Once a space civilization is established among the stars in more than one planet and colonies grow, the population of such planets may try to immigrate to colonies that have better life conditions (infrastructures installed, good economy, closer to the civilization home planet and so on). Transportation lines can have a big impact on it because they allow population to move faster. That does not mean that population will definitely migrate, but there is a possibility that some percentage of a colony population may do so.
To increase the rate of a planet’s colonization or to prevent a colony to be abandoned, the civilization government can try to create specific conditions in a colony to direct the immigration flux towards it. Immigration cannot be controlled (unless a immigration related law is passed), but incentives can help direct how immigration may happen. Immigration can also happen from one civilization to another.
To manage a civilization and it’s colonies, a government allocate services in planets as a request on something to be done by the population and/or about an infrastructure that needs to be installed. In StarLife the service system is the main management tool to interact with colonies and it’s population. Each planet has a specific number of slots to place services. More developed/populous planets have more services that can be placed at the simultaneously. Services range from requesting the building of a Shipyard to incentives for immigration. A civilization has a range of services to choose from.
Now that a civilization is established it needs to be protected. A galaxy is like the ocean, where ships sail to unknown places and face new challenges. Each ship has a purpose and in a dangerous environment where other civilizations rise from their own space sectors, conflict is inevitable. Instead of several ships in huge armadas battling in space, StarLife focus on a smaller number of ships organized in fleets.
Ships are categorized by their frames (scout, frigate, gunboat, cruiser and others). Shipyards are set to build specific frames of ships to produce. Once ships are ready to deploy they are attached to fleets and a fleet can have ships from different frames. To keeps a fleet working and supplied has a cost. Building a huge armada can be a daunting task.
Since fleets have a small number of ships, military conflict in space can be more tactical. When two or more enemy fleets engage in battle, the position of each ship in the battlefield and weapons configuration do establish a difference of force. Space battles are played in a turn system, but all ships move first and shoot last. That way trying to predict the enemy ship movement is very important.
The battle system has roots in miniature wargames, but without all those rules for playing in a tabletop. Ship frames come with standard weapons and systems already installed but they can be redesigned. A frame is divided in five main sections, a center, starboard, starport, forward and back. On each section there are slots to place weapons, armor and systems like star fighters bays, troops quarters, living quarters, engines, fire controls and lots of other components.
During battle, weapons have fire arcs and need firecontrols to be able to lock on a target and fire. That’s why positioning a ship in a proper fire arc from a target will determine if a weapon can be used or not and what part of the enemy ship will be hit. This way ship design is very meaningful and tactical in nature. It may sounds like a lot of things to keep track of, but space combats are very deadly and a few turns are enough for a battle to be resolved.
Plus, ships need to be repaired, weapons rearmed and crew replaced. If they are not in range of a logistic system they can became an easy target for enemy fleets. Managing fleets are also part of war effort.
Space battles are not the only kind of conflict in StarLife. Next post we take a look on concepts about other conflicts.
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So, what is StarLife all about ?
We can start by describing it as a 4x (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) strategy game, but it isn’t just that. We, the developers (Purple Orange Games), have being playing 4x strategy games for a long time and we really enjoy this genre, however everything we have played was not enought, we wanted more.
StarLife is going to be the result of several very well thought concepts that we, as players and developers, wanted to experience in a strategy game, more specifically in a space/sci-fi 4x strategy game. In essence we don’t want to just create a new game. We are aiming for a new player experience as well, and so it became our main goal.
Let’s talk about these concepts.
Galaxy is not a balanced place, nor even a fair place. Different races have all kinds of experience that are not quite the same. When a race reaches the stars it might just bump in some huge stellar empire that is hundreds years old and then have to deal with that, or they can be the only ones to be out there ahead of anyone else. StarLife is about the decisions you take when you face such situations. Every game aims to be a whole new experience with lots of different situations.
Each space faring race is unique. They have different background, culture, way of thinking, values, biology, technology levels and governments. Players will play as the head of such governments and each of them has a unique way of playing. More democratic governments do not allow the player to do everything he wants the way he wants. There are political issues and internal politics that needed to be solved. An Emperor is given much more power and liberty to do as he/she wishes and so their orders usually are executed faster. To experience these levels of gameplay are a key part of StarLife. Unlike other games, such differences are not just race bonus or DLC, neither only background story but the very own core of StarLife.
Expansion is a tricky thing. New worlds can have lots of surprises and there is always a difference in colonising a planet you explored completely instead of blindly colonising an unexplored world. Once a new planet is discovered, exploration of each corner of the new world will make a big difference for the future population that will settle in. Planets are not the same and some have more potential for mining and others for food production or scientific research.
And now that your civilisation is expanding to the stars it needs to be maintained. Everything has a cost to keep running. Since StarLife is a strategy game the decisions are more macro than micro. Each planet has a capacity where a civilisation can install infrastructures. Instead of building each building in a planet, the player will issue orders for infrastructure installation that generates what a civilisation needs to keep it’s population alive and growing, the production flowing and the economy increasing.
Like in real life, logistics is a big deal. A planet isolated from the rest of their civilisation has much more trouble to grow and flourish than those that are connected by a logistic system. In StarLife, planets (and Star systems) can be connected by transport lines. These lines represents all the logistic needed to keep a civilisation moving forward. Transport lines are a essential part of StarLife.
Do you want more? We have plenty. Next time let’s talk a little about how population migrates, how starships works and conflicts affect the game.
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As a result we came to depend on at least OpenGL ES 2.0.
On most old PCs, we can only find OpenGL 1.0 thanks to Microsoft, even if their video card support ES 2.0 we would need them to update their video drivers.
As a response to this Qt 5 started to use ANGLE, a library from Google that translates OpenGL calls to DirectX. ANGLE doesn’t support Windows XP.
This is still far from perfect as Qt 4 didn’t have those requirements.
There is however another solution, llvmpipe is a raster opengl library from Mesa, using it means that there is no need for a GPU as everything would be handled by the CPU instead. It makes the game slower but as long as the CPU has enough horsepower and we keep StarLife simple, this will be enough for now.
A long term solution is to fall back to Qt 4 and use OpenGL 1.
Solution: Provide 3 builds of StarLife
1. Qt 5 + MinGW = 32 bits + OpenGL ES 2.0 + XP onwards
2. Qt 5 + MinGW + llvmpipe = 32 bits + XP onwards
3. Qt 5 + MSVC2010 = 32 bits + DirectX 9 + Vista onwards