January: A Journey of 1,000 miles…

Over the past month, a lot of minor tweaks and incremental upgrades added up to proverbial leaps and bounds in terms of improvement to CrysCo alpha.

Grab a free alpha Steam key from our Discord channel, and while you’re there, let us know what you think!

New Models on the Way

Much of what we accomplished this month can be perused in more detail over in the update notes. (We weren’t sure you’d want to read about the awesome networking upgrades Brad made, but you can if you want!)

However, we are nearing completion of some new models! Here is a preview:

3D models of a new Wealth character
By the talented Océane Bidou, https://www.artstation.com/ocnbidou
Another nearly complete Wealth character modeled in 3D
By the talented Océane Bidou, https://www.artstation.com/ocnbidou

Gameplay Changes

We made a few major changes to rules inside of skirmishes this month, including:

  • Units now enter that battlefield with a condition called “Fatigue.” Units with fatigue cannot attack or move. Fatigue will last for one turn. “Zeal” is a mechanic that exempts units from the fatigue condition (like “haste” in MTG). We did this to ensure that first turns would not favor decks with large move ranges over others.
  • Blockers now only attack back if they have health greater than zero after the initial attacker damage. Attacks no longer occur simultaneously (all attackers now essentially have what we called “agile” before, whereas “agile” now has more niche use-cases). This makes combat more intuitive visually and adds more depth to combat interactions.
  • Tweaks to line-of-sight and crystal cost have been made to many cards. Investments require increased crystal expenditure and with smaller maps, these changes help to balance the in-skirmish economy.

Quality of Life

Brad made loads of QoL updates this month. Here are a few highlights, but these are best experienced by playing the alpha version for yourself!

  • Hovering over a unit will now display its current movement range.
  • Some hex highlights have been updated to be less jarring.
  • The status menu showing number of cards in hand, graveyard, population, and cards left now glow when any of the numbers of updated.
  • Population and hand size now turn red if they are at max capacity.
  • Dedicated market and investment window buttons have been added over the deck/population status panel.

New Hotkeys and Settings

Last but not least, we made some additions to make the game more customizable (fyi: the settings window is now reachable no matter where you are in the game! So, customize away!) to each player’s preference / setup. These include:

  • Page Down/Up now zooms the camera in/out.
  • Numpad +/- now zooms the camera in/out.
  • The option to enable/disable tutorial was added to the settings window.
  • The option to auto-confirm movement was added to the settings window.

GIFs

Since this month’s update is so text-heavy, here are some videos that highlight some basic aspects of the game–we hope to make more soon (in the form of easy-to-post GIFs) to reflect the most current look of the game.

On the Horizon

That’s all for this month, folks. We look forward to wowing you next month as Brad tackles a major revamp of a core feature that hasn’t been seen in CrysCo for about a year 😉 Stay tuned, and don’t forget to take the alpha for a test-drive!

2018 Initiatives (Alpha!) & 2017 Recap

December flew by, what with the holidays and constantly adding new content to CrysCo’s alpha version. January is already off to a great start, and we’re just now getting around to posting a recap of our progress during the end of 2017 into 2018. If you haven’t already, join our Discord channel to begin playing Crystal Companies’ alpha debut today!

Here is a quick demo of what the game is looking like these days:

Nature Revamp

The Nature faction received a much-needed overhaul over the past month. The characteristic features of nature cards–environmental primacy, growth over time, and synergies between plants, spells, and creatures–have been emphasized and retooled for a much more defined play-feel. Plants in particular play a much bigger role with this update.

Population Capacity

The newly added population rule effectively creates another resource for players to manage during a skirmish. Instead of being able to indiscriminately play creature cards, a player must now balance their “pop cap” along with the cost of deploying a creature contract. Population does not impact structures or traps, but it does impact spells that produce creatures #makessense.

