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Dev Update 2.2.19: The Living Galaxy, and a Lack of Control

Hey everyone!

This will be a pretty short diary, but I did want to touch on a topic that has come up a few times lately and I wanted to make sure that people understood the design behind it and the gameplay that will result.

Even though AotSS is a turn-based game, it has a living world around it. You can do nothing, and planets will still grow and develop, Houses will expand and/or execute their grand strategies, Characters will (soon) look to fulfill their personal goals, etc. and this will happen with or without you. Unlike many other 4X games, since you’re already starting from a base (you have an established empire that you’re trying to rebuild/corral) it’s a different style of gameplay than you having to build your empire from the ground up. AotSS will never be a game about maximizing build queues, it is a game about maximizing your relationships and best placing your talent throughout your Empire in a way that benefits you and benefits those you most want to benefit (e.g. Characters & Houses).

The idea of APs completely changes the game and makes AotSS what it is. Think about it. In most other 4X/GS games, you can really do everything. Even in Paradox ‘real-time’ games, you can pause and execute 200 orders if you so desire. APs give you tradeoffs and don’t allow you to control your universe in a way that you can with most other games. One big balance point is how many APs to give the character every turn? Too few, and there’s almost nothing you can do from turn to turn, and too many would almost defeat the purpose.

So the target feeling is that you as the player are not trying to control the empire and the galaxy, but influence it from turn to turn. Enough so that you can gradually shift your strategies over the course of a year or two, but not so that you can completely burn your strategy down to the ground in one ‘turn’ and start completely over. That’s not how life works, and it is highly illogical that a star-spanning empire can be driven and turned direction like a Maserati, but that seems to be how too many games give you that kind of power. Running an empire should be about almost hanging on for dear life, trying to nudge something or someone JUST A LITTLE BIT so that you have an advantage in the next nudge you want to make. Change should be numerous nudges, with the occasional Imperial hammer (military action, Projects, etc) to nail down an important piece of strategy.

That said, you can’t just sit around and do nothing. There is a game mechanic called Power Decay. Each turn, your Power drops about 3-5%, depending on several factors, and more if you’re more powerful. This represents the fact that at the end of the day, humans are very much a ‘what have you done for me lately’ bunch of people, and the longer you sit ensconced in your palace, not doing anything of note, the less Power you are willing to be given by others. After all, Power is as much perception as reality, at the end of the day!

So if you want a game where you can control all around you, AotSS isn’t that game. You won’t have the ability or the resources. But if you want a game where your results come one chisel and hammer at a time, where hard choices have to be made, and the realization that not all opportunities can be take advantage of, then AotSS just might be the best game you’ve ever played!

Look for the big .7.0.3 update Tuesday, with (at last!) save and load functionality, some bug fixes, and the start of a Grand Vizier screen!

Until next week!

-Steve

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Now that .7 is out… what’s next? A sneak peak of .7’s evolution!!

Hey everyone!

Well, it took a little longer than I intended, but finally .7 is out the door and ready to be played! Now, please remember that this is still an alpha version, so there are still plenty of things to do and fix! I wanted to give you a revised update of what’s to come and what the broad timeline is. I do want to say that I will be changing the update schedule to have one or two updates every few weeks, and more if people want it. The updates tend to be very large downloads (working on that) so once I get the assets cut down in Unity, that should help the file size significantly!

Anyway, the very first priority with .7 is to finish adding the economic system and riot system. They weren’t quite ready to go so with the first update you’ll see riots and the affiliated Actions/Projects that you can use to fix them. That should be about a week-2 weeks. Also, you’ll have working sliders and a new category of Actions: Economic. This is where you’ll be able to set tariffs, embargos, etc. These are not ‘choicable actions’ meaning that a character won’t have a choice about whether they happen, but you’ll still see their reactions (and any relationship change) in them. Also, obviously, any major bugs will be fixed during this time.

Next comes the save/load system. That’s a huge priority for me and in truth, there’s already save capability – the trick is loading. Really, the only issue is structuring the scene flow so that the program can redraw a new galaxy with saved data. The vast amount of data is deterministic – in other words, it generates based on some core saved data, so that should cut down on save game sizes. I hope to have that working within 2-3 weeks after the economic/Riot systems have been added and tested.

