Dev-Diary: 68

Hey everyone!

So these past two weeks have been interesting. I started closed testing recently, which immediately opened up a world of new bugs, but more importantly a lot of balancing issues. I’ve been a lot less focused on coding, and more focused on guiding the testing, as well as starting back up on art assets. I’ve continued work on doing the ship and module visuals (of which there are many of) as well as the overlay visuals. Below here, you can see what I mean by ‘overlay’; small icons and other visuals to assist in the presentation of information. I’m trying to diversify and simplify the information you receive on your screens, while also maintaining the core aesthetic.

Testing has revealed a few things to me, one of which is balancing; some events are randomly scaled too high and some boss-entities are too tough for when you fight them. This is fantastic feedback and is something that will be balanced out to hopefully have a smoother experience without sacrificing too much challenge. Another dominant request has been to include a tutorial; the nature of the game unfortunately means there is a lot the player is in control of and a simple ‘game-manual’ does not seem to be enough for some people, understandably so. Unfortunately, from the perspective of the developer, I have a rather detailed knowledge of how everything should go, but processes and mechanics will almost certainly not come as naturally to most players. I try to account for this as much as possible, but without actual player’s opinions I can’t know for sure where I am lacking. I had originally considered the idea of a tutorial a few months ago though had shelved it because I wasn’t sure how to implement it. However, a recent update I did which allowed the player to select different starting stations, and the update I did to the event system, may now allow a simple way to approach this. Oh yeah! Also I did an update where you can now unlock and play as different stations, each with pros, cons, and differing strategies!

Currently, my two main up-coming goals are to get a tutorial established and to set-up all the new overlay icons, as well as a handful of smaller patches and updates. There are numerous bugs which need to be tackled!

That’s it from me for now. Till next time, all the best~!
^,,^

Dev-Diary: 67

Even more non-stop coding! I’m gonna keep this one brief.

I’ve started local testing, and hope to move to closed testing within a few days. If you are someone that got approved for closed testing over the previous fortnight, I promise it’s coming! I had to update the bugs discovered in the local test earlier this week, and I also had to implement the final major change to the game; the Ship List update!

The update to the Ship List is a long-time coming, and one that has not only been on my mind for a little while, but also one that has been suggested by multiple people. The old Ship List simply generated a list based on what entities entered you sector based on the order they appeared. That’s it. But NOW!! Entities are organised into folders determined by their type. These folders are sorted by a hard-coded priority, and automatically sort entities into the folders. These folders can be opened and closed, so you can hide-away massive folders of boring space debris or projectiles. The folders will also organise the entities within by priority, ensuring that requests and traders are always readily available at the top for your access. It took a lot of work to recode something that was written so early in the game, and I’m sure there are still some issues with it, but it’s there and it seems to work and I’m so happy!

Anyways, that’s it for now. I’m going to set-up the test version and start powering through art now! Till next time, all the best~!
^,,^

MIS: Screenshot

Dev-Diary: 66

So I have been coding non-stop basically for the past two weeks, which is in continuation from the non-stop coding from the previous post haha! I did also manage to get sick, but all better now!

The main two things I have been continuing working on is content (story, events, station modules, unlockables) and balancing, optimisation, and general upgrades. After drastically improving the event system last time, I’ve been able to have a lot more control over how events play out. From this, what was once just a series of random events has become… a slightly more structured series of random events! But with a semi-consistent story, of course it requires a lot of work and unlocking to get through it all. I’ve also been producing as many station modules as possible (a station module is an attachable part to upgrade your station). These are the back-bone of the game, allowing players to try different paths and focus on alternate strategies, maybe even ones I didn’t even intend. Of course, a lot of these modules will be locked from the start of the game, and the only way to unlock them will be to play the game and complete missions! Some require luck, some skill, and others just need some perseverance.

The balancing and optimisation has made significant improvements. I’ve drastically improved ship handling in the engine for a more realistic approach, and also added a whole new game mechanic; missile warfare! Entities spawning other entities (eg: larger ships releasing small fighters) was always included, though now drastically improved and automated, but ships are now able to dispatch missiles and utilise other slower-moving attacks. Station weapons have been re-worked to include point-defence to stop incoming attacks, and to retaliate with your own, now being able to release missiles (and other entities) hunt down enemies. It took a bit of work at the core level of the game’s engine, but it’s all working now and adds a whole new dimension to the game which is amazing. This, in combination with being able to assemble drones and summon allies, provides many different options to the player.

