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Rocketbelly Goodness! New Update .62 !

Mr. Rocketbelly please do as I say!  That's right the Rocketbelly has had some awesome new fixes with him as we prep him for his next stage of development!  Now you can click on a target far away to destroy while in siege mode.  He will now un-siege, walk towards the target ignoring enemies, then re-siege when within range to bring the BOOM to the party!

If you don't want the Rocketbelly to ignore the Enemies while walking to the target, then simply click on the ground infront of the target instead of the target itself and it shall happen!

Did you hear that... Nope?  Then you will on this update.  Lots of new updates to the audio system for the Rocketbelly, Critters, Explosions, & much more new sound work.

In addition, we've knocked out another round of community reported bugs! Thanks for playing!

Release Notes .64

  • fixed units not dying correctly on dedicated servers
  • impact forces from attacks impulse ragdoll correctly
  • all attacks now generate force with hero modifiers
  • fixed colors for minigame clients
  • enchantress & rocketbelly ragdolls jittering fixed
  • hotfix for ai perception
  • fixed buildings not destroying at player defeat
  • fixed ai timing out queen when not attacking

Release Notes .63

  • Updated MiniGame Map Scene with level, Work In Progress
  • Fixed Minigame not sending idle units after waves are done
  • Fixed ESC focus when leaving gamesettings menu in minigame
  • Removed initial Firing Delay for all units
  • Shortened Manalock Targetting idle time to match other unit's time
  • fixed enemy team colors in minigame
  • fixed minimap not updating correctly
  • fixed thrasher leap distance calculation
  • improved Ai Aiming for Thrasher Lunge Ability
  • improved Ai Aiming for Thrasher Spin Ability
  • improved Ai Aiming for Manalock Charge Ability
  • improved Ai Aiming for Manalock Blast Ability
  • improved Ai Aiming for Enchantress Rift Ability

 

  • Release Notes .62

  • audio updates across the board.. (rb, critters, explosions, radiation blast...)
  • async loading implemented, faster startup & loading times
  • fixed ragdolls not impulsed on clients
  • ragdoll explosions now working
  • critter & queen death dissolve not working fixed
  • ragdoll teamcolors fixed
  • perf gain with explosions and lots of enemies
  • fixed connection issue when double clicking buttons
  • added searching notification dialog
  • minigame players are now on red team
  • fixed exiting minigame menu with Escape
  • added more information on the lobby menu
  • fixed ai from using taken colors from seamless travel
  • fixed large units nav mesh correctly updating last poly
  • fixed rocketbelly movement jitter around corners
  • fixed rocketbelly commanded targets while in siege mode
  • fixed bug with perception skipping targets infrequently
  • loading screen added to startup
  • fixed missing textures links
  • hitting Esc no longer shuts down the game

 

 

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Steam Profile Update Live!

Steam Profiles Updated!

New steam profiles have been implemented in Abatron. Now players can progress their character level and ranks by playing matches. At the end of each game, players are now rewarded with profile experience and reputation. Improve your skills to become a Challenger or progress farther and become a Warlord. Save up reputation to get cool skins and other future items!

Steam Stats are now in place, so we can now track the carnage you do. Its the first step to doing Acheivements & Leaderboards...coming soon. A Bug ton of fixes including better Enchantress playability. No Longer will you have to flee close combat due to aiming issues, now the aiming takes in account your target location in relation to your current weapon position. Jaw Drop Get in there and playtest the latest changes!

Release Notes 1.2.61

  • steam stats implemented
  • steam profiles implemented
  • enchantress basic weapon fire aiming fixed
  • fixed crash when not logged into steam
  • fixed server crash scenario when client disconnected as a hero
  • fixed slow motion state when slower clients connect
  • reset time dilation on minigame reset
  • fixed missle aiming errors for dedicated servers
  • fixed animation on dedicated servers being out of sync
  • fixed spectate mode input being lost
  • fixed rts menu from staying on at end of match
  • fixed hud being left on if map change on minigame
  • crash fix for regular game disconnect as a hero!
  • keybinding menu fixed during lobbymode
  • fixed some errors with player matchmaking sorting
     

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MatchMaking & Lobbies

We've redone the complete frontend based off of feedback from our early testers.  The update includes matchmaking and dedicated servers now.  We've made it as easy as possible to get in a game quick by just hitting play, the backend will automatically take care of the rest with server management and matchmaking.  No longer are you required to do a Host and Join games which is really a legacy way of doing it.... What can I say I'm a little old school.

 

We are also trying out techniques to overcome challenges that comes with indie multiplayer such as finding others to play with and player retention.  To do so, we now have a new Lobby system so when players are waiting for other players to join, they are able to jump into a character unit and practice.  The practice is setup like a mini-game so that players have to clear out waves of enemies while learning & improving their gameplay.