After that, I’m going to start adding the intel system, Challenges, and secrets, along with the required AI and Command Mode. This is a huge system that will also be integrated with the Character AI. Basically, you’ll be able to deploy and train Inquisitor squads that can be sent to planets to either gather information (spying, essentially) about a given planet/system/province, or they are there to actively investigate a potential Plot that you might have intel about on either you or another character. They are also used to execute black ops on specific characters, which include assassination, smear campaign, bribery, extortion, blackmail, and theft. Inquisitors basically gather op intel on a specific character for a period of time – until they have enough intel, they can’t act at all! Once they have a baseline amount of intel, they’ll be able to execute certain black op Actions; the more intel they can gather, the better their odds of success. If they are interrupted, they can try again, but the intel they have gathered will decay, and they may have to ‘re-intel’ what they’ve already learned.

Challenges are in the game, but nothing happens with them as of yet. With the Challenge addition, you will be able to challenge another character in the game, and then there is a 6 month period where you ‘recruit’ Characters to support your Challenge. Your challenged character is doing the same, and at the end of the period, whoever has the most support wins the Challenge. Winner gets a proportional increase of Power and Love from their respective Pops, while the loser loses Power, Love, and may have to give up their post to the winner depending on the Challenge.

Secrets are scraps of Intel that you might get from either gossip or from your Inquisitors. They are parts of a puzzle that the more you attain, the more info you have to potentially stop a Plot. I will be writing a full blog about this concept soon, but it’s really cool!

So after that is added, .7 will round out with the Science/Reform system. In AotSS, you don’t research like you do in a typical 4X. Your academics don’t research hard science as much as they do doctrines that allow you to take or unlock more Actions and more powerful Projects, especially with military and planet development. The thing is that your Cultures may approve or disapprove of the Reforms that you are undertaking, and they may react poorly if they have an Idea that is at odds with that specific Reform, so you do have to keep in mind who will react if you start researching world-killing lasers.

Finally, .7 will end with expanded House to House diplomacy and more intelligent House AI. Currently, Houses have relationships but they don’t really change and there is no specific alliance or war code for Houses who are opposed or allied with each other. This will be added in .7 leading up to .8.

And as always, the UI will be improved, more tooltips will be added, more Event pictures and descriptions will be added and the Grand Vizier will have more influence, including giving suggestions as to what to do next, how a character might react with a specific Action, and giving you a monthly report on what has happened and some advice based on that.

That’s what’s coming during the .7 development roadmap – No ETA, just ‘coming as soon as I can code it!’ Hope that sounds exciting – thank you for your interest in AotSS – please let me know what you think!

-Steve

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.7 inbound! And a new Kickstarter coming soon!

Hello, everyone! Long time no see! Even though I’ve been quiet, I’ve been working a lot on the game and after almost 5 pages of addons, changes, tweaks, fixes, and improvements, I’m just about ready to launch .7!

With that, after save and load functionality is added (the very next major feature to be added – well, technically save is already there, but it’s internal) I feel the time is right to launch a Kickstarter. With all the changes and fixes in .7, I am happy enough with the product that I feel that it is right to present as a Kickstarter.

A Kickstarter will allow me to work on the game more, add more art and special effects, allow the game to be promoted more (which will bring in more money that will allow more improvements – you see the cycle!) Let me be clear: I have 2 loans out on the initial development of the game – I have not made a penny on the game that I can ‘pay’ myself; all proceeds have basically gone to pay back loans on the game. So this is more of a passion project than something that’s going to buy my second home. But I do want to finish it and I feel the end is within reach with a large push in 2019. So look for more updates soon on when that will launch and how you can help!

Thank you for your patience!

Steve

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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

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Update – ‘Archimedes’ is still on schedule for early October initial alpha release!

Hey all!

Well, despite a hurricane, a super busy time at work (when you sell cars and you’ve just had a massive flood, you tend to be very busy), and a very tricky stack overflow bug that took days to hunt down, AotSS Archimedes release .6 is still on track for an early October release. It will still be $7.99, and purchase of Archimedes will allow you updates throughout the lifecycle of the game. I’m not a huge DLC fan, so rest assured there will be plenty of updates (more Projects, more Actions, more dialog, more planet types, more Houses, etc) that can come for free! Details on how to purchase will come next month; we’re still working on revamping our website.

