Category Archives: News

Show me the games!

Cliffski, erstwhile Bat’leth-wielding UK indie games entrepreneur, has blogged about an experiment we’ve been conducting called ShowMeTheGames.com. Well, I say “we”, really it’s all Cliff, and we’re just throwing a bit of money at it and participating. So far it seems reasonably successful. Go and take a look at the other games – there are some real gems in there. In fact they’re all good – there’s bound to be something that floats your boat, and every one of those indie game developers in there is to some degree or another as skint as we are or not far from it. Buy a game for someone else this Christmas, if not for yourself!

In other news, we’ve released Revenge of the Titans v1.63, which you can get directly here:
Windows
Mac OS X
Linux (sorry, still not done package thingy yet – next release!)

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: Survival level selector allowed you to select one more world than you had actually completed

New Features and Enhancements

  • Medals are now worth bonus $$$!
  • Ranks are now worth $(points/10)
  • New bashing and building destroyed noises
  • Lasers now fire through wraiths
  • Gidlets and wraiths can no longer penetrate nanomesh
  • Slightly larger maps

Balance

  • Laser, rocket, and disruptor turrets now only $3000 each
  • Decoy now only $1500
  • Silos now rather less amazing at stretching resources further (10, 12, 16, and 25% for 1-4 silos)…
  • …but silos now cost a flat rate of $250

Internal

  • Back to using the tiered server compiler for Windows to claw back a bit more performance
  • Perform a full GC between levels
  • Wired up more shortcut keys on medals screen
  • Displays monetary bonus for a particular medal underneath points value
  • Crystal spawn noise occurs at the end of the res-in effect now
  • Attenuated colours updated only half as frequently
  • Gidrahs brains now only half as fast at calculating routes
  • Titan boss now has a disruptor, with variable range depending on difficulty
  • New animation command to cause a gidrah to fire its weapon
  • Fixed various bugs to do with completing the game causing crashes
  • Fixed crash where if you restarted a level after dying you immediately died when the aliens started spawning
  • Tweaked tactical brain so it targets the base as well as turrets
  • Fiddling with the speech for the General and so on – sounds rubbish so far ๐Ÿ™

Yes, the speech for the General and ZX-bot sound just awful but we’ve not managed to finish it or get it even half-right yet.

Some Notes About The Balance Changes

You might be interested to hear about the reasoning for the changes to silos: I noticed that upon researching silos (and knowing exactly how they work so I’m pretty good at using them in the most efficient way possible), my refinery takings for the level shot up. This is all well and good, because it means a canny player who knows this will research silos as soon as possible and then be able to progress through the levels at a reasonable level of difficulty thanks to the big cash infusion. However – anyone who doesn’t know this trick was going to be at a major disadvantage, and having a pretty crap time progressing really slowly. The reason is that silos unbalance the game too much in their previous form.

So now, silos are a simple flat-rate upgrade, and have a much more modest effect on the efficiency of crystal refining. With four silos, you’ll manage to eke out just 25% more from a factory (rather than the 100% it was before!). However the outlay is now just $1000 for the four silos instead of $2500. You can still be cunning in your silo placement – putting them next to factories that have access to the most crystal – but the effect is a bit less dramatic unless you get a really lucky configuration. But every penny counts, so it’s always worth doing – especially as your silos are recycled if they’re not damaged and you’ll get $400 of that $1000 back at the end of the level.

Just for your information, there are three sizes of crystal in the game, containing $600, $1200, and $1800 respectively. You can work out the maths yourself ๐Ÿ™‚

Also you’ll notice a bit of cheapening of the heavy weapons and the decoy. Seemed a shame to spend all that money researching them and then not ever have quite enough cash to justify splashing out on a few eh?

Also take special notice that nanomesh is now gidlet and wraithproof. Very useful. There are nearly enough to surround your base! Nearly.

I’ve just noticed that the bug where factories don’t start up again in survival mode when a crystal appears next to them has come back – doh. I’m also aware of the (very rare) occasion that a gidrah seems to get stuck sometimes and you have to drop something on his head to kill him. If this happens to you, save your game and send the save file to me!

The Next Release

The next release is 1.64, the final beta release, which will include the long awaited Titan levels. After that there will be a strange quiet period, where we sit and listen intently for bugs and last minute pleas for absolution or clemency, and then we’ll release the finished game. Phew.

Another day, another server

This week we took it upon ourselves to completely migrate our servers from an ancient ThePlanet dedicated rig to a spiffy federation of services. Our new www.puppygames.net website now lives on a teeny tiny SliceHost.com slice, and the MySQL database has moved completely away into the Cloud. Or Amazon RDS to be precise. The new website runs APC, speeding up our rather cranky PHP code, and all of our images and downloads now live on SimpleCDN.net. SliceHost enables us to ramp the power of our server literally in a couple of hours up to something with ten times the power.

This we will need to do fairly shortly, as big things are afoot, and it is probable our new server is going to get a hammering in about 2 weeks’ time, because that’s when the final beta release comes out, which might well be the last chance to get the game at its l33t price of $13.37! Shortly after that comes… the real release! And we have an extra special surprise up our sleeves. Oh yes. More special than you can possibly imagine.

