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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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Small .4 preview – some new UI teaser screens!

Hey everyone!

Wanted to show you some WIP screens as we work on getting .4 out the door. It’s been a while, but we’ve made tremendous progress with the new build! We’re going to have all 3D planets and stars, a completely new UI, and we believe even easier ways to access the information you need in conjunction with the Command Modes! Anyway, with the exception of the Project Screen, all screenshots are from a live build of Imperia!

New Main UI WIP 6.9.16

This is the mostly-ready-to-go main UI. Note the resource bar on the top, the Projects in progress bar to the left, and the sub screen buttons have been completely redesigned and moved to the upper-left, while the next-turn button has been segregated and the date added. The huge addition is the Emperor Status bar, with your remaining AP in bright white, as well as your Power, your Popular support, and your location in an immediate place to find always. We rebuilt the UI with the viewpoint that you, the player, are the Emperor and what is most important for you to know always?

project mockup clean.png

This is the new WIP Projects Screen. Along with Actions that you do with Characters in the game, Projects are the most powerful tool you have to shape your Empire and change the game. They also define how you shape your relationships with your Characters – it is considered prestigious to be part of an important Project, but having different Characters from different Houses – especially ones that do not like each other – will slow down the progress. Actually creating a Project is as easy as dragging and dropping in an Administrator, then adding additional Contributors that add money and ADM to the project, and we wanted the window to reflect the information that you need to know, as well as creating several filter tools to best find certain Characters.

Also note the 3D planet spinning in the background with real-time lighting and lights depending on the level of civilization on the planet! (Yes, this stuff is not new, but for a small indie game we’re pretty proud of it!)

Opening Screen WIP 6.9.16

We now have a new front end as well – the pics don’t really do it justice, but everything you see is 3D and moving! The planets slowly spin around the sun, and the option panel is a 3D object. We’re not done tinkering with it yet but this will give you an idea of what we are shooting for…

New Game Setup WIP 6.9.16

The start of the Setup New Game screen. You will also be able to select your empire’s emblem here, as well as set the # of AI civilizations. The next step is where you will design your Emperor.

We’ll post more pictures soon, as well as a new video so you can see this stuff in motion! But we’re very excited about the direction of the UI in Imperia!

-Steve

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.3 has been released! Overview and plan for .4

UPDATE: The video showing the highlights of .3 visually is now up here: https://youtu.be/IaLunW37ibU

Hey all!

With a new month comes a new update, and after several months of development, .3 is ready for internal testing! Since it’s a foundational update, much of the work was done behind the scenes, but here’s a partial list of the main additions:

  • Command Modes. Now you can work within a main command mode (Political, Military, Economic, Demographic) and all of your data, Project choices, and Actions will be filtered towards furthering that particular part of your strategy.
  • Project System added. Project Bar and Screen added, as well as filter for Command Mode
  • Trade System added, along with fleets, trade hubs, trade zones, and the concept of Importance with resources
  • Province generation revised to be more balanced
  • Manufacturing system balanced vastly downward in relation to the Trade system
  • Houses more fully implemented
  • House Banners functionality added
  • Holding concept implemented (the idea that Houses own planets, systems, etc. and gain tax from them)
  • Redesigned Main UI
  • Relationship States added and finalized
  • Emperor created (you!) as unique object in game
  • Cultures added and initialized among the galaxy within 3 ‘zones’ (Imperial Cultures/Inner Ring, Border Space Cultures/Second Ring, Outer Rim Cultures/Third Ring
  • GPP generation revised
  • Game rethreaded to allow turns to generate while the player is still interacting with the map (i.e. no ‘loading new turn pause screen’)
  • Trade Fleets added – they move on the map, show lines to their destination, etc
  • UI revised significantly for new Command Mode system, more to come
  • Political and Economic Galaxy Map filters added
  • Additional core Actions added

So that’s .3 – and I’m happy to say that it is pretty damn stable so far! So what’s coming for .4? Glad you asked! By June, Imperia should have the following:

  • Constellations
  • Updated System and Planet UIs
  • Military and Demographic Galaxy Filter Modes
  • Main Game Screen redesign
  • House Setup Screen/New Game Setup screen
  • Emperor Setup Screen
  • Power mechanic implemented
  • Complete work on Project creation and add Core Projects
  • Add core Actions for Characters
  • Add Religions
  • Add Options screen (save, load, etc)

There’s some other design work behind the scenes as well to prepare for future releases, but this is the stuff that you will see when you play. Very excited to release a new video in the next few days showing what we’ve done. As always, remember that we’re showing work that’s done way before a normal studio would – as we’ve always done, we’re showing people every step in the journey, and keep in mind that a ‘normal’ studio probably wouldn’t start showing work until about another 3-4 months in the process. Hopefully you like what we’re doing and we’ll keep doing it!

-Steve

 

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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

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.412 is LIVE!! Check out the changes here…

Hey all!!

Back from a little vacation to get recharged, and hot off the press is .412! Lot of changes, and some neat UI stuff. Highly recommend to get. Also, the beginnings of the finance screen are in, and some fixes for lower resolutions should have something for everyone!

EDIT: .412a had a fatal error having to do with dependencies requested that didn’t exist in the build. I have removed all those dependencies and have uploaded as .412b. Please try that version if your install didn’t work. Thanks!

