Sunday, 4 August 2013

Nearly a month!

I was looking over my youtube account and I realised it's been nearly a month since my last video of Starbase. Goodness me that is way too long!
I guess what I am really waiting for is for a presentable copy showing a significant amount of change too starbase. Little do I realize there has been a huge amount of work done, I just haven't stopped to look. I think as soon as I redo the building tab I'll present a video of the new version of starbase.

What's new?
More or less this latest transition in starbase has been to upgrade pre-existing features. Graphics, coding, world loading/generation, resources, placement, interface and so on are all getting a polished upgrade. I'm extremely happy with everything so far.

-Resource system: with complex mathematics including expenses, resource gathering, cuts, distribution and so on.
-New research code, old one was bugging up horribly.
-Plans for an extra 2 layers to the background. Redoing the background to make it more compatible with the mini-maps point click-move system.
-Plans for basic buildings to deal with resource management.
-Population and Happiness resources added, both intertwined.
-New graphics for everything (obvious)
-Custom cursor
-Asteroids mine-able for ore.

Bug fixes:
-Lag bug: caused by multiple placement pads occupying the same space.
-Placement hover bug: caused by the mouse scrolling too quickly and the pad not detecting the mouse's exit.

-Background scrolling: Currently the background is not loading correctly or sticking in place relative to the screen. So if you scroll too far you just start getting random lines of unloaded image. Will have to rework the background.

Thursday, 1 August 2013


What do I love more than starbases and space?

So today is all about the environment and environment code. Working out the kinks etc. It's rather productive, I'm looking to get resources working so I need this section working to encourage ore mining.

Not much else has been happening: attempting to externalize some of that starting code though that has a long way to go. I've also begun working on sprite masks for more precis object collisions, well rather cleaner collisions.

More coming soon.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Progress Report

Everything is running smoothly, slowly day by day I'm getting a bit more done. The Starbase Project is finally taking the form of something very real and very exciting.

What's been done:
-Completed all major graphics to date including minor adjustments to the UI.
-'Placeholder' Loading screens have been put in. (such a fan of placeholder images)
-Externalizing of all Images is complete, custom texture packs and images are now fully supported.
-I've done some research and discovered I can also externalize code, meaning modding support is not out of the question (though something I will approach at a much later date).
-Branding; Namely a name for Starbase Project other than, well, starbase project... so finally I can start branding and we can start using an actual game.
-More research into websites and forums etc... Still a long way off considering the player base behind starbase project is less than 20 atm.

 So I'm pumped, I've nailed down some of the biggest features and issues yet and basically made starbase a real thing. Now I know I've said that starbase has a name, and that all graphics are complete, that the system has basically had a major graphical and coding overhaul. So why haven't I told it or shown any graphics?

Because I'm big on surprises, and this update is going to be a big surprise. In the sense that not only am I going to release a major update I am also considering releasing a Development copy once the major bugs (namely the resources) have been squashed and I have implemented basic content so the game runs at lease somewhat the way it's suppose to.

Don't get too excited, this version of the game will be labelled Dev1.0 and will be backbone game play. don't expect anything flashy yet, the game will need a lot of fleshing out especially in the metagame department. Basically all it will be is being able to place segments of corridors and manage the basic resources with basic resource gathering buildings

I eta about 2 weeks more or less before I am able to release a copy, though like all good indie developers you can be assured I'm not going to release it until I am absolutely positive that it is ready.

Stay tuned people.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Images & Externalising

Starbase is coming along nicely and I'm pleased with the direction in which it's progressing. So far there have been no hold up in creating the sprite art. It's really good to get back into my comfort zone. Don't get me wrong I enjoy the challenge of coding and programming, but after a while it can get really tedious especially when your learning as you go.

So without your knowledge I took an unannounced week off starbase development, Mwah ha ha haa!

After constantly banging my head against my computer screen screaming 'why you no work?!?' I felt a bit exhausted. My attitude went from 'yes we can' to 'eh'. So I decided before I dive into the sprite art I might take a bit of a break, just to refresh and take care of some real life issues. I'm glad I did, approaching the sprite art with a good attitude and a fresh perspective has really paid off I feel. So far I've really only been tackling the corridors (as they have to fit together I have to ensure the graphics are perfect).

