Welcome to the first content update of 2015!  This update brings quite a lot of improvements and new features – you can check the bottom of this post for full list and here are the highlights;

Carrier Class

As discussed last week, we’ve added the Carrier class of ship to the game.  The Carrier is temporarily available in the starting shop so you can try it out, although please note that attachments for the Carrier are not yet in the game.

The Carrier will automatically deploy drones when enemy ships are nearby – up to a maximum of 10 drones, which last for 20 seconds.  As drones are destroyed or expire, the Carrier will automatically deploy new drones to replace them.

Enemy ships who previously focused all of their firepower on your small fleet, will now fire upon your sacrifical drones!   Happy days!

Opening Battle

We recieved feedback from a number of early alpha players who noted that the opening battle was too easy – it was possible to do nothing and still survive.

Not anymore!  We’ve added some more ships and drones, so be prepared!

Rewards

Previously, very few missions gave rewards and those that did only gave a small amount of credits.

We’ve improved this system and the loot tables.  Missions will generally now result in a reasonable amount of credits and also potentially other rewards such as attachments.

Please note, that although this system has been improved it does require further balancing as we progress through alpha.  However, the changes will allow alpha players purchases a better range of upgrades to test them out.

Difficulty

Several players have noted that the game is quite difficult and is in fact, “tough as balls”.  There are a bunch of reasons for this – all of which we are aware of and working to address as part of the development of the game.

This content update addresses two of these reasons;

  • Enemy fleet composition.  Previously, enemy fleets would be spawned based on the number of ships you have.  This created situations where some fleets would be spawned with only powerful ships.  With this content update, enemy fleets will be spawned based on a points scoring system which means it will relative to the power and setup of your fleet.
  • Enemy fleet spawn timers.  Previously, some waves of enemy fleets would spawn too soon for players to be able to deal with them.  This setting has been switched off for the time being.  It will be reintroduced at a later date when the game is better balanced and able to handle this setup.

Future updates will also bring further improvements to the difficulty of the game.

In addition, a number of smaller changes will help with the difficulty issue:

  • Shields will instantly regen to full after being depleted for a few seconds.
  • Ships won’t move as close to enemy ships when you attack them.

Missions

A number of new mission layouts for Ambush and Capture missions have been added.

Full Patch Notes – v0.0.1.1

Drones

  • Added an A’kari drone.
  • Drones usable by player faction now, and all the support work required for that. Drone launchers now available on carriers.
  • Implemented drone launcher VFX (also repositioned drone launch port on carriers).
  • Modifications to drone launcher VFX.
  • Drone launchers launch up to 10 drones lasting 20 seconds each. Drone tooltips and descriptions updated to reflect this.
  • Weapon modifiers can now be applied to drone launchers.
  • Drone missiles should no longer circle excessively.
  • Drone damage balance.

Events & Missions

  • Finalised and polished some of the existing Events.
  • More events added, inc. repair shops and item events.
  • Added new Ambush maps.
  • Made starting mission harder.
  • Capture 3 maps now require all points to be captured.
  • Added more Capture 3 maps.
  • UI fix for Map 11.
  • Drones appearing in start mission fixed.
  • Made capture points invincible.
  • Story Event support added to more maps.
  • Added 85+ new A’kari ship names.
  • Can now activate a map trigger via story events.
  • Enemy ships can now pause capture progress.
  • Story Objective Attack added to all missions.
  • Colliders, HUD, damage points and targeting added to structures.

AI

  • Fleet Score added: each ship is given a specific score, a fleet adds all these together to come up with the Fleet Score, which is used to spawn the size and makeup of an enemy fleet.
  • Spawn lists setup for fleet change over. New Orthani spawn lists up to Fleet Score 7.
  • Pirate fleets up to level 4 added using the Fleet Score matching system.
  • New fleet prefabs.
  • Ships have new rotation speeds to avoid excessive circling.
  • Agro on Directional/Distance targeting – each ship keeps track of all agro targets and the damage done by each, once this reaches a certain threshold the ship will then target that attacker. There is a cooldown so that it can switch targets if a ship hasn’t been damaged for a while by that attacker.
  • Adjusted ship speeds. Removed ship wobble.
  • Akari NPC ships using AI to find friendly ships will also find ships in the player faction (e.g. Akari NPC pulsar will now heal player ships).
  • Removed unnecessary components from the enemy ships.

Shops & Loot

  • Added a checkbox to allow the player to turn off the Confirm Purchase/Replace popup. This can be re-enabled via the the audio options menu.
  • Items that are awarded as loot are now scrapable.
  • When you purchase an attachment the fleet browser will now scroll to the ship it was added to.
  • Attachments and weapons in the shop that cannot be fitted to any ship in the player’s current fleet now display as such/cannot be purchased.
  • Updated Ship pricing.
  • Socket updates for ships.
  • Changed the way repairs are created in the shop — they now work in a similar manner to attachments.
  • Supplies can now be bought from shops.
  • Shop background randomisation.

