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A retro-sexy Point-and-Click Adventure Shoot 'em Up in SPACE!
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// EXETER DRYDOCK REPORT 015

Posted by Imagos Softworks (Creator)
27 likes

// Welcome to Exeter Drydock Report 015

Greetings Mazers! 

We. Are. The Mazer crew, and postin' on is how we do the do! We'll funk you up 'till you boogie down, so come on people check out this month's Starr Mazer Exeter Drydock Report!

We've got some interesting SHMUP focused stuff in this one, so throw on your Masei helmets, kick your kilder-thrust to maxi-plus and experience the u-force!

In addition to Starr Mazer SHMUP goodness, we have some interesting Starr Mazer: DSP wild as well! SHMUPS FOREVER!

Let's start with the main course...

Over to Paul!

// Development Update - April 9th, 2019

We're back with more updates on our development efforts! 

Last month we said that we'd work heavily on our SHMUP level composition. We did that and more, adding some additional functionality for our enemy waves. 

Let's get to it. 

/// PROCEDURAL LEVEL SECTION UPDATES

We continued the work we'd started previously for the SHMUP tools section of Mazer Maker. 

We improved the Procedural Section editor by adding a Wave selection property. This property allows the designer to set the Difficulty of a wave, the layer on which the wave is meant to appear (this allows background layers to be drawn on top of enemies) and how many times that wave should repeat. 

Additionally, we can also set the type of enemies the engine should select and for how long it should wait between showing a wave.

Procedural Section - Wave properties - EXACTLY THE PROPERTIES YOU NEED!
Procedural Section - Wave properties - EXACTLY THE PROPERTIES YOU NEED!

On the subject of Procedural Sections, we also worked on how the scene can be built without much interaction from the designer. We start by setting an Initial Set followed by other sets that can have alternatives. These alternatives will be selected based on global variable changes,  I.E. if this section was destroyed during a battle, a variable is updated and the next time the player passes by it will load an alternative set to reflect the battle. 

Pretty cool I would say. 

This is also a place where we choose what happens if all the sets passed by but there are still enemy waves to fight off. The designer can choose to repeat the last set or to select another one that will repeat until all enemies are defeated. 

Procedural Section - Sets Properties - MORE PROPERTIES YOU NEED!
Procedural Section - Sets Properties - MORE PROPERTIES YOU NEED!

/// LEVEL COMPOSITION

After all the bits and pieces are put together in the Section Designers, the content creator only needs to enter the Level Manager and create a level. The content creator can add sections created previously in any desired order, without regard to whether they are Designed sections or Procedural sections. 

Internally we call this the LEVEL MAN, like, some dude with his chakra aligned or whatever. Totally level, man.
Internally we call this the LEVEL MAN, like, some dude with his chakra aligned or whatever. Totally level, man.

/// BOSS FIGHTS

With most of the Level Composition in place, we shifted our attention to our enemies. Especially on how bosses are instantiated in the game. 

We quickly came to the conclusion that we need to make bosses more interesting than the regular 1 wave passthrough that most of our other enemies have! We went ahead and worked on the boss behavior, which now accepts more paths in a single wave and can transition a boss from the end point of a path to the start point of the next one. 

We also allow the content creator to loop a path before jumping to the next one. This means that the boss sticks around for longer during a fight (which is how it should be) and makes the fight more unpredictable for the player. 

Come to think of it maybe we should add a random path property? ON IT!

Boss Enemy - Path properties - SO MANY MORE PROPERTIES AND I PROMISE THAT YOU NEED THEM!
Boss Enemy - Path properties - SO MANY MORE PROPERTIES AND I PROMISE THAT YOU NEED THEM!

Next month we'll talk more about bosses. Because bosses are awesome.

/// END OF DEV UPDATE

This is a short summary of last month. 

Besides that, we also did a fair amount of bug crushing activities; nothing more worth mentioning here though. See you next month with more Mazer Maker news. 

// ART Update - April 9th, 2019

Thanks, Paul! 

This being a SHMUP update... 

Wait guys. Just wait.

A SHMUPDATE

[airhorn sounds like it's the early 2000s]

YES! I DID THAT! 

This being a SHMUPDATE, I'd like to show you Mazers a peek at what will be your introduction to the SHMUP side of Starr Mazer.

With Starr Mazer we have always concentrated on the concept of a story-first game, whose action elements would be additive to the experience, and not a huge leap from pointing and clicking and puzzling into HARDCORE ARCADE ACTION BRO!

As such, we are building a number of provisions for those among you who might be new to the pew pew, or who might be more interested in what Brick is thinking about this fire-fight than how ultra-twitch his controls are.

This isn't to say that we don't allow SHMUP veterans to lean into the action; just that we have worked hard to allow those who don't need/want eye-blistering action to dial it back

Or, as in the following example, TRAIN TO GET GUD!

!!! STORY SPOILERS START HERE !!!

Though Starr Mazer's story system is dynamic, delivering story chunks where contextually relevant to your individual play-through, everyone starts at Pilot school.

In fact, everyone starts out at pilot school more than 200 years before the events of the main game!

In in fact fact, everyone starts out at pilot school more than 200 years before the events of the main game controlling Flint P. Maelstrom, and not Brick M. Stonewood!

This allows us to introduce the world in media res (fancy pants!), show off a bunch of cool stuff that will be new to the player but not new to the characters in the story, and to introduce Brick M. Stonewood as the character he was before being lost in the Baratha Divide for over 200 years.

It also allows us to teach the player how to pilot a DSP MkII Special Assault Fighter!

!!! SPOILERS END HERE !!!

To do this, you get to use the training simulator.

Our man Elisha's been working on the training simulator, and, huff huff I do declare, his work has been rather, ellipsis, SIMULATING.

OMGBBQ I typed that whole thing out like it was going to be funny. It wasn't. No going back. Commit! MAXIMUM EFFORT!

Elisha! GO GO GO!

/// THE TRAINING SIMULATOR

Hello everyone!

For this month's update we looked into the SHMUP levels, starting with the training simulator pod. Specifically the transition from entering the pod in the PNC play-type and launching a SHMUP training simulation.

My initial idea was to have the pod suspended in a large, empty room. The room is filled with holographic equipment that would then project the simulation all over its walls, completely immersing the pilot. 

It's like ORACLE, or CEREBRO, or THE HOLODECK, or THE INSIDE OF MY BRAIN!
It's like ORACLE, or CEREBRO, or THE HOLODECK, or THE INSIDE OF MY BRAIN!

This means that the transition from the pod to the simulation room has to be organic. We experimented with things like having the camera "pan through" the walls and rotate to the side.

This animatic feels good until you realize your perspective is transporting THROUGH SOLID MATERIAL. Good job, brain!
This animatic feels good until you realize your perspective is transporting THROUGH SOLID MATERIAL. Good job, brain!

This looked unnecessarily complex and a bit stretched out, so we ultimately decided the simulation to happen just within the pod itself, utilizing the huge screens and turning them into some sort of VR projector.

