Distant Star: Fixes & Fidgets

23 January 2011

By far the most common complaint I've received about Distant Star is the inability to zoom out/in on the map. I can't argue with that -- it's a pretty obvious thing to be able to do, and certainly a feature that I've meant to include since the beginning. Unfortunately, it's taking me rather longer than I expected to get it working to my satisfaction. The experimental branch of the game has pinch zooming, but something about it just doesn't sit right with me. It's a little too finicky, a little to sensitive. So I'm still working on that.

A new race, the Apparat, and a friendlier setup screen.

That aside, it's been way too long since my last update to Distant Star, so I tabled (temporarily!) the map zooming project and spent the weekend grooming a less adventurous patch. This update brings a couple of critical bugfixes; in particular, tapping a [Ships Complete] notification should no longer cause an instant crash. I've also added a new race and made some modifications to the habitability system -- each race now has a preferred habitability rating, so we you should see more competition between players of the same race, which I think makes sense. Humans all want to live on relatively Earthlike planets, right?

Non-annoying help system is not annoying.

The other big thing in this update is a major revision to the tutorial/help system. That sounds unexciting, I know, but I've noticed that Distant Star, like every other 4x game in existence, is pretty off-putting to new players. Lots of people seem to find the tutorial annoying, so I'm streamlining it by moving as much as possible into more unobtrusive, tooltip-style popups. Once the update drops, anytime you see a [?] icon you can tap it to get instant information about game systems, interface elements, whatever. This system is literally everywhere in the game; I've also added popups to the research screen, so you can get more information about what a particular technology does before you research it.

I still need a few days to go through and test everything, so I'll let you folks know when I push the update to Apple. Shouldn't be too long!