Working it towards beta

Ah yes, the word that strikes fear into my heart. Beta. It’s almost time, and there are so many things I’d like to see done before I say “lets go beta backers!”

Ultimately, the game will most likely follow the same pattern as it did for alpha. Instead of waiting for the very end of alpha development I’ll likely just let everyone in right away so I have people spotting bugs and issues well before the final beta build goes live. If you backed at the beta level, get excited! But not too excited… it is still in development! Side note for press types – the final alpha will be available soon for you guys to pick up and play with!

That being said, things are still rolling along as usual!

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STATUS REPORT

Hey all, Coldrice here. I felt like it was just wayyyy to long since the last update so I thought it’d be good to let you all know how the game is going.

For those of you participating in the alpha you know I’ve been putting out big meaty bi-weekly builds. If you have a steam key via humble you may have noticed builds coming every FEW DAYS. whew! It’s been exhausting and insane how much has been done in the game. Its such an evolved beast from when this all started!

Usually most people don’t tune into my updates for the idle chat :). Its all about the GIFS!!!

WHATS NEW

First, let me preframe this with the fact that these shots are in no particular order so some UI/background things are a bit inconsistent. Trust me, you’ll know which ones are older, and which ones are newer

Planets are getting awesome

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We’ll be adding in a artifact log as well to help you keep track of the important items you pick up. This is not a quest oriented game – but I don’t want to make it difficult to remember that one last tip you got on where to go
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We’ve also been working really hard on the AI/interface for planets. There are now a ton of options for “auto” ai as well as different ways for your crew to work together. We’ve added offscreen icons to keep track of your guys, fast toggle with tab, and pausing

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The best part is a lot of the new updates and changes have actually been in space phase. Lets dig in a bit more in depth on this one

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Tactical pause

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New trade menus. We’ve opted for physical space stations instead of little menus to represent space stations

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Scrollable starmaps

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Kickstarter backer custom characters are starting to show up as random encounters!

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FINALLY better stars!

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In an effort to remove RNG that works against you we’ve put the random events/encounters right on the map.

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Being close to asteroid encounters shows up in the background. We’ll be slowly adding more as we go.

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Oh hey, combat is finally visible on screen. It was a debate on how we wanted to go with this, but I think this is the best choice ;)

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Better AI for hunger and sleep

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I’ve also implemented obstacles during combat. These can allow you to avoid fire or protect an important ship. Be aware, the debris that has precious loot also acts as obstacle – only it’ll be destroyed when it.

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I spent a lot of time overhauling the presentation and feel of random events. One thing I never liked about these text events from other games was… well.. the text. Nothing but text. It was a simple change up to add a simple animation but I think it makes a big difference. Also, its REALLY fun making the graphics:

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As always, I’m sure I’m missing something – but there has been so much development its hard to keep track sometimes!

WHATS TO COME

Well so far every update I’ve made has been MASSIVE… and I hope to keep that momentum! I love making this game, and it’s come to the point where it doesn’t matter how well it does – I just want people to play it. So what is there to look forward to?

CONTENT MODE: We’re almost done with all the systems that will be in place. Of course as testing continues things can and will change, but its a big difference in dev time. Weeks spent building things is pretty fun!

BUG FIXES: The latest build (For alpha testers) featured a long list of bug fixes, and the next one in about a week will feature even more. I’m very keen on polishing what’s already in place

BETA: we’re almost there guys, I promise! I don’t want to dangle things in front of you all, but its close! We’ll be seeing the final alpha build very soon, and then I’ll open up testing to all the beta peeps. I’m really dedicated to having a very solid experience, and so I’ve delayed a beta release to work on “On more thing” week after week

By the way – alpha testers humble HAS distributed steam keys. Please check your e-mails or accounts!

BUT COLDRICE, WHAT ABOUT RELEASE?

Ok here’s the fun one. I get that question a lot. Everyone wants to know when the game will be done. It’s scary to quote times (which I already did with Kickstarter!). Truthfully a lot of bad things have happened recently with Kickstarted games and so many people are gun shy about it all. I HOPE my track record of producing weekly updates to the game proves that I’m dedicated :)

That being said, a few things have changed about the release date (sorry !!!!)

First – no matter what I will be pushing the release into January. There are a multitude of reasons, but the ones that most everyone can understand is

A) Taxes – It would be unwise for me as a business to take in any money in December. I would end up spending a large sum on taxes. I would rather push it 30 days and not have to worry about it. Truth be told, the kickstarter itself ended up paying quite a bit in taxes (nearly $4k) because the company didn’t have enough deductions by the end of the year. Ouch :(

B) Steam sale – I don’t want to launch anywhere near the winter sale.

So what does this mean? Well hopefully it’ll give me more time to add in a few more side planets and items. I don’t intend to squander any extra time!

ultimately I will continue to update the game for you guys to play, as well as keep you guys notified here. I figure (and hope!) that any complications or delays would be understood.

Moving along, there has also been a LOT of question on twitter regarding Early Access. At this point we are all a bit unsure of Early Access. I don’t want to ever be perceived as trying to do a cash grab or scam gamers for a quick buck. Everyone involved in Interstellaria is leaning AWAY from Early access. I have not fully dismissed it for a few reason.

a) I get requests to get into testing all the time. I feel a bit bad saying no, but I really don’t want to undercut you guys with a cheaper price.

b) Most people don’t know the costs of game development.

