Brad Wardell's Blog


Star Control: Screenshot Friday 8-31-2018

Published on Friday, August 31, 2018 By Brad Wardell In PC Gaming

With labor day nearly here in the United States, we are putting the finishing touches on what will be the version that goes out for review.  

Here are some highlights from this week:

Better late than never.  Your ship's fuel range is now showed on the map.  Very convenient if you want to avoid Tywom fan fiction (yes, that's a thing).

The in-game codex continues to be enriched with documentation, lore, and other goodies.

 

Visual effects have been iterated on once again. It's come a long way.

 

The Terran Cruiser replaces the "Earthling Cruiser" both in name and design to better match the idea that the Vindicator class is a prototype thus new ships should have some resemblance to it.

Lots of new cut-scenes went in this week.  

 

You can change the game's difficulty at any time from the options menu.  However, you can set the game's default during the game setup.

Not easily visible in a screenshot but thanks to AMD sending us lots of hardware, we have been able to make the game run well on ridiculously low end hardware.  Like, think 10 year old hardware.  How? As long as the system has 4 logical cores (example, the Surface Pro is 2 cores but has 4 logical processors) we can effectively have 4 "graphics threads" going at once. giving >30fps on hardware that people will be shocked even loads t he game.   The magic of the Nitrous job scheduler in action.

 

Well crap, water worlds are common!

Published on Monday, August 27, 2018 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Community

Let me get this right out of the way: Star Control: Origins has no planets in it with free-standing water.  We've taken the very convenient (for us) position that free standing water is extremely rare and that instead,, water tends to be trapped under layers of ice.

But according to a ScienceDaily article I read last week, water worlds might actually be pretty common.  

Now for you gamers out there, how would you like to see water worlds handled in Star Control in the future? For example, would you fly over them? Would your lander act as a submarine? Or something else entirely?

 

Will aliens even understand us?

Published on Monday, August 27, 2018 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Community

Great article on Astronomy.com today.  The question is, would aliens even understand us if we communicated with them?

We take so many things for granted when it comes to communication.  For example, in Star Control: Origins, there tended to be an assumption that aliens would have a mouth.  Why would they have a mouth for communication? That seems to be a pretty big assumption.

It seems fair to ask whether anything that would encounter what we send out would be able to make sense of what we send out.

record_and_cover

This might mean nothing. And the sounds the record produce might not even be in a frequency that something could hear.  The range of frequencies we can detect are pretty limited.

 

Star Control: Screenshot Friday 8.24.18

Published on Friday, August 24, 2018 By Brad Wardell In Star Control

We are less than a month away!

Here are some new screenshots to show some of the progress as we near "gold".

Update to the old-style computer monitor.

New introduction after you enter in your data as you arrive at Star Control!

 

The Codex is just about done. This is the in-game manual.

 

Lots of subtle changes based on beta feedback on how to make it clear how much damage you're going to get.

 

Terran Cruiser updated in style to match the flag ship style.

Lots of little tweaks to the visuals on planets.  Not easy to see but significant performance boosts combined with being prettier. The optimizations let us have much more detailed textures.

 

A new Menkmack character arrives.

 

Stay tuned to this thread for more!

You do not have an absolute right to anonymity

Published on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 By Brad Wardell In Personal Computing

This morning I awoke to see one of the most flagrant examples of doxing ever.

Now, to be fair, this person did apologize:

image

This event started because the social media person at a game company made a joke that this person didn't like.  To make that person pay "in real life", they took it upon themselves to find out who the person was and make their information public.  This is an ugly trend that seems to be gaining momentum.  Someone offends you with words, you try to ruin their reputation or career in real life. How do we stop this?

Well, let's look at this case. What caused this person to suddenly apologize and protect their account? We can only speculate.  But I suspect you, the reader, have some pretty good guesses of what happened.  I suspect that people found out who this person is in real life and found out they too have a career that they don't want to have affected.  I suspect, like many people, they instinctively believed in anonymity for me but not for thee was in play.  That said, good for them for apologizing. 

As someone who has been doxed hundreds (literally as in >99) of times over the years including having my home address posted with a picture of my house posted with a note that someone "should do something" about me as well as someone using that information to call our house and threaten to murder my wife and (disgusting act) my son, I am very well in tune to what doxing is (and isn't). 

You do not have an absolute right to anonymity

What happens online should stay online.  We should respect people's privacy and we should respect their desire to be anonymous.  But that is not the same as having an absolute right.  As soon as someone's online actions start to have real world consequences for their target, all bets are off.

I've been online since the Commodore 64 BBS days. There has been a gradual, but unmistakable, trend towards believing that no matter what someone does, it is out of bounds to reveal who that person is in real life.  That's insane.  If someone is trying to get someone else fired from their real life job then they should have no illusions that the target or friends of their target might return the favor.

To give you an idea of how out of touch some people are, I've actually had people quote me saying what I essentially wrote above as evidence that I support doxing.  This is akin to saying I support violence if I believe in the right of self-defense. 

