[FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS]
Oh dear lord, where to begin... :) First of all, apologies for not updating this site after Assembly 2004. There has just been such an overwhelming change in my life since that event. Let me elaborate...
Assembly 2004 was to be the first time SF:C was ever shown to the public. I had my fears that the design of the game had gone way into a wrong direction. By not having a decent focus into a key area in the gameplay, it had become a feature creep but most of those features were so unfinished - such as the adventure conversation elements, capital ship control, drone fighter command and the space exploration using the hyperjump drive - and unpolished that there was no way these could be included in the Assembly 2004 entry. So I decided to take the most polished component of the game - space combat - and make it into a short mini mission.
Alas, the content for the mini mission was extremely poor, and in addition, people really hated the gameplay. Feedback on the whole fiasco was overwhelmingly negative. I continued the development of the game for the rest of the year, but then extreme scheduling pressures from my day-job caused the development to completely sieze. And there was just no motivation left to return to the whole project.
Years have passed, and the technology powering computer games has gone ahead several generations. This is most blatantly seen in big commercial PC titles such as Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and X3: Reunion. The technology in SF:C was kind of old even back in 2004, and now it's outright outdated. There's basically very little that is salvageable in the project.
So, what happens to SF:C now? It is my intention to still keep developing games on my free time, if I can ever arrange some of it. A dream of mine is to be able to self-finance a commercial game, so that publishers or investors do not have any control over the content or the work schedule. But the game to be created this way cannot be as massive and - frankly - ambiguous as SF:C, but it has to be something much, much more focused.
I was toying around the idea of creating a web-based adventure game in the intended SF:C universe, because over the years I have accumulated a lot of competence in that field. This would allow the technical implementation work to take place using a much higher level tools than those that SF:C was created with. Web-based content production for games is another idea that has always interested me. Actually, most of SF:C's content (conversations, star maps etc.) are produced using a web tool by my own design.
We'll see what the future holds for the SF game series. I am still confident that we'll see the series return some day, some form.
Over and out,
Each passing day that considerable effort is put into SF:C, it's beginning to look more like a game than some sort of a technology test program. The amount of effort it has taken to reach this point has been overwhelming to say the least, and we still have a long, long way to go before the gameplay of SF:C is in such shape that any type of compatibility test version can be released to the general public.
The technology behind SF:C's gameplay has some of the most remakable subsystems I have ever created (not that it necessarily means anything :). For instance, the scripting engine is so sophisticated, that up to a certain level, generalized, re-usable components can be implemented via scripting. Everything from artificial intelligence to camera animation is controlled via scripting; this enables ingame cutscenes and events to be created, even by third parties.
Today's screenshot shows how an important part of the actual gameplay, controlling small fightercraft, will look like. Most of the content is not of final quality, but we're slowly getting there on that front as well.
The technology of SF:C is finally starting to reach such a point where constant tweaking and changes aren't required, and it's possible to begin work with gameplay elements. Things such as user interface and faster-than-light travel aren't trivial compared to the graphics engine, on the contrary. While pretty graphcis may get one interested in a game, it is the gameplay that keeps one playing the game.
On the screenshot page possibly the most important gameplay element is demonstrated: faster-than-light travel. All of the long range movement is done via hyperspace jumps in SF:C, there won't be a freeflight FTL mode.
Quite some time has passed since last update, so it's time once again to wrap things up into a neat development update.
The technology of StarFight: Comrades is currently in a state I call a jungle of dependencies. A massive heap of code has been written during the past month, but a vast majority of it has never been tested because some crucial pieces of code are still unfinished. But things are definitely going into the right direction. Along with new features the performance and stability are improving, and also most of the game engine's laid out basis is functioning surprisingly well, much more so than was the case with the previous StarFight game.
Of course a development update wouldn't be one without a released screenshot. Today's shot presents a technology that's been ready for weeks, but which I've only just lately been able to test: turrets. Notice how well the much-touted glow effect complements the fusion beam :)
|Note on an interesting discovery...||09-03-2002|
I made an interesting discovery a few days back: the glow effect implemented to enhance rendering of bright spots has a very cool side-effect. Using the same rendering technique without actually rendering real objects, volumetric glow can be created! This is ideal for thruster effects, which are usually drawn as simple sprites or bright spots. See the screenshots-section for a sneak peek into the benefits of this side effect.