That's more like it. Now we're just BECOMING THE THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT!
That's more like it. Now we're just BECOMING THE THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT!

The next step was to finalize the actual training simulation environment. 

I didn't want it to be the typical square-grid wireframe background; so I used various shapes and lines, with an abundance of hexagons. 

Since this simulation acts as a tutorial stage, I made sure that the colors and contrast are not getting in the way of the foreground elements and make the game screen as readable as possible. A great way to test this is to have a mockup with some of the game sprites in front of the moving background.

Now THAT'S contrast! I'll take it!
Now THAT'S contrast! I'll take it!

Finally, the training ship has to be noticeably different from other UNFP ships, notably Brick's Starr Wolf. 

To do this, I grabbed the main design elements of the combat ships; the look of a classic fighter jet but with a non-shiny texture and the orange highlights are replaced with a lime green color instead as a way to set it apart from combat ships.

It's like the kids' version of the Starr Wolf. It probably has training wheels. Extra padding in the cockpit. Roll-bars. A hula-girl on the dash.
It's like the kids' version of the Starr Wolf. It probably has training wheels. Extra padding in the cockpit. Roll-bars. A hula-girl on the dash.

Once in the simulation, the player should be able to, with a little work, master the SHMUP play-type.

/// FINAL AREA 88 TAKE-OFF SEQUENCE

Continuing from the last update, we polished the animations for the Starr Wolf and added some to the background. 

The trickiest part in making this animation is making sure that the transition is seamless and stylish. 

Reminder: Each phase of this animation is controlled by the player!
Reminder: Each phase of this animation is controlled by the player!

All in all, I'm pretty happy of how it turned out. What do you think?

See you next month!

// STARR MAZER: DSP - NEW ART & NEW TOOLS 

Greetings all! Chris here! Welcome back to my little corner of space. 

It’s been a heck of a month for us here in The DSP quadrant, what with the pre-GDC dev bash and all. 

There have been almost innumerable advancements in the development in Starr Mazer DSP, luckily we’ve kept record of those! Let’s take a little dive, shall we?

It's even better with sound! GRRR-CHUNK! WHOMWHOMWHOMWHOMWHOM!
It's even better with sound! GRRR-CHUNK! WHOMWHOMWHOMWHOMWHOM!

The biggest thing of note is the massive amount of work that’s been going into completely overhauling the graphics. Look at how gorgeous the opening act looks!

Look. At. All. Of. That. CARBOMITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!1!!!!111!!!!!1!!!!!111!!!!FOURTEEN
Look. At. All. Of. That. CARBOMITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!1!!!!111!!!!!1!!!!!111!!!!FOURTEEN

Not only do we have new sprites ( images used by objects in game ) for user interface elements, level graphics, and a few enemy classes, but we also have some completely new rendering functions that expand on how an object in the game can look.

No longer do images have to appear flat and dull, but we can give them life by adding glow effects to not only a whole sprite, but individual pixels of a sprite, greatly adding to the dynamic look of our awesome new artwork!

Those new asteroids are 100% lit hot fire. Someone call a burn center, THE HEAT IS ON.
Those new asteroids are 100% lit hot fire. Someone call a burn center, THE HEAT IS ON.

SHADERS! Everyone loves shader, so we thought heck, why not add a whole bunch of them?! We’ve implemented a totally cool new shader stacking suite that will allow us to have many different layers of effects on screen at any given point in time. The explosion to my right is sending out a shockwave, and the colors on screen are splitting apart like some old monitor gone sour.

The sizzle! The screen-shake! The warp effects! The new Space Gate! WOOOO!
The sizzle! The screen-shake! The warp effects! The new Space Gate! WOOOO!

In addition to all of the work that’s gone into creating the shader stack, we’ve also spent a lot of time implementing and perfecting the totally cool new CRT mode! That’s right, we went there! Just look at the soft but still crisp image, the subtle color bleed and faint scanlines. That’s some real pretty goodness right there! But don’t you fret, if that’s not your jam, merely take a trip down to the options screen and toggle that humdinger!

We’ve also been putting a lot of care into making the game feel more dynamic, and one way we’ve done that is by pimping out your ship with cool new particle engines!

Just check out those bits of stuff coming off of your thing!

Ship effects RULE! Like the Tunnel Snakes, or Baron Harkonnen! Or YARDSTICKS!
Ship effects RULE! Like the Tunnel Snakes, or Baron Harkonnen! Or YARDSTICKS!

Boy that sure is a lot of stuff, I tuckered myself out with all that typing. I wish I had some kind of a bench right about now.

Oh, that’s right, I do! 

Introducing the DSP Work Bench!

(Killer segue right?)

Check out this killer tool that I’ve been developing for the past couple of weeks since GDC. The DSP Work Bench is my solution to creating new content moving forward. With this tool we’ll be able to generate new ship formations, geometric patterns, and level content in an iterative and speedy process. As of the time of this writing, the ship formation editor is 90% complete and already ready for use!

I don't know about you guys, but that font is effing MAXIMIZING my joy.
I don't know about you guys, but that font is effing MAXIMIZING my joy.

Up to this point if I wanted to create a new enemy pattern, I’d have to write out anywhere from 12 - 20 lines of code, in two separate locations in our source code. Additionally to test that the formation even works, I’d have to recompile the game’s source code after every line of code to see that things are going the way that I want. This is a massive time eater, because compiles can take anywhere from 3-5 minutes. That’s a whole heck of a ton of waiting!

Just a coupla' needle-drones playing follow-the-leader!
Just a coupla' needle-drones playing follow-the-leader!

But with the DSP Work Bench, we can build ship formations at runtime, and test them as we are filling out all of the little textboxes, adding conditions, and changing variables INSTANTLY! That’s right, ship formations are no longer embedded into the DSP source code itself, but are rather saved to and loaded from an external save file. This little fella is going to save us tons of development time when curating new DSP content, now that we don’t need to rebuild the game every time we add stuff to it!

Testing formations is fun. Super fun!
Testing formations is fun. Super fun!

Boy howdy that sure is a ship load of progress we’ve made! As you can see we’ve been pouring a lot of love into realizing the potential of Starr Mazer DSP, and as we move on to the next phase of development, we hope that it continues to show!

Until next time.

Brave journeys, Cadets!

// The Wrap-Up

Thanks, Chris!

That's your April Drydock Report! 

I'm sitting on a few NUCLEAR GRADE updates that I'd hoped to include in this one, but will need to be held back until next month due to some timing/organizational things. They're the big hotness, so keep your eyes peeled like grapes!

Oh, also, I'm not sure if you know this, but we have a Discord server on which you can reach out to us and chat directly! We're super responsive and I drop leaks on there like a cold war agent fifteen sheets to the wind on sodium pentothal. 

You can join the Discord server, mentioned here for the first time ever, by punching this blue part of your screen with the arrow-shaped fist attached to your computer interface device.

Man, I probably should have mentioned the Discord server in previous updates...

I look forward to showing you more of our progress next month, Mazers.

