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About this blog

Document the development of projects from Hostile Viking Studio

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Navyman

Jigster started out as a Mobile App that I helped the creators re-invite and over the last 2 years it has gone through an untold number of changes, both in the front and backend. Near the end of last year the idea of bring the game to the desktop world was talked about. Within a short order, the game was in prototype phase. We understood that for the desktop market Jigster's gameplay would need to expand and allow more flexibility to players.

During the Holiday season I was able to show off the early gameplay of Jigster to friends and family, which gave us ideas on some of the details players would enjoy. The result is seen in this screenshot of Stage 1 of Jigster.

main_screen-stage_1.png
Now that we felt the UI held all of the elements it would need we expanded our reach of feedback to other professions in the game dev field. We were mostly focused on getting the UI to feel right, and reflect a higher level of polish. This was Stage 2 of Jigster.

main_screen-stage_2.png

Believing that we had a solid product, Jigster went to Steam Greenlight to collect customer feedback. The campaign began mid-February and the first 8 hours were brutal. Only a single positive comment was written and that by a friend. We collected only 31 Yes votes and 203 No votes in 4 days, the writing was on the wall. At this point we could have easily thrown our hands in the air and stated this idea was a failure and moved on, but we decided to take the Greenlight campaign down and really study the comments and present the game to more people to get even more feedback. It is never fun to hear bad things about your game, but the constructive critiques we paid a ton of attention to. Jigster had launched in the Greenlight work without a unique hook, people had dog-piled on the idea that square puzzle pieces made the game too easy or that we were lazy developers with little knowledge.

We returned to the "drawing board" and took a hard look at the game. Being surrounded by a project can often lead to tunnel vision, and I believe to some effect we had fallen prey to this. Our first thought was that lower piece counts were not engaging enough for players, because they could be busted in 5 seconds or less (actual times). The next game mode to be added was Speed Run, where a player has set amount of time to bust unto 5 jigs in a row. The thinking was even at low piece counts the player wouldn't get bored as quickly due to the steam of new puzzles. The current 4 game modes were mostly targeted at timers and thou they did add challenge to the game, they didn't alter the basic idea of assembling a photo from small pieces. Now with Speed Run, which could be seen as a fifth timer mode, we wanted something that mixed things up, and boom Double Trouble was born. The game mode takes 2 image and mixes the tiles up, we liked to joke that the idea came from a mother, that will not be named, attempting to save space combining 2, 500+ piece jigsaw, puzzles into the same box.

With new game modes, we returned for new feedback for the UI and found people mostly saw it as a mobile game. We knew this would require another overhaul of the UI to move it more towards a desktop design. This was one of our more radical redesigns, as we were placing tons of information into a smaller space, but we didn't want it to feel smashed. Stage 4 of Jigster for Desktop.

main_screen-stage_4.png

Now that Stage 4 of Jigster for Desktop ready, we created new screenshots and a 2 new videos, 1 solely for showing off the Speed Run game mode. With this fresh look and new content we decided to re-attempt Steam Greenlight. If you would like to check out the game more you can click the Greenlight banner here:

Jigster Greenlight.png

The campaign has gone much better than the first attempt and we are continuing to improve the game as can be seen here in the Stage 5 screenshot.

main_screen-stage_5.png

With a release of a Demo for both Mac and Windows tomorrow we are hoping to making it through the Greenlight process. Additionally, we are still taking in feedback and comments.

Navyman

Precursor's Dawn - Greenlit!
On the morning of Oct 18th, I received the email from Steam informing me that Precursor's Dawn had been Greenlit. Having spend all of the night and some of the morning awake promoting the game did not hear the notification of the email on my phone because I was asleep. However, my teammates were awake for it and began to spam Discord chat. Not seeing me behaving in a similar manner, within the channel, they included my handle every message to ensure I would get the news quickly. After, I think the fifth Discord ping I was up and stung out of bed to my desktop to ensure it wasn't a trick of exhaustion and a small screen. Sure enough the email had come in at 9:39 AM, just a few hours post crash.
The smile I had was enormous. The huge green banner with the words we had thought would take months to get were there, "This game has been Greenlit by the Community!"
Greenlit!!!.png

The Moral Boost that seeing this on our Game Page was unimaginable!
We have been working feverishly to ensure we have a stable product for an Early Access Launch. Further updates with address this and look for feedback from anyone that has experience navigating these waters.

We want to thank everyone that stopped by the page, and especially those who voted. GameDev.net was a good source of traffic and feedback. We are thankful for the support this community of developers provided. I will be doing an expended analyst of the Greenlight Campaign. It will highlight what was done right and where we could have improved on. Hopefully, it will be a good resource for anyone gearing up for their own venture into the green light district of Steam.

Our Kickstarter Campaign is Running until Oct 27th, 9:30 PM (EST)

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Methods of reaching us:
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Twitter
YouTube
Reddit
imgur
Kickstarter
Steam

Navyman

Check out the fast paced SciFi Tactical Combat game, Precursor's Dawn on Greenlight. Even if this is not a game for you the traffic helps. Votes help the most, but we will be very happy for the traffic. Thank you.


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[size=7]Vote for Precursor's Dawn on Greenlight

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Additionally, we are on Kickstarter. Thank you again for checking out our post.

* Edit: We have had 258 Yes votes in our first day!

