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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Progress report Oct 30, 2014

We have great news to share. Our team continues to work on BB. Currently Laszlo is spearheading the technical upgrades to make BB cross platform.
I quote one of his many contributions:
"I vote for using QT.
Here is why:
- support for Mac,Win,Linux, Android, IOS, Raspberry Pi (SFML is only for Desktop currently, but it is under development)
- good support in Linux repos
- high level abstraction or low level programming is also possible
- good documentation, a lot of examples
- Qt is complete framework, not just OpenGl wrapper:
- easy to install IDE for all Desktop platforms
- GUI description language with easy syntax ( QML )
- support in qml: buttons, lists, sprite, animated sprite with smooth transition, web browser, video, image, rotation, transition,...
- new QML objects can be implemented in C++
- javascript scripting
- sound wrapper
- build system (like CMake)
- and so on....
- you can also embed SFML widgets in QML programs! So this is also an option.
Disadvantage:
- the performance can be slow because of the high abstraction but I think there is not much animation in BB
Pros:
- it makes easy for new developers to start using it
- it is productive for GUI development.
- we can achive better results later, if new components are developed for QT.
With SFML only we have to implement each GUI feature".
He already implemented several demos including screens, custom buttons, galaxy windows, and stars. So far so good, but too early to declare full success for all platforms.

So we are moving from C# to C++ and use QT runtime environment for now unless we find a dead end or major performance problem. We maintain open source repo.

Meanwhile Brent and I had lots of discussions and made some key changes in design and have early implemenations, such as hex based space battle.

Ivan contributes with technical expertise, experience, and testing for now.

In addition, I have searched for and hired 2 master composers who agreed to compose original music for this game. Fingers crossed that they will actually deliver as promised.


So everything is heading in the right direction, but please volunteer if you think that you can help and feel the burning desire like us to do something good about this project. We do it in our free time as a service to the community and our progress is slow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

GSSB race done!

The artist just finished another race, bringing up the total races to 12.  The 13th and last race is currently being worked on.  Here's a look at the new race, called "GSSB".  It parodies the fact that if aliens are female, they must be attractive, thereby humanoid with distinct human features, with one or two minor differences such as color of skin or some other such cosmetic feature.  Note, this is not intended to be derogatory toward women, but rather, how female aliens are portrayed in older sci-fi games and shows.

I nearly called them Orions in a nod to both Star Trek's Orions and the name of Master of Orion, but realized that there's already another race called Morions, and it would be only a difference of one letter.  So I'm going with GSSB which stands for Green Skinned Space Babes.  However, I'm open to suggestions for other names.

This race is equivalent to Master of Orion 2's Elerians.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pudelhunds, Linux, and C++, oh my!

Good news, everyone!

Laszlo (the Linux programmer) and I investigated different approaches to C# and C++ that would be cross-platform.  C# was a major pain in the butt porting over to Linux (I couldn't even set up the Windows version of the test program that Laszlo threw together for Linux).  So we felt that even if we manage to get it working, it'd detract many potential contributers away with over-complicated setup requirements.  So we decided to look at C++ alternatives.  Laszlo found a very good alternative, SFML, that is almost identical to the Gorgon engine that I was using in terms of framework and way it handles things.  The only thing missing is word-wrap functionality.  We're currently looking at a third-party GUI library, but if it don't work out, we'll add the functionality ourselves.

I've created a test SFML branch to test various features that will be required for Beyond Beyaan to work (shaders, image manipulations, text drawing, etc).  Both Laszlo and I was able to run the same code on both Linux and Windows.  So once we've finished investigating the GUI library, we'll start converting Beyond Beyaan into C++, and also test on Mac.

Ivan Kravarscan has also offered to join in the development efforts, so please welcome him!  Also, I'm giving Arpad access to post posts on the blog, so expect to hear from him from time to time.

Last bit of news, the artist finished the Pudelhunds race artwork (They're the Gnolams equivalent).  Here's a preview!  They're mafia-esque, with ships inspired by old popular mafia cars used in Chicago.  Yes, the pudelhund in portrait is holding a tommy gun :)


Friday, June 13, 2014

Fleet Overview Screen done

The UI layout for Fleet Overview screen is done.  I just need to hook up mouse events and add a dialog for confirming of scrapping ships to both Fleet Overview and Fleet Specification screens, then I'm moving on to Diplomacy and Ground Combat.  After which there'll be only Space Combat and Random Events left, along with general bug fixing, UI tweaks, and minor feature implementations.