Investments

Last month, we revealed the investments feature. Further revisions now enable players to craft a more nuanced strategy over the course of a skirmish with better-defined investment lines and tiers:

  • The Infrastructure line offers investments upgrading population capacity, hand capacity, and health and armor of your structures and support operations.
  • The Military line offers investments upgrading a variety of attributes for your creatures such as attack, armor, and movement speed.
  • The Economy line offers investments upgrading resource generation and card acquisition.
  • Each investment costs purely crystal resource and only one investment of each line can be purchased each turn.

 

UX/UI Additions

UX changes this past month included a skirmish preview (which highlights you and your opponent’s captains and provides a random preview of cards from each player’s deck before the skirmish begins), toggle options in player settings for both the hex grid overlay and for health bars, as well as a sidebar that displays battle notes (in case you are ever wondering why a creature gets defeated or a spell doesn’t produce the result you expected).

New Hotkeys

New hotkeys were also added, and are as follows (by default):

  • Q: go to previous ally.
  • E: go to next ally.
  • R: go to next movable ally.
  • T: go to next attack-ready ally.
  • V: go to next visible enemy.
  • Escape: open game menu/settings.
  • Spacebar: confirm action.

New Map – Taru Quarry

Set in an old and overrun crystal mining quarry, Taru Quarry is a new map that is easy to wall and defend. Anima and thieves stalk the two outer lanes and there is a build-site in the center that is not easily accessible without Native or Flying.  Rock rubble will impede movement in the early game but are breakable barriers, which makes traversing a bit easier in the late game. Before the encampment was overrun, crystal was exposed but not yet mined.  You’ll find a giant crystal face on the right side of the map that fragments crystal every time your units hit it.

QoL

Many quality of life tweaks have been made over the past month and a half. Do check out our December and January update notes for all the gritty details! Or just grab a steam key from our Discord channel and experience them for yourself!

On the Horizon

The biggest focus for us in the near-term (which we hope will culminate in a successful Kickstarter campaign in the long-term) is community development. We have made much headway in ensuring Crystal Companies is not only fun, but also consistently smooth and exciting over many plays.

Without players’ feedback about the recent major changes, however, it becomes increasingly hard to improve the alpha version. We just can’t be sure what people want until we give it to them. So, if you or someone you know loves the idea of playing a turn-based 3D card game in an alpha-state, please grab a steam key from our Discord channel! Just type !key when you get there.

In addition to spreading the word about CrysCo’s alpha being available, we at Boreal Games will be working on re-integrating all-important features like deck construction, card acquisition, and collection management over the coming months.

We are more excited than ever to hear what you have to say about Crystal Companies and for what lies ahead for us and the community!

 

 

 

 

Movember (Momentus November) & New Demo!

There were a lot of reasons to be thankful this year. 2017 definitely has had its setbacks, but here at Boreal Games we are feeling predominantly cheerful as we head into December. The overall focus of this past month was to refine and simplify many of the existing features of Crystal Companies. In the end, we launched a new demo of the game! Read on to peruse our progress or skip to the end to find out how to get the latest demo!

Dynamic Cards

We have been very happy with Will’s initial card design (created circa 2016) but it hadn’t been touched recently whereas the rest of the UI has steadily improved. This month we have revamped the card design to reflect the current UI style and have integrated the real-time model view on the card itself!

The new dynamic card functionality has been a long time coming. This feature is brand new so we’re still working out the kinks. That said, we’re pleased it’s finally implemented!

Simpler Maps

Two new maps have been added to the game. The wasteland/arena map we used for playtesting (which was massive and complicated) has been archived. These simplified maps emphasize environmental strategy and communicate tactical advantages more succinctly to players.

Drake Isle

This map, while quite small, has very narrow lanes and is generally hard to traverse. Players can win in the traditional way–via destroying the opponent’s Command Post–or they can break into the tomb of the Crypt Ancient and battle for a magical talisman. Holding the talisman for four turns will mean victory, but a unit that is killed while holding the talisman will drop it for anyone to pick up.

islands map
Several islands separate you and your foe. Surge forward into battle or search a forgotten tomb for a powerful amulet.