Navyman

[color=rgb(6,35,64)][font='Helvetica Neue']Precursor's Dawn[/font][/color] is a space strategy game unlike anything before. RPG like elements that help to drive a robust and unique gameplay world. You will travel the vast distances of the universe in search of an ancient technology that will ultimately change the balance of power between the known civilizations. Once the technology is found, it is up to you to command, design, and deploy the most powerful fleet to protect the information at all costs. Our unique, combat system lets you summon ships into the battlefield while providing you with a broad overview of the gameboard. Couple this with Co-Op play and head to head multiplayer and you have a game that will leave you satisfied for weeks to come. All of this and more, brought to you using UE4 and AAA technologies.


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[indent=5]

Visit the Kickstarter Page


You may have seen the banner ad for the game here on GameDev.net. Thank you for white listing this site for your Ad Block.


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  • Single & Multiplayer Turn-based Tactical gameplay


  • PC platform with additional platforms as stretch goals


  • Single player gameplay with persistent progression


  • AAA-style visuals & sound


  • In-depth upgrade and fleet creation


  • Three playable races


  • Varied Multi-player options


  • Lots of Space Ships



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    ks_Strategic-Gameplay.png

    [color=rgb(6,35,64)][font='Helvetica Neue']Precursor's Dawn is X-COM with Spaceships![/font][/color]


    [color=rgb(6,35,64)][font='Helvetica Neue']

    Precursor's Dawn is a turn-based combat system drawing inspiration from Masters of Orion series, Final Fantasy Tactics, Advance Wars, and WarHammer 40k. Keeping these games in mind,

    [/font][/color] we wanted a game that felt familiar and great to play. What do we mean by that? Precursor's Dawn is more a game of strategy and adapting to your enemy than hoping you have the better roll of the dice or card draw. Furthermore, ships are not locked into a single hex. We wanted the size of the hull to have weight (space joke). When a battleship class moves across the field of combat, it encompasses more real estate than a frigate class. Using larger ships means there is more to shoot at and tactical movement to prevent bottlenecking your fleet's movements.
    [color=rgb(6,35,64)][font='Helvetica Neue']

    Too often combat in games boils down to, "Does my Hero/tank/ship have more levels or experience than the enemy?" Precursor's Dawn takes the path less traveled. The decisions you make to the types and load-outs of your ships can vastly alter the way you utilize them. Do you want to play with faster smaller ship, or use indirect fire weapons as you hide behind wreckage? Select the hulls, talents and load outs matching your play-style.

    [/font][/color]

    [color=rgb(6,35,64)][font='Helvetica Neue']If you read something that interested you please check out our Kickstarter Page for more information.[/font][/color]


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    [color=rgb(6,35,64)][font='Helvetica Neue']SOCIAL MEDIA[/font][/color]

    [color=rgb(6,35,64)][font='Helvetica Neue']Please, even if you are not looking to pledge, help out a fellow GameDev member and spread the word.[/font][/color]


    • Facebook /precursorsdawn


    • Twitter @Precursors_Dawn


    • Youtube Hostile Viking Studio



      [color=rgb(6,35,64)][font='Helvetica Neue']Thank you.[/font][/color]

      Navyman

      Two points of announcement with this Journal entry:
      First, Hostile Viking Studio is now alive and kicking.
      Second, we have an amazing teaser for our first game to share.

      Travel to a distance galaxy and help shape the balance while avoiding throwing your civilization into chaos.
      Without further pause, here is the Teaser Trailer for Precursor's Dawn:

      Hope you enjoyed this peak into the project, because a flood of content will be emerging over the next couple weeks as the Greenlight campaign goes live.
      Special thanks you all of those connections during the Kickstarter and now.
      Comments, and feedback are welcomed!

      YouTube Channel: Hostile Viking Studio
      Twitter: @Precursors_Dawn

      Navyman

      While I have popped not the site from time-to-time over the last couple of years, just checked my journal entries and my last one was 2 years and a day ago, I have been stuck in a weird state of not being able to post much. To fill in the gap I thought I would write a post detailing it all out, then I thought it would be more fun to do kind of a Q&A session to see if I could answer my own hard questions.

      Q. Why?
      A. The project I had been feverishly working on Portas Aurora: Battleline came to a halt when I was deployed. Upon returning I had only a couple of weeks remaining before my move to Hawaii and rushed to get everything a move of that order requires.

      Q.Why didn't you continue on your game after your move?
      A. I took sometime off to sort things out involving a girl and by Christmas I was hired onto a non game app project and no longer with the girl.

      Q. Surely you were able to make some progress on your game ideas while working?
      A. Originally, I was only working for a month on the project. It was kind of a job interview and prototype and idea of the company's type of project. It included some bluetooth beacon technology I had previously worked with for the Air Force and the Army. If anyone would like to hear more about that I am game, it has some interesting possibilities for gaming. However, once the prototype was completed they need a lead developer that understood all of the problems the system had. I laughed seeing the issue I had created. Interested in seeing where this could lead I signed on for another 6 months of work.

      Q. Okay, now it is mid summer and you have completed the side quest, what about a game?
      A. Well as luck would have it, the company put in a bid to overhaul a game/social media app and was approved to tackle the rework. I signed up to lead the development, believing that I was coming for my game ideas and not the fact that I was more of a speed programer. The rework was played out to take 45-60 at most. In fact the in-house timetable was 37 days from receiving the source material to a final product. This would be come a grave misunderstanding between two companies as the iOS version was launched and then its completed development status stalled on minor changes that needed to be ironed out before the Android version could be build with speed. If you are curious about what a game / social app looks like check out http://jigsterapp.com. I will do a post mortem on the project in an upcoming article now that I have been cleared to discuss the adventure.

