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Working on: Day 1001 (33) - Fall 2011 in Pics (59 / 110) - Zuma Blitz - Fall 2012 in Concepts (64 links)
Team: Americana Dawn (as Lead Programmer, Tech Demo Game Designer)
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Microbattle System, Pt 2


If Foster barely has enough HP to survive one, I wonder how he can take on two of them. (The Ruffian needs to be nerfed slightly.)

The previous post on this series can be found here.

There were many different design considerations on how the battle system should work, and eventually the second iteration of the battle system was designed, this time in a video format as well, since videos are worth a lot more than words.

The first video is to test 1v1 combat and to see if everything works. The beta next week or so will have more.

A few major changes that are in this system that wasn't present in the first:

  • Most battles have their own separate battle screen, but some (like this one) do not for added effect, particularly if those battles involve interactions with the environment. Battles in this manner may only allow equipment to be brought in, focusing more on tactics and gear setup than potion spamming.
  • Your two (or three) weapons that you bring in also determine what skills you can use in that battle, so choose carefully.
  • Attacks that interrupt no longer cancel their attack and push them back at the same time. Sure it might stun them for a bit and take longer for them to execute that one attack, but it's more of a 'what do I need to do to reduce the effectiveness of that attack' rather than a single move to cancel them all.
  • Willpower is actually a one hit point reserve after they're out of HP (down) where they can get up after a while with a bit of health. If they're all down, then pardon will work. This was needed because attacks take off considerable portions of the life bar and it's hard to get it under 20% or something without accidentally KOing them.
  • All characters regen to full after each battle so something else needs to be done to decide how various items otherwise used for healing will be used, to avoid having only one/two types of consumables in the game.

Note on Unlisted: There's a lot of internal debate about whether to keep videos unlisted or not. They have been made unlisted due to a request from KY; since there is no video proof otherwise that the game screenshots were photoshopped or not this post / video will remain for proof that it isn't.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cunningham: Fall 2014


What appears in its place when this is cleaned up? A large outdoor area.

Around four years have passed since I first saw the construction of the new SCMA building. Now I see the original Cunningham starting to be torn down. With SCMA having its own designation for rooms, I'm not sure what remains of Cunningham after this. Only significant things I remember about this place was the Clever Planetarium (which will be rebuilt, I think), and the Computer Lab (before it was moved to Danner).

Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: Helixteus


How the endgame looks like, where any basic resource you had at the start is largely irrelevant.

Helixteus is a strategy / idle space game where pretty much everything is procedurally generated (an area which I support). Except that the strategy is more like ensuring you have more powerful ships to conquer (more in reality be able to explore) planets, solar systems, galaxies, etc., and idle doesn't occur until a ways in, when research allows you to get stuff passively as long as resource generators aren't full (though the game also runs when you're not playing).

The game's over there. Review's over here based on beta v1.30, but it's still in development, so I'll give it a month to see if new things are introduced and update from there.

GUI Interface, help, etc.

A larger canvas size might be needed since all the gui elements makes the game a bit tiny, even though you can zoom out. Some elements are a bit misleading, particularly on DirectMax (which you had to max a certain amount of that building manually before you can DM them). I don't review graphics unless there's clear flaws in them, which there aren't. And then there's the collect all (next to the blue I), where it's not even clear what it is until you click it after you researched that.

And there's some clunky mechanics regarding planet selection, naming (I see lots of Planet 0's, Planet 1's, etc. on Global Planets as more are captured, where it takes a lot of clicks to find out where each one's at in the universe. Or maybe it isn't that important) and retreating in a battle (it involves having to move a fleet to another planet first before sending that + more units to attack the planet again). They'll probably be fixed soon.

Some settings, such as time between saves, should not be set to low values, such as .5 second; should it take longer than that to save the game (and late game it will) the game will lock up and you'll probably lose the savefile.

Starting Out

  • You build an ore mine from the tutorial, convert to cash, build more, etc. Build only a few power plants, enough to get upgrades and send ships out.
  • When reaching 10 or so ore mines, a shipyard can be built, several T1 ships (and maybe to T2), and clearing the entire system. This should allow you to expand ore/power plants on nearby planets, with at least one level in path 3.
  • Remainder of the Galaxy can be accessed using T2 and T3 ships. Quantity over quality since it allows you to lay down more shots. Continue expanding, and build a handful of Institutes and upgrade main power/ore base production/storage, and rest storage only.
  • On Institutes, Overclock, upgrade, speedup, and repeat, for fast SP. Repeat for main base power and ore (L6 for now). T3 ships. Taking planets is now the majority of income for now. Idle on the planet with power plants and wait for energy balls (you do need to upgrade them a bit before they become useful).
  • Start research on collect all.