While you cogitate about that, you might want to pick up the latest beta 1.62 of Revenge of the Titans from here (direct links to avoid CDN cache):

Windows
Mac OS
Linux (via Webstart)

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Survival Mode!


At last, after a couple of delays involving house moves, panicking TV stations, and the unexpectedly early completion of a new game mode, we are proud to announce Revenge of the Titans v1.61! Without further ado, here are direct download links for our blog followers (the proles get the simplecdn cached stuff with varying degrees of success).

Windows
Mac OS
Linux

Here’s what’s in the latest version:

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: Garbage collector crash – don’t use G1 on Java 6!
  • Fixed: selling buildings just before level end to get double money!
  • Fixed: shield generators keep getting more expensive every level
  • Fixed: Missing research link in tree: heavy blaster -> blast cannon
  • Fixed: Superfluous link between heavy blaster -> assault cannon
  • Fixed: Slot selection screen only showed Basingstoke – Earth – $0
  • Fixed: when a building is shielded, after the Invuln powerup finishes the shield sprites are gone
  • Fixed: removing droid factories, shield generators and silos didn’t reset their price

New Features and Enhancements

  • Survival mode!
  • New map generator code: better wiggly tunnels from spawnpoints to map
  • Stop gids from spawning when freeze mode on
  • New hint: don’t overspend on research
  • New hint: boss level -> save your cash!
  • Removed the turret aiming lag – didn’t like it

Balance

  • Increase initial gidrah delay based on level size
  • Increase range of disruptor slightly to 110px from 96px
  • Decreased damage of disruptor from 25 to 16
  • Nerfed multiblaster from 4 to 3 points damage
  • Nerfed spreader cannon from 4 to 3 points damage
  • Nerfed assault cannon from 8 to 7 points damage
  • Powerup drops last a bit longer before vanishing
  • Even more crystals
  • Mars gidrahs nerfed somewhat
  • Droid factory: now each droid factory can produce at most 8 droids
  • Droid factory: production rate slowed down by 50%
  • Droid factory: …but factories now only cost $1000+$1000 per factory

Internal

  • Queue gidrah route recalculations on building so they don’t all happen at once
  • Increased memory allocation for the VM to 256mb
  • Reduced max GC pause to 3ms (Windows only)

Survival Mode

Lucky registered users have a new mode to play. It is unlocked after completing the Earth missions. When you select a survival mode game, you get to choose the world (from the set of worlds you’ve seen so far with that profile), and just for fun, you can choose the rockiness of the terrain. The buildings you have available to you are the buildings you have researched so far in campaign mode.

You are expected to lose. Probably quite fast. The aliens will rapidly become overwhelmingly deadly. The idea is to get a base together as fast as you can and defend it as long as you can. Notice that you don’t earn money for killing gidrahs! The only way to get cash is mining crystals, which spawn every now and again, or pickups.

Your best time for a particular world/terrain combination are also recorded. Let’s hear some hiscores!

All Good Things Must Come To An End…

…or become a bit more expensive, anyway! But only as expensive as to be able to afford a helping of mushy peas with one’s pie and ale. The Ultrabundle is now just a tiny weeny bit more than it was, assuming you think that $2 is tiny weeny like us. It’s still ultracheap if you’ve not picked it up already, and it will get more expensive again while we experiment with prices in the not very distant future. So don’t delay! Hand over your filthy cash today!

Don’t forget the bundle lets you install all 3 of our minigames an any combination of operating systems, as often as you need to!

Ultrabundle

By now, some of you may have noticed the existence of a certain Ultrabundle floating around on the Puppygames site. This is an experiment to see what happens when you, er, sell stuff ridiculously cheap. The results are quite interesting. Apart from a slight problem when Markus accidentally tweeted about it just as it went live (instantly killing our server as a deluge of Minecraft fans descended upon its weedy single core 1.6GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 10mbps ethernet connection), it seems to be doing pretty well.

To cut a long story short, and following the tradition of the Minecraft stats page (except less, hm, dynamically updated at the moment – maybe Chaz should pop that on the front page!), we’ve sold 300 Ultrabundles in the last 48 hours, and even while I typed this blog post another 3 came in. 4 sorry. Although that is something of a mockery compared to the 15,000 sales at three times the price that Minecraft made in the same time period ๐Ÿ™‚

In traditional Puppygames style it’s not without its teething troubles of course. We’ve got a small problem with international characters in addresses sent from BMT which I’ll be thinking of a way to fix, which causes your registration not to “stick” and you have to keep registering – annoying. And Linux users using Sun JDKs are having some problems running Droid Assault, though it seems to work fine using OpenJDK here on Ubuntu.

Unfortunately… I’m just about to move house. Like, in about a few hours’ time. So I’ve got to pack this computer up right after the blog post and I won’t get back online for a few days to fix anything or deal with any troubles. Chaz will man the email support and fob everyone off (politely) until I get back online again.

In other news – we were supposed to be releasing Revenge of the Titans 1.61 tonight but I completely forgot I was moving house when I wrote the schedule. So instead we’ll release it on Hallowe’en, and after your brains have been fried in Minecraft Hell, you can unwind with a short burst of the extreme frenetic terror that is Survival Mode. Survival Mode is awesome. I think it’s my favourite bit of the game so far.

