2019: Ramping Up for Kickstarter

Traist, Prince of Hochraun, leads his forces through a canyon in ambush.

Welcome to the first “monthly” update of the New Year! The first big announcement of the year: April 9, 2019, is the date we have chosen to launch our Kickstarter campaign. 🤘

Now, let’s take a look at what we’ve been up to over the past month (and a couple weeks…).

Procedural Environment v2

The “random” battlefield generation that debuted awhile back immediately improved the way Crystal Companies is played. In the past few weeks, however, battlefields have only gotten more dynamic and “flavorful.” Not only is our lead dev a savvy coder, he also brings an interest/knowledge in eco-regions/biomes/geomorphology, which help to inform the procedures used to generate battlefields that look and feel “right.” Day/night cycles, weather, and more refined terrain generation are some of the big areas that were introduced this month.

Environment 2.1

Since we drafted this post, we started to tweak aspects of how environments are generated—and folks noticed! Here are some of the highlights from the past week.

Thanks for the retweet Unity!
Thanks for the feature 80 LEVEL!

Getting in the Spirit: New Promo Art

Marta Nael’s latest commission for Boreal Games and Crystal Companies pictures the blue captain, Traist, Prince of Hochraun, responding to a unseen foe (a Roc? an ambush?) while patrolling the interior of a canyon with his royal guard.

Gameplay Experience Back on Track

In addition to having way too much fun improving the ways environments are generated, we also have streamlined gameplay and user experience in myriad ways, including a simplification of the resource system! Now only notes and crystal gathered from the environment factor into card costs.

That’s all for now. Stick around our social accounts for the next month or two—it should be a pretty active time!

If you haven’t already, follow us on Twitter, join our Discord server, and or like our Facebook page <3

End-of-Year Update: Bearing Gifts and Promises of Things to Come

A work-in-progress view of new models.

First off, loads of card and game changes were made over the last month. Check out Bradley’s update notes here.

Now for some more specific news and and an overview of the rear view, i.e. what we did this month and what 2018 brought in general for Crystal Companies‘ development.

Loading and Skirmish Preview Screens

It’s all new, and is a nice combination of form and function if I do say so myself.

New Models, A Long Time Coming

We mentioned these models for the first time several updates back. But they are finally finished and will be making their way into the game shortly! Big thanks to Océane Bidou for the great work. They will replace a large swath of wealth/yellow-type models. Here’s a small selection of what you can expect to see:

Quality-of-Life Things

Normally I’d either summarize or point you just to the technical update for these types of changes. But I want to highlight the extensive fixes/improvements Bradley made to the game this month, because each one makes a noticeable difference (while not necessarily jumping out at you when playing CrysCo–as it should be). Here’s the whole list:

  • Added tooltips for many pieces of the UI that explain functionality.
  • Simplified the hex info panel with name of terrain and elevation.
  • Added card movement sounds.
  • Updated the help and settings panel to align with current UI style.
  • Updated the tooltip to align with current UI style.
  • Redesigned the skirmish preview screen to show the battlefield being created (see above!).
  • Updated the radial menu to align with current UI style.
  • Added functionality to view card collection without loading a deck.
  • Polished map generation for creating fairer map areas.
  • Tweaked parts of the skirmish report so that player scores better reflect battle performance.
  • Corrected issues with gamma on images.
  • Fixed many performance issues with fog of war, deck editing, card movement, hex highlighting, and battlefield loading.
  • Fixed many grammatical errors with the ability text parser.

Whew! That’s a lot and, tbh, it makes me want to go play CrysCo now. Speaking of which, you can do so by joining our Discord server. Type !key when you get there, and Isa will bestow upon you a FREE Steam key that provides access to our current alpha version (which currently enables you to play with any card in the game!).

On the Horizon

2018 brought a slew of big improvements and a lot of teamwork–both within Boreal Games and between us and our talented artist contractors. Not only did the overall look of the game change drastically for the better, the way levels are built (through procedural generation) and the way players interact with that environment (updates to AI, card abilities, upgrades, and so on) all moved forward by leaps and bounds. As we move toward 2019, we are feeling #blessed. And though we still have a lot to accomplish–and challenges to overcome, to be sure–we are feeling thankful for the journey thus far.

In the next few months we will be focusing on community development and continuing to polish CrysCo. Your support has never meant more to us, by the way! This will entail adding a tad more art, playtesting, and promoting CrysCo across various channels.

