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FireShard
January 7, 2013 - Nimion

I figured it was time divulge a little more information on two features of Fireshard. The first will be over death and the second will be over my decision to make the game as mod friendly as possible.

Death
In most games death is just a temporary reset in the gameplay. In many cases this just means some lost time on the player's part (which typically comes along with player frustration if death happens
frequently). So in developing Fireshard I had a couple of options regarding what to do with the issue of death.

· Keep the status quo
· Full permadeath
· Partial permadeath

Keep The Status Quo
This one involved doing quick saves before the player leaves a warp relay. Doing so would minimize the maximum amount of loss-able progress.

Full Permadeath
Once the player bites the dust that's it. They would have to start a fresh new game, although over all progress (achievements, scores, game unlocks) would be preserved.

Partial Permadeath
On the destruction of the player's ship it becomes a wreck for a couple of minutes. By some magical story element the player is found and brought back to the Earth spacedock, given a new ship (just like if they had started), and can continue to play. If the player finds and investigates their wreck, they may be able to retrieve some equipment models and some credits/salvage, but not all of it.

I have opted for the partial permadeath for a number of reasons. First off, the game design initially called for full permadeath, but the more I develop and play the game I realized the core gameplay is not short enough for full permadeath to be friendly for many players. This does not mean I dropped full permadeath, as it will be implemented as an optional choice to select when choosing the games difficulty level.

Modability
Everyone likes mods right? Hell I started my trek into the game scene creating all sizes of mods for games I enjoyed. I figured it would be a great idea to make Fireshard as moddable as possible. This means many of the game files will be in human-readable XML format (events, ships, solar systems, sectors, even the galaxy map and others). The game will feature a mods directory whose file structure will mimic the main file structure. Any modified XML files placed in the mods folder will be loaded instead of the games defaults. This would allow for the player to modify/add new playable ships, add new sectors and solar systems to the galaxy map (even create a whole new one if they desire), add their own jump in encounters, system encounters, and story missions.

Overall development of the game is moving at a modest pace and I hope *crosses fingers* to have a playable demo for people to enjoy 4 to 6 months from now! Until then I'll continue with my feature updates, progress shots, and maybe a video or two!

December 18, 2012 - Nimion

Since its the Christmas season I thought it would be a nice little gift to throw up a few screen shots of how development is coming.

I've added 4 new shots:

Galaxy Map:
I have done away with the close up camera movement enabled map in favor of a top down version. There are multiple reasons for this, the biggest being that it was hard to get a lot of information on screen due to the white additive texture maps I started started to put in. I spent more time trying to arrange the elements then actually working on the maps functionality. The new look allows me to easily add context sensitive information without having to worry about it being in the 3D world.

Local Cluster Map:
This is the first view of the star clusters, and the second place the player will see once they select and enter a destination from the galaxy map. The player has full control over their ship to fly around the cluster and visit nearby star systems. The large blue icon in the middle is a place holder for the jump gate that takes the player to the galaxy map.

Sol System:
Very similar to the older interface shots, but I am going through another restructuring of the UI (user interaction is of importance of my book). Like the cluster maps, the player has the ability to roam the system, get into fights, scan planets & space objects, and just explore around.

Sol System but on the moment of jump in:
Whenever a player jumps into a star system, their co-pilot notifies them of anything of importance immediately (getting ambushed at the gate, a trader wants to sell you items, or maybe nothing of importance at all). These events are called jump encounters and the types & frequency of them vary system by system. In this shot you can see that I have accepted an offer from an Erolodion Equipment Merchant to view his stock. ...As you can see he likes to see the exact same thing at the moment! Also the colors indicate the rarity of the item from "Common" to "You'll probably never find one. Ever."

Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek!

December 17, 2012 - Nimion

For those of you who have been emailing me asking how the game is progressing and such, I have added a page on my website www.redgeargames.com called Developer Changelog. This page displays a raw rss feed dump from my SVN changelog. You will be able to keep up-to-date with my commits every night, what I have accomplished, my todos, and even get a sneak peek at the files being uploaded.

Please remember that this is the RAW rss feed data. Between Wix not having a proper RSS application and Assembla not really liking to display a private projects information I had to settle on using the raw rss data. If/When I can get it into a nice and neat feed, I will. Until then, enjoy the transparency of data! One more side note, I may not commit EVERY night, I do commits when I have accomplished my little sprints I set out for the day - most days I complete them.