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Dedicated Server Update Live

Dedicated Servers Online!

Abatron is now running on Dedicated Servers.  The new system is available in the Non-Demo version of the game.  Its been a long haul to get this point and we are happy to knock this one off the long list.  We've also just released the Abatron Dedicated Servers Tool for those wanting to host their own game servers.

Lots of new and exciting updates are in this release including our new frontend, matchmaking, & lobby minigame!  That's not to mention over 100+ fixes and code improvements.

We are also excited to send out our first round of keys to our Pre-Orders and Tournament winners.  For those winners, your names are now announced as you enter any battlefield!  Get in the game and check it out!

Release Notes .58

  • dedicated servers
  • new main menu layout
  • new matchmaking system
  • new lobby waiting area
  • new minigame available
  • fixed ai getting into a state of not firing
  • updated bot Zaebos logic
  • fixed ai bot build stall issue
  • fixed enchantress hero not dropping targets on takeover
  • fixed Manasphere Indicator broken on clients
  • removed extra checks for ai attacking current assigned targets
  • Players/Heroes are now a higher priority for Ai to attack if damaged by players
  • fixed target priority updating
  • tournament winners names added to announcer when entering battle
  • over 100+ other changes and code fixes since last update!

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Kickstarter bound!

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Kickstarter bound!

We're launching a Kickstarter on August 30th! In order to help spread the word, we are using Thunderclap to increase visibility. You become a part of Thunderclap when you sign up for our campaign using your facebook or twitter account. When our Kickstarter launches, Thunderclap will automatically send out ONE post about it on your behalf. If we can get enough people to sign up for this, it will really do wonders for our campaign! So please click below and join us in our Kickstarter campaign. 

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/45823-abatron-rts-fps-awesomeness

You might be wondering why are we doing kickstarter.  Well, the game has came a long way since we first started, and now that the foundation has been laid, we want to finish it in a more perfect and timely way.  Abatron is ambitious in scope so we will hire more professionals to help us speed to a completed Abatron and fulfill the vision that we are determined to attain. We want awesome animations, polished effects and other systems that require time and resources. We already have talented workers who have collectively contributed work on the following games:

Doom, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Payday 2, Rage, Savage: Resurrection, Heroes of Newerth, Terminator: The Redemption, Stuntman 2, 
Fates Forever, Herobound: First Steps, Lawbreakers, ARK: Survival Evolved, Destination Sol, Starcraft Mods

OMG Bots! Released

Yes, now the time has come for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of their galaxy to defend against total bot annihilation.  We have released 8 new playable bot personalities.  Play against a big, badass Rocketbelly, a thug named Goomba or Khalessi, a wicked sexy Enchantress with metal spider legs :P 

In this first phase of bots, the only game mode available is Free For All, however, Coop vs Ai will be coming very soon.  Get out there and test them out! We need to know if we made it too easy or too hard because we want it to be a fun challenge for everyone!  Once we get a nice baseline, we'll put in the difficulty ranges from that point on.

There will be several phases of bots to roll out that will improve the ai and allow the bots to use their heroes.  I'm super excited about releasing the bot heroes as soon as possible because they bring a whole different dynamic to the battlefield.  More on that later :)

Maitreapp Huh? Say What?

How many times have you seen a Kickstarter reward that was really cool but just to damned expensive to get?  Wouldn't it be cool if there was another way to get really awesome game perks without paying lots of money?  Well, we think so!  We are giving out special game perks for referring friends using Maitreapp. It's another new social app and it does exactly what we want.

Here's How:

Step 1:
Sign up with your email address at http://www.abatrongame.com/newsletter to get your maitreapp started.

Step 2:
Refer as many of your friends as possible to earn In-game exclusive Swag or the GRAND PRIZE of naming a Human Hero after yourself or someone else of your choice!

Thanks for all the great support and feedback.  I've been blown away by our already awesome community.  Last night I spent several hours just reading emails filled with detailed responses that are motivating and will help shape the future of Abatron.  Thanks and tell your friends!

 

New Build 1.2.36 Release Notes:

  • Bots Released, 8 Personalities unlocked to play
  • Fixed a ton of bot bugs
  • Audio Updates and Fixes
  • Planned structures with units blocking, now push units away
  • Decreased formation spacing
  • Building rally points now have formations
  • fixed impact effects lifetime to correctly kill itself
  • Rocketbellies that are sieged, will unsiege, move, and resiege
  • Max selection size to 30
  • Crowd control turned on to avoid stacking
  • dev slow motion hotkey removed
  • fixed max players correctly to map size
  • fixed issue where win conditions would not end the match for a host
  • Unit movment commands now move to location if clicked on teammates

 

 

 

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Its playtest time!

