Community: Developer Blog #49 - The Flagbridge and a Look Behind The Scenes

Greetings Consul General,

In today’s devblog we want to introduce you to the nearly completed “Bridge”, situated on the Flagship of your fleets. Additionally, we’ll talk a bit about the editors we use to create components, hulls and almost everything else for the game, giving you a look Behind The Scenes.

The Flagship Bridge

As the new bridge nears completion, we want to talk about it’s functions, options, looks and some future plans.

When the player starts the game, they will be standing on the bridge of their Flagship (or planetary command bunker should there be no flagship for whatever reason), surrounded by consoles and bridge officers to help control the empire.

All screenshots in this update are made ingame, though are still subject to change. The bridge runs on my pc at 100+fps (i7 4790 4GHz CPU, Radeon 290x and 16GB DDR3 RAM.) Click on an image to go the full-sized one.

From the bridge you will be able to see what is going on out in space around your bridge through the large windows surrounding it. This creates awesome Star Wars-esque scenes as you look out and see stars, planets, combat and more happening near you. Everything you see outside the windows is actually happening right then and there, so if you see an unknown fleet heading for you, better make sure you prepare to respond!

Controlling the Empire

This will give you an immersive way to interact with the game. Via the consoles and officers you’ll find on the bridge, you will be able to access the different GUI’s you use to play the game, such as the Ship Designer, Empire Management, Planetary Management and Research.  Opening these UI’s via the bridge will give you the same options as you would have if you had opened them via the RTS aspect of the game.

The Echo holographic table, from here you will take control of your fleets via the RTS aspect of the game.

Via this interface you will be able to manage the Empire. Construct new ships and buildings, manage your workforce, train troops and use those to invade and defend planets.

This table allows you quick access to any trade networks and markets you have access to, such as your own, black markets and auction houses.

From here you can easily manage the laboratories in your empire, such as selecting specific tech trees that should be worked on, for example.

From this table you will be able to use the new Ship Designer to create the blueprints your shipyards will use to construct your fleets.

Novus AEterno Behind-The-Scenes: Component and Unit Designer

The Component and Unit editor we want to talk about today are but a small part of a truly massive overhaul we finished to the game’s core architecture. This overhaul changed nearly everything the player interacts with. This goes from allowing spaceships to FTL, move population from planet to another, trade, use special abilities and “skill shots” on some ships,  the creation of one of a kind Artifacts and anything else you could think of.

The need to overhaul the core architecture delayed the production of some of the tools we needed to create, update and balance many aspects of the game. Now the tools have been finished, however, we can really start filling in the game with lots and lots new stuff such as new components, buildings, abilities, research, spies and officers, fighters and bombers that you will all be able to use ingame.

In this update we want to introduce two out of this array of very important tools in our game.

The Component Designer

The Component Designer is - as you may have guessed - used to create new components for the game. In addition to this, it also creates abilities for troops, officers and spies, vehicles and tools for ground troops, and various components for fighters. The sample I will be talking about now is a prototype Hullbreaker series Assault Gun. Since the tool has a lot of features I will use my amazing paint skills to make it a bit easier to explain. If you have more questions about a specific part, feel free to ask in the comments or on our forum.

