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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

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Just a quick update – Life is personal, and programming is hard!

Hey all!

This is Steve, lead developer of Alliance of the Sacred Suns. This is a quick blog to talk a little bit about the relative lack of updates from me! Basically, it’s hard having a baby, especially when you’re still working full-time as well as trying to complete an alpha for a game.

Although Ethan has been a great baby, he’s still a baby, with baby needs and baby volume, and with my 50 hour a week job, it’s been difficult for me to find time to develop. Oliver and Ogi have continued to work on the writing and the graphics, and I’m happy to say that I’ve found a new balance, my wife has been supportive with my efforts to rebalance everything, and have been able to successfully work on the game again.

We’re back on track and be ready to hear a lot about what we’re doing in the near future. I just wanted to muse a bit on how much your life changes when you have a kid for the first time and how much harder it is to get up in the morning! So this is a combination thanks to the team for carrying on and an apology that I haven’t posted more stuff in the last month or so. I promise to make up for lost time :-p

We’re going all-out on the .5 build for this month and it should be ready by the end of November. We’re starting to look at a target date for an alpha release that you can purchase. We’re not yet ready to set a date but we’re getting closer to that decision. We’re also in the process of redesigning our web site so we’ll have a one stop shop for all things AotSS in the near future. As always, you can catch up with the updates on the forum or this blog. Thanks for everyone’s patience – as some of you may know, it’s hard being indie!

-Ave imperator!

-Steve

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Baby, I’ve been busy… where have you been, Steve!

Hey everyone!

If it seems like I’ve been away for a while, it’s because I have. My wife and I welcomed our first child to the family, Ethan Hawkins, last Tuesday 9/20, but not without complications – basically he had to spend almost a week in the NICU due to various complications from being born 3 weeks early. The great news is that the little guy is doing great and will be coming home today, which means that that’s a load off my mind!

So with that behind us, as much as I can, AotSS will be back in production. I have some time off from my main job and while obviously a lot of that time will be used to bond with mom and son, I will be working hard on .5 as we ready for a pre-alpha release later this year!

Thanks for everyone’s understanding and support!

-Steve

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.4 Update, New Screenshots, and a New Artist!

Hello everyone! It feels like it’s been a while since we last spoke, but we’ve been busy revamping the UI system from the ground up, as well as tightening the gameplay and design. We’re almost ready to send .4 out, and we hope to feature it on a podcast soon (Details forthcoming) but for now, we wanted to show some more screenshots, talk about how the UI is evolving, and introduce our newest artist, Ogi Schneider! Ogi has helped us with our UI/UX setup, and helped us corral this huge game into a friendly and accessible interface, the first results which we will be showing below!

Ogi’s bio:

My name is Ogi Schneider, I was born in Switzerland and live currently in London. After my interactive entertainment Diploma I went to Germany to a Stuttgart based 3D visualization company for an internship in 3D modeling/animation/rendering which led to a full-time position, helping with visualization- and game-/interactive-projects. We released two game titles, Tower Tapper (mobile only) and Steamscope (mac/mobile).

After 3 years in Germany I went back to Switzerland, doing freelance jobs regarding 3D and texturing for Apps and Games. Next to freelancing I was also involved in two indie game projects, Sky Mercenaries (Steam) and Steel Rain (Steam). In 2015 I got the chance to start a paid internship in London as Graphic Designer, which led to a fulltime job doing mostly UI/UX-Design and some print- and web-design.

In May 2016 I started freelancing again and found this great job opportunity to work on the Imperia UI- and UX-Design, which is what I am currently working on.

We are excited to showcase some of the new UI design in the .4 build and talk about some of the reasons for the sea change in design. Please note that while these are all in-game screenshots, there are a few missing icons here and there, and things will most likely change/tweak over the course of development. Let’s show some screenshots!

These are the first pass of the new 3D setup screens. We will add a third screen for the emperor setup (name, House name, colors, crests, portrait) in an upcoming build soon. The panels are 3D and move in real-space. It’s a cool effect!