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Its playtest time!

The time is finally here and we are super excited to get these playtests going.  The response has been great and a bit overwhelming.  Subscribers and pre-order participants will see keys and slack invitations rolling out over this next week.  We tried to do a mass sending, but we found out our email provider and slack impose daily join limits, so bare with us as we get through these minor issues. =)

What to expect?

This first open build we released does have a lot of locked content.  Our plan is to turn on new content over time so that we can get good feedback on the base mechanics first.  Then we can build on top of that.  We feel, a game should be fun at its core and then all subsequent content is only there to enchance the gameplay and add more strategy.

Even with only a handful of units available to play, its super fun. There are many strategies including environmental such as tricking the critters to attack your enemies.  Damage the critter queen to 50% health to gain control of her and unleash some major pain :)

We are working on some tutorial videos to get people in the game faster, but the gameplay is very fast. Your goal is to kill other player manaspheres ( currently big green balls) and be the last man standing to win.  It is important to build collectors early to generate income and level up your hero in fps/tps mode to gain the edge.  The max level your hero can get is level 10 and with each level a new skill unlocks or gets more powerful.  

Tip: Get out there and kill critters or other players asap to level up, but don't forget to generate resources and queue units to build.

Where are the bots?

Bots are locked out on the current build.  However, we are planning to release them on the next major update.  Bots are necessary to play offline and for the even more fun reason, coop vs ai gameplay modes. Personally, that is my favorite.  =)

The current version is Player vs Player Free For All only. Our goal is to get a good base test with all of the backend networking at its worst case, lots of players.  We will rollout the Coop vs Ai and Team Death Match in upcoming updates.

Dedicated Servers, where are they?

Currently, dedicated servers are not up and running but will be in the near future.  There are some logistics we need to work out with how our game is structured with the demo version, dedicated server app, and full version.  Plus, we need to step monitor our scalability with more and more players.

For now, we are placing a call to those with beast machines that want to be the listen server for the games.  What is a listen server, well its a player that hosts the game and everyone connects to his pc to play.  Unlike a dedicated server, the host will be able to play along so it handles the regular game plus the computations of the server game mode.

The biggest request we have for those who host games is please keep the game up until the end of the match.  If the host player dies and then leaves the game, the server shuts down for everyone... :(  
Yeah, we know that part sucks but once we get dedicated servers going, that will take care of it.

NDA? Streaming? or Screenshots?

Go for it, we want to be as transparent as possible.  All that we ask is to relay the game is in the alpha stage with a lot of rough edges that will get fixed.  Abatron has a lot of vision still to share, but we need you the community to help get us there and spread the word.  We are a very small indie, but our team is passionate and dedicated. It is time to make RTS/FPS a real thing. :P

We are glad you joined us for this fun and exciting journey!  Thank you so much, now lets get to gaming!

 

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Indie Dev ...aka... digital carpenter.

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Indie Dev ...aka... digital carpenter.

Its true, when you are part of an indie team you end up wearing many hats.  One week you're a programmer, the next an animator.  Before the end, everyone becomes a marketer by necessity.  A digital carpenter is exactly the role of any indie dev.

What makes it really great at Abatron, is that every team member is ready and willing to jump in and do what ever needs to be done.  I want to call out and thank the team for all the hard work that goes unnoticed behind the scenes.  

 

We started using the new Sequencer tool last week and here is the first test run with it.  We had to integrate some changes for our game, but now we can start recording gameplay for future videos ;)

Thrasher Updates!

The Thrasher leap ability just got 10 times better.  Fixed, you can now leap up very steep inclines. And leaping towards small units like critters is much more effective.  

We also felt the ability wasn't strong enough in comparison to the other units being played. A new shock wave component has been added along with its new effects.  Play it and let us know how you like it :)

More Feedback... we are listening!

Thanks for all of the great feedback we've received thus far. As a result we have already made many improvements. Beyond obvious changes to movement control and hotkeys, found we needed more training for first time players.  

In the next update, a new objectives system has been implemented.  Basic game play is given out in small chunks as the need becomes evident.

There's much more but that's it for this week's blog.  I need to get back to Sequencer ;)

 

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Give me your eyes...

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Give me your eyes...

Excitement is building amongst the team as we grind away countless hours on Abatron development.  Last week the team got some friends to play test the game.  It went really well and we got some valuable feedback.  Getting fresh eyes helped us identify several gaps in our learning curve.

Level up your structures!

Now you can level up your buildings just by creating units.  After X number of units are built at a structure, it will level up. As each new unit is created, it will be advanced to a higher level with more health, more attack damage...etc.  Levels are based on a per building basis, so if you lose the building, the level is also gone. =)

The new approach already feels really good in the game.  Our goal is to avoid deep RTS mechanics, but to use some of its advantages in a fresh new way.

