Development Update #19

Hello Citizens,

As usual, each development update takes longer and longer, but during the last 6 months, a lot has been done and we’re excited to show the progress. It was meant to be primarily about the territory system, but it branched out into pretty much every other system in the game, which is why it has taken this long, but we’ll be covering most of the new features shortly. Also, we apologize for the lack of updates on our website and social media, we mainly tend to use discord as it’s where our active community and player base resides, but after this development update, we will be putting more effort into updating the roadmap and providing more frequent news.

Before starting, we appreciate your patience, it’s been a wild technical ride these past few months, going over most of the old code and refactoring it has been an exhausting task because rewriting old code is more time consuming and prone to bugs than writing new code, and not just the code itself, the UI and the backend have gone through the same process as well.

Anyways, let’s begin!

The star of this development update, the territory system. Factions can now control specific areas of each world, allowing them to get income from the services in them and set taxes on other factions.

The process to take over territories is outlined below:

  1. Deploy influence generators to generate influence for your faction, they require fuel cells to operate and consume 1 fuel cell every second, each influence generator generates 0.4 influence per second.
  2. Upon reaching 100% influence, the winning faction will be able to deploy a territory controller, this takes around 40mins with a single influence generator, having more will decrease the time, but increased costs due to fuel cell consumption.
  3. Wait 20 minutes for the territory controller to establish its shields, which prevents damage unless hacked.
  4. The territory will be captured and the owning faction will be able to manage it.

For attacking factions, the process would be:

  1. The attacking faction will have to hack the territory controller during its vulnerability period.
  2. Wait 20 minutes for the shields to go down.
  3. Destroy the territory controller.
  4. Deploy influence generators to generate influence.
  5. Once at 100%, deploy a territory controller to take over.

In the event of two factions competing during the first phase, which is the influence generation, the faction with the highest amount of influence generators actively generating influence will be considered for the influence tick, the other factions will lose influence, which is half of a single influence tick, around 0.2 loss per second.

The territory controller UI shows all territory income from all services, the payout date, an event log with the most recent 50 management events, such as changing taxes, withdrawing funds, and changing defense options. The player that deployed the territory controller (Provided he’s still in that faction) and the high command of the owning faction are allowed to pick up the territory controller when it’s not in a vulnerability period.

When a territory is controlled by a faction, all income generated by services will be placed under daily income, at the end of a 48h in-game time cycle, the income will be released to the territory controller funds, which is called the payout cycle, when it occurs, it will calculate the income and the remainder will be deposited into the funds, things like upkeep, colony owner and economic royalties will affect how much the owning faction will receive. This period scales to 48h if the territory controller is picked up, preventing players from placing a territory controller before payout and then picking it up, also all income generated by services when there’s no territory owner will be deleted from the game, a territory controller must be controlling the territory in order to collect income.

Territories also have timezone lockdowns, which allows the owning faction to set a period of 6 IRL hours when the territory would be vulnerable to hacking, this runs in UTC time to facilitate factions planning out their defensive schedules. Timezone lockdowns increment the territory’s upkeep by 5% after every vulnerability period, this upkeep gets deducted from the overall daily income during the payout cycle. Upkeep will keep incrementing up to a maximum of 95%, this prevents factions from setting the vulnerability period to a dead timezone for prolonged periods of time, eventually, their income will keep decreasing until they disable the timezone lockdown for an entire lockdown cycle, which will reset the upkeep back to the default value.

Once a vulnerability period is selected, it will keep using that same vulnerability period until a new pending one is available, so factions won’t need to be manually setting the period every other day. 

This new territory system has brought back a lot of players and there’s been constant fighting and politics surrounding ownership of in-game areas, this will keep evolving with territory upgrades, new services, and colony takeovers, which will allow factions to take over entire worlds and receive income from all territories.

Cliea 5A48 has received a massive overhaul in the form of outposts and real estate. There’s a processing facility, mining facility, and a social outpost, with multiple player units scattered around that players will be able to own and call their homes. It’s also the first world to feature a fully working day and night cycle synced with the in-game time. In the near future, we’ll be having a real estate system that allows players to rent these units and live in them.

