STORE COMMUNITY ABOUT SUPPORT
Login Store Community Support
View desktop website
© Valve Corporation. All rights reserved. All trademarks are property of their respective owners in the US and other countries.
Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more
We’re running at fever pitch here as development pauses while we start fine tuning for the First Playable Beta and the fruits of all our labor truly begin to unfold. At the same time the shared work space is filling with new assets, sounds, music and lore all waiting to be injected so we think it’s fair to say that things are about to get really interesting around here.
A few words on the latest video to start with (click YouTube icon to get fullscreen.)
Firstly, all the music you hear will be in the game. SFX are back in the game with over 50 new additions and all the 3D spatial sounds have had the low band pass reverb treatment so the room suitably rumbles as ships roar pass and the sounds are pleasant both loud and clustered.
We’ve added 80 minutes of music (more to come) along with the 10 piece procedural battle music piece we spoke of. A whole host of particle effects and shaders have been tweaked and added just for the sheer glory of it, and to the absolute delight of the 3D team, the ships no longer look like they are made from polished acrylic.
Under the hood massive work has gone on to make the combat AI (especially the Corvettes,) a little more believable with more specific behaviour added relating to plotting intercept vectors for distant targets and keeping units in firing range. Of course, the trouble with all this clever AI behaviour and dazzling imagery is its a bit of a nightmare to test… I’ll try and explain.
Use of physics for movements, fine tuned particle and screen space effects, 3 years of learning, testing and adjusting. The space battles are now truly mesmerizing.
So I’m working on a wing members reaction when their wingleader is destroyed, I put in the required code and hit play and here I am in Zone 1. I get as far as selecting a Carrier to launch a wing.
‘Oooo that’s a nice shaped asteroid cluster, let’s take a look at that.’
PEW-PEW-PEW… THUNK – cursory glance at the fleet panel 'nope – none of mine.' Spin the camera round and it’s a pirate Cambridge and… yep it’s on an intercept course.
Hmmmm OK I’ll bite; ‘launch all fighters, Carriers withdraw to extremity of indicated asteroid cluster, group the Battlecruiser and Light Cruisers together and plot an intercept course, authorise use of special weapons on the Battlecruiser, prepare lead Capital ship for a short range jump to tackle the…’
BZZZZZZ – THAWCK – ‘that sounds like XL weapons fire, a siege laser maybe, it can’t be here already…’ Spins camera round for a look and it’s a lone allied Homan Battlecruiser, emerging from an adjacent nebula, main guns blazing.
I pulled the fleet back and watched, this should be interesting.
Of course, no sci-fi game is complete without the requisite doom-beam Lazor. Here is a Battlecruiser firing a Light Siege Laser.
What happened was the Homan completely took apart the Cambridge with a Siege Laser (not particularly overpowered, much) despite having a quarter of the hit-points and a fraction of the targets cumulative DPS.
What this means is that all the new little tricks we’ve rolled in; the more individual nature of the ships, directional shields etc. – are leading us to something that is very difficult to achieve which is asymmetric balancing. Had the enemy had even one Light Cruiser as an escort, that lone Homan wouldn’t have stood a chance.
This is going to be essential in separating Shallow Space from the normally predictable nature of combat of some RTS games and creating something that is continually engaging as you discover your own way to tip the scales in your favour.
Another thing to consider is my excitement playing it. You have to imagine that I’ve been making this thing for over 2 years now and the novelty of it wears off. But these battles have me shrieking like an ecstatic child, spinning round in my faux-leather racing chair grinning from ear to ear.
Now if it does that to me playing with ships I’ve just plonked in there to test, imagine your own reaction when your hand-picked prototype Battleship trains its proverbial ‘Borg’ guns that you bastardized in a lab somewhere, and swings it’s freshly painted ass around for an alpha strike.
Yes my friends: GLOOORY AWAITS US!
Of course while I’m sat at my desk processing all this, literally spasming with joy – I’ve bloody forgotten what I was testing!
This little beauty hit the shared workspace just yesterday; the 3 piece ‘Tartarus’ Modular Shipyard, complete with Iris Corvette docking hatch. We can add all that to the 12 other installations that will be switched on after the First Playable release.
On that point, keep your eye on the Official forums, in particular this thread and you’ll be treated to instructions to get to the First Playable of the Beta on Steam. First Playable will be a silent launch for the die-hards – once it hits, we’ll roll out patches practically on a daily basis for a fortnight or so to get us were we need to be.
So we are on the home stretch, literally down now to tidying up menus and adding a help system. If you’re new to the project, grab a copy because it won’t be this cheap forever and if you’re one of the thousands waiting in anticipation, get excited - it’s allowed because it’s nearly time!
