It's been a great week for progress. Using the path finding algorithm discussed in the last post, I've implemented some rudimentary AI players that simply navigate to a random planet using the trade lane network, then select a new destination and repeat upon arrival. Although simple, the AI sure livens up the bleak little star system. I also implemented a basic, CPU-side particle system for creating engine trails and explosions. Finally, I've implemented GPU-based normal map generation for heightmaps, and used it to make planets and asteroids look a whole lot better.

Here's the new and improved world. The streaks of yellow are AI players up ahead that have been instructed to pick a random asteroid and orbit it. I'm following them as they journey towards their respective rocks.

And here you can see me chilling with my AI entourage (they were told to protect me). The engine trails show that the AI paths are always smooth, thanks to some nice math that controls the AI movement. They look very natural while flying around me. Now all we need are some enemies for them to attack!

It's been a really exciting week for this project, and I can't wait to see what happens when I start playing with enemies/attacking, police, real traders, etc! Oh, and I guess someday I should stop being lazy and fix the fact that the skydome is mirrored vertically...kinda an immersion-breaker.