November 24, 2012 - Nimion

If you take a look at the main page, you'll see that I've updated it with the most recent game play screenshot, although the UI is currently incomplete. I have also taken the comments and suggestions to heart and worked the combat system to be a conglomeration of the two methods I was considering.

How Combat Works
Whenever a target is in range, enemy or otherwise, you can select in the target window. From here you can select a weapon from your weapon group and fire on the target – including their subsystems. Your ship will continue firing at the target until you specify otherwise by deactivating the weapon. There are two ways to control your ship during combat.

Manual Control: This control scheme is exactly the same as if you were not in combat.
Computer Control: This control scheme is dictated by the commands given to it. There will be multiple command options, orbit target, keep X distance, close in on target, etc. The computer will do its best to keep active & ready to fire weapons facing the enemy while obeying its current command.

Using Weapons
Each weapon will have a cool down period after it fires and this cool down can very from a very short duration, to a very long duration. All weapons also use up capacitor power, so firing a boat load of weapons at once can quickly drain your ships energy reserves. The capacitor is continually recharging, and if there is not enough capacitor power when a weapon goes to fire, the weapon will wait until there is enough of a charge.

Damage Types
All weapons, shields, and hulls are affected by damage types differently. The damage types that will be in the game are as follows:
Kinetic
Explosive
Electromagnetic
Plasma
Positron

Each weapon will deal either a single damage type or a mixture of types. The reverse is true for shields and hulls; they will mitigate the damage done by specific damage types.

The Anti-Electron Missile does a mixture of Explosive and Positron damage, specifically 60% explosive based, 40% positron based. The damage done will vary depending on the quality of launcher that is found within the world, but for this example the same launcher does 100 damage per missile. This means that the 100 damage will be split up into 60 as explosive and 40 as positron.

The Vega Shield Emitter has the following stats:
Shield Strength: 325
Shield Regeneration 1.2/s
Kinetic 15%
Explosive 35%
Electromagnetic -25%
Plasma 12%
Positron 80%

When the Anti-Electron missile impacts the shield it will mitigate 60 explosion damage to 39 and 40 positron damage to 8. This means that the shield will take a total of 47 damage and be left with 278.

You may have noticed that the Vega Shield has a NEGATIVE resistance to electromagnetic based weapons. A negative resistance means the hull or shield will take INCREASED damage from that type. It will be best to keep track of what damage types your ship will be able to tank and which ones will do the maximum damage.

Collecting Loot
When a ship explodes it may leave behind loot. This loot can be in the form of lost credits, salvage, working ship equipment, skill chips, or even a star map fragment. Loot will appear in the target window, selecting the loot and clicking the tractor button will store the loot inside your ships cargo hold. You will not be able to collect loot if you are out of your tractor beams range or if your cargo hold is full. If the ships cargo hold is full, there will always be the option to jettison cargo back into space.

The game still has a very long way to go. Currently the Sol system is the center of the universe (meaning I have not implemented the other systems yet). However, the Galaxy Map -> Cluster -> Solar System mechanics will be my next update! Keep following, tell your friends, tweet about it, and continue to send me emails! <3

November 18, 2012 - Nimion

As I promised, I wanted to develop this game alongside those who would eventually be playing it! Here is your chance to affect the development of FireShard in a major way – the combat system. I have two different systems in mind and am torn between which one to implement. Below you will find a short description of how the system works and a very rough mock up of the interface. Head on over to www.redgeargames.com, goto the community section and vote! Feel free to ask questions & make comments!

Combat Method 1 – Fast, Action, Twitch
The first combat method would be akin to a Freelancer/Freespace style. The player would have full control over their ship in 3D space with roll, yaw, and pitch. They would engage targets one by one with the ability to target subsystems if desired (or if a mission called for it). The player would also be able to select and assign weapon groups to manage their capacitor and DPS ability in addition to modifying their subsystem boost distribution at will.


[stephenpanagiotis.com]


Combat Method 2 – Strategy based, slower, reactive
The second combat method would be a mesh between Eve Online & FTL. The player and enemy ships would engage in battle in full 3D space but the player would not have control over the roll, yaw, and pitch. Instead, they would be able to specify targets to orbit/close in on/stay away from. This method also allows for the engagement of multiple targets at once, splitting your ships weapons fire between multiple enemies. Just like combat method 1, it would allow the targeting of individual subsystems and subsystem boost distribution.

[stephenpanagiotis.com]

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