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Document the development of projects from Hostile Viking Studio

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Portas Aurora's Idea Behind its Development

Portas Aurora came about after a failed Kickstarter and team members shifting to other projects. I wanted to use the original IP, but understanding my limitation I knew continuing the Arrival project was out of my realm. Therefore, I realized that I would have to design another game that could be broken down into much smaller pieces. The idea I came up with was to create a game that did not rely on graphics and was a collection of a lot of micro simulators. Hentze, Portas Aurora was born.

I began in May by creating a Dev Doc for the game and followed that up by looking at how I could divide the game up into pieces that I could create in a micro simulator in about a day each.

Sector Star System Generator
This was the first micro-sim I created. its design was to populate a sector of the Galaxy with Star Systems. It would not select Star type or what planet types were in each Star System. However, it would control the number of planets in each system. I created a weighted system to reflect a balance between today's current knowledge of average planet number per Star System and increasing playability.
Planned Updates: Generate the location cords for each Star System and set a range for number of Star Systems in each sector based on the distance of the sector from the center of the galaxy.

Star System Generator
The second micro-sim to be created. Its design was to select a Star type, the number of planets, and select planet types for each. In a more recent update it now selects planet size and Non-Planet Objects (NPO). The generator uses a copy of the weighted planet slot number system
from the Sector Star System Generator to allow for similar results in the number of Planet Slots in the Star System. A second weighted system is used when assigning types to each planet slot and a third weighted system is used to assign size to the planet slot. I say planet slor because after introducing the idea of NPO's all objects in a planet slot are treated the same.
Planned Updates: Link the micro-sim to the Sector Star System Generator and have it control the number of Planet Slots in the system.
Possible Updates: Generate planet richness. Moving the production bonus calculation from Planet Surface micro-sim to this one and have the Planet Surface use it as a flat bonus to tile information.

Racial Trait Selection
This micro-sim, currently on display and usable on the Portas Aurora website, has zero random number generation. There have been about 10 version of this micro-sim, mostly due to how the user inputs their selections and the feedback that they should receive after each selection.
While this the original version took about a day to create, thankfully that the information for the traits was already written out, it took more than a week to achieve its current state. It has a system to handle trait group display, current trait selection, interlock between paired traits, overview, and trait point calculations.
Possible Updates: Some ideas are to improve the right side display, add more explanation to the menus, add more traits to the current list. However, any of these are going to be based on feedback.

Planet Surface Generation
This micro-sim can be seen in a previous journal entry. divides the planet into 16 tiles and displays the biodiversity and mineral deposit of each.
Currently this micro-sim does not take any outside input. Users can click on any of the tiles to see a more detailed selection of information about a tile. This was designed to be more of a prototype to the Planet Surface Construction micro-sim.
Planned Updates: Link racial trait bonuses, and Star System inputs to create a more accurate view of the planet.

This is the most recent micro-sim in development. I knew that this one would take more than a day to create and so I had pushed it back, currently it is setting at 8 days. However, part of this is due to the information for the Shipyard is not up to a level that testing can catch enough bugs and that the ideas for the shipyard are a tight balance between creative and functional. I will do another journal entry on this later to see if I can get additional input.

The current plan is to develop a container that can use all of the micro-sims and allow a few people to test out the first version of the player interface. If there is anything you would like to see please leave a comment and I will do a journal entry over it.




Prototyping New Features

The newest feature of Portas Aurora is the Planet Surface resource Display. Currently it is still in the early stage of development and getting needed data is more important than look at this moment. Each planet's surface is divided into 16 tiles and their individual levels are display. The idea is to show the 100% baseline production.

Tile values:
Sparse - 50% production value
Poor - 75%
Abundant - 100% the baseline
Rich - 125%
Saturated - 150%

Biodiversity will effect food production and Mineral Deposits will effect industrial production.

