Hi everybody ! In this update I would like to come back on the state of the project as well as our plans and schedule for this year.
We’ve recently announced our permanent beta launch on the 9th of February for Lunar backers or above. For the full details, check this thread on our forums:
The choice for the date has been tricky. As you may be aware the game isn’t feature complete yet. However we feel that beta backers have been waiting for a long time already and Keith will be mostly unavailable between mid-February and March (he’s preparing his wedding), so the next window of opportunity would have been April which was too late.
The other problem is that we still need to invest a significant amount of time on the user interface / menu system, as many of the remaining game features have a dependency on it (like the star map, missions screen or equipment upgrades). This will likely take weeks, during which there will be no further patch or gameplay changes. This is currently scheduled to start right after the beta launch, so starting mid February there will be a period with a slowdown on development news / patches until the first version of the UI is ready, probably around early April.
In the short term, for the beta launch, development will focus on the AI and flight model updates, finishing up the capital ships control scheme and weapons systems, and tentatively the return of the asteroid belts. I originally wanted to publish an intermediate patch for the flight model updates, but the AI changes have been pretty complex so in the end the next patch is scheduled for early February, right before the beta access.
Once April comes, we will be focusing our efforts on implementing the last remaining gameplay systems. We have been working hard on this game for many years and as you can imagine, delaying the game to 2020 simply isn’t possible any more for a lot of reasons so we’re currently targetting a form of launch or another after mid summer. We’re going to evaluate our development status around May-June to decide if we go for an Early access or directly for a full release. It is pretty likely to be an Early access though as we still have a lot of work to finish and content to add before Battlescape could be called a full game.
In other development news, the AI behavior / boids changes are almost finished. I’m pretty happy with the way things are turning out. Battles certainly look more structured and interesting than before. There is still one blocker: I’ve entirely reworked the priority / targetting systems, so that capital ships favor attacking other capital ships (rather than often trying to chase a lonely interceptor, like in the current public version… sigh… ) and interceptors favor attacking other interceptors or bombers.
One thing isn’t work out too well yet: bombers. Due to interceptors having a higher priority towards attacking them, bombers often get “ganged up” by tons of enemy interceptors at the beginning of the battle. It is pretty hard to find good parameters / weights to the heuristics formula so that interceptors have a higher priority towards attacking bombers, but aren’t ganging up too quickly on them either.
On the art side, Dan’s still working on collision meshes. Once all collision meshes are ready, we’ll implement more refined intersections for projectiles (using the collision mesh instead of the bounding box). It will look more pleasing visually too but I wonder how this will impact hit accuracy when a player is firing at a distant interceptor (it is easier to hit a big bounding box, than an actual mesh with a more complex shape). This means that we’ll probably have to rebalance the small ships weapons and/or interceptor stats at some point.
Kristian has finished texturing the cruiser or almost. He still has to generate a UV map for ambient occlusion and color map skins. We should be able to present some renders in the next update. Our goal is to have all ships texturing finished (or close to) by April.
Jan is still doing a lot of misc work, related to improving geometry / texturing on station modules, experimenting with new particle effects, importing new weapons meshes (we now have the assets for laser countermeasures and missile/torpedo launchers for capital ships) and more.