Developer Updates: Developer Blog #38 – Space Terrain

Space noun : a continuous area or expanse that is free, available, or unoccupied.

Space is vast and contains amazing sights painted with the colours and designs of a LSD trip; but it’s also primarily empty. Many of you may know of our lack of adherence to the laws of science such as our space flames, explosions in space, flying into suns and having sounds in a vacuum. We are going to augment that by slapping what we call “space terrain” into the vast emptiness of space. Why? Space is mostly boring. (don’t tell Space I said that!)

We are primarily going to cover non-moving (there are some exceptions) areas that will interact with player’s units in some way. So things like asteroids or even asteroid fields are going to be left out as they are more of a celestial object and don’t fall under the space terrain game system.

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First up, we have Solar Winds. This is a interesting one as it is the only space terrain with distinctly different states. Solar Winds are bound to suns and will pass through several different “seasons” in which both the colour and ferocity of the effects (both visual and gameplay) will increase. In it’s calm season, they will do low damage over time (DoT). Now everyone who wanted suns to deal damage when near will have it. The next level of Solar Winds will increase the damage of the DoT and slow all units unfortunate enough to be caught it in. The final degree increases both effects of the second level even further, permanently shreds armor (which can be repaired only in a spaceport/shipyard) and causes electrical issues. Electrical issues can be anything from weapons discharging themselves or tracking targeting incorrect units to mechanical components from Human, Veru’nas and Cauldron-born not usable at all.

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Next up is the Dust Cloud and Gas Cloud.

Dust Clouds obscure units within it. This goes both ways, so units trying to see out of a Dust Cloud, trying to see other units in the dust cloud or units trying to see into the Dust Cloud will have to be very close before being able to see their target.

Gas Clouds have the opposite effect. Units within a Gas Cloud which are moving will leave trails and will be seen from a further distance than normal. The trails will fade over time and the unit creating them will return to normal visibility once they expire.

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Advancing along, our next two environments are Pulsars and Anti-matter Rifts.

While Pulsars may be one of the more lethal occurrences of space, right now we are only talking about the persistent effect they exhibit to nearby units. These units will suffer from spikes of gamma radiation and have their armor permanently reduced.

Anti-matter Rifts may be the only type of space terrain you’ll want to be near. Units in one will be sped up, both while in combat speed and travel speed.

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Two very interesting environments are the Space Storm and the Storm Core.

The Space Storm will discharge and send out bolts of plasma to strike units traveling through it; this will cause a DoT effect on them. The second component of Space Storms are their dust walls. These walls completely block vision through them. Should you chase a fleeing ship through it or not risk the potential ambush waiting on the other side?

Storm Cores spawn randomly in the universe and start small. As time passes they will continuously grow until they finally expend themselves and dissipate. Players cannot FTL into or out of the affected area of a Storm Core. Electrical issues will also occur similar to those listed in Solar Winds.

Ion Storms can be dangerous for combatants. Units struck by a Ion Storm’s discharges will be unable to use shields. Units caught in the field of an Ion Storm will be unable to use FTL and will suffer from a low damage DoT.

Our final space terrain is currently unnamed and we would like your help to come up with one. This environment is a series of clouds which glow brightly when disturbed. Any unit within one which has not moved or attacked for over a minute will become invisible, otherwise they can be seen from further a distance than normal like the Gas Cloud.

Current ideas for it’s name are as follows:

A) Spatial Fold
B) Ice Gas Cloud
C) Bioluminescent Particles
D) Charged Gaseous Cloud
E) Temporal Anomaly
F) Derelict Cloak Generator

I personally don’t feel any of these fit well, so feel free to come up with a name of your own!