Death Evaders no more..

We've been making some major improvements on the mechanics of PVP for our unique game mode.  Now when you take damage from an enemy player, you become locked inside your unit for 5 seconds.

This eliminates the players cheating death as a strategy and encourages more mastery of PVP skills.  We found that we enjoyed skillfully evading near death situations as much as actually killing the enemy  =)

Critters don't bother me!

Critters now are neutral in the map and will be more avoidable when a player sends troops across long distances.  However, if you provoke them they will still swarm you.  The Queen critter has also been changed in the same way.

We also reduced the size of the swarm in the early phase of game.  Then, as the game progresses, each swarm will gain in level and become stronger with fewer numbers.  With these critter changes, the use of them becomes more of a player choice than a random occurrence.

That's it for this week's blog. Thanks for reading.  Enjoy the fireworks. =)

Latest Release Notes

  • Critters are now neutral as default and level up over time
  • Queen collision updates, enabled wandering, jumps...
  • Backing up into units is much better now
  • Jumping in/out of units with single key now "F"
  • Updated to Engine 4.12.4
  • Parking spot now implemented away from base
  • Parking spot will be set when player moves ship
  • Player can move ship again
  • Changed ship height, ship ranging, & trace changes
  • Reduced ship size by 30%, increased braking and movement
  • Camera movement brakes to zero immediately
  • Mouse edge scrolling implemented
  • Quit button removed from in game menu
  • Cost of walls reduced, 50% reduction in matter
  • Fixed alt+tabbing out puts you in spectate mode
  • Fixed the blurry problem-- packaged game was running at 66% resolution
  • Push drone spawn out farther
  • Start in commander mode is default, made a game mode option

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Prepping for online playtesting!

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Prepping for online playtesting!

The last few weeks have been a sprint to get in as many new usable components as we could for online testing.  Our focus has been player transport and experience.  Mainly, a player will be able to get into a game, play the game, and exit the game seamlessly.  

As developers, we tend to hurry up and proto-type things which are only dev friendly.  After getting a new set of eyes, we have made several changes:

All Game UI Update Complete

We finally got the last set of ui updated.  Now, from starting the game to ending the game, the flow is smoother.

Announcer System Updated

Currently, when you go on a killing spree, everyone will know about it. =) When your base gets attacked, you will be notified; alarms will sound.

Audio System Updated

A brand new audio structure has just been implemented to produce better sound mixing.  We made it tough on ourselves due to the application of FPS, TPS, & RTS modes.  Now our new system will switch between different audio profiles based on the selected play mode. 

Let the GG's begin!

We have implemented a new chat system, so now you can talk to other players.  The chat also spits out game info as needed

Mavis Beacon Abatron...

The instructor system has been updated to be more intuitive and reactive.  The system now shows more tips and all the tips automatically stop showing over time.

The list goes on and on for the latest changes, so I will sum it up with a #@$% ton of bug fixes =)  That's it for this blog. Thanks for reading!

 

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You've Got Mail!

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You've Got Mail!

Our latest newsletter just went out to all our subscribers.  We sent a survey along with a brand new Enchantress wallpaper.  Make sure you fill out the included play test survey.  We will build our online testing schedule from the replied results. 

We're already super excited about all of the replies received thus far.  Comments like, "Ready to start!" or "Yes! Yes! Yes!" are really great to read and drives the team to greater diligence and excellence. I can't wait to get in game and play with all the new and wonderful people.

4.12 or bust...

We just finished migrating Abatron to the latest version of Unreal Engine 4.12.  There were several fixes and optimizations that we were super excited to apply to the game before beginning our online tests.  UE4 is by far the best thing since sliced-bread... except for Swedish fish.  We are grateful for everything Epic has done recently for developers.

Get out of my sandbox.

After the long holiday weekend and play test, we resumed prepping the game for subscribers. We continued updating the rest of the game menus and tool tips; plus we added a few much requested features to the new RTS user interface.

A lot of back end work and layout changes are ongoing.  We are currently going through and removing all development files and reducing the game size 40%.  Then, onto the ever growing task list =)

That's it for this week's blog. Thanks for reading!

 

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Lock and load, prepare for Abatron.

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Lock and load, prepare for Abatron.

We have some pretty exciting news coming out of the team this week. We had a meeting and put together a final list of items to be completed in preparation for alpha testing.  Our focus for the next few weeks will be getting people into the game easily and provide them enough info to quickly learn how to play.  

In our next newsletter, we will be sending out a play test schedule survey and selecting the first round of players for our online test.  So sign up to get involved!

GUI Overhaul...

