Monthly Archives: October 2017

All units now have a “Shields” healthbar in addition to the regular healthbar. Damage is applied to shields first; once the shields for a particular unit have been completely depleted, it will begin taking hull damage (note that groups have separate shields for each ship, and the displayed shields and health bars are the sum of all current units in the group.) Unlike health, shields naturally recharge over time. Additionally, during the campaign player fleet units will start with 25% shields, while enemy units with start with 0/50/100% depending on the difficulty level.

The addition of shields changes the game’s balance by essentially doubling units’ max health resulting in higher survivability and longer battles. Some units (such as the bomb frigate) have had their health or damage changed to maintain game balance. In addition to the extra health, there is now an additional damage reduction effect that occurs when an attack fully depletes a unit’s shields.

When an attack depletes the shields to 0, the remaining damage will be applied to health after being multiplied by:

(1 – (pre-attack shield health / max shield health))

This damage calculation is primarily intended to re-balance anti-frigate weapons against fighters, since high damage anti-frigate projectiles will now always take 2 shots to destroy a fighter with full shields, while having little effect on their dps against targets with much higher health.

In addition, this update adds a new flagship module: the Shield Recharge Module. This module enables the player to use an ability that partially recharges the shields of all units in the target area. As a defensive ability, it can be very useful in keeping units alive during battles. The idea of “healing” abilities such as this is something I’m looking to expand upon in future updates, including new buildable combat units that have a similar role, either through passive effects or active abilities.

This update also included a lot of less visible changes. I implemented a new version of the units panel and the actions panel (that display the currently selected units and their abilities on the bottom bar.) Now, all the relevant icons will be shown in a scroll panel, that will allow the player to scroll up/down if a very large number of unit types are selected (the old version would only display a limited number of these icons before they started being hidden behind the minimap.) I also did some refactoring to bring more unit type data such as icons and descriptions into a single file. Not a visible change, but this makes it a lot easier to edit or add new kinds of units to the game. Finally, I managed to implement some moderate optimizations, so the game should run a bit faster, especially on skirmishes with some of the larger maps.

What’s Next:

In the future, as I add more flagship ability modules, I’m also designing an improved interface for accessing these abilities more easily. Right now the player needs to select the desired ability module by itself to see the ability button, so I’m working on a new series of panels that will display all the currently available ability buttons whenever the flagship is in play. This will probably be the next thing I’ll work on after finishing the 4th enemy subfaction/boss that I’m currently working on.

Campaign Changes:

This update adds a new mechanic to the Rogue Fleet campaign: Imperial Armadas. After a set number of turns in each zone, an imperial armada will appear at one of the earlier visited nodes. This idea should be familiar to players who have played games such as FTL. The armada is represented by a red circle, which expands every turn and turns any node within its radius into an imperial controlled node (changes color from gray or yellow to red and adds an orbiting fleet symbol to the affected nodes.)

Campaign Armada

These nodes contain several types of events featuring powerful enemy fleets, which cannot be avoided should the player end up in a node containing the armada. (The pool of node types for the campaign now contains 44 different mission possibilities, including the 3 different end of zone bosses.) Additionally, these nodes introduce a new feature, which I’ll also be adding to some of the more “ambush” like standard nodes as well, where the player’s fleet will be split and only a subset of units (which are chosen for the player by the game) will be present in the battle. This is useful for splitting a large fleet into more manageable unit counts for the battle, and it’s meant to be a punishing mechanic that the player will have to deal with.

I had originally intended for the campaign to exist without an obvious timer mechanic like the growing armada to force the player to move on to the next zone, but it just didn’t feel right. Previously the game had relied on only increasing enemy fleet sizes in order to provide a disincentive from spending too many turns in each zone, but due to the difficulties in balancing that growth rate (plus the addition in the previous updates of nodes with a limited unit count) the campaign tended to snowball into being either too easy or too hard depending on how well the players managed to grow their fleets. Although it isn’t the most original idea, the imperial armada seems to provide a clearer and fairer experience in recent playtesting.

Formation Move Improvements:

This update also adds a new type of move order with a new hotkey. Once the player has organized their fleet into the desired formation, they can now tell all selected units to move at the same speed in formation to the target area, as shown in the demonstration video below:

This tool should be useful for maintaining formations (preventing the fastest units from pushing their way to the front, for example.) The default hotkey combination for this is Ctrl + Alt combined with clicking the right mouse button. The player can also hold down the right mouse button and drag the cursor to rotate the formation.

Campaign Battle Result Screen:

This update also adds 2 additional tabs to the battle results screen that is displayed after the player completes any node event during the campaign. The first tab shows all units lost during the battle, while the second displays an animated chart showing the experience gained by each unit, and whether any of them have increased in rank. Additionally, each unit’s current veterancy rank (if it is greater than 0) is now displayed in all fleet scroll panels in the campaign menu.

Experience Gains

Bug Fixes:

Most of these updates have involved some kind of bug fixing, as is to be expected of a game in development. The most notable fix in this update is to prevent a crash that occurred when the player completed a mission and returned to the campaign menu, only while certain screen recording software such as Fraps was running. This update should solve that problem for those wishing to make video recordings of their gameplay during the campaign. Other notable changes include better text scaling for aspect ratios wider than 16:9 and fixing a bug where the AI wasn’t as aggressive as it should have been during planetary battles from the solar system skirmish.

What’s Next:

The Corporate Zones:

The Union campaign will be divided into 3 different Zone types: the Frontier Zones, which are populated mostly by pirate factions, the Corporate Zones (which are predictably full of corporate factions,) and the core Imperial Zone.

For the most part, the corporate zones and factions will be similar to the already implemented pirates. One key difference is that Corporate factions will primarily use the Empire’s units and structures (as opposed to pirates who use the Union’s unit types.) Additionally, as the player gets farther into the campaign, I plan to emphasize missions that involve more base building, although simple tactical fleet battles will still be possible.

Additional Campaign Factions:

The Corporate Zone will have its own set of factions, much like the pirate factions. I’m currently working on 2 additional pirate factions, and I’ll likely end up with about the same (5 total) corporate factions for the campaign, each with a character portrait, a series of mission nodes, and a unique flagship and/or special flagship modules.

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