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Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1

 
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Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/6/2021 3:17:16 PM   
Mantuvec

 

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Welcome dear reader and thank you for your interest in Distant Worlds 2. This is the first of several Developer Diaries that we’ll be releasing roughly every two weeks from now until release to cover different parts of Distant Worlds 2 in some additional detail.

First, let me introduce who we are. As you may be aware, Distant Worlds 2 has a fairly small development team, though it has grown since Distant Worlds: Universe. The two core team members are Elliot Gibbs who is the one and only programmer and designer and Erik Rutins (that’s me) who is the producer and co-designer. There are many additional and crucial team members who we work with every week: a “Supertester” and expert XML data wrangler and tools developer, several incredibly creative and dedicated 3D, 2D and UI artists who provide us with our models, characters, animations, effects, illustrations, interface elements and concept art, and a very talented music composer. We have also been blessed to have the assistance of many dedicated and remarkably talented Distant Worlds volunteer testers and fans who have helped us in very important ways throughout Alpha and Beta testing with their feedback and suggestions. Any acclaim should deservedly go to the whole team as Distant Worlds 2 has been a real team effort.

This initial diary will discuss a few of our key goals when we finished support on Distant Worlds: Universe and decided that making a new Distant Worlds game was what we wanted to do.

The pre-cursor to Distant Worlds 2, Distant Worlds: Universe is a very successful Sci-Fi 4x game, which while strongly influenced by many 4x and strategy games that came before it, also added some new innovations to the genre. Some of the main innovations were the seamless “living galaxy” feel of the game, the very flexible automation and advisor settings that allowed you to tailor the game to your preferred playstyle, and the remarkable depth which allowed you to dive into your preferred gameplay areas with significantly less abstraction that many games allow. The end result was a great deal of positive acclaim from players that focused on these innovations and the overall gameplay, while most of the negative feedback was related to the limitations of the underlying engine, including memory usage, performance, graphical quality and interface scaling.

Distant Worlds: Universe was unfortunately built on a 32-bit Windows engine with some very real limitations in what could be done in many of these problem areas while maintaining adequate performance within the scope of an always active “living galaxy”. We were bumping up against these limits ourselves from the initial release and they became increasingly more difficult to deal with over time.



By the time we released Distant Worlds: Universe, we knew that any future game would need a new engine that would not only allow us to make Distant Worlds look better, but would also allow it to perform better and expand what we could do in terms of gameplay choices. Elliot spent a good deal of time researching this and in fact one year into the project we even went through the pain of switching engines, just to make sure we would be able to achieve all of our engine-related goals. Distant Worlds 2 is now based on the Stride engine, is fully 64-bit and 3D and with a full dynamic scaling for all elements, including the interface. I can’t overstate how much work and time it required of the entire team to make this leap, but we strongly feel the end result will be worthwhile and will allow us to continue to develop for Distant Worlds 2 for many years to come.

The second main goal relates to the interface. In making the big jump to a new and modern engine, we knew we could address dynamic scalability, but there were also many comments from Distant Worlds: Universe players about the original interface being difficult to learn. While it was quite functional once you learned it, the initial learning curve was harder than it should have been and partly because it evolved over multiple releases, the organization of information in some cases made things quite difficult for players to find.

A significant effort was put into a re-design of the interface, focused on providing players with easy top-level access to the most significant information both for better awareness and quicker decision-making. The bottom-left area remains focused on information about whatever the player has selected, but the selection menus and buttons themselves have been reorganized as well as additional information added where it previously required diving into other menus or dialogs. The bottom-middle now has a dynamic summary when in the system level of all significant “objects’ within the player’s current location or view.



The top-left now has a series of major “headings” (in order from left to right, Empire Summary, Diplomacy, Colonies, Exploration, Resources, Construction, Research, Military and Civilian). When the player hovers the mouse over any of these, a summary of key metric in that area is shown. Moving the mouse down to the summary expands the menu further, allowing any of a series of sub-menus to be chosen that provide more information or detail. Moving the mouse off this area, collapses them back to the top, but clicking anywhere in these menus “locks” them open for ongoing interaction. Another click on the top “unlocks” them.

