Welcome back to the Project Orion dev blog! It’s been a busy month and we’ve made an incredible amount of progress on many fronts. We’ve got news for Alpha testers, updates from the art team, and more information on how we’re working to make the customization and gameplay balanced and rewarding.
After a long wait, we’re finally prepared to start our alpha testing in earnest. One of the final steps was deciding the best way for our testers to get access to the latest updates and fixes as we finish them. We realized the easiest way to do that is to take advantage of being Greenlit and release them directly through Steam! We’ll be in contact with our alpha testers in the coming weeks with more details on the process and how to access the Project Orion alpha on Steam.
As part of preparing for Steam distribution of test builds, we’ve also released our Steam store page! This marks a big internal milestone for us as it shows just how far we’ve come. It’s been a long road, and there is still plenty of work ahead, but the feeling that comes from hitting these milestones really is one of the most rewarding parts of the development process. Along with this we’ve also updated all the screenshots in our Media page, and a new gameplay trailer is in the works.
As usual there is plenty of activity on the art front. We’ve got several ships in different states of development, one of which we’ve featured below. The Arckin Heavy Bomber fills the role of an intermediate range ship capable of doing significant damage to large and well-armored targets. While being slow and large makes it an easy target, it is heavily armored and boasts twin turrets to harass attacking fighters. That, coupled with the fact that they are never seen without a fighter escort, makes them a significant threat on the battlefield.
Along with new ships, we’re also hard at work on designing and creating the visual component to all the weapons and attachments for the Orion. This is a large and long-running task, as the sheer number of attachments for the Orion means creating unique and interesting designs for each one of them is not an easy thing to do. Despite that we’ve been making good progress and we’re looking forward to showing you plenty of new weapons in the coming months.
Continuing from last month’s focus on customization, this month weapons have been a big part of the design and engineering workload.
One of the bigger changes we’ve decided on for this month relates to aim assist. Originally the game had no aim assist whatsoever, and while that was OK for players who had experience with flight and shooters in general, others found it very difficult to even hit their targets. To help newer players we introduced a limited form of aim assist that was tied to difficulty. We were never fully happy with that solution from a realism point of view so we’ve decided to change it.
Going forward, aim assist will be different for each individual weapon. Essentially some weapons will be gimbal mounted, others will be fixed. Some may only have the ability to move and track targets when energy is routed to weapon systems. Weapons that are fixed will have the disadvantage offset by higher damage outputs or fire rates, with gimbal mounted versions becoming available only in higher unlock tiers. In this way more skilled players are rewarded with more destructive weapons, and newer players still have the assistance necessary to enjoy the game. Also on harder difficulties the gimballed weapons may not provide the damage output required to quickly dispatch enemies, making fixed weapons more of a necessity.
QA – Balancing
This month we’ve been focusing on tuning the Orion’s weapons and abilities. This is a difficult task, and there are a lot of weapons and abilities that don’t feel quite right just yet. The process is fairly straightforward, but involves a lot of testing and trial and error.
For example, with weapons we start out with goal based on what we want the weapon to feel like. For example, the Orion’s Railgun is a hard hitting medium to long range weapon that rewards players for their skill and precision. Once the base implementation is ready and usable in-game the tuning process begins. It’s a cycle that starts with tweaking the weapon’s stats so that it performs in a way that we think is good, then we test in-game and see how it actually performs, and based on that information we start the cycle over again. We want to make each weapon feel unique and to have their own personality so ultimately they will be rewarding and fun to use.
Thanks for reading this months dev blog! For our Alpha testers, stay tuned over the next few week for details on how to get access to the game. For everyone else, we’re working on a new gameplay trailer that we home to release soon. See you all next month!