Features that are also in development are:
Planetary Construction
Empire Resource Management




PortasAurora.com Re-Launched

June 15th, I re-launched the PortasAurora.com website.
The website is going to be the host for the up coming game under the Portas Aurora IP.
[color=#000000][font=Arial] [background=transparent]Portas Aurora is a throwback to the era of Master of Orion 2. Its a MUD 4X turn-based strategy game set in space. You start off customizing your own race. Once you have created your race research new technologies, explore the galaxy, protect your allies and crush your enemies.[/background][/font][/color]
[color=#000000][font=Arial][background=transparent]A web browser is all that's required to play, no downloads required. Do you have what it takes?[/background][/font][/color]

MUD means a Multi-User Domain, the precursor to MMO's.

The game with have the option to play in a single player / small group setting or in the full MUD setting.

Currently the Racial Trait Calculator is up and allows people to play around with different builds. Additionally, it provides a link to return to the build if the Race Summary function is used.

A Simple Machine Forum is up and running for people to post questions, comments and ideas for their builds.

Would enjoy hearing any comments.




Looking for Input on Forum Creation

I am gearing up to re-launch the Portas Aurora website. The site will not be for the original Portas Aurora: Arrival, but for a new game using the same IP. However, I want to add a more standard forum for the site.
I have been looking at using phpBB forum and while it has fairly good reviews I was wondering what other developers were using.
Additionally, any ideas or experiences with minimizing spammers are welcomed.

Edit: Simple Machine Forum is another management tool that I have seen rated highly.




Restructuring This Journal

Okay I have a followup entry to the Portas Aurora: Arrival Kickstarter Recap entry, but it is not finished yet and I am try to push forward with the team's current project. Leading me to post this entry first.

Currently I have not found another way to create a second journal. I can see the site limiting users to 1 journal as a way to save space and prevent lapsed journals from distracting viewers from the newest material. Therefore, I will be restructuring this journal to allow for multiple projects to be view under 1 location.
I will be changing the name of the journal to Orange Chair Software Development. I will still have a section that is all about the Portas Aurora: Arrival game as we will be revisiting this game, but we have agreed that we need to tighten our focus what we want to deliver with the game.

If someone does know how to create another journal without creating another user account I would enjoy be able to start a new one.

After some interesting hours and a conversion with a Gamedev Dev i found that the Publish column for entries into the journal was not being displayed if the window size was below 1000px wide. This had prevented me from restructuring my Journal. However, after several browser tests I am now beginning the process.




Portas Aurora: Arrival Kickstarter Recap

The Kickstarter campaign for Portas Aurora: Arrival for August was as follows:

The Money side
Goal: $25,000
Pledged: $ 868

Dollars Pledged via Kickstarter $667
(meaning that the user was actually on the site)
Dollars Pledged via external referrer $201
Average Pledge $ 18.87

The Video side

2141 Total plays with 27.60% completing the video.
1918 views being on the Kickstarter site.
223 views from offsite plays.
The video went through a lot of changes over the course of the campaign.

While I could do ten entries on all of the things we learned while doing the Kickstarter campaign I will try and sum up the main lessons learned.
Lessons to take away from the Kickstarter campaign:
Get the word out that you are going to be launching a Kickstarter before you actually launch it. There is a lot to be said about that first 48 hours of your campaign. It can get you spotlighted if you have some "above average traffic".
Design a few different reward tiers between $10 and $25 because they are the most popular.
The project video needs to show a few key items. First a simple idea that people can catch on to. Second it needs gameplay act or action. Third show the team talking about the project to humanize them to the viewers.
Need to have your video in more places then just Kickstarter. You need eyes on your video is key to making your goal. The more viewers the higher the chance that one will pledge.

If people have more areas of interest just leave a comment and I will expend on them.