With the business admin tackled, the last week or so we’ve been back into the code, forging the few last remaining items on the todo list before we unleash the Beta. In this article we’ll talk about what to expect from the Beta and just what is taking the most time while on the way touching on some exciting new mechanics we’ve introduced.
So when we first released the Shallow Space Alpha onto Steam we made the classic mistake of releasing without enough content. Before launch we digested guidelines and looked at examples of other EA games, but it still wasn’t really clear to us back then that people who buy into EA games still expect a more-or-less feature complete piece. We can’t make that mistake again.
So we thrashed the keyboards hard to play catch-up and it turned into a cool little thing, but adding content in the current Shallow Space Alpha posed us a problem because it took almost as much time to design and integrate the maps and missions as it did to actually write the game. Then if you consider that as we add more new stuff, sometimes the old stuff would have to be redesigned or recreated completely as we get closer to finishing you can see we arrive at quite the problem. If we had to simplify that development effort into a ratio, let’s say ‘design, implementation, content’ it would sit at around 30:30:40 respectively.
But then we decided to make Shallow Space open-world.
So now the development experience is very different. Rather than hand designed maps one-by-one, we instead give the game instruction to create an unlimited number of unique maps itself and rather than perfecting the behaviour of ships that will follow the same path each time, we instead give the ships a limited level of awareness and allow them to collectively make decisions based on their tasks and surroundings.
With this new twist, the major effort is lodged in the creating and training of that behaviour, and the now procedural nature of the content means it can be folded in comparatively effortlessly once the core is established. Going back to our simplified effort ratio of ‘design, implementation, content’ I’d describe it as 40:40:20.
So why is the content now 20% of the effort, will you get less of a game?
Nope. It simply means that through some clever planning in the first place, we can amplify what we inject and turn it into even more content. An example is the Objectives system; when we’re designing the missions we now specify a simple set of parameters such as; roughly how big should the enemy force be compared to the players, the composition, the task, should they be hidden, spread across multiple zones, etc. The game takes this limited information and explodes it into a series of detailed chained Objectives and triggers with the possibility of random encounters and rewards.
So what we’re trying to say is, now is the time for us to build that foundation (and build it right) and it’s taking a little longer but once it is built, the rest of the actual game should come together reasonably quickly, quickly enough to be very entertaining from where you’re sitting.
But before we reach the point where we can pump content into the new and shiny Early Access Alpha, we really have to test the proposed confines of that content – the game itself, to make sure it is both bug free and is actually fun.
But that’s easy right? That’s the bit you guys do.
Well in the current alpha, the control system could be described as convoluted, definitely so when you compare it to the new alpha in which you can control all 3 axis of camera motion simply with the mouse and a modifier key Homeworld-styles.
Many people (myself included) simply got used to the old system and persevered. While this isn’t particularly great for the project, it does underline the importance of a more stringent set of tests to better promote feedback which we’ll release with the Beta on the Main Forums. The tests will be designed to drill into each of the games core mechanics as we systematically switch them on, allowing us to correct issues and implement suggestions in a more structured fashion.
We appreciate that not everyone has the time to spare for that, so we’re hoping to gather together a hardcore of Players willing to get their heads into the patch notes to raise awareness and spend an extra few minutes completing survey’s on the forums.
So where are we right now?
Well the todo list basically sits at: Tutorial framework, explosions - wrecks - loot, menus and loading screens so not a massive amount left now, so look forward to an increase in visible updates, story and media as we move closer towards the Beta launch.
In particular keep an eye out for more exciting new imagery over on the Steam community page, a new ‘short’ story series tracking the exploits of a Mineral & Fusion Corp freighter, breakdowns and 3D turntables of the new ships and stations appearing in the Overhaul and exploratory articles looking at life in the new Shallow Space.
Cheers for all the well-wishing and your continued patience while we build up to the awakening of this sleeping beast!
Explore the various ship hulls and module types and get an inside peek at the upcoming mechanics hunting for rogue ships hiding in rock clusters and nebulas, and orchestrate detailed fleet battles.
You’ll also have access to the ‘tactical simulator’ so you can test out ship designs and hone those design skills in the hangar before you’re cut loose in the procedural open galaxy due next update.
©2015 Special Circumstances - Special Circumstances, Special Circumstance Games & Special Circumstance Studios are all trading styles of CDG Studios Ltd registered in the United Kingdom. Shallow Space is a registered trademark.
You can use this widget-maker to generate a bit of HTML that can be embedded in your website to easily allow customers to purchase this game on Steam.
Enter up to 375 characters to add a description to your widget:
Copy and paste the HTML below into your website to make the above widget appear
Sign in to add your own tags to this product.