Posted on

And Now, For Something Different…

Hey all!!

While 95% of this blog will still be devoted entirely to Imperia and its development, I want to from time to time get on my soapbox and talk about a few things that are gaming related in some way. This will hopefully allow 2 things: 1) for me to have a small voice about some things that are important to me and 2) for those who don’t know me at all other than as a developer of games to know me a little better.

I have 2 topics today. The first is viruses. Despite my best efforts to keep my computer clean, my computer got a virus. It wasn’t major, but it did get me thinking about what would happen if I lost all my work. I have spent almost a year working on Imperia, and I have some other projects as well that I have put time into, including a board game and another computer game, that I would hate to lose. Fortunately, I do have backups of my important stuff, but I had a few moments of terror last night as I thought I might literally have lost everything I’d worked on so hard. So going forward, believing that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I will be creating an additional (off site) backup daily of my code and of the game’s artwork, as well as putting the code on a repository as a final backup. I can’t explain how it feels to think you might have lost something you worked so hard on and for, and I can only imagine it feels like losing a family member (well, maybe not that bad, but still…) So if this blog inspires one person to back up the things on their computer that are important to them, then I will feel that every keystroke today was worth it.

The second topic is I want to highlight blogs, people, and sites from time to time that I feel are worthy of your time, but aren’t ‘mainstream’.  The first one is (disclosure: Imperia has been featured on this site) a wonderful site called Space Game Junkie. It’s run by Brian Rubin, and this guy I truly believe has played virtually every game that has ever had the word ‘space’ in it. He is passionate about gaming, knowledgeable, and fair, and his site is a fantastic repository for games new and old. He has weekly streaming play sessions, vlogs, and guest LPs, among other things, as well as a news feed that is timely and relevant for people who love these kinds of games. I know that a lot of people who frequent this blog are also fans of space and space strategy games in general, so I recommend that if you’re not already aware of this blog, you check it out at your quickest pace! The site is:  http://www.spacegamejunkie.com . Check it out!

I do want to thank everyone who has checked out the first Imperia video. And yes, I will drop the music volume for the next edition… 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!

-Steve

 

Posted on

Imperia LP – Video 1: UI/Changes Now Live!

Hello all!!

Sorry it took a few days longer, but I had some issues with audio mixing and my first attempt was a video that ended up being over an hour long! Going forward, I will post smaller videos that cover different parts of the game; this one is an overview tutorial and shows the current UI. The next video(s) will show a tutorial LP that explains more about how to play, and will be updated as newer versions of the game are completed!

Here is the link:

Enjoy! Oh, and .410 should be available by the end of the week!

-Steve

Posted on

V.410b R2 build sent to testing!!

Good news everyone – I have drawn a line on .410b and I have sent the build out for a few people to look over before I release it! I will also film the LP later tonight (I have to work tonight – on my b-day no less!) so look for that to be posted by tomorrow.

There are a TON of improvements in this version. Frankly, if you’re been playing .400 or less, you are going to need to relearn a lot of things. Among the major additions, without a complete changelog:

  • Totally revamped UI, including detailed event/alert UI
  • Military system added (armies and garrisons for now) that affect happiness, security, and can put down riots ruthlessly if needed 🙂
  • Revamped character system, added the pressure/persuasion system
  • Revamped intel system, split between domestic intel (allows you to know more info about your people on a planet) and political intel (allows you to know more about specific characters and conduct black ops)
  • Expanded help/tooltip system
  • Balanced to be much less punishing as far as materials and food shortages go
  • Character alliances are now in the game (think political parties)
  • Characters now have opinions of everyone above and below them in their ‘chain of command’ that affects their mood when you take action against/for someone in that chain
  • Characters now have jealousy ratings for everyone else in the game – this will drive their want/wish when that system is introduced

I will be posting some new screen shots tonight as well. I know that I promised that this would be out in November or December, but I have this bad habit of adding more and more stuff and getting distracted from my goals, so I’ve started writing down what I want to get done each day and it’s made a world of difference! (Yes, it’s a hobby and yes it’s free but still). Thank you all for your patience and hopefully everyone will get to play the new build in the next few days!!