  1. Other than used to set the name and description, this top part is used determine if you can find a component in a Lottery Box (which you may get through missions, for example), if players can use it (some overpowered components we want to be only available to AI boss units :) ), if it is an Artifact, which is an incredibly powerful component, or is no longer in use. Components are deprecated when they are broken, buggy or unsuited for play for some other reason.
  2. Tags are used to allow us to find specific components easily. This can be used to allow players to filter a marketplace for all military components, which can include all kinds of things, or specifically all beam weapons, engines, etc. In addition to filtering, tags will be used for research. A player can increase research funding to try and find beam based components.
  3. These are the stats about the component which do not actually affect how the component functions. These statistics are used to balance components with each other (via price, build time, and command points for example). Some highlights from these stats:
    • Volatility, this will determine how explosive (read: dangerous to have aboard) things are to have on a ship. As you can imagine, a bunch of extra hull plating will not be dangerous at all to add, while creating a munitions carrier will obviously be less safe to be around when it goes up in flames. Base volatility is its volatile value to start with and adds on the number of remaining supplies multiplied by the per supply volatility. (volatility power = base volatility + remaining supplies x volatility per supply)
    • Construct / Attach Manpower. In our last system everything would take X amount of cycles (time). In the new system you’ll need a certain amount of manpower to create or attach components. This has several advantages. First, a manpower requirement is a lot easier (and cooler?) to imagine than cycles, now your empire actually has to work for its goods! It also has the added benefit that you can give buffs and debuffs more easily to manpower generation than it was to do to cycles, since the numbers are (much) larger.
  4. This part is used to set how a component is restricted. Who has access, how easy is it to get and how large is it (see Unit Designer, below)?
  5. This list shows all the attributes at are available to a specific component type. It automatically filters out everything we can’t use for a specific type, which saves us a lot of search and potential mistakes.
    Once a attribute has been selected, such the forward speed on this engine, it can be given the statistics that attribute has. In this case, the engine provides a 1500 forward max speed, which it will reach in 15 seconds (100 acceleration per second) or break to 0 from 1500 in 20 seconds.
  6. Each item we create has 3 possible phases it can go through. The Passive Phase will activate on it’s own without needing a player to activate it. Once a move order is given, the ship will accelerate and decelerate on its own to reach  the target destination on its own.
  7. The Activated Phase has attributes that are only used when they are specifically activated. When a weapon fires, the supplies are deducted from the ship and weapon supply, then accuracy determines if the target is hit. Assuming it is hit, damage is dealt.
  8. The Cooldown Phase comes into play after an component or ability has been used. Following the above example, after a gun fires, it has a cooldown that determines how quickly it can fire. This Phase Duration is 3 in this sample, meaning that the gun can fire every 3 seconds, assuming it has the supplies. Otherwise it will has to reload for 10 seconds (see Passive Phase).


The Unit Designer

The Unit Designer tool we use to create new ships, fighters, officers, and ground troops for the game is much like the Component tool I showed before, so I’ll highlight the items that are unique to this one.

  1. A unit’s Health and System Integrity are the two types of hit points a unit may have. Health is was you expect it to be, drop it to 0 and the ship goes boom! Dropping System Integrity to 0 on ships will disable it instead, making it easy to board or just pummel to death at your leisure. Think of the opening scene during The Empire Strikes Back, where the Rebel Alliance fires a massive Ion Cannon at an Imperial Star Destroyer to disable it and flee to safety.
  2. Each unit has an engine modifier that determines how much power it can effectively take from an engine to propel itself.. This Dreadnought, for example, has a Engine Efficiency of only 0.5, meaning that it would take twice the amount of engines of the same size to move as quickly as a ship with Engine Efficiency 1 (such as many Corvette-class hulls) using that engine type and size.
  3. Each unit has specific Damage Modifiers for each flank.This is influenced by the thickness of its armor, technology used and so forth. When a ship is hit, the damage taken is (usually) multiplied by the Damage Modifier. A Dreadnought like this will be able to shrug off a lot of damage, while a freighter will be relatively easy to destroy.
  4. These are the component slot types, sizes and amount a given hull has. The letters at the top indicate the size of a slot, A being the largest. Larger slots will also always allow smaller components to be fitted if the players wants to do so, but not the other way around, obviously.
    The numbers indicate the amount. A dreadnought like this is created for war, so while it has a couple of bays for fighters and munitions for examples, most of the internal space is dedicated to hooking up large weapons on the front and sides. It also sports some tiny E and a D sized weapon slot which can be used for close in weapon systems or point defense.

That’s it for today’s update! I hope you liked what we had to show, with more to come! If you liked what you saw, or have questions about the update, please check out our website forum:

-Taitale Studios