Overhaul Update 6.1 – Interactive Tutorial

Update6.1

As promised, we are pleased to announce Update 6.1 boasting a fully interactive tutorial!

By interactive we mean that it offers up a set of instructions and the tutorial continues once you have completed them. We figured it would be a better way to learn than an instructional video.

It’s comprehensive and will take you through camera controls, group creation and fleet movement, inventory management and ship configuration and mission/objective management and basic combat drills. Expect the tutorial to grow as the game grows, with the impending station building and resource collection mechanics to be injected imminently.

We also have a few minor fixes from a couple of incremental patched released in the last few days listed below.

We are simply bursting with excitement right now and if you’re not then you should be, with the UI refresh and the tutorial framework out the way – quick stop to update the game media and then it’s time for one almighty meat injection!

As always we massively appreciate the supportive comments and if you’ve just joined us welcome, take a flick through some of the previous news and strap yourself in, because things are about to get REAL interesting round here.

Overhaul Update 6.0.1 Change Log
– Fixed destroyed enemy causing crash in sandbox
– Fixed close button doesn’t work in Dialogue window
– Fixed context menu not appearing for modular stations
– Fixed incorrect ship reference in Dialogue window subtitle
Overhaul Update 6.1.1 Change Log
– Fixes to combined Inventory window
– Fixes to Save/Load
– Fixes to missions/objectives not being cleaned up on game exit
– Fixes to tutorial being show in Quick Battle mode
– Fixes to rare crash on mission ‘All Good Things’
– Fixed issue with time controls animating incorrectly on game restart
– Fixed issue with Player ship fleet panel not spawning correctly on game load
– Fixed issue with ‘ghost ship’ from menu screen on load game

Overhaul Update 6 – UI Refresh

We are pleased to announce that Update 6 is ready! This is the most significant patch released to date with literally hundreds of additions and tweaks so we’re going to break from the normal tradition of listing them all because there are simply too many.

Update6
Context Buttons and Dialogue windows also added in this update

If you haven’t already we recommend you take a look at the previous article which will tell you what to expect from Update 6 but in addition to all that good stuff we have even more crammed in for good measure.

Context Menu

So we created a system called ‘Context Targets’ which allowed us to use abilities which targeted NPC ships such as ‘Open Communications’ or ‘Subsystem Targeting.’ Since implementing that the feedback coming back is that it’s a little cumbersome so we’ve replaced Context Targets with a pop-up menu accessed simply by left-clicking on a NPC ship (with at least one Player ship selected.)

The context menu intelligently lists all the applicable abilities from the selected ships as well as the various standard options like ‘Move To,’ ‘Trade’ and ‘Open Communications’ making life much easier.

Dialogue Window

Previously the dialogue panel was anchored to the ability bar, now it has it’s own dedicated window. This means you can effectively have more than one conversation at a time, which will make more sense when we start to roll in additional mission types and widen the scope of play.

UX Improvements

We’ve streamlined and unified the actions taken on Left/Right click. So right clicking on a text link in the notification panel or mission objective is the same as right clicking on the thing itself for any Ship, Space Object or Zone. This makes things easier to control and much more fluid.

Here’s an example:

  • You select and group your fleet
  • You click on the ship with the exclamation mark to see what they want
  • You find they have a mission on offer – you accept
  • You tick the box on the Objective UI piece to track it and while over there you right click on the Zone link automatically sending your ships there.

Much simpler.Left clicking on items in play raises or lowers the tactical overlay to their level making them easier to navigate towards.

Notification Panel

There are far more notifications now confirming actions, telling you how many jumps away a target is and letting you know about Out of Zone activities such as your allies spotting an enemy vessel.

We also have all the fixes and additions brought across from the BETA patches:

So this is a massive step forward and it’s a lot more stable than Update 5 so we’re making it live right away. Now that the UI is better look forward to Update 6.1 in which we’ll be introducing the Tutorial and updating the in-game manual pages.

Many thanks for the continued support!

Problems Commander?

User Interface Evolution

So before we delve into creating the tutorial and adding new stuff we thought it prudent to get rid of the prototype UI elements and really look at how we interact with the game to make things a little more involving and intuitive.

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The 3D UI has been decluttered giving the Zones a more open feel and the 2D UI has matured.

As you can no doubt immediately see, a number of things stand to change in Update 6 as we sweep the prototype user interface under the table and replace it with something altogether a little more mature.

Spatial User Interface (Battlegrid)

Some of the feedback coming from you guys mention that the Overhaul doesn’t yet fully capture the majesty of space. After breaking the scene down into its abstract parts and questioning them we found that the grid and border around the game edge made the maps (or Zones) feel a little claustrophic. What’s more, when polled, 70% of you hinted that we should explore an alternative to the grid based reference plane.

