July 30, 2014

Jordan Coombs

Strange New Worlds

We are a live and working extremely hard. We will have a video up next week showing the new ship building system, but for today here is some concept art. Should start to spark the imagination of where we are going....






May 22, 2014

Jordan Coombs

Concept Art to Wet Your Whistle

Greetings all!

We have been hard at work doing some very dull stuff. We have implemented a SCRUM agile development environment here at the office and are now using JIRA Agile to make it happen. Boooorriiiiinnng.

We have also been polishing up our building engine to be more free flowing and allow you to basically do whatever you want on a ship. Rooms are now dead. Instead, if you want an engineering section you drop an engine; if that engine is putting out too much radiation you better build a containment wall around it; now route some power from your engine to your laser batteries using high capacity power conduit built under the ship; install a captains chair and route a low capacity power conduit to it - bam. You're ready for space.

This has been a huge grind - building is basically the backbone for combat rules, laying out enemy ships, and playtesting most of the game. So it's something that has to be done correctly and it is slow going and rather bland in regards to screenshots and status updates. So bear with us.

In the meantime, here is some concept art to wet your whistle!

Antorian High Command.

We are continuing to evolve the species in the game. We are expanding their mythology, their tactics, their look and how their own ships function. The goal is for each race to feel very distinct and very foreign - "alien" almost.

An antorian looks down on a local metropolis.



The most vital thing to the Avarians are their hatchlings.


Avarian Warriors will help protect the flock.


Avarians on a stroll discussing galactic matters.

The team is hard at work every day. We're really excited about the way the game is going and we think you will be to once we really start rolling out all the new features.

Cheers,
Jordan@Warballoon

May 1, 2014

Jordan Coombs

Star Command is One Year Old!

A year ago today Star Command was release for iOS on the iTunes store. We think this is a great time to do a retrospective, talking about our successes, our failures and most importantly the future of Star Command.

WHAT WE HAVE DONE RIGHT


In the last year we have sold over 615,000 copies of Star Command. The game was released initially on iOS and we were chosen as "Editor's Choice." Over the next 5 months we converted Star Command to Android and added 5 new missions, growing the game by 30%. We have been featured on Google Play and currently have an average 4.3 rating from our user reviews. We were also featured on the Humble Indie Bundle with over 175,000 units downloaded.

We were covered on IGN, Joystiq, Gamespot, TouchArcade and dozens of other sites - sites we have read for as long as we can remember. Seeing Star Command featured on sites that we never even considered having a chance of being on was (and still is) an amazing experience.

We are supremely proud of Star Command and the success it has seen on mobile devices. It's remarkable how much it has changed all of our lives and allowed us to become full time developers. And that is an accomplishment in itself. We have been to Steam Dev Days and people talk to us as developers and actually recognize our game. That is a very surreal experience - believe us.

We doubled our team size and expanded our desktop release to something that we know will be worth the undoubtedly long wait our fans of endured. Which brings us to...

WHAT WE COULD IMPROVE ON


We have our share of critics and often times we agree with them. One of our biggest mistakes has been advertising features too early. We would move into a polish mode, it would take far longer than expected and our release windows would have to shift. A lot of the reason for our silence in recent months is from this lesson - we want to have firm release dates for our features.

Overall release dates are pretty much shit for us track record wise. It's something we see, we acknowledge and do our best with. We have always said quality is most important and that will always be the case. We want to show features when they're actually close to release and we feel confident about the date - not before.

Another thing that has been a huge improvement is new blood - our new team members at Warballoon have injected new life, new ideas and new sense of excitement that was long overdue for Star Command.

WHAT'S NEXT?


First, let's cover Star Command Mobile.

We have been working hard on really expanding the game and giving ourselves a canvas to create content quicker while also addressing some requests from the community. Our next release will have quite a few new features.

First and foremost is Free Roam mode. You will now be able to freely explore the galaxy, taking on new enemies, collecting kits and new rooms for your crew. One of the problems with mobile is that custom written story-driven content takes a long time to create, bug test and bring to life. We have focused more on the random combat and expanded resource collecting (rooms, new uniforms, crew members, kits, etc).

The prologue mode will continue to exist in the game, unchanged, but a another big reason for Free Roam mode is balance: Star Command had a clear progression system, with enemies introduced at appropriate times with appropriate equipment. In Free Roam players can fight ships that are a quick kill and enemies that are epically difficult (with some good gear to collect). We will still have story driven content in the future, but the focus will be far more on in-game content.

Another big improvement in Free Roam is a reimagined combat system. We have removed all mini-games and made weapons all real time touch based. Your ship now has energy that is produced from engineering and drained from shields, weapons and other systems on board. Enemies are also much more intelligent with equivalent systems that can be targeted. They have a brand new logic system and should present much more of a challenge to seasoned Captains. Mini-games will still exist in the Prologue, just not in Free Roam.

The new targeting system in action.

Contraband will finally be making its debut with equippable items for crew members. The first two collectible kits will be in the form of flamethrowers and gravity boots. Flamethrowers will give your tactical crew members the ability to spray enemies with fire - while also setting your own ship ablaze. Also, there might be a bit of a liability to friendly crew members if they are killed in action. Gravity boots will give your engineers the ability to make repairs to your damaged hull without fear of being sucked into the vacuum of the space. Clearly more items like Dogs and some other goodies will be coming as well.

Burn em or just don't get sucked into space. The choice is yours.


With new player abilities come new enemies. The next race players will be fighting won't be a race at all - it will be collection of the wretched scum and villainy from across the galaxy - Space Pirates. The goal with the Space Pirates is to give a race equivalent powers of your own - healing, repair (damage in this case), grenades and rapid fire along with improved tactics.

