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Naval units, new demo mode features

Posted by Oleksandr on March 3, 2019

March 2019 development update (v5) introduces naval units, improved world generator with support for multiple continents and islands, AI logic to support naval exploration and combat, and some new features in the demo mode (when observing AI players).

Naval units

Bombarding works like a siege attack and does collateral damage to all units and the city on a tile. Unlike the siege attack, it does not require one turn of preparation.

Ships can move into coastal cities. This means that you can build a canal city linking two bodies of water together.

World generator can now produce multiple continents and islands, and ensures quality of player start locations by scoring each tile for quality of the area nearby, and then selecting start locations only from the top 25% of them.

AI logic to support naval units and multiple continents

The AI implementation had to learn a lot of new things to deal with the fact that there is now more than one landmass, and that units have to be carried by a ship to get across.

The major new thing is that now it parses the world into zones (either water or land), and manages exploration, expansion, and warfare separately for each zone.

When a land unit wants to get to a different landmass, it invokes the pathfinder to build a path which would get it there if the unit was capable of moving on water tiles. Then it checks which water zone did that path cross, and request a transport within that zone. If there is a transport available, it gets assigned to the job, otherwise the transport request will prompt coastal cities to construct it. The transport will then try to pick multiple passengers and unload them at a closest viable location on the target landmass.

New features in the demo mode

You can now speed up animations (up to 8x) by pressing the "fast forward" button in the bottom right corner. The button cycles between these presets: 1x (with all the normal animations and delays), 2x, 4x and 8x.

"Switch perspective" button in the bottom left corner above the unit context panel can now be used to observe the game from the perspective of another player (the one you have selected currently).

All important changes since v4 release (May 2018)

Rivers, terrain rendering improvements

Posted by Oleksandr on May 19, 2018

May 2018 development update (v4) introduces rivers, and contains many improvements and tweaks for the terrain rendering.

Rivers

Rivers flow between tiles, make the world more appealing visually, and affect gameplay. Riverbank areas get additional 1 food (and a minimum of 2 food), and yield at least 1 production and 1 trade. This can make even desert or tundra tiles useful in presence of a river. Moving units across rivers takes all of their remaining movement points, unless there is a road (i.e. bridge). Melee attacks across rivers have a 50% penalty. Additional gameplay effects are likely to come in the future.

Interesting facts about technical implementation of rivers:

Other visual improvements

Oceans now have two levels of depth: shallow (near the coast), and deep. Ocean floor now has a varied non-flat surface. Transition from ocean to unexplored tiles is now smooth without a visible geometry break of the seabed mesh.

Unexplored tiles themselves are covered with soft gray shading, which makes it easier to see world boundaries and where your visible area is in it. Also if you try to scroll too far away from the world, camera will automatically bounce back, so that you never get lost in the dark.

Forests now use three different tree meshes depending on the climate zone, with gradual transition between them. Warm areas use palm trees, cold areas use pine trees. Terrain surface shader has been tweaked to increase detail at a close zoom level.

All important changes since v3 release (January 2018)

NOTICE Browser feature required for Statebuilder to work out of the box (SharedArrayBuffer) have been unfortunately disabled by all major browser vendors in January after the Spectre CPU vulnerability was discovered, since apparently it can be used to implement high-precision timers needed for the exploit. This means that for now users have to manually enable the option to try the game. Google Chrome is expected to re-enable it by default soon (relevant bug).

Combat mechanics update, supply units, military ranks

Posted by Oleksandr on January 1, 2018

January 2018 development update (v3) brings new gameplay and UI features, and other changes, which are available in newly created game sessions and in the demo.

Melee and siege units now deal collateral damage to other units on the same target tile when attacking. The exact amount of such damage is proportional to unit attack strength (bonuses included), but is weaker than damage done to the primary target. Siege attacks don't have a primary target, but instead hit every unit in the target tile with collateral damage. Cities are also affected by these attacks: stored food supply is destroyed, which can cause population to drop.

Collateral damage mechanics with a new limit of 4 units per tile should effectively deal with the "stacks of doom" issue, while at the same avoiding the "carpet of doom" of 1 unit per tile setup, where battlefield logistics can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Each move near an enemy military unit or a city with stationed units now takes all remaining move points, due to these tiles being in the "zone of control" of the enemy player. Such tiles are highlighted with red glow when you're moving units.

