Lists, experts, and lists of experts – development log #118

This week, you can catch a sneak peek at two upcoming features: notifications, which Martin has been working on, and the reworked, more detailed traffic info display Michi has been cooking up. Meanwhile, Julian has been making lists.


Besides traveling on business and almost a full day of mind-numbing admin stuff, I had roughly one day of development time available to me this week. Naturally, I used it to continue my work on the notification feature I touched on last week. Despite still having to resolve a few architectural issues on the server-side, I decided to get a basic version of the client-side implementation done. That way I can see the notifications in action and I can get a feel for whether the data structures I designed actually work in practice. Added bonus: I can actually show you something this time!

It pretty much looks and works as you'd expect from a site like Facebook... and that's on purpose: Many smart people have thought a lot about this problem in the past and there is no point in reinventing the wheel. Obviously, the visual design still needs a few touches and some of the final functionality is still missing (like getting to the relevant tile within the game when clicking a notification), but more on this next week!

Michi (molp)

I focused on two things this week! Displaying traffic information for STL and FTL flights and starting a new feature, the expert system.

In the last weeks, I did a lot of work on the flight model, like adding a slower-than-light departure and approach segment for faster-than-light flights. Displaying these segments to the player who owns the ships is one thing, but we must not forget to display these ships to other players as well. The systems to display traffic have already been implemented before, I just had to adapt them to the new data. In the universe map traffic is displayed via the graph system, since it would be too much to display every single ship of every player. The hight of the triangles indicates the amount of traffic over the last hour, twelve hours or 24 hours.

graph system

All traffic happening in a certain system can be viewed in the system map. The ships are displayed just like own ships, but in a different color.

As already mentioned, I started implementing the expert system this week. This is a kind of experimental feature we came up with to solve a problem we encountered in the last alpha tests. Right now it is very easy to achieve self-sufficiency and build everything on one's own. There is no system in place that rewards specialization in a certain field instead of building everything. While we don't forbid players to build self-sustaining bases we see it as a problem if too many players do it, since it hinders trading and is not we what envision for Prosperous Universe. The expert system is a way of rewarding specialization in one or two fields by making the production of goods in these fields more efficient. The rewards cannot be bought and that way we hope to support both experienced and new players. I'll go into detail about how the system works next week, so stay tuned. :)

Julian (Mjeno)

This week has been full of busywork. I've been making lists and lists and not much else. So here's the list of things I've been listing all week.

In the beginning of the week, I've been preparing future communication with our players. I've been coming up with different ways of interacting with our small community, like polls in our forums and on Twitter. I've been compiling hashtags, both relating to us specifically and recurring trends like week days, so get ready for some #mondaymotivation, #tuesdaytips and #wednesdaywisdom. Posting on Facebook, Twitter, Discord, and our forums every day I realized that there isn't always something new to say about the game, so I decided to invest some time in gathering different sources of content for us to share. I set up Google Alerts and subscribed to RSS feeds about space and other topics our players might enjoy. I compiled an extensive list of holidays and theme days for the rest of 2018. Every day I write a post, I'm going to check if there's something to celebrate we care about, like Asteroid Day or a fascinating skywatching event.

In the past two days, I've been preparing future communication with members of the press. I've been messing around with customer relationship management (CRM) tools to find out which one fits our needs. I went through press lists I've gathered from other devs and updated, amended, extended them. I've been stalking journalists, news sites, blogs, and podcasts about video games for hours on end, and I'm getting the impression that they pop up twice as fast as I can write them down.

Lastly, I've taken over some internal communication. We're commissioning more art, both for the game's UI and the company's appearance. I spoke to our concept artist Mac for the first time after only exchanging e-mails for a few weeks. If you enjoy the things he's made for us, make sure to have a look at his tumblr, Space that never was.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to listing things.