Galaxy Screen 7.6.16

Here is the main screen, where you see all the new elements. The command bar is on the lower-left where you can change your command mode (economic, political, demographic, military) and an overview mode that would be the closest to a ‘traditional’ mode. On the right is your Project Bar, which will show all of your active Projects in the Empire and the available Projects for that level (province, system, planet mode). On the upper-right is your Empire stockpiles for energy and materials, used when you start a Project and for trade. The top center is your Emperor Status bar, which shows your remaining Action Points, your location, your Power rating, and your popular support. Finally, the upper-left shows the sub window buttons (Finance, Intel, Science, Emperor Diary, Overview/Stats) and your option menu.

System Screen 7.6.16

Zooming in, you see the new stars and some of the new planets. This shows the new Economic Planet bar that shows the basic economic information. Other modes will have the relevant information about each planet for that mode. You are able to access the viceroys from each planet from these bars as well.

Planet Base Screen 7.6.16

Here is the base Planet Screen – this is what you will see in each mode regardless of type. Your Chain of Command is always in the upper-left (you will see shortened versions of the COC on the system and province screens). This shows the tax revenue from the planet and who is getting how much. In the center is the viceroy window with a new chat log showing your conversation, and their basic info. The lower-center is the planet summary bar showing the high-level information about the planet. Keep in mind that we’re still tweaking what each panel shows and how much, but the look and feel is pretty much set.

Expanded Economic Mode 7.6.16

When you are in a submode, you will have a window bar on the left that shows individual panels that can be opened and closed independently. These windows stay with the mode, meaning that you can have 2 windows open in eco mode, 3 windows open in demographic mode, etc. and they will stay open with the mode when you switch modes, even between planets. In this way, players can create a workspace that works best for them – different combinations of panels can be used for different views when they work within that mode! This shot shows all of the Economic windows open, but they can be closed independently  as needed.

Updated Project Screen 1

Here is the in-game Project Screen. You first select a Project from the bar on the right, which opens up the window seen here. You then select an Administrator by dragging and dropping their charcter card into the box, which will unlock a number of contributor slots equal to the skill of the administrator. You then drag and drop contributors until you have enough financial contribution and ADM to finish the project in a realistic amount of time, You can find characters by scope (planet/system, etc), House, or filter (ADM > 0, wealth > 0) and sort within the pages to bring the highest values to the top.

Updated Project Screen 2

Here’s a Project that is ready to send, with an Admin and 2 contributors.

So we’re working now on the Character Screen. Not *quite* ready to show, but it will be ready to use and we’ll have a blog on that shortly. With the basic UI look and feel in place, we’ll be adding the rest of the modes shortly, along with the sub windows in the next .5 build!

-Steve

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Approaching .3…

Hi all, Oliver here. Just a brief post today, outlining where we are and what we’re doing! Sunday 1st is our scheduled production deadline for Imperia Alpha 0.3, and Steve and I are both hard at work nailing down what’s left of that milestone.

Steve has been working on the trade system – planets in each trade zone now bid for goods, and automatically create trade fleets to dispatch them, all of which you can see on the map. He’s going to be polishing that up and adding tooltips this week, along with implementing the characters’ secret attitudes towards one another and a bunch of other stuff under the hood. For testers, there’s a very detailed log showing what the AI is considering when making trades, and what personality traits they are using. We haven’t added House affiliation yet when making these decisions, but when the House system is fully installed that will be a factor as well. He will also be adding the Project Bar and begin adding the Project data so that testers can start using the Project system in .4.

On my end, I’ve been polishing up the core of the AI’s strategy tree – which determines what each character wants and how they try to get it – and building a simplified model of the Threat Assessment AI in Python, to test out our design for that as it stands. Using test articles like this is a really good way to refine the design without having to mess with the game itself, and since Steve is doing all the proper coding, it saves him a lot of time, too. Initially we were going to model it in Excel (!), but the extra functionality you get with Python means it’s much easier to do it this way.

Come next milestone, which all going well will come at the start of June, the Threat Assessment AI (in whatever form it takes after this round of prototyping) will be implemented, along with the core of the Strategy Tree and a fairly minimal set of Actions and Projects. Imperia will go from being a fancy-pants galaxy simulator to an actual game for the first time since it was all written in XNA, and I for one am stoked about it.

We’ve also been recruiting alpha testers and UI artists, which is rather exciting. Having set out most of the UI in fairly Spartan ink-and-paper sketches over the past few months, it’s quite something to see them rendered professionally. Hopefully we’ll have some shiny new art to show you in the next few weeks, too!

