Fall update 2018

Hi everyone, I hope everyone had a great summer!

While we don’t have a new patch release date to announce yet, we are gearing up for a lot activity here in the fall/winter season.

Progress with the new rules

Since we last wrote, the following rule changes have been coded, implemented and tested. These are rule changes we are feeling very confident about and will be in the next major release of the game -Alpha 7:

  1. The game now only uses ONE resource type, not three.
  2. The exchange window is no longer needed and was removed.
  3. Any ship can now attack Sectors directly! Attacking a Sector lowers the Sector’s Star value.
  4. Any ship can now attack a planetary development, not just ships with Bombardment.
  5. Commander Sectors doubled in Star value (~20 stars).
  6. If a Commander’s Sector is attacked and reduced to 0 stars you lose the game.
  7. Your Command Sector can no longer be Contested, so you can ALWAYS build there, even if occupied by enemy ships.
  8. Moving a ship always uses up Fuel doing so, not just the first move. (more intuitive, cards re-balanced accordingly).
  9. Far fewer Sectors you discover generate Stars per turn than before, instead Sectors generate more resources, cards, etc.
  10. Your Main deck only needs to be 15 cards now, far less than before (24 cards), making the first reshuffle happen much-much sooner – and, therefore, Technology is far more critical in games.
  11. Developments all got a lot more Hull to account for the fact that now any ship can attack them.
  12. Bombard ability now does extra damage to attacks against Developments or Sectors.
  13. Nuke ability now does extra damage against Dreadnaughts and Sectors making it more useful overall.

We are still considering some minor changes to the Invasion mechanic that are aimed at making the mechanic easier to understand, but we are still toying with alternatives.

These are a lot of changes. Everything above has been coded and is working on our private servers so we are making good progress here.

The biggest impact is the old 3 ways to win will be replaced with 3 new ways to win.

Before it was, in order of most common occurrence:

  1. Win by Stars (very common)
  2. Win by invading enemy commander
  3. Win by contesting (very rare)

New win conditions:

  1. Win by Attacking enemy Sector to 0 Stars
  2. Win by Stars (we are aiming to make this less common)
  3. Win by invading enemy commander
  4. Win by contesting?

Because the enemy Commander can’t be contested anymore, winning by Contesting the enemy’s Command center is going to be harder than ever. We may still keep this win condition, but we may just remove it entirely.

We are still deciding if having a way to end a game early that is dragging on is more important than the added complexity of having to explain a very rare win condition.

We hope to make Star wins less common than they are now. From our statistics we can see that Star wins are about 75 to 80% of the games, this was by design. The remainder of the games are determined by Invasions.

With these rule changes we would like to shift this towards more 40% star wins and 40% commander destroyed and 20% Invasion wins. But, it is hard to say if the game is best when in this ratio or if Star wins or Commander destroyed should be higher/lower than 40/40 respectively. More data gathered via playtesting will be needed here.

Figuring out that ratio is part of the refinement process. We will be looking to player feedback, win/loss statistics and monitoring what determines the right game length, and assessing the right level of tension. We will achieve this balance over time by fine-tune adjusting core star-related parameters of the game (like stars per planet, frequency of star generating worlds, what percentage is needed for a Star Win etc.).

Other progress

Beyond the new rules work above, we have also been working on other aspects of the code: new features, bug fixes, etc. Here are some of the new features we’ve worked on that you can expect in our next release:

  1. Drag and drop targeting.
  2. New effects for things like “creating ships”.
  3. New replay effects for attacking developments with cards.
  4. New match maker – just queue up and we will match you with another player automatically, and email you when the game is up.
  5. Play-by-mail is now 100% bug free (at least as far as we can tell!), take a turn, rejoin later and continue when notified.
  6. Deck builder is done except for GUI aesthetics that we are working on, progress here was delayed due to refactoring, which we finished.
  7. In-game rulebook architecture done, this will let you look-up short-hand rules while playing the game for topics you want to know more about.
  8. Many new card abilities and some entirely new cards – catalyzed by a direct result of the game changes above.
  9. A ton of new sectors added to the game, also catalyzed by the new rules.
  10. Oh and new art! (some of which you can see on this blog post)

Next steps

Below is a list of what we are working on right now into the next 3 months:

  1. Finishing up the deck builder
  2. Finalizing any changes to invasion rules
  3. Building out the new in-game rulebook
  4. Adding a ton more tool-tips to the game, and adding rule-look-up features to them
  5. Scrap all the current tutorial missions
  6. Replace all the current Scenarios with 4~5 new Scenarios that guide you through the game in missions that increase slowly in complexity
  7. Finalize the Steam integration, so we can release on Steam – when ready
  8. (Ongoing) Searching for investors for our game, to help polish and release it
  9. (Ongoing) Balance tweaks to specific cards and overall win conditions, as we get more data on how these changes impacted the game balance
  10. Various UI improvements like scroll mouse bug fixes, 2D map-mode free-panning, add more clear indicator for ship-moves and consider adding also the ship-size to the card information when selected… and a host of other UI improvements

Most of the above should make sense, but the changes to the missions and tutorials might need some further explanation.