Frontier Plains

This map is bigger than Drake Isle and is wide open–however, AI creatures do roam in the middle. Resource is abundantly available from Crystal Anima, Crystal Formations, and from controlling the Frontier Mine. A marketplace stands on the other side of a river for easy trading.

 

plains map
Make your way onto the open frontier to gather resource under fire from frontier turrets and threat of death by a demented mine captain.

Character Models: Frontier Soldier

Our friend Milly finished some sweet new models for us, which will be making their way into the game soon! Here’s a closer look:

“Investments”

Our goal has always been to integrate some sort of economy management system into the gameplay of Crystal Companies. We previously automatically upgraded a player’s crystal generation over time with the “warm up” feature (what does that even mean???) but have now replaced that mechanic with one that makes a bit more sense while also upping the ante strategy-wise.

The newly implemented investments window enables more nuanced decision-making around how to balance your company’s economic trajectory over the course of a skirmish. Investments are permanent upgrades, impacting resource generation, number of cards drawn, and unit combat ability. This feature is in its first iteration, and will likely be refined, but it has proved to be a big stride so far in providing players more interesting and creative ways to balance their resources.

Demo Revamp & Release

For anyone who hasn’t been following our development from the beginning, we have made the game available at various junctures for testing purposes before. We are making it available again to anyone with Discord and Steam accounts (so if you haven’t got one or both, you should 😉 ). Crystal Companies is still pre-alpha, but we feel, for the first time, playing the demo will be more for the fun of it than for finding bugs! #yay

How to get CrysCo’s latest demo:

  1. Join our Discord community using this link (even if you don’t have an account yet): https://discord.gg/Gv4gwRp
  2. Type !key in the “general” channel and the bot will send a Steam beta key for Crystal Companies
  3. Once you’ve entered the key in Steam (more on that here), play Crystal Companies as you would any other Steam game! 

On the Horizon

There are many things still in process as we roll out the latest demo of Crystal Companies, and we’re not sure what December will bring exactly–only that it will be another very full month as we build toward a Kickstarter!

As we mention above, you can join our Discord to get on board with all of the latest community and demo updates. Also, follow us on Twitch and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our live streams and other news!

Also, if you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list on our homepage (we hope you dig the new look!).

Until next time!

 

We have the power!

And just like that, it’s feeling like winter here in Maine. This post is late because October was very busy as well as a bit uncooperative (we lost power and internet for several days toward the end of the month–but thankfully we’re back in action, mostly!). We’ve mainly been preparing for our PAX East application, which is due in a few days, so this update will reflect those efforts as well as the latest developments in ongoing projects.

Hive AI

As we continue to update and overhaul different components of Crystal Companies, other parts of the game that are lacking become much more apparent. The computer player in Crystal Companies has always been a secondary feature since our main focus has always been on online play. However, we’ve recently found there are several reasons to create robust computer player functionality. For one, programming an AI has taught us how to proceduralize strategy and synthesize what types of decisions are good or bad in a given situation. Secondly, players (ourselves included) don’t always feel like playing competitively against another player online. Sometimes it’s much more fun to play against an AI to try new strategies or practice for online play. Finally, as we continue to develop the CrysCo campaign, a variety of AI playstyles are necessary for a fun and wholesome singleplayer experience.

General Game Improvements

  • A power calculator has been created to calculate the power of each card in several areas based on card attributes and abilities. This calculator is used to determine a card’s role (e.g. tank or backline) and the tasks which the card would prefer to complete (e.g. act as a meat shield or stand behind and heal/attack from range).
  • AI personalities have been created to enable a variety of AI playstyles no matter what cards are used. Some personalities may prefer to ramp while others just want to destroy everything!
  • Many new AI behaviors have been created in order to encapsulate AI tasks and roles (e.g. guard, patrol, and assassinate). All AI units act independent of the AI player and thus make their own decisions.