      Q. How long did the rework take?
      A. Technically, the company completed the work in April, but there is a maintenance period that is still in affect. The game/social media app came out leaps better than the original, but I still wanted to have done more with it. A fellow Developer on this site did a large chunk of the art assets upgrades, even if a good chunk went used for poor reasons.

      Q. April was 4 months ago, where have you been?
      A. After some issues of completion payments with the company I was working for a very random chance popped up at the beginning of May for me to attempt to launch a project of my choosing. I debated a bit and finally decided to throw myself to the winds of chaos.

      Q. So...what happened since accepting the offer?
      A. As life would have it about a million random things cropped up as road blocks. I had to move, take on some rush work to make extra money for the move and negations for the final deal on the project, like funding, goals, and timetables. In the first 2 months more than twice the number of things went wrong compared to right. Computer was stuck in Hawaii for the dumbest reasons, phone got taken, Family health issues. Time Warner issues at the Company house. Picking up a new game engine, the final deal in writing dragged on. When the storm clouds finally started to clear around 20th of July some of the people I wanted to group with were already involved with other projects. Still I have pressed forward and last night I returned to the site and interacted for the first time in 4 months.

      Q. Does that mean that you have some game development news to share?
      A. Yes. I have gotten the funding and the go ahead to launch forward with my game idea. Well some of the primary idea have changed, mostly to fit the new timetables and work with the budget, but I think I have a close to tight grip on the design and layout of the game.

      Q. Okay, going to share anymore about this new game?
      A. I still want to do the Battleline game, therefore I went in search of a new title and found: Precursor's Dawn. The story behind the game is one of the other races have discovered a Dyson's sphere encompassing an O type star and it is now a race to mining its secrets before they are used to destroy you. I will be doing a more complete article on it shortly.

      Q. Final question, for tonight, does this mean you have returned to the site?
      A. I never completely left it, but I will be posting once again. Excited to have something to add this site once again.

      That wraps up this entry, but I am excited to see the site so live and I have a ton of journal entries to read and comment on. :)

      Navyman

      Graphics Now in 720p

      After talking with a few devs in the chat here and talking to other team members, it was decided that the next logical step would be to upgrade the graphics from 720x938 of the image shown in the last posted to a more "standard" resolution of 1280x720.
      With the change in display size I understood that the UI would need to be updated to fit within the new space. However, I did not think that the game itself would evolve a bit with a simple change of the display size. The battlefield changed, where there were once 2 rows of 5 columns for units to be deployed there are now only 9 total spaces. Comments I received noted that at first it was confusing on whether or not a player's units could move onto the opponent's side of the field. Therefore, we moved the point at which the two sets of Battlelines came into contact away from each other. The hope is makes possible movement and deploy positions more intuitive to new players.
      Additionally, we are working at a feverous pace to have the possibility to open the Demo to a few players to test out this coming [s]Monday[/s].*

      *Edit: Due to the introduction of concept art earlier than planned, we have paused production to adjust the current design layout and planed route. Stay tuned for further updates.

      Feedback is going to be key to tightening mechanics and grand players the best possible game. If anyone is interested in play testing please drop me a message or a comment.
      720p.png
      34410.png
      Navyman
      My last post, check it out, talked about the process leading to the creation of Battleline's Demo. Now 12 days into the Demo's development it has finally arrived at a point where, I believe, it is visually shareable.
      The included Screenshot is of a game during the player's side of turn 6. The graphics are ALL placeholders with the white blocks being the target of future art assets. While I could talk about all of the things going on in the displayed image, I believe fellow developers would like to hear about some learning points that came up along the route to this point.

      The planning period for the Demo took a full day. We, the team behind the project, have learned that it is often the case that 1 minute of planning saves 10 fold as much time in headaches and lost focus later. One point that came up a lot during the planning was the idea that images even placeholders would gate development. This did become a fact at a few points along the path to the Demo's current state. How and where the stat data for units would be stored effected more than a handful of decisions on how information would need to be handled. We were lucky that there was a cache of 300 cards to draw from for the testing. The graphic problem was a bit worst that "normal" due to the idea that the images used would have dynamic base images that would allow the demo to assemble the unit's image from data within the current game. The first version of the Token, the term we use for the unit on the battlefield, took about 6 hours. That is a lot for something that looks close to the level of MS paint. The key time saver came when we start tying more elements within the game together. A unit's stats could be changed and the image changed, not to another one from a library, but the core image. It also allowed us to play with size and spacing at an accelerated pace.

      A second large point that may have cost us a day or even 2 was the decision to try and modify the prototype code of the Demo into the final version. There was a fair amount of back and forth, and in the end some hoped it would allow us to see more results sooner. Sometimes this can be a good idea, especially for teams that have worked on projects of similar types before. However, we have never developed a CCG and some of the crazy pitfalls that come along dealing with how cards that generate or use other cards throw some of the prototype's basic structure into a fire that consumer it.
      Currently 95% of the prototype's code has been replaced with updated and tighter fitting solutions.

      If the last 12 days had to be done over, I would do a few things different. First I would spend maybe another day planning the timeline between art assets that would act as time gates and have them knocked out ahead of when they would limit development, Second the decision after the prototype was deemed complete to continue used that code base for the production version, I feel was a mistake. Still hindsight being 20/20 I think 12 days is fairly fast for the current state of the Demo, but I will see what the community thinks.
      Version0.0.1.png
      Navyman
      After setting some rough boundaries I drafted a Design Document for the Demo. This brought a fair amount of discussion over whether a different document was required. However, the basic logic of the Demo only covering a faction of the full game's scope and therefore would present some of its own unique challenges won the day. Because of this we are treating the Demo as an independent project.

