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Navving left in the past

There is technological breakthrough. The sector Nuubuun where we test things is still 11x11 area with nothing but one space tile type and one border tile type which looks ugly but the display mode itself has changed. Now whenever someone moves in your vicinity you receive update from the server, there is no need to refresh the page to get new content. Since server informs of movement immediately after it is performed there is nothing to be gained by "navving" yourself, that would only slow things down. This is significant gameplay improvement. We were so happy with this there are two movies recorded - one with just Drifters, another with Drifters and Coryphaenas. For the second one we removed debug display of tile costs and it is even better.

Soon space would use many tiles that were drawn, not just particular single one. We are stuck with just Nuubuun for a while.

Nebula serpents and stalkers debut

Eventually one needs some NPC and here is one drawn, awaiting its future.

Varied space, ship rotation and asymmetry

Finally map interpretation improved and we have a nicely looking space which does not scream "repeating pattern" at viewer. Æther tiles still do so because there is only one of those for a specific border shape. Another step forward was adding ship rotation and while we were at it, ship asymmetry. Xolarix rendered The Drifter from the other side and it certainly looks different. One may not recognise this is the same ship at first glance. This caused divided opinions in the team but Kyoku managed to convince naysayers they could get used to it. Sylos and Widmo were skeptical and implemented option to disable ship rotation.

New members of the team

As word of our efforts travels we hear from interested candidates to the team. This month received two more team members, increasing the count to ten. The action has forced us to abandon an informal discord group chat where we organised calls because ten is the limit here. Whenever we wanted to temporarily invite someone over there it would cause problems. Dashlander was helpful as usual and created appropriate restricted voice channels where we could continue our weekly calls.

The newcomers fairly quickly adapted to our routine, finding niches to help in. Onizuka has taken over the so far unloved work of designing user interface for comfort and ease of information acquisition. In time we would all learn how important this really is. May also contribute to game lore. Harlock prefers game mechanics and concentrated helping efforts in this area.

August was also the month when we began starting taking meeting notes.

Combat models

Having first NPC drawn the team started thinking about future combat model. There were four interesting proposals.

First of those was presented by Kurburis who liked earlier assumption that combat would be resolved in turns happening every X seconds. The design allows joning one of two sides of combat within some time window or failing that, becoming a spectator and potentially joining in next combat turn.

Kurburis writes:
Bascially, in combat you can either choose to : 1. Engage who you want (target with red rectangle) 2. Change your stance 3. Repair your ship 4. Do nothing 5. Retreat.

For engagement, everybody chooses who to attack and combats are done in some random order. Same as in pardus, you will shoot at whoever shoots at you. You can choose to do nothing if you don't want to attack someone. Here we would have rules to incentivize variety in target choosing. If 4 or more pilots target the same person, everybody looses hit accuracy (how many ships can realistically follow the same ship if they are similar in size). Also, the more rounds you are targeting the same ship, the more you loose maneuvering and gain hit accuracy (you are focused, "in the zone"). So in a fleet battle, if we notice somebody is tailing someone, you could have a few ships engage that pilot as he has lost maneuverability. After each round you would see who was shooting at you and how much health you lost to them.

Kurburis also wrote about changing stances (defensive, balanced, offensive), how retreating would work and repairing ship in combat. A solid, well-rounded proposal.

Second proposal was by Xolarix. Although no pictures were offered the writing was very extensive and is still saved in internal discussion thread.

Third proposal was prepared by Widmo. It suggested a skirmish subgame where ship speed and facing would have meaningful effect. Instead of picking offensive or defensive stance that would be determined by ship manoeuvres. Charging head on was offensive while circling was defensive. While interesting for multiple participants it may have been too intensive for single combats.

Fourth and last proposal was prepared by Zac Quicksilver. It also relied on turns, although one would fight just one round each time and choose from a subset of abilities granted by ship equipment and character talents. It featured no illustration by itself but Onizuka was kind to prepare one month later after inviting Zac for discussion to better understand the mechanics.

Registration and login

What game of this kind has to have is some amenities like registration, login and lost password recovery. It was decided earlier not to do that fully ourselves but link to Firebase's authentication backend. Now it was executed and some interface has been written to that.