Pregenerated Corporations: Kizuizi Heavy Armaments

Hey everyone! Jorden again, need you to stop judging me for being a little inconsistent with exactly which Monday's I'm posting on because I've actually been pretty busy lately. As a quick note, I'm going to be posting every Monday for a few weeks to get through the pregenerated corporations a little faster and so that I can also get to talking about more things that I've been working on recently but I can't talk about now because they're still in progress (I can say that I've been hard at work designing a better version of our main site and we're hoping to publish results soon but that's all). Without further ado, let's launch into Kizuizi Heavy Armaments, our third pregenerated corporation.

The unquestioned leader in modern metallurgy Kizuizi Heavy Armaments are famous for their many patented and highly classified forging techniques. The mere sight of their titanic, indestructible war ships has been known to inspire immediate surrender from even the most entrenched of enemy fleets. When intimidation doesn't get the job done rest assured that Kizuizi's top of the line kinetic armaments are ready to reduce rival ships to easily salvaged and repurposed scrap metal. Kizuizi Heavy Armaments is here to grind your enemies into dust and forge their remains into a new future.

Suggested Traits:

·         Bonus to armor strength

·         Bonus to kinetic weapon damage

·         Increased ship weight

The first note I want to mention is that ship weight is not a definite mechanic that is going to see much play. While gravity is currently in the game and ships do have weight, we haven't decided for certain if we're going to have altered weight be a possible quality at empire selection or if it might be a technology that can be researched or if it will just be a standard and unchanging value (certain weight per amount of armor for example). The idea that I wanted was that Kizuizi Heavy Armaments ships and kinetic rounds are made of incredibly dense alloys that are very strong but this makes them heavy. In today's space programs this would be a death sentence but thrusters have gotten pretty advanced by the time of Rank: Warmaster's setting and it mostly would manifest as reduced acceleration (I perhaps also should have made it mass instead of weight but this was written a little while ago). There are lots of ways to accomplish this penalty (or potential boon if you create your own corporation with very light ships) so it isn't final by any means. As to the lore of Kizuizi, Google Translate (I may want to see if we can pay a couple of translators to ensure that our pre-gen names are appropriately spelled and have good grammar but for now I have Google) tells me that "Barricade" in Swahili is "Kizuizi". So the name is "Barricade Heavy Armaments" which is objectively cool. I admit to being a little inspired by some contemporary movies (way to really date this blog post, Jorden) but rather than having Kizuizi's success be due to a special super space metal I went with the idea of advanced metallurgists who have found a way to make incredible alloys out of common Earth metals. Naturally the exact recipe is a deep secret but it's all stuff you could find on Earth today, allegedly. The exact state of countries you might know of today is not quite the same in the time of Rank: Warmaster so some places may be very different. Maybe at some point we'll explore life on Earth before The Isolation (and after) in a more official capacity.

That's all for now, be back next week as we explore our penultimate corporation: Taiyo no Me Waveforms.

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

Hi everyone. This is your UI/UX Artist Paul here. This week I'm covering a more in-depth look at the aesthetic direction of Rank: Warmaster!

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

We've arrived at a unified aesthetic with our transparent glassy windows and thin white glowing lines that was initially developed as an unobstructive UI for the Navigation Screen. And thus I've been uplifting the other screens to fit this aesthetic.

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

I'm starting with Self-Damage Screen since it's been my current assignment. Here is what it recently looked like, when gradiented silver screen bezels were the motiff. The new aesthetic incorporates the glassy window and outline look into the pre-existing color scheme. You can see it in action in the teaser image to this post. But for this post I thought it would be prudent to show how I'm creating these graphical elements.


This is a screencap of the graphical element in its original vector program, showing the various layers with names referring to their opacity and even blending modes. (The artboard was temporarily colored black to show the white outline and glow, which would be hard to see with the default background.) In the program I'm using, Affinity Designer, the transparency/opacity of a layer controls its alpha channel. This is what allows the graphical element to have its "see-through" properties. But that's just the start of it. Look at the layer titled double erase nav screen as you'll see a streaky red object and a matching streaky gray object. These are what create a truly dynamic glassy texture. I'm not only giving the layers transparency, I'm varying the transparency itself. Here's how it looks in action...

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

This is the image once it's been imported into LightWave, which converts the image to the IFF format that RWM's engine natively handles. Shown here are the image's red-blue-green color channels. Note how it looks completely solid and the glow is lost to a massive solid white. An error? Nope!

