Still here working on the game client; super keen at the moment so progress is quite rapid. This time we've adopted some software development best practices to remain focused.

Before we sit down to code or design anything, we white board a small series of related game elements. The area of focus is purposefully kept small, maybe a week or few days work, so it's not overwhelming.

We call this a 'sprint' and it's the number one method to keep software developers focused. Without it, devs will tend to work on whatever they feel like at the time and we'll normally always end up working on stuff that doesn't really matter or end up chasing our tails - ahem.

After each sprint we'll write about what we've done here on the blog.

It won't be too detailed - the posts are mainly to give you confidence the project is still moving and they'll also hopefully give you some idea of where we're going with this.

So in this sprint we're finishing off item placement within the tactical areas.

This is purely superficial stuff, we just want to make sure that the server is procedurally generating the sectors without overlapping the features, and we want to make sure we can move ships around and engage in some basic combat with all the comms between the client and server working OK.

So far, so good on that front.

One lesson we learnt from the previous Shallow Space clients is that procedurally generated levels are quite tricky to get right, it's not enough to throw all the components into a play area (much like the header image,) that gets boring really quickly.

So this time we're going to generate the sectors with some topography in mind.

In the image above we revisit the concept that we introduced in the previous 'block wars' article and draw on it a bit more.

It looks bad but it's clear at least, expect the real thing to look very different.

Number 1 represents a faction area, the areas in the centre might contain the majority of that factions stations orbiting this particular planet, with the outskirts containing less stations and more patrol or attack fleets.

The number 2 areas might represent asteroid fields, the centre tactical areas might contain a higher density of roid clusters than the outskirts making them more difficult to traverse and richer in resources.

The idea is to cut the strategy map into terrain if you like, so we get choke points and areas of contention, but also sparse sectors for Players to occupy - all the things that a good strategy game needs.

Doesn't look too pretty at the moment but these are just concepts right now - we like to think of it as authentic programmer art!

Fear not, it won't be long before it looks like this again:

Tempting right? It is for us too... But all in good time, let's get the basics right first.

So next sprint we're going to turn that tactical layer mockup into reality and build in that sector generator. The server is start to feel a bit slow when running 100+ sectors so there might be a bit of work required there to setup some monitoring and find out the issue.

Sounds like it could be the subject of our next article...

Until next time!