Currently research is being done on a feature that has not been seen in space simulation genre since Frontier: First Encounters ("Elite III"). Since I can't make any promises on whether I am able to implement it yet or not, no more details will be revealed at this point. But more information about this mystery feature is coming in the future, stay tuned.
|Development diary, quick addition||28-02-2002|
Just a quick addition to the SF:C development diary. This one is all thanks to fantastic Star Trek Bridge Commander. The neat-looking glow on the starships inspired me to hack together a similar effect into SF:C's graphics engine.
See a shot of the effect in action on the screenshots page.
|Development diary, chapter IV||13-02-2002|
It's once again time to wrap up what's been going on in the development of StarFight: Comrades.
Focus of the development is still in the technology. In the past week I've added one of my favorite features, detail texturing into the graphics engine. Detail texturing allows surfaces to stay crisp up-close by applying set(s) of material textures onto an object. I've never seen this feature implemented in a space simulation type game before, so I decided the effect was worth releasing a screenshot.
Problems with collision detection speed I ranted in the previous update have somewhat diminished. Optimization by bounding boxes sped up the game considerably. Further optimization is still needed, however, as collision detection currently accounts to at least 40% of the spent processing time.
Lately I've played around with the idea of implementing true volumetric fog into the graphics engine. However, I'm having great difficulty in grasping any practical approach towards an implementation, and I can't seem to be able to find any related material floating around in the web. If you know a site that has article(s) on the subject or better yet, ideas of your own, please drop me an email.
-- Jukka T. Paajanen
|An another development update||13-01-2002|
The development of SF:C has hit a few technical, performance-related bumps. At the moment, the performance is not desireable. Despite countless hours of optimization, the collision detection system takes up the most juice. I've gotta figure out a clever way to further bring down the number of very costly per-polygon collision tests.
Despite the issues, the game is still on it's way, and I've posted a new screenshot to prove it. So don't despair ;)
-- Jukka T. Paajanen
Development of StarFight: Comrades is going along fine. Despite the fact that in 3D every single thing is at least ten times as complex as in 2D, there has not been any major show-stopper problems on the programming field of the project. To prove that there has been some progress, I've released another screenshot on the screenshots page.
School and my actual part-time job are keeping me really busy, so you might not see that many updates on this site.
-- Jukka T. Paajanen
|StarFight: Comrades official web site has launched!||18-08-2001|
Today, StarFight: Comrades official web site has launched. This is the first time actual data is released to the public about this title outside some random comments on the message board.
StarFight VI: Gatekeepers is going to have a worthy sequel. I have decided to drop the number from this title, because as StarFight: Beginning of the End represented a new era of StarFight games back in 1995, StarFight: Comrades will differ from it's predecessors even more.
StarFight: Comrades is going to be JP-Production's first true 3D title. Game will use the Storm3D graphics engine. Some highlights:
- 3D hardware acceleration via DirectX8
- Hardware transformation & lighting support
- Advanced hidden surface removal system for high efficiency
- Bumpmapping, cube environment mapping, multitexturing and texture compression support
- Unmatched polygon pushing speed
- Developed by Sebastian Aaltonen, creator of such well known and respected titles as Tappo II and I've Got Some Balls
Gameplay will consist of familiar elements, such as action, adventure and space exploration, but this time there will also be a strategic element in the game.
- There will be a completely open universe as in StarFight VI.
- Player will be able to control a full fleet of vessels. Player will be able to fly drone fighters and other unmanned craft while sitting on the command ship. Manned ships can be given orders.
- As StarFight VI, game will have a strong storyline. Thus player will never be lost in the universe with virtually nothing to do.
StarFight: Comrades is still a long, long way off, so I'm instituting a 3DRealms-like When It's Done policy when it comes to release date inqueries. It has taken this title for almost a year to go from design phase one to initial implementation, and it'll take even longer for the game to finish. There is no release date until you see one on this site.
If the game's such long way off, why have I released all this information at this early, you ask? Reason is simple: publicity. StarFight: Comrades is an independent project, and the more public awareness there is, the more likely a publisher gets interested. While I intend to release SF: C with or without a publisher, one would certainly be welcome :)
While waiting for StarFight: Comrades, you might want to check out Assembly fast music combo winning tune Comrades by Ari "DJartz" Pulkkinen. There is some similarity between this one and StarFight: Comrades theme song ;)