Until then, I remain,

Don Thacker, Starr Commander

// EXETER DRYDOCK REPORT 014

Posted by Imagos Softworks (Creator)
23 likes

// Welcome to Exeter Drydock Report 014

Greetings Mazers! 

Uh-oh, uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh, here comes the Exeter Drydock Report! 

Let's make it smoooooooth! Busted! Here we go!

In this month's Drydock Report we're talking about SHMUP level generation, some cool art progress and some big news for Starr Mazer: DSP - specifically as it relates to Starr Mazer proper, and our backers.

It's going to be a big one, so get a gargle full of kraz, and settle in for a ride. Right about now, J.B. would probably holla'. 

Paul, take it to the bridge!

// Development Update - March 5th, 2019

Well hello everyone! 

The shortest month of the year is behind us and I am excited to say that, even though time wasn't necessarily on our side, we managed to pull off some great advancements on Mazer Maker.

Such as...

/// LANDING TRANSITIONS

As promised in the last update the beginning of February caught us still working on transitions. 

This month we focused on moving seamlessly from SHMUP to PnC

This system works in a few steps so let's see what that looks like: 

//// Landing Trigger

When flying in the SHMUP play-type, the player can encounter a sign toward a landing zone (planet, asteroid, station, etc.) For the sake of this explanation, let's call it a planet!

If he decides to fly to that point we trigger an animation that will take him closer to the planet. This step is still reversible and the player can change his mind and continue his SHMUP flight.

//// Transition Animation

If, however, the player continues his flight towards the planet, we trigger a transition animation that seamlessly moves the player from SHMUP to PnC. 

This animation is also loop-able, allowing us to play it for a longer time until we load the needed level. This action is non-reversible and the player will find himself in the PnC section at the end of it.  

//// Landing Animation

The moment the player arrives in PnC we are back to the Keypoint system we presented last month. So keeping the "Down" button pressed will smoothly land the ship while releasing it will take the ship to the closest Keypoint, waiting for further action from the player.  

//// End Result - A Bit of Magic

To pull all of this off, we had to work more on our Transition/Keypoint system, and rework some parts of it to make it work in reverse

We also created a few new Flow boxes to sustain the Triggers and data/information required to switch the levels. 

We even went one step further and created Quick Flows to make it even easier for the game designer/content creator to assign Trigger elements and enable Scene changes!

/// SHMUP - LEVEL COMPOSITION

We continued the month with a deep dive into SHMUP level composition. 

After a few exhaustive (exhausting!) meetings with Don and the art team,  we decided a big overhaul was due for this section too. 

Our SHMUP level editor was functional and supported quite a few features, but we quickly came to the conclusion that much more is needed, so we started adjusting and building on top of what we have.

Let's start with a description of the level composition logic.

A level is made up of several sections. These sections can be either designed or procedural.

Further, the sections are made up of Sets which are the parts that actually hold most of the information on how a level looks/feels/acts. 

The artists will spend most of their time creating Sets while the game designer will work on the logic of combining them properly. 

I will talk more about triggers and how things will work together in the next update. Suffice it to say, it's pretty complex, and coming up with a simple interface to marshal it all around has been taxing.

 For now let's get a bit of a more detailed view of how all of these individual elements look/work: 

//// Sets

Sets look very similar to our past SHMUP level editor. An artist is able to add several layers of backgrounds and check how they look/act. 

The most important change is that now these sets don't play back by default, and an artist can check all of their elements by scrolling horizontally through the entire set.   

//// Designed Sections

These Sections will always look the same for the player in terms of design and enemies. 

We can be ridiculously specific with these designed sections!
We can be ridiculously specific with these designed sections!

To create them we are extending the Sets functionality to also support enemy placement. 

//// Procedural Sections 

Procedural Sections are way more complicated, because they need to hold the most logic for changing multiple Sets within one Section while matching with Enemy Waves and other game restrictions. 

The editor can also set rules for enemy waves that are allowed in these sections and Triggers to load other Sections. 

/// SHMUP - OBJECT LAYERS

Another feature that we worked on this month is SHMUP Object Layers. 

These enable the creation of Objects that can be selected as layers in the Sets creation. This is very powerful because it brings the Anchored Objects functionality from PnC Objects. 

An interesting hypothetical situation that would utilize this functionality: 

Let's say we have a base building sprite, and we add a few cracks and graffiti Anchored Objects on top. Further, for each Anchored Object we enable the possibility of selecting alternative objects and even an empty object, the engine will then randomly select either the main one or an alternative, making the whole sequence look unique even if we loop the same Set!

Attaching stuff to other stuff is now as easy as attaching pies to other pies! OR TO MY MOUTH!
Attaching stuff to other stuff is now as easy as attaching pies to other pies! OR TO MY MOUTH!

Setting it up is very simple! First the game designer creates a SHMUP Object, then selects a base sprite and a few anchored objects. These can be moved by clicking and dragging them, just as in the PnC Scene Editor, and, even more, the main object can be clicked while an anchored object is selected to also create alternate positions where that object, or it's alternatives, might show up. 

Ok, that sounds much more complicated than it is. Maybe next month we'll have a video or something :)

/// SHMUP - SET EDITOR

This month we started by re-purposing our core SHMUP Level Editor into a Set editor. 

We added a play/pause for the entire Set, panning through the level and stopped our automated loop system; all this in the name of easier debugging and to help us with the Designed Sections part as soon as we get to it. 

Wait, what's this I hear about pies? Are there pies now? All I'm seeing is a list of levels...
Wait, what's this I hear about pies? Are there pies now? All I'm seeing is a list of levels...

We also redesigned the Level selector screen to enable creators to choose what is it they want to work on (Sets Designer, Section Designer). 

 /// END OF DEV UPDATE  

The SHMUP system upgrades complicated things a little but we think it is 100% worth it, and that you will be truly satisfied with the results as soon as you get to try the game. 

Next month we will continue working the SHMUP level composition and then move to some action related tasks. 

I hope that gets you excited!  We are!

// PNC / ART Update - March 5th, 2019

Thanks, Paul!!

Ok, so, ART! We made mad amounts of progress on art. Much of it was technical stuff, like, for instance--

/// TO ORTHO OR NOT TO ORTHO, BRO BRO

I'm constantly pushing the art team to break away from an orthogonal player view perspective. 

Many old-school point-and-click adventure games, and some new-school (looking at you, Thimbleweed Park, you stupidly amazing experience, you), present primarily an orthogonal player perspective. Not all of them, to be sure, but enough classics to make it some kind of tradition.

Add to this the fact that the SHMUP play-type of Starr Mazer is entirely orthogonal and it becomes easy for us to fall into that as a matter of course.

//// UNFP Pilot School Classroom

A great example of falling into the ortho trap, and then pivoting, is the amazing work our man Daniel has done on the UNFP Pilot School's classroom.

The original pitch for the screen was, "a pilot's classroom for all of the badass UNFP pilots, like in Top-Gun!", because 99% of what comes out of my mouth is Top Gun, Robocop, Dredd or First Blood related. 