-Steve

Posted on

Update on LP – Adding Military Stances

Hey all!!

Been a busy week at my other (paying) job so haven’t had as much time to work on the game as I wanted. I do want to add the military stances system before I film the LP since I spent so much time getting the foundations into the game to begin with – wouldn’t it be nice if they actually did something? Shouldn’t be too long – in the meantime Pavlos and I have been adding even more graphics – now empire icons are in the game so that you finally have a symbol for your vast Empire!! Also some more tweaks to the UI, all which will be seen very soon. Maybe tomorrow? We’ll see. Thanks for reading!

And while we’re on the subject, I’d love to get your thoughts about what information you want to hear about Imperia. I don’t write sometimes because honestly I have no idea about what people want to know. People are visiting the site, but what do you want to know? Let me know in a comment – I’d appreciate the feedback!

-Steve

Posted on

Some new art and some new concepts!

Hey all! In preparation for the new LP that will post very soon, I wanted to show some new stuff off!!

First, the updated astrography (main screen) UI:

Here is the latest version of the Astrographic UI.
Here is the latest version of the Astrographic UI.

 

The continued evolution of Pavlos’ vision is at work here, with a clean, clear, yet ‘retro’ imperia look. Next, we look at the updated military tab, showing a selected army and unit within that army:

Picture of the new military tab. Yet to be added are the action buttons such as disband, move to reserve, and make flag unit.
Picture of the new military tab. Yet to be added are the action buttons such as disband, move to reserve, and make flag unit.

 

As you can see, you will have a listing of all units on the left side, where you can see both the unit detail and unit listing. When you select an army only, the army’s stats will show on the right side detail window. The fleet review screen will look slightly different, but be essentially the same idea. You can access your general here with a tooltip showing basic stats, or through the character mode of the Intel screen.

Now, let’s move to an exciting first feature of the eventual relationship system between characters: pressure and persuasion! In this instance, Cyra has a problem: even though there are enough jobs to go around, the pay is so low and the job prestige is so low that people would rather sit around and collect their unemployment then get out and work. Now, we could just cut unemployment, but this is Tyrannical and I don’t want to go that route. So perhaps making the sector more appealing is in order. I plan to ask June Grayson (the viceroy) to raise agriculture wages in order to make the sector more attractive to job-seekers. First I look at her basic stats:

June Grayson Ex. 1

 

I already know quite a bit about her, but she doesn’t have any pro-agriculture tendencies, and since the sector is already losing money, she will probably be reluctant to spend more money in the sector. So I look to other means. I could pressure her, which would be a lot more effective but is very Tyrannical (and causes a lot of friction between both you and the character and the character doing the pressuring and the character), so I choose to simply Persuade. After looking at the chain of command, I choose to let my sector governor persuade June. First, I ask her:

June Grayson Ex. 2

 

Turns out she is willing to persuade. Great! I then check June’s character window to see how persuasive Kelly was…

June Grayson Ex. 3

 

Whoa! Kelly’s good at this! Now, before you think that you’ll just merrily pressure and persuade people hither and yon, there is a fatigue stat that increases as a character persuades and pressures others. After a certain point, they will simply refuse to do any more. This fatigue represents not physical fatigue per se, but finding out information, asking confidents of the target to help, calling in favors of the target, etc. and it takes time to recharge those sources. So next turn, I will apply most of those points (they decay over time, which is why it is important to plan ahead) to my request and hopefully, it will be granted!

Stay tuned!!

-Steve

Posted on

Let’s Play .410 build scheduled for 1.20!!

Hey everyone!

We’re making tremendous progress with the latest build of Imperia so we wanted to show off the new UI, character systems, and military in action! Look for the link tomorrow on the blog!

UPDATE 1.21 – I’m not quite happy with the stability with all the UI additions, the diplomacy system, generals, and the military system, so I want to get one more day with the code before committing to a LP. I really want to show off all the fun new stuff to its best effect, so I want to have patience. I will be posting some new in-game pictures shortly, though!

-Steve

Posted on

Imperia Concepts – System/Sector Focii

Hello again!! What what? 2 posts in a day? Must be getting active!

