Posted on 1 Comment

Update on AotSS – Release Date Announced, New Video Released!

Hey everyone!

Well, I have some exciting news – AotSS version .6, aka Archimedes, will be released Tuesday, January 9, 2018!!

The cost will be $7.99 for the initial entry. This means that you will get Archimedes and every other build going forward, including patches and content additions after 1.0. Why so long, Steve? Good question!

As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of projects that promise much and deliver much less. If anything, this version of AotSS will include more than the original plan called for, including some basic House AI and more Actions and Projects (and corresponding UI) then called for originally. I want to make sure that I deliver a product that I’m proud of, and given my irregular work schedule, this is what it will take to not only deliver the build, but update the web site, add secure ecommerce, and do some basic cleanup of my sites and consolidate everything under the wordpress site under the www.allianceofthesacredsuns.com domain, since there are several sites floating around.

I have also released a new video that you should see if you want to get an idea of development – its here: https://youtu.be/0DLUH1JX6cI There is a slight echo but it is workable. I will release a new video every week until first alpha release with additional feature spotlights.

Later today, I’ll be writing another blog talking about a very good point that a commenter had in the video – who are you competing against, anyway? It’s a multi-layered questions and one that I feel deserves a larger answer, so I’ll talk about that later today!

Until soon… Excelsior!!

-Steve

Posted on 8 Comments

Update, apology, explanations, and the rebirth of AotSS!

Hello everyone! Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything, and I’m sorry. Let me get that out of the way up front. I’ll be apologizing a lot so buckle up, folks.

Anyway, I could give you a lot of reasons why there hasn’t been a lot of activity on AotSS for the last 4 months or so, but in the end it comes down to burnout. As you may now, I have a new now 9 month old who is very healthy, energetic, and BUSY! I also have a full-time job that takes 50-55 hours a week depending on what’s happening, and I’ve been battling through some personal issues. So with all that going on, I’ve been working on Imperia/AotSS for almost 4 years in some form or another. Most of it is very low-level work on a hobby, but obviously the last year has been more focus on providing a product from our studio, KatHawk Studios.

So, as a human, when you have a lot going on around you and you have something that you’ve been hammering on for years, sometimes you just need to step back and take a break. And that’s what I did. Where I failed is to not keep those of you interested in the game in the loop. That was selfish of me and I deeply apologize for that.

So with that being said, I’ll start with the bad news first: Oliver has left the project. Completely understandably, since there hasn’t been anything moving on it for quite a while and you reach a point where you need to see some progress. I apologize to him for the lack of progress and I wish him nothing but the best and I certainly hope circumstances change in the future and he comes back at some point. Because..

The good news is that I’m restarting development of AotSS semi-full time. I have obtained additional funding sufficient to complete the entire game to 1.0 without ‘needing’ sales to fund development. Even though Oliver has left, we have an essentially complete GDD so I will be able to finish what is essentially our vision. There is a tremendous amount that was part of the game design, and while we will include about 70% of it in the initial release, some will have to wait for a future time. When you have a huge project, you must get to ‘what makes this game ‘this game’? and ‘if I cut this, will it change the core ‘feel’ of the game? With that in mind, I will be breaking down the new release schedule shortly, including pricing and the thinking behind it.

With the restart, some other things will be happening. We will be updating our web site by next month. We will be adding our forum, the blog, a news feed, and our eCommerce system for digital download of early release versions of AotSS. We will also increase activity on our forums, our Twitter, and our FB pages. Our KHG channel will have updates weekly, some a ‘developer’ update, some ‘game play’ and some LP, but you will get some sort of content weekly. To keep myself honest, I will be posting an update schedule shortly here on what channels will have what updates. But I vow not to leave anybody else in the dark on this project going forward. I am also always accessible on my email at steve@imperia5x.com or the twitter channel of @KatHawkGames.

