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Kickstarter Update #54, New Horizons

Greetings, Pilots!

As we ramp up to our next major milestone, the Closed Beta, here are some highlights of the many exciting developments on In The Black! A tremendous amount of effort is being devoted to making sure everything is working as intended, while also improving the overall experience. In this update we’ll go into more detail on some specific features we think are pretty cool, and finish with a brief look at some of the things we’re doing to promote the game.

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Kickstarter Updates

Kickstarter Update #53, All Hail the Return of the Hyperion!

Greetings, Mercenaries!

We are just weeks away from releasing our Closed Beta, and we have a lot to share with you! Here is a list of things you’ll see in the next update: 

  • Hyperion-class Heavy Fighter Is Back!
  • Quick Comms Feature
  • Improved AI & NPC Fighter Support
  • Improved Ship Purchasing and Customization 
  • Nametag and Callsign
  • Missile Cam
  • Pre-Mission Briefing Room
  • New Battlespaces, Game Modes and Scenarios in Development
  • Ongoing Fixes and Polish

Now, let’s go over these in detail…

Heavy AF

The most exciting news is that the Hyperion-class heavy fighter is back in the game and fully playable!

As a heavy fighter, Morris Aerospace CorporationÔÇÖs Hyperion is an absolute beast! In size, it is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Shrike-class light fighter that weÔÇÖve all grown accustomed to. Conceived at about the same time as the Shrike, it too, has a reputation that stretches back for over a century. The Hyperion was ahead of its time when it was introduced, and MAC steadily evolved its capabilities to meet the evolving challenges of space combat during the last century. This evolution is ongoing, and expectations are that this formidable fighter could well dominate battlespaces throughout the solar system for another century!

Getting the Hyperion back into the game was a major effort due to all of the significant changes that have been implemented over the last several months. The ship also has a cockpit and Pilot Vehicle Interface that is quite distinctive compared to the Shrike. We hope all systems are go, however some slight hiccups may occur. Playtesting will reveal what needs fixing and balancing, and everyone is encouraged to send feedback.

Improved AI and NPC Fighter Support

A notable improvement is that we now include NPC fighters in almost all game modes, and they make better use of their weapons. This means players can now play against AI opponents to hone their skills, and it means you can always enjoy the game whenever you want to – no need to enlist pesky humans!

Quick Comms

To improve multiplayer matches, there is now a ÔÇ£Quick CommsÔÇØ feature to send various messages to your team. WeÔÇÖve completed the first pass functional implementation using a radial menu that allows you to quickly select from a number of preset messages. The plan is to add appropriate functionality that will improve the tactical utility of this system. For example, targeting an enemy and selecting ÔÇ£Attack My TargetÔÇØ would result in your team receiving that message with an option to accept it and instantly have their targeting system update to the new target.

Further out, we intend to have the quick comms function as wingmate commands when flying with drones.

Improved Ship Purchasing and Customization

We promised a ship cosmetic customization system and we have devoted a lot of time in the past month to get it ready for testing by our backers. Previously, the Ship Paint Customizer (SPC) was a standalone feature that allowed you to experiment with various color schemes and patterns, but you couldn’t save your work or see it applied to your ship in game. We used this to test the ship customization workflow to determine how best to approach this feature and give you the customization options you want. 

The SPC is now implemented into the ShipFrame Editing Software under the Livery tab, and you can save your work and see it in the game! The ShipFrame Editor also allows you to configure your ship’s loadout using the Hardpoints tab. This way there is a single place for you to customize your ships without having to switch menus. While the base features work, there are still some user experience issues that need attention so the tool will definitely improve over time. For the time being all of the current colors and schemas are unlocked so you can customize to your heart’s content. 

At the bottom of the main menu screen you see your currently owned vehicles. We call these widgets ÔÇ£VehicleTicketsÔÇØ. When you click on one of them you can Edit, Sell and Rename your ship. Clicking the Edit button takes you to the ShipFrame Editor.

The General SPC experience is the same as before. For the players that have not experienced it hereÔÇÖs a quick overview on how to interact with it. First, click on the Livery tab.

The SPC works with a basic drag and drop system. Click on and hold a color swatch, then drag and drop it in the slots marked P, S, or T. These stand for the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary color groups. Not every schema has all color groups. Some will only have Primary and Secondary, or just Primary, as an example.

In the future we want to give you the option to share your skins with friends. Some of the groundwork for that is already in the works so keep an eye out for future updates on the SPC!

Name Tags and Call Signs

Another feature weÔÇÖre implementing is Name Tags and Call Signs. Your name tag is the same as your username, and will be part of your shipÔÇÖs skin as will your call sign. As promised, some backers will be able to have a custom call sign as part of their skin, and weÔÇÖll be implementing additional visuals when it comes to call signs in the future to really showcase why people should fear or love you on the battlefield.

Missile Cam 

Missiles have received a fun update. You can now select a simulated follow camera after launching a missile by hitting [F7]. This can give you an edge in battle by using a missile to do some recon while taking out an enemy! An onboard camera will also be added which will be shown on your shipÔÇÖs MFD after firing the missile.

Improved Pre-Mission Briefing Room 

We added a holographic display to the Pre-Mission Briefing Room so you can familiarize yourself with the battlespace while waiting for your team to get ready. This allows you to discuss some tactics or approaches before the mission starts. We hope to be able to expand on this feature in the near future.

New Battlespaces, Game Modes and Scenarios in Development

Just a brief teaser, but were making good progress on a wave-based instant action mode, a new scenario involving an evacuation, and our first battlespace environment over the surface of our favorite Saturnian moon  Enceladus! This scenario involves an assault on a research station located in the south polar geyser basin and features some very interesting terrain.

Ongoing Fixes and Polish

We continue to improve the general performance of the game as we are balancing and optimizing along the way. There are also several smaller updates in regards to UI elements and the general user experience. We are looking forward to hearing what you think about the new additions and updates when we update the game for all our backers and keyholders. With your feedback and support, we will make the game better with each iteration.

Thank you so much,

The Impeller Studios Team