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Week of October 5, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The final countdown is here, ladies and gents. I'm done recording, done narrating, and now putting the final polishes on what is undoubtedly the largest update in LT history. This one clocks in at over twice the length of a standard monthly update. And personally, the gamer in me is terribly excited by the contents. As is the developer :geek: I think there's a little something for everyone in here :)

Yes, it did take me longer than I anticipated to narrate. I did each chapter (+ the intro and outro) about five times each. I wanted to get it right :) This one deserves it!

ETA: 30mins - 1hr editing + ~30 mins encoding + 30mins - 1hr upload.

Once again, see you...very soon :)


EDIT : Update! Unfortunately, since this update is so long and complex compared to the others, the encode + upload process is taking quite a bit longer than usual. New ETA : 2-3 hours :shifty: Hope to be out around noon EST. Thanks for your patience :angel: I put so much love into this one :)
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of October 5, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

20 hours. 20 hours of sleep. Pretty sure that's a personal best :shock: :ghost:

Today? Who knows. Frankly I'm a little dazed from 6 days of hardcore coding and a whole day of sleep :shock: It's hard enough to remember who I am, much less figure out what I'm going to do today :wtf:

Anyway. We'll see what happens ;)

(Yeah, I'm too dazed to want to talk about the update and whatnot. Right now I just want my day off :monkey: :ghost:)
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of October 5, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Very relaxing day. Didn't do much, to be honest...but didn't really want to. Just wanted to let the old mind wash that cortisol away.

A bit of laying on the couch watching comedy shows, a bit of cleaning the house and doing laundry, a bit of making the HQ update, and then an attempt to play a few new games. I bought three new games on Steam yesterday, but ended up not really getting in to any of them...I'm starting to remember how hard it is to A) find a good game and B) play that game long enough to really have fun with it. I guess that's why I still love my classics so much -- I've already invested enough time to just be able to pick up and enjoy them at a moment's notice. Unfortunately, my Morrowind and Oblivion installs turned out to both be broken :cry: No idea why :( But I wasn't really feeling Skyrim, nor was I feeling like going through the re-installation processes. So I just played some piano, sat on the porch, laid on the couch, and relaxed. Twas still a great day :)

Now: October. It sucks that it's already the 8th, but I've no doubt that this is going to be an exciting month. We're in such good development shape, and I've honestly never been more excited about building this game. It's just getting more and more exciting every day :)

October is going to be a critical month for measuring the efficacy of the new shift in development style. I've touted it, I've promised a lot, I've promised that the time spent on getting to it was worth it. In my heart I know that to be true. I tried to show some of that in #20, and I do hope it was enough to tie you over until I am able to truly 'explode' the feature set of the game. As I said before, it is coming. But we must allow it to come naturally and at the right time, otherwise the magnitude of the explosion will be less than what it should be. I am hoping that, by the end of October, we will at least have seen shards of that explosion already, if not large pieces of it :)

So...without further we go! :geek: :cool:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of October 5, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Spent a good bit of time on fleets today. I'm happy that I saved a lot of the high-level gameplay concepts like fleets for last, as, honestly, I'm not sure that I would have had the clarity necessary to do them right earlier in the dev process. Fleets in LT are recursive arrangements of units: a fleet can contain some number of objects, some of which can be other fleets. I also introduced a notion of fleet 'modes,' wherein the fleet takes on different behaviors depending on the situation. So far I only see the need for two modes: combat and passive. We will expand that as necessary. But for now, let the simplicity do the work! Imagine a small fleet of fast, nimble fighters, a fleet of larger ships, and then a parent fleet that contains both of these sub-fleets. Assign the passive behavior of the fighter fleet to 'scout,' and the combat behavior to 'protect' (where the capship fleet is the target to protect). From simplicity we now have a fairly intelligent behavior: a fleet of large ships that do what we tell them to, a number of smaller fighters that scout ahead of the large ships and scope the area for enemies. Upon finding enemies, the fighters fall back to defend the larger ships so that everyone 'sticks together' and avoids getting picked off while the fleet is in combat mode. I'm working on the interface for managing fleet structure and orders. It's going to be fun, but also take quite some work :)

I'll admit that I'm even more excited to write the AI fleet-management code, wherein the AI will set up its own fleet structures. It will be tremendously cool to run into interesting, AI-generated fleet arrangements in the game :geek:

I am also pushing forward with zones and zone ownership. It's time to see territorial control, period. To do so, I am going to be leveraging the top-down testbed, but I need better zone functionality in my testbeds, so I'm working on that at the moment as well. Zones need to be precisely defined and solidified so that we can move forward with them as a gameplay construct.

On the other side of things, I dropped an hour or so on a new idea I have to finally get the physics engine to where it needs to be. It's the only remaining engine subsystem that I'm not pleased with. I have a new idea that unifies narrow and broadphase collision detection in a very nice way, and is simple enough to only require a few hours of implementation time. I will do so over the next few days in my gameplay down-time. I don't want to see collision detection chewing up cycles any longer!