So what about that early release schedule? We’re going to release our first version publicly around September 7-10th. It will be priced at $7.99. Why so cheap, Steve? Glad you asked! I’m not a fan (at all) of doing the ‘make early adopters pay through the nose to get in early’ model. Since this is a new property, and bluntly, I haven’t been consistent with my timetables, I want to give people the chance to come in on the ground floor at a very low price so that the risk is as low as I can make it. You will have a full game, but a lot of features will not be there. I feel that this is a good compromise between ‘release it for the people who want it early’ and ‘stay true to my promise of quality and not screw over your fans’. I got excited all over again when I get comments asking how the game is coming along, and we were mentioned on a lot of ‘strategy/4X games looking forward to for 2017’ lists – including 2nd on eXplorminate’s poll of ‘which indie game are you most excited about in 2017’?  That’s pretty cool.

So I’m excited again, and you should be too. Let’s do this together.

So without further ado, the release roadmap!

(.5) Currently in Testing – No Public Release (beta testing active)

(.6) ‘Archimedes’ Release – $7.99 – Release in early September through our web site
Will have all main screens, trade/economy/Pops/migration/unrest/popular support/planetary development systems, character Power system, alert bar, AP system, Focuses on planets (agriculture, mines, military, government, etc), about 30% of all Projects, core Houses/Cultures, economic screen, about 50% 3D planets, some sounds, about 15% of all Character Actions, ability to remove/fire Viceroys and Governors, love/fear systems for characters, basic win and lose conditions (win when Popular Support > 80% throughout your Empire; lose when Popular Support < 20% and depose/assassinate check fails), full turn engine cycle.
IMPORTANT!
No Character Decision/Goal AI (economic and role AI will be present, such as intelligently managing planets/systems)
No Music (or maybe 1-2 temporary tracks)
No Save System
Balance will be an issue

(.7) ‘Newton’ Release – $14.99 – Release in early December through our web site
Will have all of Archimedes, and:
– Music (a few tracks)
– More sounds
– Basic character decision AI (2 ‘ultimate’ goals: Survival and Status) out of 9
– 60% of Projects (approx. 50 in final release)
– 40% of Character Actions (approx. 100 in final release)
– Some mid-tier cultures, all inner cultures and Houses
– Science system implementation begin (about 50%)
– Continued polish on UI and UI for science system implemented
No Save System. It will be present in this version but not activated until .8.

(.8) ‘Hubble’ Release – $19.99 – Release in March 2018 through our web site
Will have all of Newton, and:
– Save System implemented
– All cultures implemented
– Emperor screen (diary) partially implemented
– Science system completed
– Intel system start implementation (Inquisitors, secrets, plots)
– Expanded character decision AI (added 2 more ‘ultimate’ goals: Generic (‘normal’) and Wealth)
– All 3D planets and nebulas implemented
– Most sounds
– More music (4-5 tracks)
– Very basic Xyl plot starters
– 80% of Projects
– 50-60% of Character Actions
– Continued balancing
– Bug fixes

(.9) ‘Sagan’ Release – $24.99 – Release in June 2018 (Steam Early Release Candidate)
Will have all of Hubble, and:
– Combat system partially implemented
– Religious system partially implemented
– Emperor screen fully implemented
– Intel system fully implemented
– All cultures and Houses implemented
– Expanded character decision AI (added 2 more ‘ultimate’ goals: Human Needs and Power)
– All sounds added
– All UI elements added
– More music (7-9 tracks)
– Intro/win/loss videos
– Xyl ‘ending play setup’ partially implemented
– 80% of Character Actions completed
– All Projects added
– Continued balance and bug fixes

(1.0) ‘Copernicus’ Release – $29.99 – Release in August-September 2018 (Steam Release)
Will have all of Sagan, all Xyl plot, and all remaining systems/music/sounds/’puff’ – the ‘basic full game’ as described in our GDD.

So that’s the plan. I’ll write a follow-up blog in a few days with more detail and possibly some new UI screens. Until then… stay safe out there, it’s a big universe!

-Steve

Posted on Leave a comment

Call for Alpha Testers Now Live! Do you want to experience Imperia?

Hey everyone!

