The team has been working along quite well. He have the starts of a basic menu system in place and a leveling system that shows the concept. The art is in the middle of states unfortunately, I'm trying to get some normal mapping to work, which isn't as easy as I was hoping. Good stuff to learn.
I was hoping to get into shaders a bit to do the shields but I went with a sprite approach. I simply draw 50+ sprites in a circle around the planet. It works, and I can control their vertical size to reflect the shield capacity. Worked like a charm.