From here on out, I'll be making an effort to keep the dev logs fast and to-the-point, as I want to be spending as many hours as possible working on the game :)
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of October 5, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today's work was, honestly, an exact continuation of yesterday's. I'm working on my overhead testbed to get it to the point where I can easily implement and watch zone gameplay unfold. The nice thing about this work is that the overhead testbed will likely just become the (detailed) system map (minus a few dev features)! So it's certainly not wasted effort :)

I did, however, encounter an exciting twist in development today: it turns out that LT now runs great on a MacBook Pro 13" (Intel HD4000 graphics) in Ubuntu!! Yes, this is the first time I've ever gotten the full game running (well) on the open-source Mesa drivers. I'm not sure if I made some incredible improvement, or if Mesa made some incredible improvement, or a little bit of both (last time I tried it appeared to me that Mesa's shader optimization was so painfully slow that the scalar field shaders couldn't even compile) -- but either way, I was stunned to see the infinite universe running at a solid 25FPS (full quality, mind you! ;) ) on my under-powered MBP in linux. Not gonna lie, I'm pretty proud of that! :)

This is great news, as sometimes, you know, you just want to work in bed. Previously, to do so I had to suffer through that 'revolutionary' piece of software they call OS X. In other words: I basically never did it :roll: Now that I've got my good old linux setup with awesome WM working well on my laptop, well...I should be even more productive than usual, since when I get tired and need to lay down, I don't have to stop working on LT anymore! :geek:

This devlog is, of course, coming at you from the comfort of vim, running in the comfort of awesome WM, inside the comfortable little Xubuntu environment, running on a small and comfortable Macbook Pro, laying on the lap of my body, which is ensconced comfortably in a soft bed residing in a comfortable little cabin in the peacefully-comfortable Smoky Mountains. No, I honestly can't complain about my work environment ;)
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of October 5, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

I was feeling a bit reflective and abstract today, so instead of the usual -- devising crazy ideas that will never see the light of day :shifty: -- I decided to take my 'planning day,' which I didn't do yet this month.

Most of what I've laid out for October is about the overhead testbed. This is really going to be my powertool of the month. Within it, there are a lot of pieces of content on which I'll be iterating: system layout generation (which is basically nonexistent at the momenet), zone generation and gameplay, fleets & formation play (I can't wait to see some large-scale AI battles from my map and, in particular, play with the procedural generation of AI formations), and, of course, AI in general.

On the other side of the content, it's imperative that I get a simple 'model viewer' widget up-and-running this month. The need for me to iterate rapidly on ships, stations, planets, and asteroids has never been greater. To do so, I am going to need a yet-nonexistent testbed in which I can watch the results of a single content generator. But! That's more exciting than it may look: the model viewer will pave the road for the final version of the in-game ship / station editor. Don't you love this paradigm of transforming testbeds into in-game functionality? Me too! ;)

Finally, I'm going to be looking at large-scale universe structure via a universe testbed, which will eventually become the in-game universe map :D I had a new idea last month for the way that the universe is structurally generated, which I believe will completely blow away my current system in terms of elegance and power. It's also filled with neat mathemagical tricks and exponentials :) I really need to begin looking at inter-system play, and right now I don't have the tools to do so. Let's change that this month!

As usual, we have a lot on our plate, but it's a whole lot of exciting stuff to explore...and with all of my shiny powertools, I think I'm going to be one happy kid this month :geek:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: Week of October 5, 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lot to love about today, probably even more to love about tomorrow :)

Work on the overhead testbed proceeds rapidly. We're once again watching AIs zooming around systems, hauling ore to and fro. I'm working on displaying zone boundaries at the moment, and it presents a rather interesting problem. Ideally, one would probably want something like an outlined boundary (dotted or solid), with a mostly-transparent fill color to denote the interior. Going back to the actual zone representation, though, this presents some challenges. Zones are arbitrary mathematical shapes -- and in 3D, not 2D. Outlining and coloring the interior of 2D slices of 3D distance fields...interesting. Perhaps there's a simpler way :geek: We will continue to explore it later, but for now it's just a detail. The important thing is that we can see zones clearly labeled on the map. Next step - time to define what a zone really is. What do I see when I pull up the object information window on a zone? This is a critical question for October :)

On the AI front I am working to bring the highest-of-the-high-level AI (the 'play' task) into script for rapid iteration. Definitely a challenging task for our little LTSL, but, perhaps surprisingly, the language does already contain everything we need to do be able to do it :)

The dance between tool and content is favoring content more each day. But the dance is still a dance. Today brought UI clipping regions and smart widget culling to allow the system map (and other widgets that contain loads of scattered, sometimes-off-screen pieces) to function as one would like.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

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