Nav Hazard Difficulty

One of the complaints that we have had while play testing Eterium was that the navigation hazards like asteroid fields and mine fields were too difficult for some players.  Unlike the enemy AI, nav hazard difficulty did not dynamically adjust.  Adjusting difficulty for a nav hazard is much more difficult than an enemy AI.  The enemy AI can have its abilities updated in real time.  Without major replumbing, nav hazards can only have their difficulty set at the beginning of the mission.  Furthermore, enemy AI difficulty is not saved between deaths.  When the player reloads a checkpoint, he also reloads his difficulty.  The reason for this is that in the act of dying, the difficulty settings are basically destroyed.  If difficulty carried over between reloads, then the game would become ridiculously easy.  Since that AI adapts in real time, it really is not necessary to carry the difficulty over after death.  But in the case of nav hazards, the only real way to determine success or failure is whether the player crashed into a hazard or not.  In the case of asteroids, most collisions, especially at the speed the player is likely flying, are fatal.  Nav hazard difficulty must carry over between missions.  But we cannot allow the nav hazards to get too easy; sometimes the player makes a mistake and dies in an asteroid field, this does not mean that the nav hazards should get easier.

Working on Updating the Controls

Note: These updates will not be added to the demo (anytime soon).  We are pushing forward with development of the rest of the game and releasing another build of the demo, with just certain new features integrated, would take a lot of time.  So these are proposed changes, many of them already implemented in the beta version we are working on.

 

These changes are based on feedback we have received on the demo.  The first thing we have done is added two new targeting keys that can be assigned to keyboard or joystick.  Target enemy ship attacking the ship I am escorting (this has no relevance in the demo, since there aren’t any escort missions) and target enemy ship attack my wingman.  These have yet to be mapped to the xbox controller because I am still deciding how I want to do that.  I am thinking about having double tap of X select enemy attacking the ship I am escorting.

 

For mouse controls: holding down the middle button and moving the mouse side to side now rolls your ship.  Pushing the mouse forward and back (beyond a generous deadzone) increases/decreases speed.

 

For the Xbox Controller: Pushing the Right Stick (usually used for Roll) forward and backward (beyond a generous deadzone) gives you fine tune control over increase/decrease speed.  (It used to be that you had to hold down Y for a second or two, since tapping Y sets full throttle).  Since you can get up to speed very fast with the right stick, I am thinking about remove Y and A as full throttle / zero throttle and reassigning new commands to those.  Although I have gotten used to tapping those buttons for quick speed changes.  We’ll have to do some play testing with both ways and see how it works out.  There are very few buttons on the xbox controller, so the more I can free up for other commands the better.

Eterium Demo is Live!

The Eterium Demo is now live!  The demo includes four missions from the first chapter.  Head over to our demo page and check it out!  We could use your help to test Eterium on new systems. We would also appreciate any feedback.  Our forums are now online, so once you have the demo, head over to our forums to provide feedback!

New Trailer

We have added a lot to the game as we prepare our demo (available soon!).  Here’s a new trailer showing off the latest Eterium has to offer.

New Characters – In Game

Dave has finished up with the first pass on our character kit and has created several new characters.  I have been working on rerendering our Daz3D backgrounds to match a similar art style.  Our objective with these new characters is to present a more manga appearance.  We have received a lot of negative comments about the old 3D rendered Daz3D characters and decided it would be best to just throw them all out and change the style.  We feel this new Manga style really fits the personality of the game a lot better and gives as a lot more freedom to create new characters.  Here are some in-game screenshots of the new characters and new backgrounds.

New Tactical and Fuel displays

I’ve been working on improving the look of the tactical and fuel displays.

First up is the new Tactical Display.  For player only there is now a gauge that shows the amount of power in the shield grid.  This is useful to help keep track of shield system damage at a glance.

The new fuel gauge: functions the same, but is more detailed.

Cockpit Specular Map Test

We decided, that while the fighters are too small to need a specular map, the cockpits would look a lot better with them.  One of the earlier versions of the Eterium 3.0 engine supported specular maps, but that had been removed as we abandoned support.  I have added back specular support for cockpits.  While it works, there is still some tweaking required.  Here is a screenshot with the new specular map on the Talwar cockpit.