Daniel whipped this up:

This is what Daniel calls a sketch. So much talent. A little flat, though...
This is what Daniel calls a sketch. So much talent. A little flat, though...

Looks great, but there's that ortho creeping in to flatten out our day! After a bit of discussion, we came to something with a feeling more like this:

I love that there's just a rocket engine in there like it's no big deal or whatever. Who cares.
I love that there's just a rocket engine in there like it's no big deal or whatever. Who cares.

So, back to the drawing board, literally. Daniel started with a perspective/layout sketch that got us closer to that dynamic corner-facing view I was mad thirsty for.

This looks like the ending of The 13th Floor! Or the POSTER FOR THE 13TH FLOOR! That movie spoiled itself, guys. Don't pin that on me.
This looks like the ending of The 13th Floor! Or the POSTER FOR THE 13TH FLOOR! That movie spoiled itself, guys. Don't pin that on me.

We then started fleshing out what was going to BE in that room, and how that stuff would play into our planned story/puzzle elements.

We managed to work that rocket engine in there. We had to. The idea was just too cool.
We managed to work that rocket engine in there. We had to. The idea was just too cool.

Then, Daniel added access to the UNFP DSP MkII Advanced Training Simulator - which will act as players' very first exposure to the SHMUP elements of Starr Mazer - to the scene, as well as a bucket-load of more fidelity. 

Now with DOUBLE THE GUY IN A JANITOR DISGUISE! And you thought this was one of those one-janitor-guy games. Ha!
Now with DOUBLE THE GUY IN A JANITOR DISGUISE! And you thought this was one of those one-janitor-guy games. Ha!

Once the general layout/feel was clear, Daniel started pumping the room full of life!

Getting closer. THREE JANITOR GUYS and a RAINBOW BLOB GUY!
Getting closer. THREE JANITOR GUYS and a RAINBOW BLOB GUY!

And, finally, this is what we have today:

Real talk: if you click-through one Drydock Report image link today, it should be this one. SO GOOD! Also click the other ones. All of them.
Real talk: if you click-through one Drydock Report image link today, it should be this one. SO GOOD! Also click the other ones. All of them.

As you can see - the break from the orthogonal not only adds a wonderful visual dynamic to the scene, but allows us to feature/hide elements to better drive the player through the story/puzzles contained therein.

We're going to be updating a few of our older scenes with this visual guideline/directive. We'll be sure to show them off as we do!

/// ELISHA & DOCKING BAY - AREA 88

In early February we added a new artist to the Starr Mazer team!

Elisha Ramos / @Pixelisha - Animations, environments and pretty much anything we can get his hands into. He's been a great addition to the team!

Elisha's first task was to take the work we had done in January on our dynamic Take-Off and Landing system and integrate it into an actual game scene.

For this, we settled on the most obvious place to start: Holloway-Exeter's Docking Bay. Specifically Area 88, the area that the Starr Wolf calls home.

I'll let Elisha describe his process here!

Take it away, Elisha!!

//// Docking Bay - Area 88

Hello, Mazers! It's great to e-meet you all! 

I started off with 4 concept sketches that capture the basic tone and composition of the scene. 

We picked the upper right quadrant. Lawful Good or whatever.
We picked the upper right quadrant. Lawful Good or whatever.

After the team decided on which piece to proceed with, I continued by recreating the concept scene and blocking it in 3D using basic shapes. Luckily, we have a 3D model of the Starr Wolf so I am able to place it in the scene wherever I like while getting the correct perspective and capture most of its details.

In 3D we call those "ordinal primitives." - Actually I don't even know what that means. IT'S A SHIP!
In 3D we call those "ordinal primitives." - Actually I don't even know what that means. IT'S A SHIP!

Next, I polished the Wolf to a certain level, together with some key components in the scene like the ramp and the computer terminal. I added a basic block of the foreground as well to frame the environment nicely.

Bunny's in there to make the ship look cool. It's because SHE'S so cool. Like the vacuum of space.
Bunny's in there to make the ship look cool. It's because SHE'S so cool. Like the vacuum of space.

I continued working on the background; making sure none of the background elements overpowered the more important objects in front by using less saturated and less contrasting colors. 

Way more cables in this one. That's how you know it's working!
Way more cables in this one. That's how you know it's working!

I added a lot of wires and cables, and added some soft lights for atmosphere.

Even more cables. I wonder if there's a story reason for all of those cables. Maybe a puzzle? Hint: THERE IS.
Even more cables. I wonder if there's a story reason for all of those cables. Maybe a puzzle? Hint: THERE IS.

Lastly, I animated certain parts like the computer terminal, the exhaust fan on the floor, and the moths at the back flying around a light. Some might seem small but they collectively wrap up everything nicely into an environment that feels alive.

Here's a little animation of the process/result:

Stay through to the end where Nick Fury asks the Starr Wolf if it's heard of the Avengers Initiative.
Stay through to the end where Nick Fury asks the Starr Wolf if it's heard of the Avengers Initiative.

And there you have Holloway-Exeter Docking Bay, Area 88!

/// Take-Off & Landing Updates

Thanks, Elisha!!

That's not all Elisha did last month, though! He also worked on implementing our previous work on  dynamic Take-Off and Landing sequences into Docking Bay Area 88.

He started by animating the Starr Wolf in Idle, and then gave her a spin.

Maneuvering thrusters! I LOVE THOSE!
Maneuvering thrusters! I LOVE THOSE!

Once we all agreed that this was the right direction, he set up the Keypoint steps (IDLE, KEYPOINT 1, KEYPOINT 2, KEYPOINT 3 & TRANSITION), as described in our last update.

This Keypoint system is the bees' knees! Insomuch as its segmented and reversibly motile.
This Keypoint system is the bees' knees! Insomuch as its segmented and reversibly motile.

Which results in this 80% finished demo of the effect:

80% ain't half bad! I mean, technically, it's only 20% bad. But there's NOTHING bad about this progress! ZING!
80% ain't half bad! I mean, technically, it's only 20% bad. But there's NOTHING bad about this progress! ZING!

He's currently working on the interstitial animation frames and cleanup.

This is the first of many production examples of the Take-Off and Landing implementation in Starr Mazer. We think that book-ending every PnC section of the game with these will make the transition between play-types super seamless, and feel great.

/// DID WE TALK ABOUT THE ORTHO ISSUE YET?

In working on Docking Bay Area 88, we found ourselves face to face with the orthogonal issue again.

That's 30 degrees of "man, you didn't plan on this, did you?" - And no, we didn't.
That's 30 degrees of "man, you didn't plan on this, did you?" - And no, we didn't.

This time, however, it wasn't that the scene itself was locked too tightly to an orthogonal perspective, rather that our PATHING SYSTEM was!

That's a jiggle-jagglin' Brick walk if I've ever seen one. And I have. That's what we're talking about right now.
That's a jiggle-jagglin' Brick walk if I've ever seen one. And I have. That's what we're talking about right now.