Path preview when moving a unit now uses red arrows and special marker to visualize attacks. It is now also possible to get move preview for units not controlled by the player. Simply try to move them as if they were your units and you'll see the calculated path (but of course the command itself won't be executed).

For attacks there is now a combat preview UI that accurately predicts the outcome of a battle. It shows all affected units (including those hit by collateral damage). When attacking a city, stationed units are not known in advance, so in such case you won't get an accurate prediction.

Now you can restore health of military units on the battlefield (or elsewhere) without pillaging by using supply units (Supply Wagon and later Logistic Support). When such unit is nearby, "Resupply" action becomes available, which recovers health at the expense of supply unit's health. This action takes one movement point.

Military units now earn combat experience which improves their performance (up to 50%). Based on experience they get assigned ranks (Regular, Veteran, Elite). Veteran and Elite units are marked on the world map with badges. Certain city buildings (Barracks, Military Academy) provide experience for newly produced units. Unit experience decays over time unless stationed in a city with military buildings.

Some of ancient-era units have received modern versions available after researching certain technologies:

AI got some updates to work with the new gameplay mechanics, in particular supply units. Also it is now better with exploration.

All important changes since v2 release (September 2017)

Cities visual refresh, tile resources

Posted by Oleksandr on September 17, 2017

September 2017 development update (v2) brings new and improved gameplay features, visual updates, AI enhancements, further backend and website work and other changes. New functionality is available in newly created game sessions and in the demo.

City visuals have been refreshed. There are now two kind of houses used: short and tall, where tall houses are used in the center of large cities. House textures have been reworked to be more detailed, and now there are windows on the sides of a house. Windows are lit even in dark areas, thanks to a shader trick, where bright yellow pixels in the house texture are interpreted as emissive, and generate additional light.

Cities now appear more lively, and look much better from the side. On that note, another new feature is automatic adjustment of camera elevation angle when you zoom in with a mouse wheel (or trackpad), which will make it easier to get a different visual perspective on your empire. Also you can control camera rotation with Alt+[arrow keys], and use Alt+0 shortcut to reset it.

Possible future work on city appearance might include different styles for different cultures and for different technological levels. City walls will need to be visualized somehow too.

Terrain tiles can now contain special resources that provide extra yields. Currently there are:

Right now resources only provide additional yields, but in future releases there will be more interaction with the gameplay (strategic and luxury resources, etc). City screen UI now provides a better presentation of large yields, by grouping resource icons into one large icon with a number.

Base terrain tile yields have been tweaked: grasslands and plains now require a road to generate trade, but on the other hand water tiles generate 2 trade instead of 1. New configuration should encourage tile improvements early on, and favors coastal placement of cities. Speaking of that, one of the high priority development targets is to implement water units. Also rivers and lakes are planned soon.

AI has learned how to build all kinds of available useful buildings, based on the calculated benefit to the city. It is now required to build an Aqueduct to grow a city past the size of 6, and a Hospital after the size of 12. City buildings system right now is very rudimentary and will need a lot of work. Some fresh game design ideas are planned there (and especially regarding wonders).

Browser technology required for the game (shared memory for Web workers) is finally enabled by default in Firefox (version 55 and up) and Chrome (version 60 and up), which means Statebuilder now works out of the box without needing any experimental options. Support for other browsers (including mobile) is expected to come later.

Complex performance-sensitive applications such as games can now be delivered to the end user in the most friction-free way possible. Just click the link and start playing - the future is here!

WebAssembly will be adopted as soon as thread support is implemented. Currently the game is compiled to asm.js-style JavaScript, which does not provide optimal runtime performance and load times yet. WebAssembly is expected to improve the situation further.

All important changes since v1 release (June 2017)

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Recent posts

Naval units, new demo mode features
Posted by Oleksandr on March 3, 2019

Rivers, terrain rendering improvements
Posted by Oleksandr on May 19, 2018

Combat mechanics update, supply units, military ranks
Posted by Oleksandr on January 1, 2018

Cities visual refresh, tile resources
Posted by Oleksandr on September 17, 2017