport could be sent from the colony but assigned to the previously owning empire. Traitors!
  • Learning the Stargate technology was creating broken save game files. I can’t fix those files, but fewer games won’t have this problem
  • An infrequent visual ClassCast bug would occur after colonizing a system when the colony ship had been selected on the map
  • Map doesn’t make a click sound when using keys to move it around
  • Diplomacy UI displays menu without delay now

Alpha 3.12a shows up without that memory leak

Note: there was an bug that I’ve since fixed with a new 3.12a version.

Wow, I am so happy. I figured out what was causing the memory leaks and fixed it. If you’ve been having memory issues with the game, you should really update to this version. Now I can move on with my life, lol

Here’s the link for downloading 3.12a:

(more fixes arrive in 3.13, check for more recent post)

What’s fixed:

  • A pernicious memory leak that ONLY manifests when animations are turned off. If the game detects you have low memory, it disables animations. If you tell me that you’re running out of memory, I advise to retry with animations turned off. That’s where something wicked lay in wait. But it’s exorcised now and I am pretty happy.
  • The visual glitches on the Races UI that I thought I fixed in 3.11. Well, I wrote the code, but forgot to rebuild the final jar file after I did that. So it was working great in my development build, but not so much in the jar I uploaded. Also fixed!
  • Declaring war on the AI will no longer crash. I broke this too! Yay me. Sorry. Usually alpha testing is 2 steps forward and 1 step back, but sometimes it’s the other way around.
  • Lowered the maximum resolution of generated planets. The large versions of these will be leaving the game soon anyway, so no need to waste memory generating and rotating them.
  • Memory improvements with displaying fleets on the map. This was a pervasive change so if anything might introduce a new bug, this is it. Hopefully not. I didn’t see any in my testing — which means of course there are some there  😦  (NOTE: it did. It’s late at night so I’ve rush-uploaded a 3.12a patch to fix a clicking issue)
  • Load Game UI now sorts files alphabetically. Nobody reported this. I got annoyed and fixed it..
  • AI empires will now display increased irritation for other empires (including the player) that grow too large. The player should not be able to get too big without waging wars along the way.
  • AI empires should amass larger fleets when attacking. I have knobs to turn here, but I’m not sure how much to turn them. Hopefully the AI will present more of a military challenge.