Our big goal for the first part of the new year is to be ready by February to run our long-anticipated Kickstarter campaign. We will announce loud and clear as soon as we have hard details to share. In the meantime, if you have any bright ideas about how we can reach our audience (you) better, please let us know!

Finally, please follow our development on Twitter (https://twitter.com/boreal_games), join our Discord (http://www.cryscogame.com), and of course check out our weekly dev streams on Twitch (http://twitch.tv/crystalcompanies) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrPErTjd4IjAbY8VjTCrjeA).

Thanks for reading–see you next year (get it?).

Winter Begins, Work Continues

Winter is coming / here, and we are hunkering down, keeping warm next to our PC towers and basking in the white monitor glow while the snow falls outside. As nice as that sounds, it also means we are still cranking out updates to Crystal Companies. Community building and onboarding are of chief concern these days, as well as general improvements to UI and card mechanics across the board. Read below for the past month’s highlights.

Tutorial

The most substantial change to CrysCo’s alpha version (get your free Steam key from our Discord channel!) is the new tutorial. Ahead of applying to various gaming conventions, Bradley went all out to make sure that new players would be able to get acclimated in an engaging way.

On a similar note, the main menu received a few tweaks that make it cleaner and easier to navigate.

Environment Changes

The environments keep getting better and better looking (which is appreciably harder to do each time). Here are a few screenshots that show (better than I can tell) what I am talking about. (Of course, these are only a couple of virtually limitless cool battlefield views you can expect to see!)

UX/UI

We are steadily ticking items off the long list of minor fixes that need to be made to move us closer to a flawlessly streamlined UX (we can dream). One of the most noticeable changes has not been implemented yet–a new card design–but here is a sneak peek.

Game Changes

Don’t get caught by surprise like I was in the middle of a skirmish–read  Bradley’s update notes post.  Some of my favorite changes occurred in Intellect, with the addition of a new turret and balances that favor structure strategies.

On The Horizon

In the next month, aside from some much-needed holiday-related distractions, we will be continuing to chip away at our desire for a UX/UI masterpiece while attempting to find new players, improve playability, and fight through the dark winter days. Also, look forward to new art as we approach our expected Kickstarter launch date! (Which we hope will be sometime in the early spring of next year!)

As always, head over to our Twitter and/or Discord server to receive the latest updates.

The Creppy/Spoopy Monthly Update

A picture of the new 3D menu screen

Hello all, and welcome to the October Crystal Companies monthly update. Since our last post, we have implemented a slew of sweet upgrades into the game. If you haven’t yet, join our Discord channel so you can get your very own alpha Steam key! Find the scary-good update details (if I do say so myself) below.

🎃 👻 🍬

Marketplace, Investments, and Main Menu Screen

There have been a few major substantive changes to the user interfaces of the game that also happen to be cosmetically and experientially noticeable as well.

First off, the marketplace and investment windows have been removed, and their functionality (or at least the parts deemed to be relevant) have been rolled into interactions within the environment itself. Now when you claim build sites, you receive certain universal upgrades specific to the structures you build.

Second, the main menu screen received an interesting overhaul–now, instead of a 2D menu, there is a 3D scene that makes navigation more intuitive (we hope!).

An image of Crystal Companies' 3D main menu screen

(Try it out for yourself–get a Steam key here.)

Hand UI

Will made several major upgrades to the hand UI, making it smoother and more functional overall. This short video demonstrates these changes:

New Standard Maps

The cat’s out of the bag: in addition to the procedurally generated “unknown” (random) map feature that was added recently, there are now also a number of new standard maps.

Not only that, but some of these maps include entirely new interactable units like boats, and bears, and boars (oh my!).

On the Horizon

We hope you will be our guests and test out some of the big changes coming to Crystal Companies over the next few months. Lately we’ve added a new stream to our Twitch schedule (http://twitch.tv/crystalcompanies), played a bunch of community matches (more to come), and been to some really fun local events (also more to come). As always, check out our Twitter for intermittent updates (and Discord of course). Have a creppy/spoopy month!

 

Things Fall into Place

rock pile

It’s not quite fall, but things are coming together nicely as summer concludes. Not only are the procedurally generated battlefields improving daily, but the visual style of Crystal Companies is cohering nicely as well. Progress and plans for the future abound in this end-of-summer/beginning-of-fall update!

Procedural Generation: The Latest

This video shows some of the most recent developments on the map-generation front in Crystal Companies (of course, to see the very latest you should just get yourself a Steam alpha key from our Discord server!).