Would those critics suggest that if someone was calling for violence against someone and posting their address that it would be immoral to find out who that person is? Of course not. They've already agreed that anonymity isn't absolute, we are only discussing when it should be pierced.

If we want people to stop trying to destroy other people's real-life careers, we need to find a way to discourage that kind of behavior.  To do that, we need to reverse the trend that allows people to think that they can hide behind their Internet anonymity while they try to destroy someone's livelihood and that is to recognize that anonymity isn't a right, it's a privilege that shouldn't be abused.

Rule of thumb

If you are trying to harm an individual in the real world, such as trying to get them fired or do not be surprised if they or their friends return the favor. I suspect that is what Matt there discovered when he decided to try to damage the employee at CDPR in real life.

Star Control: Origins Prelude 8 of 13 - The User Interface of Star Control

Published on Monday, August 20, 2018 By Brad Wardell In Star Control Journals

Most fans of our previous games know that we make a lot of strategy games. Strategy games are all about having as much data on-screen at one time as possible.

But Star Control isn't a strategy game, it's an action RPG.  It took us a very...very long time to nail down the user interface we wanted for Star Control: Origins, mostly due to having to quit trying to make a strategy game UI for an RPG. 

SC__UI_Watermark

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Screenshot Friday 8.17.2018

Published on Friday, August 17, 2018 By Brad Wardell In Star Control

It is...FRIDAY!

New screenshots!

 

The further you get from Earth, the stranger the planets.

The Codex is designed to help provide background on the lore of Star Control: Origins as well as a "how to play" guide wrapped into one.

Don't want to do any spoilers so I can't really show off some of the other pages. But over the course of your adventure, you'll start picking up a lot of...stuff.

Your ship from orbit.

Just little bits of polish.

 

Destinations on planets are now fully handled by things you can build in the building crafter.

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

5 Social Media Truths

Published on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 By Brad Wardell In Personal Computing

Being involved in gaming communities means dealing with a lot of drama.  The most common problem I observe are people who have no capacity for empathy.  It never occurs to them what someone might do back at them.

Here are a few truths I've come to recognize:

  1. If you attack someone's livelihood, don't be surprised if someone returns the favor.
  2. You have no right to anonymity. People should respect your privacy but don't confuse respect with rights.
  3. Do not assume that you can attack the "Bigger person" with impunity. There is no rule that states that your target won't punch down in response.
  4. If you dance around a dumpster fire along enough, you will get burned.
  5. Don't apply rules to others that you do not keep yourself.

For me, these 5 rules have been a survival guide over the past three decades I've been online.  As I once explained to a colleague, you cannot infinitely absorb abuse from people and stay balanced.  You have to either redirect it harmlessly or failing that, make sure the perpetrator is given a figurative knock with a rolled up newspaper.

The counter-response, the one I've heard decade after decade usually involves "you have to ignore them".  That sort of response only comes from people who have never been the subject of social media mob justice or someone dedicated to your personal, real-life, destruction. 

One example of someone who got a harsh lesson was a friend of my wife who heard me complain about the review bombing of my book.  Mind you, this book was released in 2010, long before there was any awareness of the concept of "Social Justice Warriors".  In brief, a handful of people from a particular political forum wanted to make sure my "vile" (i.e. libertarian-like) political opinions resulted in me paying a price in real life.  Sound familiar?

Now, back in those days, I was still firmly in the "don't dignify with response, ignore it" camp that our PR people always insisted on.  So I just took it and complained to my wife and her friend.  She insisted that I just had to grow a thicker skin and proceeded to write a glowingly positive review that quickly resulted in the dogpilers to turn on her.  She became incredibly upset and raged "My family can see these comments about me!" and proceeded to delete her review.  Doing so, incidentally, resulted in a long-running myth that my wife reviews our stuff. 

But the point was made: It's easy give advice that amounts to "ignore the haters" but it's another thing to actually be on the receiving end of it. Which is why I live by those 5 rules. 

Star Control: Origins Prelude 7 of 13 - The Aliens of Star Control Part 2

Published on Monday, August 13, 2018 By Brad Wardell In Star Control Journals

In one of our other dev journals, we showed the pipeline of how aliens came to be in Star Control: Origins.  The process started with the artists and the writers working in parallel.  The artists would sketch up lots and lots of alien shapes, and the writers would design the history and lore and roles of the aliens. From there, the process would begin to merge to ensure that the final alien visual expression matched up with the lore for them.

Today we're going to begin walking you through how the Star Control aliens that appear in Star Control: Origins were developed.

Do you have enough Jeff in your life?

We first have to separate the difference between a character and a species.  In the classic Star Control series, there was Fwiffo, the character and Spathi, the species.  For the most part, Star Control: Origins focuses on species but there are also a few characters and one of our favorites is Jeff.

Ironically, as far as I know, Jeff's species is not revealed in Star Control: Origins.  I won't spoil Jeff's personality but you can get an idea of what he looks like and how he evolved.

First, you have the inkblots:

Character_Thumbnails_LGSheet_02

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