Good news! Update 4.7 has arrived along with macOS / OS-X support!
Now that support on all platforms has been restored, we’re going to swap the old Alpha and new Beta builds around on Steam as we’re a little conscious that people are missing out on the good stuff.
So in other words: If you were testing the BETA simply switch the build back to normal!
We’re seeing mainly evolutionary progress this update with the promised additional fleet management tweaks bringing the chapter of unit groupings to a close.
We also have a few tweaks as suggested by the community but the real work has gone on under the hood to prepare for resource collection and logistics which will be switched on in 4.7.1.
As is now the norm; expect a flurry of incremental updates/hotfixes over the course of the next week as we continue the race to complete the short to medium term objectives.
Please do keep pointing out the bugs and we’ll continue to squash them!
Also, just a reminder that this article contains some hints on how to get to the missions.
BETA Update 4.7 Change log
– Added macOS/OS-X support!
– Added ‘rolling selector’ UI piece
– Added TAB to toggle forwards hard/soft group selection
– Added Shift-TAB to toggle backwards hard/soft group selection
– Added intelligent camera focus to TAB (preserves Orbit/RTS Cam mode)
– Added intelligent camera focus to hard group selection (double tap number key)
– Added current zone icon to notification panel
– Added in-game help notifier
– Added additional atmospheric sounds to main menu and Zone Map
– Added images to Imperial Codex
– Update – time speed-ups increased
– Update – ‘Encyclopedia’ renamed to ‘Imperial Codex’
– Update – game window can be resized when in windowed mode
– Fixes to issues allowing Player to trade/transfer/fit items in different Zones
– Fixes to issues allowing Player to fit items to ships before trade completed
– Fixes to crash in Inventory transfering items from ship slots
– Fixes to issues trying to edit ship in a different zone or on Zone Map
– Fixed passive scanning sound broken on holding CTRL
– Fixed Q/E keys inverted
– Fixes to minor issue allowing the selection of option rows
– Fixes to OOZ (Out Of Zone) docking crash
– Fixes (further) to crash assigning target when exiting SRJ
– Fixed issue refreshing group icon when creating Soft Group
PLEIADES PRESS “Terrorists neutralised in coup for Pleiades Police.”
In another triumph for the Corporation’s principles and methodologies, terrorist Eve Walters was apprehended by Corporate Police earlier this month.
Walters was part of a network of Imperium dissidents jealous of the advances and comfort bestowed upon Corporate employees and attempting to bring us down to their level.
Walters resisted arrest and her ship was damaged during the chase. She later succumbed to her injuries, but not before recording a video confession of her crimes. Eve Walters will serve as an example for any other criminals intent on damaging the Corporation.
ILLEGAL REFRESHMENTS “Public Announcements.”
We like to think that those that share in Illegal Refreshments have a common bond, if not full friendship then at least a sense of comradery. In this vein we have a public announcement for those that may be affected:
1) Gregory Walters’ ship was destroyed leaving dock in the Oberon system, apparently due to systems failure on board his freighter. In a twist of cruel fate, his daughter Eve Walters was also killed by pilot error this month. The family is survived by Gregory’s son Jimmy who is carrying on the family business.
2) We have been notified that ‘scoundrel of fortune’ Jack Hamilton has been out of touch with his contacts for the last month. We know many of you disprove of his recent actions, but he is part of our large family, so if you see him please tell him to get in touch.
3) Kane Guptill has been working with the Shallom Clan attempting to recreate Shallom’s last movements before his disappearance a decade ago. He believes he is on to something and will be making an announcement at the next Kill4 meeting.
INCORPORATED NOW “Pleiades Corporation: ‘Killing Civilians OK’.”
Readers of Incorporated Now will be familiar with the work of Eve Walters, a celebrated journalist from Mayflower, who has previously contracted to Incorporated Now (And stirred up the odd hornet’s nest too).
We found her in-your-face attitude refreshing and our Corporation’s management graciously saw the funny side in her antics.
But earlier this month we learnt of her untimely death in the Pleiades System. Rumours abound regarding how and where she died, but one thing this journal is sure of is that something stinks.
She didn’t die by accident.
Eve was doing what Eve does best and the Pleiades Corporation killed her for it. We here at Incorporated Now believe it is our solemn duty to warn all our readers, here in Incorporated Space and beyond, to stay away from the Pleiades system as they clearly sanction the murder of Imperium citizens. You have been warned.
We will be sending a delegation to Mayflower to mourn our lost friend at her memorial. Employees are welcome to apply for dispensation to also attend the memorial.
The GUARDIAN “Award Winning Reporter Tragically Killed”
It is with regret and sadness that we must report the death of one of our own. Eve Walters, a prize winning journalist for our respected media outlet, died in the Pleiades system last month.
Official police reports indicate pilot error by the commercial charter she was using, crashing into one of the many asteroids in the system after attempting to escape police custody.
Eve had been researching violation of the Eugenics Accords by the Pleiades Corporation who in turn claim Eve was engaging in acts of terrorism. Anyone who knows Eve knows this simply is not true and our lawyers are currently in contact with the PLC in regards to this slander.