Chaz Edit: if you’re having Linux version problems there’s some help (maybe) after the jump…

Edit: and if you’re having problems with Ultratron and you have Norton installed read on too…
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Random Crashes! Java Fingered!

Well, there’s a relatively unusual event: the recent spate of random crashes with the game (all of them, I think) is actually down to the Java virtual machine crashing. After a bit of snooping, it transpires that the crash is caused by the experimental garbage collector I used in Java 6. So I’ve gone and reverted back to the very naughty Java 7 VM. Mac and Linux users are completely unaffected by this issue, so no worries on that front.

So, Windows users, you can download a fixed version of your games here:

Titan Attacks
Ultratron
Droid Assault
Revenge of the Titans

Your saved games might break, I’m not sure. Try it and see.

Old games updated, bugs squished

Some of you might have been receiving mysterious crashes with Droid Assault, Titan Attacks and Ultratron, whilst just sitting on the title screen. It turns out that I forgot to build the last two versions of each of these games with the resources to display the little message box to tell you to download a new version! So when the new versions got uploaded a while ago, they all, er, started to break.

If you’ve been experiencing this strange crash, redownload and reinstall your games from Puppygames.

In other news: some people have been experiencing some crashes with the latest release of Revenge of the Titans. I’ve looked into the error logs and noticed that it’s because you’re trying to use a 1.5 profile with the new 1.6 game. Sorry guys and gals, I broke it – your old profiles and saved games are no longer usable. You’ll have to create a new profile.

Also, you might have noticed the file sizes increasing slightly. I’ve reverted from using the (completely naughty) hacked Java 7 JVM in the games to using nice normal unhacked Java 6 again, and this has the pleasing side effect of the games working once more in Japan and China. Don’t ask why ๐Ÿ™‚

Endless Mode!

I’ve just uploaded Revenge of the Titans v1.6 here:

Windows
MacOS
Linux

The following tweakery has been performed for your delectation and continued amusement:

Bugs Fixed

  • Again at certain resolutions the map scrolls past the edges
  • Gold medal awarded even though level made easier
  • Mysteriously reverting to earlier planet when resuming
  • info panel remains open when HUD hidden
  • Having your progress reset once you get past Earth

New Features and Enhancements

  • Add a “sell stuff” hint or two
  • Endless mode!
  • Movement animation of stop-start gidrahs looks better
  • Stop-start gidrahs move in a slightly different way

Balance

  • Crystal reduction as player gets richer slightly less severe
  • More crystals!
  • Blast cannon damage buffed to from 12 to 16

Internal

  • Much better frame rate limiting code
  • New animation commands to avoid XML duplication

As per usual, download and install over the top of your old version. Also as per usual, all your progress and saved games are invalid – bah! – that’s the perils of beta software. So I advise you start a new profile from scratch and test Endless Mode for me ๐Ÿ™‚

Titan Attacks, Ultratron and Droid Assault updated

Just a quickie post to say that we’ve updated the three older games. In particular we’re hoping that the mysterious crash in Titan Attacks on some Macs has been fixed – if this has happened to you (it happens when the first mothership appears) can you let us know if it’s fixed the problem? (By the way, the version number hasn’t changed)

Also, a question to the masses:

What would you pay for all three games in a bundle? What price threshold would make you just buy the lot on a whimsy?

Revenge of the Titans 1.52, and Very Cool DRM

I’ve just uploaded the latest and greatest Revenge of the Titans, version 1.52, which is a mostly hidden-behind-the-scenes sort of update, and lots of little bugfixes. As per usual point your browsers at the following links, and if it doesn’t say 1.52 on the title screen or the installer, that means you’re still getting the cached version from our content delivery network provider (simplecdn.net), which is annoying, because I especially purge the caches every time I do a new upload!

Windows
Mac OS X
Linux

Linux users – we are aware that Java Webstart is completely rubbish and we’d like to give you a completely standalone application with an embedded JVM in it and so on – we just have no idea how to actually do it yet ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, we have finally finished implementing the coolest DRM ever invented.
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Revenge v1.51 released – you asked for it!

We’ve been listening to your feedback on the Revenge of the Titans beta over the last few months, and with this new update (v1.51) we’ve attempted to address some of the most requested changes. And of course there’s a load of other tweaks, not least finally the ability to sell buildings! Here are the download links…

Windows
Mac OS
Linux

Don’t forget to check the version number to make sure you’ve really gotten 1.51 installed.ย Here’s what’s new, changed, fixed, twiddled, and nerfed:

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: stuttering sound (hopefully!)
  • Fixed: HUD money updates when intermission screen is showing
  • Fixed: Reloading a turret in build mode should stop build mode
  • Fixed: Can’t reload a turret or collect a factory when in Build mode
  • Fixed: creating path for gidrahs overwrites odd ruin tiles – needs to either leave them or delete all tiles associated with the ruin
  • Fixed: dialog text not centred on game over
  • Fixed: Apostrophe key ‘ now correctly selects autoloader for build
  • Fixed: Load/Save. Again. All files now stored in user home directory.
  • Fixed: Gidlets now only immune to explosions when spawning
  • Fixed: Ruins used to block blaster fire in their bottom left corner: this is now specified per ruin for the whole ruin or in a mapping attribute

