Space Capsule Games

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Welcome to the Alpha One Developer Log!

Here I make monthly updates as to what I am actively doing to release this game.
Thoughts are written down quick and dirty so please forgive typos and such.
Enjoy!


DevLog #35 - D-Fence |||||

By jobel –  Feb, 2022

  • LOTS of changes this month which pushes the build back a bit. But after meeting with designers last month I wanted to add some of the results of that into the next build.
  • More playtesting revealed how the RPS (Rock/Paper/Scissors) system was a bit lacking as it didn’t apply to orbital stations giving the attacking ship a HUGE advantage.  While it was previously balanced well, it didn’t feel great to be getting pummeled by a tech you had the means to defend. Giving orbital stations the ability to create a load-out (in a sense) with having up to 8 turrets, you can choose which tech to have on there.
  • Introducing new defense-shield turrets that apply a specific defense (energy/metal/gas) to the orbital.
  • AI needed lots of updates to now decide when to build these turrets and how to manage them.
  • New art was added
  • New ship defense mechanic. Previously the defense could be up for 8 seconds max, and would cool down if you turned it off. If it reached max rate then it would go down on a “forced cooldown” and you were forced to wait a full 4 seconds for it to cooldown. This has now been changed. 
  • Now the defense system is up indefinitely and takes damage that is applied to it. The defense can absorb a certain amount of damage before it needs to go on forced cooldown. The rate at which is dissipates the dmg is increased if there has been no damage over 4 seconds.
  • Another overhauled system is the “system selection/enter” on the main map.  Before it was driven by the system you selected, now the player has about 5 different map icons they can interact with and give orders to via a popup menu: your Alpha One ship, your main Orbital Base, your outposts, your outpost ships (before you deploy outpost), Gunships for management and Long Range Satellites (LRRDs).  This was kind of a huge change that has far reaching effects and took most of the month to do.  I expect there to still be some issues that pop up here and there.


DevLog #34 - Back to the drawing board (temporarily)

By jobel –  Jan, 2022

  • I met with 4 different game designers (shout out to them for graciously donating their time to help me out!).  I met with each of these 4 designers separately and presented my Rock/Paper/Scissors and general game flow/game arch to determine what it lacks or where it needs help in making Alpha One a full game experience with lots of replayability.
  • All the responses I got were surprisingly similar. I had lots of positive feedback and all the critiques were along the lines of making added mechanics like “relics” or mods that add transformative mechanics that can turn the game on its head.
  • Up until now I have shied away from things like “status effects” (slows, buffs, debuffs, stuns etc..) but I always envisioned the game having this 1v1 type of showdown.  And since I’m leaning toward “abilities” I do think that character “mods” or “items” are a good way to add this.
  • Another suggestion was to make random map events which I had on the drawing board previously, but I guess I wasn’t thinking about the big picture of a player playing this game 100 times and needing variation. It sort of got tabled until further notice.
  • bug fixes, art updates


DevLog #33 - Winner, winner, tofu dinner

By jobel –  Dec, 2021

  • Win conditions are now fully in the game (geez it only took 2 years!). Currently there are 2 ways to win, but  a 3rd could come soon – still testing it.
  • Fixed map incomes showing and organizing UI elements for QoL
  • Slight tweaking to the defense controls, making it a toggle which seems to work better and not overwhelm the player with too much to do at once. Also experimenting with a dmg meter for what it can absorb before cooling down – but this could be more of a late game balancing issue
  • many onboarding bug fixes and issues resolved.
  • added tooltips – now with full mouse functionality, hovering is a great way to help hint to the player


DevLog #32 - mouse in da house

By jobel –  Nov, 2021

  • Now with the new mouse controls I am experimenting with some MOBA-like controls and thinking more about giving the player “abilities” like “Dash”, “Block” etc..
  • Again I experimented with a “look” camera.  I can’t quite get it right without it becoming something that could make the player sick.  The main reason I want it, is for enemies at the edge of the screen. I will put this on hold and revisit later.
  • new SFX for FTL jump, leaving level, map reveal and dashing (and more I am forgetting)
  • lots and lots of bug fixes


