2019: Ramping Up for Kickstarter

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

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

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

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!