Oct 152011
 

Things in the server code room over the past year (but really, the past month more than anything else) have been hectic, but I suppose that the changes should also be listed here as well, for posterity.

Overall, on Star Conquest, this pretty much meant a 66% reduction in CPU utilization, though before all of the performance improvement changes were put in we were running over 120 simultaneous AI pilots in a sector without the server missing a beat.

Still, we could probably use an upgrade some time in the future.

Detailed changes after the break.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:24 pm
Jan 102011
 

Dear diary,

I haven’t forgotten about you. I just….I haven’t had time to answer your calls….

Listen…. I think it’s better if we….had a break, you know? I need some space.

Since October so many wonderful things have happened. Several Gamma security clusters of space were added to the game, allowing for player versus player conflict without gaining the attention of the navies. And so many bugs were fixed! A new control scheme for players who fly sans-keypad…

So many new crafting recipes, including ones for space-launched interdictors. Navies are less uptight about the errant stray shot. And while you can’t repair past failsafes anymore, extreme burst damage from a big ship no longer breaks three failsafes at once like how it used to, and it adds an emergent feature of attrition.

Bari were reintroduced, but so were a totally revamped felo, with multiple breeds and genetics. And you can switch out your battlesuit at ANY spaceport now.

We gave battlesuits other love too, with new per-conquest raid missions and a buff to the advanced RATS battlesuit.

We’ve released several new ships and advanced upgrades for mid- and high- level pilots, and most recently we have added rental starships targetted at cadets and other players with low amounts of points, equipped with a reasonable level of upgrades.

Thanks for listening to what’s been going on in my life, diary.

 Posted by at 7:18 pm
Sep 242010
 

Greetings! Time for an update on the state of Star Conquest!

First the good news: our efforts at generating interest in Star Conquest have resulted in the creation of over 70 new characters since the month began, and a return of peak numbers to 20-25 active (not idling) players! That’s a pretty good start, but we’re hoping, of course, to keep up the momentum and keep those numbers growing.

Now the bad news! Long hours at my real job have prevented me from making a great deal of progress on that secret fifth category of points, which I may as well name now: command points. There is to be an aspect of both space combat and ground combat, and I’ve made some progress on the ground combat front, particularly in adding a redesigned form of vehicles. But the command point activity can take place in a number of settings, and I think to get the system out sooner, I’ll set aside the ground combat for now and concentrate on getting the space combat portion working (as those fundamentals already exist), along with the basic functionality of the whole thing. Ground combat missions can then be added in later in a new setting, which will be more plot-appropriate anyway.

But before that, the results of the survey we did this month have convinced me that I should shift my focus a bit. It’s evident that very, very many of you guys want more variety in terms of industrial activity. Upon reflection, using salvaging (SC’s oldest and crappiest point-generating activity) as the top method of gaining industry points really isn’t acceptable. What we should have is, ideally, an industry activity at the top level which is as engaging as some of the combat activities are, and not so mindlessly repetitive as salvaging. My goal is to get that system designed and at least partially coded this weekend. I cannot tell you in detail what form it will take, because at the moment I really have no idea!

So that’s where we stand at the moment. As always, we’re looking for your input into the best ways to gain and retain new players, as higher peak numbers open up many possibilities!

 Posted by at 3:23 am
Sep 052010
 

First of all, we’re spending the first week or two relaunching our storyline and trying to fill the game with new players! We hope to get new and old players alike active and involved in the game!

As for other plans, one thing it’s become clear that players miss is the organization system. An organization in classic Star Conquest was something like a guild that allowed players to share funds and starships. Unfortunately, it had some balance issues that were never properly addressed. This month, probably quite soon, we plan to build a new organization system from scratch that’ll have built-in balancing mechanics from the start. Our organization system will allow for group-funded and group-insured ships, which has often been requested by players.

This organization system will, in turn, lead directly into an entirely new game mechanic with a new points category. Experienced civilian pilots will soon have the opportunity to stake out areas of space and lead the defense there, delegating space and ground missions to their fellow pilots. This will involve all new challenges for pilots at every level.

Continuing along the chain, the system above should help us nail down some mechanics for low-security space and the control thereof, though that won’t necessarily happen this month.

Mutuality space should get some attention this month, with a rebuilding and reopening of the Ring region and the release of some all-new space stations! This isn’t only for Mutuality players, but will likely serve as the first showcase for low-security space, factions, and capture mechanics in the coming weeks.

