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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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The Tau Station Universe: Accessibility

We’ve always envisioned the Tau Station Universe as a place of escape and adventure, somewhere you can go when you want to step away from the world for a time. It’s important to us that we create it in such a way that everyone who wants to can explore and enjoy the universe with us. We’re doing our best to build a user interface that is accessible to as many people as possible, and in today’s post we’re going to share a little bit about the technical work that goes into that.

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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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Tau Station Status Report: November

It’s hard to believe that the end of the year is just around the corner! Work continues at steady pace here at Tau Station as we head into the final weeks of 2016.

We’ve been reviewing our gameplay over the last two months, and have come up with some additional features around Orwellian levels and resource scarcity that will bring a lot of richness to the universe. More features mean more work time is needed for implementation, though, which isn’t reflected in our current roadmap. So we’re calling a feature freeze in December, and from there we’ll reevaluate all our current and proposed gameplay elements to decide which ones we feel are critical to have in place for Alpha testing. Then we’ll estimate the workload and timeline to create a revised, final roadmap to Alpha launch.

More to come on that next month. This is what we’ve been working on in the meantime….

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