Until next time,

Oliver

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Developer Diary – UI and Command Modes

Hello everyone! Steve here with a small blog about one of the subtle, but important UI design choices: the concept of Command modes.

When we revamped the game design, we put a lot of thought into the UI. Imperia is a game with a lot of information, and we wanted a system where a player could get that information easily – but within the context of what they were working on.

If you play strategy games, you tend to think in terms of ‘what do I want to do?’ These tasks can be anything from ‘raise taxes’ to ‘build a fleet’ to ‘put a building in the queue on my capital planet’. But you are almost always doing these things within a larger context; in other words, you’re trying to accomplish a larger strategic goal by doing tactical things. So we thought, What will players do most? We settled on 4 broad areas that we felt most players would assign strategic value in Imperia: economic, military, diplomatic, and  demographic (pops), and created dedicated Command modes that focus player interaction on a particular area of strategy.

What this means in game terms is that if you select, say, Economic mode, then all map submodes, Actions, Projects, and data will be relevant to the economy of that view level, be it province, system, or planet.

So for example, if you are looking at a planet screen in Economic mode, you will see the taxes, production, trade to and from the planet, planet-level economic Projects in the Project bar, etc. If you move out of the planet screen, the system screen will have system trade, system-level economic Projects in the Project bar, and so on. Any submodes will be economic-related as well.

In essence, Command modes act as a smart filter so that you can act within the strategy you are pursuing without having to move ‘sideways’ in the UI. You can switch between command modes at any time, and for traditionalists there will be ‘override’ options that allows for Action- and Project-level filtering independent of the command mode (in other words, you can see all Projects for a planet even if you are in Military command mode) but we think most players will appreciate this setup once they start to play.

More to come soon, including some new screenshots!

-Steve

 

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Exciting News! The Game Design for Imperia Is Nearly Complete… And You’ll Get to See (some of) it!

Hey everyone! Well, Oliver and I have been working hard on the refined game design for Imperia, and after an original version that was banged on for a while, several months of work and balancing, and a lot of cussing and sore fingers, we are excited to announce that the game design document for Imperia is just about through its first draft!

While this may or may not sound exciting, you may have noticed that we haven’t put up any new screens for a while, and we haven’t released any new builds to our testers. It’s been almost 4 months, in fact. We made a decision among the 3 of us (Oliver, Pavlos, and myself) that as this was becoming a large and commercial project, it made more sense for us to pause, rework and get the design on paper, lock down the critical game systems and design elements, and flesh out the lore of the universe of Imperia. It’s been a lot of work, and I have to say Oliver in particular has put a lot of work into the AI systems, the lore, and the military systems, among other things.

We challenged each other, took a critical eye at everyone’s thoughts, and looked at every single aspect of Imperia from a new perspective. Some of what we have changed we have discussed in these forums and blogs as developer’s diaries, but there’s more. Much more to this design. Over 60,000 words and over 160 pages so far, in fact. And still growing as we add lore and things like formulas, art, etc.

Is this the right way to design a game? We don’t know. But when you have 3 people working from across the globe, with different time zones and responsibilities with the game, you have to have a concrete Bible that everyone can work from. We have project management and such as well, of course, but as we quickly found out, a game of this complexity and scope simply could not be ‘made up as we go’ as we got deeper into the design from what I started in 2014. So much like starting over with Unity, we took a deep breath and plunged into the task.

And you know what? It was absolutely the right thing to do. These last few weeks, as we have tied down the major systems and bridged the lore with the systems and the UI plan, we realize we’re creating something incredible here; something that has never really been tried before. With a working GDD, we’re going to be able to start developing code and art again in earnest, and frankly, with all we’ve done with Imperia, I can confidently say this:

Imperia is about to lift off, and for those of you who have been following us for a while (y’all are awesome and seriously devoted, BTW!) your patience is about to be rewarded in a big way. We’re going to start sharing portions of the game design in about a week, but for a little something right now, here’s a new ‘back of the box’ description of what Imperia is:

“Happy birthday, Your Excellence. I am your AI regent. As you have now reached your eighteenth birthday, you are now the Last Emperor of the Celestial Empire, and as such are now authorized to receive this briefing, classified Omega-One Level.

