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!

 

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!