After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I’ve started in on the (not-insignificant) task of localising Distant Star for languages other than English. It’s not exactly a thrilling task, but a guy can’t have fun and games all the time. So yeah: Distant Star, llegar pronto!
Of course, the Great Research Rebalance is still happening; more news on that front (progress!) soon.
I sat down yesterday and spent a solid afternoon polishing the way systems are displayed. For a start, the trusty old -1000 / +1000 habitability scale is gone — the underlying mechanic is the same, but systems now display their habitability rating via a color-coded category, something like inhospitable or idyllic. It’s a small change, true, but it makes it much easier to inspect systems at a glance.
Another minor tweak: the game now respects your localised currency settings. Again, a tiny fix that makes things look much, much nicer.
I’m also part-way through a major change to how Distant Star plays, and thought you guys might want a sneak peek. Right now all races start with all their possible ship types unlocked, and research (in the Defense and Combat trees, at least) just upgrades these ships’ stats.
Instead, each race begins the game with only one or two available ship types; you (and the AI!) have to choose how to develop your race through research in order to unlock new options. Want to colonise? Research Cryosleep in the Ecology tree, and unlock colonisers. Want to take over enemy systems? Research Large-Scale Genocide and unlock Bombard Cruisers. You get the idea.
I know it’s been a while since the last Distant Star update, but that doesn’t mean progress isn’t happening! Far from it: I’ve been meticulously re-working big chunks of the game over the past few weeks, rebalancing ships and races, improving the game’s early stages, and changing the way tech trees work. Oh, and adding in support for GameCenter achievements.
So, yeah. Progress? It’s happening.
My primary focus right now is on de-designing the way ships are designed and researched. I’ll admit it: pretty much every aspect of ships (and the automatic combat system in general) is horribly, horribly broken. I’d originally set out to build a really clever system where the interplay between stats was obvious, and where you could tweak your ships to counter those of a particular rival; what I ended up with is just a mess of opaque, confusing numbers.
So I’m working on re-designing the way ships work; streamlining their stats from a confused mess down into a more manageable handful. I’m also changing things around so that you acquire better ships by unlocking (through research) rather than having all ships available at the game’s start and applying a bunch of small upgrades. Trust me, it’s way more fun this way — the moment mid-way through the game when you finally unlock cruisers and go on a smashing spree until the AI catches up is really satisfying.
As for the rest: tech trees, the early game, system upgrades, achievments, &c? I’ll keep you posted.