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Forum » SpaceEngine » Mods and Addons » The Space Engine Story Teller V1.3: IN-GAME READOUTS (kinda) (Generates mad-lib style histories about a planetary body.)
The Space Engine Story Teller V1.3: IN-GAME READOUTS (kinda)
themohawkninjaDate: Thursday, 21.05.2015, 05:37 | Message # 1
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Space Engine Story Teller


Introduction:

While Space Engine is a really cool program for astronomy nerds, wouldn't it be cool if there was a story for each planet, as if it was part of a massive sci-fi inter-galactic society filled with different races, factions, etc? Well now it can! I have spent quite a few weeks coding this program, and it's basically done (save for a few things which I will mention in a bit).

The application is simple enough, you select the basic information about a planet (temperature, type, life, etc), hit a button, and BAM, a full blown randomly generated sci-fi history of the planet, with included imports and exports to boot!

If you want to have your stories read out to you in-game, you must paste in the directory to your Space Engine root folder before hitting "Generate Story". After that, generate the story, then go into Space Engine, open up the console, and type "run story" to have the story appear in-game. At the moment, the stories can only be shown line-by-line, but I plan to change this in the future when SpaceEngine itself allows me to do so.

There are a few issues with the in-game readouts however; don't make the "Max # of characters per line" value too large, or else Space Engine will crash, line breaks don't function (still trying to figure that one out), and list diamonds are replaced with dashes (Space Engine's scripts don't support Unicode characters as of 0.974 beta).

Now, while the program is basically completely coded, there are very few story templates written in, which is why I need the community's help. You can either use the Story Editor in the program (recommended due to ease of troubleshooting), or you can go in the "Resources" folder, and find a file called "Stories.txt". This is where all the story templates are written.

Story Editor:

To use the Story Editor, you simply write the story, with variables into the "Raw story data" textbox, along with inputting the appropriate prerequisites, imports, and exports (the last two of which aren't outputted as (A) it would take up space, and (B) if they aren't working properly, it's probably just due to you forgetting a comma somewhere). Each time you hit the space bar, the "Example output" textbox will generate a possible output, allowing you to quickly find if you misspelled a variable.

Once you are finished with your story, hit the "Save" button, which will automatically save the story template to the "Stories.txt" file along with reloading that file into memory so your new story template can be used right then and there.

Template Formatting:

The formatting of the stories is straightforward, the first line is the story template itself (must be on one line and one line only, although using word wrap is perfectly fine), skip a line, then there are the prerequisites for the story. The prerequisites (with the exception of the two stated below) are the same as what they are in the program (i.e. if Gas Giant needs to be selected in the program, one of the prerequisites would be "Gas Giant", and if (None) needs to be selected for the type of life, then one of the prerequisites would be "(None)". If no values of a certain type are defined (i.e. no temperature requirement is specified), the program assumes that all of that type are allowed.

PREREQ -> Meaning
------------------------
Lava -> Covered in lava is checked
Volcano -> Has volcano(s) is checked

After another line is skipped, there is the imports (also comma separated, and ending in a comma). Don't worry about like values in the imports/exports, the program gets rid of any copies that it finds. After the imports and another skipped line is the exports which work the same as the imports. As you will see, each story is separated by a long dotted line. While a line does need to be skipped, that dotted line is only there to make it easier to make out where each story begins and ends when scrolling through the file.

Variables:

When writing your own story template, it's important to use variables. There are two types of variables, Random number variables, and Other variables. The variables are described below with plain text in normal white font, and parameters written in italicized red font. Due to the fact that the computer looks for the percent sign for variables, please use the word "percent" if and when you want to refer to a percentage in the story.

Random Number: %RndLowRange-HighRange#Instance%

LowRange: Lowest possible number that can be generated (must be less than 2,147,483,647)
HighRange: Highest possible number that can be generated (must be less than 2,147,483,647)
Instance: Number that represents the instance of this variable. All like instances of a the same range will be replaced with the same number per story template (two Random Number Variables with the same range and the same instance will result in a different number if they are in two different templates).

Other: %Parameter#Instance%

Parameter: Represents the type of variable (stock implemented ones listed below).

