Shallow Space lives on! Confused? Explanation here.
We're currently working on the strategy layer that we previously sketched up and progress is swift. It's not pretty (yet) but functionally it's starting to represent the vision. You can see in the header image we have built a wider play area - a section of so-called shallow space.
As we mentioned the 'terrain' is all procedurally generated, but rather than the whole thing being random, we specify areas on the strategy map for cluster types or faction areas and those manual selections act as parameters for the sector generator. This works as expected with sectors feeling like they have some continuity rather than just being completely random.
Fleets can jump around between the sectors as expected and multiple Players can connect to the prototype and fly around. It sort-of works like a giant game of realtime multidimensional chess, only on a board with 68,800 squares. We're heading towards getting some background traffic up and running and giving the Players the ability to manage fleets and purchase ships, we might actually get to play with some ship models again soon!
It's the race to a minimum viable product, a somewhat crappy looking cross section, after that we can hammer it with bots, stress the bejesus out of it and get some mates to play it and get some external feedback.
On the tactical side, nothing much has changed. We've made the sectors much bigger to accommodate additional traffic. The greyed out fleets in the image above are other actual Players, the whole client/server experience is coming along well and seems to work pretty solid.
It might feel like we have completed the bulk of it but there's still much to do, the faction and team design is actually pretty complicated and requires extensive testing. It's not enough to just put Players and NPCs on single faction teams, we need to allow for in-fighting (that not-so-fabulous human trait) and for Players to form unlikely alliances.
In addition, it's not a game yet - the controls, camera, everything needs work to mould it into something playable. We're racing through it because we're keeping the focus very narrow, not deviating from plan for desire nor glory, and that pace seems to be working well for us - this time we'll polish only when we're solid on the mechanics.
It's interesting that where we're heading is somewhere in-between the open-world overhaul and the original Shallow Space prototype. Things will be a lot less chaotic in this latest version and it'll be much easier to turn into a game.
We managed to dig up this screenshot from the archives.
This time multiplayer has forced our hand with some key design decisions and this time, it feels like it'll be much easier to put the Strategy in this RTS.
So the ball keeps on rolling, it's the good old days again - although more way back when we were figuring things out, before we got sucked into the early access trap ...
... it's less of a business and back to being a labour of love.