Environmental Assets

Here are the latest results from Johnny Halcyon’s hard work!

yellow longspur lupine purple longspur lupine rock pile matgrass

QoL

As usual, there were so many improvements this month–too many to mention here. However, Brad’s devblog post catalogs them in detail here.

I’ll mention a few highlights:

  • Battlefield shapes are diversified and will likely become archetypes in addition to random map options
  • Many stock structure models have been improved across Wealth (yellow) and Intellect (orange)
  • Card glow (which indicates playable cards in hand) is now amplified

On the Horizon

The next month includes preparing for Granite State Comic Con (and probably a few more events that we will tell you about later!) and polishing Crystal Companies’ game mechanics and UX/UI. Both of these major initiatives should result in a smoother onboarding experience for new players and increased functionality across the game. Needless to say, these are exciting times!

As an end note, don’t forget to like us on Facebook–where we’ve begun a new series called “Procedural Map Monday” wherein we post games played on procedurally generated maps–and follow us on Twitter, Twitch for Wednesday-night dev streams, and hop onto our Discord server to chat and/or get a FREE Steam alpha key!

Mid-Summer Update: 2018 Edition

Summer is in full swing, and since our last post, the BG team has implemented a bunch of user-facing improvements and features–see for yourself! (Read on below and/or hop into our Discord to get an alpha Steam key.)

Introducing: Saen Sure-Shot

Of the captain models we wanted to commission pre-Kickstarter, Saen was at the top of the list. Now her new model is implemented in-game!

Saen is a unique personality and no stock model could come close to doing her character justice. In addition, Yellow/Wealth is the only one of the sub-crystal types to not have two playable captains currently. Thanks again to Micah Masbaum for working with us and producing this awesome model! (Next up: rigging and animating!)

Procedurally Generated Maps

Last month at Port Con we debuted a test version of the “random” map selection feature. Not only was it surprisingly fun, it was a bit too random! In addition to dialing the craziness down (in a good way) we also augmented the experience with the first pieces of a whole batch of new environment models and textures.


As you can see in the video, map size, terrain and terrain effects, water features (with a new build site type: dock), elevation, and even AI creatures and win-condition are randomized in this mode!

(Check out that grass! More environment updates to come from Johnny Halcyon.)

Shop

That’s right: DLC will someday be available for purchase. For the time being, the implementation of a functioning shop is more of a backend win (integration with Steam, a user-friendly menu system, all new currencies, etc.), but down the road expect an appealing storefront for redeeming in-game currency as well as cash for in-game items, including packs of cards and aesthetic changes! (Just for the record, we aim to release CrysCo as a FTP game that will always reward skill above monetary investment.)

On the Horizon

As always, check out Brad’s latest update notes post to see a comprehensive list of game changes and technical tweaks from the last month. We have plenty more coming down the pipe (especially visuals and functionality improvements).

With another month in the books, we hope to continue to hear from you about what you would like to see happen in Crystal Companies as far as game improvements and community engagement–hit us up on Twitter, during our Wednesday Twitch stream, and as always on Discord. We have a Facebook page, too if you want to give us a “like!”

 

Sum Sum Summertime

It’s been a minute since we wrote our last update–for good reason: we’ve been busy! SUMmer output is adding up…

Technical Improvements

Last update we announced the reintroduction of deck-building. Now we have the foundation set for player inventory and shop functionality!  MENUS!!! All of this is integrated with Steam, so we will be able to quickly roll these features out when CrysCo launches.

Also, a reconnect feature has been added and is live now. Look for more robust random map features in the near future, too.

As always, there will be more to come on this front, but in the meantime, you can check out our latest dev blog post for a more detailed breakdown of in-game changes that occurred recently.

Art

Here’s a first-look at a new captain! Saen Sure-Shot will be the next main to be finished a playable. We are super pumped to be working with yet another inspiring artist and we hope to have a final version of Saen to show off soon!

As for other Crystal Companies art initiatives mentioned last time: all that and more is coming your way soon!

Last but not least…

The Boreal Games team is heading to PortCon in Portland, Maine, this weekend! If you’re local, come by and say ‘hi’ and/or pick up a poster!

On the Horizon

To sum it up, the past month marked the end of one sprint and the start of another. A lot of behind-the-scenes work was accomplished, and more front-facing work is coming down the pike. Stay tuned and be sure to jump into Discord to let us know what you think and get a free alpha steam key if you haven’t already!

 

 

 

Finally!

