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Uber Weekly Update – July 21, 2014

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There’s a new kind of excitement worming its way through the studio, its warm tendrils slowly latching on to every single member of the team. We’re embracing the embrace; in the last few days, we’ve finalized our plans for the release of Planetary Annihilation and we’re giddily hacking away at what we need to do in order to deliver the polished, refined, and streamlined 1.0 version of the game on our own schedule.

From top to bottom, the 1.0 release of Planetary Annihilation will run leaner, faster, and look better. Our crew of engineers and programmers are pushing hard to improve the overall user experience by making the client and server run more smoothly. Take a trip to our office and you’ll hear the steady clack of keyboards, as brave coders clean blemishes and chew away at technical debt.

In the last couple of PTE builds, you’ve witnessed some of their work in making the game faster. You’ve also probably noticed extensive graphical and user interface improvements. New and more stunning particle effects are breathing a whole new life into Commander and nuclear explosions. New game screens and various menus have also been introduced.

The 1.0 release will also hit digital and store shelves with new features and mechanics, one of which is available. In our GiantBomb interview, we mentioned we really liked the idea of allowing you to spawn anywhere on a map instead of in a pre-selected spot. This is now in the game. We like what it brings to the table: spawning wherever brings a new kind of swagger, a new kind of intensity that foreshadows the sprawling, massive battles that Planetary Annihilation is all about.

What’s “Finished,” Really?

 

What’s finished anyway? It’s a question Jon Mavor brings up a lot when we talk about the 1.0 build. In a lot of ways, we see 1.0 as just the beginning of the story: a rocking sentence that hooks you for an entire novel. We plan to support PA for a long time, creating new content as quickly as possible to keep the action interesting. Sometimes, when we daydream at our desks, we think about all the new things we can bring to the game after this push.

So, all this is to say that 1.0 is coming, but that doesn’t mean we’re “done.” It’s just the beginning — and we can’t wait to take you on the ride.

Toy Rush Content Update

 

Did you know? Our mobile title, Toy Rush [Free], received a massive content update earlier this month. Around the office, we’ve been calling it the “League Update.” As you can imagine, it rolls in the concept of leagues to the game. As you play and smash players’ bases to bits, you receive medals. These medals, in turn, place you higher and higher up ladders. Want to be the best? Prove it. And, now, show it.

We also introduced two new cards into the game to flesh out battle a bit more. The Block Totem is a really useful new defensive item that blocks the use of action cards. It also heals nearby towers, fortifying your defenses even more.

Our other new card? It’s called The Focus Fire card. With it, you can instruct every toy in play to fire on a specific target. Have a tower that’s been causing you problems? Get this card, set your target, and watch it burn under a delicious onslaught.

We’re working on another update to Toy Rush, too, which will bring some more challenges, bug fixes, and niftier options to the table.

And Now For Some Questions

 

Where are my rewards?

We appreciate the continued patience. After launch, we’ll get your backer rewards out to you. I just saw the t-shirts the other day; they look incredible. Prepare yourselves!

Will we see more livestreams in the future?

Absolutely. We’re moving offices soon and plan to add a few new treats to the set.

I see you guys are working on some fantastic effects, specially explosions. Are there plans to make a planet deteriorate the longer war goes on? Just to give a few examples, nukes changing atmosphere color and perhaps deforming the terrain slowly or planet smashes transforming planets into molten lava planets.

Just passed this one by Ben. His eyes lit up. I assume he’s rubbing his hands together, thinking about the possibilities.

When will we see leaderboards and matchmaking?

This is a post-1.0 kind of thing. We’d love to add ladders, matchmaking, a ranking system — basically everything you need to play Planetary Annihilation competitively.

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The Second Round of Cloak And Danger Starts Now!

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Hit this Twitch link! The second week of Cloak and Danger has begun. Today’s events include a total of three free-for-alls with dynamic alliances turned on. Twelve players will enter but only three will advance to the final day’s legendary free-for-all. Last week was filled with secret alliances and not-so-secret betrayals. Can this week top it?

You can view today’s events at our Twitch.TV page. To see the brackets, upcoming matches and view stats check out Exodus E-Sports’ awesome landing site for Cloak and Danger.

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The First Round Of Cloak And Danger Is LIVE

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Sit down, buckle up, and hit this Twitch link. The first day of Cloak and Danger, the second official Planetary Annihilation tournament, has started. Today’s events include a total of four free-for-alls with dynamic alliances turned on. Sixteen players will enter but only four will advance to the final day’s legendary free-for-all.

You can view today’s events at our Twitch.TV page. To see the brackets, upcoming matches and view stats check out Exodus E-Sports’ awesome landing site for Cloak and Danger.

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Cloak And Danger Starts Tomorrow, Get In Now

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On June 11, at 11AM Pacific time, 16 of the best Planetary Annihilation players will be squaring off in a legendary free-for-all tournament full of tricks, intrigue, and maybe even a little treachery.

And there’s one more open spot.

The time for Cloak and Danger is close, folks! But, we’d figure we throw a monkeywrench into the works right before kick-off. After all, what’s a tournament about backstabbing without a pre-game surprise?

We’re offering up the last spot in Cloak and Danger to someone reading this. The catch? If you want this spot, you’ll have to give us the next name for the T1 tank. Head over to this message board thread and reply with your name. At the end of the day today, we will pull the best name and award that player an invite to the tournament.

Don’t forget to catch the first four games in Cloak and Danger tomorrow at 11AM Pacific on our Twitch.TV page. Adam and ZaphodX will kick off the event, discuss the matches, and show all of the high-octane action. Be there!