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

This is the same exact image's alpha channel. This is where the magic happens. Look how the glow comes through from the thin outline properly. And, note that the glassy gradient effect comes through in shades of gray. This is how the transparency is done. Darker shades of gray are more see-through, lighter shades are less. Black would be totally invisible, and white (the outlines) would be completely solid.

This is the art of non-destructive graphical editing. Not only do I have a glassy window effect that works in layering, I can swap out that color layer for any other color I want! The Self-Damage Screen will have rose-tinted UI windows, but other screens will have their own color theme. And all I have to do is resize the windows and use the color picker tool in-program to reset the color scheme.

Pregenerated Corporations: Loharani Luxury Crafts

Hello! This is Jorden in the right time slot, wrong week. I missed my blog last week because I was wrestling a bear working on a troublesome project. So this is a make up week and next week I'll be posting again on my normal Monday. This week we're discussing the second pregenerated corporation I wrote.

One of the youngest of the modern mega-conglomerates Loharani Luxury Crafts nonetheless hold their own on the interplanetary stage. Originally a high-end transport agency, the growing need for direct access to the solar system's resources forced Loharani to expand into the military field. Their ships boast a speed and energy efficiency that is challenging to match and only their relative inexperience has kept Loharani from being first on scene for every available resource in the asteroid belt. If you need to be first, if you need to be comfortable, if you need to be stylish, then you need Loharani Luxury Crafts.

Suggested Traits:

·         Bonus to thruster speed

·         Bonus to energy efficiency (lesser bonus than a specific efficiency bonus)

    Penalty to ship space (ships are still a little form over function)

For this corporation I tried to think a bit about how large conglomerates can form today; in this instance a smaller, more specialized company expanding into a new market due to necessity. Loharani started as the space ship equivalent of a yacht company but yachts are expensive and that leaves the company with two options: continue to rely on other corporations to provide the needed resources or go and get them personally. They chose the second, or we wouldn't be talking about them. When it came to the traits I thought about luxury vehicles today, namely sports cars which are known for their cool bodies and excessive top speeds. The corporation traits mechanic is not in the game yet but I imagined a system where players would perhaps have one free point to work with and up to three traits they could add. Beneficial traits would cost one or two points and negative traits would be worth one or two as well both dependent on strength of benefit/severity of penalty. This means that a player can make a corporation with just one cheap benefit but it was more fun to design corporations that made full use of the system. In this instance, overall energy efficiency boost and ship space penalty are considered to be two point traits because those are both game changers. Compare to Sherwood Industries where all three traits are one point traits. As a final note, I tried with these pregenerated corporations to imagine companies from parts of the globe other than just the United States (where I and the rest of the core team live). Loharani is, according to Wikipedia, a fairly common Pakistani surname and two of the remaining five corporations feature similar attempts at more interesting titles and origins.

That's all for now, come back next week as we go over corporation number three, Kizuizi Heavy Armaments.

My First Shader

A glowing circle might not seem like a big deal, except that this one was drawn entirely by my first foray into shaders, programs that a graphics card uses to render images to the screen. You can create almost anything with a shader, from realistic textures on an object to special effects created entirely on the fly. This shader will eventually develop into a special effect for some of Rank: Warmaster's ships.

UI/UX Artist: Self Damage Status in 3D

UI/UX Artist: Self Damage Status in 3D

Hi everyone. This is the UI/UX Artist Paul again. The Self-Damage Screen is almost complete! For this week I'm going to show how I've converted the Status Icons have been converted into 3D for scaleable useability in any resolution. 

UI/UX Artist: Self Damage Status in 3D

The icons are made in a 2D vector art program. To make them function in our game engine, I export them as SVG vector files and import those into a 3D modeling program such as Blender or in our case LightWave 3D (the latter of which the game was written to work with a bit more natively.)

UI/UX Artist: Self Damage Status in 3D

Solid forms have to be converted into polygons, which means curves have to be approximated with lines. This requires a little bit of manual retouching. Once that's done I apply a (usually solid) color texture map so it appears in-game as in the 2D program.

This process can be somewhat time-consuming, as there's a balance between high-resolution polygon count and performance. Once finished though, the result is a two-dimensional object that exists in 3D space that all kinds of special effects can be applied to, and its geometry can be resized as much as desired without pixelating.