      The second step was to find a setting for the Demo. By setting I mean a language and possibly a platform/engine to create the internal framework. As part of the limitations the number of art assets available to the Demo were virtually none and we are not looking to create them first. (The actual game version has only a hand-full of drawings for board design.) Therefore, the Demo would have to be "playable" using quickly created placeholders.
      We have a licensed copy of Unity and after seeing Hearthstone shine on the engine it seemed the perfect idea. However, after a few hours of tinkering it was found that using the basic placeholder object in Unity would not be a workable solution. I am not saying that Unity is bad. I really enjoy working with it and believe the final/full version of the game will be powered by Unity, but the current design listing of the Demo requires it to be created quickly and with few art assets something that slowed down Unity production. If we had most are or at least 50% of the art it would be the perfect solution.
      Having just finished a fair number of Java based products just before shifting focus back to game development it was suggested that Java be tested to see if it fit our needs. While being a skilled programmer in Java it is not a favorite language of mine to write in. Still as a team project and the fact it was a valid idea a few hours of testing was spent. Again the same issue of being limited by weak placeholder objects began to slow development. After the results of the Java trail were sent to the group the matter of finding an artist to even begin the project was brought up.
      Art is a very key element in a successful game and we have been looking for an artist with the vision and talent in the direction of the game. Still there is a need to move forward and this need finally broke the back and forth over the artist topic. We are mostly a group of people that do web development and it was asked if we could just make the Demo a web app. It would allow the highest percent of us to program and review the project compared to other platforms. In a massive burst of laughter it was decided that this would be the route to take. It did bring up a few question of why this was not thought of first, but I think because we are not full-time game developers we had brushed aside a large portion of the talents we used on a daily basis because of our rookie status.

      The third step tends to be the one the most hair is lost over, construction. The full game had been prototyped as web based and we quickly went to the archives to see if there was anything useful. The first few days were a flurry of emails and Ventrilo comments of "Go to my url." The board evolved from a very basic table based layout to a colorful interactive sight. The Design Document was always open with people talking about how best to achieve the set goals or if some of them were a little grand for the current scope. The second pair of days didn't see the pace slow, but there was less enjoyment because there was a data structure issue that had been discovered because of the heavy traffic testing. The game board (Battlefield) had already seen a half dozen alteration and improvement because of testing, but this data structure issue was not going to be a low time investment issue. With hundred of cards in need of being moved to the new system there was a lost of steam.
      Design Document saves the day. An early morning meeting over the newest purposed data mapping remained us that the Design Document only called for approx. 90 cards to be in the Demo. Either for the lack of sleep or the early hour someone made the comment that we select the Race with the least amount of cards requiring conversion. The idea was simple and became a fresh western wind into our sails.

      For now the project has been divided into two subgroups Battlefield Data Tracking and Card Conversion. Both systems require that the other is function before they can be tested and in a few hours the latest build will be tested, but first I wanted to post this update. Due to the state of flux of the Demo's visuals, I will hold off on posting any images. Creating the Demo will require another week or so to account for all of the changes that are being made to the game and its data structures, but we are are all in good spirits even over some of the more challenging tasks on the list.
      Navyman
      Scale of a project is often the weakest point in a game's development. The game I have in mind to create is no different. Battleline is a Collectable Card Game (CCG) with nearly 500 cards alone scale is a large factor in the amount of time it will take to rocket the game from a design document to a product lighting up screens. Therefore, to allow the public to get a taste of the game companies create demos and vertical slices. I have decided to create a demo in hopes that the limited scope would grant me the opportunity to complete a minor project and a peak into the possibilities of the full game.

      After talking to a few people a rough draft of boundaries on a demo emerged. There are 7 planned playable Flagship Captains along with 4 battlefields, and approximately 500 cards. All of this leads to a laundry list of 800 art assets that need to be created and displayed. However, a demo would not need to include everything found in the final game. The goal of the demo would be to display the gameplay mechanics and generate interest into more content. With this in mind I have decided to create a demo of Battleline that showcases two of the Flagship Captains, two enemy AIs, one battlefield and around 90 cards.

      Portas Aurora: Battleline Demo:

      • 2 Flagship Captains
      • 2 Enemy AI Settings
      • 1 Battlefield
      • 90 Cards

        There has been some debate on whether the opponent for the player need to be their own individual captains or is it okay to just use the non selected Flagship captain as the enemy.

        If there are any suggestions or insight into the creation of a demo I am all ears.
      Navyman
      There comes a time, for some more than once, when a single developer or small team looks at their financing and the decision to continue working or increase the available funds must be answered. The last 7 months have been such a time for me. My last post for this journal was early December, after which the assault of the holidays limited productions and funds.

      I elected to go back to the creating software solutions for clients and stop development on all projects. The game stoppage was to enjoy I made maximum time for client projects and hopefully increase the overall amount of funding generation. Now coming back to game projects I see the mountain of work left to complete.

      Currently Battleline has 300+ cards all of which require artwork. Finding either the time to create all of the images or an artist that is not looking for crazy amounts for the work have not come to light. This reminded me of the hundreds of lost images from previous projects that were lost in the move.

