Phase 2 complete!

“Phase 2” of Java MOO is officially complete. I could tweak and polish the current code for another week, but it’s definitely beyond the point of diminishing returns. It’s better just to wrap it up and start looking towards Phase 3 development.

The executable planned for the alpha 1 is baselined and will get another day of soak time (i.e. me banging around on it) before being handed off to the dozen or volunteer testers.

Thanks again to everyone who volunteered! I will draw up a simple testing document and distribute it out by email late Thursday along with instructions on getting the alpha 1 version.

Alpha 1 – Sign up here

The first alpha of Java MOO is ready for testing. I’ve finished the last tiny bit of functional code and have run a sanity check on a Mac. The jar is obfuscated and I’ve tweaked the animation so the game appears to play nice with my laptop CPU. All I need to do now is write up some sort of document or checklist for the alpha testers to review. The alpha version will be distributed to testers on Friday. Between now and then, I will be mostly playing the game and looking for any last-minute bugs to squash.

Please note that this is not a “public” alpha. I want to restrict who is testing so that I can be sure to follow up for feedback and comments. Since this is an unfinished game, I’d rather it not get a wide distribution. I will probably limit this to about a dozen testers, just so I don’t have to take away a lot of time from Phase 3 development.

Please respond if you want to participate in the alpha test. You can post here, email me privately at ray.fowler@protonmail.com, or respond affirmatively in any of the 3-4 game forums where I have mentioned this. I will need your email for communication only.

There will not be any sort of lame NDA so I don’t care if you talk about the game, just ensure that you notify me of any criticisms so that I can properly address them!

Below is the last new screenshot from Phase 2. It’s the graphical system display screen available when you click on a system that is already selected on the main map. This is not the final version, but the best I can do until I switch over to higher-resolution images for the planets sometime in Phase 3.

Ignore the Windows menu bar at the bottom. I fail at screenshots, apparently.

SystemDisplay2

 

 

Nebulas!

Well, I finally got around to nebulas, exemplifying the old saying, “Don’t do today what you can put off for two months”.

The reality is that I wanted to auto-generate these and wasn’t sure how to do so for a long time. But I came up with an algorithm and now Java MOO has nebulas. Of course, all of the in-game effects of nebulas work properly — that was the easy part!

Visually, they’re not as good as I would have liked, but they are a bit better than I expected.

When Phase 2 of development ends, I’ll start a private “alpha 1” test for MOO veterans who want to provide feedback on the interface. That’s maybe two weeks away, I think.

Nebula

 

 

Clouds. Planets have them

This was on the list, so I finally got around to creating realistic cloud layers on the planets. What I did was take actual NASA cloud maps of Earth and then wrote an algorithm to thin or thicken the clouds based on a randomized planet’s particular atmosphere. Below are some example screenshots. Some polish remains to be done, of course.

Thin clouds, not like Earth at all.

Clouds1

 

Thicker, closer to Earth-like

Clouds2

 

About the same as Earth:

 

Clouds3

 

While I was in there, I rewrote most of the planet rotation/drawing code to make it a bit more efficient.

Fleets listing

This UI is mostly done. It’s completely functional but could stand a bit more polish.

The map on the left side scales to the ship range of your empire. The entire list of ship fleets and transports that are visible to your empire are listed on the right. This will include enemy fleets in Phase 3. Scrolling through the list will automatically select fleets on the map.

The design buttons at the top of the listing will filter it. This is great, for example, if you have a huge empire and need to find a particular ship — say, your fleet of dreadnaughts.

It’s nice to get this UI done and have it be fairly functional.

FleetsNew

Starting work on the Fleets listing

Boy, I put this off for the longest time because I really had no idea how I was going to remake the original MOO1 fleet listing into something useful. As a reminder, here is what it looked like:

MOO1_Fleets

 

After a lot of thinking, I sat down, put my mad MS Paint skills to work and made a mockup of something I think would work much better. I think it’s cool, anyway. Here’s the target I start working on tonight:

FleetsMockup

 

For starters, you get a map of the portion of the galaxy that your ships can reach. That’s all that matters here. You can click on a fleet on the map and display it on the right. There will also be a listing of fleets on the right that you can selected from.

There are buttons above the map, one for each ship design you have. When depressed, any fleets containing that design will start to glow. This will allow you to find ships quickly, along with their location within your empire.

Ships and transports will be shown here. That’s the goal, anyway.