The discussion on cross-platform and what to do is still ongoing.  We've discovered that OpenTK works pretty well (Remember the ReMoO project that I started a few years ago?  Laszlo was able to run it after simply updating references in MonoDevelop).  So we might stick with C# but convert to OpenTK.  We're determining which of the two choices (C++ and 2D engine, or C# and OpenTK) we should pursue at this point.

Finally, here's a screenshot of the Fleet Overview:


The idea is that you can click any fleet, and it'll take you to that fleet in the galaxy view.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fleet Specs and Git

We've got several exciting news!

Arpad invited his friend, Laszlo Gerecs, to help with the programming aspect of Beyond Beyaan.  Laszlo is a Linux developer, and we're currently discussing what direction we should take with Beyond Beyaan.  I believe that we will convert it over to C++ for easier crossplatform development (Linux, Windows, and Mac), but the discussions are still ongoing.

We've also decided to move the source over to git, so from now on, you can find the source code and assets from here: https://github.com/Beyonders.  We will clean up the source files and assets so they match open source format (Assets will be in their own repository, with source code separate in another repository).  You may notice that we have "Mono".  This was an attempt to see if Mono is feasible for our crossplatform goal, but turned out to be difficult to set up.  Hence our discussion if we should go the C++ route.

The code will still be on SVN at google code, but it's depreciated and won't be used anymore.  It's there for reference (I still have the UI XML and other nifty features that I ripped out in there).

I also worked on Beyond Beyaan a bit, and finished up the Fleet Specs window, the one where it displays if you're trying to add a new design but you have six designs already.  Here's a screenshot (For reference, the old one is seen here):


Friday, May 23, 2014

Plan for Beyond Beyaan

It've been a while, but it has been a productive month in terms of design tweaks.  Arpad and I has been discussing Master of Orion 1 and its good and bad aspects.  Arpad helped illustrate the flaws in AI, and after he explained them, I tried a new game on Impossible difficulty.  If you recall, my last attempt failed disastrously.  This time, I'm effortlessly crushing the AI.  I now feel dirty knowing AI's exploits, Impossible is no longer "Impossible".  Our plan for AI is to have AI be actually smart, and reduce AI cheating as much as possible.

So our goal is to not exactly replicate MoO 1, but take the best and improve on the bad.  With mostly input from Arpad, the following are list of changes that Beyond Beyaan will have:

Space Combat - The map will be a hexagonal grid.  This is to improve logistics for missiles/torpedoes, minimize distance discrepancies, and generally balance things out.  This is mostly to help the AI.  It will still be vertical columns of tiles, so it shouldn't differ too greatly from original.

Diplomacy - All races start with neutral relation toward each other.  This will help boost the weaker races (Mrrshans, Alkari, and Darloks especially) while not weakening other races (Humans will have different bonuses as explained below)

Personality - AI won't have "Leader Personality" like in MoO 1, they hurt more than help the AI.  So each AI will factor in their race's strengths and act on them, instead of trying to do something counter-intuitive.

New Races - Since Kickstarter has resulted in success for the three extra races, Arpad and I discussed back and forth on how those will fit in a MoO 1 universe.  We have tentatively set forth their attributes as explained below.

Leaders - Likewise, I promised leaders in Kickstarter, but how to retain the simplicity from MoO 1?  Arpad suggested that they be a random event, with a randomized duration.  I liked this idea, and we fleshed it out.  There will be 22 different leaders, revolving around 11 different attributes that can help or hinder your empire.  For example, there are two financial leaders, one good, one bad.  Good will add a certain amount of income, while bad will reduce amount of income.  You cannot hire or dismiss them.  Each leader only have one attribute that they improve/degrade.  It's possible to have multiple leaders at the same time, based on random event roll.

Both New Races and Leaders will be checkbox options that you can disable when starting a new game, if you do not like those features.

We discussed extensively on how to balance the races in MoO 1.  Psilons, Meklars, and Klackons were the strongest, while Mrrshans, Darloks, and Alkari were the weakest.  We wanted to balance them, but still have each be unique from other races.  We've settled on the below (Left is the original bonuses/attributes, if it don't list a technology field, it is "Average", on right are the Beyond Beyaan's version of the race).  This is subject to balancing and testing, but we feel that this will even things out and still retain an interesting gameplay.  Also the new races were problematic, but hopefully they are unique enough with the listed attributes.



If you have concerns or suggestions for any of the discussed features, please let us know in the comments!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More work on Planet List

The planets' economy system is nearly done.  Planet List screen is almost done as well.  The only remaining features is to implement infusing a planet with reserves to boost its production, and the dialog for it.

After those are done, I will re-do the Fleet Design List window and implement Fleet List screen.  As well as bugfixes and minor tweaks.  At that point, I will upload a new version to Desura.

Here's a screenshot of my progress, note the new taskbar at bottom.