      However, with a comfortable cushion of funding I have the time to return and focus on completing a game even if it is not Battleline. I say this because I am fairly good at gauging man hours to complete projects and I do not see Battleline being completed in the next two months without seriously just focusing on card artwork and barebones-ing the interface and controls.

      Therefore, the age old debate of releasing something or releasing the game you truly envisioned has begun.
      Navyman
      This will be a short update, I wanted to make it on Friday, but some of the fixes from the previous post had not been completed. Additionally, this weekend I have began to writing the Android app version of the game. I think the work I have done with build the Android app version is perfect for a post to see if other developers can share some insight on how to do it better.

      Battleline_CardCount_12:09.png
      This is the current Card Report. However, I am thinking about not including the 11 Battlefield Mod cards in the final 390 card collection, which would mean that there is 105 left to be created.
      My two primary areas of focus for new cards will be Tactics and Equipment. While not every race will need Tactics I would like more than 20 total options to allow for more play and counter play. Second, with only 3 cards in the Equipment card type it will need to be flushed out.

      If you are curious about the original posts related to the balance changes:
      Portas Aurora: Battleline - First Play Test
      Portas Aurora: Battleline First Balancing
      Navyman
      Second time writing this post so I hope to cover all of the original powers, (power outage).
      The first play test brought a fair number of questions up in the hour after it concluded. Interestingly a day later even more questions have popped up and after a meeting of the minds, a small group of friends I like to bounce ideas around, a few sweeping changes to the game came up as ideas to balance current issues. Some of them I supported and have continued to develop on.

      CARD TYPES - (Have changed)
      Maneuvers: A Maneuver card has as an effect and then it is placed into your Wreckage Pile, which is your discard pile.
      Tactics: Are cards that are only revealed if they are triggered. Therefore, they operate like a delayed Maneuver. [s]Tactics are designed to alter the way your Commander plays, the way your hand plays, or even the abilities your units enter the battlefield with. A Tactic card is placed to the left of the player's Flagship and remain in place until destroyed or their durability is reduced to 0.[/s]
      Units: Units fight for you. They are deployed on to a Battleline and can be used to attack or block. Each unit has Attack, Shield and Durability.
      Equipment: Are similar to Maneuver cards, but only affect the unit they are deployed on. Some Equipment have Durability, while most are effects focused on altering single ships.
      [s]Crews: Are similar to Maneuver cards, but only affect the unit they are deployed on. If you are familiar with Magic: The Gathering there are comparable to Auras.[/s]
      BattleField Mods: BattleField Mods bring their own rule to the game. Battlefield Mods are selected by Player 2 at the beginning of the game. [s]They affect the Battleline they are deployed in or the whole battlefield. They have Durability, therefore they can be destroyed by units or Maneuvers.[/s]

      Balance Changes -
      To help players that go second I am looking at having the option to select a Battlefield Mod. This Mod will affect both players equally. Under the this balance map players going second would have the option to select from 2 randomly chosen Battlefield Mods and a third option of no Mods and a resource credit. Additionally a few units will be created to suspend the Battlefield Mod effects to allow countering options to exist. To achieve this new balance map I have made a fair number of changes to the game.

      1. All 22 of the Tactic cards have been divided into Maneuvers, Equipment, and Battlefield Mods. The move to divide the original Tactic cards was due the play testing showing that Tactics while powerful for their resource cost, were simply not working in a practical sense. To have an average chance of getting a Tactic card at a time that would affect the out come of the game required 2 copies of a Tactic card in the deck, but having 2 copies of a Tactic card or even multiple different Tactic cards would not be a smart play. Only a few Tactic cards had Durability, and with only 1 Maneuver card capable of destroying a Tactic card they were a more of a liability. If a player draws both copies of a Tactic card the second copy would be useless. Useless cards in a player's hand is a bad design.
      2. After designing almost 300 cards only 15 Battlefield Mods were listed. On top of the limited number of Battlefield Mods during the play testing they did not have the desired affect on the out come of the game. At first I thought this was an issue of tweaking resource cost or their effect. However, after reviewing the combat logs it became apparent that players that used them lost their games and even adjusting the cards could not have shifted the out come. I went so far as to setup the results from using them in each game to see if using the perfect result would even help and the answer was, no. While I like the idea of the mechanic the original model it was not producing the result I had hoped for, leading to the about half of the Battlefield Mods being moved to a Unit type card.
      3. With every card type being reviewed to see if they are working as intended or if they are having an impact on the game, the next type of card for review were Maneuvers. Maneuvers had a small sub-group that were not visible until triggered (Secret) with Tactic cards empty it seemed the perfect fit to shift the Maneuver cards that were Secret to the Tactic type. With this division I noticed that the Secret, or new Tactic type needs to have the ranks filled out.

      With all of these changes the progress of hitting the 390 card count is going to be delayed a few days. The hope is that by Friday I will have the current collection back to 75% and majority of the shifted card balanced before play testing again.
      Navyman
      Originally I had planned to write a post walking through the rule set of Portas Aurora: Battleline. However, after the first real play-thru I came to the conclusion that the rules need some re-balancing before they can be posted. While a few play tests should not be the ending word on some points in the game to not review them would only mean less fun for future players. Still this week's main goal was to post 1 journal entry each weekday and today makes me 5 for 5. I am happy for the discovery of these potential problems this early to prevent problems in the future that would be much harder to fix.