UI/UX Artist: The Self-Damage Screen Continues... Part II

UI/UX Artist: The Self-Damage Screen Continues... Part II

Hi everyone. This is Paul, your UI/UX Artist. Things have been rather distracting in my personal life. I'm actually in the process of moving! Things are physically extremely disorganized on my end and I cannot express how tired I am. Nonetheless, I have managed to get my PC set up and running and so without further ado I present yet another update on the Self-Damage Screen. 

UI/UX Artist: The Self-Damage Screen Continues... Part II

Mostly a few visual fine points. An icon will be taking the place for "OK" in the Status column of the Items List (this will also be implemented on the Asset Screen.) The common "power symbol" will serve as this icon, with color coding and minor effects such as fracturing to distinguish different statuses. 

UI/UX Artist: The Self-Damage Screen Continues... Part II

The Power Screen is coming along well. Screen real estate has been taken advantage of as best it can be. Now I am exploring a visual graph indicator for value indicators that have a maximal range. I'm still working on the exact shape, but the end goal is to give an eyeball's glance of how "full" a fuel cell or reactor is.

Pregenerated Corporations: Sherwood Industries

Hi, it's Jorden again. Here's the description for our first pregenerated empire: Sherwood Industries.   

         Founded in 2061 Sherwood Industries quickly made a name for themselves in the field that many would come to know as "aggressive safety". Many a mercenary soldier on the frontlines of the corporate disputes owe their lives and careers to a Sherwood Industries certified ship. With a focus on pin-point accurate missile countermeasures and truly monolithic shielding systems most Sherwood Industry ships return from missions in the same condition they left, minus the fuel spent on power and the ammo spent on victory. Trust Sherwood Industries to keep your units safe, your territories secure, and your enemies cowering.

Suggested Traits:

·         Bonus to shield health

·         Bonus to point defense accuracy (or tracking)

·         Penalty to shield efficiency (Use more energy)

This is the first of our pregenerated corporations which will be added in to the game once the corporation funciton is fully implemented. As a first note, the bonuses and penalties presented at the end all relate to ships only, largely because those are the easiest qualities to adjust in the current system. There are no numbers included because none of this is implemented just yet so it hasn't undergone any balance testing. As a result I really should make it clear that nothing in this post or any of the other posts for pregenerated corporations should be considered final and it's all subject to change.

The blurb above is intended to be the description that players will read when choosing a corporation to play as and we'll be sure to include a space for players to write blurbs for their own corporations, though there's no current plan for any of these descriptions to be read-able in actual play. I wrote the description as an advertisement for Sherwood Industries; the idea behind these pregenerated corporations and their descriptions as that they all basically rose to military prominence during the Asteroid Engagements. The advertisement above is meant to convince other corporations or governments (or the player) to choose Sherwood Industries to help them secure access to resource rich territory out in the asteroid belt.

Now, a personal note. Sherwood Industries is a direct homage to Steve Sherwood, a close friend to most of the team whom we lost in mid-August of 2020. Most of us met each other through video and tabletop gaming which is to say that our whole indie development team arose, mostly, from a rather large gaming group that formed over decades. Steve was always known for his particular approach to combat in games. Steve believed that a purely defensive resource was a wasted resource and so if he was ever given the opportunity to make use of armor or shields which would attack the enemy while Steve himself was also attacking that enemy then it wasn't even a question of "if" he would do it, only how long it would take him to make it happen. When Steve passed Arthur asked me, as the game's content writer, to write him into the game where I could and so this is the first way that Steve has made it into our game. Rank: Warmaster doesn't currently have ship-based defensive structures that shoot back but I felt that the idea of a company which would dedicate excessive power into shields and point defense systems that would render the ships that used them untouchable was a good place to start.

I hope you've enjoyed this first look into our pregenerated empires as well as a bit of an impromptu "story of the team". Tune in next time as we discuss Loharani Luxury Crafts.

Road Map: The Future

Hello, we’ve been working on the game for quite some time, and we still know there is a LOT to go.  We thought it would be good to see what we envision in the shorter and longer term.  Basically, a road map!