You see, our pathing system didn't really account for diagonals too well. This wasn't a clear issue in scene-by-scene testing, as we are all so familiar with the scenes that we'd just test exactly what we needed to and not really futz with pathing once it was set up.

We went ahead and added smoother pathing along a diagon to kill this issue right in its face.

It's dead now. We held a service with nice sandwiches and a cassette tape mix of INXS songs.

MOVING ON!

/// STARR MAZER: DSP - NEW ARTISTS, LOGO, SHIPS, BUILDS, EVERYTHING!

Now that you're all looped into the Starr Mazer: DSP ecosystem, I'd like to announce a few thing-thangs for you to chew on!

//// New Artists

The progress that SubPixel Studios has done on the Starr Mazer: DSP rebuild has been fantastic. So fantastic, in fact-tastic that we have come to the point where we needed to spin the art team back up!

For this, we mind-melded with two pixel-powerhousen:

Son Phan / @MimicMango - An absolute master when it comes to mecha, ships and that super-SHMUP arcade feel that Starr Mazer: DSP is targeting!

That's what a proper UNFP fleet looks like. You know, BEFORE getting ripped to billions by the G'ell!
That's what a proper UNFP fleet looks like. You know, BEFORE getting ripped to billions by the G'ell!

Valery Kim / @VKA_THU - Style incarnate. Val's on backgrounds and logos, and OMG if his work doesn't immediately elevate Starr Mazer: DSP!

The city is ABLAZE! IT THREATENS THE DONUT! We mustn't allow harm to come to the donut!
The city is ABLAZE! IT THREATENS THE DONUT! We mustn't allow harm to come to the donut!

These guys have been BANGING on DSP for a month along with SubPixel Studios and we're pretty sure you're going to love the results thus far.

//// New Logo

Along with a complete overhaul of the game's backgrounds, Val has also been working on a logo more in-line with the arcade nature of Starr Mazer: DSP.

This logo makes my heart sing. And it's singing Lizzy Borden songs.
This logo makes my heart sing. And it's singing Lizzy Borden songs.

Starr Mazer: DSP is not only an arcade-style game  you can play on your own devices, but ALSO an arcade game within the Starr Mazer universe. It's brick's favorite game.

I know those look like wings, but they're actually ship fuselages! FUSELAGES, GUYS!
I know those look like wings, but they're actually ship fuselages! FUSELAGES, GUYS!

It would take you hecka-slugs to knock Brick off of the scoreboard!

//// New Ships

Son's spent the last month working not only on those awesome UNFP fleet ships, but also on re-working our procedural DSP ship parts!

The "classic" body type. Classic insomuch as it's made out of old stuff.
The "classic" body type. Classic insomuch as it's made out of old stuff.
The speeder body type. Called such less for its speed and more for the time it took to slap together by DSP MkI mechanics.
The speeder body type. Called such less for its speed and more for the time it took to slap together by DSP MkI mechanics.
This is a body type made entirely out of alien trash. They come in peace, but then we use the pieces.
This is a body type made entirely out of alien trash. They come in peace, but then we use the pieces.

Not only has he added to/modded every existing body type, he's also finished a body type previously missing from our Early Access release, the formidable TANK body type!

//// New Build / Closed Beta

If you haven't been on our discord server, you likely don't know that we'd been in an active Closed Beta for Starr Mazer: DSP for the entire month of February!

I typed DSPSPISPOPD into there and now I'm writing this post from the future. It's Halloween for some reason.
I typed DSPSPISPOPD into there and now I'm writing this post from the future. It's Halloween for some reason.

We've been testing a new build with new art, new gameplay and an entirely new engine. I'll have Chris from SubPixel Studios tell you all about it below. 

If you want in on the Starr Mazer: DSP Closed Beta, hop on to our Discord server and drop me a line!

You'll get a code for Starr Mazer: DSP and instructions to unlock the test branch on Steam. You'll also be expected to fill out boring bug reports, though, so BE PREPARED WITH CHIPS AND CAFFEINE!

You, too, can get error boxen! YOU, TOO, CAN CTD!!!!
You, too, can get error boxen! YOU, TOO, CAN CTD!!!!

If you're a backer, you'll still get a code for Starr Mazer: DSP as soon as we are able to release them, even if you've received a code for the Beta test!

Now, let's hear from SubPixel Studios about their progress last month!

Take it away, Chris!

/// Starr Mazer: DSP - Development Update

Good Morning Cadets! Chris here, back in action and ready to take you on a journey through the star-field of game development!

As you should now be aware, Starr Mazer: DSP has undergone a complete engine rewrite. It's been going great! In fact, as Don said, we just finished our first round of closed beta testing. This has lead to the discovery and eradication of  more bugs than any Star Ship Trooper table top gaming scenario!

The parallax. It's so real. I am in love with it. I want to buy it an Audi. I can't afford an Audi.
The parallax. It's so real. I am in love with it. I want to buy it an Audi. I can't afford an Audi.

We're all really excited with the progress that has been made to bring the best possible gaming experience to DSP. The controls have been tightened, the experience overall is far smoother than it has ever been and that really shows through when you launch the beta after having played the original release. Bolts on this ship have not only been tightened, but also had a little bit of thread-lock applied!

We've reached the point in development where we can begin to focus on more than just creating a better gameplay experience. The time has come for new and shiny!

Every the post-process filter. EVERY THE THEM OF THOSE!
Every the post-process filter. EVERY THE THEM OF THOSE!

Our fantastimous art bros have been hard at work crafting amazing new content to help us better realize the awesomeness that is Starr Mazer: DSP. From a dynamic new logotype, to completely rebuilding not only the visuals of each level, but extra content to better flesh out the story driving your experience.

As Beta Phase MKII kicks into full gear we are opening up these awesome new additions to our private QA squad, and there are seats open and waiting for new cadets to sign up! There we'll be able to show off the new content being created for the game, a taste of what's to come as development continues.

Hello, donut. How are you? I've missed you. Do you BE IN THE SKY often?
Hello, donut. How are you? I've missed you. Do you BE IN THE SKY often?

We are living in exciting times as DSP moves closer and closer to being the vision that Imagos Softworks originally held, and as each day passes and more code get's thrown at our screens the experience becomes more real. And we hope that you'll share in this experience with us and be apart of what makes Starr Mazer: DSP the great pixelated arcade mashup of our dreams!

Until next time, Pilots!

Chris D. Legasse, SubPixel Studios.

// The Wrap-Up

Thanks, Chris!

Wow. That update, tho, AMIRITE?

I hope you like what you're seeing. That's our souls up there going into these games.

If you want to keep updated on the mad regular, or to chat with any of us on the team, you can always pop onto our Discord server:  

You can find us by mouse-blooping this hyper-doop with your magic future-puck of the future.

I look forward to showing you more of our progress next month, Mazers.

Until then, I remain,

Don Thacker, Starr Commander

// EXETER DRYDOCK REPORT 013

Posted by Imagos Softworks (Creator)
20 likes

// Welcome to Exeter Drydock Report 013

Greetings Mazers!

