It's been a while since my last post but that doesn't mean the team hasn't been doing much in the intervening time. In fact we've been working very hard on the code side of things and I think it's about time we brought you up to date with all the changes that have been added to the engine recently.
As most of you know Diaspora is being built to run on the FS2_Open engine. We share this engine with several other games (Wing Commander Saga, The Babylon Project, Freespace 2 SCP, etc) so making changes is never as simple as just adding what we want. We always have to make certain that anything we add (or subtract) won't spoil things for everyone else. The advantage though is that features they add often prove useful for us too.
The FS2_Open engine is worked on by the Source Code Project Team (Simply referred to as The SCP most of the time). Most of Diaspora's coders are either already also members of the SCP or will be soon. So although Diaspora is dependant on the SCP for engine updates we do have a pretty big say in what will be in the next update.
The current official version of FS2_Open (3.6.9) is getting rather old. 3.6.10 is due out soonish but won't have all the features that Diaspora requires. For this reason it seems likely that we'll be waiting until 3.6.11 is out before release. This isn't as huge a problem as it sounds as we've made changes to the SCP internally that should result in official releases coming along much more often. Those of you watching the SCP forums may have noticed that work has already begun on 3.6.11 builds even though the official 3.6.10 one isn't out.
Not every feature that has been added will be used in R1. But most of these should be used sooner or later in Diaspora. ChangesSupport for more cutscenes
- The game will now play cutscenes before/instead of briefings, debriefings, etc. It's highly unlikely we'll use this for R1 as we don't have the time to make the cutscenes. But R2 onwards will hopefully use this to some degree. Whether we'll ever be crazy enough to drop text based briefings completely and go for cutscenes only is another matter. It would be a lot more work and would require us to find extra animators to do it, but it is possible now. AI use of glide mode
- AI will now use glide (i.e. semi-Newtonian mode), both to attack you and to break out of circle fights. Until now only human players could use glide. Subsystem sounds
- Amongst other things this allows a battlestar's turrets to make the familiar whirring noise as they spin around to lock onto a new target. Turret changes
- A whole variety of changes have been added via subsystem flags to allow weapons to act more like those in the show. These include making turrets fire in salvos, return to rest positions when not in use (although we can't make them sink back down just yet), and having them prioritise enemy craft better rather than just shooting at any enemy in range, DRADIS changes
- FS2 fans may have already seen the radar icons feature. But only the team have thus far seen it used with DRADIS. We'll show this off once we've kicked a few more bugs out of it. This should replace the old square radar blips with the icons you're more familiar with from the show. Assuming we can manage to squeeze them all in without making everything look cluttered that is. Voice code improvements
- Changes to the built in messages system mean that each ship can now have multiple messages for each built in. So rather than hearing "Hostiles on DRADIS" every single time a certain pilot notices enemies the computer can now pick one of several messages. In addition AI pilots will now occasionally say something after their own kills or if you're doing very well. These changes increase the amount of voice acting we'll need for the game but it should be worth doing for R1. Flight deck changes
- Some of you will recognise these as my Team Loadout changes. This adds a simple strategy element to the game. Use up all of your battlestar's MK VII's in an engagement and they'll be gone for the rest of the campaign. Bring them in heavily damaged and they'll be down for next mission or two while the knuckledraggers pound them back into shape. If we'll use this in R1 is uncertain. It will almost certainly appear in later releases though. Multiplayer mission design changes
- Multiplayer has long been crippled by problems that didn't affect Singleplayer. Problems with both the lua and SEXP scripting systems meant that some more interesting game ideas for BtRL had to be dropped (Stealth based missions and Capture the Flag are a couple that come to mind). A large number of those issues have been resolved in the last few months and we hope to be adding missions like that to R1 or R2 now. This also makes the chance of a coop version of the SP campaign significantly higher (although there are currently no plans to do this for R1).
Lots more stuff than this was added but most of it is only going to be of interest to the devs of other FS2_Open games and they already know how to check the SCP forums and get more detailed information on those.