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Uber Weekly Update – July 28, 2014

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Consider your latest skirmish in Planetary Annihilation an appetizer. The feverish, mind meltingly huge battle was just a sample, a tease of what’s to come. The latest build, as we promised, ushered in a new lobby, new menus, and new explosive effects. You saw quite a few performance breakthroughs, too, as you wildly battled across the stars.

The gains over the last build were incredible, and we’ll keep building on that momentum well into the future. Every day, there’s a new discovery, a new feature or mechanic that we can make better or more powerful and cost less.

The target is clear: deliver on the vision that you helped make a reality. There’s a lot more work to do, but we’re up to the task.

40-Person Battles

 

Fans who fight commonly in epic free-for-alls and team games often ask when they’ll get to experience 40-person battles. Planetary Annihilation has always had big fights, even early on. Yet, we’ve always wanted to up the ante.

You might be surprised to know that we can support these matches now. Unlocking them for you, however, is a matter of making absolutely, totally sure that the experience will be as fun and as smooth as possible.

In order to get there, we’ll need to add in layers of UI to handle the increased amount of players. Also, we’ll have to tune servers to handle all the carnage. And, of course, bigger fights are going to require some additional background polish work to make sure they run smoothly, efficiently, and offer as much interesting content as possible.

The game you’re playing right now has an excellent example of how we’re paving the way to raising the player cap. Currently, whenever you play in big systems, you aren’t hit with data about planets that aren’t immediately relevant to your interests. This keeps the game’s footprint smaller than it would be if planets were constantly phoning home, and as a result the game runs faster.

Don’t be surprised to see the player cap jump up over time. It’s how we plan to scale the game.

Ladders in 1.0

 

You asked and we’re listening.

Last week, Jon revealed on our forums that we’re going to re-evaluate our stance on saving ladders for competitive update down the road. We learned a lot about what you think ladders add to a game during our various discussions, so we’re looking at ways that we can accomplish what you want.

We’re with you: we want to make sure new players can battle it out against other new players and veterans can battle it out against veterans. Thanks for your input! It’s been a big help. We’ll have more on this in the future, no doubt.

And Now For Some Questions:

 

Have everyone who want to grow a beard, after a month or two, have a community vote on the best beard. MAKE IT SO!

That’s not a question, but we like where your head is at. Ryan and Brad are trying to grow out their hair again. Does that count?

Will we be getting an annihilation victory condition where we must kill commander, factories, and fabricators?

That’s a great question. Different victory conditions (and new modes, even) are on the agenda. One of the wonderful things about our short-term goals for modding, however, is that want to give you the power to make cool victory conditions and modes.

I haven’t heard anything about the Gas Giants since launch. Are gas giant planets still planned?

Yes, yes they are. In fact, we plan to talk about them in detail very soon.

That’s it for this week, but we did want to mention: did you see this thread about Super Monday Night Combat on reddit? Interesting stuff, for sure.

Weekly Update: Galactic War Present And Future

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Last week was a big one. On May 22, we unleashed Galactic War, Planetary Annihilation’s single-player mode. Since the opening hours of its launch, many of you have annihilated and explored the mode’s procedurally generated systems. You’ve discovered oodles of new abilities and tech — and maybe even unlocked a loadout or two for your next adventure.

One of the goals of Galactic War was to create an engaging meta-game that layered even more interesting choices and decisions into Planetary Annihilation. When should I take out this Faction Leader? How can I do it without, say, advanced orbital? Should I toss my storage capabilities in favor of Advanced Bot capabilities? These are the questions we hope you’re asking yourselves as you play.

This isn’t the last you’ll hear about Galactic War. This week, we’re working on fixes and tweaks. We’re also going to be smoothing out the difficulty curve so, as you play, you encounter bigger systems and more difficult battles. We also have plans to add in something called “Hardcore” mode, which sounds as delicious as it is.

But, Wait, There’s More!

 

A single-player experience wasn’t the only feature the Galactic War Update introduced. As you’ve probably noted, we also added voice-over to the game. VO, in general, is an important component. VO has the ability to alert you to things you’d otherwise may or may not notice. But, more generally, it delivers information.

With the voice, we wanted something that sounded firm and in control. We didn’t want a voice that was too excited or intense, as that tends to be grating or numbing after a couple of hours. We think we hit a good balance. We also wanted to make sure we had an enormous amount of alternate lines. All said, about four hours of audio were recorded. Most of it made it into the game.

