Progress Report #27: Transported to the Chess Dimension

Contributed by Space Wizards

Website Upgrade

As you may have noticed, our official website has gotten a major facelift thanks to PJB. We also commissioned some nice new background art from AsPev as a replacement for our old one which was a little crusty. You can download a full resolution of it here.

Updated Playtest Schedule

We’re moving playtests to a consistent schedule due to their popularity and developers wanting more feedback from the community on the state of the game. If you currently have access to Space Station 14 on Steam and aren’t in our Discord server we HIGHLY RECOMMEND you join as it’s the best place to stay informed about updates on the project.

Two times a month on Fridays, with separate tests for US and EU timezones on those days.

For EU it will be at 2PM UTC For US it will be at 10PM UTC

(That means since we had a playtest on October 1st the next playtest will be on October 15th).

If you’d like to be notified when we playtest join our Discord and click the message in #rules-info to be pinged when we run tests.

New Developer Docs

Previously, we used to host all development-related documentation (technical documents, tutorials, vague and questional design dumps) on HackMD.

HackMD had some nice attributes like live editing and being simple to use, however it lacked in other areas like access management and navigation. Because of this, we have decided to start moving away from HackMD.

We evaluated a few options but eventually decided on self-hosted Wiki.js as a platform for our docs. It’s not the best but it’s the best option we could find.

The new documentation site is up at https://docs.spacestation14.io. We are still in the process of moving articles over and making everything look nice, but so far we’re quite pleased.

To be clear: these are developer docs. We’re not planning to have a wiki for actual game content yet. We’d like to try an in-game help system of some form first, but nothing is set in stone yet on that regard.

Content

Pneumatic Cannons

Contributed by mirrorcult

Load [INSERT ITEM]. Shoot [INSERT ITEM] at people. Profit?

Board Games

Contributed by Visne and Zumorica

Bored by the lack of content? Why not sit down and play a nice relaxing game of Chess! This feature is highly extensible and should be thought of like a 2D Tabletop Simulator inside of Space Station 14.

Zumorica further improved upon Visne’s code making it easy to add different tabletop games, adding the game of parchís in the process!

Alt-Clicking

Contributed by ElectroSR

Alt+E, Alt+Z and Alt+Left-Mouse keybindings can trigger alternative interactions on entities. Some existing context-menu actions are now considered “alternative interactions”, for example ejecting IDs/beakers/magazines or locking & unlocking lockers can be done via these new keybindings.

Wielding

Contributed by mirrorcult

You can now wield (two-hand) some weapons like the fire-axe which will increase the damage per swing. The fire-axe has also received a buff against windows and wooden objects.

Ambient sounds

Contributed by metalgearsloth, Swept

Ambient sounds can now play from objects around the station for improved immersion. APCs hum, vending machines whirr, and so on.

Vending Machine Ads

Contributed by Moses, Visne and Zumorica

Clothing Storage Visualizers!

Contributed by Ygg01 and Swept

Certain items when placed in belts show a sprite on the belt icon itself.

A lot of belts have gotten sprites for this feature, as well as the botany belt being added to give botanists a helping hand.

UI for setting solution transfer amount

Contributed by mirrorcult

Entities likes beakers and bottles now have a verb that opens a UI which allows you to set the transfer amount.

Examineable Batteries

Contributed by 20kdc

When examining batteries you can see their specific charge value.

Windoors

Contributed by mirrorcult

NanoTrasen has finally found space in the budget to install windoors around the station, increasing security and safety!

Shuttles

Contributed by metalgearsloth, Acruid, and 20kdc

The first iteration of shuttle driving has made it into the game. Currently it allows you to drive them around in a strafing manner, with rotation planned once the technical blockers have been overcome in the coming months.

Their design is still subject to change over time as we nail down how we want them to work in Space Station 14.

Shuttles have been a major source of development focus and have contributed to lots of updates to our physics system. They’ll be a feature in our next progress report.

Ducky Slippers

Contributed by Swept

Map Changes

Contributed by Timrod, 20kdc, Seth, Swept, mirrorcult etc.

In addition to fixes and maintaining of Saltern, contributors made some significant changes.

Timrod took advantage of the windoors mirrorcult added and implemented them around Saltern. He also remapped Chemistry and Security.

Mirrorcult did some tweaking to the station’s lighting to make them fit more in line with the color temperature of fluorescents vs incandescents

Seth made maintenance a little more interesting by adding two new sections to explore.

Technical

Shuttles again

Before we explain why shuttles were hard we need to explain some terminology up front:

  • Entities - These are objects in-game such as a crowbar, a wall, a mob, etc.
  • Maps - These are what other engines would call “Worlds” or similarly “Z-Levels”. These are just discrete planes that stretch to infinity and the only way to go from one to another is via teleportation. For SS14 you’d typically only have 1 active at a time.

To implement shuttles into SS14 there were 3 main challenges that needed to be overcome:

  1. When moving the shuttle we need to make sure that every entity on the shuttle doesn’t need its positions updated.
  2. We need to make sure that anything that collides with a shuttle correctly does collision
  3. When the shuttle moves it needs to apply collision correctly with anything it drives over.

