This week we released two short videos showcasing some of the recent updates from the alpha version. First of all, the station destruction propagation effect. For demonstration purposes, the whole station explodes as soon as a single module is destroyed, however in game the players need to reach a destruction threshold before this actually happens. If you watch carefully you’ll see how modules explode after one another until the whole station is damaged:
In this second video, you can see the Glimmerfall asteroid station / factory hybrid that was mentionned in last week’s update:
Last week I also mentionned that we started to work on haulers. At the moment, factories generate credits directly at a certain rate per minute. These credits get stored in a team-shared pool and redistributed to players and to the AI commander every once in a while. Once we introduce haulers, this will change. Instead of generating credits directly, factories will instead spawn a hauler controlled by the AI that will fly to other stations / bases in the star system. When they reach their destination they will turn their internal cargo resources into credits for the team. So one of the ways to get an advantage over the enemy team is to destroy their haulers in order to shut down some of their credits income. This will also provide more dynamic objectives and points of conflicts between the players.
There are basically three steps to implement them. The first step is generating a realistic navigation path between the factory hangar and the destination installation ( most likely a space station ) hangar. This path must be generated in a smart way. A straight line would be no good, maybe passing through the center of the planet if the destination is on the other side.
Bomber flying near a land base
The second step is to make the hauler AI fly along the path and react to being under attack ( sending a distress signal and trying to flee ). This should be relatively easy, as the existing bots can already do that to some extent. One issue is that the distance between the factory and the destination might be very far away ( potentially tens of thousands of Kilometers ), so flying the hauler at low conventional speeds ( < 1 km / s ) means it could take hours for a single hauler to reach its objective. This is no good either as we want to generate credits for the team on a pretty regular basis, every few minutes; so even if there are many haulers flying around, it’d still take too much time to gather credits.
Instead of flying at conventional speed all the way, haulers will enter warp after flying at conventional speed for a few minutes. Enemy players will have to force them out of warp. We’re currently figuring out the mechanics for that, but for our initial implementation we are planning on introducing an active warp interdiction system where you press a key to deploy a warp-jam field around your ship for a few seconds and force any enemy within that range to warp out. Only corvettes or capital ships will be equipped with this device, so that an interceptor cannot force a bigger ship out of warp.
Land-base on another planet
More news on the implementation of haulers next week. I currently have no ETA for the next patch including haulers, so I do not guarantee that it will be available this week-end.