Originally posted by Soren Johnson on the Mohawk Games blog.
Galactic Civilizations III turns a year old this week. I'm both shocked that it has already been a year, and surprised it has only been a year. When GC3 shipped I was very proud of what we had done, but I am even prouder of what the game has become over the last year. As a designer, I know that a game is really never done, so it has been a pleasure to continue working on GalCiv3 with such a great group of people.
Lets look back at Galactic Civilizations III’s first year...
The first thing we did after shipping, was dig into the Steam Workshop. The steam workshop is a perfect fit for Galactic Civilizations III as it allows players to share the custom content with the world. Everytime I go to the forums I am amazed by what users have created. I can waste hours just looking at the incredible ship designs.
One year in, there are thousands of Custom Factions on the Workshop. Want 100 factions in in your insane galaxy? You can pick from original player factions or factions inspired by just about every sci-fi universe you can think of. There are hundreds of custom maps and don't even get me started on the thousands user-designed ships. If you have not checked out the player-designed ships, stop reading this and go do so now. There are even a few celebrity designers that have submitted hundreds of designs on their own; to them I say thank you -- you guys make awesome stuff.
Anyone who reads the changelogs each time we update the game will know that it would be impossible for me to list all the changes, balancing, and flat out bugs fixes we have done over the last year. In fact, it is hard to just sum it up.
With each update, we are always looking for ways to improve performance, stability, balance and (most importantly) the fun of the game. Each point release has focused on one or two aspects of the game.
Some of these changes, such as improving the AI, can be subtle. We have spent time making sure each AI has its own personality, and is better at building worlds, managing it’s civilizations, building ships, using resources, and hunting down players. It’s very important to us that the AI continue to grow and improve as we move forward.
Thanks to great user feedback we now have a much more balanced production system that allows players to better manage large civilizations without having to micro-manage each planet’s spending. Other planetary management changes have included adding governors and simple production focuses.
Still other changes have made both the late game and large maps more fun for the player. Better fleet, shipyard, and design screen lists have made it much easier to manage the crazy amount of ships and fleets players can accrue in a long game. The completely re-factored starbase system done in 1.7 has made managing starbases much simpler and has made starbases much more useful and fun.
We have also added some entirely new gameplay features through DLC. For example, PrecursorWorlds mixes up the colonization rush while Mega Events shakes up mid- and late-game play. New maps change the flow of both singleplayer and multiplayer experience. You can can even now play as the terrifying Snathi or fight off the return of the Dreadlords.
With the Mercenaries expansion, players can hire out their dirty work and make better use of their precious Galactic Resources. We were also able to bring back two classic GalCiv2 races (the Arceans and the Torians) as well as a new campaign where you help the Torians reclaim their place in the galaxy.
As we move forward toward the next expansion, we will continue to improve the base game with asteroid mining, ship leveling (including for Mercenaries), and a rather substantial update to multiplayer. And of course we will continue to work on improving the AI, and user experience.
Perhaps what has impressed me most over the last year is that the game has such dedicated players, designers, and fans. Players have given us an amazing amount of feedback and suggestions on how we can make the game better. The most difficult problem with this torrent of feedback is deciding what to do first, or how to integrate it into existing plans. So keep checking back! Galactic Civilizations III will keep growing and getting better for years to come.
Galactic Civilizations III
Another week has passed and thus another update.
NEW UNIT: PHC Athena
The new PHC Athena will be going out shortly. This won’t be DLC but rather an update to the base game.
The PHC Athena was designed by Haalee, one of the architects of the PHC. To build it, she created a new entity called Athena to specialize in militarized constructs.
As some of you know, the PHC did not originally have armed constructs. They were a necessity because of claim jumpers – Post-Humans who would take a planet that had been assigned to someone else.
The Athena AI was decommissioned by Haalee at the demand of members of the PHC council who opposed the idea of an AI (such as Haalee) creating additional AIs and the design shelved.
Strengths and weaknesses
At the start of the war with the Substrate, the PHC lacked any direct counter to the Substrate Mauler or the Substrate Drone Hive. It is important to understand that the Substrate designed its units knowing who its enemy was and thus started the way with a significant advantage.
The Athena is the first new PHC unit to be produced since the start of the Ascension Wars. It is very strong against Cruisers though relatively (very) weak against smaller units due to the relatively slow firing nature of its weapons array.
The Athena should be released later this Spring.
Next week we’ll be discussing the Substrate’s answer to the Artemis.
As always, we ask that you review Ashes of the Singularity on Steam. A game’s review score determines its discoverability on Steam. Even if it’s a negative review, better to have reviews written by people who know the game than reviews written by people who spent only a few minutes playing the game.
