Friday, October 18, 2019

Cosmoteer 0.15.4 - Crew Diversity, Language Translations, & Tech Improvements

Cosmoteer update 0.15.4 is now available for direct download and auto-update via Steam! This update makes the crew a lot more visually diverse with a variety of skin colors, hair colors, and hair styles. It also adds community-created language translations for German, Russian, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. And lastly, it upgrades the underlying technology powering Cosmoteer, which should improve performance and make it possible for players with 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems to play multiplayer with each other.

What's New

Crew Diversity

For many years, the people who have inhabited Cosmoteer's ships have all looked like clones of the same light-skinned, short brown-haired, male-looking person. Honestly, as someone who believes in the value of diversity, I've been pretty embarrassed by how homogeneous Cosmoteer's crew are. Science fiction media like Star Trek and Star Wars, which Cosmoteer is obviously very inspired by, have long portrayed a more diverse future as an ideal that we should strive for. Cosmoteer has for a very long time failed to live up to that ideal.

I hope that this latest update is a significant step towards living up to that ideal of a more diverse future. While still nameless and with identical abilities, the people that crew Cosmoteer's ships now appear more visually diverse with a variety of skin tones, hair colors, and hair styles. And while Cosmoteer does not have any explicit notion of "gender" coded into the game, some of the hair styles evoke traditional male or female sensibilities, at least by our early 21st century standards. (But who's to really say how fashion will have changed hundreds of years from now.)

Language Translations

This is the first update to include translations created by Cosmoteer players as part of the Cosmoteer Translation Project. This is a community-driven effort to translate Cosmoteer from English into as many languages as possible. Initially with this update, Cosmoteer can now be played in German, Russian, French, Spanish, and both simplified and traditional Chinese. These translations are very much a work-in-progress and may contain errors and omissions. If you want to help translate Cosmoteer into your language, head over to the Cosmoteer Translation Project to read more about it.

Tech Upgrade

Cosmoteer is coded in C#, a programming language created by Microsoft. C# itself runs on top of a technology platform they also created called the ".NET Framework". Although it still works great and has been updated many times over the years, the .NET Framework is fundamentally a pretty old technology, having been around since 2001. Over the past few years, Microsoft has been working on a successor to .NET Framework called ".NET Core", a more modern and much improved technology. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that further development of .NET Framework was being stopped in favor of concentrating on .NET Core. And just a few weeks ago .NET Core 3.0 was released and included all the features needed for Cosmoteer, which finally allowed me to switch to it from .NET Framework.

There were a lot of advantages to switching to .NET Core:
  • The most immediately noticeable advantage is that performance has been significantly improved. In some situations you might see framerate as much as double.
  • .NET Core doesn't require a separate framework to be installed on the player's computer, which took time and was prone to errors. 
  • .NET Core allows players using 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems to play with each other, which was not possible under .NET Framework.
  • .NET Core paves the way for supporting Mac OS and Linux. Cosmoteer doesn't support those yet, but .NET Core brings the game one big step closer to that future.
The only major disadvantage to .NET Core is that now Cosmoteer's download and installation size is much larger, because it no longer installs the .NET Framework separately and has to include everything it needs to run within the application itself. The new installer is about 200 MB, more than twice as big as the old installer.

... And more!

This update also has a handful of other fixes and improvements, which you can read about in the changelog.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Cosmoteer 0.15.3 - Medium & Large Reactors

Cosmoteer update 0.15.3 is now available for direct download and auto-update via Steam! This update adds two larger reactor sizes, a 3x3 "Medium" reactor and a 4x4 "Large" reactor, in addition to the existing 2x2 "Small" reactor.

What's New

Medium & Large Reactors

The Medium Reactor is a larger 3x3 variant of the existing 2x2 "Small" Reactor. It costs twice as much but produces three times as much power, making it overall more cost-effective than an equivalent number of Small Reactors.

The Large Reactor is an even larger 4x4 version. It costs four times as much as the Small Reactor but produces nine times as much power, making it by far the more cost-effective option for large ships.

In addition to producing power more rapidly, these new reactors also make bigger batteries. The Medium Reactor produces batteries that are twice the size compared to the Small Reactor, and the Large Reactor makes batteries three times the size of the Small Reactor. This allows crew to carry much more power per trip, further cutting down on the overall cost of using Medium and Large reactors compared to using multiple Small Reactors.

These new reactors have their own downsides, though. Most importantly, the Medium and Large Reactors have much larger explosions when they are destroyed, so you'll need to be very careful about protecting them. Here's an example of a Large Reactor exploding:

Additionally, when crew pick up batteries from a Medium or Large reactor, it takes a small amount of time to fill the batteries. A Medium Reactor battery takes 0.5 seconds to fill, and a Large Reactor battery takes a full second to fill. (Small Reactor batteries still fill instantly.) This makes Medium and Large reactors less useful for directly supplying power-hungry systems like Shields and Ion Beams than the Small Reactor.

The most effective way to utilize Medium and Large reactors is to have them in central locations relatively far from the weapons and other systems that need their power, but to have closer Power Storage rooms to quickly supply power. Your crew will pick up power from the Medium or Large Reactor and carry it to the Power Storage (ideally utilizing Moving Walkways for maximum speed) where, upon delivery, the double- or triple-size battery will "split" into multiple single-size batteries, ready for quick delivery to the nearby systems. You can use the crew A.I. customization tools added in the previous updates to setup smart "supply chains" between reactors and storages.

... And More!

This update also has a handful of other fixes and improvements, which you can read about in the changelog.