  1. Utility theory AI.  I am currently working on the IAUS AI, which functionality wise, seems to work fine, and I’m converting existing functionality over to this new system.  I have a few weeks to finish this up.
  2. Tutorial Updates. There is a flight tutorial and a Main tutorial.  Both need polishing, and the main tutorial needs completion.
  3. Volume Tiled Forward Shading: A big monster improvement to the graphical fidelity of the game.  One of the problems about home growing your own engine is a lot of the standard features in a modern engine that was created over a decade with millions of dollars (or equivalent in work) behind it, is that the assumed bar for the average player is rather high.  This addition will help level that playing field by potentially handling in real time hundreds of thousands to millions of lights in real time.  We will see the reality once implemented, but it looks rather promising.
  4. Lots of miscellaneous visual updates. This will include things like putting atmospheric effects on the planets, engine flare, burning hulls, shadows, a far better building animation and many other improvements. We’ve been working on more gameplay features rather than visual ones, but we’ve realized we’ve left this issue for too long, so we plan to address it more directly.
  5. Navigation Screen. The Navigation/RTS screen while functional, needs some more loving before it will be what it needs to be.  This includes both graphically and functionality wise. 
  6. Remaining Screens. Most of the screens exist at this point and are functional, even if the graphics aren’t finalized. The self-damage screen needs to be finished up functionality wise, as does the building screen.  The screen that doesn’t exist yet, is the Tech Display screen which shows how all the technology and items relate to each other, so it can be easier to find what you are looking for in the web and plan to get to it.
  7. Random Events. There have already been scripted a series of random events to make the game play more interesting.  More about this to come later.  These and other events need to be implemented in game.
  8. Purge system. This is more internal garbage collection.  While there is no visual difference with this, it will allow longer play times.  The issue more is around preventing random crashes because what use to be there isn’t anymore.  This is an engine issue that needs cleaning up.
  9. Main Campaign. The game currently takes place on Mars for the most part, but that was never the intent long term.  The idea was to rage across most of the solar system with lots of surprises.
  10. Updated Techweb. I don’t just mean adding items, but all the data that the technology web in the game accounts for.  This includes a better buffing system, more expanded damage, and lots of other features that the current system constrains use from adding.
  11. Eventually everything will be in, and optimizations will take place.  By this point, the game will be in effective beta.  This I don’t expect for quite a while, but this is a road map.

While there are always bug fixes and other features being added based on feedback, the list above are the larger changes that we have mapped out and expect to do before the game will be considered version 1.0.  I hope you found this helpful!


Update on the long nose type ship

Update on the long nose type ship

Last post from me I shared some drawn concepts. Since then I have been struggling on getting the shape of the ship in my mind out as a 2d concept. I decided to start blocking /modeling it. So far I am happy with it. Next step is to start sketching over these stills for 2d concepts of the final ship design.  Plus I get a good start on the low poly model.

Full story »

IAUS lives!

IAUS lives!

Hello again! I wanted to report an update on the IAUS AI code. It is currently functional for the Builder Bot, with plans to expand it beyond just that entity in the following few weeks.  Ok, what does all of this mean?

The current/older AI code is basically a state machine.  What that means is the system follows an internal hard coded script in all effect.  While this obviously works, it generally makes the AI (and therefore the objects that they control), rather inflexible.  So if you shoot a builderbot, it won’t try to run, it will just sit there and take the damage.  If you blow up the box it is using to hold the Ore, it will just keep going, oblivious to what just happened.

All that changes with IAUS based AI.  That stands for Infinite Axis Utility System, which is an AI based on something called Utility Theory.  In the end, each action is determined by a series of considerations (see screenshot in upper left corner), and those considerations are all multiplied together from curves to get a final weighted score.  Which sounds like a lot of math, but it is quick math, and honestly not as nasty as one might think.  But the AI makes decisions, rather than simply following a script.  It uses the current world state to make those decisions, so if the world changes (such as an ore box being blown up), or an incoming enemy fleet should scare the builderbot off and retreat, then it can react in almost real time.  You can look up more of how this works here:

The other main advantage is the AI is tweakible and buildable outside of the main executable.  Meaning, there is an XML file generated from a tool.  This means that modders can create their own actions or tweak the existing ones if they want to change how ships or the other AIs think and even add new abilities (within reason).  I want to make an “idle” pack of actions so that ships don’t just sit in space waiting for a command but some will fidget in different ways every once in a while, just to keep things more organic.  This will also make the Warmaster AIs FAR less stupid and able to react, as well as give them more abilities.  The possibilities are endless, which is the point, and somewhat simple to implement in comparison.

On a different note, there is about one week left in the Indiegogo campaign.  I intend a surprise at the end of the campaign.   Thanks for your support!