Monthly Archives: January 2015

Slow but steady gets you to Mars (more development updates on Solar Trader)

And everywhere else.  I didn’t hit my goal of a playable beta by end of year, but work continues.  Robert has been playtesting and accumulating a list of bugs to fix.  Meanwhile, I’m getting space encounters to work.

Basics are in.  MaoCorp freighters appear frequently flying on their own freight missions.  Once in a while, they’ll pop out near you.  Occasionally even a free trader will fly by too.  Orbital guard, assassins all are included and can show up.   And as of the last weekend, Rescue tugs can now be called out.  Now if you are in deep space and deep other stuff, you can call for help!!!  Still needs some work, but it’s getting closer.

Finally, I found and fixed some navigation errors, so all these non-player ships fly more intelligently.

With all the bugs to be fixed, I’m not sure when we’ll be ready with a playable Beta to distribute, but I hope to have my stuff done enough to hand back to Robert by the end of January at the latest.

What can happen to you in Solar Trader?

Jesse is currently finishing up the NPC ship coding, and I’m just playtesting (another way of saying ‘screwing around playing a fun game’). Oh, I’m logging bugs (and the Beta version will have its share) but its largely playable.

So last night, I’m on the pad on Uranus. Distance-wise, it’s a ways out from Earth, very far. But I’ve made it running a special FedUp haul. Now I’ve got a cargo pod fulla fish (don’t you know we discovered aquatic life on Uranus? Don’t you know it’s delicious?). But I’m depressed, really depressed by what I’ve been through lately. I’m not looking forward to that long sunward lug to Earth and now Uranus Control (a sphincter, one might joke) is denying me liftoff, saying I’ll have to wait a day.

Hell with that. I’ve got drugs in my possession.

Yes, so here I am, playing the role of a respectable pilot, shooting up in the control seat, bringing my morale back all rosy, happy, and blinky-eyed. Hoo boy.

“Look, man, if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to drive while I’m stoned. It’s like you know your perspective’s fucked so you just let your hands work the controls as if you were straight.” (points to those who get the reference)

So there’s the green light – lights on! Hardburn  on! Final clearance check! Go! My ship lofts high into the inky Uranus sky, drives akimble. And then the onboard computer crashes. All systems go down.

Frantically I try to get the thrusters (the minimum I need) online but fail. Now the ship is falling and at the very last second, the drives (not hardburn) come on. Uranus doesn’t have much atmosphere so airbraking won’t work. I go for the minimal approach under limited burn and pull it off.

And now I’m sitting somewhere on the pad, my ship steaming, everything still offline except my basic burners.

And I get a fine for not calling space traffic control and clearing in (my radio was down, too).

Rebooting a ship is a time consuming effort. It took a day to get the hardburn running. It took another to get radio. And every day, I got another fine. Go ahead and penalize away – I’m never coming back to Uranus – I’ve got my load and I’m ready to go. For some reason, I call for clearance – I must have owed them four or five cash cards for my various violations. But being a tidy little captain (the drugs have long since worn off) I call, I clear, and I lift.

I would go on to die trying to get into Earth orbit, a combination of a ship’s fire, a bad solar flare and some sloppy navigation. Oh well. Still, that was an adventure the spacers across the various shipping lanes still talk about.