Also, we are restarting the alpha tester program. We’re far enough along now that there is a lot going on with the program and it is now impossible for me to track every little permutation. While there should now no longer be any show stopper/crash bugs, logic bugs, UI errors, data inconsistencies, etc. are something that need to be looked at. Balance is another huge aspect at this point. Other than adding a few data views, Archimedes is essentially feature-locked at this point, so testing can begin. If you’re interested, please email me at steve@imperia5x.com with your contact info, a brief background of your game interests, and any relevant experience. If you were a prior tester, I will be reaching out to you to see if you’re still interested, so no need to write. (If you were a tester for the previous (non-Unity) verion of Imperia, you will need to contact me as I no longer have that contact list.).

I will be releasing a new LP tomorrow as well. This will be a true LP, walking through some of the strategic choices and what you can do so far in this version of AotSS. As always, remember that this is a pre-alpha – there is a lot left to add!

Thanks for reading!

-Steve

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Updated development video now out! Check it out here!

Hey everyone!

As promised, the new video is out, and while it’s a bit longer than usual (almost 50 minutes!) it’s chock full of content and showing some of the new graphics, UI, and systems we’ve been working on. We are targeting more frequent updates – every two weeks or so, just to keep ourselves honest if nothing else. There should also be 2 blog posts a week ideally, but at least one no matter what. We’re working on cleaning up the forums – we had an attack of spammers a month or so ago, and we’re just about done cleaning up all that nonsense. We hope to have a tentative early access release date pretty soon, where you’ll be able to buy in on the ground floor and be eligible for all future updates. We’re getting closer, as you can hopefully see from this video. I’m personally excited to be working on the game actively again and I think you’ll be impressed with the strides we’ll be taking over the next several weeks!

Anyway, the link is here:https://youtu.be/0u1D2FvLHig

Don’t forget that we have our own channel that you can subscribe to for updates in real-time. Hundreds have signed up, why don’t YOU?? 🙂

Until soon,

Steve

 
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Progress report from the developer!

Hey everyone!

With the holidays in full swing, and with a new baby routine set up, life is getting less hectic and that means more work is being done on the game! We just finished adding constellations to the game system, and we are finishing up the culture/idea system. Our plan is to have the base UI completed very soon, including the province view/mode, and then we’ll start adding the AI for the characters.

We just sent version .4.3.0 out to the testers yesterday, and we’ve got plans to send about one new build a week. We also plan to create a new video in the next few days showing our progress. I have been concentrating on rewriting some base features so that the framerate and response time of the UI is increased greatly. We were having an issue with lag, so I rewrote the galaxy UI and main camera script to be much more efficient (it was one of the first things I wrote when I was still learning Unity, and it was one of those things where it could be much more efficient but I didn’t know it at the time). The UI and camera are much more responsive now. I also changed out the camera FOV and zoom system to work more like Stellaris as opposed to changing the FOV to zoom into the galaxy view. This makes the distortion at very high zoom-out levels almost nonexistent!

We’re also starting to implement the sound effects. It’s amazing how much a little sound can affect the UI experience. Makes it much more tactile. Unity makes it super easy to add sound effects to UI, as well as music. We’re still working on the music, but we have a few options already for a professional-sounding experience, especially for an indie game!

Oliver is continuing to write more of the game story and interludes, and Ogi just got back from holiday, so we’ll be seeing more art soon!

The next few builds will start to contain some of the command modes fleshed out more from a UI perspective, and we will start to add more Actions for characters, continue to add more art and remove placeholders, and start to generate the AI actions. We’ll start by testing 2 distinct ‘ultimate strategies’ that a character can be pursuing long-range (eventually, this will be around a dozen) and starting work on the ‘AI map’ to test it in the game. This is a very exciting time for the game and I’m excited to see what these characters will start to do!

Also on the radar: completion of the conversion of all stellar art assets to 3d, and adding volumetric nebulas/fog. That’s more of an ongoing task, however.

From a business perspective, we have finally finished our logo, and have begun design work on our new web sites. No ETA for those yet, hopefully before the end of the year. Our existing websites/forum are still and will continue to be up, however. We did have a spam attack on our forums (guess we’re getting bigger!) so for now if you want to register on the forums we will be handling those by hand.

We have started a news letter that contains some of this information, but it will add more in-depth info (an ‘insider’ piece, if you will) and will be sent on demand through signing up on our FB page or our web site.