We are shifting the game away with the next build from the current “click next and learn” methodology instead to “here is a situation, figure it out by yourself” approach. We will let you basically swim more quickly and try to give you positive-feedback results faster as well. In practice this means you will try to do things, and we will give you more feedback when you can’t do things – with the option to “learn more” about that concept or rule.

We also plan on releasing a lot less Scenarios and Tutorials in the next Alpha because we really want you to play head-to-head for now. The AI just isn’t ready yet to give you a good challenge; the real heart of this game is still in the immense depth it offers players in the one-on-one format. So rather than try to accommodate both single-player minded folks and multi-player people, we want you, our players, to focus more on the strength of the game and get you into the multi-player mode ASAP.

Later we plan on not only making the AI a lot more interesting to play against, with various mission types and a more realistic but also harder AI, but also adding additional play modes like free for all, cooperative, teams, etc. with up to 8 players. This, along with mobile device support, will be followed up by bigger features we plan on adding post-Steam release (following on good revenues?) or as a result of securing funding with an investor/publisher.

Bye for now!

Thanks for sticking with us and reading our updates! We’ve been working on this game now a good while so we are very excited to finally get it done, and in a better place, for a wider-public release.

October 2017 Update

Time is still ticking towards our Alpha release. We are fairly confident we should still be able to hit our Fall 2017 release timeframe, and it will likely be around December 2017 – assuming no major hitches in our planning.

Code update for Alpha 6

Alpha 6 is the version number we will be on when the Alpha goes public. We plan on inviting players in batches, with oldest subscribers first. Once we make sure everything works well we will then batch in the next group. We will go deeper into the details of this process once we get closer in a month or so.

Right now, we are mainly working on the following code-related tasks:

  • Player profile enhancements
  • Game lobby and room UI
  • Basic matchmaking logic – to ensure new players tend to find other new players when creating/joining games
  • New card overlays for full-art formats
  • New weapon effects, explosions
  • Sound design
  • Final touches on single player scenarios, tutorials
  • Game patcher Mac/PC testing and design

Discard for Research – GONE

We tried out a mechanic for a good few months where you could discard any card from your hand for one research point. While it did a good job of addressing access to higher technology options on smaller maps, it led to two negative consequences that we decided were not worth the trade off. Namely it encouraged heavy hand-deck manipulation as a strategy, which is a very min-max type thought process, while detracting you from the core of the game: which is focusing your choices in your hand & the ships on the map.

You could easily spend the majority of your turn discarding and drawing large numbers of cards to find a particular solution, which is not necessarily something we want as core gameplay but also a very high-level thought process. Our game already has a very high skill ceiling and this ability as a core-feature for all decks just meant that the skill ceiling was even higher than it perhaps needs to be. Players who discard heavily just win against players who don’t. We were not promoting intuitive gameplay by doing this, players are not “used to” throwing away all their cards to draw new ones, especially when they are learning and don’t know why a different card would be any better.

The ability to discard for research may very well return, but if and when it does, it will be in the form of an ability you can deck build around and progress up to as you play, rather than an innate way of playing.

We should give a shout-out to Jean-Michel from Abrakam / Faeria – who also mentioned this concern on a podcast we had earlier this year.

Video Production

Our team is now also busy working on two videos, one of them will be the intro-lead for our game when it launches. It will convey the big-picture story behind the game of the game and where things begin. The other will eventually attach onto the first as continuation where we unveil the video elements of gameplay, but from the perspective of our characters story. We will be utilizing these videos as part of our upcoming crowd-fund campaign next year.

Art Licensing

Recently we have been focusing more on securing specific artworks from our ~35 artists rather than seeking out new artists to work with. We’ve got licensing agreements finalized with 4 or 5 new artists in just the last few weeks, totaling more than 35 secured artworks.

Meanwhile Eko Putek continues to produce commissioned artwork for our commanders and our upcoming lore video. You can see on our last blog post the two pieces he did for our commanders.

If you haven’t noticed it yet, our Twitter and Facebook pages also have new blue-green back art that was a lot of fun to make and incorporates 3d and 2d art from 5 different people all together in a larger space-scene.

Recruiting

The main positions we need to fill currently are:

  1. Community Manager(s) – Timeshares
  2. Social Media Manager / Specialist – PAID
  3. HR / Admin – Timeshares
  4. QA Testers (especially testers with Mac OSX) – Timeshares

Let us know if you or someone you know would like to join our international passionate team!

