Friday, July 31, 2009

Union ships go live

All the Union ships are now updated and released, and the new USS Queen of the West is up for sale. If you have an older version of these or the Confederate ships please please please make sure you can update them to our new ICS3 versions. If you are having any problems getting the updates working IM MrBunwah Murakami as he handles all that.

We have noticed that during battles we still see some people using older versions of our ships even with the updates out. We have tested all the updates and we are able to get them to work, so make sure you are able to get yours to work. You just need to drop the ship on the ground and wait several seconds. If you are not sure if you have the latest version of a ship, check to see what version of ICS it uses. If you see ICS2.0 or below, you are not up to date. It needs to be ICS3.0 or above. MrBunwah can check the records to see if you purchased a ship so he can send you an update if you request one. Again, talk to MrBunwah Murakami if you are having problems with these updates!

Now that that's out of the way, We have one commission from the Imperial Navy of Steeltopia and a troop transport ship we want to finish. After that is the big sfx/pfx update, in which we update all the sound effects and particle effects as well as some other nice little upgrades. Here is a list of what we have planned for this update...

  • Upgrade engine sound effects with different sound effects based on ship sizes and ship speeds
  • Get water wakes to trail behind every ship, and have them differ based on speed and size of the ship
  • Change the CTF effects so that the color of your smoke would actually change to the color of your team instead of the default sparkle effect
  • Upgrade cannon sound effects and add more variety between guns
  • Include sound effects for when you are out of ammo and try to fire a cannon
  • Include progressive damage sound effects, such as straining machinery, burning, flooding, the sounds of your crew as they scream bloody murder
  • Upgrade death effects so that chunks of the ship and shrapnel go flying, either by prim or particles or both. Also change the smoke and fire to water bubbles when the ship is fully underwater
  • Have the ships sink more realistically, instead of going straight down
  • Add additional sound effects like wave sounds, bells, random machinery
  • Add an additional camera point that focuses on the direction a turret is facing on a monitor type ship
  • May make some visual changes to the HUD again, to make it simpler to use
  • Add the ability for individual components of a ship to be damaged, such as if a cannon is directly hit it may disable it. Also may have the ship take damage if you go at maximum speed for too long, or have it so some boilers explode reducing your overall speed. Of course these changes would come with their own particle and sound effects
  • Iron out any last bugs we encounter

Now that may look like a huge undertaking, but it's really not that bad. It will no way take as long as our last update, due to the fact that much of the groundwork is already done. Most of it is just a matter of dropping in some new sounds and particles effects.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

First Iron Melee at Steeltopia

Our last Iron Melee was conducted in Steeltopia, which inspired quite a number of ideas as to what ICS may be capable of in the future. It was the pirate team attacking, trying to land infantry on the beach while the navy went on the defense with coastal guns and ironclads. Once the pirates landed, the navy forces abandoned the gun emplacements and repelled the invaders with small arms fire in the streets.

For those of you who don't know, Iron Melees are battles consisting of ICS vehicles and sometimes MMCS infantry. The first Iron Melees started on Port Merrimac in Roatan, off the coast of the Isle of Lilliput in the United Sailing Sims. So far they have mainly been naval affairs, however with infantry added into the mix we are starting to see more land based scenarios.

I would like to go through a scenario I envisioned while exploring Steeltopia, one which would encompass all or many of the aspects of ICS that I would like to see in the future
  • Land (tank, cavalry, buggy and other forms of land transportation)
  • Air (reconnaissance, fighters, bombers, airship carriers)
  • Sea (ironclads, wooden vessels, transports, and aircraft carriers)
  • Undersea (submarines, underwater mines)
  • Artillery (flak guns, coastal batteries, field guns, gatling gun placements)
  • Infantry (riflemen, sappers, medics, commanders)
  • Buildings (used for capturing or destroying in order to meet an objective)

This scenario could have two teams vying for control of the region, with capture points they would need to secure in order to move to the next area. The fighting could start in the streets, with one team trying to dig in deeper into the city (we will call this team the imperials) while another team tries to push them back and also look for an escape (they may be trying to transport a secret document, or an important hostage like the mayor. This team will be called the terrorists)

If the imperials keeps pushing them back far enough, the terrorists may need to retreat further into the city. If however the terrorists manage to slip past or breakthrough they can load a transport with their hostage or important document and try to make their way across the bay

From here the scenario would switch to a naval role as coastal guns, ironclads and submarines could be deployed in order to sink the transport or to defend it. If the terrorists manage to reach the dam, the fighting would again switch to the infantry. The terrorists would need to fight their way to the elevator to reach the upper level.

If the terrorists manage to make it to the top of the dam, the imperials could deploy tanks and other armored units, as they no longer have to deal with the confined areas in the city.

The final objective would then be in sight. The terrorists would need to make it to the train station and secure it. Once secured, they would use it to make off with the hostage or important document, thus ending the match!

So in a nutshell, the terrorists need to transport their cargo from point A to B to C etc etc until they make it to the final point in which they win the match. The imperials job would be to prevent them from making it all the way to the last point. If they can kill all the terrorists or retrieve/destroy the cargo they then win the match.

