Tau Station Status Report: December 2017

This status report for December concludes the thrilling year of 2017. For our team, it felt like light speed, and together with you, we will welcome the new year, 2018, in a very special way: the day we all have been waiting for! On January 2nd, 2018, the first spaceship will lift off to Tau Station. In a few days, 100 passengers will fasten their seat belts for the Closed Alpha Test. Read on to see what we achieved in December and get your last chance to be on board as well…

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Merry Christmas! Join the Closed Alpha!

People have been waiting a long time for the launch of Tau Station and we’re just about to start our closed alpha, as described here. If you want a chance to be invited to participate, please complete this short survey. If you’re not chosen, don’t feel bad; we’re working to ensure we have a good cross-section of players who represent different facets of what we’re trying to achieve, including accessibility, cross-browser compatibility, responsive design for mobile, and, of course, a strong desire to immerse themselves into a rich science fiction universe.

Don’t forget: the survey is only open until the end of December, 2017!

Tau Station Status Report: November 2017

Another month comes to an end and all teams were able to finish a lot, as you can see in our brand new status report. Many UIs and designs made it to the game. Features like storage per station and Market Vendors have been implemented, a lot of progress was made by the narrative team, new missions were added, and more load testing was performed. Several tasks need be done before Closed Alpha can start, but the outlook for December points out that we’ve been coming closer: Full in-house play-testing is on the list…

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Tau Station Status Report: October 2017

Time is running out fast! 2017 is nearly over, but we made a lot of progress in October 2017, as you can see in the new status report about the development of our science fiction game, Tau Station. Our focus is (still) on getting the game ready for Closed Alpha. Due to the progress on the backend, the frontend team was able to get several core elements in shape for testing. The art team has created a lot of designs. Long story short: several UIs, core game chat, and a couple more missions are waiting for you, while game design is pushing the skill system and combat even further.

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Tau Station Status Report: September 2017

Goodbye September 2017, and a warm welcome to October! The team is pushing hard towards getting Tau Station into shape for Closed Alpha. There is a lot of excitement that very soon a select group of Sci-Fi fans will have a first look at the game. Did you sign up for the newsletter? With some luck, you could be one of the fans invited to the Closed Alpha. See below what was achieved in September and what will be the next milestones for October.

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Avoiding Multiple Inheritance with Traits

When reading through the literature of how games are built, we find that a common pattern for many games is the Entity-Component-System (ECS) pattern, first used in one of our favorite games Thief: The Dark Project. Tau Station uses ECS for items the characters can find and it’s proven very flexible and since we’re not a traditional “graphic” game, some of the known drawbacks of ECS don’t apply to us. However, we also make use of traditional object-oriented programming (OOP) and that’s where we wish to avoid a common trap that many software developers fall into: multiple inheritance.

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Metric Time in Tau Station

If you’ve been following Tau Station’s progress, you know we’re creating a science fiction universe in Perl for people to enjoy. As of this writing, the time in Tau Station is 194.18/89:189 GCT.

A digital clock displaying Galactic Coordinated Time of 194.18/89:189
A digital clock displaying Galactic Coordinated Time of 194.18/89:189. The numbers are in the order year.day/segment:unit

“GCT” stands for “Galactic Coordinated Time” and that’s a variant of metric time. Our software developers wish we had that in the real world, but alas, we don’t.

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The Tau Station Universe: Software

Previously we discussed the tech stack that Tau Station runs on, but today we thought that we’d give some in-depth examples of the software hurdles we face. There will be Perl code in this blog entry, but the concepts should be generally familiar to anyone with a software engineering background.

As we mentioned in the tech stack post, we use Catalyst for our Web framework. For those unfamiliar with Perl, you could think of Catalyst as “Ruby on Rails” for Perl, but that’s not really accurate. What makes Catalyst so powerful is that unlike other Web MVC (model-view-controller) frameworks, it doesn’t have strong preferences for how you implement the various components. You’re not forced to choose a particular ORM for your model—you can even skip an ORM entirely—and you can choose whatever tools you wish for rendering your view (typically, the stuff you see in a Web browser). As a result, you can choose exactly the tools you need for each component of your system.

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Developing Tau Station’s Mission Builder

Mission Builder is one of the most important components of Tau Station and yet, ironically, it’s one that not a single player will be directly exposed to at any point in time. So what is Mission Builder, and what makes it such a valuable part of Tau Station? It’s the most heavily used content creation tool in the game, used by our narrative designers to create jobs, missions, NPC dialogues, and more. While Mission Builder isn’t quite one-stop shopping for the narrative team, it’s the equivalent of a Swiss Army chainsaw hanging in the team’s toolshed.

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