Back on track with your February update; in which we discuss what we did in January, what we're doing in February and whether or not you think I should've used a serial comma right there. THE IMPORTANT STUFF.

Also, did you guys see that this is Drydock Report number 13? SO SPOOKY!

Something we've always wanted to achieve with Starr Mazer is the marriage of Point-and-Click and Shoot-Em-Up in as seamless a way as possible. 

Sure, we've got the ability to negotiate with boss characters while flying, and to BLAST your way through point and click encounters, but how do we get you from walking and talking to rooting, tooting and shooting without some kind of loading/transitional scene?

That's an animatic of the Starr Wolf parked on a Point-And-Click planet transitioning to its Shoot-Em-Up sprite!
That's an animatic of the Starr Wolf parked on a Point-And-Click planet transitioning to its Shoot-Em-Up sprite!

"Wow, man - you're making an animated loading screen. Big whoop. So bogue.", you're saying. Don't deny it.

We're not, though, bruh. Not exactly.

Tell 'em, Paul!

// Development Update - February 4th, 2019

Thanks, Don! 

Hello fans of Mazer Maker! 

As Don says, this month we've worked with something very interesting... 

/// PnC -> SHMUP Transitions

This is a very complex topic, especially considering that this transition needs to feel very smooth, and that we've been tasked with the imperative what the player should be able to control this transition to a comfortable degree.

Let me get into details and explain a little from gameplay perspective here. 

After entering a ship in PnC you should be able to press UP (currently "W") to start flying in an upward direction. If you release the button the ship stops, and if you press DOWN (currently "S") it will get back to the docked position. 

That sounds quite simple on the surface but the tricky part is to make all of this feel alive and connected to the keys that the player presses.

To overcome all this we had to rework our animation system quite a bit and make a new type of game object.

We started with the basic actions of being able to assign animations as Landing, Take-off and Transition (I will get to the transition later). 

This works exactly as Walk/Run animations; the art team creates the animations and assigns them from a drop down and we use them in the back-end automatically. 

After a bunch of discussions and prototyping, we landed on the idea of integrating these animations fluidly into gameplay via a Keypoint system; a system in which each animation is broken into several Keypoints that the animation will SNAP to depending on what the player is doing with the controls. This SNAPPING is handled by interconnecting animation Steps.

Keypoint -> Step -> Keypoint -> Step -> Keypoint

This is what we're calling a Keypoint; an animated moment that we can rest at between Steps.
This is what we're calling a Keypoint; an animated moment that we can rest at between Steps.
This is what we're calling a Step; an animation that connects Keypoints.
This is what we're calling a Step; an animation that connects Keypoints.

What you do with the controls during any Keypoint/Step pair determines the next Step/Keypoint. 

Pressing a key will move the animation from a Keypoint to a Step and releasing it will get the ship to the closest Keypoint, via a Step, which could be the same Keypoint if you didn't press for long enough to get through the Step animation. 

To achieve this we had to re-work the animation UI so we can define Keypoints, Steps and to custom assign them. 

Ohh, and of course we also had to add the entire logic to the game engine. 

Very important is also the fact that we can have different Step animations for going up and down, meaning that the whole motion actually feels natural and not just a reverse of the "fly up" animation. 

This is a super-rough idea of moving from one Keypoint to a Step and back to the same Keypoint with a reverse Step! Man, this sounds super complicated. It feels good though! Also, OMG IS SLIMO JUST FLOATING RIGHT THERE??????
This is a super-rough idea of moving from one Keypoint to a Step and back to the same Keypoint with a reverse Step! Man, this sounds super complicated. It feels good though! Also, OMG IS SLIMO JUST FLOATING RIGHT THERE??????

Now getting into that transition I mentioned before, it is a full screen animation that is seamlessly connected with the take-off animation, creating the illusion that it is all one animation. 

This transition will play while we load the subsequent SHMUP level. 

The SHMUP section also needed work to integrate this. We had to add an animation layer to the PlayerShip game object so we can assign the last part of the animation to it. 

This last animation is an intro animation into SHMUP that connects with the transition I talked about above. 

And now we're in our SHMUP play-type! Dude, imagine how cool it would be to have the option of hopping into your SHMUP play-type at any point in real life. Oh, I botched my to-hit rolls, did I? SHMUP MODE!
And now we're in our SHMUP play-type! Dude, imagine how cool it would be to have the option of hopping into your SHMUP play-type at any point in real life. Oh, I botched my to-hit rolls, did I? SHMUP MODE!

/// End of Dev Update 

I really hope this was exciting for you all. It was definitely a challenge for us, but an extremely fun one for sure. 

For next month we will focus on the transition from SHMUP to PnC. Things seem like they will be very similar, but we'll have to wait and see. 

Tune in next month to see how it went, and to read about other things that we plan to implement. 

// Starr Mazer: DSP - Mini-Update

A couple updates ago, we announced that backers of Starr Mazer are all getting codes for Starr Mazer: DSP, so I'm going to consider you at least semi-interested parties, and drop a little bit of what's been going on with SubPixel Studios and their work on getting the game's engine updated, and progressing toward new releases to Steam in the very near future.

For that, I'm going to hand it off to SubPixel's own Chris Legasse.

Take it away, Chris!

/// Transition to GameMaker Studio 2

DSP is running like wild on a new engine, with a new codebase, and is ready to impress.
DSP is running like wild on a new engine, with a new codebase, and is ready to impress.

Greetings F-Squad! My name is Chris, and I'm the fella behind SubPixel Studios. 

As you know from the past few updates, Starr Mazer: DSP has seen a rebuild from the ground up on a whole new coding platform/engine. 

It's been an exciting experience to be apart of, full of all of the mystery, intrigue and wonder of deciphering alien runes. 

Starr Mazer:DSP began its life adrift in a void of HaXe and actionscript coding. For the better part of a year we've taken all of that alien code and not only translated it into the more easily digestible form GameMaker Studio (version 2.2.1.375 to be precise), but we've also IMPROVED upon it in many ways. 

With 15 years of experience in the future-tech of the GameMaker Language at our disposal, we've been able to do things with DSP that we think will really engage your thrusters.

/// Faster Loading!

Same great DSP taste. None more of the annoying "go get a sammich and a milkshake and a night's sleep" load times!
Same great DSP taste. None more of the annoying "go get a sammich and a milkshake and a night's sleep" load times!

You know that incredibly long loading time at the start of the game? Yea, we had to evict it for not paying it's half of the rent. Instead, audio is streamed only when it's needed, which is far more efficient than manually loading in over 5,000 audio files at game launch. Ick!

/// New Soundtrack/Effects & Updated Player Controls

Image unrelated. But still cool. LOOK AT THAT BOOM!
Image unrelated. But still cool. LOOK AT THAT BOOM!

Speaking of audio, holy waffles, there's a whole new soundtrack in development by the talented SIXIXIX and his team, featuring new sound effects and music!