Yeah, its that time. Updating the user interface is long overdue.  We have completed about 50% of the process of putting in new menus in every part of the game.  Now, they correctly reflect current game play design.  We chose to go with a simpler and cleaner look.  The old design was a little busy and took focus away from the game play. 

What...am I doing?

There is nothing worse than playing a new game and not knowing what to do.  I recently had this experience with a game I played. It was very frustrating.  We want to make sure that players can learn the game quickly, so we are updating our instructor and tip system.  As they say, easy to learn but difficult to master.  In a recent blog, we stated that having a basic base pre-built really helps new players. So we are going forward with that idea in all aspects of the game.

Get me in the game NOW!

We implemented a new lobby system for creating games and servers.  We are trying a different approach than other games are using, as far as we know.  We have put our lobby inside the map so that the players can easily spectate the map and converse with other players while waiting for the match to fill up.  Also, if you create a game, lets say "4v3 Comps", but you want to start the game early, all players can vote to start immediately.

As you see we've been busy and working hard to get Abatron ready to test.  That's it for this week, I've got to get back to work =) Thanks for reading!

 

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Can I have another...

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Can I have another...

Sometimes in game dev you opt for changes that just don't work. Then again, some of the time you make changes that leave you craving for more.  I know I've said many times that ITERATION is the key to improving game play success. I'm a believer and can't stress it enough.  

Our past few play tests have become really addictive now that we have picked up the pace in early-game. We have noticed that playing a game for 30 minutes and losing is far better than investing 1.5 hours and losing.  However, winning is always preferable regardless of the time spent. =)

Stay out of my backdoor!

Thanks to Rod, we have eliminated a weakness that, until now, was super frustrating to players. There is nothing worse than building up an army and running off to fight an enemy, only to find a player lying in wait to single-handedly ambush your homebase.  Don't get me wrong, ambush attacks are just fine, but using a single unit to fly into the vulnerable areas of your base to destroy you is not fine.  Rising blood pressure and loud rants have kept victims up late at night.  =)

New this week, Manaspheres now have a default protection.  As they are getting attacked, radiation pulsates the surrounding area.  The damage given is large and is spread evenly across all invading enemies.  So a single attack usually results in almost instant death, but with the help of a few comrades, it's only a bee sting.

The Queen Critter.

Another new feature this week is something that has been shelved for a while.  Now, during mid to late game, a Boss Queen Critter will spawn near the center of the map.  Players can fight the creature to subdue her.  Once she is subdued, you will have the ability to control her to attack your enemies.  Her hard exoskeleton absorbs most damage while she inflicts heavy damage to structures. This optional objective encourages players to fight for control of the Boss Queen. Mainly, it is an advantage to help keep opponents from becoming stalemated in late-game.

We've had an awesome week of bug fixes and polishing. Also, we have something special for our newsletter subscribers to watch (*hint) in the near future.  So, if you haven't signed up yet, the clock is ticking!  Thanks for reading =)

 

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Sometimes you have to kill your baby....

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Sometimes you have to kill your baby....

During our recent play, we have been banging our heads over an ever emerging problem.  How could we properly reward player skill during the process of doing battle with other players. Something we really enjoyed in game play was the fact that once you died in FPS mode, you auto hopped into the next closest unit.

This hopping kept the player in the battle for a longer period of time and allowed him to continually push ahead. The player penetration was really amazing, if not godlike, in some base sieges. However, it presented a problem when the first attacking player always won in the end. The defending player couldn't get ahead of the onslaught in his effort to go on to conduct his own offensive battles.

Death penalty added!

Now, when you die, you have a rejoin delay.  The delay scales longer as the match time extends.  What we learned is that there was no fear of death and every battle was a mass kamikaze.  Player skills didn't matter as much and there was no cat and mouse scenario where you would back off a more powerful player.  In fact, the game was mostly about killing non-player units. We believe this is a better way to keep the players godlike, reward player skill, and keep the game from going too long.  It also refocuses the attention on killing players first and units secondarily.

Basic bases built...

We have changed our default game mode slightly.  Players now start with a basic base that has certain pre-built defenses.  Previously, players were forced to place walls and turrets first, taking away from the real fun of battling.  Though it's only a basic pre-build, it gets players a nice jump start into mid-game.  We will offer a blank slate mode in the future for gamers to try.

Increased player max level.

Instead of limiting players to five levels, they can now advance to level 10.  With each level increase, one of the player skill sets, such as its abilities or basic attack, is improved.  The player abilities also receive a reduction in cool down in each progressive upgrade along with damage increase.

Nekros Core expanded...

Nekros has undergone a  complete and major expansion of the travel lanes.  Now, larger forces can travel, without obstruction, on the paths to the enemy's base.  Justin has spent a lot of time remaking the paths, thereby creating a better player experience. In addition to the travel lanes, the bases are now bigger, allowing more room for navigation of forces. Previously, we felt a little cramped when laying out our base and moving our units around.

