Monday, April 18, 2011

Starship Builder - Ion Beams and Substructure

Another week, another round of improvements to Starship Builder! There are two significant new features in this week's build...

The most fun of the new features is a new type of weapon, the Ion Cannon! Ion Cannons are large, powerful energy weapons that deal great damage over time. Their disadvantage is that they consume very large amounts of ammunition and also can only fire directly forward. This means that it is much more difficult to target specific systems on an enemy ship, and they also may be less useful when built on larger, less maneuverable ships.

The other big new feature is less fun, but arguably more important: Substructure. I've done a number of playtests since adding multiplayer, and the biggest imbalance issue was that ships would break apart into multiple pieces too quickly. My solution to this was to add a layer of "substructure" underneath the existing systems. When a system is destroyed, it reveals the substructure underneath. The substructure itself can also be destroyed, but doing so takes longer, and the ship will not break apart until the substructure is destroyed. In this way, the substructure acts as a kind of glue, holding the ship together even under considerable damage. I'm still working out the exact balance between substructure and regular systems, but it seems to basically solve the problem.

Here's a screenshot showing both the new Ion Cannons and the exposed substructure. Click on the image to get a better view of the substructure.

Download this latest build for PC and Mac.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Starship Builder - Multiplayer!

I've spent the past few weeks doing a massive overhaul of Starship Builder's code to support networked multiplayer. It's been a very long process, requiring a lot of code to be rewritten. But thankfully, and finally, everything seems to be working pretty much okay. Here's a glorious screenshot of two ships in the heat of combat, each belonging to a different player:

Download this latest build for PC and Mac.

Here's a more complete changelist:
  • Added basic network multiplayer.
  • Can specifically target a part of the enemy by right-clicking on that part.
  • Added armor pieces that do nothing but provide lots of protection.
  • Press F to make the camera follow your ship.
  • A black hole is now spawned after 3 minutes. It's not very powerful, but will suck in stray debris. Whatever you do, don't touch the black hole!
  • A massive asteroid swarm now spawns after 5 minutes. Good look surviving it!
  • Ships now maintain some amount of thruster stability even as many thrusters are destroyed.
  • Added a basic minimap.
  • Added small and big cannons.
  • A single enemy ship can now be spawned in the simulator.
  • Added a new mode that allows you to directly control your ship using the WASDQE keys.

If you want to play multiplayer yourself, here's some basic instructions for setting up a match:
  1. On one computer, start the game and click the "Multiplayer" button once the game is loaded.
  2. Select the ship you want to play.
  3. Type a game name where it says "Host a game".
  4. Click "Create".
  5. On another computer, follow steps 1-2.
  6. Click the button matching the game's name under "Connect to".
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 for up to 2 additional computers. (Total of 4 max players.)
  8. On the first computer, click "Start!".
  9. Have fun!