Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Update on current position of GSB

I’m trying to get towards a pre-order/beta situation, but I don’t want to rush anything. The game looks quite nice (I intend for it to look nicer,e specially the UI), and technically plays ok, but there are quite a few bugs and minor glitches right now. Here is what is currently on my immediate list to address:

  • Fighters sometimes retreat to their deployment zone (I thought I’d removed that code) and then just sit there. I’m considering letting fighters auto repair over time when not under fire.
  • Enemy ships actually occasionally path find off of the map. The game still works fine, but not seeing the enemy kind of sucks. The background is one big image, not a tile, so infinite scrolling can’t easily happen…
  • It’s possible that none of your weapons can penetrate your enemy flagships shields, or more likely, you don’t have enough fire-power per minute to actually knock the shields out entirely. I’m considering a number of fixes for this, because it can lead to infinite stalemates. One possibility is letting every weapon do some minor ‘leakage’ damage through shields. maybe just 2-3% of normal damage.
  • The code to unlock levels as you go along is broken
  • Some of the smoke particle effects look really bad. Something has gone wrong a bit there
  • I’m considering how to code an ‘alpha-strike’ order for ships, that basically says ‘try to co-ordinate your fire with a number of other weapons from you or other ships to blap in one go’. This is no mean task, and opens up the can of worms that orders are per-ship, not per-weapon. Hmmm.

So I’m pretty busy :D And this is all ignoring the graphical fluff I desperately want to find time to add to the game, plus other gameplay modes blah blah.

16 thoughts on Update on current position of GSB

  1. is there still an option to choose the fraction you wanna play with?
    because i only see the ferderationships on the playerside.
    i bet that they are your favorite empire ;)

  2. You start out as federation, but unlock the others by winning missions :D
    Actually my fave are the empire (the round ones).

  3. it might be better to detect the stalemates? if you field a fleet that can’t be hit (too fast or something), but hasn’t got the firepower to go through shields.. who should win?

    you failed setup by not bringing big enough guns, and the enemy fleet ‘failed’ by not bringing fast enough guns. if it’s the career scenario then possibly have time limits after which the enemy reinforcements jump in? [just thinking through the keyboard]

    that said, shield bleedthrough is something that’s been done before (possibly to fix this problem) in eve for example. without tactical shield manipulation-V, shield hits have a chance of bleeding a small fraction through to armour/hull.

    of course, this could still stalemate if someone designs a ship with massive shields, and a tiny hull repairer.

  4. RE: shield vs firepower per minute stalemate.

    Have a shield deterioration rate during the battle.

    The shields are at full capacity and reliability with fully working equipment but deteriorates with time as equipment rapidly wears down, gets repaired, and reshields. This forces players to be attentive and take immediate action as the battle starts and keeps the game dynamic as ships become unshielded and vulnerable to the enemy at only certain periods when your own fleet is inadequate for bringing down the enemy through brute firepower.

  5. A draw is always a legal outcome.
    What if the last two ships shoot eachother the very same tick?
    In supreme commander you can easily stalemate when you kill the enemy commander but die yourself within 20 seconds after that…
    In a CoreWars (does anybody still know this game?) you could set round times and many programs just spawned tasks and tried to survice long enough to force a draw…

  6. @McMurmel: well, yes. JMP 0 was one option, but any decent paper would likely overwrite you and virtually every stone would hit you.
    besides – it was pretty rare for all your processes to actually die.. especially with paper around.

    i don’t think shields should deteriorate – unless you actually punch through them and damage the generators. if you can’t smash through shields faster than their recharge time – you fail.

    the response of having a stalemate (time limit on campaign games, optional/settable one on pvp?) is surely to concede failure, go away, and come back with the shield-vampire ship? [i’m presuming there’ll be a “give up!” button too?]

    (i don’t want to be attentive. i really like the idea of sitting back and watching my carefully tailored fleet make lots of pretty lights before vanishing in a huge explosion of ill-planning :) there’re plenty of drive-your-ship around games.. wind ’em up and let ’em go is a concept that very much appeals to me)

  7. re: Shield stalemate – Could this be a symptom of the potentially overpowered shields you’ve mentioned in previous posts? Or is this specific to flagships? Because it seems like the combined shield pen. of your remaining fleet (presumably after you’ve destroyed the rest of the enemy’s) should be able to overcome any one ship’s shielding, unless you have few enough units remaining that the flagship just destroys them in short order anyway.