  • SpaceRace: A space-fairing race in Star Wars
  • NonSpaceRace: A non-space-fairing race in Star Wars
  • Planet: A planet in Star Wars (NOTE: Instance #0 is reserved for the planet that the program is generating a history for).
  • Jedi: A Jedi in Star Wars
  • Sith: A Sith in Star Wars
  • Faction: A faction in Star Wars
  • Animal: An animal in Star Wars
  • War: A war/campaign/conflict in Star Wars
  • Battle: A battle in Star Wars
  • SmallShip: A starfighter/corvette class starship in Star Wars
  • MediumShip: A light cruiser/cruiser/light frigate/frigate class starship in Star Wars
  • LargeShip: A battlecruiser/heavy cruiser/dreadnought class starship in Star Wars
  • Year: ABY or BBY

Instance: Number that represents the instance of this variable. All like instances of a the same parameter will be replaced with the same value per story template (two variables with the same parameter and the same instance will result in a different value if they are in two different templates).

Keywords:

There as some terms that are placed inside of percent signs like variables, but that don't "vary" as such. These are keywords, and there are currently two keywords, "Break", and "List".

Break: %Break%

Inserts a line break.

List: %List#IndentLevel%

Creates a bullet with an indent specified by the indent level, with the first indent level starting at 0. Automatically adds a line break in-between each bullet.

Making Custom Variables:

If you want to make a custom variable, you simply go into the "Variables" folder (located inside the "Resources" folder), make a new text file (.txt), fill each line in the text file with a value that will be used to replace the variable with, and that's it!

When you want to use your custom variable, the name of your custom variable is the same as the text file that holds all the values (case-sensitive).

Make sure to include any custom variable text files if you are posting a story with said custom variable in it!

Final Note:

The end goal of this project is for you guys to make so many stories that there would be at least 10 possible stories for each possible combination of parameters for a planetary body in Space Engine (yes, I know that is asking for a lot).

If I do get enough stories, I will add the last little bit of code that will randomly choose anywhere from a few to a half-dozen or so stories to display for a given click of the button to complete the program (at the moment, due to the lack of stories, the program outputs all stories that match the selected parameters).

I hope you guys like it!

P.S. You can install the program anywhere, but the "Resources" folder MUST be in the same directory as the program.

Download link: https://goo.gl/MHe4Dr

Change Log:

  • Version 1.0

    • Initial release

  • Version 1.1

    • Custom variable support
    • Added variables
    • Added stories
    • Added some pictures
    • Added icon
    • Minor rescaling of some controls

  • Version 1.2

    • Random number variable now supports up to 2,147,483,647 as max value
    • Maximum number of values per variable increased to 14481
    • Maximum number of variables increased to 14481
    • Added lists
    • Added line breaks
    • Added story editor

  • Version 1.3

    • Added in-game story readouts.
    • Added Randomize button
    • Selecting "(None)" for life type automatically uncheckes all habitat type boxes



Edited by themohawkninja - Monday, 01.06.2015, 18:02
 
BlueDracheDate: Friday, 22.05.2015, 00:10 | Message # 2
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sounds a bit like "trade wars" .. if you remember that BBS door game?
 
themohawkninjaDate: Friday, 22.05.2015, 00:20 | Message # 3
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Quote BlueDrache ()
sounds a bit like "trade wars" .. if you remember that BBS door game?


I just looked that up on Wikipedia. That game is before my time (I was born in 1995), but if the article says that it's been compared to/was the inspiration for games like EVE Online and Star Citizen, it sounds like it could be kinda fun.
 
Thomas988Date: Friday, 22.05.2015, 01:23 | Message # 4
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Wow! That is incredible, great work! biggrin




All you need in life are space games and typhlosions.
 
BlueDracheDate: Friday, 22.05.2015, 12:49 | Message # 5
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Quote themohawkninja ()
(I was born in 1995)


I graduated high school 3 years before that.
 
VilfateDate: Sunday, 24.05.2015, 08:47 | Message # 6
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cool! biggrin




 
mig29mDate: Sunday, 24.05.2015, 19:40 | Message # 7
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An excellent program, a lot of fun! Thank you so much for making it easy to modify.

I've been working on a "hard(ish)" sci-fi data set for it that's more along the lines of my interest with SE, which sort of lets me play out a story of a large generation ship/exploration ship/worldship searching for a new home for humanity. I've been working on a sort of game system to go along with it (long before the story creator showed up!

Here is an example of the kind of output my input files will generate...

Quote
====================
Name: Viviana
====================
ID: 000657678
====================

Your ship arrives at the planet Viviana, having used up 9 % of its propellant capacity to decelerate and establish orbit. The ship's course has to be adjusted in the middle of the journey, using up 1 extra unit of propellant, but otherwise the trip is unremarkable. The crew are in agreeable spirits.

Viviana is a cold, inhospitable world. Even with fully-protected space suits, any manned activity on this planet would be very limited. Seen on our displays, the landscapes of this frigid planet present a rather peaceful view. With the ship's shielding, the background radiation dose rate for working in the planet's orbit is measured at 22 mSv/a (50 mSv/a is the occupational limit on Earth). Working on the planet's surface will expose astronauts to an estimated 34 mSv/a (3 mSv/a average for Earth's surface). Unmanned expeditions to this planet will expend a minimum of 4 units of chemical propellant and 1 electronics modules, and will risk an additional 5 electronics modules, 2 structural panels and 1 shielding panels should the mission fail. A manned expedition to explore this planet will cost 2 times as much, risk the lives of 1 astronauts, and is inadvisable since no manned mining activity can be sustained here in any case.

Viviana's primary composition: Silicon 59, Aluminium 39, Calcium 18, Iron 11, Magnesium 11

Constructing an unmanned mining outpost on Viviana's frozen surface will cost 3 units of chemical propellant, 7 structural panels, 3 shielding panels, and 5 electronics modules. It will produce a maximum of 20 structural panels, 20 units of silicon, 0 units of iron, 1 units of nutrients. Extensive geological samples from the planet are retrieved and stored, revealing mediocre deposits of Thallium and Sulfur beneath the surface. No more than 4 units of each may be mined here in the course of a year.

Staying in orbit around Viviana for the rest of the year, we can expect on-board resource expenditures to be nominal. Keeping instruments cool is easy near this cold world. Up to 2 units of fusion propellant and 0 units of chemical may be expended for orbital maintenance. Routine work on the ship will consume up to 2 structural panels, 3 shielding panels, 0 electronics modules. The life support system can be expected to lose up to 3 C, 0 N, 3 O, 2 H, 1 Si, 2 Fe, and 0 units of other nutrients. For the crew population, we anticipate a maximum birth rate of 2 % and a maximum death rate of 3 % during the year. The on-board doctors are reporting most adults on board to be in a fairly fitting state of health. The safety of our station from accidents or collisions in orbit around Viviana is judged to be painfully vulnerable.

The analysis and planning for the first manned mission to Viviana's surface regards the prospects of landing as adequate . The mission is to be led by Dorthy Mase, who is considered to be a thoroughly poor astronaut by much of the ship's crew. The main objectives of the mission are to 1) Acquire samples from the Viviana's surface; 2) Explore prospective sites for resource mining; and 3) Study some of the impact sites from meteorites on the planet to learn more about the history of this system . The recommended landing site for the mission is in a well-surveyed area with several interesting geological features. The astronauts are to remain on the planet's cold surface for no longer than 8 hours before they must depart. The surface of Viviana at the landing site feels strangely difficult to grasp to the touch. The astronauts set off to do their exploring, keeping a particular lookout for mineral deposits of mustard-coloured appearance on the surface, which have been noted by surveys during the approach to the planet. They also search for a mysterious hook-shaped rock formation that was spotted in imagery of Viviana from orbit. The astronauts are in a mostly auspicious mindset about this expedition.

Leaving Viviana's orbit will expend 5 % of our total propellant capacity.

Viviana was named in honour of Viviana Yamasaki, an outstanding philantropist who died in unfortunate circumstances.


I'll try to have my first crack of this one ready to share by tomorrow smile


Edited by mig29m - Sunday, 24.05.2015, 19:47
 
SpaceEngineerDate: Sunday, 24.05.2015, 22:28 | Message # 8
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Wow cool! I thought about generator of Wikipedia-style articles about procedural planets. It could add a fun to the current SE Planetarium, and can be used in the Game as a "exploration report" generated by NPC after exploring the planet. The game will not have procedurally generated races and factions, but more human-friendly report for some game events/achievements is good I think.

The huge problem of such generator is supporting multiple languages. It is a huge work for translators - translate all story templates! It also a work for programmer - handle different language grammar rules such as case, gender etc.





 
mig29mDate: Sunday, 24.05.2015, 22:56 | Message # 9
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Absolutly, I'd find that really cool in SE, especially if it was tweakable! I've always been interested in the more scientific aspects of space exploration rather than lore and legend, but I think the question that always popped into my mind when exploring the stars in SE would usually be "What would it be like for a person/ship visiting this place? What are all the things they would have to think about?" I like the idea of letting NPCs do some of that work!

Also, as far as languages etc., the problem isn't necessarily that complicated - the trick is to avoid generating the text on too low a level, i.e. avoid dealing with syntax and morphology more than necessary by having most of the text already pre-written on a paragraph level. The main thing that's needed is someone who's willing to spend the time writing good text content, and write it specifically for the game. It would be very hard to impossible to just parse wikipedia articles or other data automatically and come up with good text. So that's the downside, and I suppose you do have a lot to do with SE anyway so writing more text might not be that high on the list!

For the sake of experiment, once I'm done with this, I might try to do a Russian version for comparison and see what's different smile Although it would be a lot easier if it was possible to do things like case and gender in the program.

(and just for context, aside from being an SE fan, I'm also a PhD candidate in communication and linguistics who works on interactive text modeling, so this is super-interesting to me of course!)


Edited by mig29m - Sunday, 24.05.2015, 23:08
 
themohawkninjaDate: Monday, 25.05.2015, 02:01 | Message # 10
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Quote mig29m ()
Here is an example of the kind of output my input files will generate...


Don't use the percent sign outside the context of the variables (that is, unless you made a variable with percent signs in it, in which case you can ignore this). Since the program uses percent signs to look for variables, using a percent sign out-of-context could throw some errors.

I figured out a pretty simple fix to this that I will put in the next update, but for now just refer to percentages by using the word "percent" instead.


Edited by themohawkninja - Monday, 25.05.2015, 02:10
 
mig29mDate: Monday, 25.05.2015, 05:12 | Message # 11
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Oddly, I haven't had problems with that percent sign - as long as I leave a space on both sides of the percent sign. But thank you for the heads up, I will keep an eye on it!

So far the errors have been easy to detect - I've noticed that all of the variables (both for Rnd and for number of lines of text in any custom-defined variable) are limited to 10,000.

Here's another example of my template for exploring Gas Giants, which I worked on today...

Quote
====================
Name: Laz
====================
ID: 024508222
====================

Our ship arrives in orbit of the planet Laz, having used up 16 % of its propellant capacity to decelerate and establish orbit. The journey to the planet is a rather uninteresting one. The crew are in admirable spirits.

Laz is a murky gas giant with a cold atmosphere. Seen on our displays, the cloudscapes of this planet present a rather extreme view. Laz is suitable only for automated atmospheric mining of gases. Like most gas giant planets, this planet possesses an active magnetosphere, which is closely similar to Jupiter's. Powerful radiation belts extend as far as 1.3 million kilometers from the planet, and despite all the shielding, our ship cannot approach any closer than that without exposing the crew to lethal doses of radiation, or visit any satellites that fall within the radiation belts. Even at the far outer edges of this zone, crew working regular shifts outside the ship would absorb as much as 10 Sv/a (compared to 0.16 Sv/a in low Earth orbit). In a safe distant orbit, the average exposure level for the crew is a more reasonable 42 mSv/a (50 mSv/a is the occupational limit on Earth). Unmanned expeditions to this planet will expend a minimum of 8 units of chemical propellant, 2 units of shielding and 3 electronics modules, and will risk an additional 3 electronics modules, 3 structural panels and 3 shielding panels should the mission fail. Obviously, any manned expeditions to Laz are out of question. Any satellites that lie within its radiation belts are also off-limits for astronauts, and are best avoided by robotic probes as well.