Midgame (Galaxies, Superclusters)

  • You should be able to build a probe at this point, and find at least an O star, where Solar Plants can then be built. The energy costs might be a bit high to send powerful ships through superclusters, so take a weak planet and a fleet just good enough to beat them, build a starbase there and rebuild a fleet. Stock up on XTRM specs - you'll need them.
  • The XP from the former should be enough to access some tile operations, like upgrade all and speedup all. The Upgrade All / Speedup all
  • More SP facilities and proceed through the upgrade tree. If you have upgrade all and speedup all, use them while overclocked, they give more SP than it uses. Use that to finish the science tree.

Endgame (Achivements)

Resource generation now tends to fall in these categories now using these methods (assumes you maxed out your science tree):

  • UPXP: You should not worry about this value. DMaxing Ore Storage and Solar Panels should be enough to raise it to get achievements. (Note that while DMXed panels are cheaper than their Lv25 components they are also reducing your XP gain as well so you'll need to max them manually to get the full benefit. Thankfully the time to build is much shorter each time you do that on the same planet (it might take a few minutes for the level counter to catch up). You won't be able to max solar panels until your cash flow is in the E range (the price range is actually so large I had to put the details in respective article since no one else had them).
  • Energy: Get maxed out Solar Panels near an O star and overclock to 25x. Idle here if you want to get passive energy but make sure you collect as there's no idle generation when they're full. There's up to 1000 luminosity per blue sun (more if you established them before the recent patches), so 25 x15T = 375T per hour if distance is 0.5)
  • Cash: Late game crystals sells millions of times higher (or more) than the ore itself, especially when your ratio is at high values (since its sell price also increases exponentially; at 1:259, quillite sells at ~510E cash). You'll need a planet of fusion plants since making them takes a while, even with full upgrades. (100B ore makes high level crystals consistently at a rate of 50%). The dev probably expects you to take this path anyways, as they are used for other endgame content like crafting.
  • Ore Storage: 1 DMaxed ore mine to reduce the build time, and then fill the rest with Ore Storage. Use a UT Speedup instead of finishing all buildings on planet since its fewer SP spent. You'll need the ore to bump up the Higher ore/gem value. Convert cash to ore. Buy upgrade. Rinse, repeat (you'll run in into the 'can't convert all to ore' box every time). Yes, there's a wall, but that exists at around 1:300 or so, where you need so many storage tanks to upgrade by 1, you'll probably crash the game eventually. Future updates might allow more.
  • Research Points: v1.30 makes them much more useful. If cash / energy is not an issue, which it shouldn't be, fill with Institutes, overclock 25x, and then finish construction. They only give you a Lv20, so top it off to Lv25. Then collect. On a 14x14 planet, it costs 50M to complete the above, and you will collect 768 billion SP. (Note: the SP cost for filling is 500 * (Institutes Placed ^ 2.38), and more to complete them.)
  • Exploration: Never place probes on full energy saver. You'll be waiting at least a month without speedups and most likely you'll scrap them for a faster speed one. Also for battles never use UT XTRM Spec (even though its 7x stats) since its SP cost is exorbitant for large T5 fleets, which you're probably using them on.

    An interesting note is that even though the probe's speed is set to one over 9000, any other ship can exceed that at this point in the game.
  • Taking Late Game Planets: When the difficulty rises above 500M, you'll start having mobs with at least 10T HP, 1T atk, 1T def, etc. Builds focus on only two things: Being able to stunlock and having enough HP to survive the battle while tanking. Although rocks might be worthless with atk and def (smaller ones are worth no more than one or two spec points each) you'll need as many as you can to boost HP. Fleets with at least 300T HP, 350T attack, 15B defense, and 50k ships are required to have a chance of surviving here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Shop GUI v2


GTG's shop in AD: Foundations Tech Demo, design board. Jelly returns.

