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

On the beta version of the GSB2 ship visuals editor

Sooo. this is a post about the feature in Gratuitous Space Battles 2 that lets you edit the design of your ships. The game is in beta now, and I’m getting people actually playing it properly, so I thought I’d talk a bit about this feature, and ask for some feedback.

Personally, I think this is one of the coolest things about the whole game. It’s one thing to fight a battle with lots of cool looking ships in, but it’s another to actually design you own and then send them into battle. For the seven year old me who first saw Star Wars at the movies, this is a dream come true. I can spend a lot of time tweaking the position of a radar, or pipe or fin or spinning widget on a space battleship. That’s what life is all about.

For those currently without the game here is a screenshot so we are on the same page:


What I’m asking for is some feedback about how you find the editor. I know it has it’s bugs. The composite creation stuff can lose Z-values, and I’ll fix that soon. I know people also want a snap to center feature, and type able values. I guess I’m wondering how people are using it. Are you using the mouse wheel and shirt/ctrl to do the rotating and scaling? it’s TONS easier and faster. Are you using the arrow keys to nudge items a set amount around the screen? Do you mirror items one at a time or design half the ship then drag select and mirror them all?

Do you think there are enough components? if not, what is missing? are you actually using the composite functionality much? I should point out today’s incoming patch fixes a lot of issues, such as hiding unavailable color-tint layers, and fixing the rotation speed of objects being represented wrong. It also fixes loses your design by hitting the ‘shouldn’t-be-there’ main menu button. I know people would like to place components ‘under’ the hull, which may be technically problematic, but I’ll have to investigate.

I’m definitely looking forward to running a few ‘who can design the best ship’ competitions once the game is released, and I also look forward to one day having some free time and getting a chance to really play with this feature a bit more myself. Also…modders will hopefully use it a lot :D. In the meantime, pre-order the game to get access to the beta on PC right now…


10 thoughts on On the beta version of the GSB2 ship visuals editor

  1. Another thing is i like the ship’s windows thing. But currently there is only one big row of windows available. Would be nice if also smaller or even individual window to add to the hull.

  2. Text on the hull would be very cool.

    The ability to save and share visual designs is something I’d like to see as well. I realize you can do this by designing a new ship based on an old ship build but being able to save just the visual components of the build separately and then being able to copy them onto an existing build with the same hull would be make using the visual design editor something I’d be much more excited about using. As it is I add a few contrails to fighters to make it easier to find them during battle and that’s about it.

    1. Hmmm that is very interesting indeed. I should look into an option to just copy the components from an existing design within the editor. I’ve experimented with text on ship hulls, I need to find more time to do that, along with decals.

  3. The only real issue I’ve had with it is when components are layered over each other, picking the right one can be very fiddly. I ended up deleting about half my ship just so I could click the proper box last night.

  4. “picking the right one can be very fiddly”

    Maybe scroll wheel could be used to “scroll” the select list:

    1. scroll wheel moved – increase mouse dead zone up to some pixel-res indepedent radius (to avoid changes in the item list if mouse moves while scrolling the wheel) if not already
    2. select & highlight next active object in the list out of items near the dead zone
    3. repeat from 1

    Not really needed but perfectionist would sort the list after translation so that scrolling down would select object lower on the screen…(easier to comprehend than z-axis scroll which would look really random if there was a bunch of items clustered in same area)

  5. Another approach would be to use scroll wheel to zoom in enough to be able to distinguish better what object is selected. I haven’t got the game yet so I can’t say whether this would solve the issues alone (the earlier approach is bound to work even if the objects are perfectly on top of each other – the zoom won’t help there at all).

    Yet another approach that works for any amount of stacked flat items: create virtual “handles” around the radius in which the items are stacked and highlight those handle zones.

  6. (the comments was closed at the post more relevant so I’ll slap this here)
    I was just searching for info about steam sweatshop (haven’t tried it) and found their press article saying there’s now two 3rd party games with ability for modders to get paid. The quoted numbers average to $9500/year, probably few making lot more and most lot less as usual if they can be trusted (uber was quoting some drivers making $97k/year but some blog asking around found that it was at best $30k year).

    The really interesting thing about this is as always, how does the demand discover the supply and pricing and IP stuff. According to personality tests I’m a writer/artist/producer type but I’m also very low risk taker. The whole idea of doing something and having no fool proof guarantee of payment and good way to discover what the market is willing to bear seems just too much of a gamble so I’ve never pursued career in any of what those tests suggest I might be good at.

    Another issue is. Lets say I spent hilariously long time to pick the best color out of 16.7M colors. Now if people turn out to agree that it’s indeed a really pleasing color for the purpose I’m using it, how can I get any money from that effort? This whole artist business just doesn’t make any sense to me. Yesterday I tried to actually solve this problem after solving another eternal problem – designing a game concept with infinite scaling potential and content of compelling quality in a natural way (hint: good/bad content is both created and destroyed by the players through economic incentivization to preserve the high value content (as appraised by players with taste for quality using similar methods to detect cheaters as used by tax man) – whose creators and or owners get paid best). The players would be in few different categories depending on what they most spend time doing – so naturally the most artistic players would be weeded out statistically and then their actions would have more weight on how things are sorted – rather the Apple Store-ranking scam/news of “chinese woman in front of 100 ipads – wonder what she is doing”.

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