It’s been about a month since the last update and we are well on our way to Beta release!
After flying into a wormhole, players can now upload their current fleet to the server. These fleets will be downloaded from the server and injected into newly generated worlds. Players can conquer their way across each world, defeating other player fleets, and then fly thorough a wormhole into a new world. Injected fleets will stick together, get in fights with ambient ships, and generally behave like the player’s own fleet.
Server authentication works either via steam or by reusing the Anisoptera Games Forum login info. This is essentially to prevent players from impersonating each other and so we can keep track of which fleets each player uploaded. Login is only necessary for uploading fleets.
There is still a lot to do with respect to notifications and organization. Eventually we want to allow players to track statistics from their uploaded fleets – how many players did it kill? How many people fought against it? There should be a way to browse uploaded fleets, maybe upvote especially cool ship designs, and so on. We are also considering some form of steamworks integration.
Tutorials and Introduction
We were able to playtest the newly improved beginning of the game through our showcase at the MIX at GDC Next just last week and found that people were able to start playing the game without instruction much more effectively than at PAX Prime the month before that. In several instances players asked me a question, only to have it immediately answered by an in game tutorial prompt. There is still work to do in this area but I’m confided that Beta testers will have a good first impression.
The folks at Valve have done an excellent job making the steamworks integration process as painless and straightforward as possible The steam overlay, for example, required a grand total of one line of code to enable. Beyond setting up the store page and uploading builds, we have also added support for the steam cloud so that saved games will be seamlessly transitioned between computers. As part of this work we enabled gzip compression on the (plaintext) save file format, making save files much more compact (previous alpha builds could generate hundreds of megabytes of persistent data as the world was explored).
Beyond these main items and fixing lots of bugs we also found time to do some graphics improvements. There are new snazzier shader effects for resource blobs. The gpu-based particle system was modified to use GL_POINTS instead of triangles, making it both faster and prettier, and the inter-menu gaussian blur effect was greatly improved. The same blur shader is now applied at a much lower setting to add bloom to weapon and particle effects. These effects can all be disabled on low end systems.
There is also a new box on the devlog page to the right (just below the twitter widget) showing recent source code commits.