Stay away from the light!  Justin has also created more noticeable critter spawn points and special dwellings from which they can emerge.

There have been so many updates to the game these past two weeks that it's amazing to watch the game evolve.  I enjoy working with the team each and every day as the game unfolds.  Until next time, thanks for reading. =)

 

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Give the Player Feedback!

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Give the Player Feedback!

The total player experience is made of many parts that need to work together to form a memorable and gratifying one, much like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fit together to complete a visual image. 

As such, it is important that the player continually receives feedback for his actions in the game in order to stay and feel connected.  In Abatron, we keep improving our focus on these aspects of game mechanics.

How much did I hurt you?

Sometimes when you shoot an enemy,  you would like to know how much damage was inflicted. New this week, "Combat Damage" text now shows up for the player.  You can more easily gauge the most fitting attack against opponents.

The next logical progression from the combat text would be designing a way to show how much life a unit or player has. That's what we ended up doing. We now have health bars for enemy units. Now, strategies emerge for unit killing order and priority.  Looking back, it amazes me at some of the small details that tremendously improve game play =)


Its Gyrotastic!

I'm super excited about getting the new Citadel into the game.  The previous version was a carry over from the original Abatron. Upgrading was overdue.  This spinning colossus now merges genetic engineering with the power of Dark Energy.

Drawing from untapped forces of the cosmos, the gyrating heliospheres atop the structure, produce the energy required to create Manalocks and Enchantresses.  Both units wield abilities imbued by Dark Energy.

.....And so much more.....


Thanks for reading and please be a subscriber if you aren't already!  Big things are happening and subscribers are always the first to be informed. =)

 

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Adding the OOmph!

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Adding the OOmph!

Hi, everyone. We've got some exciting changes ready for play test.  For the past two weeks, stability of the game has been rock solid so we switched our focus to cleaning up the rough edges of game play.  We revisited player movement and unit mechanics to ensure they have OOMPH, aka "The Feel Good Factor".

Simpler FPS controls.

Unless you were the programmer, keeping straight the combinations of keys to hit was getting more and more complicated, especially for new players.  Gamers need to know what ability to use, instead of how to execute it.  So we overhauled the system to use the same single key press across all unit abilities.

Beyond the controls, we drastically improved targeting enemies across the board.  Abilities are now easier to aim and use. Specifically,  third person aiming has been revamped to make it much more precise on what you will hit =)

Friend or Foe?

There is nothing worse than arriving late to a battle, except shooting your own units when you arrive.  For far too long we have had issues in visually determining who is friend or foe, particularly in large battles.

Several new features were developed this week: First we started rolling out team colors that are built into the unit's materials.  Secondly, we enabled a new "outlining method" to identify the enemy with a red outline once he appears in your crosshairs.  Thirdly, the cross hairs now animate and change to red when an enemy is sighted and within range.


Engine 4.11 & Unclutter my HUD!

We have updated Abatron to use the latest features of Unreal Engine 4.11.1.  Tons of performance updates and new tools make this one of the best releases from Epic to date.

In addition, we started putting in the new hud for players.  We took away all of the busy artwork and focused more on relevant player information.  Now you can see your cool down more clearly and more easily identify the keys that are used.  Previously, we had to use green orbs that filled up and were highlighted, but not clearly understood by new players.

These great changes and many others have made Abatron more fun to play and more user friendly.  Keep tuned in to find out the latest updates. Thanks for reading!

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Double Teamed...

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Double Teamed...

It was Ohgr's first play test with his new pc. In the beginning, Rod attacked Jason causing major damage. Showing no mercy, Tamara charged in and finished him off. She then turned her sights on Rod and after several tries, knocked him down too.

All the while, Ohgr was lurking in the shadows, building up his defense. He was seeing the game for the first time. Then Kevin brought forth an onslaught of troops. But it was too late.  Ohgr's siege defense obliterated his forces. Then Tamara attacked, again showing no mercy.

Ohgr began to sweat. He tried to protect his base by refortifying after wave upon wave of attacks. Each time he attempted to replenished his forces. Ultimately, the alternating bombardment from Kevin and Tamara was too much, whittling him down to defeat. He sighed and took a deep breath. He was impressed at how much fun he had experienced and how well he had played.

The defeated three spectated while the remaining two continued to battle it out.  It was back and forth to a point that wagers began to speculate on who would win. In the end, Tamara emerged victorious, with her manalock war machine!

RTS Heroes!

All hail the great heroes of our time, the great warriors of battles past. New in Abatron are RTS heroes. In an effort to counter balance FPS game play, we decided to try giving the RTS players a hero unit comparable to FPS units.