We also added a new hotkey system. Earlier today, our executive producer Adam talked about the design requirements we had for the system:

  • All items should be buildable from the keyboard so you don’t need to move the mouse back and forth between where you place things and the build bar.
  • The same key sequences should deterministically build a given unit, regardless of selection of fabricators/factories, so you can commit the the key sequence to muscle memory and stop thinking about it.
  • Just as common key sequences are important, common visual locations are import for people who prefer to use the mouse.
  • The interface should visually represent what keys could be pressed, so it can teach people how to use the keys.
  • A spectator on Twitch should be able to see what key was pressed so they can know what was built even if it happened quickly.
  • Key sequences should be short and easy, especially for the most commonly built items.
  • Queuing up multiple units at a factory should be fast.
  • The design should have some capacity for expansion and modability.
  • Avoid collisions with RTS standards, like A is Attack and S is stop.

And those are just the requirements — you should jump into the thread to get a look at how we designed the system. We’re also actively looking for feedback, as we polish it up.

And, finally, the Galactic War Update will give you more modding capabilities. Chris wrote an great post the other day in the modding forum, shedding a bit of light on what we have in store for all of you. Very exciting stuff!

And Now For Some Questions

 

When will there be a single-player mode?

Right now! Enjoy!

When will we be able to save a private game with just AI and play offline skirmishes (and save them)?

This is something we’re still thinking about and working on — and the same goes for pausing Galactic War games. We’ll get you details as soon as we can.

Are the Commanders completely autonomous or is there a human or alien in there?

That’s a great question. Commanders are sentient machines. Humans, as far as they know, are gone.

Have a great week, guys, and be on the lookout for an update or two in the near future. Feel free to follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle Plus, or our forums! Also, if you have a question send it to: mailbag@uberent.com!

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

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.

Settling the Score, Orchestrally

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Over a year ago, Uber Entertainment and a bunch of awesome fans teamed up to make Planetary Annihilation a reality. Around the studio, staff still describe the outpouring of support during the campaign as a surreal experience. It was a fun collection of moments, and we’re more than happy to keep delivering on PA.

Speaking of that, actually, one of the game’s stretch goals was the addition of an orchestral score. It’s our pleasure to announce that we’ll be recording that score this week. This week!

Howard Mostrom, our composer, and a couple of other Uber folks, will be heading down to Bastyr Chapel at Bastyr University to do this. It’s a beautiful place, and it’s a place that has been used several times for the scores of massive games and films. We’re stoked to add Planetary Annihilation to the list of media that has been produced there.

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It’s fitting, really, that a game about controlling thousands of units in sprawling and heated interplanetary battles is receiving this treatment. PA’s monstrous scale and its intensity will be elevated by the richness the orchestra has to share.

Orchestras bring a special element, there’s no doubt. Few people can explain it better than Howard:

“Every part of the music that’s in there now will be played by the orchestra, and it’ll have everything that live humans can bring to music. You can do a bunch of fantastic stuff with synth, but it only goes so far. You just can’t compete with a real group.

Live groups bring enormous expression to music. And it’s not just more expression, it’s a less singular expression. The creative choices of 80 people brings a fullness to the music that you can’t get with the utter perfection of machines. The orchestra will exaggerate the tones and the emotions I’ve created in PA’s music.”

So, what exactly is being recorded? The orchestra will re-record our current selection of synthesized tracks, including the kickstarter theme. We also have some new pieces, too. In all, we’ll be using one oboe, an english horn, and a full brass section, in addition to forty strings (violins, violas, bass, etc.), a full choir, a flute, a piccolo, a harp, and a mix of traditional and eclectic percussion.

We have plans to show you some footage from the recording, so stay tuned. And, again, thanks for making this a reality. We’re making awesome progress on the full release in the background, too, and we’ll be sharing more details on what’s to come in the near future.

Mac and Win 32 : Play now on Alpha!

With the release of our latest build, 50083, we now have official support for 32 bit variants of Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. Additionally, while we’ve had Macintosh builds going out for a few weeks now, today’s build marks a significant improvement in playability on Mac OS/X 10.7 and 10.8 – sorry, 10.6 is not supported, due to a combination of middleware compatibility issues and architectural design concerns. You can download Mac and Linux builds through Steam, or directly through this link (requires an alpha enabled account).

If you are part of the alpha, and haven’t played in a while, or have been waiting on one of these, now is the time to hop in! The game itself also continues to grow, gain more features, fix more bugs (and create a few new ones as we go), and is already a lot of fun to play.

