DevBlog May - Aug 2019

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to post an overall update on our game. We originally planned to give these devlogs every month, but things have been picking up faster than anticipated and we had to reprioritize a couple of things to get our deadlines met. That being said, we’re still in the midst of some pretty heavily involved things, but we did manage to squeeze out a new devlog for all of you.

To start off, we’ve finally completed the merger of our new flight model that introduces new aiming and movement mechanics to the game. This new system is a huge improvement in overall fell and it also future proofs our design. With the old aiming system, all changes to the ship’s yaw and pitch were done via physics impulses. This effectively led you to “push” the ship with your mouse and small adjustments were very difficult to execute.

The new aiming system places a cursor on your screen. As you move the cursor, the ship will adjust its pitch and yaw to the position, at a speed relative to the distance your cursor is from the center. Currently, we have a radial limiter on how far out you can move your mouse. In the future, we will add the option for screen space, as well as the ability to adjust the maximum limit size for both the radial and screen space limiters. We also have a small dead zone in the center of the screen which will be adjustable as well. This will let you aim your gimballed weapons without changing the orientation of your ship.

The new movement mechanics utilize acceleration curves for every vector of movement. This allows us to change the curves based on the parts you have equipped on your ship. This works perfectly for us, as we plan on having a modular ship design and we want you to be able to choose the performance of your ship to fit your play style. We’ve also added vertical and horizontal strafing of the ship for further precision during flight.

Warping has received several updates. The timing has been adjusted to last a bit longer, but also to give you much more visceral punch of momentum in the beginning. Along with that, mid-warp visuals have been vastly improved. We now have particle effects, camera shake, and radial blur all combining to create a true sense of speed and power as you traverse across the solar system.

We’re very proud to announce the Grimmstar will now be supporting real-time ray tracing with DXR and RTX support! Space is a perfect playground for these new lighting techniques and the results have already been phenomenal. Lighting is now physically accurate with real-time reflections, lifelike shadows, and global illumination that adds bounce light to every scene. The performance impact is quite large, but through our initial optimization pass, we’re able to get 45+ fps while playing in 1080p with an RTX 2080. Again, this is the initialperformance pass. We’re going to be working closely with Nvidia and Epic to ensure ray tracing is as optimized as possible for our game, so more people can enjoy all the amazing visual benefits it brings.

Work has been started to produce the first very-super-large-behemoth-of-a-ship, the Civilian Carrier. This is a whole new process for us, as we have to develop the ship in multiple pieces to be assembled in-engine so that we can more flexibility with LODs and material instancing. We’re trying to pre-plan as much as we can and adjust along the way. So far, it’s looking pretty amazing, if I’m allowed to say so myself. We’ll continue to post updates as we progress.

And wrapping things up to save the best for last, we’re almost done with the work on our enemy Swarmer ship. This is the first ship that will be in the game and will act as the primary opponent. These guys attack in large waves and will be formidable opponents if you catch too many of them attacking you at the same time.

The whole process of developing this ship has been a learning experience for us as well. Most ships feature metal plating and might have some interesting shapes with those metal pieces, but the Grimmstar’s forces are mostly made from rock, held together with biomechanical tendrils. The dome piece is an especially vulnerable part of the ship that you should prioritize targeting when given the opportunity.

We’ve passed from the high poly stage to the low poly retopo and baking stage and are now finalizing the ship’s materials in-engine. All that’s left is to set up the turrets and give the ship some AI so they will be a worthy foe.

You can check out the video version of our updates here: