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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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The Updated Roadmap: When will the first playable release be, and Early Access notes

Hey all!

Steve here with some exciting news (well, we think so). With the finalization of the game design, and active development planned out, we can be much more accurate with our milestone builds, so even though giving out dates is always an exercise in disappointment, we’ve put a lot of time into scheduling out the releases, and we’re prepared to give at least tentative release dates for each build. So without further ado, here’s the alpha release schedule!

CURRENT BUILD AS OF 4/4/16: .2.1.0.5

.3 BUILD: Adds new UI, command modes, updated Character Screens, Projects, Trade, Holdings, Houses, Cultures, core Actions, Relationship States between Characters, start of AI Strategy Tree implementation. TARGET DATE: 5/1

.4 BUILD: Adds Constellations, complete System UI, Planet UI, all Military/Economic Submodes, Political Submodes, Pops/Demographic Submodes, Main Game Screen, House Setup Screen, Emperor Setup Screen, Pop Ideas, Additional Actions and Projects, Power Mechanic, Religions, Other Civs Generation, End Game Manager, Music/Sound. TARGET DATE: 6/1

.5 BUILD: Adds Celestial Council, Budget system, Finance Prime, Save/Load, additional Core Actions and Projects, Emperor UI/Diary, Psychic System & UI, Begin implementation of Aitvaras Master AI, Character Attention AI, Threat Assessment AI, Opportunity Spotting AI, Council AI, Music Engine for dynamic music. TARGET DATE: 7/15

.6 BUILD: Includes Intel system & UI, Inquisitors, Secrets, Intel Prime, Secondary Actions, Secondary/Intel Projects. TARGET DATE: 8/15

.7 BUILD: Includes Military system & UI, Military units, Military Projects & Actions, Generals/Admirals TARGET DATE: 10/1 (Proposed Early Access Date)

.8 BUILD: Includes Reform system & UI, Reform/Military Projects, Reform Actions, Military Research system & UI, Academies TARGET DATE: 11/1

.9 BUILD: Includes Deals system & UI, tertriary Actions, Begin implementation of Dealmaking AI,  Xyl AI, Videos TARGET DATE: 12/15

1.0 ALPHA BUILD: Add Xyl mechanics & UI, Optimization, all end-game videos, intro video

FINAL TARGET FOR 1.0 ALPHA: 2/1/17

So the plan for now(TM) is to have a viable playable release with the release of the .7 Build. This would contain about 80% of the game elements, and most of the AI. Obviously with a game like this a lot of balance is needed and that will take a lot of time, which is where early access comes in. I have made my stance clear about early access/Kickstarter projects for years now (for those new to this blog: I’m not a fan) because I don’t like the idea of releasing half-assed products for money. We haven’t made a final decision yet about what we’re going to do with regards to that – so we have a question for you.

Now that you’ve seen the feature schedule, we’ve added a poll that asks what build you would consider the earliest ‘playable’ release, if any. We think it’s .7, but we’d like your input. We want to do a lot of things like this, similar to Games2Gether, and get our community’s thoughts!

Thanks for your continued support!

-Steve

 

 

 

 

 

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The New Roadmap… A Preview!!

Hey all!!

I promise this blog will be hopping more and more as I get more time to work on Imperia. Briefly, I want to talk about the revised roadmap that I’m looking at going forward for the game. I will add more detail to each version in a separate post, and I’d love feedback!

V.04 – This will have primarily the military system put in place, including ships, fleets, assignment to governors, admirals, and the War Prime screen with build orders, as well as randomized components and technology. It will be a large arc, and I hope to have it done by the end of the year. The war prime button will be unlocked.

V.05 – This will concentrate on the scientific system. With the planets and ships in place, there will be more to research. Here you will be able to research Edicts, technologies that are more efficient, war technologies, and the first version of the Lazarus Project (the true ‘win condition’) will be available. The science prime button will be unlocked.

V.06 – This will add the economic layer from a empire-wide perspective. There is already a empire-wide economy, but up to now the focus has been primarily at a planet level. This update will allow you to control empire-wide taxes, set a max and a min tax rate for planets and systems, and control the subsidies that sectors are allocated. I will be changing to a top-down model by this update; in other words, planets send profits to systems who send profits to sectors who are taxed for the Empire, and vice versa. Currently, there is a ‘bottom-up’ model. This will (hopefully) ensure stronger sector organization and really put the power in the hands of the sector governors, where it belongs. The economic button will be unlocked.

V.07 – At this point, intel will get a lookover, as will anything missing from the planet system (secondary designations, etc). The intel screen will be more functional (though I will be adding here and there throughout the process). You will have more intel options for characters, such as spread rumors, fabricate plots, etc.

V.08 – Here the character system will be completed and the events system will be put into place. Characters will comm you and the ‘wish and demand’ system will be implemented. I was originally going to do this in .4 but I realized that all the components of the Empire needed to be in play for this to be effective.

V.09 – At last… other empires!! Before this point there will be the possibility of civil war or a rebellion within your empire, but this update will introduce true empires that have grown and exist outside of your Empire. Soon, I will post the background of Imperia, and the context will make a lot more sense.

V1.0 – At last! Graphics updates, bugs, balancing, and anything else that I didn’t get to previously will be here. Exciting times, right?

-Steve

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Imperia: The Road Ahead

With the release of .227, I feel like most of the showstopper bugs have been fixed and the few that are still in I hope to have fixed or have already fixed by the next release.

Looking at the published roadmap. everything that I wanted in the release up to .3 is fixed or in the game, so I’ll be moving on towards .4 and the development that I have laid out. Next will come the financial screen and Edicts related to controlling your economy, working on balance, adding the Emperor information screen that will have your personal information, your good/evil rating, expanded information on your accomplishments, and the beginnings of your personal Edict options, such as traveling to a specific planet or giving an Empire-wide speech about different topics that may come up in your Empire. I will also be expanding functionality on the Intel screen. Each of these additions will probably have its own release so that people can test the UI and use the expanded functionality.

Version .4 will also continue to see your leaders expand their personalities and interactions with you. A big part of what separates Imperia from other 4X games is the interaction with your leaders and their personalities that unfold as you discover more about their leadership style. This will be a constant point of improvement.

I will also be spending a lot of time, especially over these next few weeks, fleshing out the documentation wiki. It is critical that people know how to play and don’t feel lost. A lot of Imperia’s concepts are somewhat hidden, and if you don’t understand how they work, you’ll be left wondering if it’s a bug in the program or WAD. I want people to understand how to play and why things work sometimes and why they might not always be available, so the documentation will be a huge priority for me.

Beyond that, keep hacking away at bugs as they crop up (and you discover them!) and continue to add blocks to Imperia, bit by bit!

Thank you for your interest!

-Steve