The top-right has a few basic piece of summary information – your current research projects, number of colonies and population, surplus income and cashflow and game date and speed. Clicking any of these also jumps to the relevant dialog to manage them in more detail. Below the speed controls are the victory conditions, game options and the message log.



The Message Log has had fillters added and can be opened at any time to review old messages. Current messages appear on the right hand side below the log. When they first appear, they are briefly expanded at first to allow the player at a glance to get a sense of what they are about, then they collapse back to a smaller color-coded message category icon. Depending on the player’s chosen options, these many include advisor messages as well as other notifications or warnings. If ignored, the vast majority “auto-expire” after a delay (a small line under the message icon shrinks as the message expires) and go to the message log. Hovering the mouse over a message allows a quick glance at its expanded form. A single left-click on the message will open and lock it so that any actions related to it may be decided on. A double left-click will go to the message location. A single right-click will immediately dismiss the message.



A third goal was to make it easier for the player to gain information at a glance from the map. Part of this involved connecting up the User Interface to the map more directly. For example, when you have a dialog open on the top left and are reviewing your colonies, or exploration ships, or fleets, or even a filtered list of freighters currently transporting Hexodorium, the relevant items will also be highlighted on the map and will “ping” as you mouse over them so that you can more quickly and easily see where everything is. It also means that we added planetary and system “badges” which provide a summary of key assets, resources and capabilities at a given location. These have a planetary system version and a galacitc version depending on how zoomed in you are. There’s also additional information available when you mouse-over locations or objects.

In the view above, you can see that for the planet and moon on the right side of the system, I have found two ruins that are not yet fully explored. I also know of two available resources that could be mined and the exploration indicator in yellow is tellng me the current exploration level and that exploration there is not yet completed. The middle planetary group just has four resources. The middle left has a star showing that it’s our capitol planet, what its population is, what its happiness is, that it has the capability for construction (both due to the planet and the spaceport) and that it is a location that can refuel ships. Under that, it shows an explored ruin, the various explored resources and that we have 120 Troop Strength there.



Finally, in order to allow you to play the game your way, we’ve added a lot of policy, automation and advisor settings and grouped them all together in one convenient location to allow you to automate the parts you don’t want to deal with, turn on two different levels of advisors for areas you’d like to supervise, or set areas to full manual control when you really want to dive in. This level of automation extends down from this top level to being able to automate or manually control planets, fleets and even individual state ships.

I hope this review of our goals in improving the engine and the user interface helped you see how far we’ve come from Distant Worlds: Universe. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a new Developer Diary for you all!
Post #: 1
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/6/2021 9:39:50 PM   
Cauldyth

 

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Looking forward to hearing more!

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/7/2021 11:26:03 AM   
Colwolf77

 

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These changes look excellent! knowing you have a talented team working on this has got me excited for a great final product. I'm looking forward to the next update with eager anticipation!

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/7/2021 3:20:35 PM   
Galaxy227


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Fantastic stuff. I'm glad Matrix is taking a jab at proper "development diaries," as it seems to work well for the folks at Paradox. Looking forward to seeing the tail-end of DW2's development unfold.

One question though! The screenshots provided display camera angles previously not shown to be possible. This makes me wonder, will the player be able to rotate the camera 360° around objects? I'd love to fully immerse myself into the 3D galaxy. Restrictive cameras typically only make that more difficult.

< Message edited by Galaxy227 -- 7/7/2021 3:23:37 PM >

(in reply to Mantuvec)
Post #: 4
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/7/2021 11:18:11 PM   
sinbuster

 

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I'm curious about that electricity production on the sun. Is energy a commodity?

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/9/2021 1:12:21 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Galaxy227
One question though! The screenshots provided display camera angles previously not shown to be possible. This makes me wonder, will the player be able to rotate the camera 360° around objects? I'd love to fully immerse myself into the 3D galaxy. Restrictive cameras typically only make that more difficult.


I'm glad someone noticed the new camera angles. You can rotate freely on the horizontal plane. The angle you look down at depends on choosing one of the preset angles, ranging from top down, high angle, medium angle (the default), low angle, bridge view (you are "in" the selected ship), trailing view (you are just "behind" the selected ship).