New Features and Enhancements

  • Medals
  • Ranks
  • New intermission screen
  • New ESC menu
  • Wired up ESC button on HUD
  • Completely new in-game UI
  • New Game Over UI
  • Added the in-game menu to the research/story screens so you can quit out at that point.
  • Change the way shield generators work
  • Wire up new options (to hide various GUI stuff)
  • Rockets now explode when they hit the edge of the map
  • New research GUI with all the stats and two different views
  • Sell mode
  • DEL key wired to Sell mode and middle mouse button
  • You get 10 seconds to sell a building after construction in which you’ll get 100% of the money back (like an undo)
  • Laser to be able to fire into mountains (turret needs to be able to see too)
  • Appropriate story tweaks when flying gidrahs appear re: lasers
  • Removed [X] button from hints panel – click anywhere to close it now
  • Hints now remain onscreen for 7 seconds max
  • Top HUD fades out as mouse approaches
  • Bottom HUD now hideable with toggle button (INS key)

Balance Changes

  • Gidrahs now get a little more urgent and fearless when the timer runs out
  • Nerfed damage bonus for alien anatomy to just +1
  • Increased research cost of a few things
  • Nerfed laser/rocket ranges a little
  • Saturn gidrahs now a teeny bit harder
  • Slightly increased saucer duration on earlier levels, decreased on later levels
  • Reduce crystals available slightly now Sell button implemented
  • Tweak tuning: game needs to be tiny bit harder tiny bit sooner

Internal Stuff

  • Completely change the way game metastate is persisted
  • Store exact representation of level instead of relying on dubious random number seed
  • Gidrah now uses 1/32th the RAM courtesy of using packed bits in ints in its tiny brain
  • Awarded a non-repeatable medal sfx
  • Awarded a repeatable medal sfx
  • New rank sfx
  • Sold sfx
  • Can’t build sfx
  • Insufficient funds sfx

And onto a few pics…

We’ve had a fair few requests to be able to see the statistics of researched buildings, and to see in some form the research connections between technologies and buildings. Here’s the new Research screen showing those stats, and the improved table and the new tree layouts…

(You can read more about the changes in Research GUI for the Tweak)

Adding the requested ‘Sell’ button required a HUD redesign, so we made some oft suggested alterations as well…

( more info here: Revenge of the HUD Redesign and Revenge of the HUD part 2 )

The old in-game ESC key menu has been given a restyling, and is now accessible from a HUD button. You can access this menu from the various Story and Research screens by pressing ESC too. Options on the Game Over screen have also been updated…

And last but not least, the Achievements dialog showing Rank and Medals…

There’s also a new Level Complete dialog – though that looks a bit pants at the mo, so wont bother with a screenshot ๐Ÿ™‚ That’ll probably get a bit of a tidy up in the final polish stage of development.

Next up on the todo list – Cas will be adding Endless and Survival game modes, and I’ll add badge graphics for ranks before making a start on the Titan levels. The jury’s out as to whether to tackle Endless or Survival first, but right now we’re hedging our bets with Endless mode, which is like the current campaign mode, but without a story, or… an end. Just level after level of slowly increasing size and difficulty, drawn randomly from the scenery we’ve done so far, until you are defeated (and there’s only one life). We expect Endless games to take hours to play, by which time you will probably be a gibbering nervous wreck.

What happened back there?

You may or may not have noticed our server being extremely broken lately. In fact a week ago it developed a fatal bad sector on the boot disk and exploded, taking everything with it (including lwjgl.org unfortunately which is still not back up yet). We’ve worked tirelessly trying to piece it back together in between day jobs and progress on Revenge of the Titans, and it’s popped up and gone down like a yoyo ever since, occasionally losing the odd blog post and comments in the process.

We still don’t have email (though we do still have the puppygames Gmail account, so keep using that, please!). Hopefully this will be sorted fairly imminently.

Because of the server’s unexpected demise we completely missed the August 29th date for releasing Revenge of the Titans 1.51. So what we’ve done is roll it all up into a slightly bigger release with what was going to be in 1.52, and this is now scheduled for release on 12th September. The big things in the new release are:

  • You can now sell buildings! And if you’re quick enough (10 seconds), it won’t cost you a bean.
  • The HUD has been completely redesigned and can be hidden from view when you need to place buildings right down the bottom
  • The research screen now has a tree view as well as a categorised view, and all the building stats are available for researched items
  • Introducing the Medals screen, which you can view at any time, showing you the medals you’ve earned in your war efforts so far (with a total score)

Stay tuned for updates!

Saturn released!

Well, we’ve finally released the Saturn levels for Revenge of the Titans under the guise of version 1.5! This has been quite a complex release, what with the addition of several completely new alien types and a whole new world, and an awful lot of fiddling with balance, bug fixing, enhancement, and so on. Without further ado, here’s the links:

Windows

Mac OS

Linux

Like last time it would probably be a good idea to play through from level 1 again with a new profile, as the amount of money available in the levels is somewhat different now, as is the cost of researching various things.

And here are some pics…

Yes, the boss is armed with a laser. No, he’s not very friendly.

