Arcen Games

Games => The Last Federation => Topic started by: x4000 on January 15, 2014, 08:33:08 PM

Title: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 15, 2014, 08:33:08 PM
Just as an FYI, since I figured folks would want to know. :)  We had thought it might start next week or else on the 27th, and at this point it's definitely the 27th.

Not because we are behind -- actually we're doing really good overall, Keith is killing it on the code for the new combat stuff, and the prototype is already working a a certain level and really promising as we're layering on more stuff.  But rather, because we want to make sure that we make this as fully-featured as possible, without breaking the scope so to speak.

I can't really speak to the specifics yet, in case we wind up not having time to actually get every last one of our goals for this next week done, but I am super excited about them.  Even just the core of what we're working on is exciting enough, but there are some extended things that I believe we can fit in that will really expand the game in some interesting ways that I always wanted to do with AI War, but could not.

As next week progresses, I'll start sharing stuff with you about the combat model.  I don't mind going ahead and telling you that these are basically RTS skirmishes with your fleet versus another single fleet of some sort of opposition, in a relatively small sector of space.  It's a game of maneuver and of carefully avoiding losses since those cut into your profit margins.  It's... really different from any RTS I've personally played, in a good way.  The battles are still short and vicious, and actually higher-tension now than they were before.

Anyway, I'm really excited about it, as I've already said, but I don't want to say too much prior to really having these things fully tested out and vetted internally.  So I'll be saying more as we pass each internal milestone successfully, basically.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Teal_Blue on January 16, 2014, 12:03:37 AM
can't wait, it sounds really fantastic!!   

:)

Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: nas1m on January 16, 2014, 01:41:54 AM
In case you don't mind a single question regarding the new combat model:
Will it still be pausable realtime?

Otherwise I will just have to wait ;).
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: mrhanman on January 16, 2014, 01:50:58 AM
Awesome! I can't wait!

I'm really excited to see what stories emerge from this.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Rekka on January 16, 2014, 04:04:31 AM
Nice stuff. Combats around maneuvers look promising. Can't wait to have more infos. :)
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: alocritani on January 16, 2014, 06:19:13 AM

As next week progresses, I'll start sharing stuff with you about the combat model.  I don't mind going ahead and telling you that these are basically RTS skirmishes with your fleet versus another single fleet of some sort of opposition, in a relatively small sector of space.  It's a game of maneuver and of carefully avoiding losses since those cut into your profit margins.  It's... really different from any RTS I've personally played, in a good way.  The battles are still short and vicious, and actually higher-tension now than they were before.

Are they similar to naval battles in Patrician II/III?
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 16, 2014, 08:09:10 AM
In case you don't mind a single question regarding the new combat model:
Will it still be pausable realtime?

Oh yes -- I should have clarified that.  Same sort of deal with pause, fast forward, and normal speed being on easy hotkeys, just like before (and just like the solar system map, still).  As noted above, the battles are an RTS, after all, so being realtime is part of it, and pauseable is another. :)

I'm really excited to see what stories emerge from this.

Me too -- I am expecting to read some epic tales of woe in some LPs. :)  I just love reading stuff like Boatmurdered, where the writer of the LP really goes the extra mile and makes the LP itself a work of art in my opinion.  Even in Boatmurdered itself, you can tell a few weaker chapters where there was not as much personality or storytelling prowess, and the same underlying game came off as more bland than crazy interesting like the rest of the time.  So I am really looking forward to seeing not only what stories the game gives to people, but also what some people then turn around and embellish to others. :)

Are they similar to naval battles in Patrician II/III?

I'll preface this by saying that I've not played those games.  But from a cursory look... maybe?  Sort of?  More details to come soon. ;)
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: nas1m on January 16, 2014, 08:51:02 AM
Oh yes -- I should have clarified that.  Same sort of deal with pause, fast forward, and normal speed being on easy hotkeys, just like before (and just like the solar system map, still).  As noted above, the battles are an RTS, after all, so being realtime is part of it, and pauseable is another. :)
Cool stuff! I am always looking for games that I can play laid back on the sofa, either with my laptop on my knees or by hooking it up to the TV and using a game pad (this being one reason why I have so many hours logged in Skyward and to some degree Bionic ;)). Having to do something twitchy using only a touchpad is not exactly fulfilling this requirement ;D.

Looking forward to hear more!
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Misery on January 16, 2014, 09:10:54 AM
Well, this all sounds good. 