The first atmospheric proble to Laz arrives on the star-lit side of the planet, which turns out to be a generally great location in the cold environment of the planet. Deploying parachutes and aerostatic balloons, the unmanned exploration vessel takes 3 hours to descend to its target altitude, then begins gathering samples. However, on the return trip, contact with the probe is lost, and its fate remains unknown. Prospects for further probes into Laz's atmosphere look acceptable.

Laz's primary composition: Hydrogen 94, Helium 4

Sending aerostatic mining probes down into Laz's cold atmosphere will cost 8 units of chemical propellant, 5 structural panels, 5 shielding panels, and 5 electronics modules. The resulting mining operation is expected to produce a maximum of 17 fusion propellant and 16 units of pure hydrogen. Gas samples from the planet also indicate the presence of typical traces of Argon and Phosphorus in the atmosphere, which could be refined in the amount of no more than 3 units each.

Staying in orbit around Laz for the rest of the year should be feasible - there are worse places where our ship could be. Up to 5 units of fusion propellant and 2 units of chemical propellant may be expended for orbital maintenance. Routine work on the ship will consume up to 6 structural panels, 6 shielding panels, 3 electronics modules. The life support system can be expected to lose up to 6 C, 3 N, 4 O, 4 H, 0 Si, 0 Fe, and 6 units of other nutrients. For the crew population, we anticipate a maximum birth rate of 1 % and a maximum death rate of 3 % during the year. The on-board doctors are reporting most adults on board to be in a fairly unremarkable state of health. The safety of our station from accidents or collisions in orbit around Laz is judged to be superlative. Conducting risky EVA work and handling highly irradiated mining probes returning from Laz's atmosphere means that 1 crew on dangerous duties will risk their lives this year.

Laz was named in honour of Laz Harger, a spaceship engineer whose work had changed the world.
 
themohawkninjaDate: Monday, 25.05.2015, 15:26 | Message # 12
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Quote mig29m ()
So far the errors have been easy to detect - I've noticed that all of the variables (both for Rnd and for number of lines of text in any custom-defined variable) are limited to 10,000.


Yeah, the variables are held in what is known as a 2D array (analogous to a single sheet in Excel, where one dimension is rows, and the other is columns), and you can only have so many possible values (i.e. cells, to keep with the Excel analogy) that C++ allows you to allocate. In a simple 1D array, this is 65535 ((2^16)-1), but I have yet to figure out where the limit is for 2D arrays, so I have arbitrarily set it to 10,000 until I can figure out what the real maximum is.


Edited by themohawkninja - Monday, 25.05.2015, 15:30
 
Tangle10Date: Monday, 25.05.2015, 19:05 | Message # 13
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mig29m, I very much like that you are doing this. Thanks!




Tips for finding Earth-Like planets: Look for F, G, or K Class stars. M class habitables will almost always be tidelocked. Oceanias can, of course, also be habitable, they just have tiny amounts of land.
 
mig29mDate: Tuesday, 26.05.2015, 01:52 | Message # 14
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Cheers, but of course most of the credit goes to themohawkninja and of course our Space Engineer for their work smile

It's turning out a little more complicated than I thought! On the other hand, I've had a chance to explore some cool ideas:

Quote
====================
Name: Inna
====================
ID: 000005386
====================

Our ship arrives at the planet Inna, a dry desert world, having used up 16 % of its propellant capacity to decelerate and establish orbit. During the course of this journey, a political faction among the ship's crew seems to have been formed in secret, perhaps with the goal of overthrowing the ship's officers. To date, they have not taken any action. The crew are in rotten spirits.

Inna is a cold, inhospitable desert world. Even with fully-protected space suits, any manned activity on this planet would be very limited by the temperature. Seen on our displays, the landscapes of this frigid planet present a rather discouraging view. This planet possesses no intrinsic magnetosphere, much like Mars or Venus. There are no radiation belts to traverse around the planet - but this also means no protection from cosmic rays, except for a possible atmosphere (if the planet possesses one). Fortunately, this cold and desolate planet seems to receive only a modest amount of cosmic radiation, save for occasional flares and bursts. Crew working outside the ship would receive a dose of up to 60 mSv/a from cosmic sources. The total radiation dose received from the planet itself and the liquids, dust and gases on its surface is up to about 3 mSv/a (2 mSv/a is Earth average). Unmanned expeditions to this planet will expend a minimum of 6 units of chemical propellant and 2 electronics modules, and will risk an additional 2 electronics modules, 4 structural panels and 2 shielding panels should the mission fail. A manned expedition to explore this planet will cost 5 times as much, risk the lives of 9 astronauts, and is inadvisable since no manned mining activity can be sustained here in any case.

