All the Little Things – 16th Dec 2018


Hi Everybody!

This week we’re talking about some of the other small, medium, and even big things we’ve been working on since we last put out an Alpha update (aside from the Astrofleet app in our last post).
There’s a mix of station simulation event features, UI/UX changes, and upgrades to visuals.
We haven’t put out a new build to the alpha players yet, but it’s coming extremely soon(tm).

Inspect nodes

You know how in RPGs you might see a magnifying glass over a piece of junk in-game, and when you click it flavor text would pop-up which reads “This is a piece of junk.” Since Astrobase Command is (in-part) an RPG we have something similar. But because you are playing with a fully simulated space station, this flavor text isn’t fluff at all — it actually represents the game state. An object is a “piece of junk” because it was once a functioning element of the station that didn’t get repaired. When you click on something in ABC you get text that describes its actual circumstance.

Currently this is implemented for work-related game-play elements as the foundation. As we further the develop the stories, the same feature will be used for story-specific content. So you can click on objects in the game world and always see what’s happening!

Station Atmosphere

Also added to the game are: fresh air, climate and pollution. You will need to build air pumps to create fresh air which characters deplete by breathing, and air purifiers to filter out smog which is created by some non-environmentally-friendly sections. On the flip-side of fresh air you have pollution, whose existence in a module you’ll be able to spot with your naked eye, especially if it’s getting very polluted. You can also vent the atmosphere in a module.

Climate represents how hot or cold a module is and how comfortable it is for the occupants. The sections and components contribute to the module’s overall climate. Next step is making perishable resources expire and turn into waste if they’re not kept cold enough. So it’s a good idea to build cargo sections with refrigeration if you want to store food there!

Fires

When an explosion occurs, such as from reactive resources in a module without the benefit of compartments, or from failed reactor tasks, this will now start a fire! The fire will burn through industrial and organic resources in a module. Compartments function as fire-breaks. Fires produce smoke and require air, which means venting a module can put out a fire. The fires are of course also represented visually both directly and through changes in lighting.

Derelict Stat

This is a summation of how busted a module is. It takes into account the repair status of its sections and components, and also the atmospheric conditions. As a next step, morale of a module’s occupants will be influenced by how derelict the module is. Nobody likes to live or work in a run-down module!

Selection User Experience

Selecting things on the station (Modules, Sections, Crew, etc) has received upgrade. We had a look at how to make this better and not only have the visuals been changed but the mechanics behind it have been reworked and polished.

Additonaly, the info panel for characters has (as was always intended) been replaced by the Rolodex card.

Construction Visualization

As we’ve talked about previously we put in some effects to show the progression and state of construction in progress.

This has now received a major upgrade and things should be much more clear as to what’s happening.

Notices

Notices for things that aren’t urgent are now bundled avoid spamming the inbox.

Ships Docking

The ships you control through the Astrofleet app show up at the station and dock with the available docks at your station.

Medicine

The medical section now works and has a job. If your crew gets wounded they will seek medical attention and get treated by the person you have assigned to the job.

Asteroid Shooter

The Asteroid Shooter app is again available on the datapad.

Post Processing

We set up the post processing effects for Astrobase Command a very long time ago. Since then there have come out some updated and much better effects from unity. So instead of using a hodgepodge of effects from many years ago we’re now mainly using the super powerful post processing stack that comes with unity. This superior visuals at better performance and less fragility. All good stuff.

Aside from things directly looking better, this has allowed us to pump up the sunlight intensity. Which allows a better contrast between indoor and outdoor light without blowing out the light areas or making the dark areas pitch black.

Additionally we now use the post effects to communicate when the players actions change context, for example when you pull up the desk space behind it gets blurred a bit.

Emotions and Sleeping

The now express their emotions through animations when having discussions with each other. Their visual responses to their conversations shows you how they actually feel about things. If they find it funny they will perhaps giggle, but if they get infuriated you should be able to see that they are angry.

In the past the crew would always sleep in the same pose. We have now made a few more poses available to them so you’ll see more variations while you’re watching them sleep. Wait, why are you watching them sleep?

Characters Walking, Jogging, and Running

In order to better show what is going on with the character at a glance they are now no longer limited to a single walk animation and speed. Instead they will now additionally walk slowly and tiredly if they are exhausted, jog if they are in a hurry, or sprint as fast as they can when there is an emergency.
For example, if they find themselves in a section that’s on fire you’ll see them booking it as to avoid getting injured or killed.

New Nebulae

One of the earliest graphics that were made for the environment was the Nebulae. They were always in need of upgrade. And here it is.
The previous solution would procedurally generate textures that were used in a static sky-box and was limited to the tools available in Substances. While it’s a powerful tool it wasn’t intended to be used for that.
The new solution involves procedurally generating a volumetric cloud with stars in a way that creates an entirely unique layout for each game you start.
Depending on how powerful your hardware is you can even choose to run this at real-time.

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