      Today's Progress Chart:
      Battleline_CardCount_11:29.png
      Today was a very happy day! I completed the goal of having all of the individual race card groups at or above 55% (21 cards). Additionally, the collection of cards completeness is now at 75%, after a 5% boost today. There are still 34 cards that need to be sorted into race groups, which I think will be a goal for this weekend. Being 99 cards from my target size is a good feeling.

      Development:
      Today was mostly focused on flushing out the individual race card groups, but I had the conclusion that while I thought I had set some rigid standards that cards were created around a few that did not conform have made me switch to ensuring that the terms and mechanics behind each card is functioning as intended. I am sure this weekend will see the removal of a few mechanics and the addition of a few as a play test has shed some light on cards that feature similar text, but there is not a mechanic for the text.

      The Mechanic Search Tool has been placed on hold as I am standardizing terms for the second time. Another tool, or an expansion to a tool I have already been using is the individual Race Resource Curve display. Having this will sharpen my attention to areas that need attention, which will be increasingly required as the number of cards to reach 390 shrinks.

      If you have missed any of the series installments check the links between:
      Announcing Portas Aurora: Battleline
      Portas Aurora: Battleline - Card Types Explained
      Portas Aurora: Battleline - Mechanic Terms Explained

      Portas Aurora: Battleline - Races Explained
      Navyman
      First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all!
      The Races in Portas Aurora: Battleline do not have names of this post. This is mostly due to a personal need to ensure that the races I select from the written lore line up with the game well. I have set the deadline of Dec. 6th to have the rough list complete and if there is additional required back story for a race I will by then.
      Name: Color Battle Style: Unit Trends:

      1. Blue - Relays on shielding its assets from damage while maintaining a vast array of options. Race 1 units will favor shields over durability and damage.
      2. Purple - Maintaining numerical advanced is key even if they are fields few units. A large percentage of Race 2 units are in the mid-range of size and cost.
      3. Green - Establish a solid defense to protect the Flagship and out last the opponent. Race 3 units are split into small forward deployers and massive ships of war.
      4. Teal - Bait, Rep, and destroy is the most common battle story seen. Units are designed with the idea that their fleet will contain repairs.
      5. Black - "Kill the mother and the children will run," summons them up nicely. Race 5 units feature collection of abilities to help destroy the opponent's flagship quickly.
      6. Red - Race 6 commanders tend to lead from front and center of the fight. Race 6 units reflect the idea of close quarter combat and they excel at it.
      7. Orange - With a strong focus on Resource control they often over whelm opponents with shear numbers. What they lack in individual offense power they make up for in the number of waves.

      Today's Progress Chart:
      Battleline_CardCount_11:28.png
      Not a bad day at 5%, especially seeing that today is Thanksgiving. However, tomorrow's progress will be mostly focused on pushing the individual race tailored cards to at least a count of 21, which is about 55% of the current required level. At the moment there are 100 (81%) race neutral cards and if each race is not flushed out soon there will be a lack of flavor because of it.

      Development:
      I completed a new tool that allows me to see the number of units I have with different Attack, Shield, and Durability. I was happy to learn that there were a few holes in the current lineup. I was able to use the new knowledge to beef up some weak areas and provide some alternatives. There are still some thin areas, but this only makes me more eager to create another tool to see the number of units using the current list of mechanic that I explained in yesterday's post.
      Battleline_CardPower_11:28.png
      Sorry of the data not being the most artistic display, but the tool was designed to help me craft cards for areas that needed improvement.
      Additionally, the link to the Card Creator is here. I am still updating it, but if you want to submit an idea feel free. smile.png

      If you have missed any of the series installments check the links between:
      Announcing Portas Aurora: Battleline
      Portas Aurora: Battleline - Card Types Explained
      Portas Aurora: Battleline - Mechanic Terms Explained
      Navyman
      As with any system there are keywords that allow more complex ideas or actions to be expressed. The following is a list of the terms for mechanics used in Portas Aurora: Battleline so far:

      Active Defense: At the end of your turn repair 1 durability of this unit.
      Auxiliary Power: Adds extra damage to Maneuvers that deal damage.
      Charge: Can Attack on First Turn Deployed (Looking for a different Name).
      Disable: Prevents Ship from Attacking or Defending for 1 turn.
      First Strike: When this unit attacks its damage is appealed first. If the target is destroyed this unit does not receive targets damage.
      Hardened: Ignores 1 damage.
      Immobile: Unit can not move.
      Indirect Fire: Unit ignores Battleline order when attacking.
      Intercept: Forces Enemy Units to attack this unit.
      Jamming: Removes all effects on Target unit.
      Jump(x): Can move to location within range.
      Maintenance(X): X is the amount of resource this is reserved for this unit and can't be spent on anything else.
      Nimble: Ship has 1 movement action.
      Rapid Fire: Attack Twice
      Ranged(x): Can Attack without being adjacent.
      Pierce: Damage above target defense is applied to units behind it.
      Pursuit: Follows the movement of the enemy unit forward of it.
      Scout: Can be deployed in either your battleline or Neutral Zone.
      Stealth: Untargetable until attacks.

      Deployment: Action that occurs upon the unit entering battlefield.
      Final Order: Action that occurs upon the death of the unit.

      Today's Progress Chart:
      Battleline_CardCount_11:27.png
      While not a standout day at 4%, 17 cards. I have begun to develop a few more reports to help me find holes in the current cards selection. I have also started to think about lowering the race specific cards from 38 to 34 or 36 and shifted the 14 to 28 card to race neutral to allow for more deck flexibility and diverse game play.
      Additionally, I have moved a few cards around between races to better fit the current play style layouts. Tomorrow I will be covering the 7 races in the game.