Continue reading

Titan Attacks and Ultratron receive a little love and attention

Hot on the heels of the recently tweaked Droid Assault, our awesome Paradroid remake, fresh versions of Titan Attacks (now v1.95) and Ultratron (v2.3) are now in place and ready for your sweaty palms.

As the sort of person who reads the Puppyblog, you are undoubtedly already aware that Titan Attacks is the best remake of Space Invaders ever in the world in space. And as we know time is space, that means it’s the best Space Invaders game of all time and that will ever be. However, if you are the Googlebot, you might not know this, and parsing this blog with your googlebot brain will hopefully make some connections of that sort.

Ultratron is our take on Robotron 2084, with the added twist of it actually being playable by ordinary human beings. And having lots of powerups, and bosses, and stuff. It’s actually nothing really like Robotron but people will keep on making the comparison, so we humour them and smile condescendingly, knowing that such people weren’t even alive in 1982 when Williams unleashed the grand master of all dual-stick shooters on an unsuspecting arcade playing population.

Hm, I’d quite like someone to make Bezerk for me…

Anyway: same deal as before – just download and install over the top of your existing ones. Registered games stay registered. Happy blasting.

New Droid Assault Uploaded

My favourite game, Droid Assault, has just received a little TLC, and updated to version 1.8. This version should install correctly on Windows Vista and Windows 7, and it should also work on ATI Catalyst 10 drivers. You may or may not notice it running a little more smoothly as well, especially on slightly older hardware, though I really doubt you’ll notice it. Four other things were fixed:

  • Multi-core AI was completely broken but nobody seemed to notice. They’ve had their brains ripped out and replaced with the brains from the gidrahs in Revenge of the Titans.
  • The disruptor now does 50% more damage.
  • The S490 droid is less annoying now, having twin blasters and moving 50% quicker.
  • Registration details now fade after 30 seconds

I hope you have fun with it!

Any problems, please let me know as soon as possible. I’m off to bed now.

Titans Rescue Old Lady’s Cat From Tree

Well, if by “rescue” you mean “eat and then stomp the tree into the ground”, then this is an accurate headline for a slightly more mundane but much more significant event, which is the release of Revenge of the Titans 1.4! This is a tweaky bugfixing sort of release that addresses all the pesky issues that made it into the slightly rushed Mars release, and is 1,000,000 times much more betterer. The Saturn release won’t suffer these problems, oh no. That’s because we’re going to take a little bit longer over Saturn to make sure it’s not so broken this time. Expect Saturn (the 1.5 release) to be in approximately 6 weeks time. On Saturn you can expect to find rather irritating flying Titans that drop bombs. In the meantime, download v1.4 because it’s a great improvement on 1.3.

Download Links

Windows
Mac
Linux/Webstart

What’s Fixed

  • Fixed: difficulty calculation wrong way around
  • Fixed: 50%/25% typo in building/research description for Silos
  • Fixed: Mouse speed not persisted between sessions
  • Fixed: Mars boss won’t die (general gidrah problem: when told to die they should die)
  • Fixed: hotkeys suppressed when screen becomes unblocked until key is released
  • Fixed: ESC from menu quits game instead of simply closing the menu!
  • Fixed: spider attack sound
  • Fixed: Assertion failure: removing a cooling tower
  • Fixed: Can lay factory nowhere near crystals if move mouse fast enough

What’s Changed

  • Allow barricades to squash trees, cars, etc
  • Adjusted monetary value of Mars gidrahs up a little
  • Crystals now spread out randomly
  • Decoy now costs $2500
  • ESC key works on research screen (and RETURN does NEXT LEVEL)
  • Increased fire rate of droids a little
  • Minimum range for rocket launchers
  • Only show full address on first registration
  • Reactors now only $500
  • Stopped boss from being knocked back or easily stunned
  • Spread crystals out more depending on research difficulty & attempts
  • Tweak rush difficulty
  • Tick queens spawn slighly more ticklets when they pop

Your Thoughts Appreciated About…

I mooted a little thought with Chaz earlier on… the gist of which is this: we’ve been working on Revenge of the Titans for, hmm, two and a half years now, and we’d like to see the back of it so we can do something even more utterly cool, like Minecraft perhaps, but with blackjack, and hookers. So I pondered this question:

What if we ditched Titan, the “world”, and made the moons of Saturn be the last “world”, ending with Titan?

And then we add the Endless and Survival modes to make up for the missing 10 levels. I’m not sure how much more we could add to the game in Titan without possibly making it feel a little… stretched, if you see what I mean. Apart from flying Titans that drop bombs, there were going to be Titans that actually shot back, and, er, that was about it, for things I was going to add in Titan itself. Perhaps we should just have shooty gidrahs on the Saturn levels already?

The Saturn levels are already going to take as long to actually physically play through as the whole of Earth, Moon and Mars combined — the levels get longer and longer to make some real epics — so would we really lose anything significant here? I know that as a gamer I’d be thinking, “More levels! More levels!” but … and it’s a big but… I know I’d probably also be thinking, “…but the new game modes would be more fun really.”

Any thoughts on what to do? Would you rather Endless/Survival modes instead of 10 more levels? Do you insist on both? Do you want us to start writing another even cooler game?

Mars Invaded!