Colonizing 101

Hello again! It’s Mojumbo here, with another strategy article for our GalaCollider fans.

Today, I’m going to be covering all aspects of colonizing sectors in the game. Colonizing is fundamental to the gameplay, so be sure to absorb all the information to make the best decisions possible to ensure your future victories.

The Colony Ship

Don’t let the 0 attack fool you! Colony ships win games.
Don’t let the 0 attack fool you! Colony ships win games.

The first thing to learn is how to colonize.

Colonizing is done by the Colony Ship. You start a game with 2 Colony Ships and you will always have one in your hand. To offset this, the cost of the Colony Ship slowly increases as you build more and more of them.

As such, a big part of your colonizing strategy needs to be weighing the pros of colonizing more sectors, versus the cons of the ever-increasing cost. For instance, it’s quite normal to have colony ship costs rising to 5 Materials and 5 Research on a bigger map, at which point it will really eat into your resources for the turn if you build one.

Sectors Galore

GalaCollider has a variety of different sectors you will find in the game. Your colonization strategy can be drastically affected by what kind of map you are playing on.

For example, on a map where you are close by your opponent, you may decide to forego heavily colonizing the map in order to build up for a quick attack. On a map with plenty of development slots, you may decide to colonize and build developments everywhere. It’s all in the strategy!

Each sector in the game has a distinct look to it before it is revealed. The important thing to ask yourself, then, is what do the different sectors in the game do?

The following table will list all the different sectors you will find in the game. Use this information to give yourself a better idea of what colonization opportunities await you before you decide to move out any of your ships.

SectorTable

Putting it All Together

Now that you know what colony ships are as well as what each of the different sectors look like, you are ready to think about when and where you should colonize.

Often, I play games against newer players and they colonize the first chance they get. This can be problematic. For example, if the two sectors adjacent to your Core World are an Asteroid or a Nebula, which both lack development slots and provide few resources, it is likely worth avoiding colonizing them early.

Instead, the better choice might to be move your colony ships up another sector to get them closer to the middle of the map. If you colonize sectors that are closer to your opponent you can quickly start to build up defenses on your sector as well as prepare an attack of your own.

Generally, something to look out for when colonizing sectors are choke points. A choke point is a spot on the map that serves as a bottleneck for your opponent. Let’s say the only way to your opponent is through one sector in the middle of the map – colonizing that one sector and building defenses there is very important! If you were to neglect that choke point and colonize closer to your Core World, you risk letting your opponent claim the middle of the map which would give them free reign to attack you from multiple directions whilst you’re forced to one attack point.

The red player only has 1 sector connecting to the opponent’s side of the map. This is a choke point at its finest.
The red player only has 1 sector connecting to the opponent’s side of the map. This is a choke point at its finest.

That will do it for me today!

So, remember, GallaCollider is all about strategy, and altering your game plan according to the map. In game, think about the cost of your colony ship, the type of sector you want to colonize, and the position of that sector on the map relative to your opponent. It’ll help!

Good luck and happy gaming.

Visual wave

Greetings friends, much has happened in the last few weeks!

MagFest

GalaCollider was selected to present at MagFest! We’re very excited to have a new opportunity to show the game to the world. We’re working hard to get a nice humble booth all organized and prepared for the event.

UI Progress

We have made tremendous progress towards getting the UI of the game improved. We still have a lot to go but there is already a world of difference in the game.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.11.24 PM

We’ve also been working on various kinds of visual feedback for different game effects, like red spirals to show a planet is being raided or flowering purple-blue rain when an ability reveals a sector at range.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 10.41.09 PM

Sectors now have colors that are more clear to show ownership, the core world glows brighter, sectors that are not selected have various visual indicators disabled.

The half way point

Alpha4 isn’t done yet, but we’ve decided to make a mid-way marker in the development. Our goal in the next two weeks is to make a stable build of Alpha4 in anticipation of MagFest. We will also use this stable way-point as a means to get everyone on the team playing the newest build too.

Only a few actions remain that can’t be undone with our new Undo button – which has proven to be such an essential feature.

It’s also very easy to load custom decks into the game now, and we’ve got 16 new ships and another half dozen or so other new cards in the current pool to play with.

Progress on the single player mode is currently hampered by a few last features we need to finish. Namely we need to code the game to permit us to set the player’s deck, and the order of the cards in their hand at start. Once we have these things, and a few bugs resolved, we can then work on refinement and testing on our puzzle missions.

Planetary 3D models

The game uses 3d models for many things. Everything on the map is 3D but still linked to a card. There were a number of planets added in Alpha3 but they had some problems, pinched textures at the poles, odd colors, rotation problems, or they just simply glowed too much and didn’t match our concept designs close enough.

