The ultimate space capital ship combat compendium is the evolution of hard core space combat sims. The only game of its kind currently in existence.
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Mostly Positive (11) - 72% of the 11 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date:
Feb 6, 2015
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Recent updates View all (35)

May 3

DEV STATUS UPDATE

As it has been over a month since I teased the release of a MAJOR build, I wanted to post a quick word on the latest status.

It's a combination of things; but without getting too technical, here is briefly what's been happening.

GAME DEV IS HARD - EVEN FOR A VET

OK, that one was obvious. But it's a lot more complicated than that.

As you know, my plan with this 3.x generation was to improve on the game in a variety of areas including not only in terms of visual improvements, but also in improvements to the AI, gameplay elements, world assets etc. But putting on a coat of paint, can only go so far - especially since I really don't plan on doing another complex game like this. Ever. That's why I created the ACM scenario first, and tested it using the previous engine iteration etc.

Part of the visual improvements involves porting UCCE to use the slightly more advanced engine used in AAW/AOA. This means that I also had to port things like shaders, physics/dynamics, numerous more advanced gameplay elements etc. And of course the more improved world assets from that engine.

As these things go - everything broke. Like, completely. Recently I went through four builds in which the main visual shader (for the entire game world) was just flat-out broken - and I have been tweaking it continuously in order to get it working just right. And it's still not quite there yet.

For example - at certain times of the day, certain objects are darker on one side than they should be. Some of the new assets have compressed normal maps, while others don't - at all. Which means that I have to update the shader to support that so it works for both types of models. Stuff like that.

Another example is that the planetary site textures (with the roads and such) seen in AAW/AOA were designed specifically to work with that version of the PTE (Planetary Terrain Engine Spec 5 - which does not use a procedural terrain generation method like its predecessor). Which means that using them in PTE Spec 4 used by UCCE 3.x isn't trivial. In fact, I tried to hack it in and ran into all sorts of issues whereby they would flicker off|on at some viewing distances, the reported height above ground was incorrect etc.

Part of the problem is that porting the graphics engine over isn't a 1:1 thing because there are features in both which aren't common. e.g. AAW/AOA don't have any space combat; which means that FX like hyperspace, rendering/culling of the larger game world aren't supported etc. So basically I've simply been picking and choosing what changes I can port over, without breaking everything completely.

If you've been following my updates on the Trello board and the changelog, you should have a pretty good idea of what's going on.

ASSET MANAGEMENT WOES

Improving a graphics engine while not improving on the assets is a pointless exercise. That's why I have also been replacing legacy UCCE assets with newer ones from AAW/AOA. This includes assets like terrain buildings, characters, weapons, vehicles, aircraft etc - everything. Here's the bad part.

Since AAW/AOA are smaller games - and not space, this means that of the 1000+ assets in the UC games, only about 100 of them are used in AAW/AOA. That means a massive number of legacy assets have to be redone at some point down the road or we'd end up with legacy low quality assets running on a improved graphics engine which isn't going to make them look much better than in the old engine.

For example, of the 28 capital ships in UCCE, only the Sentry cruiser was used in AAW/AOA because it was part of the campaign scenario. That leaves 27 to be created to that quality at some point down the road.

Oh, and there are no starstations in those games. So basically if AAW/AOA didn't use an asset, that means a better quality version of it doesn't exist.

It's even worse in other areas. e.g. the character animation engine in AAW/AOA was created from scratch. And it's not compatible with the character models in UCCE. And the latter game has over 24 unique character models, compared to the 6 unique ones used in AAW/AOA. Which means that I can't port over that engine without first having all the character models re-created. The result is that for now I am stuck with the current anim engine and legacy character models.

There's a LOT more going on with this, but it's beyond the scope of this update and would be too long to document.

The good news is that we're still getting a LOT of better quality assets (e.g. weapons, vehicles, aircraft, buildings) from AAW/AOA.

WORLD BUILDING GONE AWRY

Remember when I said it was worse? That was an understatement. Here's another piece of the puzzle.

As I mentioned on this Trello card, the current planetary scenes are about 1.5kmx1.5km. The new ones (which use the new terrain and site textures) are 8km x 8km.

Guess what happens if I use the old scene models in the new scenes? If you guessed that...

1) some models would be missing

2) the positions would ALL be incorrect

...you would be correct.

If you open up one of the .3DG files located in the current .\MODELS folder, those are the objects used in specific planetary scenes. Each entry references a .3D model at a specific location in the scene. Which means that a model that used to be at a specific XYZ location in the old scene, is now at a completely different position in the new scene. That's not so bad, right? Well, guess what happens if one of the game's scripts either requires a specific object to exist in the scene, or was based on the range the player or NPC have to travel to before they die tired or of old age.