Earthlings! Your puny efforts to defend yourselves against our remorseless hordes will soon falter! Even now ten legions of our crack troops close in on your poorly defended Martian strongholds! We have resurrected the spirits of our ancient heroes to freeze the very blood in your veins!

Yes, we are finally pleased to announce the release of Revenge of the Titans 1.3, which now includes the Mars levels, and a list of tweaks and features as long as your arm. There’s still tons to do but the Martian levels should keep you nicely entertained for the next month or so whilst we work on the Saturn levels. In the meantime, we advise starting again from level 1 because the game has changed balance-wise quite significantly. The costs of things have been tweaked rather a lot and there are some significant changes to harvesting crystals (tip: you really, really want silos) and some changes probably required to your strategy.

Update: minor disaster with the current version… Bug: Enemies donโ€™t appear on level 1

We’re uploading fix – should be ready in 30 mins or so

… so don’t click on these for now ...ย ย  should be ok now

Direct Download Links

Windows

Mac OS X

Linux / Webstart

Mars delayed a tiny bit!

Well, it’s midnight here in the UK and 1am in the dark cupboard in which Chaz lurks, and we’ve still got stuff to do on the game! And I’ve got work tomorrow morning as per usual, and I’m too tired to do a release now and bugger it all up!

So… hey what’s that, over there?

<flees>

Yes, it looks like this deadline has sailed past us and we’re not ready to release the Mars levels just yet. It does look like a weekend release is on the cards though, as what’s left is not a huge amount of work. Our humble apologies for being late! But, you know, better that it’sย good, rather than a bug-ridden heap of poo, I think.

Here’s what we’ve got so far, new-feature wise:

  • Add keyboard tooltips to “shop” popup
  • Allow player to navigate back from the story screen to the level selection screen
  • Anatomical research now yields a +1 bonus to armour piercing for blaster rounds
  • Back button on research
  • Back button on story screen
  • Bezerk now instantly reloads all turrets
  • Building things on top of aliens now damages the building (and may blow it up completely before it’s even built)
  • Collectors cheaper
  • Conditional stories that appear depending on what you have or have not researched
  • Difficulty adjusted at start of level based on number of attempts
  • Difficulty attenuation now is itself attenuated as gidrahs are destroyed
  • Difficulty now calculated based on current cash and value of buildings in play
  • Disruptor now has range increased very slightly by scanners
  • Earth boss guest appearance on Mars 5
  • Erase attempts numbers past last ended level
  • Increase boss speed and hitpoints
  • Increase memory: 160mb max heap
  • Lasers and rockets now have greater initial range and greater range increase per scanner
  • Lasers no longer sweep: they were far too powerful!
  • Levels now randomised completely every game
  • Make levels where aliens come from all sides slightly easier
  • Max level only set if a level is completed
  • Mid-spawners
  • Mines, rockets, smartbombs and disruptors now ignore armour
  • Multiple stories per level
  • Nerf turret fire rate ever so slightly
  • Nerfed droids fire rate
  • Optimise laser beam to use quadtree for collision detection
  • Optimise turret target acquisition to use quadtree and delay retries
  • Show keyboard tooltips a bit longer
  • Silos cheaper
  • Spiders
  • Ticks
  • Turrets to target aliens they’re better at killing preferentially
  • Wraiths fade in slowly as they approach their target

Here’s the bugs fixed so far:

  • Fixed: all known exceptions except GL drivers and saved game problem
  • Fixed: Destroyed buildings not updating nearby buildings (silos + factories?)
  • Fixed: Laser offset
  • Fixed: Money displayed on Moon level select is actually Earth money – should be Moon money!
  • Fixed: Turrets show wrong range in ghost mode
  • Fixed: a laser sometimes keeps on missing target (was actually just not hurting it)
  • Fixed: can build weaker barricades on top of stronger barricades – oops!
  • Fixed: gidrahs speed up when the level ends
  • Fixed: ingame menu resets mouse pointer
  • Fixed: map generates forever
  • Fixed: Fullscreen/large/med/small window selection is buggy
  • Fixed: turrets can now see aliens past obstacles which can be shot over (such as craters)
  • Fixed: decoys still not working

Unfortunately, we’ve still got all this to do:

  • Tweak stories for Earth (gidrah stats, extra story entries)
  • Stories for Mars
  • Mars colours
  • Mars roads
  • Mars boss death animation

and these really important bugs to fix:

  • Blast mines set off straight away when painting them
  • Ticklets can spawn on top of buildings, and subsequently get stuck
  • Occasional strange lag/slowdown
  • Level generated without any crystals
  • Strange problems with pathfinder killing aliens
  • Pathfinder seems to be allowed to overrun its maximum think time

Revenge of the Titans 1.2 released

Late last night I uploaded 1.2 of RoTT. The mirrors may or may not pick it up correctly (and Webstart/Linux will probably get it wrong too – clear your cache), but you can tell what version you’ve got because the installer now says it’s 1.2 when it’s installing on Windows; and on the Mac there should be 1.2 in the program information from the Finder; and the title screen, if you look closely somewhere around the middle, should also say 1.2.

