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Vic Davis
07-30-2007, 12:25 PM
I've been so busy with my launch that I forgot to announce it at one of my favorite hangouts. This place has been a great resource for me so thanks everyone. After 3 years here is the announcement for my turn based strategy game. It's got a quirkly UI and a steep learning curve but I'm hoping that there are enough geeky, grogy nerds out there like me to warrant the effort. So with no further ado.

Press Release – Indie Turn Based Strategy Game

Armageddon Empires PC Game Release (July 30, 2007) – Indie game developer Cryptic Comet announced today that their turn based strategy game Armageddon Empires was available for purchase at their website www.crypticcomet.com via digital download. Set in a grim post-apocalyptic future, Armageddon Empires challenges you to rule the wasteland by building a pocket empire on the bones and burning metallic hulks of your enemies. Gather resources, deploy armies, and crush your foes without mercy.


Armageddon Empires takes the best elements of collectable card games (don’t worry there are no cards to chase you get them all), board games, and computer games and brings them all together to provide a unique strategy war game experience. Choose a normal size map and battle in a death match with a single AI opponent finishing within an hour or select a huge map and slug it out with the other 3 factions in a game of epic proportions.



Game Features

- Turn based strategy game in a post-apocalyptic setting versus 1 to 3 AI opponents.

- Hexagonal maps depicting the ravaged wastes of earth circa 2345 featuring 3 map sizes ranging from normal to huge.

- 4 playable factions each with unique units, art and playing styles.

- Over 75 faction heroes lead your armies into battle. Heroes allow for larger, more effective armies and have their own special abilities that can change the tide of battle or even create new weapons and technology cards.

- Over 200 unique units wage battle across the savage landscape; command infantry, cyborgs, robots, powered battle armor, armor, artillery, mecha, biomecha and many more.

- Over 80 unique special abilities for heroes and units; abilities like multi-targeting, shock attack, double attack, fanatic, military genius and valor allow you to find exciting combos of play just like you would in a collectible card or miniatures game.

- Collectible card game flavor without the expense. Each hero, unit or facility is a card that can be added to your play deck.

- Board game mechanics. Roll a unit’s attack die versus another unit’s defense die and play special abilities and cards to alter the results.

- Assassinate enemy heroes, sabotage enemy facilities, gather intelligence through espionage and stealth, hunt down enemy heroes and hold them prisoner.

- Drop thermonuclear weapons on your enemies or load out your units with tactical nuke cards created by your leading technologists.

- Challenging goal based AI agents see the same game you do and must gather intelligence, build armies and formulate plans just like you: “No cheating.”


Armageddon Empires is available for the PC and will soon be available for the Mac OSX as well. A 30turn demo is available at the Cryptic Comet website.

Screen shots

http://www.crypticcomet.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/XenopodAdvance.jpg

http://www.crypticcomet.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/XenoVsMachines1.jpg

http://www.crypticcomet.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/Medal.jpg

VladR
07-30-2007, 01:29 PM
:eek:
I couldn`t believe my eyes. Immediatelly downloading ! Should be easy game to sell to those huge strategy portals, I believe.

lennard
07-30-2007, 02:25 PM
Yeah, looks pretty cool. Congrats on shipping your game - hope it does well for you.

VladR
07-30-2007, 02:59 PM
I struggled for 10 minutes, then switched it off. Couldn`t realize what and why should I do. The step-by-step tutorial is necessary.
When I was submitting my game to portals, I received feedback, that the player must know in advance, that walking is done by left-clicking and attacking by right-clicking (or vice versa, can`t remember precisely ATM). I considered it extremely dumb, since this is the intuitive standard that the player can find out after 10 seconds of clicking. Here`s it impossible due to much more complicated game mechanics.
I admit, I haven`t played any hex turn-based game for quite a few yrs (though I play turn-based fantasy card games), but there definitely should be some sort-of pop-up window describing each step - at least for first few rounds.
At first, I thought there was a bug, while clicking on the hex tiles, only to find out the the symbol must be actually DRAGGED.
Try sitting somebody from your friends in front of the game and see how they play it.

mrkwang
08-01-2007, 09:56 PM
I struggled around 10 minutes in the demo.

- Where is tutorial? I have not learned any basic control at all, just entered the battle arena. Had no idea what to do, and still don't know.

- How to attack? Okay. I just drag-and-play some cards on the battle, with trial & error. But I still don't know HOW TO ATTACK, and quit.

Game Producer
08-02-2007, 01:00 AM
Hey, very nice to see games taken totally into different direction than "cloning what's popular on portals". Looking slick. Congratz for shipping.

electronicStar
08-02-2007, 09:27 AM
Yeah, this game is in my demo queue, I'm just responding here to not let the thread die out.
I'm a big fan of card games mechanisms (especially when you have the whole set to start) so I'm impatient to test this one. One of the very rare genres of indie games that I could buy for myself.:)
But I'll wait for the test to talk more.