I’ve spent the last 3 or 4 days going back to the source files and rebuilding all the planets in our game to be a better representation of what we want to achieve.

Tonight I wanted to see all the planets together and measure which ones are too similar and what some of them should be called / renamed into. Here is what I threw together to help me get oversight:

planets_overview_01

Alpha 5 designs, first look

Starting in Alpha5, your hand will hard-cap at 7 cards. If you have 7 cards you just can’t draw more (or you get fewer cards). You can still discard at will, so it won’t stop you from getting new cards if you clear some space. There are many benefits to this change, first it will mean that turns are faster because we never have to wait for a discard phase. Secondly it will also mean we can show more of each card to the player, gone will be the days of only seeing card edges until roll-over. Ghosts on empty slots and lights that glow to show you your hand-spots filled will also make it quick to count and see if you have space in your hand remaining.

We had always planned on having enemy information displayed on an “Intelligence” tab (bottom left corner) – the problem is, that tab doesn’t exist yet because intelligence mechanics (controlled by playing Spies) is a whole world of mechanics that remains in the future… rather than the present.

It’s important to see information about your opponent, especially their star count, so you know if they are about to win. I wouldn’t say this design I made is done, but it’s starting to go in a good direction.

The idea is to leverage the traditional “street fighter” split, me on the left, enemies on the right. I also really like the idea of seeing avatars – you want to identify as much as possible with your side and your enemy. I have ideas in mind for multi-player games, but this current UI assumes a 1-on-1 arrangement.

Finally the menu, done and undo button will move to be more central – I think that makes more sense? But playing and you – will let us know if this indeed true. So here it is, my first draft for Alpha 5 design changes:

Gala_Mainscreen_space_UI_us_v_them_03

Full game replay 01

Hi folks, today we bring you a full game. Played by yours truly. This is a fairly long game because I spell-out all of my thought processes and decisions related to various options I have on each turn, with no clock timer. If you like commentaries with a lot of strategy talk, this video is for you.

My opponent Trevor decides to push slowly and methodically for my core-world while I make a split decision mid-game to forgo defense in order to push for prestigious victory by collecting 50 stars. With only 8 stars to go to reach 50, can I hold my territory while Trevor threatens to capture and claim my territory as his own?

Modules and Battles

Today we are going to combine a blog post and a video together. We’ve hinted at ship modules but haven’t really gone too deeply into them yet.

Modules

Syl_Ship_Stinger_miniEach ship can have up to 3 modules, though most will only start with 2 or less already installed. Over the course of a game you will be able to modify the modules on your ships, or to increase their values.

If you add or change a ship’s module set, then all copies of that ship on the board, but also still in your deck and hand adapt and reflect the Mods you apply to them, they are not lost when the ship is destroyed.

We have a zillion modules planned for the game, but you have to start somewhere, below is our current list of modules that are being playtested:

Module list

module-cheat-sheet

There is a wide variety of module types from invasion, colonization and bombardment to mess up planets. To weaponry armaments that give you bonus damage vs. certain sized enemy ships, multi-shots, the ability to pin-down enemy ships to prevent them from escaping, planetary economic harassment, efficient energy consumption and counter-attack batteries.

Free build is a module that will let you build the ship on any friendly sector, even when there isn’t a shipyard. These could be small scout-type vessels, meant to bluff as threats or to explore the deeper territories of the map, or they could be fully capable battleships, whose price tag is inflated by their flexible nature to be built anywhere.

Each faction will have a propensity for some modules more than others, and some modules may even be unique to one faction all together.

Battle in action

Here is a sample battle turn, the Sylith move in two raiders to try and disrupt the opponent’s resource production and slip their faster moving ship past enemy lines.

The Coalition player sits pretty in a well defended position and blasts the raiding ships with their dreadnaught and ground-based laser cannons:

The end result is a lot of dead Sylith but one of the Sylith raiding ships survives and will block all resource production on the enemy planet next turn.

That’s all we have time for this week, stay tuned next week to yet more sneak peak information!

Building Star Ships

This week in our regular video-replay reveal we go into building Space Ships. You’ll need to decide strategically where to best place them on the map. Take out or contest enemy star docks in order to block your opponent’s ability to build their own ships.

Visit our channel to subscribe. Join us next week as we dive deeper into tactical ship-to-ship battles!

First video recording of early-Beta

Hello Gala fans. Today we unveil our new YouTube channel and our first gameplay video.

We plan on doing a lot of these, but first the basics.

In this video you will learn that this is a 4X game driven by an expandable card game. You will also learn that there are 3 main ways to win and what our resource icons represent.