StarMade v0.199.429 - Combined blocks, new blocks, optimizations and fixes
Greetings, citizens ~
We have a lot of new stuff cooking at the moment. Some of it has been planned for a while, but it’s finally done now.
Important notice for players with NVIDIA cards: The latest nVidia driver (version 378.49) is broken and prevented the game from loading correctly. This also affects other games like Minecraft, reports of severe performance issues on other games. We've managed to circumvent the issue by calling javaw.exe directly, we've modified the new launcher to do this. Since we pre-package Java with our latest launcher, we were able to avoid NVIDIA's driver issues altogether.
If you have installed the driver and are still getting crashes, you can easily install a previous driver from December.
Drivers can be found here: http://www.nvidia.com/Download/Find.aspx?lang=en-us
http://www.nvidia.com/object/driver_rollback.html to rollback without download.
This one was suggested for a while now and brought to our attention by the Council. Because every block shape (wedge, penta, tetra, etc.) is an individual block type, we and also many of our players noticed a huge amount of menu clutter, especially in manufacturing. Having to build each shape separately is very tedious and doesn’t add anything to gameplay, so we’ve combined all of them into a single “root” block.
You can now use every available shape of a block by having the basic block in your inventory. Changing to this new system without breaking worlds, including inventories, took a bit of time to implement. All other shapes in your inventory will be automatically converted into their root block and combined. You won’t lose any blocks with this update.
Similar to slabs, when you pick up a shape variation of a block you will always get the root block back.
New Shape Selection UI
We’ve implemented a customizable shape selection menu to make building faster and easier. This adds convenience without marring the functionality veteran players are accustomed to.
For each block with multiple shapes, you can now open a radial menu and either directly select a shape, or use your right mouse button to sticky a block to the build bar. Sticky blocks work exactly like multi-slots in that they get added to scroll over vertically in the hotbar. The difference is that you can now decide what blocks will be in that stack, including slabs. The same system is now also used for any other block that uses an additional version of a root block like LOD blocks.
New LOD Blocks
A big part of why we made the change now is the arrival of new and upcoming LOD blocks.
First up, a corner variant on the Light Bar.
Pipes have received a T-junction, 90 degree corner, and 4-way intersection variant.
Lastly, an all new shape has been added, the Grate. A barrier that comes in three shapes. A straight section, a corner and a wedge.
More LOD objects and further refinements to their textures will be coming in the very near future.
Extended Texture Blocks Preview
This is another feature that we’ve been planning for a long time and now have a working mechanic to start preparing new textures for. While it is not active on any blocks currently, we would like to take this opportunity to preview the functionality, as many have spotted it in development builds and wondered exactly how it would work.
With this feature, a single block can use multiple textures depending on their position in the world’s grid. This reduces the frequency of tiling effects and allows us to add more variety to a larger surface area of the same block type.
To demonstrate what’s happening, let’s use this example texture. The complete grid we have overlaid represents the full combined texture space for this block (4x4 tiles). Each numbered block represents a single cube within the gameworld.
As shown here on a surface area of 8 x 8 blocks, only 4 unique texture tiles are repeated where as before the single unique texture would be repeated 64 times.
It is our primary intention to use this technique on terrain blocks and a hull type per colour (TBC) within the second part of our texture overhaul.
Due to new requirements, including ones from this update itself, the internal chunk format was updated. The basic array now consists purely of ints, which cost slightly more regular memory (no increase in graphics memory) but comes with an average of 20% speedup for all block operations. The speedup of this optimization affects all block operations from building/removing to damaging and applying changes to blocks. Using natives instead of byte arrays will in the future also speed up operations and save a lot of memory in other places.
Toggleable Light Bar
We’ve also moved a bit from Block HP to orientation. This enables us to use the active bit for blocks with more orientations like the light bar, allowing you to turn them on and off.
The max block HP of a block does become 127 now, but we can compensate for that by increasing its armor value.
We’ve started on reworking some of the weapons and resolving balance issues as we go. Thanks to our bug reporters and the countless suggestions on the forum, we already have a nice list of balance concerns.
Beams received 2 changes to bring them up to par with cannon block damage:
~ They apply explosive damage to every hit block now, instead of the 1st hit block of that tick
~ Beam damage with penetration now stacks on any armor block till it dies, then proceeds to distribute any remaining damage normally till it encounters another armor block again.
Their hit indicators changed slightly too, and the explosive effect hit indicator was removed due to a large amount of clutter caused by it. Most likely we’ll do the same for the explosive cannon hit indicators since those are not always accurate.
Explosive effect for cannons and beams changed too since it had scaling issues. As many of you may know, getting more than 10% on explosive effect didn’t actually do anything extra.
Now the radius of these weapons is always 1 when linked with the explosive effect, but the damage distributed to the surrounding blocks scales with your effect ratio instead.
The piercing effect’s armor efficiency bonus used to always apply even with a 0% effect ratio, making them extremely useful against any armor without getting any penalty for shield damage.
Now the armor efficiency bonus scales with your effect ratio too.
Another balance issue some may have noticed is that your Armor HP could be destroyed relatively fast by weapons that barely destroy enough blocks to justify the amount of Armor HP lost.
Now the Armor HP deducted is capped to the amount of Armor HP that specific block offers + the same amount multiplied with your Structure HP Penalty. For beams, it’s slightly different and is multiplied by the potential penetration depth.
However, this is only a temporary change; we’ve been looking for a different way for Armor HP to handle incoming block damage. Thanks to our community, there are several different suggestions related to it which gives us a good insight of what you expect armor to do, and how we could implement that.
Advanced armor (and its equivalents) had their HP lowered to 100 HP.
Its armor values were bumped up to 90% so their Effective HP should stay the same as before.
Smoother sector crossing
This issue has been in the game for a long time and should now be a lot better. Crossing a sector should be a lot more smoother on Multiplayer servers. There might still be a small “wobble” from lag reduction firing when it shouldn’t, which we hope to completely eliminate in further updates.
AI bumping into ships
An entirely new collision system used for avoidance is in the works, but not yet complete. In the meantime, we’ve applied a hotfix: AI ships bumping into your empty ships will now behave as if they’ve run into a space station: halting their movement, but without flinging yours off into deep space. (If they’re persistent enough, however, they may be able to push your ships, albeit very, very slowly.)
We will try to fully resolve this issue with a complete collision avoidance system and a completely reworked AI flight behavior in the coming updates.
Copy & Paste Rotation Fix
All blocks and LOD elements should now rotate correctly using advanced build mode. See T954
Chat fix for Languages using IME
Languages that use IME like Japanese and Chinese are now fully functional in chat.
Minor Texture Fixes
The last few (we hope) texture rotation fixes have been made, correcting Jump Modules and Rail Dockers (bottom face) in specific orientations, as well as the directional arrows on Pick Up rails.
Pick Up / Shoot Out rail blocks have received a cleaner texture which now tiles correctly across all 6 faces, at all rotations.
Ingot block specular settings have been improved.
Block icons have been improved to help legibility of different block shapes.
Fixes (most were mentioned above)
~ T346: Explosive effect stops scaling after 10%
~ T1024: Damage beams apply inconsistent damage against armor
~ T1642: Piercing effect armor efficiency doesn’t scale
~ T2154: Crash related to NPC system loss
~ Some player sector locations being logged were removed or changed. There are probably more of them; please report them if you find any.
We added more missing translation strings, and that should also take care of the last big batch to be added. It’s still possible that we find a missing one here and there, though.
As always, thank you for playing StarMade!
~ The Schine Team