Eve was a highly valued member of the team at The Guardian and will be sorely missed. There will be an open memorial service at York on Christian’s World, Mayflower on April 26th.
In this update we tidy up the UI, in particular the fleet panel, where a separate row of smaller icons is now always visible and we’ve also tweaked the appearance of the grouping icons so it’s a little easier to see which number key to press. To prevent unnecessary scrolling detailed icons are currently shown only for Player selected units but will soon be shown for context targets also.
All the abilities should now work. Some abilities will require a context target to work (such as ‘Communications’ allowing you to hail other ships,) you can pick a target by first selecting your ship and then clicking on an AI ship as it’s context target. Other area of effect abilities now use the new ‘Command Range’ and you can preview that range by moving the mouse over the applicable ability icons.
The dialogue system gets folded into the mix adding ways to access various handy NPC functions. This will be handy if you want to use the new petty trade system to buy/sell stuff or build ships using spare funds, you’ll also be able to pickup quests by using dialogue. Look for an exclamation mark by a zone icon or ship which indicates dialogue.
We’ve also folded in various new animations and some fixes that you’ve reported in over the last couple of weeks. Please do continue to report them! It’s been instrumental in the progress made so far.
Look forward to 4.7 where we can expect the beginnings of resource collection, additional help articles, ship experience and a whole host of atmospheric sounds and maybe even the return of the sexy AI voice!
The main goal now is to fold in the remaining RTS mechanics before adding saving/loading, skirmishes and additional planets.
BETA Update 4.6 Change log
– Fix focus issues when double clicking on targetbox
– Fix to windows opening in odd places
– Fix SpaceObject issue causing crash on restart
– Fix focus issues on modular stations
– Added SHIFT + LMB to add/remove ships from selection
– Added focus on opening dialogue with NPC
– Added cargo space bar in inventory windows
– Added petty trading extensions to inventory window
– Added missions to dialogue system, listing and acceptance
– Added accepted missions are tracked at start
– Added trade request to dialogue system
– Added mission indicators to zone icon (yellow ! is tracked objective or pending dialogue)
– Added mission/dialogue/quest track indicators to targetbox and tactical icon
– Added typewriter animation to notification/dialogue text
– Added remaining abilities (now functioning)
– Added animations to mission/objection situation panel text
– Added tactical icons to fleet panel
– Added context sensitive text to dialogue system
– Added group number to fleet icons (removed emblem icon)
– Added subcontract ship production from Allied facilities
So the intention has always been to create a Real Time Strategy game that encompassed as much about space-based fleet management as possible in a game. This includes modelling more detail then you would normally expect and simulating the physics of the ships and projectiles to create more varied and captivating action.
That remit hasn’t changed, but when we released Shallow Space as an alpha some players found a number of issues, issues that could not be ignored – some were easy enough to change, others required another look at the game design document. Fortunately we were able to extract the time consuming, tested and functioning parts of the project and nest it into a fresh project, wiping away many of the reported issues and opening doors to many exciting features not commonly seen in this type of game.
The cost to the project is a setback in time, time is money to any developer but we were prepared to front that cost in favor of creating something that both early adopters and the team will all have been proud to be involved in. The result is a project currently split between the older discontinued alpha available on Steam, and the ‘Overhaul Beta’ that will soon replace it, which is also publicly available on Steam by changing your game branch in the games properties.
So let’s talk about what we can expect.
Shallow Space as an RTS
Real Time Strategy remains the main focus of Shallow Space, and thanks to the feedback from the current alpha is close to being mechanically complete. This time, the RTS layer was built on top of a multiplayer engine ready to be switched on when we have the available resources.
In the current alpha, one of the common complaints was that the arenas are too big which lead to lots of scrolling and a lull in gameplay, this issue was exacerbated by the 3D nature of the combat in that ships needed large areas to parry else the entire arena becomes engulfed in a big, uncontrollable conflict.
In the Overhaul, we get around that by splitting the play area into zones. Each zone might contain a series of installations lending it to a particular function (ie: Ship construction or trade) so not only do we have better control over the types of activity and where, but we can also really explode the scope into hundreds of concurrent zones around tens of planets containing thousands of ships, without fear of overloading the players immediate focus.
But there are some that prefer the more linear setting, perhaps for casual skirmishes or learning to control their fleets effectively and we will continue to cater for that.
Shallow Space as a 4X
While simulating the activity of a couple hundred ships, it quickly became clear that a traditional RTS interface alone will quickly end up becoming irritatingly insufficient. To combat this we’ll be adding UI elements traditionally only seen in 4X games.
An example of this might be a window allowing the issuing of a sequence of repeatable instructions to your traders or miners or even your combat fleets. This automation, complete with all the relevant data and charts, will give you the option of managing your operation like a business.
There will be some overlap between the RTS/4X layers. So in the early game you might procure weapons and small quantities of material via ‘petty trade’ and issue resource collection instructions locally via the abilities bar, but as your fleet grows into innumerable groups all assembled for a specific task, something a little more geared to the ‘bigger-picture’ is both required and planned.