We've improved the fluidity of the player controls, tweaked effects, and added dynamic audio pitch changes to sound effects for more variety.

/// Updated Japanese Text

It took forever, but this new hand-modded font is a far better fit for our Japanese readers!
It took forever, but this new hand-modded font is a far better fit for our Japanese readers!

Nihongo hanasemasu ka? We've improved the Japanese text in game so it's now just as flashy and awesome as the English fonts! That means that we had to create custom graphics for somewhere in the vicinity of 5,000 characters.

/// End of Mini-Update!

This has been a labor of love for us and we hope that it shows through the end product. This is only the beginning, there are more star systems ahead of us, so it's time to refuel, buckle in, and engage the hyper-drive.

Until next time, Pilots!

Chris D. Legasse, SubPixel Studios.

// The Wrap-Up

Thanks for riding through that update with us!

As we approach a demo/alpha, we'll likely start posting more and more via other media avenues, as I've gotten some flack for the number of KS updates we've released.

Conversely, I've gotten just as much flack for not updating enough, or not specifically updating the Kickstarter campaign with all of the stuff we've put out between updates.

Honestly, I think both sides make sense, so I'll be doing sort of a summary/wrap-up of significant posts we've made between KS updates, if any occur, and include that in updates going forward.

I appreciate you sticking with us through this adventure. We're making something I think will be meaningful to many of you.

If you want to keep updated on the mad regular, or to chat with any of us on the team, you can always pop onto our Discord server: 

You can INTERNET to our INTERNET by INTERNETTING this INTERNET link right here! INTERNET!

I loo k forward to showing you more of our progress, Mazers.

Until then, I remain,

Don Thacker, Starr Commander

// EXETER DRYDOCK REPORT 012

Posted by Imagos Softworks (Creator)
22 likes

// Welcome to Exeter Drydock Report 012

Greetings, Mazers!

Set your spam filters back to MUSUBI, because this is your last 2018 catch-up Drydock Report.

Starting Monday, we're back to our regularly scheduled monthly updates, each one packed to brimming with progress reports, sneak peeks and galactic news regarding this year's most anticipated game of the last three years!

Just as with the Drydock Report 011, this one will be a smidgen brief, owing to various team holiday breaks.

Let's jump in!  GO PAUL!

// Development Update - January 1st, 2019

Hey hey! Happy New Year to all of you! I hope you enjoyed your holidays and had a great start of the new year! 

I am happy to say that we weren't entirely idle during this period, and did a lot of cool stuff that I am very excited to share with you! 

/// Sprite Resize Zones

We'll start with something that we think adds a great feeling of depth to the game. 

If you remember from our previous updates, we added a feature to resize the character sprites when moving toward and away from the camera on the Y axis. 

That there's a Resize Zone, and darned if it isn't the cutest little thang. Tickle it. TICKLE IT.
That there's a Resize Zone, and darned if it isn't the cutest little thang. Tickle it. TICKLE IT.

While this was very cool, we had to make it more flexible than just an entire level with a single depth feel added to it. 

Every the settings. All of the clickles.
Every the settings. All of the clickles.

To achieve this we added new functionality to level zones. Now a resize effect can be enabled for a zone and we can set how many resize steps there should be. We also have dividing lines to set where steps start and end. 

This is a bit of an extreme example, but it's really just there to draw your attention to FLOATING SLIMO WHO WILL NOW AND FOREVER BE A MEME.
This is a bit of an extreme example, but it's really just there to draw your attention to FLOATING SLIMO WHO WILL NOW AND FOREVER BE A MEME.

/// Inventory Animation State Tweaks

Again, this is building on a feature we implemented some time ago which needed a little streamlining. 

We'd added states to the inventory animations, but they weren't very easily accessible in our tool. We made it much more clear, and now we can choose from different mouse states and add a lot of polish to the whole inventory bar.  

Look for some examples of this as we implement content into the game throughout this year!

/// Camera Dead Zone

We also decided to experiment a little more with the camera, due to its very basic first implementation. 

To this end we added a dead zone functionality where the camera doesn't always follow the character. 

This is EXACTLY like that movie with Christopher Walken except there's far less cow bell and nobody's walking without rhythm or whatever. DEAD ZONE.
This is EXACTLY like that movie with Christopher Walken except there's far less cow bell and nobody's walking without rhythm or whatever. DEAD ZONE.

The magnitude of this can be set from the Scene Editor for each scene separately, making it very customizable for the designer/content creator. 

We also made some optimizations that make the camera more stable and eliminate some strange jitters that we experienced.

/// Scene Boundaries

If I am not mistaken, scene boundaries where one of the first things we developed for Starr Mazer! 

Even so they didn't offer much in terms of functionality. Until now, that is! 

In the first implementation we only allowed the camera to move until the edge of a background. This came with some disadvantages, like UI that covers parts our environment. 

Wow, guys. Look at how lame that is. What even were we thinking? Who even knows?
Wow, guys. Look at how lame that is. What even were we thinking? Who even knows?

We now allow the camera to move until it hits a scene boundary. This enables us to show off all of our beautiful art and opens the possibility in future updates to even block parts of a level if a designer/content creator chooses so. 

Way much better in a sweater. Cuddle up with that sliding boundary with a color-change mug of Swiss Miss and your Video Laser Disc copy of Star Wars II: The Wrath of Kahn.
Way much better in a sweater. Cuddle up with that sliding boundary with a color-change mug of Swiss Miss and your Video Laser Disc copy of Star Wars II: The Wrath of Kahn.

/// Bug Squashing

On top of everything, now we have our fair share of bug fixing every month. The cost of progress!

You don't like them, we don't like them, they have to go. Sooner or later we had to reserve some significant time for this part too. 

Well now that time has arrived with a demo approaching us fast. 

 /// End of Dev Update 

This is it for December. 

Pretty packed for a month with a big holiday. I hope you enjoyed it and stay tuned for a January with many demo related features!

// Starr Mazer TV Updates

We've discussed bringing back regular Starr Mazer TV broadcasts, and there is no better time to do it than this year, as we finally settle into using each of our tools to sew content into the game.

I'll be getting a spinal surgery in February, which will keep that month from being THE MONTH, but I hope to get back to broadcasting work on the game as soon as I can post THE DAMNABLE KNIFE.

Let's tentatively say March. Cross fingers, toes and noses.

// The Wrap-Up

See? That was SUPER FAST!

Smell that fresh sea breeze? The ship is in top shape! (Go Adol!!)

Monday's update will cover what we've been up to in January. I think you will be pleased.

If you want to keep updated on the mad regular, or to chat with any of us on the team, you can always pop onto our Discord server:

Top this clicky-linky with black pepper SPAM, slap it on rice and wrap it in nori to pop-a-drop into our server!

I look forward to showing you more of our progress, Mazers.

Until then, I remain,

Don Thacker, Starr Commander

// EXETER DRYDOCK REPORT 011

Posted by Imagos Softworks (Creator)
23 likes

// Welcome to Exeter Drydock Report 011

Greetings Mazers!

