Previous Project: MOO2.5 Phase 2

Phase 1 of this project involved re-implementing large portions of the game Master of Orion 2 to glean some insights into the game's development and why the gameplay is so fun. In this stage, I'm now creating my own 4X game based on that research. In addition, I've found some useful insights and analysis on this website by Arne Niklas Jansson, which goes into a lot more detail on the GUI designs, art, storyline and game concepts that make 4X games awesome.

For the colony screen, I've combined work from my masters thesis on terrain rendering and some of MOO2's original graphics and UI designs to produce a colony screen with an interactive building process. Models are original but adapted from various free model parts found online and the engine can simulate almost any kind of terrain found in MOO2: Terran, Ocean, Swamp, Tundra, Desert, Barren, Molten and Toxic. Each has its own unique visual style and physical properties.

For the system view, I used a sun shader created by a CS PhD student named Nicolas Menzel to construct a standalone star renderer class. I integrated drawing the background and planetary orbit rings into it. I then used a planet shader from a guy called Nemo Krad to create nice planet graphics and made planets go around on the orbit rings. Both shaders have been significantly modified to achieve the effects I want. Solar systems can have varying colours of star, which in addition to having cosmetic effects also affects the roll for environmental conditions and mineral richness of the planets. Info is displayed about planets on mouseover.

For the galaxy view, I re-used the sun renderer to create a galaxy renderer. It draws a deep field of stars and nebular gasses that compose a three dimensional background to the playable galactic plane. As the screen is click-dragged around, the background has a strong 3D parallaxing effect. A sector-divided plane is created, on which actual playable stars are distributed. The Galaxy Renderer uses the same HDR system as the Sun Renderer to draw these stars in their respective colours with the appropriate bloom effects and make the nebulae more visually effective. An interactive UI is drawn on top.

Current status:
  • Colony screen complete
  • System screen complete
  • Core colony mechanics complete
  • Galaxy map complete
  • Galaxy screen UI complete
  • Now working on Policies screen and District system

  • Earlier projects that have been completed or shelved:
    These are a few projects I worked on during university to teach myself about various aspects of game design. Since my computer science degree had very little game design included, I had to work on these projects on my own in what little spare time I got. They've all since been shelved or I've decided they're complete.

    MOO2.5 Phase 1: Examining MOO2 and re-implementing part of it in Java to learn about the design challenges faced in creating a game of that scope. I gained a lot of valuable insights into the making of a game like MOO2, including some insights that could only really be obtained through experimentation rather than simple observation.

    Knights: Creating a network multiplayer dungeon game using tile graphics from an old Amiga game of the same name. This was originally done in Java during university to learn about the different problems associated with writing netcode for an online game. After a lot of experimentation, I shelved the project to concentrate on university work. After graduation, came back to the project and used it as a look into rapid software development. I used my skills in object oriented systems design to draw up a basic UML specification for the game using a system of object responsibility. I then translated that into a working C# program, using XNA to speed up development. Within a week I'd gotten most of the game re-implemented in C#, including netcode. I have since lost interest and shelved the project.

    Terrain: Experimenting with Reimer's advanced terrain tutorial in XNA to see what I could do with it. I learned to produce heightmaps from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission datasets and produced a 3D representation of Iceland. This project was short-lived as university started back and cut my time on it short. I was fortunate enough to find a researcher at the university who could supervise me on a final year masters project involving terrain, so my masters project picked up where this left off. In my masters thesis, a I analysed the performance gains of several common terrain Level of Detail strategies in a typical game environment. It earned the highest marks possible for a project of its type and I learned a lot about terrain LOD systems and shaders in the project. Since then I've advanced the end product to produce two visually impressive terrain rendering engines, one optimised for a real time strategy viewpoint and one optimised for a first person viewpoint.

    Copyright Brendan Drain 2009. Any MOO2 graphics components in these projects are not being provided for distribution and are copyright Atari 1996.
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