Time After Time

The Message Log Screen as of 7 March 2014.
The Message Log Screen as of 7 March 2014.

Yesterday’s development focus was on tracking time in its various incarnations and making STL more reasonable to play.

One big element I worked on is the “Slow Advance” and “Next Event” turn modes. With Slow Advance, the game runs forward at about 10 days/second on the Observed Universe screen. With “Next Event”, the universe just ticks forward as fast as it can go (which on my development machine is about 10,000 years/sec) until an event happens that requires the game to raise a notification to the player. At that point, the game stops and kicks the player to the message log so they can read about what happened, and then returns them to the Observed Universe screen.

In addition, the way the Universe advances has been enhanced to better support future additions to the code base, and to simply have better coding practices.  So many elements of STL are affected by the passage of time in such diverse ways that making sure that every object always gets the correct tick length for its location and frame of reference is critical.  Making sure that in-game objects have the opportunity to raise events that will arrest the “Next Event” progression once they reach the player’s in-universe observer is also of key importance.

I’m starting to get to the point where I need to be creating a lot more content and running validation tests to make sure that the physics engine is still returning correct values for everything that affects gameplay.  While I haven’t directly mucked with the mathematics, unit conversions and other subtle effects in modifications to seemingly unrelated code can have a surprising affect on these sorts of mechanisms.  All of that, however, can probably wait until after I get more done towards the Kickstarter drive.

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