September 19, 2014

Ship Inventory and Store interfaces

Parker here! I'm one of the designers here at Warballoon.

I wanted to give you all an update on what we are working on and show you how game concepts change over time. Interfaces have the potential make a game really good - or really bad. We are often borrowing from well known and polished examples found in some of our favorite games. For a starting point of our building interface we took a look at Civ 5.
Civ 5's build system shines at relaying a lot of information but without being an overwhelming wall of text and options. The interface is capable of giving most building's bonuses readily while still relaying important modifiers for the city. New players are given recommendations using small icons and can play accordingly.

Here is our first attempt at a build screen. Items are grouped in categories relating to function, and more information regarding power use and added effects are given using mouse-overs.

We also took some inspiration from another well polished inventory system, that of Dota 2's.

DOTA2 has a more visual system, with icons used to represent every item and all the information given in mouse-over. We tried to incorporate aspects of this, mainly the icon system and categorical sorting functions. However, there is a higher learning curve for players as they attempt to guess an object's purpose and effects by it's icon. Experienced players simply buy the item they want by knowing it's icon, while inexperienced players are able to mouse-over. 

The environment is a fairly high Actions Per Minute style RTS, really hurting new players who are forced to make decisions in real time. DOTA's remedy to this is a "recommended buy-build" system where players can edit, download and share builds which helps make the game more accessible.

Our first attempt at implementing some of the Dota 2 store features.

Our latest iteration enhances sort-ability further, so that players can quickly figure out how objects would affect your ship's function and performance. Further play-testing will tell us if this helps new players overcome the learning curve of identifying ship objects by its icon. 

More to come next week!


September 11, 2014

You can make anything with SCIENCE!

Howdy everyone!  I'm Tim, a developer here at Warballoon, where we know how awesome designing/building/modding a game truly can be.  Today, I'm going to talk to you about a new breakthrough coming in the not-too-distant future, S.C.I.E.N.C.E.

I like science!  Wait, what is it?
Well, bold-face font, S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is the Star Command Isometric Enhanced New Creation Editor, which is our modding tool for the community to use.  It is a way for you to design new objects and add them into the game for you and your friends to visit and/or use.  Simply put: build things, create worlds, share it all, expand the universe.

Good tag line, but how does it work?
Once you open up S.C.I.E.N.C.E., you can choose what you would like to build.  You can build such things as Ships, Planets, Objects, and Characters.  Once you have chosen what you would like to build, you are given a graphical interface to develop it with.  This allows you to draw your objects, set up walls on your ship, or even add in Flora and Fauna to your new volcano planet.

Can these objects/ships/planets do anything, or do they just look pretty?
Perhaps you want your new object to emit radiation, or you want your new ship to have beautiful Avarian architecture.  No worries, S.C.I.E.N.C.E. has your back.  You can set properties for each object such as how much power it will take, or how obnoxiously loud it will be to deafen nearby crew members.  You can also bring in sets of alien architecture to work with your design, allowing you to make various alien ships.  Ever wanted to see an Antorian Cruise Ship or a Midorian Trade Cruiser?  This is your chance to make that a reality!

Neat, I made something.  Now what?
So you've finished your new Ship/Planet/Object of Doom and you want to share your new scientific creation with the world, possibly via email or at a large conference.  Well then, it's time to Export it into a game readable format.  Currently, we're looking at both LUA and XML as potential export options, and have tested both.  Here's a little of what the ship looks like in LUA format currently.

And here's what the ship itself looks like post-creation.

How much is this new S.C.I.E.N.C.E. going to cost me?
At Warballoon, we believe in sharing all of our new S.C.I.E.N.C.E. with the community.  So how much does it cost?  In a word, nothing.  In five words, it will cost you nothing.  Rather, it will be a free download for everyone on the planet, separate from Star Command: Galaxies.

I'd like to challenge your hypothesis on this new S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
The tool is still somewhat in development and we are always open to fantastic new ideas.  What would you like to see in the tool, and what questions do you have about it? Tell us on Facebook and Twitter. We're always listening. Always. (Cue creepy music....)

Remember, you can make anything with S.C.I.E.N.C.E!

September 3, 2014

Upcoming Mobile Update

We have been super busy and wanted to take a second to catch our mobile fans up on the status of Star Command.

We are currently beta testing mobile and wanted to talk about the features that will be coming up for mobile. So peel back your eyelids and check it:

We have upgraded the entire engine to Cocos3.0 - which means support for Windows Phone! Star Command will be coming to Windows phone for the next update! Live in the shadows no more Windows users.

The next big thing is the new combat engine. You will now be free to roam the galaxy with the ability to choose when you get into battles. We have removed all mini-games in free roam mode and now players will be able to target each enemy subsystem during battles.

With the introduction of free roam you will now be hunting the remnants of the Star Command fleet - pirates! Pirates will offer much more challenge to you with abilities like healing, grenades and other surprises for your crew.

Give your crew the latest and greatest in gear with kits! Gravity boots and flamethrowers will be the first items out of the gate to help your crew navigate the new dangers in the galaxy.

So now that you can go where you want, when you want and give your crew new gear you're gonna need some new friends! How about man's best friend? Bam. Done.

Dr. Klebaticus Science Lab is the newest room in Star Command (Kickstarters will have instant access to this) that you can discover in the galaxy. Dr. Klebaticus has been working on secret experiments - and now you can benefit! Reanimate the dead? DO IT!

As you can tell we have a lot of new features. So when you ask the logical next question: "WHEN?" you will understand when we answer: "When it's done beta testing." We have a new platform, lot's of new features and, therefore, lots of new bugs and play balancing issues.

Love to hear your thoughts though! Send us a tweet @starcommandgame or visit our facebook page.

More from mobile and Galaxies soon!