DevLog #31 - Cue the cue system

By jobel –  Oct, 2021

  • Had to completely overhaul the cue system.  I needed a robust system that could display messages, pause the action and provide onscreen prompts or information for tutorial onboarding AND normal gameplay tips.  Since things can always happen out of sequence it was getting to the point where I couldn’t just code it with normal logic.  So I implemented a cue system that has helped make future messaging MUCH easier to implement.
  • Lots of play testing has been done.  base battles are still not where I want them.  the challenge here is giving proper power to which resources you control.
  • NPC ships now taunt the player.  One of the issues I have been having is giving a player the sense that they are fighting over a system (territory) even after they’ve cleared the system, they still haven’t “won” that system, they need to claim it and build an outpost.  but they of course cannot build until they have enough. So in the early game it could be that you have to repeatedly do the same level in order to earn enough to expand.  It didn’t feel great on the map itself to just return to the same system.  Adding narrative seems to help more.  More has to be done, but this is just the beginning.
  • The game colors continue to evolve and become more fine tuned.  Even though that is a polish level activity, it really helps me creatively to start being able to see what the game is going to look like.


DevLog #30 - I'm content with making content

By jobel –  Sept, 2021

  • I’m making steady progress towards an early beta. I started making the “Campaign” of maps that you will play and progress through.  this has been a GREAT exercise in really distilling the game loop and really isolates the basics of the game. Only because Map #1 is very simple.  Only 4 systems, you own 1 and the enemy owns 1.  You each can expand to one and then you duke it out and race to win.
  • As a result I have found SO MANY tiny bugs or not even bugs, just things I forgot to code!  So this has been such a great stress test and it has me feeling very confident going forward.
  • I’ve decided to add mouse controls back into the game – originally it was only going to be mouse for UI, but now I realize the game is pretty fun using mouse&keys.  Controller was always the optimal, but honestly the more I play it and add abilities and aiming.  mouse and keys lends to it so much better.  I will still support controller, but no longer keyboard only.
  • Through creating my Map #1, I am making tools that can be leveraged to make a map editor for the game, which is pretty damn cool.  I feel this should add a lot of play value to the game.
  • I’ve been working with a UX design for the past month and I am learning so much it’s been great! honestly its great to have a set of eyes I can get lengthy feedback from in a regularly scheduled call.  It’s been a life send!


DevLog #29 - ♫"Vacation, all I ever wanted, Vacation, had to get away..." ♫

By jobel –  August, 2021

  • this month I took a two week vacation (sort of), so it was good to get away from the game a bit, although the danger I always run is being able to get back “in deep” after being away – its not easy!
  • applied to the Astra Fund although fully not expecting to even be noticed since alpha one is not the kind of game that gets picked. I tried to make a case that in order to play alpha one you are required to think a few steps ahead (like chess) and you need to do some quick maths to know if something in X amount of turns would be a) affordable b) cost effective and/or c) the correct counter strategy.  I guess this sort of highlights the woe that is explaining the core mechanic of the game.  After trying to explain this its clear I need to do a second trailer highlighting the core strategy of alpha one.
  • squashed many more bugs introduced by the “double header system” and fixed some turret bugs
  • added some visual updates like enemy collection “+1” numbers and lrrd animations (map drones that provide vision of systems out of range)
  • NEW CHANGE: orbital systems now have resources when being attacked – previously I had made it so that you had to destroy the orbital base in order to steal resources from an opponent’s system (since the base was already taking all the resources from that system see DevLog#14).  The main reason this felt bad is this discouraged attacks since you were essentially “losing” a turn of production unless you overtook the orbital.  And since orbitals have big health pools and defenses, there was almost no point in attacking until you were much stronger. So now you can do hit-and-run tactics: avoid combat and try to take as many resources and deny the orbital.
  • NEW CHANGE: orbitals also get a buff with a non-destroyable RBT cannon. Its not fun to be defending a base without anything.  Yes you can use gunships, but they can be destroyed or worse, you may not have built any! 
  • NEW CHANGE: orbitals now spawn collector drones, this makes it much more competitive for any attacker to steal a system’s resources. They of course can destroy the drone, but a new one is deployed every 8 seconds. (there’s only one out at a time)
  • next month I will be working towards an early playtest beta!