“The year is 3050 AD. You are the last Emperor of the last Human Empire on the first planet founded after Mother Earth fell over an eon ago to the wrath of the Xyl.

“Our race, scattered amongst the quadrant, thousands of light-years across, has shattered like cosmic glass after the Second Xyl War. Scattered survivors have formed small civilizations, new cultures have sprung up, and even strange religions have formed to the very edges of the quadrant in a feeble attempt to fight the flickering of humanity’s flame. Recently, our outer colonies have seen disturbing signs of our ancient Xyl enemies once more, and New Terra’s historians are increasingly wary of what they see.

“The Celestial Empire, or as it is known colloquially, the Last Empire, stands as humanity’s final bastion against the winds of the Xyl that would seek to extinguish this flame. These creatures that are less than Gods but more than mortal have planned centuries for this time, and they do not intend to fail in their goal a third time.

“Your House rules dozens of worlds, but the other Great Houses of the Empire seek to usurp the Crystal Throne upon which you sit. Powerful Primes sit on the Celestial Council, gathering power for the time when they might strike for the Empire themselves. Only your House’s vast holdings, your control of your unimpeachable Inquisitors and their attached squads of fanatical Judgements, and your divine right to rule which is still revered by the Empire’s people, has prevented a cataclysmic civil war between your ruling House and the other Houses.

“Your people still support you, but as the last in your line, the Last Empire, along with your House, will fall with you. The great religion of the Empire, Solarianism, threatens to schism your Empire as they pray not to you, but to Father Sun to turn back his demon Xyl, to no avail.

“We can not hope to fight this final war alone, Your Excellence. Our military technology has grown stagnant, and our warships have become relics with our slide away from technology. You must unite these broken shreds of humanity, lost though many of them have become, and bring them – however you must – under the banner of humanity one last time.

“The Xyl are coming, Your Excellence. The quadrant is watching. Your people are praying. Your enemies are plotting.

“Your empire awaits your first command.”

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Developer Diary – Production System!

Hey everyone! Not dead, just busy, but the clouds have cleared in my work schedule and we’ve been hard at work on the Game Design Document! I wanted to take a moment and explain how production will work, since it’s somewhat novel and fits in line with the ‘you don’t micro each building on your planets’ theme.

At its core, the production system contains 2 major elements: Build Points (BPs) and Build Plans. Build Points are generated though factories for each raw mineral in the game (Basic, Heavy, Rare) which are then allocated to Build Plans. Build Plans are essentially the plan for how BPs will be divided up among building areas on the planet. There are 10 different allocations that can be built:

  • Farms
  • High-Tech
  • Factories
  • Mines
  • Admin
  • Academies
  • Military Research Labs
  • Ground Military Factories
  • Starship Shipyards
  • Living Infrastructure

Not all areas will always be built at any one time. Generally, Build Plans will be generated depending on a planet’s Focus (formerly Designation in the first game) that you set as Emperor. For example, if you set a planet’s Focus as an Agriculture World, the viceroy will build at least 50% farms from the BPs that are generated, and the rest will be dependent on the viceroy’s House leanings (some Houses prefer more economy, some more military, some more research, some more trade, some are a combination, etc) as well as their personal preferences.

Build Plans can change every 6 months, but can be adjusted if a planet can not provide enough food or power organically. In other words, viceroys will try to make a planet self-sufficient within the bounds of the planet’s Focus limitations, and prioritize food and power production over all else unless the Focus does not allow for it.

As Emperor, you may change the Focus of a planet as a Project, but keep in mind that while a planet is changing Focuses, production drops to almost nothing as factories are retooled, zoning is changed, Pops are retrained, etc. Making this a Project reflects the enormous amount of work to change the development of a world so much.

Viceroys can also Overdrive their Build Plans if they deem it necessary. It is what it sounds like; it tasks your Engineers to make more BPs in order to allow things to be built more quickly. This will use up a lot more resources, as well as piss off and exhaust your Engineers (and Miners, as a secondary effect). Viceroys who are less empathetic will tend to do this more, but they run the risk of revolt from their engineer Pops and possibly even losing them to immigration. You do NOT want to lose your Engineers; they are almost as hard to come by as Science and Academic Pops. If you do not want Overdriven production as Emperor, you can set limits for this as a Policy.

