Stable Orbit Weekly Update #3

Greeble Kit
This week, I spent some time working on my “greeble kit”. It is a growing collection of reusable parts meant to help help me quickly build larger and more complex looking assets. For example, here is a logistics carrier I put together with the work-in-progress kit: 

Material Effects
The other thing I worked on this week is the material effects system. One of the gameplay problems I have currently is that a module will appear to be in pristine condition even when it has only 5% health remaining. Currently, you need to click on a module to bring up the stats view in order to find out what’s going on:

Thing is, nobody does that if everything appears to be just fine!

The new material effects system will help me solve this. First of all, it will blend between a ‘normal’ and a ‘damaged’ material, so that any damage the module may have incurred in the simulation will also be reflected visually. Additionally, I’ve implemented a custom emissive scheme which will allow me to pack three different types of module lighting in a single texture:

  • Red controls the running lights of the module; these will be always on so long as the module is functioning properly.
  • Green controls the ‘activity lights’, which will be on if the module is actively doing something.
  • Blue controls the status lights, which will burn green if the module is in good health, amber when it needs attention and finally red if the module is in serious peril

Using the alpha channel, I can control whether the lighting effect is continuous or strobing.

Of course, now that the system works, I’ll need to update all the assets to make use of the new material effects. First up are the solar arrays, which I hope to show off next week!