Anyway, in continuing to move Imperia towards its macro control design document, we introduce the concept of System and Sector Focii. Governors run their territory under a master ‘plan’ depending on their personality, traits, and the needs of (what they) feel is most important to their particular AOR (area of responsibility). Sector governors always set a top-level primary focus, with a corresponding secondary focus that show the ‘direction’ that the governor wishes to take. System governors are generally forced to run their system under their sector governor’s primary focus (using the sector secondary focus as their primary) but may pick an independent secondary focus depending on their ambition and/or will to do so. Viceroys, who are generally the low head on the totem pole, will be forced to more or less go along with their sector and system governors’ requests. Here are some examples of sector focii primary and secondary:

-Raise Revenue

Secondary: Increase All Taxes, Expand Economy, Expand Sector Economies, Cut Waste, Change Designation

-Build Military

Secondary: Expand Military Sector, Expand Starship Production Sector, Increase Taxes, Stockpile Materials, Build Sector Navy, Build Sector Army, Change Designation

-Promote Migration

Secondary: Terraform Worlds, Decrease All Taxes, Expand Economy, Expand Sector Economies, Build Starbases

-Promote Trade

Secondary: Build/Expand Starbases, Decrease Industry Taxes, Build Logistical Stations, Improve System Security

-Advance Technology

Secondary: Expand Science Sector, Increase Industry Taxes, Improve System Security, Build Science Colonies

-Expand Sector Territory

Secondary: Build Sector Navy, Build Sector Army, Request System Annexation, Colonize Planets, Create Colony

-Improve Admin Capabilities

Secondary: Expand Government Sector, Lower Industry Taxes, Improve Personal Popular Support, Cut Waste, Change Designation

As the Emperor, you can request that these focii be changed, or demand change with a sector or system Edict. You can also make changes at the planet level that go against the general spirit of the sector governor’s demands. For example, if your sector governor wants to raise revenues, asking your system governor or viceroy to lower taxes will not go over well. Depending on the relationships and power that a sector governor wields, some viceroys may be too afraid to make changes that they might otherwise be agreeable to! Again, Edicts trump all focii; although remember that if you involve system or sector assets, and the Edict goes against what the goals of the governor are, they might hang it in committee for a while…

Locking down a governor to ‘Nominal’ or ‘None’ Autonomy will allow you to choose the foci for a sector and have it enacted immediately. Of course, it takes a significant military presence in a sector to force an uncooperative sector governor to simply have their power reduced in such a way. The game will tell you what force ratio is required to be present on the system/sector capital to allow you to change a governor’s autonomy downward. Even if the governor is forced to change, they may still plot behind the scenes to change their situation! Oh, and yeah, locking down your governors this way is considered very, VERY tyrannical.

The full focii system will not be in .410, but should be in by the .5 release. But I wanted you to know what was coming and what another piece of the full political/social system of Imperia will look like!!

-Steve

Posted on

Imperia Concepts – Pressure/Persuasion

So as an Emperor, you will have numerous ways to influence your leaders under your rule, ranging from benevolent to merciless. An important lever you will have is using your sector governors (and to a lesser extent, your system governors) to actually enact and guide your policies. The end goal of Imperia is that your sector governors should be both your potential largest levers to run your empire, as well as your greatest threat should they turn against you. The military system, both in the ground and in space, will start to show this in .410 with the addition of ground forces, armies, and fleets that can potentially be controlled by sector governors.

Another concept that will be present in .410 is the idea of using leverage from your sector and system governors to run your planets. Characters can exert pressure or persuasion on characters that are subordinate to them. Persuasion is less effective but is not considered tyrannical. Pressure is considered tyrannical and only allied leaders with tyrannical leanings will do this. Pressure/persuasion is ‘pooled’ for each character who is being influenced and can be used as ‘currency’ to improve the odds something will be done or used to speed up an Edict. Characters that are pressured are unhappy and will generally like you less, as well as their superiors. Points in these pools raise the chance of success for one point per persuasion point, and 3 points per pressure point. Characters will remember being pressured. Points will decay by 25% per month if not used.The idea is essentially that you are approaching your most powerful governors to give their support for key requests in the near future, without having to be immediately specific, but seeing the effects of their promise fade over time. That way, you have some ability to deal with events as they occur and this should result in less micromanagement overall.