That’s a sneak peek into Production – more to come soon!

-Steve

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Edicts to Projects: What it means, and why it’s better: PART I

Hey everyone! For those of you who have been with us for a while, you know all about Edicts – basically the way that you get stuff done on a planetary level in Imperia. When we sat down to redesign the game, we thought about what Edicts really represent. In the first Imperia, there wasn’t a lot of interactivity to them – you basically pointed your finger and said ‘do this’. While your vassals could slow down the project, there wasn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to it – plus, the way to build your Edicts was somewhat confusing, and assigning ADM from planets wasn’t very intuitive. So we knew we would be redesigning the screen from the start.

With that, what are Edicts? Well, you already have a lot of overlap with character Actions – you are asking characters to do things, and with Edicts you were asking more or less the same thing. It felt like a fiat, and there was very little interaction with characters beyond ‘piss them off, Edict slows down. Make them happy, Edict speeds up’. Since the core of the game is the relationship with your people and your leaders, this felt incomplete.

So we decided first to make Edicts only truly planetary-level and above decisions. Next, we thought about how to get characters involved, and to differentiate certain characters, giving the player tough decisions about how to create an Edict, while also keeping the actual physical creation extremely easy and intuitive. After much discussion, we have finalized the new Project system.

Why Project? Well, Projects are much more collaborative and expansive, while the very word Edict doesn’t leave much room for debate. Given the way they are now organized, and the fact that you will also be able to enact Progress Laws (we haven’t finalized the name yet) we didn’t want to confuse the player about what they were doing. Once you click on the Project in the list (similar to the Edict list), a Project Creation screen will popup. Here is a mockup of what the screen will look like:

Project Screen Mock

Each Project now has an ADM cost, shown on the upper-right. They also have a base resource cost, and a money cost. They also have a ethic leaning, which can make it impossible to add certain characters if their morality is strongly against the ethics rating of the Project.

Creating a Project is now very simple: You assign an Administrator, and then assign Contributors by dragging and dropping the character card onto the slots on the staffing ring. To remove a character, simply right-click. When you have full funding, click Execute and that’s it!

The first step is to assign an Administrator of the Project, shown in the center of the staffing ring on the left. Every character in the game has an Admin rating of 0-9, and that affects both the maximum number of characters they can add to a Project as Admin and how much of their holdings’ ADM they can use for a Project if they are a Contributor. Once you have an Administrator, a number of slots equal to their Admin rating will show around the outer circle (position has no bearing on anything).

Your goal as the Emperor is to assign characters to help with the Project by contributing money and ADM. What’s in it for them is now reflected by a Prestige rating for the Project. This represents the amount of power and influence that they gain throughout the empire by being a contributor to a stellar-level Project. Generally, the more prestigious the Project, the more characters will be willing to contribute UNLESS it is a Project that will help a rival House (characters tend to be more loyal to their Houses’ interests than yours) The actual amount of power they receive is proportional to the amount of funding that they end up contributing (Admins get 50% of the value of the Project Prestige rating by dint of them being the Administrator).

Each character card on the right has the character’s name, their max ADM that they can contribute per month, their public Honor rating, and their funding minimum/maximum that they are willing to give to the Project. Their loyalty to you, their personal wealth, their desire for Power, and how much their House will be affected (positively or negatively) will all weigh into what they are willing to contribute. Characters who are not willing to contribute anything or who will not be Contributors due to morality concerns will be greyed out. To easily find characters to add, you will have range filters from the planet, system, province, and the entire Empire, and you will also be able to filter by House, rank, whether they are allies or enemies, and more.

Now with this system, you have a lot of considerations. Sure, you can assign a high-level administrator, but competent ones will be few and far between. What happens if you have a need for a Project down the road that you have to have done quickly? If you pull an Admin, the project freezes until a new Administrator with equal or better Admin rating is put into place. Also, sure it’s great to have a character that will pony up the whole funding for a Project, but they will also get all the prestige that goes with that – is that a character that you want to give a massive power boost to? And if you put characters from the same House all in the Project, they will get a slight ADM efficiency bonus – but other Houses will take note that they have been shut out of Empire Projects, and your standing will suffer accordingly. Also, being an Admin of a successful and provincial-level, say, Project will also accord massive Power to that character. What are the ramifications of that?