Now, all minions are regular size except their hero is large and easily noticable on the battlefield. These heroes get the same buffs as the ones in FPS plus they get to use the same special abilities. There can only be one hero at a time, so when a unit is taken over by FPS, the RTS hero is removed.

Who is my target?

A big change is being implemented on the targeting system this week.  Since we made the units smarter and smarter, we found that they started to listen less and less to what the player actually wanted.  We decided to take a step back with real time updating of targets. 

Now the units will pick the best targets and stick with them unless commanded otherwise.  We also fixed several bugs related to WHAT was being attacked and to WHERE it is best to attack. For example, when a group of manalocks shoots at a wall, they won't all be shooting at the same exact spot anymore.

Thanks for reading and following us.  The Abatron Dev team is super happy about the positive response we've been getting. Thus, we are encouraged to do our best to make our game unique, fun and challenging for all levels of gamers.

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The RTS Saga Continues!

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The RTS Saga Continues!

The countdown begins.  I take a big breath and concentrate on the first few clicks.  Life or death can become you if you don't make good decisions.  I take a gamble and go straight to researching higher technology.  I want my enchantresses and siege tanks assembled as soon as possible.  Suddenly, "A player is defeated," breaking the silence.. Since I wasn't the target of a rush,  my panic subsides.

Then, in an effort to make ready my siege attack, I send out my rocketbellies to a point just beyond my base. Quickly, I go to where my Enchantresses are gathering. Then the announcer tells me, "Your troops have engaged the enemy".  I move over to where my rocketbellies were assembled and find them missing. They had gone off to fight wandering critters, causing  an awakening of a horde of alien bugs. But before I could stop them, Rod marched into my then lightly fortified base, and brought me down to defeat.... lol

Over the past few weeks we have been focusing on RTS game play. Our play tests have been an eye opener. We have elevated the player flow but found looming holes in the player experience.  Mainly, we need to focus on easy management of units.  So for the upcoming play tests, we will be addressing the issues we found.

Who put the ants in my game...

Something that has bothered me for a while is when units are sent far across the map, they eventually ant-line.  Ant-lines get your troops there as fast as possible, but they also get to your enemy one at a time.  One at a time is not the best way to penetrate a heavily fortified base.

After iterating through 5 different systems, I'm happy to announce our new system is in place and is ready for play testing. Now when you send your troops, they will automatically be broken up into squads and stay together much better when traversing long distances. The new pathing system is more reliable and robust than the old one.

Currently, only same speed units will stay together and do not slow down with slower units.  It's a feature that may be implemented in the future under hotbox control.  However, until then, we will test this version.

Get off my back Critters!

A new change has been implemented on how units engage critters.  Your units will no longer attack neutral critters unless commanded to do so.  They will however attack them if they are attacking any of your teammates.

We ran into a frustrating problem late in the game when we were aggro'ing unwanted critters..  It almost always resulted in losing a good percentage of the offensive force. It's  already challenging to break a heavy defense without worrying about catching bugs. =)

In addition to those two big items, we fixed a bunch of minor game play issues that have been low on the priority list. Yay! Thanks for reading.

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All your base belong to us...

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All your base belong to us...

New in this week's addition is the first pass of the announcer system.  I've been anxious to put this feature into the game.  Too many times I've been out battling my foes only to be confronted with a "defeated" screen pop-up from out of no where.  Now you will be alerted when your base is under attack or when your forces have engaged the enemy.

We have divided the system into the Match Announcer and the Game Play Announcer.  The Match Announcer informs you of game events such as when the match begins or when other players join the battle.  The Game Play Announcer is race specific and has a pleasant contrasting voice narrative.  It informs you of key events during the battle and cheers you on when you are dropping bodies in FPS mode.

Collectors and balls redesign..

A big change is coming down the pipeline.  After much play testing, we found the current Manasphere design is hindering game play.  It takes up too much real estate in your base. Big units have a hard time dealing with collectors and the  fixed spacing requirement forces us to hard code the base location instead of utilizing dynamic placement.

The current manasphere is one of the last few relics remaining from the old Source version of the game. It's time for an upgrade.  Rod has starting putting together new concepts as shown.  It is very early, but we are trying to be true to the Haagenti style while at the same time keeping an open mind. More updates to come later.

Removing the tin can!

Kevin has been hard at work modeling the new Citadel.  Jokingly, the old one did look like a tin can. The Citadel harnesses dark energy used to create Manalocks and Enchantresses.

Those gyroscopes at the top spin to fuse the dark energy into the flesh of its created units. Plus, I get a feeling of Barad-dur in Mordor when I look at it.

