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Tau Station Status Report: February

February has drawn to close and Tau Station’s universe has continued to grow and evolve. In some ways, it’s been a tough month. We’ve been reviewing all our processes and identifying where we need to change our approach in order to meet our development goals. This has meant reevaluating priorities, changing our focus in a couple areas, and generally pushing harder on timelines. The results have absolutely been worth it, though, and we’re seeing that difficult work delivering results. We wrapped up the month with some big additions and improvements to gameplay, accomplished our first major data migration between servers, and we’ve built up a solid momentum for moving forward. Enjoy the new status report about February.

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Missions – Your Window Into Tau Station’s Universe

We love a good story. The art of storytelling predates even that of the written word, and we’re pretty sure humanity’s tales will be here long after we’re gone, possibly for some alien race to pore over and ponder what kind of weird and wonderful creatures we once were.

More specifically, the narrative is one of the core pillars of Tau Station and we consider it in every aspect of game development and universe building. Through Tau Station’s missions you’ll discover the stories of its universe – its histories, its people; the living, breathing, and evolving culture of a human civilization on life support. Below, we’ll give you a peek at three of these missions that deal with different aspects of a galactic post-apocalyptic society.

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Interstellar Travel for All – A Socratic Exchange

In one of our recent posts we described some of the work we’ve been doing to improve Tau Station’s star map. This week we’re going more in-depth about the process and will even show some of the code we’re using.

Initially, a canvas map was all we offered the player.

A three-dimensional rotating set of stars and their names, with some connected by wormholes.
The <canvas>-based star map.

 

But as we said in the last map post, a canvas is only selectively accessible, and doesn’t work with screen readers or in browsers that don’t support JavaScript. Thus we wanted to reduce the star map into its basic HTML representation, so that we could progressively build it back up into a canvas rendering.

When we approached this, we asked ourselves one question:

What is this thing, and what does it do?

Ok, so maybe two questions.

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Tau Station Q&A #1

We’ve started getting some great questions from those of you keeping up with Tau Station’s development, so we decided to gather some of them and share our answers with everyone. We’re loving the questions so please keep them coming. You can send them to @taustation on Twitter, or through our Facebook page.

If you’ve asked something that isn’t answered here we’ll do our best to respond to it in a future Q&A post. And if you find some of our answers a bit cryptic, maybe you should sign up for our upcoming closed Alpha so you can be one of the first to start exploring the universe.

On to the questions!

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Tau Station Status Report: January

It’s been another busy month here at Tau Station! We’ve reached the point where we can really start seeing how everyone’s work fits together to make our universe come alive. It’s an incredibly exciting and motivating time, and development will continue to speed up from here. We’re getting close to wrapping up the game flow and roadmap work that we continued through January, and are much closer to announcing our Alpha launch date. We’d originally planned that for this status report blog post – but we want to be as accurate and realistic as possible when we share the news with you, so we’re going to hold off a little longer as we finalize things. Information on the Alpha launch will go out through our newsletter before we share it anywhere else, so if you want to be among the first to know make sure to sign up.

In other Tau Station news, Curtis will be attending FOSDEM this weekend to give a talk about our project. He’ll have some great stickers to hand out so keep an eye out for him if you’re there. We were also very pleased to talk with E-Access News about our approach to accessibility, and they just published the interview on their site.

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Interstellar Travel for All

In Tau Station, you can travel between star systems and stations by taking a public shuttle or flying your own ship. One of the ways you can explore and plot your route is through the Star Map.

Our first version of the star map was built using a canvas element and looked like this:

A three-dimensional rotating set of stars and their names, with some connected by wormholes.
The <canvas>-based star map.

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Tau Station Sticker Fun

Next month our game designer, Curtis, will be giving a talk about Tau Station at the FOSDEM conference in Brussels. We considered sending him with flyers to hand out but decided that stickers would be a lot more fun. Because who doesn’t love stickers?!

Using some of our favorite images from Tau Station’s background art, our graphic designer Tania put together this collection of stickers to give everyone a glimpse into our universe. Some of these pictures are new and haven’t been shown anywhere before.

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Clones – Don’t Leave Home Without One

You’re walking through the space station, minding your own business, when you’re suddenly attacked by a stranger. You fight back, but they’re tough and they manage to kill you before the guards can arrive to break things up. Usually, you wouldn’t be too worried about this. Most sick bays have a grim shared mantra: “If we can scrape you off the pavement, we’ll get you back on your feet.” There aren’t too many wounds they can’t fix. There’s a problem, though: you’re on Bordeaux Station and it doesn’t have a sick bay. Those fatal wounds all over your body are, for once, actually fatal.

Luckily, in Tau Station, death is not necessarily the end.

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Tau Station Status Report: December

Happy new year from all of us at Tau Station! Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we’ve been focused on planning. We reviewed all our current and proposed features, then mapped out the game flow so we can make final decisions about what we’ll include in our Alpha testing release. This month we’ll take all that information and create a revised roadmap, and we plan to come back to you in next month’s update with an Alpha launch date.

We’re also very pleased to welcome some new faces to the project: Peter and Ilya, who are joining us on the technical side, as well as Will, Al, and Greg on the narrative.  We’ve got a great team of people building the Tau Station universe.

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The Tau Station Universe: Design

Pretty, immersive, thoughtful, and inclusive – these are concepts that have guided us as we’ve been designing our user interface. Words and stories are the foundation upon which Tau Station is built, but we’re going beyond just text on the screen to create the universe that we’ve imagined. Our narrative, art, and graphic design all work together to create an immersive experience and the sense of adventure and exploration that’s at the heart of Tau Station.

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