More corridor sprites can be found here on the facebook:
Ingame Graphics

Might also be interested to know I'm working on backgrounds or 'scenes' as I am calling them.
... It looks much better up close I promise. It's my hope to be able to include multiple maps and have the game pre-select a random scene. I truly want to make each environment unique, just like asteroid placement perhaps down the track even asteroid numbers (though we will see). I like the idea of getting lucky starts or even getting struck with bad luck at the beginning forcing you to improvise.

What else have I been doing? Well nothing short of more coding, I reorganized and reconstructed a lot of my original coding:
See how organised and neat it is now? What your looking at is the WIP code for map generation. It's very basic (then again space doesn't have much in it) but by the end of this I hope to establish a firm template in which to create multiple types of maps. It's also my intention to make a metagame code, obviously I need to get my map generation working first as well as more content. But long term goals are good to have, there is just so much I want to include.

Friday, 12 July 2013

The... User Interface?

There have been so many setbacks with the user interface. Where do I begin?

Well lets start by saying first up, the suspense is over I finally have a working addition to the UI. Research, resources and building are in a semi-completed state or at least their base programming is down:

So in a way the user interface is 'working'. I can't honestly say I'm happy where it is at atm. What you see here is most likely not going to be the final product. But I did want to bring you guys something since it has been so long since I've released footage of Starbase development and since at this stage there arn't any fatal bugs, loose ends or broken codes.

I should now explain exactly what it is I am not happy with:
1) The Research bar could really use a graphical overhaul. I mean I like the staging system but atm it looks like something from a 1990's side-scroller.
2) Buttons at this stage are a too small, I would really like to make them double the ratio.
3) The Building tab, while working, needs a major overhaul. It's just so inefficient. Basically it's patch-work coding.
4) While spending resources are working, survival resources are not. My research tracking instance isn't actually doing it's job properly (yet to find out why). I need to get them up asap before I can add other types of buildings.
5) Hotkey system is looking terrible. I really wanna simplify the sprites used so they look cleaner.
6) Need to link the corridors to a button of their own, I'm still unsure of how to actually place other buildings onto the space station.

So what do I like?
1) The fact that the buttons are working, the tab system makes everything neatly fold away.
2) research bar, mini-map and research display work flawlessly.
3) The neat little notice that pops up everytime you place something.
4) Credit and ore restrictions work perfectly.
5) Colour to signify when things are available.

Alright so the UI is there, I need to leave that for a while or I will go insane. I'm moving right along to externalizing my sprites. That means I'm moving on to making completed graphics! Yay finally I get to do some really graphics which is where I am most comfortable. Externalizing in the early stages is also going to help me later down the track when it comes to implementing the content for the tabs. It would be a nightmare to switch 300+ internal sprites to external sprites, at the moment I'm only doing about 50ish. Most of which are just place-holder images anyways so I need not worry about saving them. Main issue will be trying to make animation strips from PNG files.

The main reason I am so excited about this is because this means people can make custom texture packs for Starbase, this kind of modding support is what I would love to include. It's also crossed my mind to externalise some of the script for people to alter, so they can edit different Starbase models details, names, etc. but it's not a huge priority (meaning I have absolutely no clue how to externalize the code xD). So far so good, I think once the graphics are done I can begin work on a pre-alpha Demo.

Btw if you have any comments please feel free to leave some.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Damn Research!

Alright so Just when I think I've worked out research it turns out I haven't! Grrrr.

It's been about 4 days and I just realised now that research, which each button was responsible for it's own research and global options, is actually broken and pauses research when the tab is closed. Not only that but it also resets all research options. I think that will be the last time I pull an all nighter, cant believe I didn't see what i did before.

Because to save on memory I actually delete and recreate each button. because the first 18 buttons arn't going to be the only buttons or tabs on screen having around 50+ buttons in 'invisible mode' would just be a waste of memory. So what I need to do is make is so that when something is being researched it needs to remain on screen. Since it's only 1 object at a time for research this shouldn't affect memory at all.