The pirates are coming!

Eventually we will move into offering new zones that can be unlocked with a small IAP. Each of these zones will contain new enemies, new kits and contraband, new ships and rooms and other surprises.

Finally, for all of our Kickstarter backers we will be rolling out dogs as well as Dr. Klebaticus chamber - which you can see a snippet of below. Don't want to ruin all the mystery.

The good Doctor is in.

It's been a great year and we're very excited about this upcoming one. The PC version of our game is going to have so many new features your eyes will likely bleed and we will be covering in future posts as we get closer to rolling the game out.

Thank you to all our kickstarters, fans, bloggers, reviewers, critics and everyone else that has made the last year so amazing. You are infinitely important to us and we work hard everyday to make sure your faith is well placed.

Cheers,
Jordan@Warballoon

April 24, 2014

Jordan Coombs

Multiplayer is Dead - Until it Isn't

Over the weekend we asked a question on our Twitter and Facebook fans about the future of Star Command:

What would you rather see?

Deep multiplayer with cooperative ship vs ship battles and player controlled races that would be different?

OR

Deep single player with lots of races, research, and campaigns like civilization?

The response was quick and extremely one sided. At our last count the vote was 185 - 6 in favor of single player, and since the total comment count has passed 500 - with a similar trend.

So what does that mean?

One of the big reasons that we were exploring the idea of multiplayer was inspired by a quote from the FTL creators in a story that ran on Joystiq. You can see the story here but the short of it is was Matthew Davis talking about future clones of FTL exclaiming, "... it has to have multiplayer!"

This quote got us talking. We have discussed multiplayer plenty over the last three years creating Star Command but this was far more focused and action orientated - what would it look like, how would it play, how quickly could it be implemented, etc.

The two platforms, desktop and mobile, would have different executions for multiplayer as they have have different strength and weaknesses.

For the desktop we were looking at a player vs. player system growing into a much more robust experience on the campaign map. The initial launch would have been a simple ship vs. ship with one player controlling a Star Command vessel. Players could invade the enemy ship with their crew, take out their subsystems and go toe to toe with either their own ship with their own crew or a point pool where each player would build the best ship they could with a cap on points spent.

From there we would evolve into adding things like cooperative crews, with multiple players controlling crew members on one ship. The goal here would be expanding other races - now players could control the Antorians who would be very distinct from the Star Command ships in both form and function. Crews would go against other crews and work with other ships to expand the campaign map and establish bases on planets.

Finally this would have expanded into an ongoing universe where players earn unique equipment and grow their ship to fight other ships on individual servers.

With this system we basically remove research, mission cards and some of the dynamic galaxy elements and focus more on the players ship and combat.

As a self-critique we like both versions and each have their advantages and disadvantages. With multiplayer we like the glory and challenge element - we can never code an intelligence nearly as capable as human players. To that extent the glory of defeating an opponent in combat is really unrivaled. You are literally beating your very own "Kahn" - surviving on your strategy and ruining someone else's day, which is always satisfying.

On the other hand, single player allows us to blow out the universe, keep in numerous species and elements like space stations and research that become bogged down in multiplayer.

Some will say "Why not work on both?" and our answer would be - we will in some way. Multiplayer will always be in the back of our head but to really to make a good product we have to focus on one or the other. Our design doc was originally drafted as a deep single-player experience and we will continue to double down on that. Our mod support, storybuilder and content creation are much clearer now and the game will be that much better for it.

Multiplayer may be much more of an option for mobile - but for now our focus is on freeroam, the new ship combat system and crew kits.

Cheers,
Jordan

April 17, 2014

Chad Beninati

Intro to Chad

Oh hey there, I'm Chad. I'm one of the new developers on the Warballoon team. We have an exciting project underway and I'll be your co-host along with Chris (the pantless avatar from the previous post) and Aron (the avatar whom you have not yet met).

One of my main responsibilities here is working on top-secret voodoo with the Unity3D toolset. Unity3D you say? Why yes, we have collectively decided to give Unity a go on the new Star Command desktop game. I'll be talking more about that process and decision later on, but for now let's just say that we are looking forward to Unity's cross-platform deployment tools to help keep things under control here as we get into the final stages of development.

But all that's a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about the future. As far as day-to-day operations go, we're always looking for new ways to leverage the built-in utilities that Unity offers for handling lame and otherwise time-consuming minutia such as particle systems (spoiler alert?).

Be on the lookout for new posts from the rest of the team and myself as we continue this process and reveal some of the kick-awesome progress we make along the way.

Chad out.

April 10, 2014

Chris Wellman

Welcome!

Hey Everyone.

First and foremost welcome to the new Warballoon blog. Most of you probably don’t know me and that’s totally fine, in fact that’s why I’m writing this post. Back during the initial work on Star Command I was like most of you, a fan. But I was also someone that had experience with web development and upon noticing that the guys were using tumblr I offered to lend a hand and make a site for them. After the work was finished the guys told me to keep in touch as they continued on to finish the game and the android version. So I kept in touch and threw my hat into the ring once they started to look for more help and that brings us to now.

So now that I’ve got that out of the way let me go over a bit about what to expect from this blog. Over the next week or so you’ll be hearing from some of our members and they will talk a bit more about their role here at Warballoon (for my part I’m going to work on UI aspects like GUI and Animations).

Once the introductions are out of the way we’re going to commit to posting at least once a week talking about the game and what we’re working on. We want to be transparent with all of you so that you can see what cool things we’re working on.

Oh and my avatar? This is what happens when you’re the only member that’s currently working remote.

Until next time, Captains.

Chris