But more exciting than marrying those two concepts together is that we’ll be borrowing a 4X’s sense of scale.
We are working to create an accurate procedural model of a potentially unlimited number of planetary systems for you to use as your galactic sandpit, each planet and zones will harbor a set of materials that will have you plotting epic journeys for your fleets planning them around the orbital patterns of planets. With each planet containing multiple zones and accompanying parallax environments to match the scene, it’s clear that we intend to not just use space as the visible setting, but completely immerse you in its majesty.
Shallow Space as an RPG
Linear storytelling just doesn’t quite have the impact it used to, and we should take advantage of being able to tell the story from the viewpoint of the Officers on the ships. We think listening to them talk out issues as they encounter them will directly anchor you to the action.
You will still get all the juicy goodness from the current alpha, the ability to customize ship load-outs and appearances but one observation of the current alpha is that none of it matters when it ultimately boils down to who has the higher cumulative DPS. To combat this we can now host the action in multiple zones around a particular planet or even a complete system. Allied forces will play a key part in this with the player able to influence their approach to a situation via dialogue and building reputations.
As it fits we’ll be borrowing much from the MMORPG standpoint of telling the tale, but removing around 80% of the grind. For example, you won’t have to be in the same zone to raise a ship on comms and even if a mission does contain an element of grind you can automate it or even play with multiple fleets on other assignments at the same time.
But mainly in this layer we focus on creating multiple facets to the story, requiring fleet and resource co-ordination taking the intent from a linear driven campaign to a grand campaign in an expansive sandpit.
The hold-up right now is the race to replace the current alpha with functionality that is similar or exceeds what is currently available in the Beta.
That Beta has been humming along nicely in the background, publicly available on the shy for nearly a month now inviting the most patient and passionate of fans to provide constructive feedback. With the core mechanics of the game nearly solid we’re happy to declare that chapter closed to begin work on the fun, game-building stuff.
Expect the detailed update posts to restart shortly, talking about additions and amendments with us focusing on building more of a presence. We’ll revise the roadmap and media, bringing everything to bear on the new Beta and thanks mainly to your support and understanding during the work of the last 6 months; what a Beta it’s turned out to be.
It often works to their favour in that such designs are cheap and easy to manufacture, but there is historically little in the way of the MFC faction directly influencing space-based warfare. They normally focus on the current fad – producing ships to fill the ranks rather than tip the balance, but every now and again as luck might have it, they strike gold.
The ‘Hermes’ in principle was designed to provide part of a carrier group solution, intended that two or three are deployed as a wing. Compare that to the PLC factions ‘Sadalbari’ which was designed as the mainstay of a group; dedicated to both that and Command, you might think it falls a little short of the mark but then again in both procurement and production, the Hermes is nearly half the cost.
The Hermes might also carry half the number of Carried units but it matches the Sadalbari’s might in armament with 2 Extra-Large (XL) and 2 Large (L) turret hard points. On paper that makes it an exceptional ship, but its influence on the arena of Shallow Space was far more pronounced that the ships mere specification.
Before the Hermes came along Carrier operations were out of reach for many, reserved for the highest echelons within a respective faction. But now with some skill, a Carrier can be deployed cheaply as part of an attack force rather than a dedicated combat function and with that; sales of the Hermes blueprint sky rocketed.
The Hermes is credited with truly diversifying the art of space-based combat beyond even the Battlecruiser, because it indirectly forced the Terran Confederate Navy to drastically consider the way it applied itself to the theatre. Previously, Naval fleets would occupy planets in the imperium applying martial protocols to space traffic as the need arose but when that big Naval fleet arrived everyone else made a swift exit. The Hermes exaggerated this game of cat and mouse by enabled guerrilla operatives to deliver precision raids with the deed long done before even the picket could arrive.
It was not a situation gone unnoticed and so the Highest Honourable James Thorensenan, Field Marshall of the Terran Confederate Navy, petitioned the Council of Admirals for federal approval of an elite Naval force known as the ATU or ‘Adaptive Tactical Unit.’ The force has a very broad remit, with the usual restrictions on the building of ships and acquisition of personnel lifted. The ATU can disguise their identity, even adopting custom hull markings, but remain attached Naval personnel under the general jurisdiction of Federal Fleet Command. The ATU is designed to ‘seed’ naval presence in a system, not enough to deter full-scale campaigns, but enough to supplement allied faction forces in local defence, and operate in other capacities as the council sees fit.
As a consequence once rogue pirate forces gathered into a serious organisation and the previously enumerable mercenary entities started to band together into an alliance. With the notion of a lone trader now a proverbial death sentence, strength lay in numbers and factions as absolute entities arose polarising space traffic; all this leading to the very premise of Shallow Space.
History accredits this largely to the inclusion of this mere ‘cookie cutter’ ship into the ranks and nobody denies it; for the Hermes by namesake alone, is the most infamous ship of the century.