That aside from the fact that some models (e.g. BLDG_CIV01.3D) no longer even exist, having been completely replaced with new better quality ones (e.g. BLDG_GEN01.3D) from AAW/AOA. If the game loads up that .3DG file and doesn't locate the .3D model, that's how we get crashes and failed scripts.

The result? I have to scrap and redo ALL of the 50+ scenes (bases, cities, naval sites etc). And this isn't automated. Each one has to be created MANUALLY in the game's editor (BCSTUDIO) as seen in the Trello card I previously linked. Once that's done, I have to test (luckily I use AI entities to automate this) EACH script to ensure that whatever they reference exists, and where entities are scripted to appear is in the right place and not inside a building, in water etc. I kid you not, this happens. e.g. while I was testing one of the IA scenarios which uses the newer scene I created, one of the scripted NPC units was created in the water because the starting position (in the older scene) on land, was now incorrect; and so that position was now in the ocean - about 2km away. So I had to modify the script to fix that.

Did I already mention the issue with deprecated models? Right. The scripts which rely on them, also have to be updated to reference either the new ones, or replaced with a similar one. For example the Marauder gunship doesn't appear in AAW/AOA, while the Dragonfuly gunship in that game, doesn't exist in UC. Do I add a new gunship to the game, or do I deprecate and retire the old one, then have the new one take its place? It's not that simple. One is an assault gunship with mounted door guns; while the other is an attack gunship. What did I do? Well, the game used to have 5 gunships, now it has 7. LOL!!

Yeah, fun stuff.

The good news is that the assets from AAW/AOA look so much better, even without the graphics engine upgrade. Also, the benefit is that the game now has new assets which it didn't before. e.g. all the new buildings, Dragonfly & Aggressor gunships, the PAS vehicle etc.

RIGHT. SO NOW WHAT?

Considering the number of things that are utterly broken, I have decided to

1) split this upcoming build into two or more releases, instead of one big one.

2) use Steam's Beta feature to create a parallel build so that I don't impact the existing version while working through this major update. Since this release is a DLC to a main game, it's a bit tricky to do - and SteamWorks is notoriously unfriendly when it comes to things like this. If it works out, then it will be similar to how I set up our Line Of Defense DSS builds which allow you to switch between main and dev branches from within Steam. And if I can't get that to work, I have to decide whether to risk pushing out a build that breaks a bunch of things for a period of time, or just hold off until it's a bit more complete/stable.

That's basically it.

Also, note that unlike Line Of Defense, I am the ONLY dev working on this because this project was never the main focus for my studio. It's just something that I wanted to do as I found time. It's a pretty old game series, and the sales - even when I finish the project - aren't likely to even cover the $1m+ (a huge portion of that is in creating better quality assets for which no version currently exists) everything is likely to cost. So I have this, as well as Line Of Defense (porting to UE4) and Alganon (moving to cloud servers) to manage.

By the middle of next week, I will have a better idea of when the first version of the build will go live. At which time I will post another update.
6 comments Read more

March 23

3.00.20 INBOUND. AND IT'S MAJOR!

This is a very extensive update which wasn't scheduled to be released until later this year due to the sheer scope.

On the content side, as there will be new scenes mixed in with the legacy ones yet to be removed, it means that any/all scenarios which take place on the planet, will likely not work as expected due to referenced units not being present where they were scripted to be. Particularly since the new scenes are very large. They are 8km x 8km compared to the approx 1.5km x 1.5km sizes of the legacy ones.

The All Aspects engine (used in AAW/AOA games) suite being ported over, also has a vast number of built-in features which have to be ported over or things will either break, or just cause more work to be done. e.g. the character animation system is completely different in AAW as it is skeleton based. Which means that all the characters in UCCE have to support it. Which means that the animation engine can't be ported over until the character models are ready. Similarly, due to the advanced lighting and visuals in AAW not only do the UCCE shaders have to be upgraded or completed deprecated in favor of improved versions of the AAW ones, but the better models being ported over from AAW won't look the same or as good in UCCE until those tweaks are completed.

The AAW engine also has lots of built in features, most of which aren't going to be ported over as that's a different type of game. However, I plan to pick and chose the ones I believe would benefit UCCE. e.g. weapon fire deviation, ability for characters to lean, disabled craft falling to the ground under gravity and being destroyed on ground impact etc. These will be documented in the changelog as always. Remember, these are just features already in the AAW game engine and just being ported over as-needed.

This update - which is due out hopefully within the next 7 -10 days - also has a vast number of AAW assets (the Trello dev board has been extensively updated today) which have been ported over, implemented and tested. Those assets, in combination with on-going improvements to the terrain engine itself, are going to add a whole new visual dimension to the planetary portion of the game. If you already own AAW or AOA, then you should already know what to expect.

