Author Archives: bnicholson

Weekly Update: Calm Before The Storm

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Beautiful, isn’t it? Planetary Annihilation is a game about explosions, conquering, and asteroids on terrifying collision courses. The game takes everything to the next level: army sizes, map sizes, commands, you name it and it’s jacked up to 11. Because of this, you also get these kinds of scenes. Scenes that seem so small and serene in comparison.

One of the many things Steve did last week was capture new screenshots. Steve has an eye for capturing the smaller moments that, in combination with each other, make this such a big game. It’s been fun to share some of these, and we’ll continue to do so.

What’s a Big Rock Again?

 

There’s been a little discussion on our forums about what a “Big Rock Feature” actually is. It isn’t a play on words. Rather, it’s just our own lingo for an important feature that will add significant value to Planetary Annihilation. Fire was a big rock feature. The planet smash was a big rock feature. Galactic War is a big rock feature. And so on.

Big rock features make the game better in a variety of ways. With fire, we gave players a more dynamic world  to play with, as well as introduced some interesting spawn choices. With the planet smash, we added the game’s most epic moment. Other big rocks planned will offer new game modes or expand on our game’s mechanics.

Fleet Of Finger

 

In other game news, another artist on the team has been busy redesigning how we handle hotkeys. Part of this pass is actually visualizing them in the game — and maybe even fiddling with the UI so players can more easily take advantage of them. We know that being able to quickly select buildings and create units is important to high-level play, and we’re going to support it better very soon (TM).

And Now For Some E-Mails

 

When will the physical goods be produced and shipped to early backers?

Most of the physical goods are currently in production. We’ll ship them after game launch. Hope that helps!

I noticed that your most recent guesstimate on release date was sometime early 2014. As we are now in mid-2014, I was curious about a new guesstimate. I realize, and respect, your desire to only release when it is complete. I’m just looking for a guess, not some hard date. Are you thinking late 2014? Early 2015?

We love it when two questions roll into each other so nicely! We still plan for the game to be feature complete in 2014, but we’re not releasing a 1.0 build until the game’s done. Thanks! And sorry we can’t give you even a rough date. 🙁

Are there going to be different races or factions someday?

Who knows! We’ve certainly thrown around the idea at the office. It’s a thing we’d like to do post-launch.

Sorry for the short update this week. It’s been pretty busy, as we finish up the game’s Next Big Thing. We’ll have more details later — and you won’t want to miss the announcement.

Speaking of that, stay up to date with us by following us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus, or our forums! Also, if you have a question send it to: mailbag@uberent.com

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.

Fire! PTE! Balance! Oh My!

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If you walk into our office through the secret entrance, the first person you’d see is Tim. He’s making new decals. In development lingo, he’s doing “dec work.” Basically, he helps make the terrain look scarred whenever something blows up — or, now, catches on fire.

If you take a left through the corridor of computers as you approach Tim’s desk, you’ll see Ben making new effects. And Forrest testing various performance tweaks. Look a little deeper and you’ll find something … new and vast. Something that Planetary Annihilation fans are going to dig.

As usual, we’ve got a lot of new stuff coming into Planetary Annihilation. The one we’d like to talk about today? Fire. We showed off fire for the first time courtesy a not-so-sly Facebook tease. In just a couple of days, you’ll be able to get your, er, hands on it, too.

Fire doesn’t just look cool. It adds a new strategic dimension to the game. And, ironically, it isn’t because of the fire itself — it’s because of trees. In the fire update, trees will be physical objects. Units won’t be able to stomp through them. Instead, they’ll have to path around them. You can also reclaim trees for bursts of metal, if you’re low on resources.

In the early game, you can imagine the advantage that selecting a spawn by a bunch of trees will give you. But, will you sacrifice your leafy protection for metal? Or will you purposefully start fires to make it easier for your machine of war to reach your foes?

Meanwhile …

 

We’ve also been shaping a brand new experience for folks who want to see, first-hand, how Planetary Annihilation is being made. It’s called Public Test Environment, and it’s available right now across PC, Mac, and Linux.