DevLog #28 - trailer time!

By jobel –  July, 2021

  • created game trailer music with a rough idea of what I wanted the trailer to be
  • then I started working on the trailer putting in temp shots/caps
  • realized the music needed to change because I wasn’t spending the correct amount of time on what I wanted to highlight in the game
  • when I was happy with the music layout I then had loads of trouble capping good shots – this was one of the hardest parts! I had lots of feedback that helped me focus on what was important in a trailer
  • had to keep on working on lots of custom tools to capture the game slightly different than the normal gameplay – just for variety and storytelling… (gave me lots of ideas for cutscenes which was never really on my radar)
  • finally to give it some omph I added my own voice-over to the trailer.  I thought it was absolutely ridiculous and way over the top, but then after a little bit of time away, it felt okay to me.  The voice over is definitely the imagined vision I have for the game (even as brief as it is), it captures what I want the player to feel.  Although I left out the part about fighting back as an underdog and coming out on top. Doing the trailer is a great exercise for the game and helped me see it from an orbital perspective!
  • weapons/defense balance tweaks

DevLog #27 - full steam ahead!

By jobel –  June, 2021

  • created the Steam store page
  • made image capsule art for the store page (no easy feat!)
  • started to create tools for the game trailer (yes custom cameras and controls just for getting game footage – PITA!)
  • added laser sights to all gunship turrets (to show what is being targetted)
  • bug fixes

DevLog #26 - May the Resource be with you

By jobel –  May, 2021

  • improved strategic AI for defending systems and building/research – also focusing on what resource line to build out with tech and turrets
  • the “double header” event (where you play 2 levels in 1 turn) has introduced many many issues that needed fixing!
  • various other bug fixes

DevLog #25 - No Foolin' around in april

By jobel –  Apr, 2021

  • new selection on the map, so you can select gunships and transfer them to other stations
  • enemy and pirates now recognize and shoot/pursue each other (and not always just the player)
  • adding a “double header” play in the case where you are attacked but do not defend with alpha one. So in that case you will play 2 levels before going back to the summary/map.
  • audio and sfx updates
  • new animated event for deploying an outpost
  • revamped build panel
  • Enemy AI now builds and redeploys turrets to stations where they are needed
  • bug fixes

DevLog #24 - Is that a gunship in your pocket?

By jobel –  Mar, 2021

  • added a new unit: gunship defenders (launchable turrets)
  • gunships can be deployed to defend outposts and your main-base
  • gunships attach to outposts and your main becoming auto turrets with a 120 degree cone-of-view
  • gunships/turrets can only have 1 weapon on them
  • turrets can be launched one at a time and repositioned on the station or controlled
  • added a “skip turn” which will auto defend a system with your main ship (as well any gunships that are there)
  • if your main ship is not present for an attack, you will be sent there to play the level “as the outpost” and control the turrets/gunships
  • bug fixes

DevLog #23 - Saved by the Game

By jobel –  Feb, 2021

  • Save system is now in the game!
  • now when building an outpost, an outpost ship icon is added to the map
  • system income amounts are now on the map
  • each NPC system has a “defender” and a “collector”.  The collector will no longer engage the player and will escape with any resources it collects.  The collector is 50% faster than the player. However the player can upgrade to that speed.
  • bug fixes

DevLog #22 - D best weapon

By jobel –  Jan, 2021

  • new D pad weapon-select and Jump Drive HUD that comes up around the player’s ship
  • new art of level 3 ENERGY and functionality.  It is now a charged shot.
  • NPC ships are now better at aiming and firing
  • locked down tutorial “unlocks” where it directs player to do an action.
  • new sounds and placeholder art for admin panel unlocks
  • bug fixes

DevLog #21 - Dear AI Abby...