Here's hoping that the beta goes smoothly, and that we have a decent amount of testers for this one.


Oh yes -- I should have clarified that.  Same sort of deal with pause, fast forward, and normal speed being on easy hotkeys, just like before (and just like the solar system map, still).  As noted above, the battles are an RTS, after all, so being realtime is part of it, and pauseable is another. :)
Cool stuff! I am always looking for games that I can play laid back on the sofa, either with my laptop on my knees or by hooking it up to the TV and using a game pad (this being one reason why I have so many hours logged in Skyward and to some degree Bionic ;)). Having to do something twitchy using only a touchpad is not exactly fulfilling this requirement ;D.

Looking forward to hear more!

Agh I hate touchpads on laptops.   I dunno how anyone can tolerate the blasted things.

I always have to hook up a proper mouse if I wanna do a game with lots of clicking.  Or a controller if that can be managed.  Touchpads are just.... argh.  If I tried gaming with one of those, it wouldnt end well for the laptop.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 16, 2014, 09:51:35 AM
This is definitely a mouse-driven game, although you can tune the base speed of combat to be much slower than usual if you want to use a slower form of input.  Things will just take longer, but that's all.  Or if you are super fast, you can speed things up and just blaze through at the speed you prefer.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: nas1m on January 16, 2014, 09:57:27 AM
This is definitely a mouse-driven game, although you can tune the base speed of combat to be much slower than usual if you want to use a slower form of input.  Things will just take longer, but that's all.  Or if you are super fast, you can speed things up and just blaze through at the speed you prefer.
Sounds good to me!
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: tigersfan on January 16, 2014, 10:24:50 AM
Well, this all sounds good. 

Here's hoping that the beta goes smoothly, and that we have a decent amount of testers for this one.


So far, easily the most testers we've had for a game.

That, of course, doesn't mean we'll get plenty of feedback from all of them. We've had testers in the past who give very little to none, but, we've never had this many testers before. (Unless Tidalis had a big long list I"m not aware of before I got here.)
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 16, 2014, 10:26:48 AM
Tidalis had literally zero testers prior to its launch, IIRC.  I can't recall if we did a public beta with that, but we did not do a private alpha.

In the past we have had larger numbers of public beta testers/customers for things like AI War expansions or for Valley 1 and 2, but we did not get feedback of the same density from that sort of group, since a huge majority of them don't give any feedback at all.  So in terms of the pool of people actually lining up to give feedback, this is probably the largest.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Greywolf22 on January 16, 2014, 06:22:01 PM
Awesome!! Really looking forward to breaki...uhh I mean playing it  ;)
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: doctorfrog on January 16, 2014, 11:31:29 PM
So far, easily the most testers we've had for a game.

That, of course, doesn't mean we'll get plenty of feedback from all of them. We've had testers in the past who give very little to none, but, we've never had this many testers before. (Unless Tidalis had a big long list I"m not aware of before I got here.)

Guilty! :(

I wasn't able to contribute any Bionic Dues observations until it had shipped (and still have some in a .txt file), so in spite of my best intentions and desires, I didn't actively seek a beta test position for this one.

If I get an invite anyway (having been on the list), I'll take advantage of it, of course. But I'm slightly afraid of being as time-strapped as before.

Either way, will be monitoring the beta threads on coffee breaks for those drips and drabs of information!
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Coppermantis on January 17, 2014, 01:33:39 AM
So far, easily the most testers we've had for a game.

That, of course, doesn't mean we'll get plenty of feedback from all of them. We've had testers in the past who give very little to none, but, we've never had this many testers before. (Unless Tidalis had a big long list I"m not aware of before I got here.)

Guilty! :(

I wasn't able to contribute any Bionic Dues observations until it had shipped (and still have some in a .txt file), so in spite of my best intentions and desires, I didn't actively seek a beta test position for this one.

If I get an invite anyway (having been on the list), I'll take advantage of it, of course. But I'm slightly afraid of being as time-strapped as before.

Either way, will be monitoring the beta threads on coffee breaks for those drips and drabs of information!

I've done that too. I got into the AVWW2 and Bionic betas without even applying (I got in by doing level slices for AVWW2 and contributing to the robot design thread on Bionic) and although I tried I didn't feel particularly helpful. I'm just not good at giving feedback, since when something seems off I subconsciously assume that it's just me being dumb and not getting something, or I just don't notice that anything's off.

