Saturday, December 6, 2014


I've actually been playing around with this so much I don't know why I haven't posted an image. So here it is:

There's a lot more going on than it might seem,

The map on the right shows, within the yellow ring, the stellar systems that are accessible from the current planet. The image is scaled so some colors may not be obvious, I'm currently located at Nelson's Folly, the orange planet in the center. To the lower right there are two possible destinations. But one of them is blue because it is not available in the next 10 shuttles out of this system.

The system in red is one I purchased a ticket for and I am lined up for travel on the next departure. Departures are run server side, so if I was to exit the game and come back later, I would still arrive in the system as planned.

Status of the shuttles is something that happens on a random basis. Most flights will be On Time. But there are some that will be Delayed, Canceled and in some unfortunate cases, Missing. While canceled can be annoying, the maximum time you will spend waiting on the next shuttle is 14 minutes. But most shuttles come at a frequency of less than six minutes. However, I find that the pace of shuttles can be a little too fast. Most of the time I have not even gotten all the cargo I plan to take with me together in the typical 3 minute window and worse, I haven't even traded some currency. The currency markets are very active and with 8 different currencies to trade I find that I make more money staying put than trying to travel around selling raw materials.

Distance between systems is measured in light years. The public transportation is designed to take passengers up to 400 light years in a single jump. A different way to look at it is that the public transportation uses a fairly new type of engine called Parsec Drive which has a maximum radius of 125 Parsecs or roughly 478 light years. The government agency responsible for public transportation has not yet released the details of Parsec drive and there are a number of pirates that hijack shuttles to steal the new engines for reverse engineering purposes. So far, nobody has been able to reproduce or even retrofit one of these engines for use on their space ships. It is just a matter of time, though. I suspect in a year or two at the most, Parsec drive will be all the rage and available for all space craft.

Yes, more lore than code to support, but at least you have an idea of what is going on in the game. The times delivered and the shuttle list are served from the server. Even the time above the map is derived from the server using server time. It refreshes each minute to make sure the game client is in sync with the server, but it ticks to the second so you have an idea when your next departure will happen. There's another screen that exists on top of this one, it is too early to show shots of that screen so for now, just use your imagination that in game navigation and additional information will appear above this screen.

There are also a few interesting concepts on display in this shot, taxes, tariffs and ticket prices are presented as things that will happen. You can also purchase a ticket but if you choose to cancel a ticket there will be some penalties, so don't expect a 100% refund. But more interesting about this concept is the taxes, reduced refund and tariffs. The money collected goes to the stellar system economy. This potentially substantial amount of money being collected could go to the good of the planets in the system, or some crafty players will figure out that there are ways to filter this cash flow into their bank accounts.

This ties into the original title of the game, Fortune. Yes, there will be money sinks, taxes, tariffs and ticket prices are just one form. But at the same time, there will be players that figure out ways to navigate around the money sinks. Most players in the game will be poor, meaning they exist in a somewhat day to day cash flow predicament. They will be rich and care free one day and flat broke another. But for about 3% of the population, they will live without cash flow problems at all. In fact, their actions will actually impact the other 97% on an almost minute by minute basis. Think you are doing well in currency trades? guess again, there is likely a fat cat manipulating the markets and while you are making millions in trades, they are making tens of billions of dollars and are not even logged into the game.

So when people ask me the point in playing this game, the point is to become the wealthiest, most powerful player in the game. You will know your rank and you will know the ranks of the elite players.

Friday, December 5, 2014

catching up

Ok, it's been quite a while since I've posted. The latest development have mostly been with travel. I plan to post screen shots of this in the next few days, but basically intergalactic travel via public transportation is now up and running. Planets maintain schedules and there are a number of other factors to consider such as taxes, tariffs if you are transporting goods and how long you want to wait to get away from the planet you are on.

One of the biggest challenges I've faced in this part of programming is actually a somewhat trivial issue. When traveling, you are presented with a starmap of the neighboring stellar systems that are within reach of the public transportation system. But in the database that runs this, the stellar systems are not named, the planet that hosts a spaceport is named. So are you traveling to the planet or the stellar system? Did I mistakenly name the planets and not the stars they orbit?

I'm actually still struggling with this and believe I came up with a creative work around.

Players will be able to take over planets. That's been the plan from the start. So the player base will have the ability to name the stellar system. Travel will be based on this name. But planets within a stellar system can also be named. The stellar system will basically have one of the planet names promoted to be the name that represents the stellar system. So in theory you could have competing players owning planets in the same stellar system. Devising the manner in which they will handle who gets naming rights is simple, whose player association is bigger? Whose planet has more players selecting it as their "home" planet?

To make it a little more complex, very few planets actually reside in the "habitable zone" around their respective star. Players wishing to take over planets that are not habitable due to extreme temperatures or other reasonable excuses to avoid regular visitation of these potentially deadly planets could end up giving a habitable planet little competition in naming of a stellar system.

So how would the underdog win? Simple, get some friends together and blow up the other planet.