When it is finished it will be handed off to Rod and then I get to put in the game! =)  I already have a ton of ideas for VFX.  Its going to look sharp.

 

 

The last bit of good news to share,  Ohgr, our sound guy, is back to work.  He was called to military service for the past two months.  Although he did good helping refugees, we are glad he is back!  

Thanks for reading! =)

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Upsetting the Internet Gods....

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Upsetting the Internet Gods....

Seconds after the match started,  I quickly created a  wall defense to defend against Jason's anticipated critter rush attack.  But victory would not come that easily for him .  Within moments of the turrets warping in,  Jason began  bullying my defenses with hordes of critters.  They fell like drops of water.

I gambled that he would quickly follow up with a  troop of Thrashers, so I finished fortifying my base with many more turrets and walls. Then, as if on cue, here came a horde of Thrashers running wildly to within  reach  of my long range turrets.  After obliterating his warriors, I set out to assess my own attack force.  Mixed within my legion of Thrashers, were a few Manalocks.  I rallied my troops and sent them toward Jason... BOOM!  

My computer screen started to load up the main menu.  I had lost connection to Steam and was no longer in the game.  I felt robbed, and just as I was beginning to bring the hammer down on my enemy.  I tried to rejoin the match, but unfortunately had to build a fresh new base from scratch.  I knelt down to the Internet Gods and asked..... why... oh why....?

The Internet Gods may have not been listening, but the team was.  New this week. You can now reconnect to games that you disconnected, for whatever reason. Plus, you keep the base and units you already acquired.  It's something that has been on the backlog  for some time, but just hadn't made the priority list.  This week it did!

Path Widening...

A major change is taking place on our map design.  We are now making the major routes through the maps much wider.  Thanks to continued play testing, we found that choking the path is too much of a penalty for offensive attacks.  In the beginning, we thought the best strategy would be to create environmental choke points.  However, with the dynamic wall building, players can easily create their own artificial choke points.

Justin is doing a great job going back and making these changes.  The initial work has already made a big difference in the ability to break down heavy defenses. It also creates the  possibility for as many as  five rocketbellies to walk side-by-side toward an enemy base. Such a spectacle is visually awesome and certainly alarming.

Demo Recording...

A few months ago I started  building Abatron's version of the demo recording tool.  Recently, I had the opportunity to apply a few more days of work to the project. Now, I'm happy to say, its really working well. We are able to record play sessions and watch them afterwards.  Its actually much more addicting than you realize, to watch the battle you took part in.

Later, we plan to integrate more items into the tool for players use. But even now its great to see your strategies in action and to have the ability to identify any areas that need to be changed or  corrected.  Eventually, it will be possible to stream the recorded game to a server so that spectators can watch semi-live games.  Very excting.... but more on that later.

That's it for this week.  Thanks for reading and Happy Gaming!



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How is your Ai....

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How is your Ai....

Does your Ai chase you mindlessly and Pew, Pew, Pew?  I sure hope not.  One of our goals for Abatron is to have some built in auto strategy for the Ai.  Sure, I'm talking about the ability to choose and switch targets intelligently. But what about the things you don't think about?

Lets say you send your melee unit to attack a ranged unit,  but the range unit is running away from the melee  while it is still shooting at him.  A problem we had, but solved, was the melee  not timing its swings correctly to actually land a punch.  He would run into the unit causing him to stop, then it would swing.  

By the time the swing was completed, the ranged unit was out of melee range.  By applying a bit of code magic,  each melee  now takes into account its approaching speed in order to begin the swing at just the right time to successfully land a punch.

New Battle Arena!

This week we put in some more visual updates.  First up, we replaced the old battle arena with the new version.  The battle arena builds our behemoths, the bonecrusher and the rocketbelly.  Rod did a great job of texturing,  making it far above the quality of the old model. No comparison.

The idea concept was to take a factory and apply some organic characteristics.  What better way than adding raw intestines to the recipe?  The next phase will be to add particle effects and some minor animation.  I can already see the intestines jiggling grotesquely as flames shoot out of the red hot inferno =)

Moar Explosions...

Last week, I literally killed my pc.  It could not handle the massive Maya simulation without crashing.  Kevin kindly swapped computers with me so that I could finish my explosion work.  However, even his beast of a pc crashed a few times.  After rebuilding my pc by swapping out parts, I successfully  rehabilitated  the malignant old girl. So now the simulations continue.

As the simulations are running, i'm quickly assembling the effects ingame.  Above, you see the first pass on the rocketbelly missile explosion.  It's no longer just a green blur.  It's amazing how changing a particle effect can give new and greater life to the game  play.

We have a huge new build to play test tomorrow with a lot of core changes.  I can't wait to get the feedback from the team.  I'll talk more about that next week.  Thanks for reading!

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