This is going to be awesome!
17 comments Read more

About This Game

THE MOST ADVANCED SPACE COMBAT CAPITAL SHIP SIMULATOR. EVER. SERIOUSLY.


In Feb 2015, as part of the Battlecruiser twenty-five year anniversary celebration, a refresh of Universal Combat v2.0 was released for FREE for a limited time.

Universal Combat which was first released in 2004, was the spiritual successor to the legendary Battlecruiser 3000AD series of games which made its debut in 1996. Then heralded as the most advanced capital ship space combat game, Battlecruiser 3000AD, the first title in the series, set the resulting standard for high-end capital ship combat games. You not only had control over a massive armed carrier in a vast universe with space and planetary bodies, you also had complete control over the carrier’s systems (weapons, navigation etc), support crafts (fighters, shuttles, vehicles) as well as an entire crew that moved around the ship doing various things (e.g. engaging in combat with intruders).

When Universal Combat arrived, aside from new graphics technologies, it brought along with it a host of new features which were not present in the previous Battlecruiser titles. Such features included advanced fps controls which allowed you to not only deploy your carrier crew to planets, control them in combat etc, but it also allowed you to fight alongside them

In 2007, Universal Combat Collectors Edition was released as the final title in the Battlecruiser and Universal Combat IPs.

In 2009, following the 2008 release of Galactic Command Echo Squad SE which had improved space and planetary engines, we again refreshed the Universal Combat CE game with those improved engines, then later released it as Universal Combat Collector’s Edition v2.0.

This ultimate space capital ship combat compendium spans over two decades and represents the evolution of hard core space combat sims. It contains all Commander scenarios from every game in the Battlecruiser and Universal Combat series:

  • Universal Combat Special Edition (3000AD, Oct 2006)
  • Universal Combat A World Apart (3000AD, Oct 2005)
  • Universal Combat Gold (3000AD, Oct 2005)
  • Universal Combat (Dreamcatcher Interactive, Feb 2004)
  • Battlecruiser Millennium Gold (Dreamcatcher Interactive, March 2003)
  • Battlecruiser Millennium (EB Games Exclusive, Nov 2001)
  • Battlecruiser 3000AD v2.0 (Interplay, Dec 1998)
  • Battlecruiser 3000AD (Take2, Sept. 1996)

PRIMARY GAMEPLAY FEATURES


Here is a sampling of the game features, out of hundreds of things that you can do in the game; most of which you can must make up as you go along. And this list doesn't contain any mention of the advanced game engine technologies, especially one of the most advanced AI systems you've ever encountered in a game.

  • Command 28 capital ships including carriers, cruisers, transports.
  • Command 46 support crafts including fighters, shuttles and planetary vehicles.
  • Command a crew of over 100 personnel including key personnel such a Flight Officer, Navigation Officer etc.
  • Use fleet command & control to create a massive fleet consisting of your ships and other AI controlled ones.
  • Direct control of various ship systems including shields, reactor, engine, cloaking, tractor beam, transporters and various advanced weapon systems.
  • Track your ship's AI crew as they go about their on-board duties which include engaging hostile intruders, repairing ship systems, prepping support craft etc.
  • Lead your marines into battle on planets using various weapons of mass destruction.
  • Deploy an away team of (e.g. marines, engineers etc) in a shuttle, deploy them on various planetside missions; complete with advanced orders.
  • Deploy probes to keep track of friendly regions as well as spy on hostile ones.
  • Deploy mining drones on planets to mine for precious minerals which you can then sell for profit.
  • Dock at various space stations and planetary bases to trade, repair, rearm - and of course engage the hostile ones along the way.
  • Capture space stations for your alliance and use them as operational bases, including the ability to use their own fleet of support craft (cruisers, carriers, fighters etc)
  • Play the freeform scenario and roam a large persistent galaxy.
  • No shuttles? Don't want to risk being shot down? Use the transporter room to deploy your combat away team directly into hostile planets.

MULTIPLAYER


There is no multiplayer in this version of the game.

SUPPORT


There are no more updates to the base game. The final version was v2.00.03 released on 05-28-2015. You can view the 2.0 changelog for more info. Due to the game being improved upon, future updates are only released via The Lyrius Conflict DLC which uses v3.x game engine kernel. You can view the 3.0 changelog for more info.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP SP2
    • Processor: Dual Core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX SM3.0 compliant with 512MB memory
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX compliant
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7 SP1
    • Processor: Quad Core
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX SM3.0 compliant with 1GB memory
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX compliant
    • Additional Notes: Joystick, XBox360 Controller For Windows or Analog gamepad

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