I’ve had a lot of people (including other devs!) ask how it felt to have 28k to make a game. The truth is its a very small amount. The final take home after fees was 26k. We immediately (between music, some equipment, licenses, fees) invested 20k into the game to ensure that no matter what the entire development is covered. That might seem crazy, but those who do development understand how cheap we’ve been running. We’ve been able to keep our overhead remarkably low. That has left around 6k for the rest of the year. Needless to say I didn’t quit my day job!

Between 40 hours of work, and an average (and I keep track!) of 42 hours a week on game development (remember, I’m a solo dev) I definitely burn the candle at both ends. It’s easy to rack up these numbers because I truly do love making games – there isn’t a thing about it I hate. Now knowing all those numbers, you can see how any influx of money is incredibly helpful. From buying new things for the game itself, to simply being able to swap hours from work and spend more time making the game (and hopefully bringing it to your hands faster!) .

That being said, Early Access will only happen if I feel it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the myself, or the game. I’d rather work all the hours and release something that people enjoy then potentially damage the game before it’s even out of the stables. It’s not a no. Just a statement of my intentions.

Alright, serious chat over. I’m going to get back to it. You can always e-mail me for comments, feedback, or ideas – but twitter is ALWAYS the best. I’ll respond quick! I’m super pumped for Interstellaria, and I hope you are too!

Guess who’s back. Back From PAX. Guess who’s back, guess who’s back….

Last weekends PAX has come and gone, but I was lucky enough to get some “ins” through a few contacts of mine. Had the opportunity to showcase my game to some press types each day – sadly no big leads BUT everyone involved seemed super interested in what I was working on. I also spent a ton of time taking notes on their reactions, as well as the various games around (and the reactions of people playing those games).

Long story short, I took a “break” this week and spent time trying to get through as many notes as I could. I didn’t tackle them all, but I got a big chunk out.

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We have better scrolling stars

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Bullets to/from ship are now displayed when in combat.

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Events have shifted from random, to random but displayed on the star map

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Crew to crew talking is back

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They do a lot more now when not in combat

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Multi select is now in

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They move well together!

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Their mass AI is really fun to watch. Like roaches!

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Also coins bounce

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I added off screen emotes so you can see what’s going on when they’re not visible

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I’ve also been working on new locations

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and new enemy types

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oh yeah, tactical pause!

Just some house cleaning re: PRE-ORDERS

We’ve recently partnered with the humble store! Pre-orders are available! Sorry, no early access at this time – but we will e-mail all pre-order holders with new on how to switch to an early access key if we decide to ever do Early Access.

Plese be aware that this is pre-order only – we are not schedule for release until later in the year and this is for a final copy only.

The big v0.4 Update – new planet exploration mechanics and controls. USE ALL CREWMEN

Well here we are – the update I’ve been waiting to give all month. Its been difficult keeping everything under wraps – but I have to let the cat out of the bag at some point!

A few months ago I had the opportunity to get some good in person play time with a few people who didn’t know me, or my game. The amount of notes that arose from that event was staggering, and fantastic. That, combined with notes sent to me from the alpha testers, made me formulate a plan to make sure the game “felt” the way it was meant to. The first step in that was to improve space combat, so a few months ago I showed off a new system of combat that was more interactive, interesting, and unique:

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This was really exciting to make, because it simply took the existing code, and modified it to work with multiple ship instances instead of just one. Fairly simple to switch over, and after a week or so of alpha bug testing it was working like a charm.

Then it was on to planet phase. The tricky part of this was the planet phase was not fully complete yet, so even without changes it would require a lot of coding. After playing with a few options to make it a bit more fun (including procedural content, which I placed on the back burner) I was able to mock up something that was piqued every ones interest. It would again reuse existing code, but this time from both the planet phase and the space phase.

NEW PLANET EXPLORATION MECHANICS/CONTROLS

Instead of just spouting a lot of words, lets just let the gifs do the talking first

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Lets just land the whole ship

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allow you to use all your crewmen

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And I mean all (Auto harvest AI in action)

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They’re pretty good and finding their way

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Even if they’re not armed, they will MESS STUFF UP

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all interaction still work as before, a new layer of code has been added for pathfinding and item harvesting, but otherwise its the same game.

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Even simple levels are a lot more “alive” now

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This allows for some fun new locations

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The first question people asked – what happens if you take off without your crew? Well you’re given a prompt. Otherwise, they’re left behind.

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a few menus were updated for this change up.

Its likely this new change will worry a lot of people – but in terms of scope there’s not much worry. Its done! Just like when space combat was renovated there will be a bit of time where its buggy. An example is the the new tutorial has a bug in it – which will cause the inventory to not open sometimes preventing you from moving on! Eek! Alpha testers: version B will be live this weekend to patch up the error.

In addition, I have and always will be super open to suggestions and feedback. Be aware due to dev cycle I can’t always get right to an idea right away, but I have a very hefty list of ideas, and many of them have been used. Hit me up via e-mail, or better yet on twitter!

I’m sure there’s more, but much of it was covered in the last big update. For now, I’ll leave you with this smug human captain.
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