2 + 3 won’t make sense until we explain the challenge in implementing 1 and how the solution gives rise to problems 2 + 3. We have several internal data structures that store entity positions for fast queries, such as:

  • What sprites intersect the viewport?
  • What physics bodies am I colliding with?
  • What lights intersect this point?

Previously, these were all stored relative to the map, which meant that whenever a shuttle moved every single entity on it also needed to be updated in our data structures. On our small station called Saltern we have over 5,000 entities on it so this was prohibitively expensive and would severely limit any server that wanted to have multiple moving ships.

The solution to this is store all of these entities relative to the shuttle, and then store the shuttle relative to the map. This means that whenever the shuttle moves we only have to update the shuttle on the map. However, this gives rise to problems 2 + 3.

To explain further: Say we have an entity on the map travelling towards a shuttle. As it is on the map it is only checking collisions on the map. Even if it intersects with the shuttle it’s still not checking collision for any entities on the shuttle’s data structure, because it’s still on the map. The solution to this is that whenever the entity moves we check all data structures it may potentially be intersecting, and then check collisions individually on each one. This is slower than if every entity were on the same data map but makes shuttle updates very easy. This solves problem 2. Problem 3 applies in reverse: Whenever a shuttle moves, we look for any entities we may be intersecting and then check these for collisions.

Since that was a bit of a word salad here’s some videos of shuttles in various stages of development.

Power System Rewrite (Pow3r)

Most of the power system has been rewritten.

All power supplying objects now have a built-in ramping system. If a large amount of extra power is suddenly needed, engines and batteries on the grid need a bit of time to “ramp up” to match.

Power is passed through batteries immediately. This means that APCs are basically on standby until engine power or such cuts out. When the engine cuts out, heavy electrical grids will be underpowered for a second or two until backup batteries can spin up to fill the gap.

Other Contributions

  • Significant network bubbling performance improvements which should greatly increase the number of players we can have on a server. Contributed by Acruid
  • More context menu icons and two new actions (open inventory & eject items from disposal unit). Contributed by ElectroSR
  • Global ghost hearing. Contributed by ShadowCommander
  • Battery charge indicator for substations and APCs. Contributed by 20kdc
  • You can now cycle channels while typing. Contributed by Clyybber
  • Claymore. Contributed by TaralGit
  • Security Barriers Contributed by Macoron
  • New technologies and balanced/added recipes for the lathes. Contributed by Seth
  • Integer scaling option. Turn it off to get rid of black bars at the cost of less crisp scaling Contributed by Visne
  • Crayon and Toolbelt sprites now dynamically show their contents. Contributed by Ygg01
  • Simple spells for pie and item spawning. Contributed by CrudeWax
Contributed by scaly-chimp
  • Scaly-chimp broke bad and added meth so aspiring chemists can recreate scenes from the hit TV show Big Bang Theory.
  • Several simple medicines and chemistry improvements.
Contributed by metalgearsloth
  • Fixed y-sorting so it uses the bottom of the sprite and not the center.
  • Physics multi-threading.
  • Some engineering items now play sounds when landing.
  • Meteor event.
  • Throwing now feels more realistic as it comes to a sudden stop at the end of the throw.
  • Lerping has been fixed and pulling lerping has been implemented. In English: Movement feels much better.
Contributed by T-Stalker
  • Examine now shows what people have in their hands.
  • Vox plushie.
Contributed by Zumorica
  • Gas tanks can be inserted into canisters.
  • Unique station announcement when Captain comes on deck.
  • Smoking actually makes you inhale nicotine/THC reagents and you can snuff them out.
  • Dual-Port air vent.
Contributed by Swept
  • Crematorium makes a sound during cremation and burns quicker.
  • Adds and updates a ton of inhands for items across the codebase.
  • Updated Botany tool sprites.
  • Announcements now play the announcement sound.
  • Admin ghosts can interact with stuff.
  • Centcom Official ghost role.
  • Jumpskirt for Captain.
  • Thrown bags of flours and tomatoes will now splat and spill their contents.

Patrons

Thanks to Blaise M., Jack Rose, The Hateful Flesh, Prof. Omii, mksky, Alex Tempest, Rat Fungus, Will M., spinnermaster, Valinov, Dan Griskardian, S.C., “'-Y-”, Jubal the Wizard, clyf, Kerb 755, Robin Rottstock, Altana, Durp, Joshington Awesomahee, Eric VW, Evan Armstrong, Enzoman12, Mono, Ethan Keller, DramaBuns, KrystalDisc, Darren Brady, Zandario, Anthony Fleck, vifs_vestige, Bobberunio, CPM311, ThatGuyGW, Farewell Fire, Await Future, Daniel Thompson, and Tomeno.

Credits

The contributors since the last progress report were: 20kdc, Acruid, AJCM-git, boiled-water-tsar, clyfordv, ColdAutumnRain, DrSmugleaf, ElectroJr, Fiftyllama, Fogapod, GalacticChimp, ike709, Jaskanbe, Macoron, metalgearsloth, michaelcooke, mirrorcult, PaulRitter, PJB3005, plinyvic, scaly-chimp, scrato, SethLafuente, ShadowCommander, Silvertorch5, Swept, TimrodDX, Visne, Ygg01 and Zumorica.

Many thanks to everybody who contributed. We couldn’t do this without you!