A wild new feature appears! Deck-building is back and better than ever. Check it out for yourself by:

1) joining our Discord server (discord.crystalcompanies.me)

2) typing !key in chat

3) redeeming the Steam key you receive and downloading CrysCo.

Now, for those who prefer it, read on below about our progress over the last month and a half.

Deck-Building Functionality

Here is a video that will do a better job than I can of describing what has been added to the game:

Worth noting about the current iteration of the deck-building capabilities:

  • Each player has been temporarily given the full library of available cards.
  • You can now create fully customized decks.
  • Searching and filtering a collection can be done via the filter buttons or search field at the bottom of the deck editing view.

Card Updates

To see a full list of recent card updates, head over to our Dev Blog.

In summary, a lot of interesting updates have been made to Intellect (orange) and Wealth (yellow) so maybe that’s where you should start when building your first deck?

Art

After receiving some amazing new art (featured in the new build of the game!) we have already begun commissioning art of another kind: new models! This should include not only a new captain character but also updates to the environment assets. Expect to see more on this front over the next month or so. Some models already in the pipeline (see previous monthly updates) should reach completion relatively soon as well!

On the Horizon

This month ended the first big sprint of the year for the Boreal Games Team. We successfully re-implemented the deckbuilding screen. But we are already hard at work on the next one! No spoilers yet, but a hint is in order: check the new nav and you can begin to guess what features are coming next. This series of sprints is meant to culminate in a (successful?) Kickstarter, so as you follow along, we’d love to hear ways we can continue to improve the game and help build our community’s interest!

P.S. one more time: if you want to play CrysCo, join the Discord 🙂

discord.crystalcompanies.me

 

What Spring is Bringing

The Crysco demo continues to evolve, and it becomes more exciting to play every day (get your alpha Steam key in our Discord server if you haven’t already!). That said, we are also doing work outside of the game to improve visibility and grow the community. As we head toward summertime, we will be putting the finishing touches on the look and feel of the game alongside technical updates. Here’s what happened this month!

New Art

Another Marta Nael piece reached completion this month! We teased this concept art last month, but the final version is here. Expect to see this piece worked into CrysCo’s in-game menu system soon.

Game Changes

  • Added a new ability called Adamantine (cannot be dealt more than one damage).
  • Added a new ability called Water Walking (can move and land on water spaces).
  • All skirmish reports are sent to each client at the end of the match.
  • Updated market so that trading from native to crystal resource can be done with any combination of 5 native resource.
  • Changed maps to improve the balance of resources and general navigability
  • Lots of QoL changes, which can be seen in depth in the update notes!

New Cards

Over the past couple of months we’ve completely overhauled Wealth/Yellow cards. The emphasis with this group of cards was always on attacking and comboing off of it. Expect more explosiveness when playing Wealth–literally and figuratively!

Also getting a big update is Intellect/Orange. More utility cards, structures, and synergy across spells, creatures, and structures is the focus here.

We will be periodically tackling each cohort of cards in order to better balance and define the play style associated with them.

PortCon

This year Boreal Games will be exhibiting at PortCon in Portland, Maine. We are very excited to be attending because, as far as we know, it’s the only convention of its kind in Maine. We hope to see you June 21-24!

Find out more about PortCon here: http://portconmaine.com/site/

Streaming

The entire team has returned to semi-regularly streaming! Catch us on Wednesday nights around 5:30 EST: www.twitch.tv/crystalcompanies

On the Horizon

A few months back I mentioned that we will be reintroducing a core feature–deck building–back into the game; this is still happening! A lot needed to be done to ready this feature for reintegration–and many other auxiliary systems have to be considered at the same time. All of this to say, soon is a relative term! All I can say for sure is: if you follow us on Twitter, Twitch, and/or are present in our Discord server, you will be the first to know when CrysCo’s next big feature arrives!

Until next month! Thanks for reading.

Spoiler Alert! Cards are in the Cards

Last month I hinted at a new/old feature’s (re)appearance in CrysCo. Spoiler alert: it’s not ready yet! But don’t despair–this month was packed with progress (but of course you already knew that because you’re following along in our Discord community). New cards, updates, and fixes abounded in February and into March. And some of us are improving at actually playing the game as evinced by this tasty “S” rank (though double S’s have been reported, they have not been substantiated with photographic proof).

