The Blog is Back!

The Blog is Back!

First of all, my apologies to the three followers of this blog for the long hiatus. It’s a long story, but briefly put – Junior spent most of January ill with all sorts of interesting bugs picked up in kindergarten (and passing it on, whenever possible). That pretty much put me on the back foot from the start of the year, and intermittent bouts of interesting child diseases plus work pressure (both real-life and this “hobby”) has kept me on the back foot ever since.

So what is the status? Well, we passed 250,000 free downloads of Pirates and Traders some time ago. What can I say – a huge thank you to all of you who have taken the time to look at my development efforts and especially those of you who continue to play and enjoy the game after the first look. A very special thank you to those of you who have decided to support my development efforts by purchasing Pirates and Traders: Gold! I hope that the improvements that are in the pipeline will repay the faith you’ve shown in the game.So what is in the pipeline? A lot of improvements both big and small, but the big changes can be divided into three parts.

One part is the long-promised graphical update. Work is progressing on that, but progress has unfortunately been slower than expected due to colliding schedules and things simply taking much longer than expected. My current hope is that I can start releasing updates with the new graphics during late summer. We shall see how that goes.

The second part is the inclusion of more story lines into the games, which will involve yet another massive revamp of the gameplay. I’ve already lifted the veil on some of the changes that I have on the drawing board; the total sum of changes that this will cause will be huge, though. The project leaves me with mixed feelings – both fear of breaking a game that people really enjoy (and make no mistake – the game will without a doubt break in unexpected ways), combined with excitement at changes that I believe will make the game even more fun and immersive.

The final part of this will be to add on-line scores and achievements. Once these three parts are in place, the game is stable, and the balancing completed, I’ll consider Pirates and Traders “finished” as a game. I’ll still be doing updates for it, but not big game-engine upheavals of the kind that is coming along now. I have other games that I would like to develop, and for that to be possible, I need to move work on Pirates and Traders into “maintenance” mode.

What won’t make it into the game? The big missing feature will be fleet vs fleet combat. I had hoped to add this (and even mentioned it in my roadmap for a while), but I’ve simply not been able to design a system for this that I find satisfactory from a gameplay balance point of view. Some multiple-ship mechanics will be introduced into the game, but true multiple-ship free-for-all combat will have to wait until I have the time to do it properly.

Needless to say, the above is a lot of work and the time I have available to work on these projects is limited. This necessitates some tough choices, and one of those choices is that work on Imperium will be put on hold for several months – perhaps for the rest of the year. This project still requires a major development effort to complete (particularly on the GUI side) plus significant financial resources for artwork and the like. I simply cannot justify that kind of effort at this time, given the unexpected success of Pirates and Traders.

I am a strategy gamer at heart – although Pirates and Traders veers more into RPG territory – so I’ll be returning to my true love in future.  I make games because I enjoy doing so; but a big part of that enjoyment is seeing comments and reading mails/forum posts from people playing and enjoying the games. An important maxim in maneuver warfare is to always reinforce success; for the moment, my priorities are to do just that.