Your wish is our command.

Previously the levels were pizza box shaped; now we’ve changed them to a cylinder shape. Not only does this feel more fitting when combined with the radial camera, it gives us an better sense of scale and to us, feels a little more natural. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating and we look forward to feedback on that.

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The overall composition of the UI improves the games general ambiance.

2D User Interface

The fleet panel (top left) has been condensed reducing the full width faction logo icons which looked a little dodgy at resolutions below 2K. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep all the large hologram fleet icons on screen at the same time because it lead to scrolling, but clicking on the smaller tactical icons and Soft Group icons will correctly filter the lists.

We have removed the health bars on the fleet icons and made the hologram image of the ship itself the health bar. Quite a bizarre little tweak but it’s surprising just how much it assists us when looking for damage status and as a bonus it’s more aesthetically appealing.

The situation panel (top right) has also been reworked.

Previously we had square Zone icons with numbers that made the thing look a little like a bingo calling card, now we’ve replaced them with pictorial representations of the contents of a Zone. If a Zone is dark, it’s still listed making it much easier to track changes as you and you allies chart space. It also makes more sense as this is known space – so really as a Commander you would know how to get there just not necessarily what awaits you…

Otherwise we’ve tweaked the fonts, position of the elements and how they react when you use them to give the whole thing a more polished feel.

Zone Map

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Picture additional planets orbiting that Sun, with lines joining the Jump gates between them. We’re not ruling out orbital mechanics either.

Update 6 will see some cosmetic dressing to the Zone map with large amounts of work going on under the hood to prepare for additional planets. Again the Zone icons have been replaced with images, all Zones are now shown and an orbit line added for the example Planet Ares around the systems Sun.

It’s important to note that the Zone map looks cluttered because we’ve added a larger number of Zones to a single planet than we might normally. As we add additional planets we can expect to spread things out a bit visually.

Lessons from the old Alpha

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The old menu screen is back!

We put a lot of work into that old Alpha and in the transition it’s possible that we might have forgotten about some of the advancements it offered us. (Remember you can still access the old Alpha using the BETA tab in the game properties.)

Some more feedback indicates that the dedicated Hangar from the old alpha is quite sorely missed. We’re happy to report once the tutorial has been completed and we’ve switched on a few more key mechanics we’ll be bringing that back.

We’ve also resurrected the original menu screen showcasing the newest ships as we were missing it!

That’s not all

Throughout the duration of Update 6 we’ll really be addressing the user experience (UX). The tutorial is quite a common request now but that actually tells us that things aren’t quite as obvious or intuitive as they need to be.

An example of this will be the inclusion of a small contextual menu when you click on a Ship or Space Object. This will allow you to quickly access actions such as Open Comms or Attack, perhaps hide in a Space Object without having to mess about with context targets or the ability bar.

We’ll also be looking at the Zone and Space Object tooltips – do they really tell us what we need to know?

What’s more, we have 5 new ships about to land including fixed weapon attack Cruisers and pirate ‘aberrate’ variants and we’ll also be adding in some random encounters.

Update 6 is just being polished off and should land in the next few days.

We hope this demonstrates how quickly things are moving now as we continue the process of adding and refining, and we hope you join us in our excitement as we continue cramming this thing full of win! As always, thanks for the continued support and if you have any feedback please hit the forums – you should know by now that we are very good listeners!

Update 6 now released featuring even more than listed above.
Update 6.1 now released featuring a fully interactive tutorial

BETA Update 5

Good news, Update 5 has arrived!

This update focuses on adding the more intricate mechanics that will compliment both the singleplayer and multiplayer experiences.

In particular this update adds Shield Rebalancing, Subsystem Attack Mode, Engine Attack Mode and the Subsystem Targeting Ability. We’ve also added 20+ audio clips of that sexy AI voice re imagined and better than ever before!

Combat is due to become far more gritty and intense during Update 5.
Combat is due to become far more gritty and intense during Update 5.

1. Subsystem Attack Mode
2. Engine Attack Mode
3. Subsystem Targeting Ability
4. Subsystem Targeting Window
5. Shield Widget

Shield Rebalancing

As we hinted before, Update 5 now gives you the ability to ‘rebalance’ any of the ships shields. You can do this by selecting your ship and clicking on any of the four shield segments of the shield widget (5) to the bottom right of the abilities panel.

This opens up a host of new tactical considerations as simply right-clicking on the enemy to attack them might not be the best option.

Normally, the enemy will come to you if they spot you and let them. Try and position your forces to absorb the assault from a single direction and the power of shield rebalancing will become immediately pronounced. You can then pincer the enemy forces more effectively causing further disruption to their offensive using engine and subsystem attack modes.

Note that you cannot rebalance the shields past their initial maximum.

