April 2011

Spirals and Pinches

23 April 2011

Last night I had a burst of inspiration. All this time I’ve been trying to implement pinch-to-zoom in Distant Star via various OpenGL tricks, like rendering the galaxy into a texture and mapping that texture onto a screen-sized rectangle — it works, technically, but the end result always looked just appalling. My burst of inspiration, of course, was that I didn’t need to scale any textures — in fact, I could totally fake it, and the result would be easier to render and look way better.

So, umm, that’s sorted.

Anyway, I’m testing pinch-to-zoom on all the devices I own, running it through a bunch of games and looking for bugs. One problem I’ve already found is that it causes a slightly slowdown in massive games with lots of AI opponents; it’s not game-breaking, just annoying.

I’ve also backported a spiral galaxy generator I whipped up last weekend as a proof-of-concept: large games are way cooler with legitimate-looking spiral galaxies instead of the rough grid they’ve used up until now. Take a look:

Spiral galaxies! Zooming! Zomg!

I’m insanely glad to be done with the iPhone port; these kinds of gratuitous features are so much more fun to write.

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Distant Star 1.3. No, really.

20 April 2011

1.3 is (finally) out, which means that Distant Star is now a universal app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

[+] This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad.

57 commits, four months, two rounds of testing — it’s been a stupidly long road.

I’m still not done here, though. In the next couple of weeks I hope to take another look at zooming on the main galaxy screen and, if I’m feeling epic/ballsy, come up with a minimal diplomacy system. I’ll keep you posted.

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On Beta Progress...

7 April 2011

The Distant Star iPhone beta is proceeding nicely, and I expect to wrap things up and get an update submitted to Apple within the next few days. For the most part, I’m receiving way more “Hey, it’d be cool if the game had…” suggestions than “So, this is broken…” comments, which is certainly nice.

In the interests of keeping folks informed on the inevitable feature creep, a few things that have been fixed or added as a direct result of beta feedback:

  • Larger hitboxes for anything touchable. I must have really nimble fingers, or something, because lots of folks have complained about how hard it was to tap certain buttons (fleets mid-flight, especially). Fixed!
  • Music on the main galaxy view screen. I’ve recorded a four-minute low-key track that plays in the background when you’re on the map screen. Hopefully that’ll make the transition to music on the research and combat report screens less jarring. This was really fun to create (I’m not, strictly speaking, much of a musician normally), and I’ll probably write some more on it later.
  • Fleets in flight now display a line indicating their destination. The line’s thickness varies depending on the size of the fleet, which makes the map screen much more informative. It really does feel like there’s more going on in the galaxy now.
  • Games with very large fleets (> 500) were experiencing a massive slowdown as the AI tried to process what to do with all those idle ships. I’ve tweaked the algorithms a bit, making everything AI-related rather faster. Serves me right for being lazy all those months ago.

I’m forcing myself into feature freeze (no new stuff! None!) until I get this update out, as I’m aware that I’ve dithered forever over it and, really, this is getting unreasonable. A second round of betas goes out this afternoon, to make sure nothing’s broken before the release; a massive thanks to all who participated in the first round, and those now involved in the second.

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