The first unmanned probe to Inna lands in a narrow valley on the planet's surface, which turns out to be a generally crude landing site. The unmanned craft is able to retrieve a surface sample from Inna, a small goblet-shaped rock. The probe's mission runs into some trouble when its instruments malfunction, but it is able to recover and return to the ship successfuly with its samples. Prospects for further landings on the planet look superb.

The analysis and planning for the first manned mission to Inna's surface regards the scientific value of the expedition as magnificent . The mission is to be led by Vilhelmina Silbert, who is considered to be a thoroughly average astronaut by much of the ship's crew. The main objectives of the mission are to 1) Acquire samples from the Inna's surface; 2) Explore prospective sites for resource mining; and 3) Search for deposits of rare isotopes, particularly Helium-3 . The recommended landing site for the mission is on the star-lit side of the planet. The astronauts are to remain on the planet's cold surface for no longer than 10 hours before they must depart. The surface of Inna at the landing site feels strangely pliable to the touch. The astronauts must set off to do their exploring, keeping a particular lookout for mineral deposits of buckskin appearance on the surface, which have been noted by surveys during the approach to the planet. They will also search for a mysterious crescent-like rock formation that was spotted in imagery of Inna from orbit. The astronauts are in a mostly inauspicious mindset about this expedition.

Inna's primary composition: Silicon 38, Iron 19, Aluminium 12, Magnesium 9, Calcium 4, Sulfur 1, Iron 1

Constructing an unmanned mining outpost on Inna's frozen surface will cost 3 units of chemical propellant, 6 structural panels, 4 shielding panels, and 6 electronics modules. It will produce a maximum of 5 structural panels, 3 shielding panels, 7 electronics modules, 3 units of silicon, 1 units of iron, 10 units of nutrients, and no more than 1 units of reactor fuel. Extensive geological samples from the planet are retrieved and stored, revealing serious deposits of Fluorine and Gallium beneath the surface. No more than 2 units of each may be mined here in the course of a year.

Staying in orbit around Inna for the rest of the year, we can expect on-board resource expenditures to be nominal. Keeping instruments cool is easy near this cold world. Up to 1 units of fusion propellant and 0 units of chemical may be expended for orbital maintenance. Routine work on the ship will consume up to 1 structural panels, 0 shielding panels, 0 electronics modules. The life support system can be expected to lose up to 0 C, 0 N, 3 O, 0 H, 2 Si, 1 Fe, and 1 units of other nutrients. For the crew population, we anticipate a maximum birth rate of 6 % and a maximum death rate of 1 % during the year. The on-board doctors are reporting most adults on board to be in a fairly exemplary state of health. The safety of our station from accidents or collisions in orbit around Inna is judged to be safe. Up to 1 crew are expected to risk their lives on dangerous duties in orbit.

Leaving Inna's orbit will expend 17 % of our total propellant capacity.

Inna was named in honour of Inna Guo, a famous entertainer who campaigned tirelessly for reproductive rights.


I'm about halfway done with the planet templates, not counting life forms for which I have some cool ideas. Hopefully I'll be able to crunch through it soon, since I've managed to write my way through most of the really time-consuming parts tongue
 
themohawkninjaDate: Thursday, 28.05.2015, 17:25 | Message # 15
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Okay, version 1.2 is up, with the biggest change being an in-program story editor to make the stories a lot easier and quicker to write.

Also, you can make much larger random numbers... yay big numbers!

Plus some other stuff that you can see in the changelog/read in the post to get a better idea of.

EDIT: Also, make sure you guys have a line after the last export line in the Stories.txt file.


Edited by themohawkninja - Thursday, 28.05.2015, 17:29
 
Forum » SpaceEngine » Mods and Addons » The Space Engine Story Teller V1.3: IN-GAME READOUTS (kinda) (Generates mad-lib style histories about a planetary body.)
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