Vic Davis
08-03-2007, 05:02 AM
Yeah the learning curve on this one is Tsunami grade. I am working on a non-interactive tutorial done in Shockwave. I found that the mess of spaghetti that was my interface code was just not going to host an in-game tutorial. I think a lot of it is psychological though. Most people look back and wonder what the big deal was after they have mastered the concepts. Although the UI is considered clunky by a lot of people (and I admit it still needs some work) the basics of doing anything are drag and drop and right click for options pads. If you want to play the game well you do need to read the manual.....which is adequate I think, but I'm going to update it and improve it.

This is obviously not going to be everybody's cup of tea. I wanted to make a game like Dominions II that offered agonizing choices and deep strategy if you wanted to delve. I pulled design ideas from a lot of different areas...ccg's, board games and miniatures and tried to fuse them with the advantages of a computer based presentation. I also chose to go just single player partly out of necessity to actually finish the project and also because I really crave the single player experience. I put a lot of effort into the AI and built a goal based architecture that works surprisingly well I think. I'm viewing this as a marathon though. I'd like to build a reputation as a fine purveyor of thoughtful and slow turn based strategy in an era of frantic and clicky console games....not that I don't enjoy exercising the fingers on occasion as well. :)

2dnoob
08-03-2007, 09:07 AM
"Most people look back and wonder what the big deal was after they have mastered the concepts...."

Granted but if this happens.......

Initial interest is high, customer downloads it:

"I couldn`t believe my eyes. Immediatelly downloading ! Should be easy game to sell to those huge strategy portals, I believe....."

After playing it for the first time:

"I struggled for 10 minutes, then switched it off...."

...to even a small majority of potential interested end users, your sales are going to be poor. Take the time and design your game as if a moron is playing it for the first time, seriously. No one reads the manual, or help file in games anymore. They expect to be lead around by a leash the first level or 2. ;)

electronicStar
08-07-2007, 03:57 PM
Okay, this game is very interesting but it lacks a lot in the areas of accessibility and ergonomy.
There are some problems with the Gui, some basic things are missing, there's way too much clicking going on and it needs tootips and things like that. this game will definitely remain out of reach for any casual to moderate gamers, and even a hardcore newcomer that might be interested by the game could be turned off by the difficulty. But this shouldn't be a real problem with an audience of veterans of this sort of games and I don't see why the game wouldn't enjoy some success with that audience :)
The game itself seems very interesting and rather deep and I will keep playing , atleast the demo for sure. The postapocalyptic universe is interesting. Well a postapocalyptic universe is always interesting.
If you want I could make a little list of things to fix in the GUI (at least for the next game). Remember that the basics of the game should be understood only with the interface. Even hardcore TPS fans don't have the time to read manuals and faqs...
I'll comment more about the game after a few more tries.

Vic Davis
08-08-2007, 04:31 PM
Please yes, any type of input would be greatly appreciated. I've made an attempt to address some of the most egregious problems. I've added the "Enter/F" hotkeys to accelerate going through a lot of the dialogues. I know what you are saying about reading the manual. It's going to cut sales down a big chunk. I thought that by using a drag and drop/left click to select/right click to perform an action group of paradigms I might make mastering the system at least a logical process. I think there is a bit of the game selecting the players. If you are the kind of person who won't even look at the manual and you download the game and get frustrated right away then you are better off not playing and buying. I don't mean that in a snobbish way. Just that the game is going to attract a particular type of geek/nerd (myself included). And that is admittedly going to be a very narrow slice of the market. I had a joke about living in your parents basement wasn't required to enjoy the game but it would help. The UI could definitely stand some major improvement but for future projects I'm not going to cut back on the complexity just so the UI can be simpler/better. I'd rather just make the game for myself in that case.

electronicStar
08-08-2007, 05:21 PM
Oh man, the more I'm playing the demo the more I'm thinking that this is a very nice game!
I think there is really some potential there because there aren't many games like that done anymore. I don't agree that your audience is restricted to nerds, there are more people enjoying strategic games than you think. Just look at the recent hullaballo about dwarf fortress for example.
It's not about not being the type of person who like reading manuals, the problem is that fans of this type of games have generally played many similar games and read so many manuals, that if your interface isn't instantly understood it means that there are design problems. I have played much more complex games (commercial games) that I could play in a instant without problems.
I am going to make a list of things that IMO should be improved and send it to you. Maybe you won't be able to include it in the current game but it should help you for the next game :)
Is it the final release? can I talk about your game on the internets?

I really love the settings and all the little details going on in the game, Oh BTW I think the 30 turn limits is just a bit too short. I could have made a better idea about the game with a little bit more turns to play or maybe the same number of turns but an additional faction to play.:p

Vic Davis
08-09-2007, 07:27 AM
electronicStar,
Post it here as well. It might help out some other beginning developers. The game is released but I'm trying to improve what I can via updates. Some things are feasible....others are not because I've got 250k+ lines of code and some of it is spaghetti. The multiplayer isn't going to happen with this one for example because the architecture would need a major rewrite from the foundation up and the tactical battles with the cards would surely need to just be auto resolved if you were playing more than just 1v1. So far I've made the following improvements besides bug fixes. A lot of this should have been there from the start but I'm learning :)

Added Fast Dice Rolls
Added Roll over to display info about cards in the hand (mega tool tip)
Added some Hotkey support to speed up turn processing
Added Hex Identification highlight system to mini map so you can quickly see where something is happening
Added a screening system for the cards in the hand so that cards that don't have enough resources/Action points to be played are dimmed out a little

Pluvious
08-09-2007, 01:50 PM
I always love to see a new deep tbs strategy game come out. The idea of a combo card/strategy game is a great mix.

Unfortunately, the game doesn't really "jump out at me" at first glance or even after I tried the demo. I do much prefer fantasy and I'm sure that has a lot to do with it. But also it appears to be a pure strategy game (not building fun with towns, level ups, etc) without online play.

Anyway, I'm sure I'd like it if I tried it a bit more but I won't usually play a game anymore unless I think there's a chance I'll love it. But I'm sure you will have an audience for this game...just keep improving it. I look forward to your next game!

electronicStar
08-09-2007, 03:27 PM
Okay here are a couple of things that could be enhanced in the interface, as I continued playing I became used to some of the minor annoyances so my list is smaller than I expected, the main problem remains that there is way too much clicking going on:



-The dice roll too slow, I know you've made them faster but I wouldn't mind if the result was given instantly
-It's not necessary to show when the dice results are a draw. Sometimes it keeps making draw for minutes, it's a very bad way of spending the time. Just calculate the result, repeat until it's not a draw and show only the last result.
-At the phase where we lay tiles and strongholds , it shouldn't be necessary to click to indicate that we have finished since there's no way to change once the tile/stronghold is posed. Either it should skip alone to the next phase OR you could implement a cancel button (BTW there are a couple of other place where a cancel button would be useful)
-Tooltips could be useful in many places: tooltips for ressources (name of the ressource) for the tiles (type of terrain, resssources,etc...) for the buttons and icons on the menus, and if possible on the numeric values of the cards, to know what each value represents.
-when I draw a new card to my hand , the card list should center on the newcard and if possible make it shine in one way or another
-Making up names for the armies can be cool once or twice if you want to customize your armies but most of the time it's just annoying. It would be interesting to have the game choose name from a list (different for each faction) and then give the player the possibility to change the name.
-It would be nice to be able to drag some of the windows, especially those that appear during fights or other events, sometimes I need to see the battlefield or the map to take decisions and most windows don't even have a cancel option.
-It's a standard thing in strategy games, that the map generally scroll when the mouse is taken to the edges of the screen. using arrow buttons is annoying.
-when the computer wants to warn me about something that is not in the field of vision (ex:enemy movement) it would be nice to center on the area in question. Preferrably with a scrolling.
-you could implement smooth (not tile by tile) scrolling
-when I right-click an army to move, then right click again without moving (for example if I change my mind) it shouldn't use any action point
Combat related:
-maybe you could implement auto fight (not sure about this one), could be useful for long matches.
-The quit game option should be available in the combat screen
-There should be the possibility to cancel an attack before rolling the die, try to implement cancel option for every window that opens.
-There's way too much clicking
-I should have to click only once for the dice roll, not to click for each army
-and when the engagement is over I have to click twice ("enemy concedes" and "accept") I should have to click only once. Get rid of one of the windows.

All righyt this should be enough:o

Now I have a couple of suggestions about the game itself:
-When I heard "collectible card game" I was thinking about more gameplay altering mechanisms. At the moment it's just like a standard strategy/miniature game. CCG mechanisms generally include more dramatic events and rule altering cards that can grant temporary advantages or handicaps to a side temporarily.
I was thinking maybe you could have the game draw an "event" card once every x turn, that would either be nothing or change the conditions for the teams for a limited time. Your game universe have so many possibilities to use! (sandstorm, seismic activity, asteroid,etc,etc...)

-Maybe the player could start with a little stash of ressources at the beggining for a faster start

-I'm a bit disappointed by the tactics cards, they seem very generic and not enough detailed, while keeping the general mechanics for each of them, you could maybe dress them with more dramatic names, take a look at real tactics used on battlefield for example.



sorry if that sounds like too much criticism, actually I would like to thank you and your team for giving me faith again in the indie games industry. We are not doomed to dumbing down everything for the sake of casualness.
I found this game very immersive, I'll probably buy it:D

Vic Davis
08-10-2007, 01:51 PM
electronicStar,
Thanks for the feed back. I'm going to be continuing to improve the UI incrementally. Some of the things like too much clicking might be hard to address without a radical redesign of how the challenges work...It was layed out like two players sitting across from each other with the necessity of saying I pass as part of the flow process. This leads to messages like "The Free Mutants player has decided to pass. You may now respond" Lot's of good lessons to internalize for any future projects. Thanks a bunch.

electronicStar
08-10-2007, 03:58 PM
You're welcome, good luck.
I'm curious to know, where do you advertize the game?

Vic Davis
08-11-2007, 05:02 PM
Right now Board Game Geek, yahoo and google ad words. I'm also sending it out to reviewers. The Wargamer has been kind enough to create a forum for talking about the game. And word of mouth from places like QT3 and Octopus Overlords has also helped a bunch.