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(in reply to Galaxy227)
Post #: 6
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/9/2021 1:13:06 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: sinbuster
I'm curious about that electricity production on the sun. Is energy a commodity?


That lightning bolt icon actually represents "firepower", so it indicates that there is some kind of military ship or station there.


_____________________________

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CEO, Matrix Games LLC




For official support, please use our Help Desk: http://www.matrixgames.com/helpdesk/

Freedom is not Free.

(in reply to sinbuster)
Post #: 7
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/10/2021 6:01:24 PM   
Galaxy227


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quote:

bridge view (you are "in" the selected ship), trailing view (you are just "behind" the selected ship).


Um... if this means what I think it means, and we're now able to role-play as a Ship Captain or Fleet Admiral, giving orders to our ship as the camera is locked on it...

God I can't wait! Even smaller additions like the newly added camera angles adds so much replay-ability to DW2. As said, I was really hoping for some more freedom with the camera than previously shown. This all far surpasses any previous hopes.

< Message edited by Galaxy227 -- 7/10/2021 6:03:16 PM >

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Post #: 8
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/11/2021 4:10:03 AM   
OnePercent

 

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Love how it still has the original DW feel tho

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/11/2021 12:09:14 PM   
Jorgen_CAB

 

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Everything feel just like a better version of DW. The new graphic is nice but don't seem overwhelming and it mainly feel like we get DW in 3D rather than 2D. Allot of refinement in core mechanics that needed to change but still feel like the old game in so many ways, I'm really impressed with the work done and can see a bright future for this game with lot's of new interesting content. The only thing I will miss in the initial release will probably be the number of factions we can have in the game. I understand why they are more limited so I'm not complaining... I just hope we can get some early DLC for more factions sooner rather than later after the release of the game.

(in reply to OnePercent)
Post #: 10
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/11/2021 11:47:06 PM   
sinbuster

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Erik Rutins

That lightning bolt icon actually represents "firepower", so it indicates that there is some kind of military ship or station there.



I should have guessed it with the grey numbers for population/troop strength. Thanks for clarifying. I must say everything looks fantastic so far. I love the new camera angles as well. The bridge and trailing views will be especially good for mods. Can't wait.

(in reply to Erik Rutins)
Post #: 11
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/12/2021 7:38:28 AM   
martok


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Erik Rutins

I'm glad someone noticed the new camera angles. You can rotate freely on the horizontal plane. The angle you look down at depends on choosing one of the preset angles, ranging from top down, high angle, medium angle (the default), low angle, bridge view (you are "in" the selected ship), trailing view (you are just "behind" the selected ship).


Whoa wait, what!?!


So essentially, we can switch to a "bird's-eye" view should we so choose. (Yes?) Holy crap, that would be amazing.




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Post #: 12
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/12/2021 8:02:46 PM   
USSAmerica


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Looking great, Erik!

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/13/2021 9:04:14 PM   
ncc1701e


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mantuvec




So given this last screenshot, do we have orbiting planets? I am confused with what was said earlier in this thread:
https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=4953341

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/13/2021 10:08:23 PM   
Webbco


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Not sure why there's confusion - the link you posted is to a poll for what is desired for the first expansion. Not official news on the DW2 base game. The answer to your question is that there won't be orbiting planets, at least on release.

Edit: From Erik in the DW2 showcase thread:
"I explained this a bit in the stream Q&A, but bottom line is that the the planets still rotate, but they no longer have animated orbits.

Partly this is due to the change in scale, the rest comes down to the difference between having things look ok in 2D where ships and stations moved through each other all the time vs. nice 3D where they need to avoid colliding, enter hangars and docking bays properly, exit construction yards, etc.

Having the orbits match up with the more realistic scale would have meant they would be slow enough that you likely wouldn't notice the movement easily, while at the same time any movement would create a lot more challenges for us in terms of the new 3D mechanism for docking of ships in spaceports and near planets and collision avoidance. We decided ultimately that it wasn't worth adding extremely slow orbits to create a huge amount of extra bugs and work to account for that when we could spend that limited time better elsewhere on other more noticeable features. It's not impossible that orbits may return at some future date, but it's not in the plans right now."


