Junction Gate Dev Update 04

Happy New Year everyone! In this first development update of the year, we'll do a quick retrospective of 2016, share progress since the last update, take a look out to what's coming the rest of the year for Junction Gate, and then give you a chance to start voting on the next lore post.

2016 Year In Review

It was an interesting year for the game. Here are the highlights:

  • In January, the first version of the Beta, 0.0.1, was released to testers. Beta 0.0.1 featured a reworked game framework and a whole host of features including a new UI, audio, upgradeable facilities, a hex grid for facility placement, an intro cutscene, voice acting, crafting, research, and more.
  • Beta 0.0.2 came in February along with a new contextual tutorial system that gives in-game help for every screen.
  • At the end of February, Beta 0.0.3 out with a new facilities management screen, game seeds, 4 modes of difficulty, and basic stat tracking.
  • In March, the new Junction Gate website was launched with a blog, media, and a roadmap.
  • August saw the release of Beta 0.0.5, featuring the first venture into true 3D using WebGL and Three.js. A skybox was added along with a 3D planet and asteroids, all moving dynamically in the background. The intro was also revamped to incorporate the new background.
  • Beta 0.0.6 was released in September and was mainly a bug fix release, but also featured an additional 25 skybox combinations for the game.
  • In October, Chrome came out with an update that broke the hex grid, causing a setback in development. I am currently experimenting with also rendering the grid and the facilities in 3D in an attempt to fix the problem.
  • The Alpha version of Junction Gate saw some love in November with the release of Alpha 0.9.0, just in time for Thanksgiving. The released fixed a number of outstanding bugs for those of you waiting to play the next version.
  • In 2016, 22 blog posts were released, including 5 lore posts.

Development slowed down in the latter half of the year as I also began working full time, cutting available time from what it had been previously. However, even though there are fewer hours to go around, I've gotten a lot better organized and am still making progress on Junction Gate every day.

Check out some video highlights from throughout the year:

What's New

It's been a while since the last development update because of time off for Christmas and the New Year. Even though there isn't a ton of visual progress to share just yet, there was a lot accomplished that will help the development out in the coming months.

The big news is that I've been in contact with an artist and we are currently in the process of testing out some sample 3D assets for the facilities, to be used on the hex grid. This weekend I'll be doing testing to see exactly what WebGL can handle. No promises on 3D just yet, but if it works out, I'll hopefully have something more substantial to show off in the next dev update.

In anticipation of hiring one or more contractors, we've also had a lawyer draw up contracts that can be used going forward.

Because of a potentially new art direction, I dedicated some time to write an initial art style guide along with researching comps for some of the first facility models that'll be created. I'm holding off finishing it for now until we know more about 3D performance and capability in the browser.

I also spent time doing more game design and some mockups for future sections of the game that may tie loosely into the features slotted for this next release. There is now a working draft for exploration gameplay, which will be detailed in future updates. Time was also spent on mockups for the ship outfitting screens.

Looking Ahead In 2017

The Beta 0.1.0 release is taking longer for a few reasons: increased scope, interdependent systems, the hex grid setback, holidays, etc. However, it will set the stage in a big way for future updates.

2017 should be a fun year for Junction Gate. During the first part of the year, most of the effort is going to go toward getting basic systems working together, things like: travel, exploration, trading, AI, the economy, the stock market, factions, ship building, and more.

I'm going to be trying to do ambitious things with Junction Gate and some of them haven't been done in game before, so expect a few changes in direction at various points as I experiment a little. There is a strong vision for the game overall, but it may need to be adjusted depending on what the browser can handle. The only way to find out is to build it and see what happens, so thank you in advance for your patience.

As the different systems gradually come online and are integrated with each other, you'll start to see more and more of the background simulation come to life. I'm trying to build dynamic systems that will be able to produce evergreen content and gameplay, so the first task is to get the systems working and then to seed and populate it with content.

You can check out the roadmap for a roughly chronological take on development and future features.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Lore posts will also continue in 2017 and you'll continue to be able to vote on which you want to see next. Before the game is finished, I plan to take all of the lore posts and integrate them into the game as discoverable content, along with other additional universe lore.

Here are the choices for the next lore post:

  • The Fate Of The Avant Garde
  • The Diaspora Of Sol
  • The Phantom Cache Of The Einstein

I'll be releasing a poll on social media next week for you to vote on your pick, or you can comment below. Due to travel, the next post won't be for three weeks, but after that the updates and posts should resume the regular two week schedule.

That's it for this update, have a great week!

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