Thursday, 1 December 2011

Are you ready for the next level?

The 'campaign mode' in Stellar Forces is going through a major overhaul, and the first two changes have already been made:-

* The stat increases that a unit gets if they complete a mission are now allocated to different stats randomly.  Prior to this, all stats were increased by one point.  Now, units will slowly become more unique.

* Any unspent creds when equipping for a mission are saved and will be added to the creds available for the following mission.  So if you think you are good enough to go to war on a budget, you can expect a windfall for the next mission.  If you survive of course...

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Stellar Forces Android Proves a Success!

What's that smell?
The Android client for Stellar Forces has just been updated, and now has a help/tutorial mode and also you can now view the log for your game without having to visit the website.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Stellar Forces on Android!

What are we all in here for?  They could be coming from anywhere!  Spread out for god's sake!

I know I said I wasn't going to blog any more, but I couldn't resist mentioning the new Android client for Stellar Forces.  It's not been released yet, but it's just having a final bit of testing before it's released into the wild.  The above screenshot shows a scene from Moonbase Assault which I'm playing against myself (and losing badly as usual).

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Probably the last post...

Regular readers, if they exist, will know that there has been a lack of updates recently. This is mainly because I've been concentrating on developing Android stuff (and thinking about an Android version of Stellar Forces, natch). The game is still being added to (including 5 new missions since my last blog post). However, the lack of blog updates doesn't seem to have caused a lack of new players; quite the opposite in fact! So I've decided my time is better spent maintaing the software for now.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Stellar Forces: New Client Upgrade

A new version of the client (1.73) has been released, which contains a few new features that people have been asking for ever since Stellar Forces with first conceived.

  • You now don't have to restart the client between taking turn.
  • There are now enemies with a rudimentary AI in the practise mission. At the moment they just look around and shoot any of the player's units that they see, but it's a start.
  • The Strategic Scanner is now available inside the client, as shown in the screenshot above.
  • Lots of other minor tweaks as well, natch.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Stellar Forces: New Features

There's a few new features in Stellar Forces:-

New points for Victory

In order to address the slight unfairness that a new player will only get the same amount of points regardless of whether they play another new player or a very experienced player, the points for a victory are now no longer always a straight 3. Instead, a player's points for a victory are calculated as 3 + "the difference between their league points and their opponents divided by 10".

For example, a player with 5 league points playing against a player with 35 league points will get 3 + (30/10) = 6 points if they win. The more experience player will always get the straight 3 points for victory.

Now there is more incentive to play against more experienced players. The amount of points available for victory is shown in the game requests, and also on the strategic scanner page.

New Opponent Points Range feature

When creating a new game request, you can now choose an "Opponent Points Range". This is a list of ranges of points (based on your own league points) which can be selected which will restrict which players can see your game request.

For example, if you have 21 points (like I do at the moment), and you choose the range 11-31, then only players with league points within that range will be able to see and accept your game request.

This feature is designed to enable players to play opponents of similar skill if they want to, although don't forget that the rewards are much higher now for winning against an opponent with more league points.

New Missions

There are now two new mission: "Denunciation 2v2" and "A Tale of Two Bases 2v2". As the name suggests, these are unique in that two players play together against two other players.

Monday, 11 April 2011

New Unit Type: Blobs

Stellar Forces has a new type of unit: Blobs.

They are pretty different from the other units, and not just in looks. They have the ability to merge together to make more powerful blobs (as in the picture), and obviously split up too. Soon they'll probably be able to absorbe enemy units in some kind of "The Blob" [film] kind of way, which is just co-incidence, honest. It should make for some interesting tactics - grenades are pretty effective against them (especially when there's lots of smaller blob-ettes flooding the area).

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Two New Missions

Thanks to Boylflea and Pcasaca, Stellar Forces has two more missions:-

Oddworld (by PCasaca)

The Big Push (by Boyflea)

See you on the battlefield...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Stellar Forces: 1,000 Games Played!

Stellar Forces has just hit a milestone in the last hour: there have now been over 1,000 games played!

And it's a bit of co-incidence that the 1,000th game is the first test of a brand-new unit! More details will be revealed when it has passed...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Starting a Game Against New (New!) Players

There is a recently added feature in Stellar Forces for creating new games for friends that haven't registered yet.

When starting a new game, these are the options you are given:-

One of them is 'Optional Opponents'. Here you can either enter the name of another SF player (in which case they will be the only one allowed to join the new game) or someone's email address. If you do this, they will be automatically registered and sent an email with the breif instructions on how to join the game.

So now getting your friends to play Stellar Forces couldn't be easier.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Stellar Forces: Attracting New Players

As with all games ever written since the history of time, Stellar Forces is always trying to attract new players. There's a lot of competition out there, so every little thing counts.

I'm just going through the front page of the website which is the first thing a potential new player will see. It's critical it looks good and does everything right to convince them to play.

I've decided to remove the video clip. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that if someone sees this, they may feel that it gives them enough information to potentially discount Stellar Forces and go onto something else. It's difficult to convey everything about the game in a simple video clip, and people do have a habit of judging games by their looks, whereas the main "selling point" of SF is the strategy and tactics and multiplayer-ness.

I've also restored the "brief description". I think it will help if players are told immediately what Stellar Forces is all about, rather than hope they drill down into the website to find out.

Hopefully, all of the above along with a few cosmetic changes will increase the take-up of the game.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Stellar Forces: Another Gameplay Vid

Here's quite a successful turn I took recently in a game of Stellar Forces: 2 enemy units were toast by the end of it.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Stellar Forces: 3D Mission Playback

It's now possible to playback missions using the same 3D Client as is used to play the game. Here's a playback of a recent 4-player Last Man Standing mission:-

It's possible to play back any mission since the data for the missions has been stored ever since Stellar Forces came into being.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Stellar Forces: New Logo?

I've just created this image in about 2 minutes, for no good reason really.

Really I should be blogging about the new client release (1.59), but you can read about that in the forums.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Better Maps

Deadlime has outdone himself with his new map for the Denunciation mission in Stellar Forces:-

It is exactly what I was envisioning when I created the new tiles and scenery squares. The game maps are starting to look a lot more like real live places and less like the rather simplistic environments that they were. Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Homage to Laser Squad

Obviously the whole of Stellar Forces can be thought of as a homage to Laser Squad, but here's another small touch: new deployment squares:-

Ps - No more posts about smoke grenades. I've finally released the client so you can recreate the smoke effects for yourself.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

More Smoke Grenades

I don't know why I'm bothering to post this as it's nothing special really. There was a smoke grenade explosion just inside the doorway, and I like the way the smoke has "funnelled" out the door. Who needs Havok?

Maybe if I stopped posting entries like this, I would actually finish implementing smoke grenades sooner.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Stellar Forces: Smoke Grenades!

By popular demand, I am working on adding smoke grenades to Stellar Forces.

Stellar Forces: Taking cubism to the next level!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Stellar Forces: Interior (and exterior) Design

Here's the original Assassins map:-

And here's my new one after adding and changing a few more textures:-

It's looking a bit better, but I've started to realise that the skill required for this is effectively "interior design", i.e. what kind of floor colour goes with what kind of wall. Dammit, I'm a programmer, not Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Stellar Forces: Not Enough Memory

By far the biggest of the (very few, natch) issues that players of Stellar Forces have is running out of memory when playing the game. This is undoubtedly because of the 3D, for which I use JMonkeyEngine2.

The problems typically occur when a new "visual effect" takes place, using up a fair bit of memory and pushing the client over the edge. Maybe I should get the game to create lots of "hidden" visual effects at the start, so that if the game is going to crash, at least it will do so at the start rather than mid-game and potentially cause problems.

But are there ways to reduce memory? I had a go with JConsole to monitor memory usage. At the point where the game is ready to start playing, the client is using 30Mb of memory, although there is a peak of about 60Mb just prior to gc()'ing. I need to find out if that is normal.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Stellar Forces: Texture Revamp (pt 2)

Thanks to TheAncientGoat and Phillip Taylor for showing me the error of my ways, although I was already suspicious that my method for merging textures was very cumbersome and inefficient.

Thanks to them pointing me in the right direction, I've now decided to "sort-of-texture-splat". There's probably a special name for it, known only to people who know this kind of thing, but whatever it's called I'm going to have two quads on top of each other, with one quad having a transparent texture on it allowing the other quad to show through.

Here's a rough demo I did by putting a "roadside" texture (from UFO:AI) on top the grass texture, just to prove I could do it:-

Now I've accomplished this, I just need to squirt my artistic juices and design some nice map layouts. That reminds me, I now also need to change the map editor to allow for two floor textures. A programmer's work is never done!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Stellar Forces: Texture Revamp

I'm in the slow process of adding new textures to Stellar Forces. Not completely new textures though; I'm trying to eliminate the harsh edges between existing textures.

Take grass when adjacent to a road, for example. This is the grass texture:-

And this is the road texture:-

And using the power of Gimp, I've created this which blurs the edges and makes it a smoother transation:-

Here is in action:-

If you see what it looked like before (ignore the deployment squares):-

It's going to be a long process, since for every two textures that may be adjacent, I need to create 4 "combined textures". Hmm. Is there an easier way??

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Stellar Forces: New Client Released (v1.55)

I keep forgetting to post here about new Stellar Forces client updates. However, new version 1.55 has just been released with the following changes:-

  • The size of explosion f/x is related to the power of the grenade.
  • There is only a 50% chance that an explosion will cause other grenades to explode. After a few overzealous grenades, it's been decided to temper them a bit.
  • New 'close combat opportunity attack' feature. No longer will running up to the enemy and shooting at them "point-blank" be quite so risk-free (not that it was anyway what with Death Greandes being avaiable).
  • Units will now opp-fire on the very first turn.
If you already have the Stellar Forces client, it will upgrade automatically. Otherwise it can be downloaded from Google Code.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Stellar Forces: More Grenade Shenanigans

This time the grenades were not on my side...

As you can make out from the scanner view below, there are only 3 units left alive in this mission, and my last two units must defend the central computer from the last remaining enemy unit. I know he's in the top-right room somewhere as he's just killed one of my other units in there. My unit at the bottom is wounded and thus too slow to make it to the top room.

The only way to be certain is a grenade! So my unit walks out the central room where he was positioned, manages to survive a laser blast, and throws the grenade. Only one grenade (of course).

"So Steve", I hear you ask. "Why were there 3 explosions, one of which engulfs the central computer that you're supposed to be protecting? Did it not go to plan?" Of course not. The first grenade set off a chain reaction of two other grenades. Since my unit had left the door to the computer room open, the blast from the last grenade hit the computer. Defeat was served cold (or something) and my unit was given early retirement.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Stellar Forces: Chain Reaction Grenade Frenzy Attack!

Thanks to the 'chain reaction' feature of Stellar Forces, where exploding grenades cause other grenades in the explosion range to also explode, I managed to win this game of The Assassins after only two turns. The final 'Strategic Scanner' view of the map looked like this:-

I think I can make out about 7 explosions in all, killing all 6 of my opponents closely-bunched units. The forces of good have triumphed again!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Stellar Forces: The Awful Truth

After playing over 240 missions in Stellar Forces, I have decided to face the awful truth: I am not actually very good at it. Between the 13th and the 17th of this month, I lost no less than 7 missions (and won zero).

Here's a few highlights.

In 'The Assassins: Outhouses' where I had to kill Sterner, Monkey proved the adage "attack is the best form of defence" by grenading 3 of my units into oblivion in the first 2 turns. He's the one that's supposed to be hiding! (or so my thinking went).

In 'Prison Mutiny', my prison guards were so busy covering all the expected escape routes that the prisoners might take, that I forgot they could blow a hole through the walls and create a new exit. Which they did, leaving me looking like I couldn't organise a booze-up in a brewery.

In 'Defend the Base', Victor concentrated all his attack forces on one side of the base. Needless to say he broke through my useless bunch of an-excuse-for-soldiers and lobbed in a couple of grenades. The first one blew the doors of the computer room apart and the second destroyed the computer. Victor was the victor.

Maybe more practise is in order. Or a cheat mode... ;)

Monday, 17 January 2011

Stellar Forces: 'Intermediate Mission Playback'

With such a snappy name it must be a snappy new feature I hear you exclaim!

Following on from the Mission Playback feature in Stellar Forces, where you could view the whole mission once it was finished, it is now possible to view a playback of any of your current missions up to its current stage.

Of course, the main difference between this and the original playback feature is that you are only shown what your units actually saw. Which is nice.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Stellar Forces: Undercover Agents

They said it couldn't be done, but Stellar Forces continues to push the limits of turn-based squad-level multi-player strategy games!

The latest new features is what I've logically called 'Undercover Agents'. The mission starts of normally enough, but if an undercover agent is involved, then at any time, one of your units could suddenly reveal themselves to be under the control of your opponent, thus causing you to radically rethink your plan and kill the agent.

Obviously this new feature is kept under control. The mission is balanced to ensure that the side with the agent doesn't have too much of an advantage, and at the moment a squad only has one agent, to prevent a bloodbath.

Let battle commence!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Happy New Year!

A happy new year to all Stellar Forces players; past, present and (of course) future.

I hope Stellar Forces keeps growing in 2011 as well as it has in 2010: There are currently 34 games being played, there are now over 50 missions available, and we've just tipped past the 800th game!

I've also received my first donation from all-round top player Deadlime. It's not enough for me to retire on, but should buy enough chocolate to keep the trouble-and-strife happy while I spend too much time on the computer adding more and more features to the game.