Mirrors:

Windows

Mac

Linux (Webstart)

What’s Changed

  • Factories now scavenge around for patches of empty crystals instead of just stopping when their current patch runs out. Less clicking! Hurrah!
  • Scanners are now more expensive at $750 (on account of just how bloody useful they are), and batteries are $500.
  • The moon aliens are worth a bit less cash when they’re destroyed, and they’re slightly tougher.
  • There’s been some tweaking of the game’s auto-difficulty adjustment function. If you get badly kicked in, the replay should be much more doable. It should also get harder a bit sooner as a result of the gestalt changes to pricing and such.
  • That annoying bug where an alien would scurry off to the bottom left and go hide in the bedrock has been fixed. Hurrah!
  • Aliens no longer self-destruct when cutting past scenery.
  • The maximum useful number of scanners/batteries/cooling towers/reactors that you can stick next to a turret or whatever is now 4. Any more than that won’t make a difference.
  • Fixed the laser problem when it was firing so fast its beam hadn’t finished the last shot, and wasted the ammo.
  • Adding batteries to turrets now dynamically adds to their ammunition – no need to reload.
  • The levels are ever so slightly smaller to begin with. A little more claustrophobic perhaps.
  • The level will begin automatically if you’ve got less than $100 (and therefore cannot place a refinery to start the level)

So What’s The Best Strategy?

Well, there’s a funny thing about our games… I’m not all that good at them myself! I’ve never completed any of them fully. There are loads of far more talented gamer types out there who have done. I once got an email from someone who’d found a problem on level 75 of Droid Assault (it’s a danger stage populated entirely by laser-shielded battledroids, that are themselves armed with lasers. You can imagine what the problem was when he transferred). Level 75!! I’ve never even got to level 50 without cheating. But there we go.

So far, what I do generally in RoTT is this:

  • Now I’ve made it so that you can look around before the aliens come, I set up a few key defences along the roads if I’ve got more than $1000 in the bank.
  • I never place things actually on roads if I can help it, because the gidrahs will very likely want to trample on them. Except for mines. I plonk mines in lines down the roads, and it blows them to smithereens one at a time. Mines are good.
  • When I’ve done that I paint as many refineries as I can next to as many crystals as possible. I spend every last penny on refineries. This is critical to success. It only takes a second full collection to make $100 profit from a refinery.
  • If (as often happens) the refineries are between your base and the gidrahs, they’re going to trample it. Get some walls up and put a few turrets behind them.
  • Eventually the gidrahs are going to get through your initial defences. I usually end up putting some big guns and a bunch of upgrades next to the base, and plonking concrete in front of them. Then it’s a case of nailbiting worry and frantic reloading.
  • I don’t always research something. Particularly by the Moon levels, things are getting mental. If I start a level with less than $2500 in the kitty I usually get kicked in. Sometimes you’ve just gotta save your cash. You can research something on the next level. You’re not honestly expected to be able to research everything by the end of the game. Choose your path. If it doesn’t work out… go back a few levels, maybe take a different turning.
  • As for research, I get all the basic tower upgrades done first before going for heavier guns. You only need the heavy guns from level 12 onwards.
  • Mines are especially effective on armoured targets or ones with loads of hitpoints. The bog standard rank-and-file gidrah can be picked off by spamming them with ordinary blasters – so don’t put heavy guns down in their way – it’s a complete waste of money and overkill.

A number of people have commented on the usefulness or not of the droid factory. The droid factory actually has a special purpose, and it’s related to what happens on Mars, where you will encounter gidlets. Gidlets can’t be targeted by turrets because they’re too small – you need to go hand-to-hand with droids. Droids are only otherwise much use against unarmoured targets as they have tiny little blasters.

Likewise you may be wondering about capacitors. Apart from how cool they are, especially with a few reactors and batteries nearby, you’ll be needing them to zap wraiths on Mars, which are invisible and therefore won’t get shot at by turrets or droids. You have been warned!

Some Reasoning about Game Design

So… why is this game so difficult for some, and so easy for others? What am I doing about it? Why are the things the way they are and not exactly howyou want them to be?

For example why’s there no difficulty selector? (In any of our games?)

Here’s my reasoning on difficulty selection. I don’t necessarily want you to agree with it, but understand what it is we’re trying to achieve with what we have: our games automatically tune for difficulty using a variety of performance metrics gathered from the player’s performance over time and on-the-moment. With a difficulty selector, people have no idea what difficulty to choose initially. I always select HARD in case EASY is boring but often I end up having a bit of a tedious time quickloading games every 20 seconds because actually, hard was too hard. Once I’ve chosen HARD, that’s it – there’s no changing it, no going back.

With auto tuning difficulty, the game starts off very easy. If you’re good – which it works out by how much money you’ve got in the bank, how many things you’ve got researched, and how many levels you’ve finished straight without defeat so far – it gets harder. Up until the point where you just can’t cope, and you get defeated. At this point, it lops a huge factor off the difficulty and invites you to try the level again. If you still get defeated, it lops even more difficulty off the level, until finally, you’re playing it as if you were a n00b right back at the beginning of the game again, albeit coping with all the new things that have turned up. The idea with the difficulty is that it slowly creeps up and if we get the balance just right, you’ll be having a fairly permanently frenetic time until you finally taste defeat. Defeat is part of this game. You are destined to be overwhelmed a few times. This is deliberate in RoTT.