That’s about all for now. Watch this space for more media soon!

Thanks!

-Steve

 

 

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.4 (Constantine) Releasing to Testers This Week!

Hey everyone!

First of all, it’s very exciting to see so many new people on the blog! Thanks to RPS for their very positive article!

We wanted to announce that we are releasing .4 this week (codename: Constantine) and we are moving right into .5 (codename: Theodosius). This means that most of the UI is now complete, the Projects and Action systems are in, the new game creation system is in, and the 3D graphics have been updated with most of the planets being replaced and all of the stars. We are very excited about working on .5, which will include the following:

  • Council System
  • Budget System
  • Emperor Screen/Diary
  • Unrest/Tension system
  • Constellations
  • Start of AI System Implemented
  • More Projects/Actions
  • Sound/Music

We are working hard on getting the AI implemented and the gameplay balanced as our testers will be working on this. Look for more screenshots and an updated video shortly on our YouTube channel!

Also, with the release of .4, we will be increasing the tempo of blog and forum updates, as well as working on our web site design. We will move to www.allianceofthesacredsuns.com shortly once our new web site is live. This blog will be moved there as part of that redesign.

Most exciting, we are planning to release our Phase One of our early access build before the end of the year! We will add more information about pricing and dates shortly.

Stay tuned for more info!

-Steve

 

 

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Introducing… Alliance of the Sacred Suns!

Hey everyone!

Been a few weeks since we’ve posted but we’ve been very busy. We’re closing in on the massive .4 milestone with the completely revamped UI system. We’ve also refined the trade system, the migration system, and added the full Action and Project systems, which are critical for how you as Emperor interact with the game. We’ve also refined our art assets and have started working on the conversation and help system (tooltips, tutorial process, etc) and removed a lot of bugs. So any videos that you’ve seen in the last 2 months, you can pretty much throw out because the game looks very different at this point.

On top of that, though, there’s one big change we’re announcing today. I have used the name ‘Imperia’ since I started working on the game when it was a hobby, and at that point it didn’t make much difference what the game name was since I never intended to sell it (or even release it publicly, at first). Once we became serious about the game, however, we started looking at potential issues with the name. There is a game called Imperia Online that has been around for almost 11 years, and although the games are wildly different in type and scope, we decided to go a different direction so as to avoid confusion with that game. Plus, having a truly unique name will help with search results and not ‘cover us up’ as we are a much smaller game.

But the biggest reason for the name change, simply, is because the new name better reflects more accurately your goal as Emperor. Your ultimate ambition is to reform the shattered Celestial Empire in order to prepare it for mankind’s final test: the Xyl. Because of this, and since much of the background story is rooted in religion and mysticism, we felt that Alliance of the Sacred Suns was more appropriate as to tell the story of the game and your role as the Emperor.

So we’ll be rebranding in stages. We will be creating a new web site that brings together all the parts of the game universe (the blog, the forum, and the wiki) and create a one-stop shop site under www.allianceofthesacredsuns.com shortly. We will announce when the site is live. We will leave redirects from the old Imperia-titled links for a while to ease the transition, but it is our hope that by the end of the year most people are using the unified web site.

We’ll be releasing a new video shortly (probably this weekend) to showcase the new UI and game play. In addition. we’ll be featured on Space Game Junkie on August 23rd at 5:30 PM PST to show .4 and the early work on .5! More on this soon.

Thanks for your support while we’ve transitioned and worked hard on the game: we’re a small studio (essentially 2 people plus contract talent) so we don’t always have time to update the blog and forums as much as we should, but rest assured we’re working hard to bring AotSS to you as soon as possible!

As always, Long Live the Celestial Empire,

Steve

 

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New .3 Overview Video Up!

Hey everyone!

Planned to get this up a little later in the week, but I was feeling frisky (and my recording software was cooperating) so here’s a short overview video of some of the main .3 features. Please keep in mind that most of .3 is under the hood, so while the ‘game world’ is more or less alive beyond character strategies and civilization AIs, the meat of the .4 update is showing this information to the player.

Shown in this video: The new trade system, the revamped main UI, the Command Mode system, and the foundations of the Project Bar and system.

Link: https://youtu.be/IaLunW37ibU

Enjoy!!

-Steve