< Message edited by Webbco -- 7/13/2021 10:11:07 PM >

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Post #: 15
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/14/2021 6:11:13 AM   
ncc1701e


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Thank you, this is much clearer now. I was confused myself about the meaning of orbiting planets. I believed that now there were planets without any sun.
And your explanation makes perfect sense.

_____________________________

Chancellor Gorkon to Captain James T. Kirk:
You don't trust me, do you? I don't blame you. If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it.

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/14/2021 8:42:34 PM   
Sild

 

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Hmm.. Is it just me or does the game look.. Prettier? Newer version of the game maybe? Anyway, cool stuff! Hope it's coming out sooner rather than later!

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/15/2021 6:09:23 AM   
Galaxy227


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quote:

Hmm.. Is it just me or does the game look.. Prettier? Newer version of the game maybe? Anyway, cool stuff! Hope it's coming out sooner rather than later!


We're just getting the game at its proper resolution now... the original showcase had text barely readable.

(in reply to Sild)
Post #: 18
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/19/2021 6:46:55 PM   
Canute0

 

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It is just me or does the images made the reading of the posting a bit diffiuclt ?
The images have a good quality but extremly big, and the text is at the full size of the image.
You either can scroll out to see the whole image, but then you can't read the text.
And when you scroll in to read the text, you need to scroll to the right to follow the text.

Maybe use a thumbnail function for the images.

(in reply to Galaxy227)
Post #: 19
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/19/2021 9:27:04 PM   
mainebears

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Canute0

It is just me or does the images made the reading of the posting a bit difficult ?
The images have a good quality but extremely big, and the text is at the full size of the image.
You either can scroll out to see the whole image, but then you can't read the text.
And when you scroll in to read the text, you need to scroll to the right to follow the text.

Maybe use a thumbnail function for the images.



The images give more information than the words - I am sure the text has been adding to the full size screen shots. Maybe separately post again each text message after the combined image for those that are unable to see the images well. I have no issue with the combination but i probably better hardware than most.

P.S. Maybe its just me while the forum software does stretch each post beyond the normal limits of the page with the Scroll bars on the bottom of the Tab in Firefox I am about to scroll and see the entire image and read the entire text too. Looks like there been some readability adjustments to the graphics since the last big reveal. I am sure that help the game sell better but I hope there is development on the game itself as well.

Some of us might be willing to pay for non-official NDA sealed access to the game while you make it prettier. If that helps you with resources to finish the game. Or prepay for future expansions. Just a thought.

< Message edited by mainebears -- 7/25/2021 3:15:19 AM >

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Post #: 20
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/20/2021 6:29:18 AM   
Canute0

 

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mainebears, could you tell my your manufacturer of your bionic eye's ? :-)

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Post #: 21
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/20/2021 8:01:27 AM   
Ranbir


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Yes, the photos have stretched the forum post too wide.

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/22/2021 3:08:14 PM   
Kobracan

 

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Looks great but I have the same stretching image issue.

So the first dev diary was on 7/6. Shouldn't we have another one by now (2 weeks)?

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Post #: 23
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/22/2021 6:57:22 PM   
martok


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I was wondering the same thing. We should be due for another one by now.



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Post #: 24
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/23/2021 1:46:21 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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Yes, I just finished it yesterday, you should see it in the coming days.

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Erik Rutins
CEO, Matrix Games LLC




For official support, please use our Help Desk: http://www.matrixgames.com/helpdesk/

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Post #: 25
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/24/2021 8:32:48 PM   
ncc1701e


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Great!

_____________________________

Chancellor Gorkon to Captain James T. Kirk:
You don't trust me, do you? I don't blame you. If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it.

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Post #: 26
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/27/2021 5:24:51 PM   
Webbco


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It's now been 3 weeks...if anyone is counting.

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Post #: 27
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/28/2021 6:01:11 AM   
martok


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Yep, I noticed. Sigh.



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Post #: 28
RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/28/2021 9:11:55 AM   
StormingKiwi

 

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Surely this is marketing 101, ensuring a regular publishing schedule for promotional material?

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RE: Distant Worlds 2 - Dev Diary #1 - 7/28/2021 9:32:32 AM   
Webbco


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Especially as we know Erik has actually completed the diary for last week. Someone just hasn't posted it.

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Post #: 30
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