      Development:
      I have created a few tools which I will be expanding in the coming days, that will help me zero into possible missing cards.
      In Collectable Card Games the Resource curve of both decks and the overall collection is an important component in balance. Therefore, I have added a report to deck construction to help players see this.
      The current Resource Curve for the card collection is as follows:
      Battleline_CardCurve_11:27.png
      While I think the overall curve looks about where it should be I am debating on a focused increase to the number of 7+ cards and pushing the 3 & 4 cost cards to be at the top of the curve.
      My next tool will be designed to look at Attack vs. Durability of units to see where the current cards are lacking in options.

      If you have missed any of the series installments check the links between:
      Announcing Portas Aurora: Battleline
      Portas Aurora: Battleline - Card Types Explained
      Portas Aurora: Battleine - Races Explained
      Navyman
      This week I will be delivering a series of posts detailing the development of Portas Aurora: Battleline up to this point. Some data may change and I will do my best to update all entries with new information. So without further delay, here are the current Card types.

      As with most Collectable Card Games there are a variety of card types to be learned, and then exploited. smile.png
      Here is a brief overview of each card type in the game.

      Maneuvers: A Maneuver card has as an effect and then it is placed into your Wreckage Pile, which is your discard pile.
      Tactics: Are cards that are only revealed if they are triggered. Therefore, they operate like a delayed Manuever. [s]Tactics are designed to alter the way your Commander plays, the way your hand plays, or even the abilities your units enter the battlefield with. A Tactic card is placed to the left of the player's Flagship and remain in place until destroyed or their durability is reduced to 0.[/s]
      Units: Units fight for you. They are deployed on to a Battleline and can be used to attack or block. Each unit has Attack, Shield and Durability.
      Equipment: Are similar to Maneuver cards, but only affect the unit they are deployed on. Some Equipment have Durability, while most are effects focused on altering single ships.
      [s]Crews: Are similar to Maneuver cards, but only affect the unit they are deployed on. If you are familiar with Magic: The Gathering there are comparable to Auras.[/s]
      BattleField Mods: BattleField Mods bring their own rule to the game. Battlefield Mods are selected by Player 2 at the beginning of the game. [s]They affect the Battleline they are deployed in or the whole battlefield. They have Durability, therefore they can be destroyed by units or Maneuvers.[/s]

      Each of these posts will also include a card lineup progress chart (This will not be updated each post to track the pattern of development).
      Battleline_CardCount_11:26.png
      A bit sad that there was only 3% bump in the completeness, but that is 10 cards and I was mostly working on the first turn mechanics for balance issues.
      If you would like to see the current collection of cards you can view them all at the Library page. You may see a fair amount of Eve Online references, hope you enjoy them.

      If you have missed any of the series installments check the links between:
      Announcing Portas Aurora: Battleline
      Portas Aurora: Battleline - Mechanic Terms Explained
      Portas Aurora: Battleine - Races Explained
      If you would like to have a card type explained in more detail please leave a comment or message me.
      Navyman
      Portas Aurora: Battleline - A Collectable Card Game centered on space combat.

      Battles in PA: Battleline will currently be between 2 Players, each fielding their selected Commander along with 30 card decks containing no more than 2 of any card. The main objective is to destroy the opponent's Flagship. At present there are 7 races each with 1 commander providing their own unique style of play and Commander Abilities.

      The design of Portas Aurora: Battleline's gameplay is to allow flexible and creative strategies in destroying their enemy's flagship.
      I am hoping to achieve this by delivering a wide array of cards that make full use of the rules and a break that break them.
      It is planned to launch with 390 cards total, granting each race approximately 38 cards tailored to their battle style with and additional 124 race neutral cards to help flush out and amplify combos players find.

      Progress to Date:
      It is often said the last 10% of a game's development encompasses 90% of its lifespan reaching the 90% complete status can be a long journey by itself. Therefore, I am using a fair amount of numbers to track progress, because the proof is in the numbers, or at least they let me sleep more soundly.
      Battleline_CardCount_11:25.png* Unsorted Cards are cards that have not been assigned to a race.
      Over the last week I have been averaging about 6% per day with some nice spikes of 9%. However, this is only measuring the completeness of the content and not the functionality of the game as a whole. I am planning to launch the game on Android I have a Dev suite that is web-based and may lead to a web-based release as well.

      While I made a brief overview of it in my returning post, I want to give Portas Aurora: Battleline its own announcement post.
      Navyman

      Death by 1000 Toothpicks

      Hello GameDev.net,

      After a 3 month break from this site and mostly all game development I have forced myself to return. I commented in my last Journal post, the one before I left, I had been "slammed by the normal things that derail developers," when I made that statement I thought the worst of the misdirection waves were behind me. However, the fact that there zero followup posts should indicate that I was wrong and they were more like pre-quake tremors. Still I am very happy to be back and hope that I can carry on thru the holidays with little to no issues arising.