The deployable system has also seen some improvements, mainly in refactoring and improving the workflow, there’s been over 100+ new deployables implemented, from tables, lights, chairs, territory deployables, and more, this allows the players to modify the world and their personal spaces, there are no limits established at the moment, so you’re free to alter worlds as you wish. Deployables are a bit expensive and weigh a lot, which should ease the griefing potential as you’ll be losing a lot of money in the process, plus deployables show the name of the player who deployed it, preventing ninja griefers. More deployables will keep getting added as we move further in development, and some of them will allow interaction.

The mining system has been entirely overhauled, from the code to it’s UI, to a new scarcity system. The old mining UI was essentially tied to the mining rig system we had during the early days, it needed an upgrade to make it more streamlined and less confusing. The way you mine has also changed to be more similar to the production process. The new scarcity system has disrupted the economy in a fun way, during our initial testing when it was set on overdrive, we had specific raw materials completely mined out for days, which caused fights to erupt at mining areas during refresh cycles, it has been tweaked drastically to lessen the chance raw materials will be drained out entirely. The refresh cycles are selected randomly between 6 to 12 hours, which all raw materials in the world will be regenerated, based on how short or high the supply. Most players have enjoyed this change as it makes the economy more dynamic and it’s something we’ll be constantly tweaking, especially once the player base increases.

Mining tools have been reimplemented, during our first few playtests, mining tools were the only way to get raw materials but most players favored mining terminals so we put them in the vault until recently. Since the mining terminal system has been live for a few months and tested throughly, it was time to introduce a new active method of mining and that’s where the mining tools come in. Resource nodes spawn in specific areas, scattered around mining worlds, the raw materials that go inside them are randomized, as well as the amount. To mine these, you need to focus the mining tool beam on the node for a specific period of time, which is outlined in the mining tool’s tooltip ui as Focus Time, that will mine a randomized amount from the node, once it has been depleted it will be destroyed. There’s a maximum amount of resource nodes in each world and they take around 10 minutes to respawn, they also use the same pool of available raw materials as the mining terminals, so if a raw material gets mined out entirely, they won’t spawn in resource nodes. This method generates raw materials faster than mining terminals and likely cheaper in the long run but it requires some capital to get started.

Production has received a nice UI/UX overhaul, production licenses have been moved from the module market to the production terminal which makes the whole thing less confusing and more intuitive to use, the license expiration dates also are shown. Most PMOD items have been removed as well, reserved for mainly faction exclusives and rare items that you can’t purchase a license for.

The whole market system has received a massive UI/UX overhaul, more efficient filtering, and being able to list items from your storage make the whole experience more streamlined and easier to play the market game. The fees have also changed, sellers get charged a static fee plus taxes when they list an item on the market, while buyers have to also pay a static fee plus taxes when purchasing an item. The listing fee only charges on the time the item will be listed for, instead of additionally having a fee that scales depending on the price of the listing.

Our friendly neighbors, the turrets have been finally added, there are two kinds of turrets, the static ones, which are pre-placed in worlds and attack anyone with a weapon out, these can be destroyed but they regenerate after 30 minutes, the deployable version is much weaker and has less range, but factions will be able to deploy these in their territories to bolster their defenses, deployable turrets are still pending to be added into the game.

Hacking has had some tweaks done to it as well, mainly adding two new difficulty levels, which increases the number of digits needed to solve the password.

Food items have been finally implemented into the game, they currently use the production system, but in future updates they’ll require a specific crafting system, separated from production, to make them. They provide smaller boosts than drugs, but they’re legal, cheap, and don’t have any negative stats.

With every new development update, comes a huge amount of tweaking, optimizations, bug fixing, and gameplay balancing, this one might be the biggest out of all of them. A lot of the core legacy gameplay code has been rewritten from scratch, which has improved performance, made most systems future proof and in the process has fixed tons of bugs and stability issues. Community feedback has played a big part in all of this, we’ve been following the same procedure as before, where patches come in, community tests them, gives feedback, and then we adjust until we find a happy medium, we appreciate the consistent support and feedback, it helps the game a lot in the long run. You can see the consistent release of patches in the discord’s #mr-patchnotes channel since the new territory update came out in early November.