Some people might be finding the game disproportionately hard even so. That’s because it’s a very deep game. There are a lot of things to juggle simultaneously – strategy, expenditure, mouse dexterity, research. You’re probably not thinking very hard. This is not a casual game! It’s not even a tower defence game. It’s an RTS, and a cunning one at that. Rethink your game!

I’m off on holiday to France now leaving all the problems that surface with poor old Chaz, so be nice to him, because he doesn’t know how to fix the server if it breaks, or any bugs.

Version 1.1 of Revenge of the Titans Uploaded

“Earthlings! Some of you are still attempting to thwart our awesome might using your puny version 1.0 turrets! Perhaps you would fare better if you downloaded the new 1.1 release and installed it over the top of your old and busted version!”

Things which have Changed

  • Mouse scroll speed is now fixed
  • Slightly more useful mouse speed adjustment range (default position 3 of 10)
  • The gidrahs do not start their advance until you place your first refinery. Go and make a cup of tea, look around, maybe place a few defences in strategical locations!
  • Going back a few levels to try a different tactic now works as you’d expect it to
  • You now get a bonus for recycling at the end of a level: your buildings are all sold for 40% of their original purchase price, scaled by their remaining hit points, to the nearest 50$. This is paving the way for the SELL BUILDING button which will appear with the Mars update at the end of June.
  • …but now the integrity bonus of the Moon base is smaller to compensate
  • The earlier levels will be ever so slightly harder than they were before
  • The game now ends at the end of the Moon (registered or not) because it’s a bit pointless playing any further at this stage, as Mars and so forth areย completely unfinished placeholders!
  • Hopefully the Mac crash when you place a refinery is fixed. But without a Mac to test it on I won’t know until you bug me.

We’ve been carefully listening to all the feedback we can find on the whole internet and subtly planning modifications of various sorts that will come with the Mars levels.

Quick Tips

A fair few people have commented on the amount of clicking you’ve got to do in the game. You should know the following things:

  • You can click and drag when harvesting refineries, reloading, and building! Mouse down, wiggle all over factories, release, done. Likewise you can paint a line of turrets or reload them all.
  • Every button on the UI has a shortcut key. The three most useful ones are R, to go to the next empty turret; E, to go to the next full refinery; and Q, to take you straight to your base. TAB will fast forward the action in dull moments.
  • Right-click on a building to select that sort of building in build mode. No need to hunt around in the little icons if you can see another such building already on the screen.
  • The game evolves over time. It will eventually become impossible for you to manually deal with harvesting all your refineries and reloading your turrets. Certain avenues ofย research will glean you buildings that will do the job for you. The game evolves from a micromanagement cross between Cake Mania and tower defence into a macro management and strategical game.

Another few tips you might want to know, if you’re struggling with the difficulty sometimes:

  • Build as many refineries as can possibly fit around all the crystals you can find. It only takes two full harvests to make $100 profit!
  • If you get owned, replay the level. It will be a bit easier next time around. If you’re really at a dead end, go back a level or two by going back to the title screen – your progress is preserved at each level (until you go back levels)
  • Level 18 isย hard. Be prepared! Make sure you’ve got plenty of money before you start it. Maybe skip a level of research.

Disaster!

Well, you know how it is: you toil away in obscurity for 5 years and then all of a sudden everyone wants to play your new game, all at the same time. So your server is flattened as if by a tsunami of eager Earth Commanders eager to turn the tables the advancing Titan hordes, andย boom! the registration key generator dribbles its last, expiring quietly, without telling anyone.

We’re working with BMTMicro right now to get everyone their registration codes which didn’t come through. I’ve got about 50 emails to reply to and assure everyone that everything’s ok! We got all your orders in the BMT database, but they just need to be sent over to our server now. Stay tuned!

By the way – don’t play past the end of the Moon yet! Mars and so on are completely not at all done at all, with just placeholder graphics and aliens that aren’t even drawn right and have the wrong hit points etc. etc. – it’ll be very boring! Mars should be coming at the end of June, and you’ll have to deal with wraiths and gidlets!

While BMT help sort out the problems we’d just like to thank everyone massively for helping us out and for being extremely patient while we get the problems fixed. We’re reading every single little bit of feedback or commentary all over the whole internet and I’ll be making all sorts of little improvements and tweaks based directly on your feedback.

In the meantime I’ve got to hold down a day job 9 – 5 thing while dealing with all of this still – and guess what we’re doing at work? Yes, releasing a big bit of software this week, which doesn’t work yet.

Back to panicing.

UPDATE: the key generator was fixed as of last night, and looking at the stats this morning, everything’s working fine, so hopefully no more problems with new registrations. Things are slow with BMT to sort the backlog though, so we’ll manually register those today. Everything should be sorted by end of today. Phew.

UPDATE: manually registered all those that the key generator had previously failed, they should all now be working fine… and then it breaks again ๐Ÿ™ currently waiting for Cas to return to fix.

UPDATE: that was me just being daft – key gen is working, database was blocked cos i was adding stuff to it manually. doh. Everyone now should have keys. Hurrah!

UPDATE: nope, not just me being daft, it’s still not quite right ๐Ÿ™ Still only affecting a few people, apologies to them. I’ve manually added the recent few – all up-to-date at the mo.