*Edited to add a link to the Kickstarter Project Page - Thank you




Portas Aurora Recap

[color=rgb(102,102,102)][font=Helvetica, Arial, 'Liberation Sans', FreeSans, sans-serif] The Kickstarter project for Portas Aurora: Arrival from September was not a success in terms of raising the capital to help produce the game. However, it was amazing. We received tons of feedback, and met dozens of great people making this last month a successful month. For more information on the data we collected from the Kickstarter project I will be posting another entry.[/font][/color]

[color=rgb(102,102,102)][font=Helvetica, Arial, 'Liberation Sans', FreeSans, sans-serif]The team behind the Portas Aurora project were hit with a large chunk of life after the close of the Kickstarter campaign leading to the game being placed on the back burner. We had discussed other opinions to continue the development of Portas Aurora: Arrival and we are not wanting to let the project fall by the waste side. With the new year the remaining members of the team looked to pick Portas Aurora backup only to discover a massive amount of assets had been lost or destroyed between multiple moves. Even with multiple copies and backup the game as it was is a shell. The team has joked that it is not a over huge lost because many of the comments we received targeted at the graphics were that they were sub-par and needed to be reworked leaving us with a clean slate.[/font][/color]
[color=rgb(102,102,102)][font=Helvetica, Arial, 'Liberation Sans', FreeSans, sans-serif]If you have have some ideas, we would enjoy hearing them.[/font][/color]
[color=rgb(102,102,102)][font=Helvetica, Arial, 'Liberation Sans', FreeSans, sans-serif]Thank you.[/font][/color]




Ding Screen

I have gotten comments that the game does not look RPGy enough. After further questioning to determine what was missing I was informed that I lacked a "Ding Screen". Therefore, I present the Portas Aurora: Arrival "Ding Screen".

I am sure that it needs to be modified to some degree, but for now it looks fair?
All comments are welcomed.




Character Sheet Area Update

Version 1

Version 8 - Blue

Converting the game to 1280x720 has opened up more space for information and while that can be great for players it was hard to get the space to look "right". The grey squares are Skills (smaller boxes) and Talents (larger boxes) we do not have art assets for them so I have not placed this screen in the video.

This area is called Head Quarters in Porats Aurora: Arrival it is the normal character sheet from most RPGs.
There is a star system map in the window, but players do not normally use it for system interaction and therefore it is a smaller size.

Any comments or suggestions for improvement would be amazing.




RPG Promotion Sites

Thinking about doing some promotion for your RPG? Here is some of the sites that have featured Portas Aurora: Arrival. Even if you are only looking for possible RPGs to play then this list maybe helpful too.


There are also a few forums that RPG fans like and I have seen some traffic from.
http://crowdfundingforum.com - This one is more generally targeted, but there is a strong group of RPG fans that look here for upcoming games.
http://gog.com - Has a great community.

If you are looking to do a Kickstarter Project there is a few more sites that you may want to look at I have gotten a bit of traffic from each of them.

rockpapershotgun.com - Katchup

If there are anymore sites that people can or should use you can drop them in the comments and I will add them.
Hope this helps a few people.

Edit: Added the forums to the list.




Brief History of Development

Brief Development History:
Aug. 2011 - The story behind Portas Aurora: Arrival is begun
Oct. 2011 - The current Engine 1.0 is written
Nov. 2011 - I built a space trader-like game that had players moving around doing the normal space trading actions, but it was fair to okay at best.
Dec. 2011 - An Avatar section was added to the space trader-like game.
Feb. 2012 - I started to build the combat section of the game. It was fun up to and sometimes including when the Ai would cheat and use map objects to kill my ships.
Apr. 2012 - I realized that these 3 elements could be merged together with a little work and using the story I had been writing as the cement. The story really requires all of the sections to be deep. In Civ players are teased with the option of peaceful victory it really only makes up about 10% of gameplay options. For the story to be believable the game would need close to a 50% split in its combat vs other.
May 2012 - Finished a rough Design Document and began generating a prototype with all 3 elements rolled into a highly immerse game.
Jul. 2012 - Working prototype.
Aug. 2012 - Launched Kickstarter Project.

