Wednesday, 23 December 2009

New and Helpful Feature

I've just added a new feature which improves Stellar Forces further above and beyond the game on which it is based, namely Laser Squad:

One minor flaw with the otherwise excellent Laser Squad was that if one of your units saw an enemy unit during the enemy's turn, you were never informed, which doesn't make for a realistic game at any level.

In Stellar Forces, if one of your units see's an enemy unit during the enemy's turn, it is now shown on the game map.

Coming soon: Another new mission!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Stellar Forces Progress

I'm quite please with the way Stellar Forces is turning out, considering I only started programming it about 2 months ago. There are currently 14 games being played, and new logins being created all the time, and I've had some great games against some challenging opponents. There's been a few minor teething troubles like imbalanced missions and the odd bug, but as of now I can say that the game is great fun.

Unfortunately, as to be expected, there are a few people who have created logins and started a game but then obviously decided it's not for them. It's understandable since there's no way of knowing what a game is like without playing it, but it's a shame from their opponents point of view and I hope it doesn't put them off!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Stellar Forces: Out of Alpha

Stellar Forces is now out of alpha! I've been tweaking the client and uploading a new version every couple of days for the last few weeks. I think I've now ironed out all the major bugs and even added a few more missions. The latest version is now 0.4.

The next stage is to make the game more accessible; unfortunately, it's very hard as the programmer, when you know a game inside out, to see how it might look to fresh eyes who have never seen it before. Will new users know where to go and what to click on? Does it make them want to play it? Until I work that out, I'm going to add a quickstart page.

Friday, 11 December 2009

New Mission: Moonbase Assault

[Read in a Geordie accent] Day 34, and the housemates in the moonbase are still managing to hold off the onslaught of the Laser Squad, who are intent on destroying the moonbase computers and save the free world. Corporal Jonlan has managed to elimite two members of the Marsec Corporation, but he has been wounded by the primed grenade hidden in one of the dead bodies. Who will win? You decide!


But seriously, the newest mission in Stellar Forces is Moonbase Assault: the Laser Squad must attempt to destroy a certain number of computers located around the moonbase, whilst the Marsec Corporation must defend the moonbase either by killing the Laser Squad or at least holding out until re-inforcements arrive. Each side has 8 units, and the key to winning this is stealth.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Randomly generated maps - a bad idea or a terrible idea?

For a couple of the missions in Stellar Forces, I thought it would be interesting to have randomly-generated maps, since it will mean an infinite variety of layouts and thus increase the replayability.

However, I've come to the some-may-say obvious conclusion that randomly generated maps aren't always a good idea, especially for missions that have important "hot-spots" (my term for some aspect of the map that plays a critical role in the mission). A randomly (or "procedurally") generated map is probably okay for a straight firefight mission, but there are at least two reasons why they are not the best idea for anything else:-

1) The random layout may give one side an unfair advatage; I'm currently playing the mission Escape, where my side has to get to the escape chute. As luck would have it, the escape chute was "randomly" placed in the next adjacent room from where my units started! Some may say that this is a flaw in my algorythm, and they would be right.

2) The other problem is that nothing can replace a hand-crafted custom designed levels, with all it's subtle nuances that are probably only noticed after using it to play several games. Years ago, I hacked the original Laser Squad, and messed about with the maps, in particular making Sterner's moonbase a lot bigger. Unfortunately, this had the effect of making finding him especially hard! This showed me that not just the layout, but even just the size of the map is critical.

So I'm going to produce customized maps for all but one of the missions (that one being the straight firefight). Unless anyone else wants to have a go?

Monday, 7 December 2009

Stellar Forces: Now has a proper domain name

Stellar Forces now has a proper domain name: www.stellarforces.com!

Hopefully this will give it the credibility to be taken seriously as a game that is here to stay. It's always looking for more players, so if you want to play a turn-based strategy game where you can take your turn at your own convenience, please give it a go!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Stellar Forces: Units now have heads

The development of Stellar Forces is a process of constant improvement, and it's hopefully a testament to the other important new features that have been added that only now have the units been given heads.

I considered it a low priority since it didn't affect the gameplay whatsoever, but it must be said that it has improved the look of the game considerably. Next on my list is adding some more scenery so the levels aren't quite so barren.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

New Mission: Breakout

A new mission by the name of Breakout has been added to Stellar Forces. The mission premise is simple: one side must escape from the complex within the time limit, whilst the other side must prevent them with a dose of death laser fire.

The complex itself is quite large with more corridors than the players have units, so it's a bit of a game of hide and seek and is ripe for various tactics. However, this being a new mission, it's probably going to get tweaked over time.

Note that you will need a client of at least version 0.36 to play this mission.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

New Client - 0.36

It fixes a few small bugs and adds a few tweaks (like makes the units slightly more accurate at shooting) but the main difference is music! Thankfully, there is a mute button though for when it eventually starts to grate.