Weekly Update: Big Week, Big Noise

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The Pit is the colorful name we call the open floor area where most of Uber Entertainment’s programmers, engineers, and artists sit. Bodies and desks are packed together, purposefully, in close-knit configurations, so information flows more easily between each other. Need feedback? Have a question? Just turn and ask. Working closer is working smarter.

The Pit has a rep for being loud. And, spoiler: it’s accurate. But, this week it’s even louder. We’re launching our tower offense / defense game, Toy Rush, on May 15. And we’re also pushing hard on a new massive Planetary Annihilation update. We’re taking the noise to 11, as we discuss all the exciting new developments across these two fantastic projects.

The next Planetary Annihilation update will include an experience you’ve been waiting for. To be a little more specific, it’s a “big rock” feature. Big rock features are high-priority features that either: (a) blend parts of the game to make it more cohesive, (b) amp up the intensity of the game, (c) introduce new mechanics, or (d) add a new mode. Whatever the big rock is, you can bet it’s going to be awesome.

So, excuse all the noise. We think the reward is worth it.

More Thoughts On Balance

 

Last week, we talked about balance and opened up PTE to our early backers. This week, let’s move the discussion forward a bit and talk about the process — and why we consider it fluid.

Balancing a game is like players with levers on a terminal. Move a lever, get a result. The catch, though, is that sometimes when you move a lever, another lever on the other end of the terminal might move in the opposite direction alongside it.

Here’s an example: during beta, we cranked up the production rate of bot factories to see if it would lead to more raiding opportunities and early game fights. And you know what? It totally worked. In internal playtests, we were attacking each other more often and battling it out way earlier in matches than normal.

Everything was totally cool until Brad discovered that if he hoarded his bot units, he could create unstoppable balls of doom that both could steamroll entire bases and pulverize Commanders way, way too quickly in games.

One change can impact a lot, and it takes some time to find the holes. Balance is an act that revolves around predictability, in addition to more nebulous things like feel, fairness, and your expectations. In the “live” environment, we keep all of this in mind, as we push changes. But, we’re also always ready to react, too.

PTE is a great way to experience this testing process. But, as you play, it’s healthy to keep in mind that experiments we run in PTE are just that; experiments. Experimentation allows us to find new ways for our systems to interact and, generally, lets us pull levers safely. Planetary Annihilation already feels awesome, but PTE is going to help us make it even awesome-r.

And Now For Some Questions

 

I’m an early backer! Where’s my key?

Hey, that’s no good! If you were an early backer, the steps to find your game key are pretty easy. Let’s refer to the almighty FAQ:

If you went to the Uber Store and couldn’t see your early backer pledge after signing in, it’s probably because you haven’t finalized your pledge yet. An order must be finalized before it becomes visible in our account system.

 

Go to http://uberent.com/KS/FindMyPledge and enter the email address you originally used with Kickstarter or Paypal to find your pledge. If the link tells you it can’t find an e-mail, you probably weren’t an early backer. If you’re totally certain you were an early backer — rather than a pre-orderer — please e-mail support.

Will there be buttons on the overlay that show you your idle fabricators, as well as idle factories?

That’s an interesting question! Immediately, we’re doing a lot of work with hotkeys that’ll make it easier for you to utilize your idle fabricators and factories. Down the line we may just end up visualizing idleness, but ideally we want to give you tools that are so intuitive that you rarely even have idle units.

Speaking of, uh, Planetary Annihilation (sometimes transitions are hard), Steve’s been working on making new screenshots to show off the game. We thought we’d whip out our favorite “old” one to show you. So awesome.

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Thanks for reading today, guys. Have a question? Fire it at mailbag@uberent.com. And don’t forget to check us out elsewhere on the world wide web  — be it Facebook, or Twitter, Google Plus, or our forums.