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Week of May 4, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tearin' it up! :) I don't actually want to discuss every optimization that I made today in detail, because it's really just a boatload of technical stuff. I could write for pages and pages about it :D So I'm going to go ahead and not do that. Suffice it to say, there was plenty of profiling, coding, ripping, re-profiling, tweaking, slashing, and all sorts of other fun!

Current Optimization Status: 256+ ships in one system running smoothly (60 fps in calm moments, 30 fps in full-out, system-wide battle).

Next Challenge: enable full rigid body collision... :shifty:

Bonus Points: 512+ running smoothly...


PS ~ I'm actually liking the trend of getting a whole month behind on weekly summaries. It's cool to be able to review the whole of last month :D Looking over April, it really was a great month....but I still think it can be beaten ;)
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of May 4, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

Well, seldom does my personal life interfere with my work...but today is one of those rare occasions. Due to some sadness in my personal life, I just wan't able to get anything done today :(

Give me one day to be human...and tomorrow, I will engage full robot mode once more :geek:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of May 4, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Back at it! :geek:

Frankly, I didn't want to dig back into optimization today - just wanted to take a break from the deep technical work for a day to get back to some fun gameplay-related material!

Today I dove back into research, the lumbering giant that is always with us but never quite in sight :roll: I've got a system in the works right now that I hope will be the final word on it. Things are mostly staying the same, in spirit, to the massive proposal that I wrote a few months ago. But I've got some new changes that I hope will aid in balance as well as simplicity. Very excited about it ;)

Not quite ready to talk about it all yet, though, as I'm in the throws of implementation at the moment and want to give it a bit more time and thought. Sorry! Ideally, though, I'd like to have the AI cranking out research projects by the end of the week!

PS ~ Press coverage! All in one day! Here and here :D
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of May 4, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Some final changes to the research mechanic will make research a highly-relevant and exciting part of LT. Theft and sabotage of technology is now possible, and the universe is filled with opportunities to incorporate technology into your strategic play, regardless of whether or not you're interested in engaging with the actual research mechanic.


Yeah, you knew it was coming. We haven't had a good wall of text in a while :cool:

The new (and final?) research system is here. I'm making two major changes as I turn my previous theory into implementation: first of all, we're gettin' physical ;) All technology is embodied in physical commodities. Nothing is hidden. Next, we're turning one aspect of research into a continual process that feeds production. As I'll explain, both have really nice gameplay and balance ramifications.

NOTE #1 : I'm a bit scatter-brained because there's so much to explain. Sorry :)

NOTE #2 : LT will always defer to fun and rich gameplay over realism, but that's particularly true here in the research mechanic. Research is the highest-level gameplay mechanic that exists in LT, and also the most delicate balancing factor. We need to break reality fairly substantially in order to create balance and fun here, so try to think from the standpoint of gameplay rather than realism. It's important!

Let's start out with the two types of physical goods that comprise the research mechanic: prototypes and blueprints.


A prototype is the top level of research, the master piece of technology from which all else derives. You can think of it as a master blueprint, i.e. the original technical description of an object. Imagine a data disk full of technical information and holographic projections of the object.

To research a new variation of a technology, you need to have a prototype. To create blueprints for production, you need to have a prototype. A prototype is the highest of high knowledge of an object, and ownership of it indicates that the owner has a full understanding of the technologies that power an object (because that understanding is contained within the prototype).

Prototypes are created in tech labs, and must either be created from 'first principles' (which is used to create the starting point for any family of object technologies), or from another prototype (which is used to create a new and improved variation of a previous-gen technology). This mechanism is the same as the technology nodes of which I spoke in the original research proposal. Nothing has changed there - procedural trade-off modifiers, slow vertical progress, etc. A prototype is just a tech node. But it's not some abstract dot in a tree - it's a real item, and you'll need to actually transport it to the location of your research lab if you want to use it.


Every production process now requires a consumable blueprint. A blueprint, like a prototype, is created in a tech lab, but comes from a prototype. Think of it as a sparse data disk of the object - it contains only enough information to manufacture the object, but not enough to give away the technology therein. The owner of a prototype uses that prototype to create blueprints, which can then be sold to others for use in production runs. Blueprints are programmed to self-destruct after a run, since the owner of the corresponding prototype does not want to give away unlimited license to produce the item. In this way, you can alternatively think of a blueprint as a license to produce a single instance of the item.

Blueprints are the primary way in which technology is traded in the marketplace. Creating a blueprint from a prototype takes time, but, unlike performing new research, it takes a fixed amount of time, meaning blueprint creation can be set up as a continual process. At an abstract level, the trade of blueprints in the marketplace really represents the continual licensing between factions to use one another's technology.

The consumability of blueprints might, at first glance, appear like an unrealistic choice (despite the explanation I gave). It is, I suppose. But we must look at the gameplay implications. It creates a direct and continual connection between production and research, making research a much more demanded facet of the game. To continually produce, you will need a continual stream of blueprints to feed the production process, just as you will need a continual stream of raw materials. That's a paradigm shift over the idea of research as a one-shot thing, where discovering a new tech allows you to capitalize on it ad-infinitum. Instead, we create a stable and continual process whereby production requires research. This directly translates into a tangible demand for research in the marketplace.

Reverse Engineering

This one's simple and requires very little explanation: reverse engineering is, as you probably already guessed, the process of taking a blueprint and creating a prototype. It is significantly harder than going in the forward direction.