When we’re testing out new ideas to make Planetary Annihilation even more epic, we use private versions of the game to give them a spin. Sometimes, we make dramatic changes. Most of the time, we make small changes. Then, we play the game together in the office and see if these new ideas make the game more fun. If the answer is a resounding “yes,” we often push out these changes in a new update to the game.

Until now, this was a part of the Planetary Annihilation journey you didn’t get to see. The Public Test Environment is a public-facing version of the game where we’re trying out a lot of cool or interesting ideas, much like we did in our private in-office tests. When you download PTE, you’ll get to see features or balance changes that have the potential to change the way the wider game is played — and you’ll be in on it from the start.

We think PTE is a really exciting way to keep you in tune with Planetary Annihilation. If you want to give it a shot, visit this message board thread, read what Marc has to say, and the client it’s delivered through a download.

As creators, we use experiments to test the limits of our games. As designers, we use experiments to test out how balance and gameplay feel. PTE will be primarily used for testing experiments, from engine changes to even balance overhauls.

We have a fun balance philosophy at Uber Entertainment. Before we start finely tuning attack power, range, and concepts like that, we truly stretch the limits of units by doubling, tripling, or maybe even halving their abilities. We test for feel first, and then start really getting in there.

When you jump into PTE, you’ll see and get to play with these experiments, and truly experience how we’re shaping the Planetary Annihilation experience.

And Now For A Question

 

Will secondary colors return?

We’ve been asked this one several times since the Gamma phase began. The short answer is: yes, yes they will.

The long answer? We pulled them in the initial Gamma update because some combinations just didn’t read well. People couldn’t tell what army was what color. Since then, we’ve re-worked how secondary colors appear on units by minimizing their impact on unit models. Those times when you were like, is that red or blue team? Not going to happen anymore once we get this in.

And speaking of units — Andrew’s been thinking about redoing the Grenadier unit. Here’s an image of an early idea:

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Don’t forget to check out Planetary Annihilation on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and message boards. Have a question? Ask them on the forums or send us an e-mail: mailbag@uberent.com. Otherwise, plug in, stay tuned, annihilate!

Watch Yesterday’s Livestream … Now!

Miss our last livestream? No worries! We’ve got an archived version of yesterday’s shenanigans just below. Just click that big, wonderful YouTube play button:

Yesterday, we opened the show by discussing our brand new fire technology, which is coming to a Planetary Annihilation near you soon(TM). Uber engineer, Forrest, walks folks through the tech — and shows some wonderful, fiery scenes.

Later, Adam and John come on to discuss the latest balance changes while Brad eats delicious #smores and plays a match with the community. John and Adam also answer a bunch of questions from our forums and the Twitch chat.

Overall, it was a great show! Thanks so much for participating and watching! We’ll see you in the lobby, Commanders.

We’re Streaming Tomorrow!

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Earlier this week, we busted out a turbo-huge update to Planetary Annihilation that not only introduced some fantastic new balance tweaks, but also friends lists, instant messaging, replays, and more. Tomorrow, we’re going to discuss all of these changes — and debut a hot, new one! — during a livestream at 1PM PST. That’s right; buckle up, we’re streaming again.

Here are the details:

WHEN: April 24, 1PM PST
WHERE: Twitch.TV/UberEntertainment
WHAT: A discussion on the gamma phase and the latest update, a hot upcoming feature, game balance, and the debut of something special.

Have a question for us, by the way? Hit up this forum thread and throw us a line. Also, you can chat at us on Facebook, Twitter, or on Twitch. See you on the 24th!

Planetary Annihilation Gamma Update: Friends Lists, Replays, And Much More

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All of us at Uber Entertainment are always busy. It’s a given. But, the last couple of weeks have been “turbo busy,” as Brad would describe it. In-between polishing up a lot of incredible features, both the Planetary Annihilation and Toy Rush teams spent major swathes of time planning for their game’s showings at PAX East 2014. All the hard work and brain-busting effort paid off, too — oodles of folks dropped by, said hi, and had an awesome time playing Planetary Annihilation and Toy Rush.

With Planetary Annihilation, we set up two groups of four computers and had folks face off against each other in 2v2 matches. Meanwhile, Adam rocked the microphone and casted the matches for everyone observing the action to hear. Over the course of the three-day event, we saw planet smashes and tons of epic plays from rookies that turned pro before our sleep-deprived, but glistening eyes. It was cool, to say the least.

The rest of the team back at the office were also busy busting out all the new features you’re seeing today in Planetary Annihilation’s latest update. In addition to countless optimizations and tweaks, we’ve added some amazing Gamma-specific features: replays and videos, messaging, friends lists, and yet another advanced command and control feature.

Friends Lists, Instant Messaging, and Replays

Among other things, Gamma is all about you and your friends. Friends lists, messaging, and replays are a huge step in this direction. The friends list and instant messaging clients live on the right-hand side of your screen. When you’re not in games, you can add friends, see if your pals are online, or message them.

Replays can be viewed in the new Replay menu available at the main menu screen. Right now, you can search for matches and view them at any time after they end. We’ve got a great plan to expand this feature by adding the ability to create highlights and user uploading to YouTube. We’ll be talking about Replays again pretty soon.

Advanced Commander and Control: Line Drawing

Awesome! Starting now, you can organize units in whatever formations that you desire with a couple clicks of the mouse and a quick drag. We’ve also added the ability for you to set the path your units walk with a shift-click. Fighting across entire worlds is easier with this simple, intuitive, and customizable new control.

The Rest

Of course, this update includes many other fixes, optimizations, and tweaks. The full patch notes are available, as always, on our forums. We look forward to seeing you guys in the lobby, on the boards, on Twitter and on our Facebook.

Battle of the Beasts Wrap-Up!

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Battle of the Beasts had plenty of awesome action, but no team was a part of more event-defining moments than the tournament’s ultimate winners, Super Godde Bros. Team members “Giggle” and “Godde” played extremely well together — and under pressure.

As we’ve mentioned before, Giggle and Godde are taking home the tournament’s grandest of grand prizes: a unique and BEASTLY custom commander. Our artist Steve made this video of this mechanical masterpiece earlier today:

Also, in case you missed it — after our first round of the tournament, we announced an encore match in which the winners would take home a GeForce 770 courtesy NVIDIA. NVIDIA has been an awesome partner and its helping us make Planetary Annihilation that much faster and amazing. Congrats, guys (you know who are)!

We’ll be posting archives of the action later on uberent.com/beasts. Stay tuned in case you couldn’t make it LIVE! And thanks to today’s participants. You’re awesome!

Watch Battle of the Beasts Live! Right now!

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It’s on! Battle of the Beasts, Planetary Annihilation’s first official tournament, is going down right now! Go watch some of Planetary Annihilation’s baddest, beastliest SPACE WARRIORS duke it out for an awesome custom commander — and eternal glory — on the official Battle of the Beasts site. Another way? Head over to our host’s ZaphodX’s Twitch.TV page.

Before you go: have you heard about our awesome prizes? Here’s the custom commander the winning team is going to walk away with:

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Also, stay tuned to our Twitter (@uberent) for a chance to win a GeForce 770 courtesy our awesome partners at NVIDIA who are generously helping us make Planetary Annihilation even faster.

Lore! A Summary Of The Past, Present, And Future!

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Over the development of Planetary Annihilation, we’ve revealed several pieces of lore detailing the known factions Planetary Annihilation’s grim, sprawling universe. But as eye-opening as these have been, they’ve only shed a sliver of light on some of your biggest questions. Like, who were the Progenitors?  What is Time Designation Zero? What ignited the faction war?

Today, we’ll start talking about these topics, courtesy our writer Matthew Kehm:

War

The galaxy as it is known today is in a state of war. Planet after planet, system after system, the conflict rages unabated. Worlds that were once vibrant and teeming with organic life have been reduced to barren wastelands. It is a war fought for many reasons. There are those who fight it to simply conquer and dominate. Many choose to sow the seeds of chaos, all in the name of their god. There are even those who wage war, ironically, in an effort to achieve the perfect peace.

One constant remains: The biologic is being driven to extinction by the machine.

The Progenitors

For thousands of years the galaxy was devoid of the sounds of machinery. No grinding of gears or the slow hum of a computer could be heard. Biologics were the dominant force. This all changed with the arrival of the Progenitors.

