Alpha update

Just got an estimate on the Galactic Council & GNN artwork and it looks like the alpha is still two months away.

The big wrench in this timeline is me, not the illustrator. I am being anal-retentive about race-specific artwork and want to have a separate Council & GNN illustration for each of the current 5 races. That means 10 pieces of artwork instead of 2.

However, that also means a lot more time for bug hunting, performance tuning and general polish.

Updated project timeline

I posted the timeline below sometime in December to give everyone an idea of how long I *thought* it would be until the project was ready for Alpha, ready for Beta, and then complete.

I hope it gave some insight into the tremendous amount of work, especially artwork, that is required to for the first release. The goal was to have the Alpha ready in April, but that is clearly not going to happen. Quite a bit has changed since December, including a name change for the game. In addition, I have decided to add the new GNN artwork into the Alpha.

A big reason for the mis-estimation is the fact that I am not an artist, so I just made wild-ass guesses on how long some of these things would take Petar! Anyway, I hope everyone can look at the updated schedule below and see that the game is still very much on track despite my errors.

The lined-out items are complete. The items in red are still planned for the Alpha. Don’t worry about the writing; none of that is planned for the alpha and is being worked asynchronously.

Once the alpha is out, I will recalibrate the schedule for the beta.

timeline2

Working on the AI

Most of what’s left now, feature-wise, for the alpha is just AI work. For example, given this situation below where the only colonizable planet out of normal ship range:

ExtendedRangeColony

 

The AI is now smart enough to build a colony ship with extended fuel range tanks, something that’s only a rare need and typically requires some miniaturization to fit things in a large hull.

ExtendedRangeColonyDesign

I could fine-tune it more, but this should be sufficient in helping keep the AI from getting boxed in by bad starting positions.

Looking for MOO1 fans for alpha testing

If you still like MOO1 enough to discuss it online and would like to participate in the upcoming private alpha test, please tweet (@PretendStudios) or email (ray.fowler@protonmail.com) me a link to said discussion and I’ll be happy to put you on the list. If that seems like an unusual request, just think of the link as proof of your MOO1 bona fides.

Please understand that this upcoming alpha version is very incomplete and unfinished, and I will be mainly interested in feedback on the AI. First impressions matter, so I really do not want to expose an unfinished game to a lot of people who are not already familiar with MOO1.

Races UI screenshots

Wow, I did not realize that it’s been 18 days since my last post on this blog. I have been very busy working on the final features needed for the private alpha test, and spending a lot of time testing the game and the AI.

Speaking of the alpha, I think the code will be ready in another 2-3 weeks, but there is probably still about 6-8 weeks of artwork remaining. This includes UI elements as well as the Galactic Council and GNN artwork. The December estimates of the alpha being done by April are off by around a month because code & artwork took longer than expected, and plus a few more weeks because I decided to roll the GNN artwork into it as well. It’s okay, however, since the project is still progressing very well.

The Races UI is essentially done. This is possibly the most important UI in the game because it gives you all of the information you have gathered on your AI opponents.

There are 4 sections that you can easily tab through:

  1. The Embassy pane – this is your primary contact with the other race. You can see how much they like or dislike you. And, more importantly, WHY. You can bring up their diplomat for a chat, and you can see how they feel about other races or who they voted for in the last council election. If you have no active treaties, you can also now withdraw your ambassador (like they could to you) if you don’t want to talk to the other race.
  2. The Intelligence pane – this is where you tell your spies what to do, and see what technologies the AI knows. From here you can direct your spies to Hide (gather info safely), or commit acts of Espionage or Sabotage.
  3. The Military pane – this gives you an idea of the size of their fleets and shows you any of their current ship designs that you have encountered so far, via scanning or combat.
  4. The Map pane – this shows you the size of their empire on the galactic map, how many colonies they have and how large their population is. You can also select on individual systems and see the population, factories or bases last counted by your spies.

Below is the Embassy pane. The player is the Bulrathi and he’s looking at the Alkari embassy. Please note the Diplomatic Events list. This is a scrollable, detailed list of exactly what things are affecting relations with you, good or bad, and how much.

Please note that the race icons are still in work. They have replaced the old flags.

RacesEmbassy

 

Here is the Intelligence pane. Their technologies that you do not know are show at the top of each category’s list.

RacesIntelligence

 

Below is the Military pane. Here you can see the overall size of the Alkari fleet (counts by hull size), as well as a scrollable list of their ship designs that you’ve encountered — sorted with the most recent at the top. This is data that the player could see in the original game through scans, but never made available for him to review later.

RacesMilitary

And finally, the Map pane. Here you can select on an AI colony (or yours, of course)  and see known information about that colony as well as the overall size of the empire. This is handy to know when council votes are coming up!RacesMap

I have worked really hard to present all of the information that the player needs in a clear, presentable format while maintaining the spirit and look of the original game as much as possible. I feel really good about where this part of the game is at.