Back to back to back to back to back to back again? I'm back again to snap again! And, gosh darn it, it ain't no other way around it!

No fronting, 'cuz I'm all the way back.

This is your second-to-last recovery update for last year, 2018, with the final hitting on Friday

After that, we'll be on track with a Feb update on Monday, so keep your eyes peeled like grapes for that.

This one's a little light, as the dev and art teams only really take time off at the end of the year. 

Don't fret, though, because we came back to the new year with FIRE.

Let's get into it! Paul?

// Development Update - December 1st, 2018

Hello everyone!

This month we focused a lot on getting the engine ready to make distributable builds, and to keep things exciting we also improved our Map system.

/// Build Review

To make sure we are on a good track for the upcoming demo, we had to review a lot of the functionality that we added in the past few months and make sure it all builds and works correctly across multiple platforms.

This is one of those OMG IT WORKS AND I'M GIDDY OMG OMG OMG BBQ moments.
This is one of those OMG IT WORKS AND I'M GIDDY OMG OMG OMG BBQ moments.

We checked how inputs work, optimized object loading, fixed player navigation issues, adjusted camera positions and many more things like this. I know this may not sound very exciting to you, but it is very important for us and it had to be done.

/// Map Features

Some time ago we introduced the Map system to Mazer Maker; a very interesting idea that included dynamic objects and even the possibility of encountering unexpected adventures just by traveling along the map. 

At that time we made the foundation of the system and this month we are back with more features that make system closer to complete.

//// Map Flow Boxes

We added things like Flow Boxes that allow us to open the map in endless ways, and Quick Flow support for map anchored objects that are created automatically when a level is assigned to that object. 

The Quick Flow support makes it very easy for the game designer/content creator to add functionality to the map just by selecting the anchored object and a level that needs to be loaded when the character reaches that object on the map; all the flow magic is done in the background.

We can now assign entire levels to anchored object, which is WAY more exciting than it sounds when I write it out like that.
We can now assign entire levels to anchored object, which is WAY more exciting than it sounds when I write it out like that.
This way, when we add any object to a map, basic Flow functionality is built in!
This way, when we add any object to a map, basic Flow functionality is built in!
The observant among you will notice that the map accommodates multiple player characters... WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?!?!!?!?!QUESTIONMARK
The observant among you will notice that the map accommodates multiple player characters... WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?!?!!?!?!QUESTIONMARK

//// Map Player

Other things that we added are player selection for the map, player speed and more hot key controls. The player speed was added mostly for testing purposes but the hot key controls are there to make it very easy for the game designer/content creator to work with the map without cluttering the interface.

/// End of Dev Update

This is all this time. A lot of improvements under the hood that help us prep for the demo. 

I'll see you next month with more exciting news!

// Team Additions and Internal Pivots

While the team took their respective breaks, we also staffed up with two more artists for various tasks, and moved out PM software from Atlassian's Confluence Suite to HacknPlan.

Ok, so I didn't think Map Tool UI was DRY enough. Here's a shot of our PM tool... #blech
Ok, so I didn't think Map Tool UI was DRY enough. Here's a shot of our PM tool... #blech

The staggered vacations of the dev/art team allowed me to pull this off without interrupting anyone's sprint, and we, overall, love the new system!

We'll have profiles of our two additional artists in a near-future update. Get ready, these folks are madness.

// Starr Mazer: DSP - Kickstarter Backer Appreciation Program

This has something for everyone. No, really, literally every one of you.
This has something for everyone. No, really, literally every one of you.

Finally, something that has plagued the Starr Mazer project of late has been that we, with publisher Playism, oversaw the creation and development of an arcade-style sister game to Starr Mazer, Starr Mazer: DSP.

There has been a lot of confusion as to how/whether we delegated funding meant for Starr Mazer to Starr Mazer: DSP, and how backers of Starr Mazer should/would be regarded by this project.

This confusion is 100% our fault. That makes it 100% my fault, and I apologize.

/// The Breakdown

The breakdown for Starr Mazer: DSP is simple: we entered into a contract with Playism to fund and release Starr Mazer: DSP. 

This project was funded by Playism independent of the funds raised by Kickstarter, and  initially developed to the point of Early Access release by Pixeljam. 

Continued development is being handled by SubPixel Studios, and the game is still under publishing contract with Playism.

Proceeds for the game's Early Access release have been largely allocated to Playism's recoup, with some going to the continued support/development of this property entirely independent of Starr Mazer proper.

/// The Intent

I honestly thought that this sister project would provide Starr Mazer fans another avenue into the Starr Mazer universe as we developed Starr Mazer; offering a quick, rogue-lite arcade actioner to whet the appetite. Internally we called it the Fallout Shelter to our Fallout 4. 

We also, ridiculously, thought that any profit that came to Imagos from the game's eventual release could be directed to support the release of Starr Mazer with the idea that more budget for Starr Mazer would mean more latitude to do more of what we wanted to make the best game possible.

We had no idea it would lead to so much confusion, and leave such a bad taste in everyone's mouth. 

We did not intend this; rather we intended to give you something amazing in complement to Starr Mazer proper. 

I recognize that this strategy was not communicated well enough, or with enough industry savvy, to satisfy everyone's perfectly reasonable expectations.

/// The Appreciation Program

We've been working on a way to make this feel at least a little better for you!

//// Backer Codes

After months of communication/negotiation on the subject, publishing partner Playism has agreed to release download codes for Starr Mazer: DSP for each Starr Mazer backer, at any backer level, for any platform we release the game to with Playism.

In addition, if there are platform-specific partners for Starr Mazer: DSP's release to platforms not covered by our agreement with Playism, Imagos will provide those codes.

In short, you get the game, on any platform you want it on. Whether or not you redeemed the earlier Playism 50% off code for a copy.

//// Custom Pilots

For backers at the NPC level or above, we will be offering, in addition to your custom Starr Mazer NPC, a custom pilot, should you want it, to be added to the unlockable pilot roster.

This pilot will have custom art, stats, text, a custom ship build and the weapon/special of your choice

If you are available/want to voice this pilot, we will do what we can to facilitate that as well.

//// Thank you

I apologize for the poor messaging/confusion in regard to Starr Mazer: DSP, and hope that this program will help to alleviate at least some of the ill will.

We'll be adding a Starr Mazer: DSP section to the backer forms when they go out.

// The The Wrap-Up

That was December's update! Short, but sweet like candy!

Expect January's update on Friday (2/1/2018), and Feb's on Monday (2/4/2019). Both of which are, shall I say, VOLUMINOUS.

Thanks again for sticking with us. I know this has been a weird, wild and *awfully* frustrating ride, but we've stuck through and are going to deliver a piece that, if anything, has a ton of heart pressed into it.

If you want to keep updated on the mad regular, or to chat with any of us on the team, you can always pop onto our Discord server:

Engage with this hyperlink to connect directly to the internet server assigned to us.

I look forward to showing you more of our progress, Mazers.

Until then, I remain,

Don Thacker, Starr Commander