V 0.9.1 Super Sandbox Upgrade
This update was all about replayability. We are going to get right into the guts of the update because there is a lot to read!
At a high level, here are the major upgrades:
Flight physics got a big upgrade, which also lead to a 20% CPU savings.
Improved missiles to make them a more viable choice.
Added ability to hot swap the root core in the inventory level.
Changed Fighter energy consumption to be on attack only.
Added an Insane difficulty mode for experts who hate themselves.
Added Extended core modes (now have up to 21 cores)
Upgraded the sandbox mode with 73 sliders and new pre-defined game modes.
Added the Milky Colossus (a huge 200 sector map!)
One important note:
This was a huge update, and we are just two people. We tested this as best as we could, but the breadth of changes in this update would require an army to test properly. The old map has had three years of testing and the new map has had about a week. Also, we tried to apply logical limits to the tuning sliders, but there are thousands of permutations to the possible tuning now. So we “think” everything is good, but we expect a few hot fixes to come in the next couple days as you find and hopefully report weirdness. The game just got a whole lot bigger...
Flight Physics Improvements:
One of our big goals was to optimize the physics a little more to allow for more cores and to take some of the pressure off slower CPUs. The end result of this work is that there should be about 20% less physics load on the CPU, and when the load gets high, fps drops will be less noticeable. So it was a pretty big win.
The root of the upgrade is that we now use physics for everything flight related. This means the ship handling will feel slightly different and may be a bit foreign at first. The ship banking used to be controlled by a forced rotation over time that overrode physics (this lead to some nasty problems we will discuss below as well.) This is why the banking could feel a bit robotic, because it was. Now we use some crazy vector math to handle the banking with physics forces.
From your perspective:
Some ships will bank more quickly and others more slowly than before. Since the banking is using real physics the shape along the spine of the ship matters. It takes very little force to rotate a pencil along its length, but a lot more to rotate something with wings sticking out from the center line.
Root core placement matters. This is where the physics is centered (somewhat) So if you put the root core up front you can make turns that can slide out the tail end on fast turns (this feels pretty good) Experiment with a placement you like.
Ships now nose down or up on turns. Ship pitch rotation is no longer locked, so on turns they look a lot more dynamic.
One extremely awesome side effect is that ramming and collisions look fantastic. If you see an arena event with the Krule Intention ship, try it out and you will see what the new physics can do.
Extra physics info for nerds:
So physics and the frame rate update at different speeds. This means that physics needs to interpolate between drawn frames to look smooth. Now when we were doing the robotic banking, it was fighting this interpolation because we were forcibly changing the physics all the time. This lead to a “tick” it was really fast and you may have never noticed it, but you probably heard it (ears are better at picking this stuff up) So if you did a high speed turn in the past your engine sound would kind of warble. That warble was the sound of the physics being reset dozens of times per second. Tick Tick Tick. Drove us nuts but we didn't know what it was until we fixed it. Now the engines hum instead of yodel.
At high frame rates the visual tick became visible. The camera is fixed to the ship, so the ship itself never ticked as it rotated because the camera ticked with it, however the entire rest of the environment (aside from the skybox) WOULD tick since the actual thing ticking was the ship with the camera attached. These subtle little tick tick tick when looking at asteroids and turning... All fixed.
Sound and flight are a lot more smooth now. We like smooth.
The missiles have come up a lot on the forums recently as not being viable, and we agree, so we set out to fix that.
Missiles now shoot twice as often, but do half damage (dps is unchanged)
Missiles get a 3 second point defense buffer before being lockable. This prevents them being popped while next to the parent ship.
Flak cannons now work like flak cannons and are not 100% effective within the flak cloud. Some missiles will make it through the shrapnel, others will be damaged, others destroyed. Expect around 50% to survive with some remaining level of health.
Missiles, Torpedoes, and Warheads have a short warm up time before being fired while in initial formation with the mothership (to prevent friendly fire accidents)
Missiles, Torpedoes, and Warheads have 50% more health.
Ion Warhead clouds now have a 1 second lifespan but do 2x damage. This makes them the shield killers they are meant to be.
Root Core Hot Swap:
In the inventory level, you can now re-position the root core without disassembling your entire ship. Right click the root core, then right click a sub core where you would like to place it.
Please report any anomalies with this. The code to make this work is really fiddly, but we figured the convenience to the player outweighed insanity of writing it.
Fighter Energy Consumption:
In the unending battle to make fighter fun but not overly epic compared to other weapons, we have adjusted their power consumption to only consume while the fighters themselves are actively trying to kill something. This brings them back into line with the power consumption of other weapons systems.
Its back and less fair than ever. This difficulty mode is about pain, and please do not try this mode with less than 50 hours of experience. It will hurt you.
AI does 2X damage.
You do 0.5X damage.
AI levels MUCH more quickly. You can still out pace them, but barely. They get a base of 97.5% of your experience. Expect the AI to stay ahead of you for a good long while.
Zombie provinces can now have 2X as many zombies. They will vacuum factions to death.
Zombies will do 2X damage (that is 4X total... there's some hard zombies)
Outside of the difficulty slider there are 73 other sliders which are not connected that you can use to inflict pain on yourself.
You have been warned...
Note: Insane mode is still in the works so there is not achievement for it yet, but there probably will be someday once we know it is settled and evil enough.
Extended Core Modes:
The physics improvements above have had the side effect of making the long awaited extended core modes possible. They do eat a fair share of CPU so keep that in mind, and the story will still use the good old 15, but if you want bigger ships, they have arrived...
Note: this applies to the whole galaxy. All captains get the extra cores.