Game Changes and Quality of Life Updates

The game is evolving at a rapid clip! You can get your own Steam key and play along by joining us on Discord (link in intro), but here are some highlights from this month:

  • The marketplace feature has been standardized and is now available at any point in a skirmish
  • Crystal is now generated at a lower rate but can be acquired in new and interesting ways, including through investments and in the environment
  • Individual hexes can be selected and now have specific characteristics (terrain at this juncture is merely aesthetic but could take on additional properties in the future…)
  • Outlines delineate active from passive abilities, and icons have been applied in a more coherent way across the board
  • And much, much more. In fact, there was not one but two significant updates over the past month.

Card Updates and a Word (or several) on Lore

The initial set of cards in CrysCo has seen countless iterations, and it is still evolving–the beauty of a dynamic card game is that this will always be the case to some extent. However, revision is being supplanted by a solid foundation in many cases. Here is a brief overview of the current state of each available crystal type and the cards aligned with them:

Spirit (Blue)

Representing a fractured northern kingdom and aligned with the crystal strain known as “seplaem,” the Hochraun remnants, Old North clans, and Menhiran Order band together for team-oriented gameplay.

  • Creatures work in tandem to overcome an opponent; keystone abilities include “faithful” (disseminating boons to nearby allies on ally entering the skirmish) and inspired (which works on the same mechanic but is a self-buff)
  • Spells augment clusters of creatures’ ability to survive (healing, protection, overshield, toughness) and act quickly (i.e. zeal, agility, and move range).
    • Banners are spells unique to spirit that can only be played around a creature
  • Structures are few and far between in spirit, meaning that population capacity is a major concern for such a creature-heavy style of play

Wealth (Yellow)

Alom is the currency crystal of Masteria, the primary setting of Crystal Companies. The Alomian Isles–so named because of the mines and commerce this confederacy is known for–are rife with pirates, mercenaries, and rogues, each with their own style of fighting and deceiving. This confederacy provides a rich tapestry of individual cards from which to choose–just don’t expect them to be individually balanced or come with a lack of risk to the battlefield.

  • Spells are scant in wealth, but unlike spirit, siege units augment the reliance on creatures–population capacity remains a resource to balance as siege is affected by it
  • Speaking of creatures, wealth consists of ranged gunpowder units, fighters that vary in ability based on attacking, and units with inherent zeal (movement on first turn in play). Wealth’s creatures are explosive–literally and figuratively
  • Siege and traps give wealth an edge in allowing them to clear the battlefield of enemies, albeit in a fairly risky fashion (usually involving blowing things up)

Intellect (Orange)

The Stadian Empire controls most of Masteria, including a vast walled city networked with Zligen crystal energy hubs that enable the deployment of defense mechanisms and transportation via warp-portals. Domination is an exercise in strategic thinking for the Stadians.

  • Structures and spells make up the majority of an intellect-based arsenal.
    • Turrets are immobile but provide support, visibility, and act as a deterrent to enemies in an area
    • Spells act to disrupt and immobilize enemies, and also enable the creation of temporary fighters in the form of zligen constructs
  • Creatures in intellect are typically utilitarian–building structures, scouting new areas, and capturing waypoints
  • Siege in intellect is a minor element but a formidable one–the siege zeppelin is a prime example

Nature (Green)

The Forestal region of Masteria is a semi-autonomous region that is defined by its sprawling wilderness. Different regions in nature represent individual strengths, but the commonalities across the cards–from the Deeproot jungle-dwellers to the Terran resistance fighters to the protectors of the Grove–is that they are adapted to environments of all kinds.

  • Plants are a unique sub-type in nature that can be structures or creatures. Plants can be food, materials, or even fighters
  • Creatures are diverse in nature too: humans fight alongside reptiles, arachnids, birds, and more. Native is a core mechanic of nature creatures, and flying is also a common trait. Poison plays an outsized role, as do abilities like territorial and evolve (wherein creatures act when enemies move in range and when creatures change in size and abilities over time, respectively)
  • Spells in nature play a mid-sized role, by and large serving to boost the vigor of plants and creatures alike

In the future, we hope to offer a glossary of lore and game mechanic terms as well as a complete card list. Currently, you can look up in-game cards by using a command in our Discord channel, which is also where you can access the game and discover new cards through playing the game itself.

On the Horizon

The functionality of Crystal Companies will continue to develop in the coming months. We invite you to join our Discord server to help with testing, give feedback, and hang out. New features will also be appearing/reappearing in the near future, as previously hinted at. So keep an ear to the ground! Or something like that.

P.S. Here’s a sneak peak at some new concept art coming soon!