Like you, if I get into one I'll do what I can to help out, but that's unfortunately limited by my time available and the aforementioned obliviousness to problems.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: chemical_art on January 17, 2014, 04:43:54 AM
I'm just not good at giving feedback, since when something seems off I subconsciously assume that it's just me being dumb and not getting something, or I just don't notice that anything's off.


Been there.

Which is why for this run I'll just roll with it. If anything causes a "?" that isn't solved in 10 seconds, then I notate it. If I fix it myself in a minute, I add in how to shorten the process. If anything causes a "?" for more then a minute, I stop, notate in length, and wait for response.

It seemed to help SH a bit.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 17, 2014, 08:49:07 AM
I should qualify that if you aren't giving feedback, it's not like we send goon squads to your house or something. ;)

Really when people sign up with the intent to help us out with testing, that's not really an issue if they wind up not having time -- I mean, life happens, and this isn't your job or something.  That goes mainly for people that we already know in some capacity, through the forums or prior bug reports or testing or whatever else.  For someone new, if they sign up, take the game, and then give no feedback, that's kind of suspicious because it can seem like they just wanted a free game.  But even there -- I mean, I'm not exactly paranoid about that, and if you are new and you wind up not having time, I'm not going to be thinking bad thoughts about you or something.

I should also note that when it comes to giving feedback, it's not something where we expect 100 mantis tickets from everyone or something.  Honestly if we had that, we'd go nuts.  Having really long narratives of your play experience are also something that is really time consuming for you and us, and doesn't tend to be that useful.  Basically, just making a quick note when something jumps out at you negatively, or when you happen to see something positive that you think could be cross-applied somewhere else, or when you have an idea for whatever else.  That's all there is to it.

Obviously when you find an outright bug, that's slightly more involved since we need enough information (usually a savegame, or other info) to replicate it.

But in general, it's more of a low pressure thing.  Just play, and see what jumps out at you.  If something rubs you the wrong way but you can't tell why, THEN doing some more soul-searching and detailed analysis to see why is a good thing. 

As opposed to kind of approaching the game clinically from the start, with your rubber gloves on, which gives a different sort of experience than if you were just trying to play the game.  I think a lot of people think we expect them to do that, but actually we don't.  That changes how the player is approaching the game from the get-go, not always positively.  It can make someone really get focused into minutiae and miss larger things that are actually bugging them, for instance.  Or it can lead us down ratholes that are something minor that actually causes more problems when we try to solve it, rather than just leaving it alone.  Etc.

Granted, it's our job to sort through whatever feedback does come in in order to decide what to act on and when.  And we'd always rather have too much than too little (within reason).  But I think a lot of folks view the alpha/beta testing like we expect a ten page report from them at the end of each week, and that's really not what we're ever expecting or wanting. :)

Just some thoughts from my point of view on the other side of this, anyhow.  I'm not trying to convince anyone to join the alpha who doesn't have time, but for anyone reading this in general, I thought it might be useful to know our thought process on what we actually are looking for.  Later I'll have to clean this up and make it into an actual blog post.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Penumbra on January 17, 2014, 12:44:57 PM
Having really long narratives of your play experience are also something that is really time consuming for you and us, and doesn't tend to be that useful.

 ???  :-\  :-[

Sorry!
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 17, 2014, 01:01:07 PM
It's ok. ;)
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: orzelek on January 17, 2014, 01:20:57 PM
Long narratives about game play are more useful to other players :D
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 17, 2014, 01:35:32 PM
Oh, that's always fine.  But directed solely at us, not as much.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Kahuna on January 23, 2014, 06:00:11 AM
Last Federation sounds really interesting so I'd really like to be alpha/beta testing it.
How and when will you choose the testers?

Sincerely,
1797 hours of AI War.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 23, 2014, 08:35:36 AM
1797 hours of AI War.

Holy mother of moses!  I had not seen anyone with that many hours in the game before, I think the max I've actually seen is around 700 prior to this.  You are well past the number of hours of actual playtime I have in the game. ;)  I calculated it out, and I have in the ballpark of 1200 hours from my weekly play sessions that I used to have with the game, not counting testing time during the week.  If you count testing time, the number obviously shoots up, but that's not the same as really playing.

Did you find the other stickied thread about playtesting?
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Misery on January 24, 2014, 02:00:52 AM
Last Federation sounds really interesting so I'd really like to be alpha/beta testing it.
How and when will you choose the testers?

Sincerely,
1797 hours of AI War.