Besides which building hasnt thrown me any curve balls 'yet', however the hotbar system is still a bit glitchy so I'm considering refining that.

So what's new besides the obvious problems?
Mostly bug fixes, in light of all the bugs that have just listed I have nailed down a bunch of old bugs that kept reoccurring. Specifically the major Section Placement bug which caused massive lag spikes when you place too many sections at once or in tight groups.

I've started on the credit system, introducing a price to everything which is going well. Also began implementing the placement of other facilities like power stations etc. I'm still unsure as to how to approach placement; whether or not to make them free to place or aligned to the section system.

What's in planning are 2 things:

-Proper Sprite Art: because to date I've been working with terrible place holder images, the UI looks good because it needed to be a final produce so I could get the measurements right.But I'm reaching that stage where I really wanna make things look good. So once the basics are down Sprites are next on my list.
-Externalise Sprites: To date all my sprites have been internal, that is they are a part of the exe file rather than separate images you find in a directory. I have a few reasons I wanna externalize all sprites, even though it will mean extra coding etc. For one it will allow me to load only the sprites that are needed which will drastically reduce memory usage. If I keep all the images inside the exe then the game will load them all regardless of whether it needs to load them or not.
However the main reason I want to do this is sort of a neat little feature I think you will all love. To make the game customizable. The Images are just standard png images, completely compatible in any image editing software. This means you guys can actually change all the graphics for Starbase and create your own custom texture packs. Imagine being able to change the metal corridors to some crazy carapace for an insectoid race? Neat right?

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Major Update

Major Update

So the UI is working! now all it needs is content. No videos etc but definitely this deserves a celebratory image:

The UI is based off a tab system. Nearly everything is packed away into a neat little tab until you click the arrow to reveal it. Atm the tabs are looking a little barren, but otherwise they systems for research, building, resources, displays and hotkeys are soundly working. I chose a tab system because it can display many options but still fold away leaving you plenty of room to work on your starbase. In some cases you don't even have to open your tabs, with the hotkey menu in building tab you can place your most used buildings to quickly access them and the research tab displays what your researching and how long is has to go.

I wanted to release a video of the user interface in action but I need to actually add content to it in order for it to work. So video soon! rest assured. Till then however, what has changed in starbase?

Well for starters you may have noticed in the image above there are a lot more asteroids on the map, and if you compare the visible asteroid to ones we have seen in the past you might be thinking 'this one looks a bit smaller..' because it is. Each map generates 2 large asteroids, 4 medium asteroids and 5 small asteroids. These all vary in size and shape. Eventually they will vary in ore count too, larger asteroids will have more ore and thus be able to supply you with consistent ore for longer. Also with the 'feature' of blowing up asteroids I plan to make it so larger asteroids splinter and fragment so smaller asteroids shoot out of them. They will have an initial momentum that will die over time.

You may have also noticed the corridors look slightly bluer than usual. Well that is because they are powered sections... sections connected to the main hub. Any section cut off from the main hub becomes 'un-powered', so if you want to make floating platforms etc you will have to research the right technology to create an invisible link... Well at least that the 'intention', the programming is a very different matter entirely. This looks to be the next major challenge starbase is presenting.

Side Note
So with this recent update it really is starting to feel like that game is coming together, which means I've been thinking about a name for Starbase. Which in turn lead me to start googling starbase games. Names etc are coming to me slowely. Light Point, StarCity, etc it's all very basic. If you have any good suggestions for names please post them I'd love to hear some thoughts :D.

In my explorations I did come across this game:
It's called Station AB, and was developed by UV Games about 7 months ago. Now just to clarify I did think up the idea for Starbase on my own, I came across this about 2ish weeks ago. I mean it's far to say we have a similar, but in our execution we have taken different paths. mainly in the fact mine acts more like a City Simulator mixed with RTS elements where as UVG has gone for a tower defense type shooter.I believe the final products will be very different. If you decide to lay Station AB I would advise you to be cautious as it is memory intensive and still has a few unresolved bugs.

None the less I found it quite interesting how similar this game is to mine :3.