A few people had asked about what lead up to the create game state and after thinking about it, it made sense to include a small section about the game's evolution. If there is additional information you would like please comment or message me.
Thank you.

EDIT: Fixed a date issue and added the most recent material.




GUI - Update

Continuing to upgrade Portas Aurora: Arrival's GUI to have a more "polished" look. Sadly it takes a fair amount of time.
I also rearranged the stats of the ships and added a Hull Strength % at the top to allow users to have a greater understanding of how stats work in Portas Aurora: Arrival.
If you have any ideas or feedback I would enjoy hearing it.
Comments can be left here or on our Kickstarter Page
Thank you.




Radically Updated Trailer Video

[media] [/media]
Thank you to everyone that gave feedback or asked questions.
If you liked the new Trailer and want to know more about Portas Aurora: Arrival Check out our Kickstarter Page
In addition if you have feedback for this video or the Kickstarter Page we would be happy to hear it.

I really did not realize how much people were turned off by the first combat series. I will be cutting it and replacing with an HD version.

The video still needs a better introduction and a way to link the Galactic Senate to the "Blue Assembly of Triangles".

EDIT: Updated after a few comments both from GameDev.net and other places.




Welcoming Linux to the family

Last night we welcomed Linux to the list of supported Platforms for Portas Aurora: Arrival.
Hope this allows more people to enjoy the game.
Portas Aurora: Arrival. Check us out on Kickstarter: http://kck.st/PBGcQK
For more information check the game out at: http://www.portasaurora.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PortasAurora
Follow the game's development on Twitter: @PortasAurora

Linux Gaming News Reported the Event!




Gameplay Footage - Dev vs. Viewer

In an earlier entry I shared the Portas Aurora: Arrival Fund Raising Pitch video. I asked people to evaluate it and provide feedback and list of points. Well after sorting through all of the feedback I realized that there is a huge difference between what I thought people would want to see and what the view demands to see.
The following are some rules for future videos:

[indent=1]1. "People do not want to see people, they want to see the game."
[indent=1]Okay there are a few exceptions to the rule. If the person developing the game, the person writing the story, the person scoring the game, or possibly the artist on the game is famous.

[indent=1]2. "People want to see gameplay footage."
[indent=1]My first mistake was to think that all game footage was equal.
[indent=1]People like action. Moving things are more attractive and exciting. It must be something primal.
[indent=1]Therefore, for a high chance at producing a successful video it needs to have sections with action.
[indent=1]Action does not include simple things a.k.a. setting up a multiplayer map. However, this is not always true.
[indent=1]If your game has a out of the normal way of doing or displaying the simple things showing it could be a plus.
[indent=1]Still you need to show a few different "streams" of action. Meaning the video should highlight different areas, characters, class, or any visual that is not constant in your game.

[indent=1]3. "People want more then just their sight to be engaged by the video."
[indent=1]What do I mean by this? Simple, the audio of the video needs to match the video. If you are making a tutorial video then having a narration with clear even tone and little to no music or disturbing noise in the background, but if you are making a trailer video or something designed to excite people you need to use something else then narration. Music is often the best solution for engaging and exciting people. Be sure that the music matches what is going on in your video.

Some Addition rules:
4. No one likes to adjust the volume each time you switch to something new in a video. Therefore, make sure the sound and volume are consistent, these things distract the viewer from understanding your message and often people will stop viewing.
5. Video about your project should for the most part be highlight reels. Show the key features and try not to spend 50 hours on things that you may find interesting. Give them a simple servings. This goes still is valid in the area of tutorial videos. Focus on one thing or a small well connected group of things to show/explain.
6. If you have some complex features in your project break them down into easy to understand steps. Make things as simple as possible. Your game may have complex systems but you want to make it "noob" friendly for them. This may have been partly as a follow up to rule 5.
7. People are always on the move. Therefore, no matter how much you have to explain "Keep the videos under 10 minutes". Unless you are doing a ultra review with some cinematics anything over 10 min is overkill, just do a second video.