.....and here I thought *I* was obsessive about some games ("obsessive" not being bad, mind you!).  Particularly considering that I have nothing but free time.

But this.... I cant top this.

Well played, sir.  Well played.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 24, 2014, 08:22:51 AM
To be fair, it seems like you might well have that many hours in on all of the Arcen titles you play if you combine them, heh. ;)
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Misery on January 25, 2014, 05:13:04 AM
To be fair, it seems like you might well have that many hours in on all of the Arcen titles you play if you combine them, heh. ;)

Hmm, a good point.  :P


Speaking of the alpha, is this still on track for the 27th?
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 25, 2014, 08:02:48 AM
For very early this week at the worst. We may start a subset of round 0 folks on the 27th specifically to look at combat balance via combat practice. Not sure.

The larger metagame needs a bit more internal testing before I am sure if that will be ready enough on the 27th or 28th. Either way, it's close. :)
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Kahuna on January 25, 2014, 01:08:40 PM
Did you find the other stickied thread about playtesting?
Wow. How could I not see that.
Tiredness level: over 9k.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 25, 2014, 01:10:58 PM
Sometimes it seems like the stickied threads are actually LESS visible in forums, to me, for some reason.  All good -- sorry to hear you are so tired though!
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: windgen on January 25, 2014, 08:20:42 PM
Sometimes it seems like the stickied threads are actually LESS visible in forums, to me, for some reason.

I think it's because they don't change very often.  If you get a "reward" (new content) with high probability when you look at the top of the non-sticky threads, and with pretty low probability when you look at stickies, then after a while the human mind will become conditioned to look at the non-sticky threads and skip the stickies.

Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 25, 2014, 08:22:32 PM
That is an extremely good way of putting it, yeah.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Tridus on January 25, 2014, 08:33:01 PM
Yeah thats exactly what I was going to say. In the AI War thread for example, some of those stickies have been there forever. It's fine for new visitors, but regulars get trained to look past them and that becomes a habit everywhere.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Cyborg on January 25, 2014, 09:16:04 PM
I think it's the coloring.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 26, 2014, 10:15:24 AM
I think it's the coloring.

I think so, too.  Something about the NEW icons doesn't show up well, either.  I've just altered the color of them to stand out more from the rest of the colors, so we'll see if that helps.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: YukaTakeuchiFan on January 26, 2014, 03:35:30 PM
If it's any use to know, it certainly worked for me. I was wondering why the 'new' icons suddenly stood out a lot more than they did.
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 26, 2014, 03:40:58 PM
Excellent!
Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: Teal_Blue on January 27, 2014, 08:17:27 AM
Just a thought on price...
everyone wants a relatively cheap priced game, but to be honest it usually means the devs work harder for less money if the customer gets a cheap price right off the bat. $19.99 seems a round ball park figure for a lot of indie games, i have even seen a recent rise in that going to $24.99 and even $29.99 and $39.99 (I think Prison Architect is $30.)

Anyway, the point i am trying to get to is if you price it moderately, so you are not working for peanuts, say sell at $24.99 or even $19.99, then if things do not take off very quickly, you could have a fire sale and reduce the price to say $14.99 or $9.99. But don't start your prices at those low points, because you could be under-pricing yourselves when you don't need to. You have worked easily twice as long on preparing this game as Bionic Dues, so a $19.99 price doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

Of course this is just an opinion and you should really do what you feel is best. Just don't sell yourself short. Giving away Valley 2 maybe hurt by losing possible revenue. Where if you had given it away just to those who had already purchased it, you may have had more sales. But to be honest, I am just guessing there. I am not a marketeer or a business consultant, so my opinions may not be as good as i am hoping they are. I just thought if you had a middle of the road price, then it wouldn't be too high to start, but if necessary you could lower it a bit if you needed and not start at the bottom of the barrel.

Sorry, i'm repeating myself. anyway, good luck, looking forward to the game, i'm hoping it does wonderfully!!  :)

-Teal

Title: Re: Alpha will be starting on the 27th, or thereabouts.
Post by: x4000 on January 27, 2014, 08:31:40 AM
I think the general consensus these days is that anything above $20 is too much for most indie games; certain of our major distributors have also made this very clear.  When a price is set on a game, then aside from promotional discounts that price is pretty much needing to stay the same for an extended period, or early adopters get mad.  It was a couple of years before we reduced the price on AI War or Tidalis.

I think that looking in the $10 to $20 range is the appropriate range, to be moderate as you say.  But where in that range really... I'm just not sure yet.