By jobel –  Dec, 2020

  • Now the AI advisor gives some probable information about the level you are about to enter
  • Level Select confirm window now has attack/defense stats about ships you will face.
  • Changed the defense system to only be a 1 button press (instead of 3 different buttons – what was I thinking???)
  • jump drive now is a button you hold and charge, let go to cancel
  • bug fixes

DevLog #20 - Mister sandman....bring me a treat...

By jobel –  Nov 21, 2020

  • Added a SandBox mode that serves a dual purpose.  This lets players experience all the weapons and defense as well as the basics of movement and other controls.  The other purpose is it helps in testing to make sure values are being attenuated properly with various combinations of weapons vs defense.
  • More sound effects have been added
  • A clear turn phase system on the level map helps to show who goes next
  • Added an AI turn database (for debugging what the AI is doing turn to turn). This might be implemented as some sort of spying or peak into what the enemy is doing.
  • Added more ship icons to the map

DevLog #19 - In my defense....

By jobel –  Oct 12, 2020

  • Added a Defense system that is a pseudo Rock/Paper/Scissor mechanic into the game. Maybe its not “pseudo”, but its not that straight forward.  For example ENERGY resources allow you to research ENERGY weapons and defense.  ENERGY weapons always damage unless the opponent has METAL defense. So its:
    ENERGY>GAS>METAL>ENERGY etc.. energyDef blocks gasWeap, gasDef blocks metalWeap, metalDef blocks energyWeap ⟳
  • The entire balance of the game was thrown with the RPS system, so all attack values had to be modified
  • Even more “on-ramping” is required due to these new changes!

DevLog #18 - Testing 1, 2, 3...

By jobel –  July 24, 2020

  • Completed the first round of alpha testing. Thanks to the many people that have taken the time to test and give the vast amounts of feedback I have received!
  • Considerable work went into player “on-ramping”, easing the player into the game with guided pop ups and locked panels etc…
  • Added a new mechanic that only allows you to deploy an outpost (expand your reach) to a system if you’ve “cleared the level”: collected all resources,  thwart any pirates and/or the Kraytex Fleet (if present).
  • Some balance changes:  Kraytex got a buff in fighting pirates. Reason: they were taking too much damage and wasting early resources on ship repairs.  Also in the early-game they will only repair their ship if it goes below 50%
  • More balance: level 1 & 2 weapon tech is now 50% cheaper.  Reason: there was an early game stall where the technology was too expensive without a large economy.

DevLog #17 - Some Lore for Ya...

By jobel –  June 13, 2020

  • Your AI opponent in the game is called the “Kraytex” – a xenophobic, insectoid race bent on enthralling all other species or destroying those who fight back.   
  • The pirate race, which are the first ships you meet are a race called the “Jott”.  The failed state of the once mighty Jott Imperium is now but a scattered race of pirates that scavenge for survival.  With no home system, they are in a massive effort to rebuild.

DevLog #16 - Ablutions

By jobel –  May 20, 2020

  • Getting the game ready to be played by testers.  I have to do some interface fixes, and add UI elements to help communicate to the player.
  • Added a new popup window for when you enter a level.  This way the player knows exactly what they are getting into for the coming “level”.  It tells you things like: will there be pirates? will the enemy be there? how many resources are there? is the system occupied, will I be fighting an outpost?  
  • Added more information to the Map: Ship Health, Base Health, Inventories
  • Adding an “advisor” to the Map that helps guide you on what to build/research/do
  • Added a new “xtra-small” pirate ship that shows up for POOR systems.