Engine Targeting

In three dimensional warfare, denying the enemy the ability to move is absolutely critical. You can now target the assailants engines using ‘Engine Attack Mode’ causing them to vent plasma slowing them down to a crawl.

Use the function with care Commander, if you kill the engines of a Battleship while it is in the midst of your forces it might not have the desired effect!

Engine Attack Mode is only possible when it’s shields are down. If the shields are up while this targeting function is active, it will count as a normal attack. If the shields are down, there will be a chance to disable the targets engines and reduced damage will be applied (damage counter shown in yellow.)

Toggle the Engine Attack Mode button to return to Free Attack Mode.

Subsystem Targeting

Any ship can opt to target an assailants external subsystems which presently includes turrets using ‘Subsystem Attack Mode.’

If you wish to specify the targeting parameters, that is, the order in which the turrets should be disabled; you should select a Capital ship and use the ‘Subsystem Targeting’ ability.

Using the ability will bring up a window similar to the Inventory window in which you can click on the turrets to queue them for destruction. In doing so a number will appear indicating their position in the queue. As the turrets are disabled they will automatically be removed from the queue.

Subsystem Attack Mode is only possible when a ships shields are down. It is however possible to assign targeting parameters for your fleet using the Subsystem Targeting Ability when the targets shield are up.

As with all Abilities, the Capital vessel does not need to be in the same Zone (or even orbiting the same planet) to call out target subsystems for the fleet. You must select a context target to use the Subsystem Targeting Ability (click on a AI unit with Capital ship selected.)

If the shields are up while Subsystem Attack Mode is active, it will count as a normal attack. If the shields are down reduced damage (shown as a yellow damage counter) will be done to the targets subsystems unless using Precise weapons, in which full damage is done.

Toggle the Subsystem Attack Mode button to return to Free Attack Mode.

BETA Update 5.0 Change log

– Added shield rebalancing via shield widget (bottom right of ability bar)
– Added attack mode: Free
– Added attack mode: Subsystems
– Added attack mode: Engines
– Added subsystem target window
– Added additional UI and tooltips to support attack types
– Added 20 AI voices
– Added voices to Abilities
– Added engine fire FX
– Added turret fire FX

– Fixed Status’ given via Ability don’t time out
– Fixes further to stats adjustment calculations
– Fixes to context windows closing on ship destruction
– Fixes to hang if using next/previous buttons in ship config if only one ship present in Zone
– Fixes to position and scale of Turrets on PLC Sadalbari Carrier
– Fixes to petty trade only giving first traded item
– Fixes to rare crash generating Battlecruiser

– Update – removed trading between zones restrictions temporarily to help with testing
– Update – added delay to ability buttons mouse over action
– Update – omidirectional/directional webifier abilities now affect rotation rather than speed

Something to add Commander?

BETA Update 4.8

While we’re busy cooking up the sandbox we thought it might be an idea to put in a skirmish mode of sorts.

Similar to the ‘Tactical Simulator’ in the older alpha, Quick Battle mode allows you to dive in and get to grips with any of the ships and get used to the controls.

It might please you to note that there are no caps on the number of ships in the arena.
It might please you to note that there are no caps on the number of ships in the arena.

Behind the scenes, the Quick Battle mode will help to iron out the wrinkles, particularly with combat and already it’s sparked a bit of a rethink with regards to combat AI.

One of the things that makes Shallow Space unique against other similar titles is the detail in the combat, in particular the simulated projectiles and unpredictable nature of the ship movements. But it became clear to us when simulating larger battles that there needs to be some degree of predictability otherwise you’re effectively watching the AI battle it out – this update goes a long way to resolving that woe.

An example is the AI attacking from roughly the same direction each time meaning that combat can now be ‘anchored’ making it easier to flank them and making small but immersive mechanics such as shield rebalancing not only a reality, but extremely useful. Look forward to that inclusion very shortly (literally coding it as we speak.)

Once more we appreciate all the support and feedback as we edge ever closer to our immediate goals. Keep those bug reports coming and remember to post screenshots of your new escapades Commander!

BETA Hotfix Update 4.7.1 Change log
– Added ship customisation to Options menu (primary/secondary colours)

– Fixes to crash on Hard Group setup

BETA Update 4.8 Change log
– Added ‘Quick Battle Mode’

– Fixed issue with orders being wiped on ship jump
– Fixed issue with selection box ignoring units
– Fixed rare crash allocating initial SFX channel
– Fixed issue with fleet icon not appearing when construction complete
– Fixed issue building Sadalbari Command Carrier
– Fixed crash updating rolling selector if ship changes groups
– Fixed issue with Combat AI ‘eternal chasing’

– Update major tweaks to ship Combat AI
– Update 3D ship text no longer affect by time scaling

Something to add Commander?