This week was a bit of a slow one. After the first closed alpha launch last week I got to work on fixing bugs and cleaning up the codebase. For the most part I began work on the games tooling.

The cool thing about where the game is right now is that it's become very clear where it needs to be, and how long it's going to take to get there. This is something I spent so long in the dark on with Charge. There's a lot missing from Exoloper right now, and a lot of work will still need to be done, but at the end of the day I know exactly what that looks like.

A good example is some of the work I put into building out the prefabs for units in the game. Building out the base of this smartly will make it much easier to add new units in the future. Making sure there's a minimum amount of places where user error can happen will reduce the amount of bugs that can happen from poorly constructed components. Setting up proper validation will reduce that further.

In the prototype I launched last week, everything is hand build, very little is constructed at runtime, but I'm slowly shifting all of that over to a tooled system that allows me to quickly and easily crank out new assets whilst giving me flexibility and complexity to work with.

the medium-exo in all it's editor-prefab glory

Because of introducing little, not-so-flashy systems like this, it was relatively trivial for me to add friendly AI to the game (it took about three minutes to code, and an hour of bugfixing). Same goes for extending radar systems and AI awareness to the actual installed Sensors component. Now the quality of the sensors dictate not just how frequently / far you detect enemy units, but also how the AI handles them. More advanced sensors give AI more choices for combat.

One thing I've been mulling over from a design perspective is whether to keep the current slot-limitations for components. Currently components are limited to particular slots, a weapon can only be placed in weapon slots, engines in engines etc. If I removed that, you could come up with some absolutely cooked loadouts (engines on arms? reactor on hips?) but it also might lead to some amazing strategies and opens up for potential emergent gameplay. It's very much an accessibility vs openness question that I'll have to think about.

Exoloper Tasks completed: