Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June 2017 - Status update

As we are headed into global launch later this summer, I wanted to take the opportunity to write about the current status of the game and what we see as priorities for future updates going forward.

Monday, April 24, 2017

2017.1 Update - Release Notes

Today we are releasing the first update to the live version of the game, available in Canada. Soon we'll have more details to share on our plans to launch in more countries - stay tuned!

Here's what's new in this update:


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Red Stars: are you with us or against us?

I got greedy again and neglected to look at the timer and lost a transport ship. That’s always the way it goes for me, but at least this time, I didn’t lose a battleship! Hi, I’m GALaxy and I’m playing Hades’ Star like the rest of you! This is my millionth system and I love it the most because it’s permanent. I’ve been testing every version this game has ever seen (remember when we were saving colonists?! No? That was just me, then) and boy am I glad to say au revoir to the tutorial.

I’m not what you would call a “gamer” so don’t get your hopes up for cool moves and sweet tricks. I mean, maybe I might come up with something, I just can’t promise anything. My game play is more strategized for my daily life. I like levelling up, maxing out, collecting all the cats and then I’m like, “Now what’s the point?” so that’s when there had better be some weekly events or updates to keep me going. Good thing Hades’ Star is headed in that direction because it would be really hard to let my husband know that I’m bored of his game, and I’ll be quitting in exactly 6 weeks once I’ve achieved my last achievable achievement.

Case in point: Hay Day. Hay Day is a farming game where you feed animals and make products and expand your farm as you cater to customer’s orders. I’ve been playing this game off and on FOREVER. Or at least it feels like forever. It’s been at least three years. Probably four. I’ve got a really terrible memory for dates. I’m at level 103. I have all the stuff. I can very easily complete all tasks in the weekly derby event. If I'm being honest, though, I’m really tired of fighting for tasks every week and setting timers. Before the derby, Hay Day was a really nice, calming game. I could just pop in and out whenever I had time. I liked the derby because it gave me a purpose, but now I don’t like the constant conflict. No one ever discusses what tasks they want or who should get what, it's bare teeth, scrambling, and diamond usage if you want to get any sort of decent task in the first four days of the derby. It's exhausting.

That brings me to red star missions in Hades' Star. I’m hearing here and there how there is no player vs player. Well, I beg to differ! Technically (read: as the developer would like), red stars are supposed to be played together wherein we talk to each other and work it through and decide who gets what. But so far, I have encountered no chat (also to my fault) and other people just taking all the artifacts. Are they stealing from me? Am I stealing from them? It’s become a grey area. On my end, it feels like theft FROM me. All of those are mine, aren’t they?

So I’ll pose the question to you! Red Stars: yours for the taking or friendly sharing?

Monday, March 13, 2017

The end of Alpha, and the road ahead

Today we are shutting down our game server, ending an alpha testing period that lasted a bit over 3 months. During that time we had hundrends of participating players that helped a lot both with fixing bugs, and with suggestions and in game activity that affected our developer priorities. We feel this alpha period has been very helpful in making a solid game, so if you participated: Thank you!

The game server will be down for one week. After that period, we will be gradually launching the game in select countries over time. There is no final plan for all countries yet, and details are still being figured out, but here's the current plan so far.

Around March 20: The game will be available for players in Canada on Android, via the Google Play store.

Around March 27: The game will be available to download on the App Store, for iOS players in Canada.

After the Canada launch, we'll be looking to launch into more countries, but there are no concrete plans at the moment. As we are a very small team, this process could take a while, and will also depend on any issues and feedback we receive from our initial rollout. Our approach will be to launch in smaller countries first, ensure the game and servers are well balanced, and then launch in larger markets. That means players in the US or bigger European countries may have to wait for months before the game launches in their country.

We realize if you have participated in the alpha this wait can be frustrating. If you really can't wait to start your proper Empire in the game, send us an email to support@hadesstar.com with your platform of choice (iOS or Android) and we'll see if we can help.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ongoing Alpha Test - Update #4 Release Notes

Today brings the release of the last update to Hades' Star Alpha, which has been live for almost 3 months. This update brings some final content we felt was necessary before going into beta (especially the Weapon modules, the Leaderboards changes, and the Warp Lane Hub buildings which should bring a new level of strategic planning to delivering shipments for higher level players). During this time we were able to significantly improve the game, largely thanks to the help of early players. If you participated in the alpha - thank you!

For the next few months, we plan to slow down the rate of major features. There will still be some new modules, but the majority of the focus will be on balancing existing content and make yellow and red stars as fun as they can be. We are still on track to launching our beta version some time in March. The alpha version will be live until March 6, at which point the servers will be brought down for a few weeks as we prepare for proper launch in our initial countries.

Here is the list of changes for today's update:

Shipments

  • New Building: Warp Lane Hub. Hubs can be linked in pairs to create Warp Lanes. The link lasts one day and costs a fixed amount of Hydrogen. Once the link is active, all ships can travel between the hubs instantly and without consuming Hydrogen.
  • Shipments window can sort the list of shiments by destination or by reward amount

Ships and Modules

  • Ships can now be upgraded at any time. Upgrade screen is similar to other object's upgrade screen and displays relevant info, including what type of new module slot will be gained by the upgrade
  • Ships at level 3 and above can have a custom name assigned (once per ship only)
  • A ship can have multiple modules installing at once, no longer have to wait until previous module done installing
  • Hydrogen consumption for moving and jumping a ship depend on the ship's level
  • Activated modules now cost a fixed amount Hydrogen paid on each activation (instead of having a constant cost added to the ship's movement cost)
  • 2 new Weapon modules
  • 2 new Shield modules
  • 2 new Mining modules
  • 2 new Support modules
  • 1 new Trade module
  • Transport Capacity offers more shipment slots on level 3 and above
  • Weak shield renamed to Alpha Shield, strength increased
  • Standard shield renamed to Delta Shield, strength increased in low levels and decreased in later levels 
  • Strong shield renamed to Omega Shield, strength decreased on level 3 and above
  • Laser: Increased maximum damage and decreased time to achieve maximum damage 
  • Increased mineral capacity for the Hydrogen Storage module
  • Greatly increased duration of mining boost, also increased its speedup modifier. Mining boost is essential for mining from red stars. 
  • Increased red star life extender duration. 
  • Cerberus Colossus hull strength reduced, but now comes with a shield (affects newly spawned ships only)
  • Cerberus Guardian hull strength increased, firepower decreased

Red Stars

  • After you have upgraded the Red Star scanner, you will still have the option to search for a lower level Red Star (if you find the new star too hard/expensive, and to help coordinate runs with other players). This way upgrading the Red Star scanner too early does not punish the player.
  • Low level Red Stars were made significantly easier
  • Added levels 6-10 to the Red Star Scanner, to gain access to the same levels of Red Stars. Any Red Star level after 5 will require significant coordination between multiple players to have even moderate success in. 
  • Red stars now have a limit of how many battleships can be sent per player. This is to help us balance Red Stars properly, and remove incentives to create completely imbalanced fleets (many players choose to create fewer than optimal miners and transports in favor of battleships). It should also help make Red Star combat more strategic, hopefully focusing on tactics instead of having players fight the user interface trying to manage more ships in combat than we ever intended. 
  • Added Influence points, which can be earned in Red Stars and now are used to calculate player and Corporation Leaderboards. For more details, see this previous blog post.

Economy

  • Tweaked Asteroid spawn rates (should be getting more asteroid spawns per day, but each will be holding a much smaller Hydrogen amount)
  • Hydrogen drop rate and storage for planets has been decreased
  • Miners now keep working on a sector without manual intervention, as long as there are available asteroid fields in the sector.
  • We expect and intend the asteroid changes will require players to build more Miner ships, and use additional mining modules to keep up with Hydrogen demand as their empire grows (including planning mining expeditions in Red Stars)
  • Player info window has historical graphs for credits and hydrogen income and expenses per day
  • New Tycoon achievements (for maintaining sustained income levels for 7 continuous days)



User Interface


  • Selection action buttons moved to the bottom of the screen so they don't interfere with everything going on around the selected object
  • Selection should work much better now, especially with respect to de-selecting by tapping on empty space
  • New selection effect makes it clear what object is selected
  • Can preview module range by holding down on the module button (activation can still be cancelled by dragging the finger off the button)

Other improvements


  • Notifications should be working again (check your device's settings if they are still not received)
  • If playing the same account on multiple devices, notifications should be sent to all devices 
  • New notifications for building complete/upgraded events
  • Destroying Cerberus stations now gives XP to the owner of the star system. They also explode spectacularly. 
  • Fixed bug where Cerberus stations would pick a new target mid-combat for no reason
  • Buy Artifact page shows yield info on each artifact type (can also be used as general reference for Artifacts retrieved from Red Stars)




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Leaderboard changes and the new Influence score

If you've been participating in the alpha, you may be familiar with the Leaderboards window, which shows the players who have advanced the most in the game:



In its current form, the "Score" column is just the amount of XP a player has collected. XP is gained by doing shipments, upgrading planets, researching artifacts and completing achievements. Nobody ever loses XP, so it's an indication of how long someone has been playing, and their overall level of progress.

There are major issues with using XP for the leaderboards:
  • It rewards whoever is playing the most. If a player near the top doesn't log in for a day or two, they will most certainly lose their spot. 
  • Players who started playing the game later don't have much hope of catching up. 
  • Spending Crystals can directly translate into more XP (i.e. by buying more shipments or Artifacts, or buying the resources to upgrade planets). 
  • There is no risk of ever losing XP, so there's little movement and excitement at the top of the leaderboards. 
This is why on the next update we're completely changing how Leaderboards are calculated. We are introducing a new resource called "Influence". Influence is an indicator of the overall power a Player/Empire has to affect change in the Hades Galaxy. Initially, Influence will be used just for the leaderboards, but we want to explore more potential features that are related to this metric. 

Players gain Influence mainly via military operations in Red Stars. We are re-designing Red Stars so they start off very easy, but will keep the difficulty high on the very high level Red Stars. As of the next update, we will also allow players to start a Red Star search for any lower level star that their scanner supports. This should help with coordinating Red Star matches between players. It will also address the issue where players could be punished for upgrading their scanner too early. 

Each Red Star level has its own thresholds for awarding Influence. Very easy Level 1 Red Stars will award Influence to a player even if they only destroy one Cerberus Sentinel, but only up to a certain Influence limit. After they reach that limit, players have to upgrade their scanner and go to higher level stars if they want to continue gaining Influence. 

Players can also lose Influence, if they initiate a Red Star mission and then immediately abandon the star, or fail to meet the quotas of that star's level (i.e. because they didn't retrieve enough Artifacts or didn't destroy enough Cerberus ships).

Influence is gained collectively by all players that participate in the Red Star mission. As long as they contributed anything, everyone will be awarded based on the group's result. For example, on a Level 3 Red Star, you might have 3 participating players who destroyed 5 Cerberus ships total. One of the players only sent one battleship in, and that battleship did less overall damage than the other players' battleships and didn't destroy any single ship on its own. Still, all 3 players will be awarded Influence. Success or failure in Red Stars is always collective. It is our intent that very high level Red Stars should require increasingly more sophisticated coordination between multiple players to gain Influence.

Influence is also a metric that applies to a Corporation. A Corporation's Influence is derived by the individual Influence scores of its members. The Corporation leaderboards will use this new metric. We expect that competitive Leaderboard players will want to increase Influence not only for themselves, but also for their Corporations. The cooperative nature of Red Stars, as well as private Red Star searches from within Corporations that we will be adding in a future update, will help do exactly that.

As a final note, our design decisions account for the fact that not everyone is playing the game to climb the leaderboards. Our goal and hope for this system is to make it a challenging and fan aspect for the people who want to participate, and completely invisible for the ones who don't. It's perfectly fine to play Red Stars just for the fun of it and for collecting a few artifacts or Hydrogen every now and then. Our goal is to not make those players feel like they are missing out by not maximizing their Influence score. We do believe very high level Red Stars will be fun to try and beat with other players, but at the same time we won't be forcing everyone to play them (for example, we won't be hiding exclusive Module blueprints in those difficult Red Stars - it will still be possible to unlock all modules without playing the very hard Red Stars). 

Influence points will be introduced on our final alpha update, coming next week. Each existing player will be assigned an initial Influence score based on their XP, but after that Influence will be calculated independently based on the results of Red Star missions.

We will still be keeping XP and Empire Level as a general indicator of each player's progress, but that metric will be mostly decorational from now on.

As always, all thoughts and feedback are welcome. See you in game!