There are 6 modes:
Default: normal progression (15 cores total)
3 Early: Your starter ship will now have 6 cores instead of 3, normal progression. (18 total)
3 Late: This extends the end game allowing cores to be added further along in the level tree (18 total)
6 Early: Start with a 9 core ship. (21 total)
6 Late: Greatly extend the end game core perk hunt. (21 total)
3 Early and 3 Late: This one starts you bigger and ends you bigger, and is quite fun. (21 total)
Why the odd number MinMax? 21? What you smokin?
The reason for 15, 18, and 21 is to allow 3 X N brick shapes for synergies without wasted dangly bits. We hate dangly bits...
Super Sandbox Sliders:
So, there are now 73 sandbox sliders, and with great power comes great responsibility. Awesome new modes are at your finger tips, but it is also possible to make a horrible untuned mess. Try for the first option, and please don't blame us for the second.
To help with this, we have made a few pre-built game modes using the sliders to act as helper examples for your own tuning templates.
Default: Good old default. This is what the story uses.
All Unlocked: If you want it all and you want it now, well this is for you.
Epic War: Brutal marathon conquest.
Rising Star: Carve out an Empire... Somehow.
Hidden Menace: While bandits rule, dankness looms...
For most players the game modes above will be a great starting point and will add tonnes of replayability.
For those of you who like to get your hands dirty, read on...
When you select a game mode, you can inspect the sliders below in the advanced section to see what they did. This allows you to use a game mode as a starting point and then tweak it however you want.
Once you have the sliders where you want, you can save them and that will become your new sandbox default when loading the menu. There are ways to save multiple tuning files but more on that later...
These build the galaxy and cannot be changed after generation. These are very powerful and define things like the levelup mechanics and faction spread, the guts of how the galaxy will play out.
Note: the rest of the sliders can be changed in game at any time.
This is how the metagame works. How many systems are needed to make part sizes, how many perks you can pick from on levelup, the levelup speed.
This one is really powerful, and it is the reason alt-F8 exists. You can change darn near everything about combat in here, live. Expect to spend a good while fiddling in here.
How strong is the infection and how hard is it to overcome.
Feast or famine it is up to you.
Adjust the power, effectiveness, and frequency of raids.
Tune the cloaking mechanics to your liking
This is a little bit of everything else that doesn't fit in a category. There are some cool things in there like determining how much rez parts and goons consume, if any.
In sandbox mode we try not to lock you down, so if a tunable won't break the game we let you tune it while the sandbox is running. If you made a bad choice, and that choice wasn't used to generate the galaxy, just change it
To access tunables while the game is running look in the options menu (not available in story mode)
Also if you are tuning ships, you can press Alt-F8 to bring up the menu more quickly.
We also allow you to save your own tuning table. Each time you load the sandbox menu it will default to your saved tunings.
Note: You can even share these tuning files with friends (if you rename them they will appear in the pre-defined tuning lists at the top of the sandbox menu)
Located here: C:\Users\MinMax\AppData\LocalLow\MinMax Games\SPAZ 2\Cloud\Tunables
Just rename MyTunables to something else and it will appear in the game modes menu. The hope is to someday set these via workshop, but there is no reason people can't share them themselves for now.
The Milky Colossus:
Saved the best for last. It is finally here! The giant map! Not much more to say than that. Go, explore, have a new adventure.
Well there is a tiny bit more to say. So the new map is huge and has 1 week of testing. We think it all works, but it is huge and has 1 week of testing. If you see anomalies, please let us know. Did we mention that it is huge and has 1 week of testing?
Other Fixes and Changes:
Fixed issue with controller input scaling with frame rate. Now rates are constant like with the mouse.
Fixed issue where if you press escape on the select difficulty menu while already in a game it would revert to the galaxy creation screen.
Zombies should respawn with a full compliment of 0 star parts. on hard zombies do 33% bonus damage now (offsets their poor parts) on insane 2x.
Fixed a bug where in rare cases a save could become corrupted due to a loading timing issue and subsequent save. Sprung up in V 0.9.0.
Fixed sound persistence issue where too many looping audio sounds were active on the starmap after loading from a combat instance. Got some CPU back on starmap.
Ai captains start with more real parts.
In inventory level the firing arcs are now easier to test since guns will always fire instead of only firing if they can hit something.
Zombies get strike craft at zombie starbases. Keeps them threat relevant.
Zombies levelup more aggressively. To keep them closer to the top of the heap.
Zombies wont attack transports on easy and normal, but will on hard and insane.
Fixed capital transports returning to parent station after they are attacked.
Fixed Join my faction and kick from faction not appearing when an Ai captain is in battle
Bandit hive interaction text show when they are blocked by battle to avoid confusion as to why the fight button is inactive.
Fixed demand surrender not showing why the option is disabled in some cases.
Fix for beeping warning sound going off when a missile wants to fire in battlwagon mode.
Added a frame limiter for then Vsync off. 30,60,90,120,144 selectable.
Fixed it such that games with zombies deactivated will not spawn zombie roids in missions.
We expect a few hotfixes to come out as a result of all the changes in this build, but we are on deck to get them out as quickly as possible.
While I am working on script optimization, and an endless mode for the zombie infection, Richard will be exploring our big stretch goal, VR. He will likely make a separate post talking about that in the near future.
Long term the major goals left are VR, Voice Acting and Localization. Beyond that there is the ongoing support of the new systems, bug fixing, tuning, and the addition of features as they are needed or just sound really cool.
We hope you all are as excited as we are about this update!
Thanks again for your support and great ideas.
Andrew (Blorf) and Richard (Narlak)