Things have been going great on the game. The releases has gone very well, but we had a few bugs and some universal ‘feedback’ - like difficulty for newer players and tutorials for the mini-games. But nothing crazy, which is a good thing! We released a couple patches, addressing some of these quick, big issues and now we feel good that everyone can get a taste of the game without huge issues popping up.
So now that launch is done, we are working on a ton of things, all concurrently. The first, and foremost, is Android launch. We are porting our code over to one master version of the game. When we are done all the changes we make will apply to all mobile versions of the game making development much quicker and fairer for the different platforms. This version will also be the beta PC version until we basically break it off and make the core changes that we have planned for the desktop release of the game. This includes fundamental things like interface changes, mod support, aiming systems, and a bunch of other things.
While this code conversion is going on we have three other tasks that we are brainstorming and working on.
Core Game Updates
We think there are some real improvements we can make to the core game, and that is where we devoting a lot of our thinking and time right now. You may have seen us asking for suggestions on UI/UX changes from the fans in our forums - (http://forum.starcommandgame.com/) and the feedback has been fantastic. We feel like we can really work with the community to find out what people really want and prioritize based on that. We have received a ton of suggestions - some are awesome thoughts, others are awesome thoughts that break the scope of the game, and some are just off-base but well intentioned, and the rest are complete utter garbage. To give you some examples of things we are doing:
- Fire Spreading Seems obvious now, but this will be put into the game.
- Destructible Player Ship We always liked the idea that the player gets to kind of make the decision “alright, that’s enough, I’m beaten”, but in actual practice it leads to major exploits and just no real need to fix damage etc. We will now have a hull indicator next to your shield indicator showing how close your ship is to exploding.
- Grouping/Squads This is a great idea and one of the most requested and will be implemented.
- Cloud Saves Something we wanted at launch but simply didn’t make the release window. We are looking at an Android version of this as well, but no promises yet.
- Bridge and Engineering Integration We really left this open on purpose - we just weren’t 100% sure what to do with Bridge and Engineering and wanted to see how the game played with the masses. Right now the primary function was floating crew members - repair and tactical officers that can wander and have no ill effect on ship systems. This will be changing. We have a very cool system that we are going to implement that leads into our next point.
- Token Removal and Clearer Efficiencies We like ammo tokens, but it’s clear that they have their detractors, and with good reason. To begin with, they are redundant. It’s waiting for something to charge, and then waiting for something to charge again. We liked ammo tokens because they gave you one more thing to manage on the ship, but they have moved into the annoying category. In their place will be a much clearer system on how a room is running and why. Currently the system is very nuanced - a room charges and builds tokens based on crew ratings and how many are assigned and really never does a good job explaining to the player how good or bad they are doing. Our new system will be much clearer and also more pronounced - skill ratings will be for getting crew new skills, not governing how quickly your ship recharges weapons, shields and damage. This is an important one for us as its one of the big changes that will lead us into the desktop vision we have.
- Red/Yellow/Green Alerts This one is still very much a work in progress, but this system will allow for one of our more requested features: auto repair and healing. We aren’t going to go into too much detail here, but this should be cool, streamline the game and introduce some new gameplay features. There are a lot more, some smaller than others, but the overall goal is to make the core game much stronger and more streamlined.
Things we considered, but really don’t work:
- Pause Button We have heard you but we feel like this undermines the core play cycle - namely chaos management. We think that some of the above changes will remove or streamline some of the more obtuse and annoying management elements (removal of ammo tokens, grouping, etc) freeing you up to really focus on your ship.
- Automatic Healing/Repair There will be some version of this with the alert status system, but we don’t really like the idea of just removing the crew management element. Yes, sometimes your crew will stand there, burning alive. Yes, they can just walk into a hull breach and get sucked into space. Those are just part of the game. If we just make the crew manage themselves the game slowly becomes an ant hill observation game.
Our second area of focus after the core changes, is new content. We do consider a lot of the above, “new content”, but for sake of clarity what we are talking about here is new missions.
We have a goal for brand new missions and really opening up the galaxy for free roaming with the next update. We are really focusing on non-combat missions that expand the universe and get you involved with the galaxy. Yes, there will be combat missions but those should also have some fun new twists that we just didn’t have time for when released the initial game.
And finally, our last focus is on medium term expansions - namely away teams. The focus here is on planet exploration and enemy ship invasion. These are VERY different systems and will take some time to get right. They are our focus for the PC/Mac version of the game, but will be seen across the platforms. You would probably be surprised with how far along we are with them and they should really expand the game from cool simulator to something very epic.
As always, we have no dates, no estimates and no idea when these things will be done. We have learned our lesson when it comes to release dates.
But what we can say is that the goal is to have many of these available for Android release and implemented in the PC/Mac Beta.
To head some of the conversation off at the pass, those who say "These are for mobile - I don't care and your wasting my time not giving me totally explicit PC/Mac only content" - this is untrue.
All of the above updates are going to be put into the universal version of the game and benefit the PC/Mac players. Destructible ships, grouping, ammo production removal will all affect PC/Mac. We are learning from all the feedback we are getting on the mobile versions and each iteration will be better than the one before it.
Our development cycle was ALWAYS mobile first then desktop second. But these are not mutually exclusive - mobile improvements and lessons directly effect desktop versions. We learn lessons and we adjust things. And PC/Mac will still be the biggest baddest version of the game out there.
On that note, we also want to thank everyone for all the kind words of support, enthusiasm and constructive criticism we have received over the last couple weeks. We are listening to our community and really are committed to supporting the game LONG after launch to really bring all of it’s potential to life. We said a long time ago that Team Fortress 2 was the model we were emulating and that is still very much true. Lot’s of cool stuff to come.