V.412 Changelog

2.24.15

BUG FIXES

* Fixed several graphical issues, especially with lower resolutions

* Fixed issue where taxes were not being calculated properly

* Fixed bug where calculating trades could cause a crash

* Fixed most remaining instances of numbers/money amounts being out of sync

* Fixed issue where projected cash flow was not accurately taking into account sector growth for next month

* Fixed issue where you could go negative on the ADM used when creating an Edict

MAJOR CHANGES:

* Added empire treasury screen. This will greatly expand in future releases but for now you can see your sector-level profitability. As the game evolves you will have to manage your sectors first as well as your sector governors and this will be the first stage in that reporting.

* Added trade summary on planet screen. This shows what trades were coming and going, the status of the station, what kind of trades the planet can do, and eventually it will show the corruption (new concept!) and efficiency of the planet’s trade

* Added planet summary panels on the system screen. These panels show just about everything you would want to know about a planet in easy icon form. Will add tooltips for future versions.

* Added starbase effective range concept. In previous versions, a level I starbase was just as effective as a level V starbase as far as covering a part of space and supporting stellar missions/Edicts. This didn’t make sense from a gameplay perspective, so changed to be an exponential range increase based on starbase level. The downside to this is that starting in .413, the empire will have to pay 50% maintenance for all starbases.

* Added kickback information to emperor screen, so you can see how much money is coming in each turn from your less savory sources.

* Added additional comments/results for the ‘Have Conversation’ action. Now, depending on your charisma, you can learn additional things about the character, and they may even join your alliance if you are persuasive enough! Added charisma as the primary weight mechanism, with modifiers for intelligence, age difference, traits, and loyalty (was not considered before). This should produce more realistic interactions, where people who hate you all of a sudden love you and support you on the basis of one conversation

* Tweaked balance further now that the sector economy level is starting to be developed

* Added functionality to Edict creation screen. Now shows real-time what adding ADM to an Edict will do for a system/sector/planet cash flow. Also added ability to use a planet’s materials if they are out of ADM, so a system/sector can now use the remaining materials on the planet before dipping into their reserve.

* Added the ability for Logistical stations to send goods to their immediate trade hub only. May not send upstream to other planets for emergency supply.

* Added more Pressure/Persuade effects, should all be done except for personal actions (blue)

* Changed economic profits. Before, a sector could be losing billions of dollars and it would be subsidized by magic, apparently, since the money was never accounted for. Starting in .412, sectors that are not profitable will subtract from the total tax base of the planet before imperial and sector taxes are considered. This will make it more important to pay attention to ‘black hole sectors’ of your economy. On the plus side, made manufacturing and agriculture more profitable to somewhat compensate.

Enjoy!

-Steve

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Version .411 is OUT!!! Big balance changes… your games should last longer

Hey everyone!

The newest version of Imperia is out – there aren’t a lot of visible changes, but there are a lot of changes under the hood! The balance has been changed signifcantly, so that the game is easier and the fact that you can do more per turn should make it more fun! Please try this build if you have been frustrated with the difficulty of the game (i.e. hell planets)

-Steve

V.411 Changelog

2.14.15

BUG FIXES

*Fixed issue with scroll arrows not working on non-native resolutions

*Fixed issue with taxes not properly being lowered if people were leaving due to unrest, or to other population factors

MAJOR CHANGES:
*Significantly improved balance – planet habitable minimum bio levels are now 60, not 50. Also made numerous small tweaks to planet generation. The upshot is there should no longer be any ‘hell’ planets as in earlier versions. This is in conjunction with the static modifier change below.
*Raised MDLs for smaller Class 0 and 1 planets
*Changed calculations for mineral and food – now they produce less per level, but balanced somewhat with less need for them
*Added more money to planet treasuries
*Viceroy economic AI has been given a pass; now unless they’re really stupid, they’ll raise taxes more effectively to get a planet out of the red.
*Lowered cost of government/infrastructure
*Added component to power rating: Astrographic power – basically the more sectors you control, and the more powerful they are, the higher your power
*Added new concept: Edict XP. Every turn that a planet, system, or sector contributes to an active Edict, the government modifier increases slightly, eventually allowing more ADM points per population on the planet.
*Added new concept: static modifier. This means that if everything is neutral, meaning nothing great or terrible is happening, popular support will slowly drop each turn. This reflects your empire people’s need to see your empire grow and expand, not stay static. To support this, costs and ADM time have been cut for many Edicts, especially exploration Edicts. Remember that Edicts that are supported by the Imperial capital’s time is affected greatly by your power rating.

*Tweaked galaxy generation to space planets a little bit farther apart

*Planets now have separate mineral values based on class; i.e. radiated planets will have a much higher chance of having luxury minerals and materials than an ice world

*Increased minimum range for warp engines (this will allow mission range to be higher at start)

GRAPHICS
*Added a few more characters
*New cover art
*Adding a few interstitial screens between turns.
*Money and numbers are now rounded to the nearest whole digit and one decimal point, e.g. $1,343,124 dollars (which was in thousands anyway and was confusing) is now $1.3b. I’d like some feedback on this change, to know whether these numbers are easier to understand.