I also reworked all the generic ships so that they have a standardised and more balanced strength, though with different factions having different pros and cons. This, in combination with the reworking to the event system, has thus-far proved to not only make the game more enjoyable without sacrificing challenge, but also allowed for more consistent gameplay. We’re getting closer to the point where, if you die, it was more likely due to a failure in strategy or management, and less because the game decided that “you should lose now”. Although, real-quick, would like to point out that this is, at it’s core, an arcade game. You play for points and time, and for the glory of surviving and accomplishing as much as possible on your run. While there is an ‘end-game’, the game itself is built to make that end-game as hard as possible to achieve, but even if you do achieve it, you can keep playing forever to get that sweet high-score. Due to the nature of how station modules interact and support each-other, I don’t doubt it is entirely possible to break this game, and honestly, I’m looking forward to watching people do it and discover crazy strategies and synergies. Something that I have always enjoyed from games that employ a similar style (eg: Binding of Isaac) is when you get that sweet run and you have a winning combination of upgrades that allow you to pull off insane strategies. That’s the feel I’m trying to go for here; fighting for that success by making the most of what you have discovered throughout your journey, trying new things, sometimes failing and sometimes becoming amazingly powerful!

With that all being said, I’m going to be tying up a lot of the ‘to-do list’ over the next week and start-up closed local testing, predominantly with other devs I know and a handful of friends. The game is currently in this weird grey area between alpha and beta; the engine and basically all the features are there and the game is very playable from start to finish, minus a handful of bugs, but there is also good amount of extra non-crucial content not present that I believe is still valuable to the game experience, plus it is missing a massive amount of art and some audio. While I can’t be certain when this game will release, especially with the demand of the holidays coming up, I do hope it can be finished sometime in the start of the new year. I guess we’ll see!

Oh wells! That’s it from me for now! Till next time, all the best~!
^,,^

MIS: Screenshot

Dev-Diary: 65

Wow I am exhausted.

In an attempt to not only get Management In Space done, but also to cram in as much amazing content as possible, I’ve been basically non-stop coding. Constant bug-fixes, more stories and options, optimisations, etc. The big one I tackled today was fixing the primary event management system. See, M.I.S. focuses a lot on the random events that occur and how you deal with them. Do you prioritise resource collection, do you focus on attack and defence, or do you find ways to manipulate the odds in your favour? One way I tackled this in an attempt to give more power to the player was to implement a focusing system, allowing the player to tell the station to prioritise certain modules over others. This works well, but something was still amiss.

Up until today, game events occurred according to base-time plus a random time, partly scaling with difficulty and partly incorporating a variable prioritisation function. In the short-term it worked because it simulated a semi-chaotic space galaxy was kinda cool! Though as the game expanded, there rose a massive discrepancy between runs; sometimes you could play for ages and barely encounter any enemies, then another you would immediately get swarmed by pirates and be destroyed. This is not ideal for a game that focuses on strategy and survival. While I still need to work on the difficulty scaling a bit, I’ve completely re-written how events are tracked and timed. There is now a semi-set structure to the play of events, with a background set of less-impacting random events that still give the game a delightfully chaotic and living feel to it, but not so heavily that it will destroy a run. While the new system will need to be judged over time, it seems to create some level of consistency across runs, allowing players to better approach each return to the game.

I was almost going to take a photo of all my notes about event timing and structure because it looks kinda cool, in a… messy kinda way… but I realised that I would be giving away all the event timing secrets so instead I’ll leave you with another gif to represent my current mood down below~

I still have a way to go, but I’m getting there. And the game is getting better and better every day! I promise it’ll be worth the extra time I’ve put in. Anyways till next time, all the best~
^,,^

(Oh also the website got updated and should be fixed now woo!)

Dev-Diary: 64

Hey everyone!

So I’ve been pretty dang busy. The past month was meant to be focused on more art-assets, but at the start of the month I had a handful of different people have a go at the current build. The feedback was very positive, and aside from the numerous bugs that popped up, there were a lot of suggestions made. Many of these were simple things, usually along the lines of, “Why can’t I do this?” to which my response was always, “You’re right! You should be able to do that!” As such, I’ve been implementing a lot of little upgrades to the game and just going down the list of bugs that needed to be fixed that either didn’t previously know about, or knew about and didn’t want to deal with at the time to keep working on the larger picture.