    If that’s the case, then you probably just built your fleet poorly and could come back with a better one, and this is a player issue. If it’s the case that majority of your fleet survived and can’t bring down a lone ship, that seems like more of a balance issue (needs less shield str., less available power, etc.)

    re: Alpha Strike – Don’t know if this would make your job easier or harder, but could you assign your fleet into sub-groups before the battle (maybe by boxing them off in the deployment screen); these sub-groups could then work in unison and allow for ships to complement each other better. Say, group a couple shield-killers in a formation with some anti-hull ships, or make sure an anti-missile boat always stays close to some more vulnerable ships.

    Hope some of this is helpful!

  8. Will every ship have shields? I think we have been assuming that there will be multiple modes of defense (shields and armor) as well as replenishers (armor repairers and shield regenerators) available for each side.

    If shields will not be on every ship, you have multiple outs. I think the best solution would be to have shield killer torpedoes. Bombs that detonate in a high energy explosion, overwhelming shields and taking them down temporarily. It would be even better if the AI could coordinate to alpha strike when shields are down, but I think shield killer missiles on their own would be sufficient.

    Penetration weapons would also be a good way to go around it. Project Excalibur (and the Honor Harrington series) use this method: Bomb Pumped X-Ray Lasers. Essentially, a nuclear bomb is filtered through a lensing material to create an incredibly powerful X-Ray laser. This would be a great “Hits the target despite the shield” weapon.

    Now, if shields are a part of every ship, you have a much bigger problem. In that case, your best bet is to do a bunch of balancing to find lower shield values, particularly for regeneration. Anything that stops shields from regenerating or reduces the penetration threshold would become an automatic purchase, and what fun would that be? I believe before you mentioned that fighters flying into a shield could shoot the ship directly: That is one out, but if that is the only one then point defense lasers become mandatory.

    Have you considered the option of suicide runs? If your ships are stalemated, crashing your ship into their ship to take down their shields is a good way to go. It punishes you for bad decision making (losing that much value and that many pilots, I assume that is how scores are valued) but it also lets you break a stalemate without having to restart a level.

    I am against the idea of allowing battles to be commanded, but allowing a couple of broad orders to be sent would be in flavor with the admiral position. Coordinate for Alpha Strike, Kamikaze, Retreat, etc. would add a little tactical value without turning it into an RTS. Maybe. Im not playtesting it, yet.

  9. “The code to unlock levels as you go along is broken”

    When I read this I thought GSB employed a password system for unlocking levels, as in you were given a password to access that level in the future. Code, password, get it? Oh man, you had me scared for a second.

  10. i always thought that was a great feature of cannon fodder/lemmings etc. and it did mean you could continue where you’d gotten to on another machine.

  11. Two ideas for shield stalemate:

    1- Scarring: Once a ship takes damage to its shields, it can only recharge to x%, rather than 100%. The more damage taken (and recharged), the lower the maximum shield points. Probably would wreck all kinds of balancing mechanics made so far =)

    2- Scarring of the recharge system: I admit I haven’t been paying super close attention to the mechanics so far, so forgive me if this is just way off the mark;
    As shields take damage and recharge, the rate at which they replenish themselves goes down. Eventually one of the stalemate ships wouldn’t be able to replenish the shields fast enough to counter the other’s attack. Bit of a grind, though. .

  12. i like the idea of specific weapons and or tools to disable shields.

    if you do not come prepared for battle why should you be able to win ?

  13. Do we have bombers? If so, you could make bombers able to penetrate shields. And if it doesn’t take too much time, you could give orders to bomber squadrons such as “Target the Engines/Target the Shield Generators.”

    If that’s too hard, then could you maybe allow the ships to carry missiles/torpedoes?

    Also, I’m new, and hi.

  14. If the program could accurately predict stalemates, I wouldn’t have a problem being shown an ominous “STALEMATE” message and losing the scenario.

    With that said, I also like the idea of state of the battle becoming more heated, desperate, and unstable as time passes to prevent things from becoming boring and predictable. Negative random events could occur with greater probability the longer the battle persists, shields fail, engines overheat.

    This game looks like great fun, regardless =)

  15. Hi cliffski, just picked up on the shield recharge rate, do you have a ship based power source?

    With a power source, then recharging the ships would drain the power levels as would damage repair, firing, and the power sources themselves could be damaged ect…

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