My final thought for this entry is that this Dev Journal has become more of a series on what not to do in videos that Developers may produce, but I will hopefully get back on track.




Ship Stat Comparison

[media] [/media]
A few people have asked about the differences between Ship Hull Classes.
Therefore, I have made a video outlining some of the differences between the Scout and Frigate Hull Classes.
I hope the video can clear some of these questions. However, if they create a few more that is great too.




Responding to Community Input

After receiving a fair amount of feedback from both this site and Reddit I will be changing some of the visuals in the game.
The X's in the Fleet Setup and Ship Design Screen will be changed to lock icons
The game will now have the Gird Coordinates turned "OFF" as the default
The Ship Status Window will be turn to "ON" as the default

If there are additional changes you would like to see please leave a comment about them.
Thank you for all of your feedback.




Fund raising Pitch Video

[media] [/media]
Looking for evaluation and feedback of the video.
Some questions:
Was the video too long?
Was there enough game play?
Was the game play that you wanted to see?
Was there missing information?




Ship Stat Display Quesion

However, on a side note are the X's in the picture confusing? I have received some questions about them and was wondering how wide this confusion extended?




Ship Control Interface Walkthru

[media] [/media]
I created this video in the hope that I could get some feedback on how understandable the interface for controlling a ship is in its current state.




Lessons Learned from the first Dev Video

First I would like to thank everyone that watched my video and special thanks to the people that gave me feedback.
I am going to list some of the some of the lessons I learned from doing my first Dev in hopes that other developers can catch similar issues and have better videos their first time out.
Do not start your video with a vague intro
State the Game you are going to be talking about
Introduce the game in a short elevator pitch style
Focus on a single area that you want to talk about
Move slowly through the video

Now to explain each point.
Lesson 1
I starter my video with my company logo fading into a title screen for the game. I did not speak and there was zero sound.

Why this is bad.
I got a few comments that people thought there was going to be no sound and almost stopped watching.
For video and especially YouTube video people want to feel hooked in the first 10 seconds if not sooner. My video's first 8 seconds were silence and not that inviting.

Lesson 2
While I had a title screen this does not equal a connection between the video and the game it is related to.

Why this is bad.
I received more then a few comments asking what game this video was talking about. Proving that stating the name of the game with sound has far more impact than simple words scrolling across the screen. Plus saying it reinforces the name in the viewer's mind.

Lesson 3
I failed to really introduce the game, the play style, or the objective of the video.

Why this is bad.
In similar fashion to Lesson 2 people had a hard time understand what game I was talking about and what I was trying to show about the game. Thank you for the viewers that watched the video multiple times to try and gain additional insight. A game's introduction should be 10-30 seconds in length and allow the viewer to have some basic foundation information about the game before moving on to more detail features.

Lesson 4
Originally I thought I was focused on a single area of Portas Aurora: Arrival. I was going to show people the beginning of a game.

Why this is bad.
I introduced a half dozen complex features of the game and if I gave then any time in the spot light I did little to explain them. I think this was mostly due to a case of tunnel vision. I have been playing with the game for over 6 months and things like building a fleet are easy to me. However, for someone seeing the game for the first time it could be very confusing.

Lesson 5
This is partly connected to lesson 4 in the sense that I rushed through features and only gave a second or two for the view to see what I was talking about before I was off on to a different feature or screen.

In conclusion, I liked all of the feedback I received. I say that because even the people that told me the video was "bad" at least told me what turned them off from the video.

Wondering what video I am talking about? Check it out at:




First Dev video of the game

[media] [/media]
Any feedback people can provide would be great. This is my first Dev video and I have zero illusion that I would be good the first time out.
A couple people said that the introduction area of the video was dull and too long.
I was thinking that because the meat of the video was viewable within 10 seconds that I was okay.
Let me know what you think of the video. I have fairly thick skin and would rather have people tell me now what I am doing wrong or what I could do better.
Thank you.



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