We expect to release a balance update. The main changes are that the Drone Hive will cost more metal and have reduced vision (it won’t be able to see far enough to target Archers generally) along with the Call Avatar cost increased from 35 to 50. The Mauler has also gotten its cost increased somewhat.
Multiplayer: Season 1 standings
- DanailLazov (Substrate)
- DasUnding (PHC)
- Ailes (Substrate)
- LoveIsAll (Substrate)
- Shutdown (Substrate)
The Substrate dominance of Season 1 along with our own simulations is why we’ve been making the balance changes to Substrate these last couple of updates.
Once observer mode is in, we plan to hold a tournament at the end of the season to determine 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. With prizes for the top 3.
At the end of the season, the maps in from Season 1 will be made into a DLC available and given to everyone who has the game at that point and made as inexpensive DLC for everyone else.
Season 2 maps will be a substantially different style than Season 1.
Single Player: Deluxe Campaign
Today the voice overs for the updated campaign are being recorded. We have some new characters who will be in this campaign to handle the 3 new cut scenes going in that will help flesh out the story further. Moreover, the dialog part of the game no longer takes input focus. The Deluxe campaign will be a free update to the base game. Once the Deluxe campaign is done, we’ll be moving to Episode 2 which we expect to release mid Summer.
More to come soon! Stay tuned
Brad posted his latest dev status post over on Steam, so I'm copying the post here.
## v1.11 change log ##
This is supposed to come out this week but between Ashes, GalCiv III and OTC the QA guys are pretty busy.
## Staffing Changes ##
We've added a lot more artists to the game since release. Obviously, we wish we could have had more artists earlier but part of Stardock's policy is that we really don't like to lay off staff so that means we don't hire up a bunch of artists and lay them off at the end of a project.
With other projects done, we've got a lot more artists available.
## The new stuff ##
In June we expect to release the Eradiactor (new Substrate unit) and Athena (a new PHC unit) along with a number of new defensive structures.
These will be free.
The way to understand how we're determining free vs. paid additions is essentially that if I can't figure out a way to balance something via the existing units, then we will add a unit and that becomes part of the base game.
So for example, the PHC simply doesn't have a decent anti-T2 unit. The Nemesis isn't cut out for that. So PHC players will see a bunch of cruisers coming in and have relatively little resource.
Substrate players will talk about counterrs: A couple of Apollos backed by Archers will annihilate a swarm of Dronehives. But what if they include a Mauler who makes short work of the Apollo?
In 1.11 we've done a lot of balance work to make it cost prohibitive for the Substrate to do this but realistically, the PHC needs a good anti-T2 unit which is the Athena.
Similarly, we need more defensive options. Thus, the PHC are going to gain a good fixed artillery defensive unit. They also need a defensive structure good at taking out mass swarms. The Smarty isn't designed for that.
The Substrate need a defensive structure that is good at taking out specific high quality units. The Annihilator is a great cheap defensive structure but we need something much heavier.
Economically, both factions need a path that rewards teching up more. We've done a lot to give players tools to punish rapid expansion. But we haven't given players tools to reward teching up. So that's going to be part of the updates we hope to finish for this Spring.
## DLC ##
We have a bunch of new maps and scenarios that will be coming out this Spring that will be DLC. We do only plann to charge $3.99. Some posted previously it should be $4.99 but for me, $3.99 is a no brainer where as at $4.99 I start to think about whether it's worth it. I know, I'm cheap.
## Deluxe Campaign ##
So we have both modeless dialogs (i.e. the narration doesn't prevent you from interacting with the map) and streaming audio in the campaign.
I've tentatively recorded some of it myself as a test (no, nobody wants me to hear my "voice acting"). When I wrote the Offworld Traiding Company gameplay trailer I did the first recording of the "Imagine the future where wev'e landed on Mars" and it wasn't pretty. Hence "Get me a charming Englishman to say this."
But it works and now it's just about getting it all recorded. I don't know how much it will make people like the campaign but it probably won't hurt.
That's all for now!
I'm taking a bit of a break so there won't necessarily be reliably weekly updates. With OTC and Ashes out the door I want to sleep for a bit.
Originally posted by Soren Johnson on the Mohawk Games blog.
I did a playthrough of all five of the Practice Games, which can be found under Learn to Play. (Note: to unlock them, finish the first two scripted tutorials.) Over the course of the series, I explain how to play from scratch, so the videos will also serve as a good introduction to the game if you want to learn to play just from watching.
The videos are also available as a playlist.
So here we are with this amazing new, 4th-generation RTS engine.
