Approaching Perihelion

The next update for Stable Orbit will be out in a few more weeks!

If everything keeps going according to plan, I’ll be wrapping up the “code complete” build later Today. I have settled into a development cycle where, for each update, I first do all the programming and only once that’s completely done and dusted do I move on to creating the art necessary for the newly added features. I can be (if I dare say so) quite effective both as a programmer and as an artist… but not if I’m consistently switching between those two mindsets. By separating the two activities, I find I’m much more productive overall.

The previous update, Vector, was very art heavy, so much so that I spent nearly all of the time working on Vector in ‘artist mode’. For Perihelion, the pendulum has swung quite far in the other direction, which makes for a nice change of pace!

Now that the programming work is almost done, I can finally share all of the new features that will be coming to Stable Orbit with the Perihelion update:

Research Contracts

The biggest change is the addition of research contracts. Up to now, making money in Stable Orbit was easy! All you had to do was build a lab, make sure it has power and there is enough crew to man the lab (preferably on rotating shifts) and presto: oodles of money soon come flowing your way. Those days, my friends, are over soon! Once Perihelion launches, you will earn rewards by completing some or all of the research contracts offered to you. Some contracts will offer easy money, while others may offer big wins – but only if you can accept them before they expire! Other contracts still require that you install specific upgrades in your laboratories or first reach a higher science level before you can accept them.

Module Unlocks and Upgrades

Also new in Perihelion is the ability to unlock new, larger, modules as well as upgrades that can be installed on (some) modules. Upgrades come in two forms: “standard” upgrades, which can be installed at will and “special” upgrades, of which only one can be installed per module. Standard upgrades include things like capacity boosters for your storage modules. Special upgrades allow you to do things like specialize your laboratories for research in one particular area – say pharmaceutical research. Perihelion will introduce a good number of these upgrades, with even more coming in future updates.

Waste Management

Waste will be added as yet another resource for you to manage and balance against the other needs of the station. If you let too much waste pile up, living conditions in the station will deteriorate and give your crew yet another reason to abandon you. On the other hand, waste is a resource not to be wasted, as the new Waste Recycling module will allow you to extract water, partially closing the loop on that resource.

Module Intersection Detection

Up to now, you could place modules on any free CBM, even if placing a module there would cause it to intersect with other parts of the station. Fixing that has been on my to-do list pretty much since the very beginning, but so far it has always lost out to doing things that have had a bigger impact on the overall game play. Also, most of you were avoiding intersections while building your space station, even without the detection in place. You are good people! From Perihelion onward, the game will make sure that everybody behaves (when it comes to placement of space station modules, that is).

Obligatory Look Ahead

There. Now you know what is coming to Stable Orbit later this Month. I hope you are all as excited about these new features as I am. All in all, I believe these new additions go along way towards rounding out the core game. As is by now tradition when I do these blogs about new features (assuming you can call something you’ve done twice already a tradition), I’ll close out by looking ahead what else is in store for Stable Orbit.

The update after Perihelion will be called Blackout and will be include the Orbital Management and Disasters & Events features from the roadmap. I hope to finish work on that one, say, June-ish. Following that will be Umbilical, adding the Advanced Truss Structures and Pressurized Mechanics features and then – finally – the big one: Zenith, which will round up all the features promised in the roadmap to become the official “1.0” release of Stable Orbit! Yaaay!

Okay, Jim. Back to work!