As many of you know, my current focus is to build the foundations for planetary exploration. In the last two developer logs, I covered how the planet surface is generated and a bit about vehicles and resource discovery. There has been a lot more progress on vehicle construction which I will cover here.
Surface exploration will require vehicles that need to be researched and constructed. Vehicle templates are created using the vehicle designer.
There are different vehicle types that determine various base attributes of a vehicle, such as its speed, cargo space, battery capacity, the number of passengers it can accomodate, and more. Additionally, you can apply various equipment and upgrades which will further increase the capabilities of your vehicle.
Different types of vehicles, equipment and upgrades will need to be discovered/researched before they can be used. Different parts will determine the build/upgrade cost of your vehicle.
The engine affects the vehicle speed and power drain.
Sensors affect both analyzing speed as well as visibility range. Visibility range is the number of tiles around the vehicle that will be uncovered when the vehicle is moving.
While I plan for various uses for exterior equipment, the initial release will allow for mining lasers to be attached so that ore resources can be mined on the surface.
Each vehicle type has a fixed amount of upgrade slots. Many different types of upgrades will become available to increase various vehicle attributes.
Once a vehicle template is created, it’s available for construction in the vehicle assembler, which is built in the assembly room. After the vehicle has been constructed it’s visible in the vehicle bay. Vehicle templates can later be updated in the vehicle designer allowing for existing vehicles to be upgraded based on its template.
You can access the vehicle bay by clicking your primary facility on the planet map. You can then embark a vehicle from your list of created vehicles. This involves choosing the colonists that will ride in the vehicle as well as any items you want to take with you. Once the vehicle is ready, you can select it and choose where it will go. Vehicles will uncover parts of the map as they move around.
While some details are still in development, and may change, the current plan is that vehicle distance will be limited by food and power. Each vehicle has solar panels, which allow the vehicle to recharge should it run out of battery power. When transporting human colonists, you will need to bring food, which will denote how much time, in days, the vehicle can be out before colonists will start dying of starvation. I do plan to allow for robots as passengers, which will not require food. Robots, however, are not able to do all the things a human colonist can.
The initial release of surface exploration is expected to include uncovering your surroundings, analyzing and harvesting resources. Analyzing resources will take time and better sensors/upgrades added to your vehicle will decrease this time.
While there is still a lot of work left to do, development is coming along very well. I can’t provide a definite timeline, but I will say that there are at least several more weeks’ worth of development work ahead to build up the content for the next update. I greatly appreciate your patience, as this update will take longer than the previous ones that I’ve released. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on vehicles and planetary exploration? I look forward to hearing your feedback.