DevLog #15 - The Turing Test

By jobel –  April 25, 2020

  • Working on the strategic AI, creating decision trees, figuring out the most efficient way to win within a given map.  The AI will always race for MINING STATIONS (CRYSTAL tech) as their first tech, as should the player.  Then if there are no decent (> POOR) system within reach then the AI will need to research RANGE (CRYSTAL tech).
  • Added a more functional INITIATIVE where the player and enemy each take turns as to who “acts” first on the MAP screen.  Having INIT can be powerful for claiming a system before the other has a chance, but it also has it’s drawbacks.  When you don’t have INIT then you can react to the other’s attack by defending an outpost or attacking when they are mining.
  • Added a Random Map Generation at the beginning of the game, there you can see what will be the starting resources close to the player (and the enemy if you want).  Through this you can somewhat figure out the difficulty.  It’s not always straight forward though.  Having only RICH systems near you in the early game means you would need to go there to get resources, but since RICH has a high pirate resistance then you could easily collect less resources than you would at a POOR since you are simply not strong enough to fight off 3-4 pirates with moderate weapons.  But in the late game you can hold your own with more powerful weapons and then having an OUTPOST on a RICH is a huge income boost. 

DevLog #14 - I guess I work from home now and never leave the house

By jobel –   March, 2020

  • added a range tilemap that shows a player’s/enemy’s territory on the map. 
  • implemented some asteroid culling for performance reasons
  • MAJOR change to now allow ALL RESOURCES for orbital systems and none for the ship, but if ship takes out the base, they get all the resources. 
  • added enemy simulated encounters with pirates
  • added some place holder repair panel animations
  • added PP drops for pirates. collectable by player and opponent, but not droppable? – although they have to survive the level in order to keep them
  • finally made an RBT (your first weapon) sound I like.
  • added asteroid damage when hitting a ship – damage depends on the size of the asteroid

DevLog #13 - do you have any beano?

By jobel –   Feb, 2020

  • added gas weapon explosions and shockwaves
  • fixed numerous weapon bugs
  • added a laser sight for the player
  • added enemy strategic AI: weapon research

DevLog #12 - Alpha one, NOW with weapons!!

By jobel –   Jan, 2020

  • finished adding all the weapons and functionalizing them so any ship can use any weapon
  • added switching and support for Mouse/Key/Gamepad for weapons
  • fixed radar and level sizes: we now have 7 sizes: HUGE, LARGE VERT, LARGE SQ, MED HORZ STRIP, MED VERT STRIP, MED SQUARE, SMALL SQUARE
  • also hid indicators off screen
  • changed how resources float to their miners – they no longer check range but have a top-speed
  • bug fixes

DevLog #11 - HUD are you doing?

By jobel –   Dec, 2019

  • working on weapon systems and HUD selection – there are 13 weapons in the game
  • played first real game! enemy couldn’t attack, but they could expand.  I controlled one half of the map, the AI opponent had the other, I’d take out an orbital and with no initiative in yet the AI would build a new orbital before I could do anything. The had SO much money! *this will need a system in order to do enough damage and to make any kind of effective incursion.
  • bug fixes

DevLog #10 - We needed to construct additional pylons...

By jobel –  Nov, 2019

  • added orbital destructions
  • new art for research tech
  • added a “stun” state for when a ship hits a rock, this could eventually be implemented with weapons
  • improved AI attacks
  • started some strategic AI for your opponent: repairing ship and repairing orbitals
  • added enemy collector drone for the opponent

DevLog #9 - Honest alien abe

By jobel –   Oct, 2019

  • Tried some honest firerate/dps with AI and I realize I need to add in some fake human-like delays otherwise the AI min/maxes the dps and is very OP
  • Added orbital bases and icons for the map
  • introducing orbital turrets, but not sure how/when they will be used 
  • new sprite animations for pirates

DevLog #8 - No cheese for you!

