Happy new year everyone!

Things are going very well from a development standpoint on Sol Trader. I worked hard between Christmas and New Year on the new mission code, and I've been hard at work on conversation upgrades and a completely new planning-based AI system.

Upgrades to conversations

Now it’s possible to have much more detailed conversations with players about your events and theirs:


Conversations get ‘deeper’ the more you share, so you can feed a character lots of interesting (and potentially damaging) information about your life, and in return you’ll get equally sensitive information back about the character you’re talking to. 

If you’re talking about a different character, then you can share what you know about them and get information back in return. This way you can build up pictures of characters you know about by gradually discovering information about their past.

The flipside is that you’re sharing sensitive information about yourself, which could potentially be used against you by other characters in the future. It’ll soon be possible for characters to blackmail you by forcing you to undertake a mission by a certain time, or they’ll release damaging information about you. Be careful who you give your sensitive information to!

A new planning-based AI

I'm in the middle of reworking the old state-machine based AI from last year into a STRIPS-based planning AI. This starts a character off with some basic needs to fulfil (the need to socialise, rest, work, self-improve, etc) and uses pathfinding techniques to work out a series of steps to get those needs fulfilled, such as heading home, or buying a cheap good and selling it more somewhere else.

I've implemented the first version of this new AI in Sol Trader already. On the surface the game behaves the same: characters still go to work and rest at home, but the AI is now intelligently making decision based on relative needs. Characters now also visit friends and colleagues, trade goods intelligently (buying low, travelling and selling high), and hire ships to take them places they can't reach themselves.

Signs of the new Planner at work: Doyle has headed to the local bar to hire transport. Signs of the new Planner at work: Doyle has headed to the local bar to hire transport.

It's great fun watching the ships take off and land, knowing they have a cargo full of cheap goods bound for some far-flung planet. I've also got the bare bones of the Pirate AI in, so you need to watch out when travelling around the various systems now: I've already been attacked once whilst trying to test something else! 

What's next?

I hope to release a new build with the planning AI next week, along with an upgrade to the mission mod guide on the forums to allow people to start creating their own planning based missions. After that I want to add more Space AI: military ships scrambling to intercept pirates, and armed escorts for important characters.

If you'd like to get on the beta and you missed out last time, you can still back the game at

Until next time,

Chris Parsons
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