Developer Blog #7 - Major systems, Combat and UI

This week we focused on completing the ability and skill system, inventory system, mission/story system, translation transitions, fleet formations and UI sound effects.

We are still hard at work developing a playable version of FTC. The combat system and navigation is proving to be a challenge, which we will be sure to overcome in the following weeks.

Lead Programmer

This week, I'm continuing my efforts in the combat mechanics and other components required to achieve our goal of a playable demo at the end of this month. 

I've been busy working on a compatibility randomised point movement that pre-defines movement paths for our ships to follow that are compatible with each other. I'm also looking into giving ships real world physics in space and waypoints they can follow along a path. I've started my implementation of real combat with turrets locking targets, aiming and firing at each other. These are the first baby steps to hopefully some good gameplay.

In other news, Unity 2017.1 released with a bunch of new tools we're excited to test and maybe implement into FTC. The first one being timeline and cinemachine. Unfortunately, I was unable to create footage demonstrating some new gameplay this week because I was caught up learning how to use the new tools.

Expect a new video on Monday with a showcase of our new warping sequence and movement modules. 

Lead Designer

My primary focus this week was completing the ability and skill system. For the full feature demo we plan 102 basic abilities, skills and modifiers. As development progresses and other factions are released, more abilities and skills will be revealed.

Abilities have a few general groups including attacks, point defense, special abilities and toggles. 

Attacks are abilities that modify turrets, launchers and spirrets (energy turrets). Attacks require certain types of weapons and replace the weapon auto attack with a special attack. There will be 9 attack abilities in the demo. Attack abilities become inoperable if the operations compartment is damaged or destroyed.

Point defense are abilities that modify point defense weapons. Unlike weapon abilities, point defense cannot be targeted - only activated. There will be 6 point defense abilities in the demo. Point defense abilities become inoperable if the bridge is damaged or destroyed.

Special abilities are abilities that rely on specialist bays and include things like teleportation, repair and electronic warfare. Special abilities require bays of a certain type and become inoperable if those bays are damaged. There will be 24 special abilities in the demo.

Toggles are abilities that are always on when activated. Unlike other abilities, toggles reserve a certain amount of energy instead of using it per use. There will be 18 toggles in the demo.

Skills, unlike abilities, rely on the crew to activate and use. The effectiveness of skills is based on the attributes of the crew. Skills are weaker than abilities, but last longer. There will be 15 skills in the demo.

Modifiers or support staff, are personnel that can be attached to abilities to change their damage or add additional effects. There will be 30 modifiers in the demo.

These abilities, skills and modifiers will give players a wide variety of options in customising their fleet and playstyle. 

Another thing I looked at this week was damage types and effects.

In FTC, there are many ways to cripple or destroy enemy ships, but your fleet is just as vulnerable as the enemy.

There are three aspects which players need to guard against when considering their crew. Oxygen depletion, temperature and psychological health. As oxygen depletes, crew become weaker and start to take damage. If temperature becomes too high or too low, crew can also weaken and take damage. Finally, things like a shaking hull, sudden attacks or special internal weapons can cause damage psychologically to crew, which also weaken their ability to fight effectively.

These are all things the player needs to be aware of when entering combat.

Damage types also give players options as to how to dispatch of enemies. Some damage types like Radiant do more front-load damage, but have weaker after effects, making it a better choice for outright damage. Other damage types like Kinetic are weaker, but have strong damage effects that can severely weaken ships. 

Managing these damage types will be important within the game, because not all enemies will be affected by them and some will be very vulnerable to certain damage types.

Fleet formations play a major role in how the enemy AI chooses to engage the player and how weapon firing arcs are resolved. 

A unique aspect of FTC is that weapons have limited firing arcs and depending on how ships are arranged will determine the optimal amount of fire being thrown at the enemy. 

Hiding vulnerable ships behind bigger ships is also an option for players. This allows a great level of diversity in building a fleet and deciding how to arrange ships, their weapons and abilities. 

I hope you have enjoyed this weeks update. There is still plenty of work to do and we look forward to delivering a game that exceeds everything that has come before. 


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