You Nodes It: More Limit Theory Dev Diaries

By Craig Pearson on January 27th, 2014 at 12:00 pm.


As regular readers of my “Craig is far too excited about Limit Theory” posts are aware, I hang on the Limit Theory developer updates like Sylvester Stallone hangs on to ropes. Josh Parnell’s open-world space game is plodding along in development, and each month he releases a new video that completely floors me. If I am in a position to share it with thousands of pairs of eyes, I shall. That means you get two updates in this post, as the RPS CMS has been hidden from me for a few months, and I’ll be gone again come Tuesday. Watch these, and also demand that I am brought back at least once a month to share them with you*.

You’ll see the node system that I got excited about in my previous post come together into something functional. Across the two videos, it goes from modding interface to suffusing everything, creating a hierarchical structure that will allow you to filter the whole world. Josh zooms from the universe view all the way down to the nodes on the outside of his ship in one smooth movement. The leap from abstract menu to nearly functional, super-duper ship helper is marvelous.

You’ll also get to see the AI being reworked, and it’s now in a place where it understands how to utilise other people in the world: NPCs can post contracts for you to pick up, and they’re not just missions, but will truly fulfill a need for the AI’s goals. Watch.

Great stuff. If you want more, you should probably follow his daily updates, and he is an infrequent tweeter.

*It’s a genuine pleasure.

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23 Comments »

  1. AshRolls says:

    I follow the daily development updates for Limit Theory, you can’t help but admire the sheer passion that Josh puts into this project. I’m looking forward to seeing more gameplay soon, he had a focus on AI for a bit but that seems to have dropped to the wayside over the last few months with the focus shifting back to the UI.

    I have no doubt that Josh will build a brilliant world on a solid tech base, I hope the gameplay lives up to the potential!

    • BTAxis says:

      I was under the impression he had AI more or less sorted.

      • AshRolls says:

        The core AI is there yep, in so far as he has managed to get an AI to equip a mining laser, head to an asteroid, mine, then return to a station and sell the ore. This doesn’t sound on paper that impressive, but the fundamentals are there and considering the AI has deduced this task rather than just having it hard coded, I would say that’s a pretty massive win.

        However, there now needs to be more things for the player / AI to do in the game. And it all needs to be balanced. And fun. A big task!!

    • WrenBoy says:

      The game looks great but what impressed me most was how good he was at communicating his enthusiasm for something he had just developed. Its almost Steve Jobs level good.

      After about 20 seconds I was thinking to myself, wow, node based interfaces are the best thing ever.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    Bring back Craig! I’ve been having to assemble my own puns out of household waste and glitter. It’s just not the same.

  3. joa says:

    I think this game will seem very clinical. Because everything is produced by procedure, instead of from the human imagination. While procedular generation and artificial intelligence is very interesting, I think it has a very long way to go before it matches even the most stupid of humans.

    • Geebs says:

      Must…..resist…….obvious…..comeback

    • SillyWizard says:

      I think this post may have been procedularry-generated.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Wiv artifishular intelligimants.

      I thought it was cute by the way. Not being mean. Well maybe a bit.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Wiv artifishular intelligiments.

      I thought it was cute by the way. Not being mean. Well maybe a bit.

      EDIT: Somehow my post procedularly generated itself twice. That or I just rather karmically made a moron out of myself.

  4. CookPassBabtridge says:

    What is CMS

    • Gap Gen says:

      Chocolate marshmallow sprinkles.

    • stoner says:

      Content Management System. It allows the writers and editors to post content to the RPS site without having to edit the actual web-page content with HTML, CSS, etc.

  5. SuicideKing says:

    He should do UIs for Microsoft.

    • Stardreamer says:

      I’m beginning to think he should do UIs for EVERYTHING.

      • Devan says:

        There’s no doubt that Josh is developing some interesting and very pretty displays for Limit Theory. This Node UI is especially relevant to “structural data” as Josh points out, however it’s not some silver bullet UI of the future.
        Take spreadsheets for example: They’re boring but are generally considered the best/most efficient way of viewing and manually editing tabular data. I’m sure it’s possible to add 3D pizzazz to a spreadsheet application, but that would probably only interfere with the row/column associations.

        For data in a tree structure (like the object hierarchies used here), nodes work very for showing which items are connected to which other items, and potentially indicating what the nature of those relationships is. But it has drawbacks as well, particularly in terms of visual recognition of individual nodes. Each node is identified with a label only, which means you have to read each one to know what it is. There is no way to find exactly what you want at a glance unless you’re already quite familiar with that particular part of the structure.

        As an example, imagine if your favourite MMO or MOBA replaced all its inventory and shop interfaces with a node UI like Josh’s. It’s be painful scanning through reading each item; a grid of icons with tooltips is simply much more appropriate for that application.

        In general, UI design involves the consideration of many factors including the intended use, the intended audience, and tradeoffs between efficiency and visual appeal. This Node UI is intended for the editing of tree-structured object data in a video game with high visual appeal and efficiency which is variable depending on the familiarity of the user with the data. It looks like it’ll work out just fine for Limit Theory and that’s great, but it’s not going to start replacing all the software interfaces you currently use.

        • Stardreamer says:

          Thank you, Devan, for taking the time to write such an intelligent and informative reply. You could, however, have saved yourself some time by realising I didn’t say the Node UI was intended to replace every other UI out there – I’m a heavy user of Excel at work and a node-UI there would probably drive me insane.

          Probably.

          My meaning was that Josh has developed such a simple and genuinely beautiful UI just for this application (although I’m sure he could find hundreds of other applications for it) so therefore. I’d love to see what he could produce given a different task with different data-management requirements. It’s also wonderful to see someone creating what he needs from the ground up according to his own creative instincts, rather than limiting himself with off-the-shelf or copy-cat solutions. Someone above has mentioned Steve Jobs; that celebrated capacity for original thinking seems very much apparent in Josh as well. Who wouldn’t want to see that let loose on the IT landscape?

  6. Pubjead1970 says:

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  7. Warduke says:

    Don’t know if I’ll ever play this but I really enjoy watching his development videos. The guy has a ton of passion and that really comes across in the videos. Fun to watch..

  8. Stardreamer says:

    It’s a daily hit of unbridled genius and creativity, like snorting the blood of Warren Ellis. They’re the first thing I click on to read in my lunch breaks because I’m hopelessly addicted to that dreamlike blend of excitement and admiration that wells up in me for whatever he’s been working on the previous day. It doesn’t matter that I will never understand the nitty-gritty details of most of what I’m reading. Josh’s easy-going writing style makes everything beautifully accessible.

    Watching Josh’s monthly videos is almost a religious experience for me now.

    Limit Theory is going to be amazing – the first game I ever backed on Kickstarter. In the meantime, I’ll be over here, quietly watching a squirrel, ghost and monkey-obsessed genius ply his wonderful trade.

  9. racccoon says:

    Good work, great to see a guy who has amazing passion for game development.