If you’re an RTS fan, when was the last RTS engine made before Ashes. Not RTS game. I mean engine. I’m trying to think how many years it’s been. Each iteration becomes more expensive to make. There is little patience for a new game to implement the niceties that mature engines have developed.
So let’s look at the Pros and cons of the Ashes of the Singularity (technologically):
- Natively 64-bit
- Core neutral (the more CPU cores you have, the faster it gets)
- GPU core neutral (it will max your video card, no video card yet has even come close to maxing what Ashes can do, we’re still gimping what we can do)
- Brand-new engine, easy to extend and enhance with new features
- Object space lighting – allows for vastly superior visuals
- Unlimited light sources – only limited by your GPU perf. Not hard-coded to 2, 4, or 8 (below I have a screenshot with thousands of light sources).
- Requires 2GB of video memory and that’s just barely enough.
- Relatively few art assets (polished visuals need this).
- Brand-new engine also means relatively little maturation in RTS feature refinement
- Relatively new toolset (Getting art in is expensive)
Screenshots of some stuff
The Artemis is getting a specific building destroying weapon.
Some fun with the visuals of the Artemis
Playing around with maps. Multi-tier terrain will be one of the things we want to explore (right now we have 4, we look to have this be unlimited someday).
Mini map resources displayed based on the amount of resources the region provides. Also, Huge maps – 4X larger than huge (though we are probably going to have to limit these to those with monsters systems as the unit counts are obscene). Though just remember, today’s monster system is tomorrow’s mainstream consumer system.
## Post 1.1 Micro updates ##
Since the 1.1 release we've had two micro-updates to the game. They've been content additions mostly in preparation for upcoming Steam sales.
Here is what has been added in the past 5 days:
+ New Mission: Rigel III (campaign mission between missions 1 and 2)
+ Nexus Armor increased from 12 to 16
+ Armor build time reduced from 45 seconds to 40 seconds
+ Quantum Relay radioactive cost reduced from 350 to 300
+ Nova bomb Armor piercing reduced from 16 to 8
+ Punisher Hedavy Plasma cannon Armor piercing reduce from total to 8
+ Call Probing Force rate increase changed from 10% to 20%
+ Sensor drone rate increased changed frfom 25% to 10%
+ Couple minor bug fixes
+ Balance update to the Slow and Steady map
+ Reduced creep HP slightly
+ Moved the planets around to fit the new campaign mission.
+ Sentinel Armor increased from 8 to 12
+ Repair Bay armor increased from 4 to 12
+ Drone bay HP increased from 1500 to 4000
These are all data changes so it's still 1.1.
## New Units Incoming ##
Both the PHC and the Substrate need more tools to execute more types of strategies.
The first two coming out will be the Athena and the Eradicator.
Right now, Substrate players end up massing Maulers. But Maulers are horrendously poor at the job they're being used for. Archers, which are cheap screened by some Brutes will wipe the floor with them. The problem is, the Substrate have limited options for trying to get through to deal with those Artemi and the odd Nemesis.
The Eradicator has a ranged beam weapon on it that is primarily there to take out at range Cruisers. It's not a sniper so it's not as good as the Nemesis for long range sniping. It is fairly poor against Frigates and its main weapon has no armor penetration so it's not great against Dreadnoughts either.
The Athena has a somewhat different purpose. It's short range but designed to deal with cruisers as well. If it can get up close to a Dreadnought it can do real harm but it's not so good against frigates.
The Athena has 3 different weapons but only one of which is accurate enough to target a frigate.
We expect these two guys to show up this Spring.
BTW, they'll be free.
## Building the Community ##
Steam reviews matter now. A lot.
They determine whether a given game will be promoted or shown to other gamers. If a game falls under 70%, it disappears from visibility on Steam unless you explicitly search for it.
If you read the negative reviews of Ashes they are mostly from people who feel Ashes isn't Supreme Commander. They are right. It's not. It's not supposed to be.
But, unlike Supreme Commander, Ashes is being actively developed and I hope people feel like we're listening to their input. Effectively trying to bury our game won't summon a new version of Supreme Commander. It just makes the game mostly likely to succeed it in the large scale RTS genre have a harder time.
That doesn't mean people should give the game a good review or refrain from giving it a bad review. Rather, it is to make sure people understand that on Steam, these reviews do matter and there are real consequences to them.
We had a game called Sorcerer King which has its fans. It's a good game. But some of our own fans who loved Fallen Enchantress nailed it because they wanted a Fallen Enchantress 2 not a different fantasy game. They got the game's review score under 70 and sales evaporated (because you couldn't find it). That was the end of that game. Now, some of those players have changed their review to positive (it's at 70% now) because they now see that SK could evolve into a bigger game than Fallen Enchantress given the time and resources. But it's too late. That ship has sailed.
