Dev Blog 15 – Alpha 2 Prep

Josh Duffenais Dev Blog

Welcome back to our Bi-Weekly Dev Blog! This week we’ll be taking a look at some of the changes we’ve been making in preparation for Project Orion’s second alpha testing phase.

Interior Update

The interior of the TDF capital ship has been under construction for a long time now, but we know the effort we’re putting into it will pay off. Throughout Project Orion you’ll likely spend a lot of time inside this environment. It’s where you’ll return between missions to be debriefed, discuss recent events with your squad and other crew members, and upgrade the Orion for your next mission.

Below you can see some in-game screenshots of the latest version of the environment. The last time we featured the interior was way back in Dev Blog 6 and as you can see it’s come a long way since then.

The visuals aren’t the only part of the interior that’s being updated.  Our programming team has been working to develop the many systems needed to bring the story to life from your pilot’s point of view while you’re not flying missions in the Orion.

There is a lot that needs doing to make this happen.  Cutscene systems, character animation, NPC navigation and logic, the conversation system, movement and collision handling, and many smaller details that are equally important.  While it sounds like a lot we’re making steady progress and things are starting to come together.  One of the latest features we’ve started integrating is your PDA, which does a lot more than give you a map and manage your current objectives.  It is a much more important part of the game experience as it gives you access to extra information on the game world and story, such as ships, locations, characters, and more.

Programming Update

There is a lot going on the programming front as we prepare lots of new content for testing in the second Alpha release phase. We’ve put together a preview to give you a taste of what’s to come in the following weeks.

First a feature that has been requested for some time. If we counted the amount of times we’ve heard “Leaving the hangar is too slow!” it would add up to far too many. The good thing is we agree, and have come up with an awesome (if fairly obvious) solution: a launch tube system.

In battle seconds count, and getting your fighters off the deck before your opponent can make a huge difference. That’s why the TDF designed their latest capital ship with 20 independent fighter launch tubes, all fitted with electromagnetic catapults to get fighters into the action within seconds. We’ve only got a prototype screenshot to show you for now, but look forward to a video of the launch sequence in the coming weeks.

Another small but important feature we’ve been developing is a new way of rendering distant objects and environment effects. We’re happy to say it’s nearly finished and it adds a lot to both the visual fidelity and immersion of the missions. We can use this system to easily (and more importantly efficiently) add lots of distant objects to the various environments. Things like asteroid fields, nebula gas, distant ships, ongoing battles, and much more.

Below you can see an in-game screenshot of a scene we threw together in only a few minutes while testing the system.

Voice Acting Update

One of the most important parts of delivering a great story is having a cast of fully voiced characters. To that end we’ve been working on casting all of our major roles over the past couple weeks. We’ve received a huge number of great voice auditions recently and we’ve been meeting and discussing our potential cast frequently. Currently we haven’t made any final decisions, but we’re getting close to narrowing it down.

Once we’ve chosen our cast we’ll be able to begin the recording process for our voice acted content. This means we’ll finally be able to create fully voiced story cut-scenes, allow the crew of your capital ship to interact with you between missions in a meaningful way, or allow you to hear your allies fighting alongside you in battle. Basically, this is a big deal for us.

After we’ve gathered our voice recordings we’ll of course need a system in game to play those lines of dialogue at appropriate times and sync them with their matching subtitles. Over the past week we’ve designed and implemented a system that neatly handles all of these functions, and in the next few days we’ll be testing it to ensure it’s ready for full use in our next Alpha.

That’s all for this week, thanks for reading and be sure to keep your eyes on this page for more updates as we approach our next alpha testing phase.