It is not known when or from where they came. One thing however is certain; as the Progenitors began to spread across the galaxy the dominance of biologics began to wane, machines replacing them at a rapid rate. Technology advanced like a tidal wave across the ocean of stars. The Progenitors, it seemed, could not be stopped.

What exactly the Progenitors were is not known. Many hold to the belief that they were biologics created by a mechanical god to act as slaves in a machine universe, ultimately rebelling against it. Still others believe that the Progenitors were themselves machines, building a vast empire spanning the stars. Ruins scattered across the galaxy speak of a vast Progenitor society but have yielded few clues as to their true identity.

As great and powerful as the Progenitors had been, something happened that brought their abrupt end. All that they had built, the technology that had fueled their expansion across the stars had suddenly ceased. The Progenitors themselves, the architects of this grand society, seemed to simply vanish.

Thousands of years later the event would be given a name: Time Designation Zero.

Time Designation Zero

How long the galaxy lay silent after the disappearance of the Progenitors is not known. Judging by the ruins and artifacts that have been discovered, many have concluded that several thousands of years have passed since the event.

That event, and the years of silence that followed would come to be known as Time Designation Zero, the point from which all history would be recorded; divided into before (BTDZ or BZ) and after (ATDZ or AZ).

The Commanders

Sentient machines, the greatest of the Progenitor era, had gone silent along with all other technology during TDZ. Known as Commanders, these machines were the greatest of their kind. It was only fitting that they be the ones to usher in a new age.

The first Commander to reactivate or “awaken” was Invictus. Finding his memory corrupted, not knowing where he was or where he had come from, Invictus was tasked with rebuilding what he could with his limited knowledge. The new age is considered to have begun with his activation.

Invictus was able to find other Commanders, some of which he was able to reactivate. They immediately looked upon him as their leader and the first of the factions, Legionis Machina, was created.

Birth of the Factions

Legionis Machina was just the first of many factions that would form after the silence of TDZ. Other Commanders across the galaxy began to reactivate, like Invictus, after thousands of years of dormancy.

Each of these Commanders was similar in the fact that their memories were also incomplete, full of missing or corrupted data. Using the data that they did possess, the Commanders built their own societies based on what they believed as fact. As a result, factions such as The Foundation, led by Inquisitor Nemicus, and Synchronous, led by Metrarch the Machinist, had their own vision on what the galaxy should look like. Though each faction had mostly opposing views, there was one thing in which they all agreed: the Progenitors yet existed and would return one day. This became the singular sacred belief that all share to this day. The manner of their return is still open to debate.

The Future

It is unknown exactly what the ultimate fate of the galaxy will be. What is certain is more factions will form, each with its own beliefs. War will continue to rage, Commanders continuing their struggle to dominate each other and eliminate any and all biologics.

Most of all, each and every Commander, whether pledged to a faction or no, prepares for the day that the Progenitors will return.

Make sure to check out each of our faction write-ups (linked below) for more lore:

Announcing Battle of the Beasts, Our First Official Tournament

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A handful of the BEASTLIEST teams in Planetary Annihilation are about to square off for eternal glory — and an epic prize.

Uber Entertainment is excited to announce BATTLE OF THE BEASTS, its first ever official tournament for Planetary Annihilation. Taking place March 28 at 11AM Pacific time, Battle of the Beasts is an eight team, doubles-style tournament where the winning team will walk away with a unique (and beastly) custom commander. Also, glory.

The entire tournament will be hosted by ZaphodX and his co-host, our own metabolical. To catch the action, follow and stay up with ZaphodX’s Twitch page on March 28. The Battle of the Beast official page will be broadcasting the event, too — and posting archives of the action as it goes down.

And who are these SPACE WARRIORS about to give everything for your amusement and their own eternal glory? We announced the eight teams and their seeds on this video:

You can get a text-based version of these rosters on the official BOB blog. We’ve alsolisted the rules in a post as well.

Excited? We are, too. Stay up to date on the tournament by visiting the BOB page. Also, jump into the discussion on our forums! This is a really unique opportunity for us and our competitors, so we’re dedicated to putting on an awesome show. See you there!