If you’re not already in part of the alpha, you can upgrade existing early backing or orders at our store. If you just learned about the game, you can buy it at our store or through Steam.

Finally, we will be having a LiveStream this friday at 1PM (1300) Pacific Daylight Time. Please join us at http://twitch.tv/uberchannel to see the progress of the project so far!

The official build notes for 50083:

Planetary Annihilation

Current Build: 50083
Date: June 26th, 2013
  • Windows Versions: Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 (64 & 32 bit)
  • Mac OX/S: 10.7 & 10.8 – Please try again if you haven’t played in a while! Mac stability is drastically improved
  • Linux: Ubuntu 12.04 & 13.04 (And derivatives); See here for other distro’s that are working (Need alpha forum access)

If you are playing on Linux or Mac at this early stage, please join us on the forums for discussion and ongoing bug fixes. These builds are still very early. If you don’t wish to play through steam for them, you can download directly from http://uberent.com/launcher/padownloads – Mac and Linux only, these are full builds until we get our stand alone launcher working.

Build 50083:
  • 32 Bit Windows Support: Download the launcher or via steam, and the executable should automatically detect your OS, preferentially choosing 64 bit if available
  • Mac build should be significantly more playable now; Please report new problems to http://forums.uberent.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=73
  • Auto weapon tick sped up again
  • Subs should move now; Underwater is weird
  • Sound cues for various states (low metal, low energy, commander under attack, C and F to select commander/fabbers)
  • Balance changes
Some notes on known working distributions of Linux:
  • Ubuntu 12.04 / 13.04
  • Linux Mint 14 / 15
  • ArchLinux 64bit: Symlink libudev.so.1 to libudev.so.0 workaround still required
  • debian stable (wheezy) – newer libc6 needed
  • debian testing (jessie) – no modifications
  • Gentoo x64 with open-source radeon r600 driver — also ok. All the graphic stack is from the unstable (~) tree, mesa and LLVM from the git with the r600 LLVM compiler enabled. Apart from libudev fix — no special treatment was involved, just the standard 3D hardware support.

Planetary Biome Concepts – Updates

A quick update! We’ve gotten the high res version uploaded to our own servers, so now you can download it here.

We also created two variants of cover pictures for Facebook and Google +. One based off the forest biome, and another based on the arctic biome. They’re also big enough they’ll make awesome wallpapers for lower resolution screens!

In The Media

Well, it appears to be a week of writeups by some great gaming websites. First, on Wednesday afternoon, Rock, Paper Shotgun had the following to say:

Biomes! Double Craters! Height ranges! I apologise for shouting! This is totally cool, even for someone as RTS-unsavvy as I am. The Planetary Annihilation developers are very serious about the planets that make up the game’s maps, and have created the longest video ever to show you all the attributes players will have control over when they make their own planets.

You should read their full write up here: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/03/27/make-it-to-break-it-planetary-annihilations-creation-tech/

Next, the kind folks at PC Gamer followed up, taking the lead from RPS:

Planetary Annihilation creators Uber recently ran fans through the tools they’re using to develop the Kickstarter funded RTS. While the resulting hour-long video doesn’t feature any footage from the actual game, it’s full of in-engine insights into how the team’s tools are helping them build what looks to be a cleverly thought out strategy. Also: constant, slightly hilarious, iris wipe transitions. At least it wasn’t star wipes.

And their full write up is here: http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/03/28/planetary-annihilation-devs-show-planet-creation-tech-clever-unit-pathfinding/

Thanks to both for the nice nods to our LiveStream. Clearly, we’re always uncertain how talks that technical will go over in the community, but all the comments on the YouTube stream, on the articles, our forums, and on social media have been overwhelmingly positive. We know it is pretty unheard of for a team to go into this level of detail this early in development and we’re excited to be able to show these elements of our development.

Til next week, and we hope we see you on the forums!

Uber LiveStream: March 8th, 2013

Hey everyone,

Just in time for the weekend, here’s the archive of the LiveStream we did today. The overall breakdown is:

  • Outland Games Segment: Start til 52:50
    • Meet the team responsible for Outland Games, and get a 50 minute walk through of game development.
    • It’s not as easy as it looks! 🙂
  • Planetary Annihilation Segment: 52:50 to 1:15:00
    • Reviewing the greybox unit tests and the normal Q&A on the game
  • Bacon Segment: 1:15:00 til end
    • Bacon.

Watch the LiveStream:

Please also take a look at the blog for Outland Games: 30 Weeks of Game Development!

Have a great weekend everyone!