      Recap:

      1. EvE Online Website - I did work on a website Corporate Dissension that worked very closely with the EvE API. It handled Corp Research and Production schedules. Additionally, second business turned up during its development and that quickly overtook the site. The site became a service to scout and buy intel about corporations in the game, mostly focusing on their "in space assets". The site generated over a 1.2 Billion ISK worth of service payments, logged over 850 Billion assets and is credited with the destruction/looting of greater than 39 Billion ISK.
      2. Portas Aurora - The game or micro-sims proved to be fun, but slowed to a crawl due to the lack of massive updates to the shipyard systems. I found that I was busy patching and correcting the economic sim more than anything else. I have suspended the project for now because I want to flush it out more in the areas people were telling me bottle-necked the gameplay.
      3. Portas Aurora: Battleline - Yes, another Portas Aurora title game. I really like the lore that another writer and I have put together and want people to have the chance to experience it as well. After suspended Portas Aurora micro-sim the demands of real world work heated up and as a most developers can understand the need to eat and stay housed are fairly important to game development. Therefore, I starting tinkering with the idea of a game that I could design and develop under the new demands of my work and the idea of a TCG/CCG, Trading Card Game and Collectable Card Game, came up and seemed like the clear winner with the other ideas that were on the table. So off I sat to create Portas Aurora: Battleline. The game is moving along at an "okay" pace I have just under halve of the cards I want to have at launch ready.

      I am seriously looking at starting the Vblog for my development as a way to gain addition motivation for completion, but I was wondering if anyone had first hand experience of Mac Screen capture apps that they would share.

      Thank you.
      Navyman

      3 Week Recap

      While I was slated to post an entry covering the Economic Simulation within Portas Aurora three weeks ago, I have been slammed by the normal things that derail developers. smile.png
      I am now finalizing an entry detailing the Economic Micro Sim. This particular micro sim was more complex then originally envisioned mostly due to a desire to include information not stored, but generated by other micro sims. I will expand on this in the actual post.

      A note from a previous entry about Vblogs I believe going forward with this would be a good idea both due to the posted reasons and the idea that the Vblog would require me to create content on a more schedule cycle.

      Furthermore, I have been modifying one of the micro sim for Portas Aurora to handle POS installation management of Eve Online. It have tested some of the extreme features that I had planned, but required a few days to learn how to use the Eve Online API. I am a huge SciFi fan and I enjoy Eve Online and thought that a tool like this could aid in making a POS more profitable and allow corpations to pool their collective skills more effectively. If anyone is interested in seeing it I will be opening it up for more public testing early next week. If it is popular I will add a minor journal section to cover its development. Additionally, if people have advise for working with the Eve Online API I am all ears. :)
      Navyman

      To VBLOG or not?

      I have seen a few people start video blogs or VBLOGs covering the development of their projects. While I have thought of doing this before I was wondering if there was really and following behind this type of VBLOG? If so are there any prime examples?
      As I said I have thought of doing one before it would be mostly talking about the development of the game with game test and code editing in the video with me and the other developer talking about the game.
      Hype and following behind a project, in addition to monetary compensation, help to motive developers. At least it is a form of motivation for me. The more people have seen the project and commented means that there are more people that want to see it complete.

      If anyone is up for sharing some insight, thank you in advance.

      As for the status of the Portas Aurora project, I have been working on the economy simulator. However, after a few minutes of writing code I realized that I would need to divide the code into 2 Sims. The first one simulating the economy of planets and a second one encapsulating the first simulating the economy of the player's empire. I hope to have a post about the Economy SIMs in the next 2 days.
      Navyman
      Due to the fact that the game currently in production has very few graphics this Journal will feature more discussion and description of pieces of the game. The newest Micro-sim in the Portas Aurora collection is the Sector Sim.
      Sector SIM:
      Sectors are currently the largest map players can view. Sectors have a standard area of 256 (exact units have not been decided on).
      There are 3 levels of of star system density.

      • Outer Arm - The lowest Density of Star Systems the in the Galaxy (0.3-0.4 => 77-102 stars)
      • Mid Arm - Medium Density of Star Systems (0.4-0.5 => 103-128 stars)
      • Center - Highest number of Star Systems in the Galaxy (0.5-0.6 => 128-153 stars)

        After the total number of Star Systems are set the sector is populated with stars selecting each star based on a weight system designed to emulate the real universe.

        The above is an image generated to display the following Sector Map Data:
        Center Sector Star Density
        Total Star population 150
        110 M Type Stars
        19 K Type Stars
        4 A Type Stars
        11 G Type Stars
        6 F Type Stars

        Possible Additions:
        I am thinking that later I will add space anomalies to be generated as well. Some anomalies I am thinking of are Black Holes, Nebulas, and maybe Wormholes. Any suggestions about improving the game are welcome.

        EDIT:
        The next item on the development list is the economic engine. Still debating whether it will require 2 different sims or if 1 will be able to handle all of the data.
      Navyman
      I had hoped to post a journal entry on Monday announcing that I finished the first version of the Portas Aurora container. However, this is not the case.

      Bring together several independent programs into one working container was a challenge. It required a fair amount of additional coding to fill up missing elements. However, this could be expected the real issue that came into play was that after adding the current micro-Sims to the container there was a lack of gameplay.

      While the experience granted a lot of insight to the missing components that would be required before people could actually have something to test and to provide feedback over, I am still release a link to the current container to see how people react to the process of creating their own race for the game.

      Some features that were added during the process were:
      Sector Density: This allows the user to select how many star systems are in the galaxy sector. Currently there are only 3 levels of density: Low, Medium, High.

      Planet Type Bonus: Each Planet type has 1 major bonus, 1 minor bonus, 1 negative effect.
      I would add a graphic to this post, but the game is as near graphic-less as I can get it and therefore, provide few opportunities.

      EDIT: Updated with the features that were created/added during the process of creating a Sim container.