Posts Tagged Release Date
The code’s finally in a stable enough state that I feel justified in announcing a release date. So here goes nothing…
Species 0.6.1 will be released on the 1st February.
This update includes a lot of the cleanup and polish elements originally planned for 0.7.0. A lot of the changes are background
improvements to the underlying code, but that’s not to say you won’t see some changes to the game itself…
A variety of major 0.6.0 bugs have been addressed, most notably:
- several fatal crashes have been fixed (‘System.OutOfMemoryException’, ‘CladeDiagram.CollideBranches’, ‘UIManager.Paused_Export_Update’),
- the method for addressing problems when the game is minimised or graphics card is lost has been improved,
- built-in troubleshooting for some start-up problems (running from the zip file, running from Program Files, running on computer with unsupported graphics card) has been added
(Of course, it’s entirely likely we’ve added our own set of new errors to replace them, so don’t get too comfortable)
Quite a few visual improvements:
- Procedural texturing: creatures now have different top, side and underbelly textures, giving them a more distinct appearance and more recognisable body covers.
- Custom textures: beaks, claws, teeth and mouths now have their own (appropriately horrifying) textures, blended into the triplanar texturing.
- Fur: Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear, fuzzy wuzzy had no hair, but the creature’s in Species do now. And they find bear meat tasty.
- Water reflections: They only reflect the skybox, but they significantly improve the appearance of the game nonetheless.
Plus a number of subtler ones, like adjusted tree shaders, a better wasteland texture and we got rid of that weird blue shading on trees when you pause the game.
It’s not been all about code and shaders: we’ve also overhauled the content in some of the less-developed area’s of the game.
- Body coverings: fur, feathers, scales and skins. Also octopus suckers, toad warts and Quasars forearms (ewwww…), but we’re probably better off not mentioning those.
- Leg shapes: from 6 to 20, meaning a much greater variety of knees.
- Heads: a number of additions (and of course, the existing heads had to be adjusted to provide beak and mouth textures and fur polygons).
Species 0.5.0 is out, and with a second alpha release under our belt we are now a totally professional games development outfit- pfffhahahahah I can’t say that with a straight face.
I do, however, feel like we’ve reached a milestone. 0.5.0 introduces several massive new systems (including temperature, grazing, 3d trees and a water plane) and dramatically changes the look, feel and scale of the game. It’s also a lot less clunky and a lot more streamlined than 0.4.1 was, and the evolution itself is much more interesting and unpredictable than before thanks to tweaks and bug fixes.
Get it here: http://www.speciesgame.com/
It’s still an alpha release, of course. It still has it’s fair share of bugs and oddities, and a long way to go. But we’re on our way.
Left-click to select a Creatures or Species, or Use the Selected Tool.
Use the buttons on the UI (or C/X/Z) to switch between Creature/Species/Ecosystem Selection Modes.
Use the Details And Statistics Button (or Tab) to discover more about the selected creature, species or world.
Use the buttons in the top-left (or ~, 1, 2 or 3) to set the Time Accelleration
– Pan: WASD, Up/Down/Left/Right, or move the mouse cursor to the edges of the screen
– Rotate camera: Q/E, or Right-click and Drag
– Zoom: Scroll the Mousewheel, Shift/Ctrl, or Page Up / Page Down
– Move: WASD, Up/Down/Left/Right
– Rotate Camera: Right-click and Drag.
– Toggle Flight: Press Spacebar
– Rise/Fall: Q/E.
– Sprint: Hold Shift.
Orbital Camera (activates in Creature Detail Mode)
– Rotate camera: Right-click and Drag
– Zoom: Scroll the Mousewheel, Shift/Ctrl, or Page Up / Page Down
– Now each with a distinct ground texture, grass billboard, and vegetation type.
– Based on a variable fertility/temperature map, continually updated in real time.
– Biomes include snow, swamps, forests and lava plains.
– 3d Instanced models (thanks Jade!)