This system will give the player more flexibility to set up situations with a better chance of success, at the risk of an unstable leadership structure in any given sector. A military army on the ground can also create pressure (but this is mighty Tyrannical) equal to the army’s suppression rating and must be in a Suppression stance.

On another note, I have been working quite a bit on the game over the last week or so and there are a lot of new additions big and small. I will be putting out a revised changelog tomorrow!

-Steve

Posted on

A New Year, A New Focus: Imperia in 2015.. And Beyond

Hello all!!

Sorry I’ve been quiet for a little while. A combination of the holidays, a lot of work, and frankly a little burnout all contributed. I wanted to take a bit of time and step away to make sure that I still had the fire and passion for this project. Imperia is a complex undertaking, and it is essentially a 2-man project right now: Pavlos provides some wonderful art and graphics, and I do the rest. When I think of how much more I want to add to Imperia, sometimes it seems daunting, but then I remember that Imperia is the game that I’ve wanted to play for almost 20 years, and that purpose brings me back with a vengeance. So hiatus over, let’s get to work!!

There are 3 different things I want to do with Imperia in the next 30 days. The first thing I want to do is to get the full Imperia site in order. I have looked at some drag and drop options, and while those would be easy, I believe that I can program a basic site with CSS, Dreamweaver, and Javascript. If I can’t, I’ll go back to a basic template, and what I might do is create a ‘placeholder’ site while I work on the more advanced one behind the scenes.

The second thing is to actually get .410 as a release version. I want to have the ground unit system, the space units, the autonomy system, and the military edict systems all up and running, as well as complete the interim .410 UI. Pavlos has some excellent ideas about a UI that I think the next version will start heading towards, but for the .410, the current theme will be completed. We will also add the military tab for planets and create the military screen UI (this is how you will create large-scale build, design, and movement/attack/defend plans). It will be basic to start, but it will be a foundation. As part of the UI, I want to also have the event pictures in and the secondary screen in that gives more information. All tooltips will also be in for edicts and major UI areas.

The final thing is to get the word out about Imperia! Pavlos and I are excited about the new website, and unfortunately it doesn’t look like the current WordPress blog can be moved to the new website, so a link may have to be added. I do not want to give up that much history, so I will see what can be done. But in the meantime, I want to be more active on the blog/website, and if you know anyone who might be interested in playing (well, testing at this point) Imperia the feedback would be welcome! Remember, it’s free.

I want to address one other thing. Many people have asked me privately or mentioned in the forums about when/if Imperia will be a paid product. I do have some thoughts about that, and here they are.

  • First of all, I don’t know that I like the early access model that has been all the rage. Some of the companies are properly using this system to add requested features, to hunt bugs, and to promote additional worthwhile features. But for every game that does it right, there are 5 that seem to be money grabs. A few even have dropped support before the game is finished (or calling it a half-assed 1.0 and calling it a day). I don’t want to do that. I believe (perhaps naively) that developers who do this genuinely got ‘in over their head’ as opposed to deliberately misleading customers/gamers, but regardless of the reasons, I don’t want to go down that road. Any early access model that I adopt should Imperia be a paid product at some point would always provide a free alpha option.
  • That being said, I think Imperia has a lot of potential – but that potential is a LONG way off. It was started as a hobby, and became one that I shared with others who also thought a game like Imperia would be fun to play. I welcome any and all feedback. It’s how games get better. My stated goal has always been to make Imperia the best 4X ever made (or 5X, semantically :-) That hasn’t changed. But to do that with a staff of essentially two volunteers is a grand undertaking at best.

So there’s that. I can’t always promise progress will be rapid, but with .5 in the distance, most of the major UI and programming structure would be in place at that point, which makes development easier. The save/load systems, the XML readers, the sprite engines, etc. are all in the code and at that point it would be about creating content and developing the logic, which isn’t as hard as what’s been done so far!! I hope you can see the progress that has been made in the last 8 months, and I hope you see the potential of what will be, one day, but I can’t tell you what day that will be… because I have no idea either.

But stay tuned. Pavlos and I are ready to rock!

-Steve