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[Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#1
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!


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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.


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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.


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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 :)


~Josh
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#2
good to hear that you have at least a bit of awareness of your shiny-attraction :ghost:


that station/civilian granularity sounds awesome :D
it would also answer a lot of questions about how to build and extend stations

and it'd generate semi mobile mining bases for free \o/

i also have a couple of civilian/cultural ideas i've yet to bring to (digital) text.
and i can already feel hyperion's turbines wind up on that topic :ghost:
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#4
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 2:43 pm
and i can already feel hyperion's turbines wind up on that topic :ghost:
Oh yes, I could feel the breeze while typing out the ideas :ghost:
Talvieno wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 2:44 pm
I certainly ought to mention my "what about civilians" post at this point, as well as my civilians demo. :D

Very, very happy that you posted this, Josh!!! :thumbup:
Thank you Talv, I figured there would be related ideas out there. Maybe I can finally sit down and read some suggestions now that I'm back to thinking! :squirrel:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#5
Thanks for the update. I thought the response to the last update was a little OTT, even if it was pretty well mannered. In any event, keep at it.
Josh wrote:Maybe I can finally sit down and read some suggestions now that I'm back to thinking!
:o Huzzah!

Every now and again I go back to the early pages Suggestions and just browse. It really is an excellent collection of ideas for space gaming goodness. What distinguishes it from other forums is the signal-to-noise, which is often through the roof in comparison to much on the web.
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#7
JoshParnell wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 2:26 pm
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.
This would also fit better with trade lanes or warp rails as a highway metaphor than connecting planet to planet or major station to major station. At major nodes or intersections you'd find some larger stations, but other smaller stations could sprout up along the route, in effect turning a star system into a macro-scale county or province with macro-scale infrastructure.

It sounds a little strange at first, but I think I'd rather be flying a spaceship to work every day than the car I drive.
Shameless Self-Promotion 0/ magenta 0/ Forum Rules & Game FAQ
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#8
and i can already feel hyperion's turbines wind up on that topic :ghost:
Oh yes, I could feel the breeze while typing out the ideas :ghost:
Image
Don't have time to write anything tonight, but the idea of trailer parks IN SPAAACE appeals to me greatly, but I have concerns about condensing the granularity for LOD purposes, and for some reason fractal construction is circulating in my head, no details yet.

If you want thoughts on colonies, my WIP megapost should give you a few ideas, specifically districts and HICUS. Ok, busy, more later
Image
If you're trying to fill the multiverse, and you're not willing to consider the entire creative output of humanity as a starting point, you're wasting your time.
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#9
Hi Josh. It's good to see you focusing on game play... We only get worked up because we want to see you, your team, and LT succeed. :D

As one of the more critical posters in the last thread, I just wanted to say that I didn't realise the importance of the widgetthingymabob you were making, and did completely miss the point of it. I'm not a programmer, I don't get half of the stuff you write about, but after reading this update I can kind of understand why you were working on it. Apologies, and I will stop "bleating" on (great word, mcsven :lol:).

Thanks for the update. :)
Image LT Backer Number: 647 of 5449.
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#10
Although I'm not particularly opposed to the granular space stations (Though I usually like to think of them like a business rather than a colony of their own), I usually imagine most of the 'growth' aspect of a sci-fi world being in the solar system / empire level.

A building is to a city as a station is to a system. Infrastructure begins small and eventually you have a bustling community of traders, miners and combat pilots flying between created infrastructure.

Rather than making a new system, perhaps looking into making infrastructure critically important could be an alternative.
I am literally and wholly in love with myself.
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#11
I love the micro-station idea and why you have thought about it. It's the same reason why I've always hoped I could start a universe with just one populated system. So I could watch the universe spread out before my eyes, much like sim city spreading out from a little village to a massive metropolis. I love the idea of the mini-stations, especially if they can bind together and grow naturally. I think it would make such a natural looking station if it was just built over time with what was required, and it would also look amazing if it was made up of ships or scrapped together from other stations (different texture/material).

I just hope it's not feature creep. =S

Also in regards to the tool thing, I don't think people want you to not work on it at all, ever... just to not pour everything into it and ignore stuff that's talked about but not delivered, like gameplay. If every month you just did a week of solid, only focusing on gameplay and game design (like coming up with ideas like the micro-stations), and then 3 weeks of coding whatever you want, I think people would favour that more than the drought of gameplay talk we have had up till this point.

I hope the forums didn't crush moral or anything on your end, I do think most of it kind of needed to be let out (we were getting a bit antsy) but at the end of the day, Josh, this is still your dream game and you should make it your way. (just please be more efficient at keeping us in the loop while it happens) :D
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#12
Hi, Haven't commented in years, but a longtime lurker.
Regarding the idea of 'atomizing' building blocks of colonies/citites/spacestations: It's a brilliant idea, and it would solve many problems and add to a fantastic new way of perceiving immersive gameplay. But, I honestly think solving the theoretical and practical problems is a can of worms!
Coming from the Humanities, though doing IT & digital media (or 'multimedia' as it was back when), I can say this absolutely: The smallest irreducible component that in general makes up society is: Communication. Think about that! Many people, especially scifi tossers (like me :D ) think its about finding physical building blocks, but that ALWAYS entails a static or simplistic/reductionist way of regarding society and the true life of individuals in small/big groups/organistaions. It will end in a halfassed emulation of society which will feel empty and hollow and just for show or like a pastiche.
I guess my point is, Josh and others, if you TRULY want a (procedurally generated) group of people living in (procedurally generated) physical environment, be it space stations, colonies, cities, whatever, you have to think very carefully about how this makes the game simulate life, or the experience of proliferating and bustling life.
IMHO, leave all this to a MOD or expansion later! If you can make something quick'n'dirty that resembles a halfassed attempt at emulating life, please do it! :) But, beware of monsters in the dark, if you're going in full tilt - and expect massive amounts of the usual moaning and whining around from the regulars ;)
But still, the idea is perhaps one of the most interesting and genre-disruptive gameplay-enhancing ones, I've been looking the longest to see come to fruition! It would be a massive feat! Mark my words!

Sincerely,
MadGabZ
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#13
Organic growth through economic factors is an appealing idea, especially with the fact that it honestly seems like a system dependent on factors that technically already exist in the game. that being said, civilian stations turning into larger superstructures will either reach a point in which they reform themselves to be more presentable (IE Knights of Cidonia) or eventually turn into Spacehulks (IE Warhammer 40K) this can lead to some interesting economic options between boom and bust but it still is a hard threshold to determine.

Good luck 07 sir
There is no peace, only passion
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#14
Space houses. A charming idea. It may also be a way to tell at a glance, how developed a system is, from observing if there are a few stations in a planet orbit or asteroid habitats everywhere. Of course, you would need to provide the habitats with supplies like water and food, so there would be haulers flying around, bringing supplies to the asteroids and, since it's an economy, bringing minerals back to the planets or the orbital stations, filling the system with life. I like the picture.
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Re: [Josh] Friday, April 6, 2018

#15
Love this update, Josh: as a critic of the Shiny Tool Problem (™), it's glorious to see you making real, observable progress to delivering LT the Game.

I also love the idea of microstations. I am especially thrilled that a short month of gameplay work has restarted your search for answers to the harder questions, and a novel idea that would really differentiate LT further. I've zero idea how to make that work, and I can imagine it'll generate unique problems for the remote simulation issue, not to mention giving poor Lindsey a heart attack as to how to develop thousand-year old stations made up of different levels of tech-based spaceship, but it sounds like a great idea from here.

Really good month, this one!
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