Ashes is selling reasonably well and its daily player base is slowly creeping up. It'll probably take until the end of Summer for it to catch up and surpass the average player base of SupCom: FA provided that the SupCom fans give Ashes an opportunity and don't bury it before.
Even SupCom isn't SupCom after all. They aren't referring to SupCom 2 or SupCom 1. They're specifically referring to SupCom: FA which came out 6 months after SupCom shipped. Let's see where we are in 6 months.
## Overlord DLC given away coming to an end soon ##
In about a week the Overlord DLC and maps that come with it will no longer be free to new buyers.
Right now, when you buy Ashes, you get Overlord for free. It's added to your account.
In multiplayer, as long as the host has the DLC it'll be available to play. This is the plan for all future DLC and expansions. I.e. Someone who buys Ashes base and zero DLC should be able to hook up online with someone who has Ashes:Forged Void Alliance Wars or whatever and be able to play the game with them using all the units that the host has.
This will do two things: One, keep the multiplayer community from splintering and two, encourage people to play the game multiplayer.
## Single Player Content Discussion ##
Since release, we've added two new missions to the campaign.
When we see feedback on the game, particularly from those who just don't find the game fun, what would be your recommendation to win them over?
Please discuss in the comments. Thanks!
See you next week!
Originally posted by Soren Johnson on the Mohawk Games blog.
Offworld Trading Company has shipped! The game has exited Early Access, and the 1.0 version is now live on Steam. We also have some special deal running for the next two weeks:
- Regular Edition is 25% off ($29.99)
- Deluxe Edition is 33% off ($39.59) and includes
An early review is up on Quarter to Three:
Not to say Offworld Trading Company is a throwback. It positively glows with the care, attention, and production values you’ll find in a contemporary AAA game. The sharply defined, intricate, and informative graphics. Everything means something. Everything has some visual expression. The buttery — yes, buttery! — rich and smooth interface. Okay, it could use a few more hotkeys, but I’ve never met a game that couldn’t use a few more hotkeys. The unique dynamic single-player campaign, which stacks onto an already great game a great game framework. This is the most indepth and replayable RTS single-player campaign since Rise of Nations and its add-on. The tutorial for maximum information and accessibility. The manual. Oh, wait, there isn’t a manual. Which is as you’d expect from a contemporary AAA game. Like I said, it’s not a throwback. Even the soundtrack. Good lord, the soundtrack. Christopher Tin’s score belongs on my playlist alongside iconic sci-fi scores like Hans Zimmer’s for Interstellar, Clint Mansell’s for Moon, and Vangelis’ for Blade Runner.
I hope I haven’t made it sound boring. Some folks might get the impression it’s boring. A game about an economy in space? All those little buildings and numbers in those screenshots? You have to make oxygen from water? But it’s really not. It’s really, really not. It’s a freakishly smart game design, as if someone made M.U.L.E. back in 1983. It’s got a learning curve because it’s a very particular setting about people living on Mars, provided for by different types of companies (the four companies are as distinct as the factions in Starcraft). You have to understand how the pieces interact before you appreciate how this is so much more than a spreadsheet with pretty graphics in front. But it’s carefully built to get you to where everything clicks.
At which point, it is the exact opposite of boring. It is every bit as thrilling as something with constant explosions. It’s the sort of game you’ll be thinking about at work. It’s the sort of game you just might want to try online. It’s the sort of game with a campaign you can play and replay and replay some more. It’s the sort of game with so many settings and options and variables that you might never need another RTS. Okay, maybe you’ll occasionally need your fix of one of those less interesting RTSs with tanks or a MOBA with fireball spells or whatever. But Offworld Trading Company is the sort of game that isn’t going to let go of you for a long, long time.
Originally posted by Soren Johnson on the Mohawk Games blog.
We are announcing the Offworld Release Twitch Tournament!
Here are the rules:
- The tournament uses a single-elimination bracket of 16 players.
- All tournament matches are 1v1, with a small map and default settings, with the exception of Reveal Map and Random Prices which must both be turned on.
- The format for winning is best-of-3, except for the finals, which will be best-of-5.
- If a player is not responsive to finding a time or does not show up to the match, s/he forfeits the match.
- All matches must be streamed by at least one person, which can be a third-party observer.
- Check the posted bracket to see who your opponent is and use the designated forum thread to arrange a time to play.
- After the game is finished, at least one video must be uploaded to YouTube.
Here is the bracket: http://challonge.com/iseonthn