Another thing we’ve been making a lot of progress in has been our new backend, as most of our current players know, the backend we’re using now, gamesparks, is a deprecated platform and it’s been causing issues plus developing on it is not as efficient as building our own platform. We’ve been working really hard on this in the shadows and right now it’s live and running, we have accounts, registration, login, chat system, mail system, and a plethora of other services, such as our new billboard/advertising service and an admin dashboard area where we can write our own custom cloud code with a built-in web text editor and compiler, and deploy changes on the fly, all of this is very similar to how gamesparks works, but we’ve reverse engineered most of the systems and stripped out all the unnecessary features, only keeping what we really need and use frequently for the game. It’s secure, fast, scalable, custom-tailored for the game, and will just keep getting better and better as we add more features and improve the workflow.

This is gamesparks:

This is Frontier:

It’s a bit rough on the visuals, but it’s fully functional, fast and the workflow is much more efficient.

Fickey has also been building out some new stuff with the backend, such as the billboard system, where we will be able to upload images, assign an ID to it and then retrieve that image in the game and display it, all during runtime and instantly. This is mainly for the advertising mechanics where you’ll be able to rent out billboards and place your custom advertisements, but this can go even further, such as TVs and anything else that can display textures, the possibilities are endless!

We know the technical stuff is boring and the main question would be, when will the game be ported to this? The answer is soon™, we want to first hit more gameplay mechanics that don’t rely too much on backend features, such as custom gameplay mechanics for each faction, arresting, siphoning, territory upgrades, PMOD exclusives, drug labs, new services, new items, new AI, new areas and other cool things. We know you guys want proper faction mechanics, but for this we need our backend to mature a bit more, porting the game to the new backend will take a few months as well, since it requires going over everything that’s persistent in the game and rewriting the code to fit a new API, we want to ensure that before starting that process, the game has enough gameplay mechanics tested and the backend has evolved a bit more to make the process a lot easier, plus the bugs and things not working as expected have to be factored in.

The next big update will be faction gameplay mechanics, starting off with crime, prison and then moving on to other factions, but before that, we’ll take a small break and hit some smaller areas, such as new items, implants, and some other cool things before resuming work on the bigger features. The crime system is something that the team and the community have been anxiously waiting for since the game’s inception, it will bring so much dynamic content and nostalgic moments. After the crime stuff gets implemented, we’ll be moving into other factions and adding new gameplay mechanics for each one, things such as drug labs, siphoning, mercenary contracts, PMOD exclusives, territory upgrades, and other cool things. New worlds will also be getting added, Union City – Industrial being the first one, planned for late December if things go well.

One thing we would like to mention is that newer content will be getting periodically added into the game as it gets coded in, no more waiting for a bulk patch to add a bunch of new features that have been on standby for some time. Surprisingly enough, the player base keeps increasing and we’re having over 20+ people playing daily, spread throughout different timezones, the community is highly engaged in the current version game and we want to keep delivering content for them to enjoy, while also doing iterative testing in a live environment to further refine the mechanics and fix bugs.

Another question asked a lot, when will alpha come? We are estimating sometime mid to late 2021 and it will occur once we port the game to the new backend, when that happens, the development will be sped up and we’ll be able to reach beta quicker than what it took pre-alpha to alpha since we will already have a solid framework to work with. This is not an official date, but a rough estimation, it is indeed possible we might be hitting beta sometime in 2022, because once the new backend is implemented, the features remaining would just be things like management tools, missions, faction funds, and more, most of which are just UI and backend. By this time, we’ll also be looking at additional funding so we can scale the team further and speed up the development, mainly on the art and level design side.

That’s all we have for this development update, we’ve been having a blast working on the game and seeing the fruits of our labor with the community, starting from nothing and now having a fully playable game that has a small, but active player base enjoying the current state while providing nonstop content. It’s been a wild ride so far and all of us are highly dedicated into building our dream game and won’t stop until we achieve our goals, let’s keep going!

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