This week I upgraded The Dawn Star to use Flash Player 14, since it alleviates my two major technical fears (which ideally would use MRTs and Floating Point Textures) by introducing MRTs and Floating Point Textures. Hooray! Unfortunately this broke the rest of the game, which I’m now repairing. The older builds should continue to work fine, but the next one will take me a little longer.
I also worked on a banner ad system advertising The Dawn Star, Captain Forever Remix, and the general Captain Forever Supporter program, all on the main Captain Forever site. This seems trivial, but when you consider that the CF pages are built using oldschool text layout with a few inserted images, you can see why CSS and HTML (designed to lay out pages using all sorts of metrics other than text size, and then squeeze the text in to fit) are terrible tools for the job. But I got it to work so yay. Hopefully this will help other players find their way to supporting the game, which would be great.
The final thing I’ll mention is a little video experiment I put together to explain The Dawn Star. I don’t think this is release quality, whatever that means, but I’ll link it here anyway in case you’d like to see it. I expect I’ll redo this and push it further later, since it seems like a good direction.
Next week I’m on holiday, in the sense that Jon is on holiday and I’ll be running Card Hunter in his absence. I’m taking a holiday from not getting paid, then. TDS will pick back up the week after. If you’re a Card Hunter player then you’ll probably be keen to know what I’ll be working on, between answering support requests and extinguishing server fires. This is by no means a done deal, and may never appear in the game proper, but for the next week I’ll be working on prototyping a feature that starts with C, ends with P, and has a hyphen in the middle. I really hope it works out, because it ought to be super, super fun.
Last week I broke some tech barriers and my pre-rendered sprite appeared, beautifully lit and shadowed, in the game itself. Hooray! Or, more accurately, phew. So far as I can tell lighting like this hasn’t been used since Rag Doll Kung Fu in 2006, or ever at all in flash. And I reckon it’ll work.
You might notice an absence of video this week. Yup. Another little life hiccup prevented me from finishing this, and gave me time to question whether I really ought to be making videos in the first place. I think my PR time could be better spent on other things, at least in the short term, so instead of burning a day a week producing a video I’ll spend that time setting up a press kit, and a proper landing page, and a greenlight campaign, and so on. The weekly builds have really motivated me though, so I’ll continue to pump them out.
If you want to see a demo of the new render tech, just fire up this week’s build and click the button marked LIGHTING. You can use the left and right arrows (or A and D) to rotate the ship, and either hand to lift your chin off the floor.
Due to a minor family emergency I couldn’t push the build and video out on time, however I’m close to finishing them so will get that done in the next few days. This will likely happen a few times through winter unfortunately, which has me wondering whether the videos are worthwhile or if I should piff them to work on other aspects of the game. I think I could more reliably get the weekly builds out if there was no associated video, for instance. If you have time to comment I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
In the mean time, here’s a sneak peek of what I’ve been working on:
Hi! Last week I had to skip the video due to a family not-emergency-but-still-a-thing-that-very-much-required-all-of-my-attention, but a build went out nonetheless. Both weeks I worked on pre-rendering tech, so the build itself didn’t change all that much, but they still serve up new sectors for you to explore. Oh, and I added a new module type!
Here are the changes for last week’s build:
New universe seed, and and smaller main wide sector than last week
Made asteroid field spawn locations less uniform
Fixed juliet stations and ships not spawning in wide sectors
Fixed cruise control key override bug
Fixed cruise control backwards mode
Fixed map export station visiblity bug
Fixed looping audio continuing across game screens bug
In response to some great forum discussion I’ve moved back to wide sectors, rather than the tiny string of ’em we have been playing through since wormholes appeared. There’s still plenty of work left for me to do here, including having the sectors persist their save data between games. Check out the forum if you want a more detailed brain dump about this.
Here are the changes for this week’s build:
Returned to giant sectors, one of which is playable here
Added first pass title screen
Added first pass wormhole effect. Shaders are fun
Fixed arrival station moving around each sector load (whoops!)
Reduced player’s command module thrust, so it’s easier to control
Reduced player’s command module weight, so modules help more
Quick and scrappy station ping out on rescue/reboot