– Edible foliage (because only lollypops uniformally decrease in size as you eat them)
– More realistically scaled trees. (creatures can now walk under the tree’s)
– Hereditable tree simulation.
– Tree’s influence biomes.
– Biome-specific Billboard grass (purdy!)
– Creatures float, and swim at 1/3rd their normal movement speed.
– Has a heavy influence on fertility.
– Water replaces the crater in prevent
– Player triggered only, for now.
– Temperature (enables global warming and ice ages)
– Fertility (enables droughts)
– Water height (enables floods)
– Grassy biomes are grazable, providing a secondary food-source for herbivores.
– 5 tracks, set to play randomly with 3 minutes of quiet between each track.
– Species now have randomly generated names, (with genuine bio-latin-gibberish!)
– The blank slate slugworms are now officially known as Primum Specium.
– Names mutate during a speciation. (closely related species will have similar names)
New World Page
– Pretty new biome-compatible preview map
– Creature-type Preview Thumbnail
– A variety of new options, including statistic modifiers, vegetation growth parameters and diet efficiencies.
– Simulation Time tracked. (because everyone likes knowing how much time they’ve wasted)
– Revive Button
– Species List (w/ populations) visible on Ecosystem page.
– Flash of red text when creature hardcap is reached.
– A number of new head types.
Tweaks and Fixes
– Explainy Tooltips
– Redundant selection-mode buttons
– New players should be able to find their feet a lot faster. (hint: bottom of your legs)
Fat Torso Mutation Bias
– Creatures now evolve into a much greater variety of forms. (this is honestly one of the biggest fixes )
– Increase speed, but come with a stamina cost
– Vice versa for thick legs
Facial Feature Mutation
– fixed an issue that was suppressing the expression of facial features (Species: now with even more hideously surreal faces!)
– Smaller on both counts. (RIP my massive fields of meat. You will be missed)
Species: Artificial Life, Real Evolution: Alpha 0.4.0 (Proof of Concept Demo) Release is this Sunday!
Still working on getting administrative stuff done, but the game itself is ready and apparently stable on at least 3 machines. I’m only performing a few small optimisations and bug fixes at this stage (don’t want to break it!), as well as cleaning up the dead-ends and exceptions in the mod maker.
As mentioned on the comments recently, here are some system requirements. They’re not minimum requirements, strictly speaking (they’re actually taken from my development laptop, which struggles a bit but does run it), and if you’re okay with lag feel free to try it out on something slower.
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo, T8100 @ 2.10Ghz
RAM: 2 GB
Graphics: NVIDIA GForce 8600M GT
BTW, any readers here who own a Mac and would be interested in getting their hands on the game a week early? If so, email me: I’d like to try to find a way to get it working on Mac. I’m trying to cancel out the negative karma points I incurred by using a Microsoft product to build the game.
PS: that surprise I mentioned a few weeks back? Turns out I’ve actually got two of them. Should have one in time for the release, and another within a week or two after that.
(Edit) Oh yeah, I managed to keep the entire game smaller than 25MB once it’s zipped up.
“518402… 518401… 518400… 518399…”
This’ll be fun post to write: I’ll outline the things that are ready for the alpha release (ie. bragging), and then I’ll start talking about what needs to be fixed, and then go on to where we’re heading after that. And then… well, we’re now officially in testing-and-bug-fixing mode for the alpha, so I guess it’s time to announce the release date. Ahem.
Where we’re at.
Species 0.4.0 is a functional and apparently stable evolution-from-first-principles simulator. It’s possible to spot natural selection in action with the Species Average statistics, and I’ve seen things like convergent evolution (creatures consistently become more amorous, for example) and punctuated equilibrium (evolution starts off quite rapidly, but slows down after a number of generations). There’s plenty of neutral, beneficial, and harmful mutations, and a variable mutation rate (you can set it when you start a new map).
We’ve also implemented genetic recombination (mating) and the possibility of predator/prey relationships (attacking and eating dead creatures).