In addition to this, I’ve been working hard to get all the content into the game; all the stories, events, NPCs, and modules, as well as trying to balance them all out. I’ve been working on art as well, and while I have happily completed plenty, I still have a long way to go. I’ve also implemented a ‘Station Select’ option, which allows you to start the game with different preset module layouts, encouraging players to try different strategies to survive as long as possible. I’ve left a screenshot down below as a little treat, showing off the current Sector screen. Comparing it to an earlier screenshot, you can notice a handful of little updates, a lot of them suggested by players, as well as some of the visuals coming together.

On a much more personal note, something I’ve been trying to work hard on lately is my mental health. Working on a game can be a lot of stress, and while I have a handful of people helping me out with some of the assets and providing feedback and moral support, a lot of the work falls onto my own shoulders to just keep working and trying hard. Mental health, specifically anxiety and depression, is something I have had to deal with throughout my life and the stress of independent game development, in conjunction with other events occurring in my life, it can all get a bit too much sometimes. As such, while I know I need to have this game done by the end of the year, as the primary project still requires my attention, I am not going to be putting a deadline on Management IN SPACE. I’m going to work hard, push myself, and do my absolute best, but I’m also going to ensure that my well-being is safe and secure. I want to become the best person I can possibly be, and will strive for that every day.

Anyways, thanks for listening to my rambles. I hope you are all doing amazingly. Till next time, all the best~
^,,^

MIS:Screenshot

Dev-Diary: 63

Bug-fixes! Optimisation! Story upgrades! Art assets! More bug-fixes! So much happening and I’m stuck with a flu… Gotta work hard though!

Dev-Diary: 62

Hey all~!

Okay so small changes since my last post! I will not be releasing ‘Management IN SPACE’ just yet! This is because of how much work I was actually able to accomplish over the last month! Instead, I shall be releasing it sometime within the coming month as a full release, minus one-or-two features that could not be included for time-consumption or potential error reasons.

I have been able to get (basically) all the game-code done! Aside from some content filling for more story events, the game is coded and finished! The game now requires completed art assets and audio assets, which I shall be cramming over the next few weeks. 🙂

I would like to have it done by the end of the month, this is the deadline I am aiming for, however I do need to be flexible to my other commitments as well. Regardless! I shall try hard!

Thank-you for your patience and, till next time, all the best~!
^,,^

Dev-Diary: 61

Hey all~!

I’ve been working hard getting ‘Management IN SPACE’ ready for an alpha release for the end of the month! It’s mostly been coding; building menus, adding story and features, and some optimisations to the current mechanics. Most of the work has been code related.

I’ve also built an awesome little music system that automatically handles the soundtrack, which goes well with the tracks my musician has been sending me! It’s things like this that can bring a game together!

Sadly no screenshots this time, but hopefully next post the game will be alpha-ready! Fingers crossed!

Till next time, all the best~!
^,,^

Dev-Diary: 60

Hey all!

Continuing from my previous post, I have unfortunately been having to manage numerous personal issues lately which has been time-consuming. However, fortunately things have been improving and I have been able to find time to produce a handful of art-assets! Screenshots below!

This month the aim is to the ‘Management In Space’ to an alpha-release stage. This means finishing up some of the core engine and UI work, updating the story events, and enough balancing to make the game consistently playable. I’ll also continue to try to get art assets done, but they do take time and I’d rather have a functioning project than a pretty one at this point in time. I have also been working with my ever-talented musician who has been producing some wonderful pieces! Fingers crossed I’ll have something to show this time next month. 🙂

Below are a handful of the ship assets for the game. I’ve completed enough of the Civilian ships so along with all the Debris and Minerals, I’m well over half-way through the ship assets! I’ve already roughed-up the designs for the remaining ships, as well as numerous station modules. We’ll see what we can pull off this month; hopefully I’m able to find enough time to achieve my goals.

Till next time, all the best~!
^,,^

Dev-Diary: 59

Hey everyone.

Lately I’ve been stuck dealing with a number of personal issues. As such I haven’t been able to do much dev work or update properly. Hopefully this won’t continue for much longer and I’ll soon be able to continue again normally.

Thank-you.
^,,^