Starborne: Behind the Scenes with Custom Empire Claims

Greetings, Commanders!

As our Discord community already knows, we previously released a few concept images that depict hex claim painters.  They are intended to be empire cosmetics; some of which show off specific achievements, while others will be available for purchase by players to customize their empire.  

Below are the concept images mentioned above:

It’s one thing to design concept art of what a feature could look like, but implementing it to work for up to 5,000 simultaneous players is a whole different animal.  Our champion on the hex claim painters is, Solid CloudsJayDee.  JayDee is a Unity3d magician and he was kind enough to explain the work currently going on behind the scenes on the claim painter. 

SC – JayDee Q&A

Q: What is your role at Solid Clouds?

JayDee: I’m a front-end focused Developer who dabbles in technical art.  My sole purpose in life is to bring the ‘delight’ and ‘juice’ to the party- in this case, to Starborne.

Q: Can you explain the difficulties in the hex claim painter system?  Is it ready yet?

JayDeeHah!  As much as I want them myself, they are not quite ready yet.  There is a lot more going on behind the scenes with hexes in our engine; that said, we’ve established a pretty awesome solution, if I say so myself.  

JayDee: The problem starting off was that neither Unity, nor our engine, could separately identify the borders of hexes.  So, my first task was to implement logic that could identify the borders of a hex; and then identify ONLY the edge borders of an empire claim radius.  After all, we only want to paint the borders at the edge of the claim, not on every hex within an empire claim. This first image shows the first iteration of rendering with the new logic to ensure that it only targeted the border hexes:  

JayDee: The numerical system shown reflects the index of vertices of the hex border.  This is useful not only to validate the logic, but also to find the fewest number of vertices necessary to encapsulate the outermost claim border.  As you can see below, the algorithm properly identified the outermost border without getting “distracted” by interior gaps or conflicts with NPC claims.

JayDee: Once we can efficiently identify (and update) the correct hex borders of an empire’s claim, we can apply some color gradient magic to make a color base, as shown below:  

JayDee: From this point, the art team develops an effect shader that allows us to transform the gradient into an animated effect. 

Q: That looks awesome!  When can we get our hands on these?

JayDee:  We have some big plans for the claim borders, as you may have noticed in some of the concept pieces.  Before any of these will see the live servers, we need to make sure that these bespoke implementations are not too demanding when used in large quantities.  After all, we want to keep the flames in the client, not in the hardware!

JayDee: There are also other items to consider- we must keep immersion in mind; all of these claims should fit into the Starborne universe.  This is especially true when you think about the potential of thousands of players having claim effects in the same server. We want every claim border to be the highest quality possible that can be efficiently displayed by the client.  

Q: That makes sense.  But when can we actually get these?!

JayDee: We are taking a very thorough approach with the hex claim painter system, so we are not releasing a date yet until we are confident that they are of the highest quality and don’t cause client meltdowns.  

Thank you, JayDee!

Our team would like to give a big thanks to SC JayDee for giving us this update.  We are hyped about this feature; not just for the hex claim painters, but the potential of more hex manipulation going forward.  

Keep an eye out on the Official Starborne Discord and stay tuned for another update from the team coming this week!

As always, fly safe, Commanders!

-Starborne Dev Team