By jobel –   September, 6, 2019

  • Changed the new Camera view back to the old follow-the-player style.  It turned out that new camera view made combat and avoiding collisions much much harder and seemed really unfair.  It made being at the edge really dangerous.  Also a fixed camera did not allow for immersive parallax.  So it was a no-brainer to go back to the old style.
  • Implemented new AI ship behaviors… mining, attacking, collecting or stealing resources from the player.
  • Added a Summary screen to show what the player accomplished that turn and what their base and outposts also produced for that “TURN”.
  • Added a resource “drop” system when a ship is destroyed they drop resources they collected.

DevLog #7 Say Cheese for the camera!

By jobel –   August, 2, 2019

  • Introduced new camera view, camera snaps to predetermined places. Flying the ship at the edges of the screen feels more fun to drive it that way… only concern is object coming at the player offscreen might feel “unfair”.  Still testing…
  • Added MAP level select information, range line (red when a system is out of range), icons (occupied flags, outpost/base, ship, spy drone)
  • Allow player and enemy to deploy outposts on the map and “occupy” a system
  • Made a Start Screen and created some dramatic music that plays at the title

DevLog #6 - Some Level design

By jobel –   July, 24, 2019

  • Added LEVEL sizes, shapes, system art (background and planets, stellar bodies), the orange boxes are the edge of the screen, and the light blue ones are the “in play”, I change the shape by making more light-blue boxes orange which changes the “edge” of the level.
  • Parallax system (carried over from the old Alpha One)
  • Unique art for resource art and the rocks that spawn them
  • Added health bars for all destructible “actors”.
  • Added a death explosion animation system.
  • Added custom physics to the ships and rocks in the game (thanks to R0J0hound for a help with calculations!)
  • Added Jump Drive escape sequence (still need to figure if this is going to be uninterruptible or not) 

DevLog #5 - Admin SYSOP

By jobel –  June 6, 2019
Added a new ADMIN screen where the player can: SELL resources, RESEARCH tech,  REPAIR ships and orbitals and BUILD ships, outposts and more.  Since there is so much information on one screen I created 4 separate panels and you can only focus on one at a time.  While off focus the others go ‘dark’, but you can still see info on them if you need it. i.e. You can set the REPAIR panel to show you how much it would cost to fully repair your ship, then on the SELL panel you can still see the cost on the REPAIR panel.

This new section still is need of full gamepad ANALOG stick and mouse support.  Currently works with D-pad and arrow keys.  For actions there are ENTER, then XBox controller letters.  i.e. for RB-button you hit ‘R’ on the keyboard, Xbox X-button you would hit ‘X’ on the keyboard.  Until I have full control scheme setup this will do.

DevLog #4 - the Plan

By jobel –  May, 29 2019 Created a milestone plan: For now only milestone 1 is in the foreseeable future.  Until I have the prototype and can put it into testers hands I won’t even know if the game is going to be viable. Milestone 2 and 3 could potentially be swapped since the story could also have a dual purpose as a tutorial or first-play mode.

DevLog #3 - "I'm the Map, I'm the map, I'm the map!"

By jobel –  May, 2019
  • Created a Map Generation system with cursor navigation and RANGE.  Both are scale-able for larger maps 
  • Added pirates with ship AI (attacking, resource collecting, escaping)
  • Implemented a global database for each system (LEVEL) and updating that with each level
  • Added some upgrades to the player (STRAFE or DASH, DRONE COLLECTOR and MOVEMENT-speed,spin upgrades)  

DevLog #2 - "You got the look..."

By jobel – April, 2019

  • Set the final game resolution. Decided on a high resolution pixel art.
  • Created player movement and control scheme
  • Create player and some enemy sprites and various fx
  • Created background elements and parallax layers

DevLog #1 - It Begins...

By jobel – March 1st, 2019
I have begun development on a complete new redesign of Alpha One. The original concept was made in 2014/2015 and the design was scrapped in 2017. However with a new focus and clearer vision of what the game is and what I want it to be, I have now set out to create this game. The goal will be to make the prototype within a year’s time.