Steam Integration

Since we will be distributing CrysCo on Steam, it’s necessary for us to integrate their API into the game. This month we replaced our old register/login system with a simpler Steam authentication, which automatically logs users in via Steam instead of requiring users to jump through annoying hoops like creating an account and logging in manually. In addition to authentication, Steam provides a much faster and more straightforward patching system compared to the one we had previously developed. Utilizing the Steam API has made our workflow and user authentication so much easier! (Which will come in handy once we roll out the closed beta 😉 )

New Promo Art

The very talented Marta Nael just finished up our latest piece of promo art! We are really excited that we got the chance to work with her, and we look forward to commissioning more pieces in this style from her in the future.

3D

This month we’ve been working with three different artists to create custom models for the game. Over the next few months, expect to see custom environmental, structural, and character models implemented into CrysCo–we are getting closer to an initial release and it feels awesome!

On the Horizon

As much as October–and really the beginning of November, too–have been trying times for the team workload-wise, we remain excited for what lies ahead. We are finishing up a new build of the game, creating new maps and scenarios for single and multi-player modes, and beginning to overhaul the menu system so that the game can be released as a closed beta within the next few months. We pivoted a bit on introducing the single-player campaign this month because of the PAX app, but in the long-run it’s looking like we will be better off for it–simplicity is often the best course of action! So be on the look-out for a fully formed version of CrysCo (by the end of the year #fingerscrossed) by following us:

As always, we encourage any feedback you might have, and hope you will share us with your friends! Thanks y’all, see you in a few weeks.

 

 

Juice, Juice, and More Juice

This month we attempted to inject more juice than ever into the game…and I think we succeeded (depending on your figurative definition of juice, of course).

UI

We are always working to improve the UI in order to better communicate the themes of Crystal Companies and make it easier to enjoy.

This month we:

  • Fixed a number of lingering issues in the unit detail view, as well as fixed display of unit models and lore display.
  • Refined designs for the new Draft mode, which allows players to play with a selection of random cards that they may or may not own.
Snapshot of draft mode user interface
As you can see, card art is still in the works!

  • Refined timer system design to make it more obvious that time management is important during playing.
  • Refined conquer point bars / player display design for more space-efficient display and to communicate some of the frontier exploration elements of Crystal Companies.
  • Combined system messages into the new “HUD bar” design.
    Snapshot of new player heads-up display
    This HUD design is still a work-in-progress, but is far and away a big improvement over what we had previously!

Keep your eyes peeled as these new designs should be rolled out in time for Crystal Companies exhibition at Boston FIG.

JUICE

We’ve been hard at work this month fine-tuning CrysCo’s look and feel with updated special effects, models, and controls. Here’s a quick run down of ALL THAT JUICE:

  • Character movement now feels more natural and with less jerky teleportation.
  • Most spell cards have visual and sound effects, and representative characters that are shown in the character detail view.
  • Most conditions and boons now have sound and visual effects.
  • Special effects triggered by abilities are much smoother and more synchronized.
  • Targeting with spells and placing units is more straightforward and intuitive.
  • Error messages are now more informative and describe problems in a less technical fashion.
  • Character models are more organized and better represent their associated resource faction.

Here’s a quick video showing just one of the many new effects in action (a lot of times, but sadly without its particle effect…)!

On the Horizon

Be prepared for EVEN MORE JUICE in the following updates! By the end of the summer, we hope to have our “productized” version of CrysCo available to our followers! For now, here’s how anyone can get involved:

  • Join our Discord server here: https://discord.gg/fy7yBrk
  • You can hop on our stream every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 5:30-7PM EST here.
  • Come see us at the Boston Festival of Indie Games (FIG) in September! Check out https://www.bostonfig.com/ for more details and to get your tickets.
  • As always, feel free to share CrysCo with your friends, and let us know what you think!

Once again, thanks for reading. And remember: next month juice will be in even greater abundance.