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Announcing Cloak And Danger, The Next Official Planetary Annihilation Tournament

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Sixteen of the most dangerous Planetary Annihilation players are about to square off in a legendary tournament full of suspicion, intrigue, and treachery.

Uber Entertainment is proud to announce Cloak and Danger, the second official Planetary Annihilation tournament. Taking place every Friday in July starting this July 11, Cloak and Danger is a series of free-for-alls where alliances can be formed — and broken — at any point during a match. Only one out of the tournament’s 16 players will walk out the winner. How many people will they have crossed to get to the top?

The tournament will be broadcasted on Uber Entertainment’s Twitch.TV channel and dual-casted by community members from Exodus E-Sports. The first day’s games on July 11 begin at 11AM PST. Be there!

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Planetary Annihilation: Early Access Edition Hits Retail!

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We’ve got a special announcement to share today: Planetary Annihilation is now available in stores across the world.

As part of our partnership with Nordic Games, we’ve released a boxed version of the game called Planetary Annihilation: Early Access Edition. In stores now, Early Access Edition offers all the content the current digital version has, but delivered in a way that fans who prefer the brick-and-mortar experience can enjoy.

Owners of Early Access Edition will receive free updates and eventually will receive the game’s “full” update when Planetary Annihilation releases later this year. The new pack-in Armalisk Commander is pretty cool, too.

Fans around the globe have expressed interest in a boxed version of our work-in-progress title. Whether it’s because they prefer having something physical to go along with their purchases or they enjoy the perks of retail, we’re happy to get this out to them.

And now for a bit of Q&A:

Where’s my game box or USB key?

We’ll be getting these out to you after Planetary Annihilation ships this year. Thanks a ton for your patience, and we think you’re going to love the packaging.

Wait, what’s the release date?

We’re close. Planetary Annihilation launches in 2014.

Can people also order this box online?

Yep! Check out Amazon!

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The Planetary Annihilation Soundtrack Has Arrived!

PA_soundtrack_cover_A_1000x1000Strap in. Planetary Annihilation’s epic orchestral soundtrack is now available to download — and, of course, it’s free to all of our dear supporters.

Planetary Annihilation’s original score was mixed and composed by our in-house audio engineer Howard Mostrom. The score’s soothing strings, soaring tones, and next-level percussion were performed by the Northwest Sinfonia and Chorale. Overall, the record boasts 26-tracks and over an hour’s worth of powerful sound.

We’re sending out invites to get your free copy of the soundtrack in waves, so check your e-mail. Once you receive it, follow the simple instructions and claim your copy. You should be receiving it shortly. Stay tuned!

If you who want an early taste of what to expect or want to see Howard at work, check out this video of our recording session (which also features a track from the original score):

Additionally, the soundtrack is available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and many other popular music streaming services. Check it out today!

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Weekly Update: Combat Balance, Mods, And Galactic War

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Two designers walk into a conference room. This isn’t a setup for a knee-slapping video game development joke. This is a Tuesday at Uber Entertainment, and these two designers are beginning an enormous task: another combat balance pass.

In the past, we’ve generally balanced by feel. Today, we’re diving more deeply into the raw numbers behind a lot of the units and interactions in the game. We’re looking at how much metal an army costs and if it can pulverize a more expensive one of equal size. We’re thinking about the power of flame tanks and if it should be where it is. We’re wondering about health values, DPS, and other factors that make Planetary Annihilation’s combat epic and satisfying and then we’re going to make it even more epic and satisfying.

The game is being played on a massive projector in the conference room. You watch the same battles over and over again, units gliding back and forth in a deadly dance. The destruction stops when someone needs to make a note or double-check a spreadsheet. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a variable or two changed on the fly and tested.

Balance is a process. And we expect to have something new for you in the near future.

Meanwhile …

 

Mods have always been an integral part of the vision for Planetary Annihilation, and earlier last week we took another step towards getting folks the access they need to make incredible content.

Transient server mods allow you to enable cheats and adjust health and damage values. You can also do something hilarious like, say, make bomb bot explosions nuclear. This week, we’re focusing on squashing some bugs with transient mods before looking at the next step at making Planetary Annihilation more customizable.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with! Go ahead and poke your head in the mod discussion board if you’d like to join in on the conversation — and grab a couple amazing mods while you’re there.

Outside of mods and balance, we’re working on a couple of smaller updates that’ll make Galactic War, and the game as a whole, run faster and play even better. This work will continue into next week, as another part of the team continues with big rock features.

A lot of changes and improvements are coming your way! Stay tuned to us on the forums, Twitter, and Facebook for the latest Planetary Annihilation updates. And stay tuned for our next special community event, which will revolve around Galactic War.

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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!

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The Galactic War Begins!

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We’re so, so stoked to say this: today, we’re releasing the first iteration of Galactic War, Planetary Annihilation’s single-player experience. Available now as a free update, Galactic War tasks you with taking over a dynamic galaxy by scouring the stars for tech and special perks.

In Galactic War, you’ll be placed in control of a reawakened Commander with access to a limited tech tree. As you explore and battle across the galaxy’s procedurally generated systems, you’ll collect random technology and find perks that boost your manufacturing and fighting capabilities.

We designed Galactic War to be replayable, and for every playthrough to feel different. We also want you to decide the scale and intensity: each of Galactic War’s sizes change how many systems are in the galaxy and introduce different loadouts.

And the pressure’s on. Annihilation is final.

This is the start of Galactic War . Much like with the game as a whole, you can expect updates that will add new features, mechanics, and more.

Get out there, already — and experience Galactic War over and over and over again.