Thursday, March 6, 2014

03/06/13 Updates

Aphteroid here, some pretty important development has been going on recently and some of the things produced have opened up large areas of possibility for the game. If you think the game has already got a lot of depth, think again- we're only just getting started.

Here come the updates:
- Major restructuring of how planets and npcs are hibernated, planets are now hibernated per-sector which allows for just small areas on each planet to be active at one time which cuts down on unnecessary simulation. $heart was also modified to reduce unnecessary calls to :creature_heartbeat, both of these changes have resulted in massive improvements of CPU usage and we now run less than 10 $heart queues rather than the 80+ we were running previously, I doubt more than 20% of all NPCs will be active at any one time between each 15-minute hibernation run. Kudos to ASM for these changes, I wouldn't have been able to sort out the mess of hibernation I'd made.

- Experimental pirate pilot AI has been developed, a fitting mechanism to spawn pirates has yet to be formulated but the relatively simple AI module has displayed capability of finding, chasing and then attacking a target in space using their ship. Given the way the module works, it could easily allow a robot to perform these tasks in future.
- Starships that explode in space now leave debris that can be collected with an asteroid miner, they contain various materials including minor components of the former starship.
- Asteroid mining has received an update which allows for resources which aren't raw materials to be mined, and the quality of said items is based off the random quality range of the constituent materials weighted towards the percentage of complexity they provide.
- A new building decay/abandonment mechanic is now in place which abandons your buildings if you haven't connected for over a year, this is to clean up unused objects. Players will receive in-game mail to warn them if their stuff is going to be abandoned soon to give them time to respond.
- Maximum health is now determined via a :health_max verb on players to stop problems arising from changing the player's .health_max property such as permanent modification of maximum health.
 - The status and gear readouts have both had work done on them to make them more informative and provide clearer information.
- Item drops can now be formatted as a set of mutually exclusive items (such as a scavenger rat dropping either a wild hide OR a fur hide) dropped in the same roll, pirates have now had their drops condensed into many of such sets and have had their inventory drop chances nerfed.
- Travelling traders now respect the true value of items they sell, this includes respecting the value of contents inside any containers they are selling.
- Civilians will now wear any gadgets you give them and judge new equipment you give them more intelligently (they still need a longer and more precise routine to compare and decide between two pieces of armor though).

- NPC factions no longer build sector centers and thusly no longer have civilians as members of their faction, this is partially due to hatred cascades where the civilians would end up fighting (and losing to) the faction units for some reason. This also reduces the number of (perhaps unnecessary) civilians chewing up CPU.
- Weapon modules are now available on blueprint chips, these provide fixed bonuses to the weapon they are installed to and all of them have had descriptions set before release (thanks to Endre for the descriptions). It is likely crafted weapon modules will increase in usefulness with higher quality later.
- Tractor beams can now manipulate virtually any ship, and will take differing numbers of stages depending on the size of the ship involved.
- Robots now have a remote inventory command which will tell you what they are carrying.
- Many new implants are now available from black market stores, some are bonus implants and others dispense a useful drug.
- Radiation sickness and rad-shield drugs in the works to make radiation more interesting. (Finished as of 03/07/13).
- You can now load starships into a solar carrier whilst it is landed, useful for scooping up stolen asteroid miners for chopping.
- Datapads for recording notes are now much more stable, you can write, read, list and delete notes on it to your leisure.
- Updates to fuel cells to make them keep any charges left over if the starship is full of fuel when they are used.

Development is continuing at a steady pace, I imagine there's some good things in store for the next few months. Keep tuned folks.