Almost a year after the menu pages were added, they were revamped in order to take advantage of the higher resolution of the game. The shop GUI was modified to look a bit more 'colorful', and to actually show an item description instead of requiring a keypress to switch between your inventory / compare screens. The former is used for selling items, and there's now a separate tab for that. Only things now on the right is item information, what characters can use that item, and how many is in their inventory, as well as their carrying capacity.

There has been debate between the team regarding item information; the one used in the base game only shows charge / recoil with three speed values, apparently damage is irrelevant on their end because I don't know. Might be informative enough for action RPGs when you're sending so many attacks their way you don't need to know exact values, but in a turn-based RPG, each of your moves count, and a couple of mistakes almost certainly ends with a party wipe, sending you back to your last save (although I've heard the game would be a bit more forgiving than this).

For the latter, the comparison feature was removed. In other RPG games a simple up/down was used since the only main feature of weapons and armor is increased attack / defense later in the game. But there's really no way to determine if certain effects are better or not, since average damage does not increase significantly over the course of the game. It's the player's job to determine those tradeoffs.

Inventory space is not really an issue anymore, since it is set to an arbitrarily high value (such as 1000), and item usage in battle is limited to what your party can hold, so you can only bring a handful of items with you into battle.

Item Description: Four lines should be enough to display stuff about the item. Maybe not enough for witty humor, however. (The description itself may change since it breaks the fourth wall and makes a reference to the fact that Jelly could be bought in only two colors when it was listed in the Etsy store seven months ago, despite screenshots showing them in other colors. I attempted to buy them via other means, without success.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chinese Culture Camp, Round 4


The fourth year of Chinese Culture Camp. Same as usual, with the addition of female lion dancers and a new buiding available for classes. Unlike other years, I was only present in the morning, so I didn't make the end of camp slideshow.

I feel like the camp needs to be longer (both time-wise and length-wise), as 40 mins seems a bit short, and no Lion Dance classes past Beginner level are taught... there are repeat students. And they should also raise the grade level up a bit (right now it's K-6), because there's more counselors (Grade 7+) than campers, they could offer more advanced courses, and those lions are... quite heavy.

No article about this year's camp on The Record, though it was mentioned a month prior.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

San Diego Model Railroad Museum


The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is imo one of the more interesting exhibits in Balboa Park for its cost ($3 for students, and up to $8 for others). The exhibits are actually pretty large and detailed, considering it takes around a minute to walk from one end of the train exhibit to another. And there's six of them...

There's a second floor that is accessible on busier days, when more volunteers are around. It wasn't open when I was there, though.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Americana Dawn: Beta Testing + Download

After a bit over 15 months of development (at least since I came in) I'm ready to release a pre-beta version of Americana Dawn.

I was originally opting for a closed beta instead, but I am not in control of the game pages / Kickstarter so I cannot release it only to beta testers, so I will consider fans who view this page as the test audience.

I know it's not fully ready, but it's not my style to hold the fans back with 'a work in progress' pictures and artwork while they wait several months (or more) for a polished beta, especially when the game was completely reworked at least three times already over the past three years. (It is interesting to note that out of all the posts on the official game pages, only one or two are actual in-game screenshots, despite the fact it was possible to build maps for at least six months.)

There will be an update to this demo no later than Sep 30, 2014.

Read before downloading:

  • Maps are loaded in the by downloading the individual map and dragging it into the game window to load it. Only alpha / beta versions of the game will be able to do this, and only beta maps can be loaded using this method.

    This was done since maps can change frequently and I didn't want to require testers to either have to redownload the entire (12MB+) game package or replay through the game just for a few map changes, unless it was necessary. It also avoids some potential spoilers for having parts of the game presented out of order.

  • The maps in the directory are the author's original maps or edits of official maps and are not representative of the game or the demo itself. Updates to maps can occur at any time.
  • A lot of music and sound is not present, because they were not finalized. Some maps may have errors when loaded directly since they were not intended to be loaded in that manner.
  • The battle system is currently under construction (it is map based, not engine based).
  • Menus are incomplete because they will be revamped in the near future.
  • Send questions / feedback to the beta testing page (link provided when launching the game) or comment below.
  • Below links will not expire when the beta is released, however demo / release version maps cannot be opened with the tech demo.

Download:

Americana Dawn Beta Builds + Pre-Alpha Maps