We also have a small variety of observational functions. It’s possible to analyse most of the creatures statistics, watch the progress of their energy and health bars over the course of their lifetime, and read their genetic code (which, admittedly, is somewhat indecipherable).
We’ve got a built-in speciation detector, that works out which populations can and cannot interbreed, and allows for the retrieval of stats and averages. We also have a real-time population history, which doubles as a tree of life.
Oh, and we’ve got a variable map generator, that you can use to customise the map before you enter the game, as well as entry-level save/load functionality.
And moddable body parts, too. 🙂
What we’re missing
Playing the game at the moment reveals a few… not so much ‘bugs’ as ‘things that aren’t much fun’. They’re things I’m aware of, but haven’t had time to fix and/or expect to fix with a planned, later feature.
Constant environment. The environment at the moment is a fairly constant variable: tree’s always regrow in the same area’s and the temperature never changes. This means that creatures have a tendency to adapt to their environment and stagnate.
Highly variable survival rate. A less-than-fertile map has a good chance of killing off the starting creatures, while a fertile one will cause a ridiculous population explosion once they adapt to be more efficient.
Lack of carnivorous incentive. Creatures rarely become predators because vegetation is plentiful and easy to find in comparison to meat.
Unmapped Mutations. I still need to add a mutation map for feature, limb-tip and body covering mutations. At the moment they find an ‘ideal’ far too rapidly.
Not enough Homogenizing. Species currently don’t visually distinguish themselves very well: you end up with a large crowd of highly variable creatures. Reducing the mutation rate helps, but I’d like to amplify homogenising forces like mating to make individual species more visually distinct from each other, as well as implement some sort of herding behaviour to make them congregate into discreet area’s.
Stupid creatures. They’re really pretty dumb sometimes. I expect their AI to improve slowly, a little bit with each release.
Incomplete Statistic Mapping. The UI allows you to track which statistics affect which other statistics, but the mapping is incomplete and doesn’t take into account all the effects (it’s a big list, and I’m tweaking it all the time. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to include all the major effects).
Performance. Is absolutely terrible on less-than-modern machines. My development laptop struggles to keep it going at better than 10fps once the simulation reaches more than 500 creatures.
Where we’re heading
Here’s the fun one! (Note that everything I say from here on out is tentative. I can’t make any promises, this is just what I’m planning)
The Big Feature for Species 0.5.0 will be a complete and massive overhaul of the vegetation system. It will use dynamic biomes based on a temperature/humidity map (which will change over time based on the actions of the creatures), instanced models, and a rewritten terrain shader.
It will also separate vegetative energy into two sources: fruit tree’s (point energy-sources, similar to the tree’s in the current system but rarer and more valuable), and grazing (idle, herbivorous creatures will graze, very slowly and inefficiently gaining energy but reducing the local fertility).
This system will solve the first two problems I have with the alpha release (mentioned above), and will have an as yet unknown effect on the third. But it’ll probably make the performance issues worse, so I may have to shrink the default world-size and creature-cap to compensate.
0.5.0 will probably also feature a top-down map view, with coloured icons for creatures and food sources, and another real-time phylogenetic tree of life. Unlike the current population history graph, though, this tree will encompass the entire history of the simulation, and will record morphological data about extinct species. It will form the basis for an extensive ‘fossil record’ in later versions.
One apparently minor inclusion to the vegetation system will be a ‘height’ value for fruit tree’s: creatures will need to hold their head (or hands) at a particular height to eat from particular tree types. While this might not seem like much, it sets the stage for a creatures vertical position to influence their actions and survival. And that sets the stage for another Big Feature: flight and swimming.
And of course, I’ve already mentioned a third Big Feature in a previous post: multithreading to improve performance. Not to mention my extensive plans for player interaction in the Beta… I may or may not be too ambitious for my own good.
But pulling right back from my deranged ramblings about the future, the figure you suffered through that entire post for is here. Without further ado:
Species 0.4.0 (alpha) will be publically released on the 27th May, 2012
(one way or another)
“… assuming the Old Ones don’t return before then and consume us all. You know, the usual disclaimer.”