VFX & UI

  • Changed damaged ships to break even more and to have pretty debris that doesn’t blow up when they die.
  • Fleet browser now has proper gradient bleed on the shop.
  • Ships in the fleet browser now display their type.
  • Beefed up the VFX for the Orthani/A’kari shield disabled VFX.
  • Pirates now have breakable parts.
  • Icons now show in the info panel to show what is in each socket  Tooltips should now appear when the mouse pointer hovers over the icon for the socket.
  • Added new explosion with debris type to explosion effects group. Added explosion with debris to main scene (with manager, etc).
  • Added the ‘on hover’ to the ship buttons at the bottom of the UI. When you hover over one of them, now the HUD will display above the correct ship.
  • Battle Alert added to minimap when ships jump in or when your ships or mission specific objects are attacked off screen.
  • Added ship shield VFX and adjusted them (removing looping, increasing max render size, etc.).
  • Updated Controls image with correct ‘F’ information.
  • Tweaked the layout of the Objective Banner.
  • New fake projectile VFX is now set up correctly.
  • Asteroid colony updates.
  • Changed tooltip editor box to be bigger.
  • Removed sockets and general useless maguffins from structures, and changed explosions, default factions, etc.
  • Removed close button from various popups.
  • Tweak to debris explosion.
  • Debris VFX.
  • Removed Auto Destruct script from a number of VFX.
  • Added missing attachment icons to icon atlas.
  • Changes to menu positions in the main menu.
  • Added credits button to the main menu.
  • Credits panel changes.
  • Added prefabs for various VFX.
  • Updated sizing for the Shield Disabled and Shield Online VFX and created 4 sizes for each. Also created Enemy VFX for the same.

Fleet Balancing

  • Mending Pulse should now always hit ships within its radius.  As an added bonus, when storms and pulses are targeted at ships they will no longer jump to the ship’s centre point instead of staying at the mouse position.
  • Lances should fire on time.
  • New Criticals added. Current Criticals rebalanced. Critical descriptions updates.
  • Weapon range tweaks.
  • Ships no longer navigate to within 70% of their ideal range when trying to attack – there are separate values for player and AI-controlled ships (currently set to 80% for AI and 90% for player).

Sound

  • Added Akari/Orthani-specific sounds for when they blow up.
  • Small re-balance of the audio to make it less ear bleeding.
  • Added a bunch of sounds.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed the base hull in all the pirate ships.
  • Emptied out spawn lists to avoid issues in the build.
  • Set Akari drone launcher drone lifespan to 20 seconds (min and max).
  • Fixed parts issues with pirate ships. Also removed unnecessary elements on the thruster VFX.
  • Null reference fix for ‘on hover’ functions on the ship buttons at the bottom of the main UI.
  • Got rid of large portion of code in HullScript that was duplicating explosion sounds.
  • Thruster deadzone was making weird things happen to turning, so zero’d it out on all ships.
  • When a ship is destroyed it clears the ships it could see to avoid missing reference issues.
  • Fixed bug where enemies were invisible. Whoops.
  • Removing unnecessary debug logs from shield modifier.
  • Ships should no longer think they’re visible when they’re not.
  • Critical Manager should no longer attempt to apply Criticals to ships they are not appropriate to.
  • Change to WeaponRangeCritical.prefab description and name.
  • Potential bug fix (start shop showing one less ship on second play).
  • Disabled ships no longer trigger capture areas (nor can they pause them).  Capture areas will now immediately un-pause if un-triggered. Got rid of some icky magnitude calculations.
  • Fixed a bug where loot items that were being awarded during story events were not being added to the pending loot lists.
  • Ships in the player faction will no longer fly to be within their sonar ranges if this is less than their calculated ideal weapon range. This prevents unnecessary movement.
  • Player can no longer apply attachments to any socket after pressing reset.
  • Fixed bug where an error message was appearing on success rather than on fail…
  • Tooltip on sector map re-added.
  • Base hull now correctly gets ‘attachedTo’ set. Previously only non-base hulls were having this set.
  • Collider fixes for ships.
  • Corrected mapping between the Fleet Score and the Fleet Spawn Lists.
  • Fix for loading the wrong name into a story dialogue when awarding an object.

The team here has been pretty busy so far this year and there’s lots still to come so keep tuned!  If you haven’t tried Distant Star yet, you can pick it up on Steam Early Access for an early price of £4.99 (note that the price will increase after alpha).

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