With this information, you simply drag and drop characters onto the staffing ring until your funding potential (seen on the upper-left of the staffing ring) reaches 100% or more. You will also be able to gauge how long this Project might take as the Estimated Turns value changes. This is calculated by taking the max ADM allocation from characters that are assigned and dividing by the total ADM required to complete the Project. Once you are happy with everything, you click Execute. The Project is now in Funding status. After a turn passes, if nothing has happened with the characters that are involved in the Project financially or otherwise, they put their money in, the resources are removed from the planet where the Project is based, and the Project begins!

FOR PART II: Cover, corruption, troubleshooting Projects that are behind schedule, and what happens when characters die while involved in a Project…

Talk to y’all soon!

-Steve

 

 

Posted on 6 Comments

Where have you been, Steve? Well, big news!!

So you probably have noticed that I’ve been gone for a while from the blog. There is a very good reason for that: After much thought, I have decided to take on the large-scale challenge that Imperia has thrown in front of me. I’ll explain.

I have been working on Imperia for almost a year now (10 months) and it started out as a single project that I was using to learn how to program. I reached a point in my development where I realized that I actually had (or could learn) the skills needed to create the 5X game I’ve always wanted to play, which became Imperia. As I continued to work on it, I wanted feedback, so I posted the game to a few forums. Interest grew, and as the game went through version .2, then .3, and .4, more and more people jumped on, to the point where there are thousands of hits a week when I post new info.

With the addition of Pavlos and the creation of the awesome community, I had to at least consider what, if anything, I wanted to do with Imperia. Does it stay a hobby, or do I try to make it fly, follow my dream, and create the game I’ve always wanted – but with more resources?

After much thought, prayer, conversation, and trepidation, I’ve decided to jump into the icy pool: I will rebuild Imperia from the ground up and sell it.

What does this mean to you? First, I will release .414 shortly. It has a lot of bug fixes and is very playable at this point, if obviously incomplete. Future VB version releases of Imperia will always be free. I will continue to ‘noodle’ on the VB version of Imperia for ideas and to quickly test out certain parameters as I work though getting up to speed with my new development system.

Which is what, Steve? Well… glad you asked. I’m going all the way with Unity 5 and C# scripting. This change will allow many benefits:

  • Universal compatibility – there will be builds for Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Resolution issues will be markedly reduced
  • The engine is more stable and much more supported at this point
  • Install dependencies are now much more integrated – one click install, with the flexibility of a full install program
  • Better memory management
  • Fonts won’t suck 😀
  • Vastly more potential to upgrade the UI – we are designing a ‘holistic’ UI where you never leave the galaxy map – you will ‘zoom’ into provinces (formerly sectors), systems, and planets – all on the same screen, but with different information. I’ve already mocked a prototype and it’s way more beautiful and flexible!

Those are the high points, and I am very excited about having the chance to correct and improve some things about the original Imperia, especially with the interface and some of the complexity of the planet economic system.

So for now, there is no MSRP, no Kickstarter, and no immediate early access plan. As I have said before, I have a lucrative full-time job and do not need to do this for the money. If we do move to some sort of crowdfunding, it will be small and used to pay for assets (music, Pavlos’ art, animation, etc). There is also the possibility of publishing though another company, though there is very little I can say about that at this time. Let’s just say for now there will be no call for your wallet. :)

If you are interested in being an actual alpha tester for KatHawk games (the DBA of my company), please let me know. A playable build is frankly 2-3 months off while I wrangle with the Unity system. I wish I had started with it from the beginning, but c’est la vie. There are some of you who have been with us since the beginning and I will personally reach out to you.

If you have any other questions, thoughts, etc. I would love your input, either here on the blog or at our forum. One thing we will be doing soon will be to update and unify the blog, the wiki, and the forum, and create a one-stop page with the usual things: news feed, media corner, development updates, etc.

I am very nervous about this decision, and I did not come to it lightly. I have no idea if Imperia will be as good as I want it to be at the end of the development cycle but I will say this. I’ve worked on this thing for almost a year, and I’ll work on it until it’s the best space strategy game I can possibly make, and if you want to join the ride, there’s plenty of room on the wagon – the journey’s just starting (again): hop aboard!

-Steve