Now that we’ve expanded space, we hope to make it feel alive, with both enemies and friends constantly on the move around you. Pilots will have to step up their defense, but they’ll also be able to take on more responsibilities, and win real victories for their alliance or their chosen faction.

 Posted by at 5:18 pm
Aug 242010
 

The new space system has successfully launched and the initial problems have been taken care of. I’m sure there are more problems lurking somewhere that will rear their heads someday, but for now the transition is complete.

We’re still on track to return to focusing on plot by the end of August, though there will be some buildup first before we have a new scheduled event. We’ll be using this buildup time to attempt to expand the player population. This still requires some preparation, but we’ll let you know when we’re getting started.

In preparation for this, most of our time lately has been spent on the early portion of the game, including the Mentor system, a new set of newbie quests, and a new early half-tier of battlesuits. But not to worry, we also recognize the need to add to the mid- to late-game and we have some plans for that.

And finally, we’ve added a new builder! This person will be helping to expand the new space stations into actual places, and will also be addressing player housing soon. So that will be an exciting time for all.

September should be a month of new players, new plot twists, and new additions to the game, and with the server situation stabilized and population on its way back up, it’s a great time to get back into the game! We’ll need the assistance of our veteran players to make the next month go smoothly!

 Posted by at 2:29 pm
Aug 152010
 

We’ve launched the new Star Conquest space system!

Keep in mind that this is merely an initial release. While there’s a few all-new places, our goal was really just to convert existing space to the new system. Mainly, this release is just paving the way for many more changes to follow. Just so that’s clear.

Read the full changelog after the break!

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 5:01 am
Aug 132010
 

Tonight I ran the first full test of the new space system! It had the expected hiccups, but once I took care of those issues, everything seemed to work pretty smoothly. There are a few more things that need to be worked out, but it looks like we’re on track to make the switch this weekend. It’s likely to take place Saturday evening or Sunday morning.

To be clear, this is not yet the glorious Star Conquest relaunch, which will take place later in the month and coincide with a new event schedule. Keep an eye out for further announcements about that.

 Posted by at 12:46 am
Aug 082010
 

I’ve been doing stuff too! Server stuff!

Believe it or not, SQ-0.1.10 (the server version we used up to the shutdown) actually had some fairly major potential stability issues which have now been rectified. In addition, we’ve added some cool new under-the-hood features (which are of rather limited utility to everyone who isn’t actually a host), which will be after the break.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 6:11 am
Aug 042010
 

Just so everyone knows we’re not just twiddling our thumbs, we have the following plans to resurrect SC after a rough month of heavy downtime:

  1. Finish the new space system that was discussed a few months ago. The principle features of the system are:
    • A new, smaller, more true-to-life scale for sectors. Mostly there will be one planet to a sector, and ships will actually be traveling at sublight speeds. Yes, this means a lot more sectors.
    • A sort of hierarchical cluster system for intersector travel. Instead of going to the New Earth sector to find New Earth, Telex, etc., you’ll instead go to a gateway sector, from which you’ll be able to travel directly to New Earth or Telex or any of the other destinations currently in Sector 21. Again, a lot more sectors. But no worries, travel between the common destinations you know and love will not really take any longer. This is to give space more of a geography, plus it’ll give certain sectors a heavy strategic value.
    • Sector clusters will vary in how heavily they are patrolled by the controlling alliance’s navy, and how resource-rich they are. In general, less safe areas will contain more valuable resources. Conversely, this means that capital sectors and other major populated locations will be safer than they are now. This allows for PvP to be both possible and entirely voluntary.
    • Resources (particularly ones like asteroids, uncharted debris, and artifacts) will no longer be “everywhere” but will instead be linked to particular resource points. Many points are permanent property of one alliance or another, others will be influenced by Conquest, and still others will be outright capturable in PvP conflicts. This will give conflict a material benefit but also allow each player to decide how much they want to personally risk.
    • From a game design standpoint, the nature of sector clusters will allow us to easily expand the game world to add unique places to visit and explore. It’ll make SC almost a whole new game, and that’ll be exciting.
  2. The other part of our plan is to launch a new plot advancement arc and re-commit to a goal of holding a planned event every weekend as much as our schedules will allow.

I can’t give a specific ETA, but it should be safe to say that the new space system will be launched and we’ll be holding scheduled events by the end of the month.

 Posted by at 2:42 am