(Note: All these shots were taken while I was at Steeltopia , so naturally this would be an excellent place to stage such an operation)

Other elements of warfare I did not mention but could be added into this scenario...

  • Capturing certain points in the city could spawn ammo and health crates for the occupying units
  • Imperial airship could drop paratroopers into the city. Terrorists may deploy fighters to destroy it, thus adding aerial combat into the mix
  • Imperials could mine the bay with explosives, thus impeding the transport making it's way to the damn
  • The dam entrance could be blocked, requiring terrorist sappers to remove the obstructions
  • Imperials could airlift tanks on the upper area above the dam to help defend the train station
  • Gatling guns could be placed around the perimeter of the train station, requiring terrorist sharpshooters to take them out

This is what I would eventually like to see. A combat system that incorporates everything and can be used to create epic battles like this one. If we can get more developers and coordinators involved in this, we can have all the Steampunk and Victorian sims participate and have full scale nation vs nation battles. This of course will require more people, as we at Murakami Steamworks can only do so much on our own...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Confederate ships go live

All the Confederate ships (minus the Hunley...needs a bit more tweaking) are now updated to ICS3.0 and available on Xstreet and any of our vendors in world. I also want to point out again, that the CSS Richmond and CSS Columbia are discontinued and have been replaced with the CSS Arkansas and CSS Atlanta. We have also changed the way the pricing works so a smaller 750Hp ship will be cheaper than a 1500Hp ship. Let it be known however that a skilled captain can pummel a larger ship with a ship half the size as I have done so on many occasions with the MSS Cuthbert, a personal favorite of mine.

So with that, we are near the end. Only six ( or is it seven? hard to keep track...) ships left until we have updated all the major ships in our catalogue. After that we don't have many new ships coming. We definitely want to work on some kind of troop transport, holding like 5 or 6 infantry and be able to deploy row boats for landing operations. Then there is a refueling ship, equipped with rearm and refuel scripts for long distance operations away from ports. We also may make several cheaper ships for beginners, running around 100-200L. These may be in the form of tinclads or Ellet rams.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Problems with the Fiskdale

The demolition submarine MSS Fiskdale is proving to be quite a challenge. Motion controls and torpedo launchers work fine, however there are still many issues with its explosives deploying properly. MrBunwah was able to get all the explosives working perfectly in sims like Roatan, however once we took it to deeper waters like the Vernian Sea it failed every time. He did manage to get them working in deeper waters eventually, however when trying them out in normal sims they broke again... So we have not yet been able to get it working in both conditions, something we think is necessary.

After much hair-pulling and cussing it was decided that we would scrap the project...well not entirely. If we remove all the weapon systems from it, we effectively cut its prim count in half. So what we can do is turn it into a very detailed exploration vessel instead. The inside would get a total makeover and would be functional like the way the Auriga is setup. This will need to wait until the USS/CSS makeover.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Submarines are coming

Due to heightened interest in the submarines we have decided to update them next. Extensive testing has been done on the Holland, which will be the base model for the rest of the subs updates. So far everything pretty much works. Torpedos and machine guns work, motion works, arming/disarming works. Sometime this week we should be able to package it and get it ready for sale.

The Holland will be one of three subs that will eventually be released. All three of these subs are equipped with torpedo launchers that can be used against surface or underwater vessels. However these subs will differ from one another in their secondary weapons and other specifications. Each type of sub will be made for a particular role.

Holland- Attack sub, meant to prey upon other ships. Secondary weapon is dual machine guns. Will be faster and more maneuverable than the other subs.

Fiskdale- Demolition sub, meant to take out heavier targets. Secondary weapon is a set of six explosives that can be utilized as either floating mines to damage surface ships or depth charges to be used against other subs. Will be a bit slower than the Holland due to the added weight of the munitions.

Sturbridge- Support sub, meant to harass from long distance. Secondary weapon is a very heavy dorsal cannon with adjustable power level. Will be very sluggish due to it's size making it an easy target, but will sport a 250HP core unlike the other two subs 100Hp cores. Will also carry more torpedos and a good number of cannon shells.

And of course we could not release these without some kind of counter-submarine weapon. Which brings us to the MSS Fishkill.

This ship will be the answer to the submarines. Equipped with a strong engine and good armor, this ship can tangle with just about anything under the sea. Weaponry includes a rotating turret with two gatling guns, allowing you to quickly strike when one of those infernal machines lifts it's head above the water.

Behind the smokestack is the depth charge launcher. You can adjust the power level, angle and explosion depth using the HUD. This will be what you use to destroy vessels hiding underwater.

The Fishkill is 99% done. All that remains is adjusting the depth charges explosion. While conducting battle tests in Port Merrimac, it was incredibly easy to hit the Holland with the depth charge. In some cases I was able to destroy the sub on my first try. The problem seems to be that the blast radius is far too large. Not sure how we will fix this but I'm certain we will find a solution.