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Re: The Limit Theory Email/RSS News Thread

Friday, April 6, 2018

Happy Friday o7

This log is going to be short (EDIT: modestly-sized) and underwhelming. I'm tired and lacking in the usual flair due to a long and not-so-great month. Real life has been both more time-consuming and more exhausting than usual this month, and that's all I'm going to say on the matter :monkey:

Concerning the last devlog: yeah, I got it :cry: That was pretty rough, forum, but I got the message. I haven't touched the thing in a while now. I do think some people missed the emphasis on me needing a tool to keep it all manageable; at the same time, I can't deny it, I've been known to fall prey to ShinyTechTools once or twice in the past :oops: So, regardless of who is right or wrong, I've turned back to 100% gameplay focus for a while in hopes that it'll help those who are feeling anxious about the state of LT. I know it's been five years but...let's relax a bit. Getting overly-worked-up about this game doesn't help anyone!


My focus right now is on the economy and AI. I'm working to get back to a small, functional economy where the AI is performing basic gameplay mechanics to create minimal-but-real market activity. This means: mining, navigation / pathing, trading. From there I will expand by porting more of the high-level AI, in particular, project management so that AI players will be able to choose between activities and dynamically react to economic conditions. Most of this stuff is just a matter of translating things that already exist (in C++, LTSL, or my brain) into Lua, so it's not very difficult. I've got the market mostly-working; the bulk of the remaining work is in AI porting.

Adam has burned through a lot of tasks this month, many of which have been on TODO lists for a long, long time. I can't hope to list it all out, but the man has probably touched every code file in both the engine and the game at least once in March :lol: All hail Adam \o/ On the gameplay front, he's brought over the top bar for switching between various interfaces, and we're both working to populate it with UI content. We've got a WIP command interface, to be joined shortly by a port of the scanning/exploration interface.

All-in-all, things move quickly when we're working on the game side of the game, and, as far as I can tell, we don't have any real blockers on that front at the moment, so...smooth sailing. At some point I will have to go back and commit to either finishing the last 10% of, or scrapping, the tool-which-must-not-be-named, but that doesn't have to be done right now. Lord knows we all need a nice, long ride on the gameplay train to restore some sanity :squirrel:

I'll post shinies when I have them, but right now there's not really much to look at, especially considering you all have seen this stuff before (mining, markets, etc...). Nonetheless, when I've got a bustling system of AI activity working again I'll slap some screenshots up.


Recently I've been doing more thinking (about the game). Remember when I used to do that? Think? Yes, it was fun! Since this log is short and I (regrettably) don't have enough work to talk about, I'll just talk about an idea that has been on my mind this week, old-devlog-style.

A few days ago I started thinking about the birth of cities and how it must be quite an exciting process -- imagining a settlement starting with just a few shoddy abodes, watching it sprawl out over time into a bustling metropolis as wealth pours in. SimCity, I guess. It made me sad to think that this process doesn't really occur in LT, since civilian life is largely hidden behind the black-box veil of colonies. We have space stations, of course, but those are large, discrete investments. We can try to think about the growth of a single station over time as new modules are added. But it's still boring compared to the 'organic' growth of something like a city, where the building blocks from which the whole is born are absolutely miniscule in comparative size.

That's really the key, too, isn't it? When the superstructure is made from atoms that are 'tiny' compared to the whole -- the buildings that make up a city are tiny compared to the city itself, the cells that make up living beings are microscopic compared to the whole, etc. -- that's when the growth process (and I dare say, the final result) is the most interesting. It's this granularity that makes it interesting in the first place! We can and will see such growth processes in many places in LT. But civilian life is largely absent, and it makes me a bit sad. So, what can we do about it?

As with many of my ideas, the answer may well be: nothing. And that'd be fine. But another possible answer is: 'microstations.' Or, to strip the idea of all pomp: "why don't we just do in space what we do on the ground?" Think about how we can make the equivalent of a 'building' in space. Instead of having to have monolithic stations, what if we thought more in terms of 'ship-sized' modules? What if large 'factory' modules -- the kind that scifi/space sims take for granted as being the norm -- were the exception rather than the rule? What if a small settlement could form, one household at a time, around a large, unusually-rich asteroid, in a completely granular fashion, until the population has reached a point of saturating the natural resource yield? Imagine small little 'space houses,' like organic scaffolding hugging the rock. Perhaps such houses could even be converted from ships (yes, I'm talking about trailer parks in space). Perhaps this would be the precursor to a superstructure like a station. Perhaps a (civilian) station is not built, so much as it is grown.

The idea appeals to me on many levels. It makes economic granularity vastly better, which means jump-starting the economy is easier, making sure it can sustain itself by growing and shrinking as necessary becomes easier...basically all the problems with coarse discretization go away. It also makes space feel more 'alive' and 'welcoming' to me. Home can be anywhere now, it doesn't have to just be the handful of stations/colonies nearby. Of course, I've not implemented anything like this before, nor have I played a space game with these constructs in it, so I could be imagining a false feeling...but I don't think I am. There's something to it -- walking through Ald-Ruhn/Suran/Balmora, having people cross your path, seeing their homes nearby (yes, I played some Morrowind recently, sue me. Outlander.) It feels warm, alive. I always wanted space to feel that way. Not so cold and desolate. Maybe I should continue to give some thought to spicing up the civilian side of things.


That's all for today. April should be better for us work-wise (and, by extension, devlog wise), as real life is promising to be less obtrusive than last month. The 100% gameplay commitment doesn't hurt either :)


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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

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