With the release of our milestone schedule, we’re making great progress towards releasing .3. As such, we now have active builds that need testing. We are looking for 4-5 testers that will take the job seriously. Although the job is not paid, we’re not looking for more than 2-3 hours a week, most likely, depending on how diligent you are. You will however, get all the latest builds of Imperia (good and bad) and… you will get 2 free retail copies/downloads of Imperia as well. There may also be additional goodies as well… (i.e. SWAG)

To apply, please send me an application via Email at steve@imperia5x.com with your name, country, best contact E-mail, and system specs, as well as why you want to be a tester (~100-200 words. Include relevant experience). If you are selected, we will send you further information about the process of reporting bugs/version events.

If you are interested, please have your application sent by 4/24/16. We will close off tester applications at that time. If you were previously a tester, please send a new application to let me know you’re still interested, but if you were in good standing you will be automatically added (outside the additional 4-5 new)

The game is progressing daily, and we are releasing a new build every Sunday night. Major builds will be released every 30-45 days. If you have a question about the timetable, please email me or Oliver (oliver@imperia5x.com)!

Can’t wait to get your feedback!

-Steve

Posted on Leave a comment

Come Visit Our Community on the Imperia Forums, And Other Places Besides!

Hey everyone!

We’ve seen quite a bit of activity since we’ve started active development again, and we’d like to invite you to our forums if you want more ‘real-time’ updates and involvement! Our forums are located at www.imperia5x.com and will be more active with our development schedule.

We’d love to hear your voices – you don’t have to register to read the forums, but part of what makes Imperia unique is we truly do listen to the players and that’s one reason we’ve been so open with the development! Plus, it’s a great way to get information in your hand more quickly if you don’t subscribe to this blog (another great idea, BTW!)

We also have a Facebook page and a Twitter handle @kathawkgames. We’re quite active on these platforms so any way you want, you can check out what we’re up to!

See you around!

-Steve

Posted on Leave a comment

What do you like most about the Imperia design/concept?

Hey everyone!

I was curious to know what most appealed to people about Imperia. I always appreciate feedback, so I wanted to start a poll. You can answer up to 3 concepts/ideas that most attract you to Imperia.

Thanks for your feedback!

-Steve

Posted on Leave a comment

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 Leave a comment

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 Leave a comment

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 Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Feedback Begatting Change: Major Mechanics Change for .410

So I frequent some other forums where people are talking about the game, and one thing I’ve always prided myself on is listening to other ideas if they make sense within the vision of what I want in Imperia. On the Bay12 forums, a forumite named Novel Scoops brought up an interesting point about your POV:

Sure, the spreadsheets can be there too. Before i go any further, i realize this may already be covered by the character interaction/events system.

However, this is supposed to put you in the boots of one child emperor with limited reach and neither omniscience nor omnipotence, to be played by humans such as i, who incidentally is suddenly considering eye strain. I think it’s already planned for liege-lords to give advice, king of dragon pass style, so why not have them describe (reliably or less so) the state of affairs in their holdings? While your spies provide their own version? It just takes me out of the game when i see something like Unrest represented by a number.

This is very true. Why would I just always know there is 14 unrest on a planet, for example? Hell, maybe I’m taking my viceroy’s word about the profit/loss the planet is bringing in!

So going forward, when you open up a planet screen (note: this shot also shows the new panel system where you can hide panels that you don’t use/need), this is the info you’ll get, depending on your viceroy’s loyalty and the situation on the planet:

New Reporting System - 1

Ah, you think, I’ll just check out the demographic screen and look at the info there! Well, you can try…

New Reporting System - 2

In order to get the dirt on a planet, you have to allocate informers (spies) towards Domestic Intelligence. This is also a new thing – you will have 2 pools that you can weight: Domestic Intel and Political Intel. All you will be able to do is set a slider between the two; your Intel Prime will actually handle the assignments of new informer blocs. You need at least 2 points towards DomInt in order to get a fairly accurate idea of the number, and the more you allocate, the more accurate the information is. This is basically how the character stat system is already handled, and you will add points to PolInt to continue that process.

I’m still playing with this idea. It could be frustrating if not handled correctly, even if it is more ‘realistic’ so I’m going to put it in .410 and see what people think.

-Steve