Sporadic Naev Newsletter Vol. 2
BY BOBBENS, ON AUGUST 22ND, 2021
So it’s been over 10 years from the first edition of our sporadic naev newsletter, so it seems like it might be a good time to have the second edition. In the previous edition, we talked about the state of 0.5.0 and the introduction of big systems and electronic warfare. In this edition, we’ll talk about the state of 0.9.0 and new features like stealth and safe lanes.
State of 0.9.0
We’ve passed 5,500 commits from 0.8.2. This is going to be the largest amount of content and changes from any release ever with tons of graphical improvements, new mechanics, and new content added all over. It is already all live in the nightly images which are available from both github and steam via the opt-in beta. That said, it is recommended for you to back up your save or use a new one if you attempt to do this. At the current moment, you will lose many outfits and experience hiccups trying to use an old save game. Unlike the official releases, the nightly is still rather unpolished.
Currently there is no hard ETA for the release, but we hope to release it within the year and follow a more timely release cycle. We hope that we’ll be able to do a feature freeze in a couple of months and focus exclusively on polish until the release. As always, we will release one or more betas before the official release to try to debug potential issues.
Electronic Warfare Overhaul
Electronic warfare was originally introduced in 0.5.0. With the move to big systems, it no longer made sense for all ships to be visible at all times. Furthermore, we wanted to differentiate the roles between smaller and larger ships, while aiding survivability of small ships by making it harder for the largest of turrets to track them and hit them. While this worked well to some extent, it was never transparent to the player. We’ve revamped it this time around to be fully visible to the player. Each ship, depending on its mass and bonuses, will have three separate values: detection, evasion, and stealth, that control when the ship is first detected, when the ship details are shown and scanning is possible, and finally how well the ship can stealth.
Hiding is the most important attribute that controls when ships are detected at and affects both evasion and stealth. Evasion is usually 75% of detected at value, and controls how well turrets and missiles track a ship. Furthermore, it controls the distance at which a ship is scanned at. Scanning a ship allows you to see the details of cargo and outfits. Furthermore, patrol ships will scan your ship and make sure you don’t have illegal cargo.
That leads us to the final mechanic: stealth! Stealth allows ships to become completely invisible if no ships are within their stealth distance. When stealthed, ships get a -50% penalty to all movement: max speed, thrust, and turning. However, they cease to appear on all system sensors. This allows ships to sneak past systems or ships, opening lots of opportunities for contraband, piracy, and survival.
One of the last major gameplay changing features is safe lanes, which have been recently incorporated into the main branch. Safe lanes consist of routes in space that are more regularly patrolled. Most traders and factional systems will use these routes, while areas away from space lanes will naturally lead to more pirate activities. Core systems with many planets and stations will naturally lead to more safe lanes, while systems far away from core systems will end up having sparser lanes, or none at all.
Ship Classification Redux
This is a more minor change, but rare ship classes, such as cruiser ships, or motherships have been removed. Other similar classes have been merged, such as heavy drones and fighters, which retain the name of fighters. Furthermore, fighters have been split into fighters and interceptors (light fighters), and cruisers have been split into cruisers and battleships (heavy cruisers). This changes are mainly there for the equipment algorithm and AI to exploit.
Nearly all the outfits in the game have been modified or completely revamped. Core outfits and weapons have been designed to be based around 6 tiers: interceptor, fighter, corvette, destroyer, cruiser, and battleship. Utility outfits have been made to be based on conditional behaviour such as being below a certain armour threshold, or temporary behaviours. Finally, structural outfits have been made be stronger and play a more significant role in outfitting and not being left as an afterthought. Many new outfits have been added to fill in missing slots and roles, with many left to come.
Visual Novel Framework
Another fairly large change is a Lua based visual novel framework that has been written from scratch. It allows to show images and special effects while having text progressively appear. This greatly enhances some of the storytelling ability of the game and allows creating more complex conditional branching behaviours.
Furthermore, the entire system is based on the LÖVE framework which we recently started to partially support by mimicking the API in Naev, and allows for nearly infinite customizations.
There are lots of other improvements we have not mentioned in this newsletter: linear programming-based equipment optimization, discoveries, new missions, new ship attributes, more shader support, etc. We might go deeper into new features in future blarg posts as we refine and polish the mechanics.
With regard to what is coming up, there are no too major things left to do. Besides overall polish, which will take most of the time, some new missions have to be written, in-system objects implemented, jamming rework, pricing rebalance, and a few odd ends here and there. We’re hoping for a release within this year, but given the ambition and scope of 0.9.0, we’d rather delay and have a better release, than rush it and have it be unplayable.
If you wish to contribute to Naev, we have lots of things that can be done, even without programming experience! From making cooler beauty shops for comm and shipyard window, adding an uninhabited frontier, more loading screens, new character artwork, new outfit artwork, more missions, gameplay testing, etc. Tasks to be done can be found on the issue tracker, and discussion can be had on Discord.
This concludes the Sporadic Naev Newsletter Vol. 2, and hopefully the next will be sooner than 10 years from now.