Technological Theft and Sabotage

To me, this is by far the most exciting gameplay consequence of everything I've detailed up to this point. It's the thing that really lights my imagination on fire and makes me say "yeah, research is going to be an awesome part of this game!" The gameplay potential that falls naturally from treating technology as a physical good is immense.

Since they're consumed by production, blueprints are now a ubiquitous commodity throughout the universe, just like raw materials. Therein lies substantial opportunity :twisted: Blueprint theft is now a very real and potentially-lucrative gameplay element. Like any commodity, blueprints can be pirated to resell. But even more interestingly, they can be pirated to use for yourself. Out-teched by a greedy enemy that won't put their tech on the market? Then don't go at them head-on. Be smart about it. Find the transportation link that connects their research plant to their production factory. Scope it out. See that the security isn't what it should be. Plan a hit-and-run to nab the blueprints. Now you've got the key to building weapons of equal power (well, at least a few batches of them) ;)

But even better: prototype theft is now possible. This is huge. Unlike blueprint theft, prototype theft (or destruction) actually damages the 'tech tree' of a faction. Prototypes are unique and non-copyable, so if you manage to steal or destroy one, you cripple the owning faction's technology. Technology can literally be destroyed. And that, my friends, is the most critical piece of all of this. Sure, you can get big. But the bigger you get, the more valuable those prototypes that you're cranking out become. Like a massive box of diamonds just sitting around in your ship / station, they're going to attract attention.

Pay your escorts well. ;)



It's going to be an exciting universe, wouldn't you say? :geek:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of May 4, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

All over the place today. To make up for the time I lost in yesterday's dev log (which was pretty formidable :shifty: ), we'll do a list today!
  • Finished prototype & blueprint items in the engine.
  • Worked on better object interface & hardpoint display...I need to be able to access my research lab before I can keep going with research!
  • Started to implement 'layout nodes' in the UI, which will allow layouts to display their own nodes separately from the active UI node. This will enable things like buttons to switch between grid / list view, clickable category filters, and buttons to quickly select a view angle for 3D layouts. Pretty sure that LT is going to make the list of 'most powerful game interfaces' :)
  • 'Fixed' UI workspaces to remove a superfluous click.
  • Conceptual breakthrough concerning elegant implementation of universe settings when creating a new game!
  • Decreased memory usage of all objects that contain other objects (systems, stations, planets).
Man...I feel like I just need...a day with a few hundred hours in it :D And then the game will be finished!!! :roll: Ok, maybe a bit ambitious. But seriously, I've got that feeling of mostly just lots of easy, small implementation left to do. Hours and hours and hours, you know the drill ;) The theory / design? It's there, baby! Well, most of it :)

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

Re: Week of May 4, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

I can't stop.

I want to write a dev log. I want to go to sleep, I really do. But I can't. I can't stop. The night passed away, and the morning is flying by so fast, and yet here I am...still at the keyboard. It's been a good day. But by the time I go to sleep (presumably many, many hours from now), it will have been a day to remember. A day of legends.

By the time this day is over, I will have implemented production, research, reverse engineering, and assembly chip minting tasks (meaning both the game logic as well as the interface for the AI to understand that logic). And I will be able to use my precious little interface to invoke them. Go big or go home, right? You know which one we're choosing tonight ;)

Sorry folks. But I have to go see about a...a game :)

PS ~ If you didn't already see, we made it on the front page of today! I think that's pretty awesome :) Those linux people sure do like linux :lol:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of May 4, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

What a day. I haven't yet achieved my 100+ hour workday, but I'm sure trying with all my heart :lol:

Research, Production, and Chip Minting Tasks / Creation Interfaces

That's quite a mouthful :shock: But yes, I've now got working task implementations of research, production, and chip minting. In case you're wondering, 'chip minting' is an awful name and it won't stay. But it's the first name that came to mind for the task that creates assembly chips from a blueprint. We'll think of something better, don't worry :geek:

I've also got working interfaces for creating those tasks. Very very basic, like much of the interface, but it's already enough to allow me to set up a production operation onboard my ship! I can hand out a chip minting task to my tech lab, then hand my production lab a production operation for the corresponding chip! Voila! Continuous production operation! Of course, to sustain it, I would also need to go mine at the same time. Right now I just give myself a cargo hold full of raw materials for testing purposes ;)

This is pretty exciting. It's getting dangerously close to real gameplay. And it's coming very, very quickly - all of this implementation just feels like a grind since the tech and theory are both there :D

Item Selection Node

In developing the creation interfaces for those tasks, I needed a UI node that would allow me to select an item for the task (blueprint for research, assembly chip for production, blueprint for minting). So I built one!

It's simple but functional. But it's exciting because it's the first node of this kind, and raises several interesting questions about the UI. I'll probably need a few more pieces of tech in the UI before this node becomes as intuitive as we want it to be. But I look forward to continually improving this bad boy for use elsewhere :D

Metatask Decision Theory

On the theory side, I've had a nice revelation about factional decision-making with respect to metatasks. I'll save this discussion for tomorrow, though, because that's where I'm hoping to focus my energy tomorrow ;)


I've already got a really good feeling about this month :geek:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of May 4, 2014

Summary of the Week of May 4, 2014
  • Performed enough optimization to achieve 256+ ship system (with battles)
  • 'Research as physical items' theory + implementation
  • Implemented basic UI for research, production, and chip minting
  • Implemented task logic for research, production, and chip minting
  • Implemented several new UI concepts including layout nodes, selection nodes
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

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