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Community Announcements - SeonR
Welcome to Alpha 2.9

Update Slow down over Easter holidays

So Easter is upon us and both Jarryd and Ari are taking some well deserved time off over the next 2 weeks, so updates will be less often, though we do have stuff scheduled so everyone will still get new goodies to play with at least on the ACK side.

We wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy holidays (Easter, Passover or whatever holiday you might be celebrating).

Happy Holidays Everyone!

7000 building points

We have lifted building points to 7000. Just a heads up that this is as high as we are planning to go for the foreseeable future. We have played enough user adventures that last for 25-30 mins to be convinced that this is as high as we need to go to ensure we stay inside the aim for FTD - short play sessions.

Alpha 2.9 change list

  • Lifted building points to 7000
  • Added the adventure name, owner and UGC badge to game pause screen
  • Added new "YOUR ADVENTURE" tag to map, loading and pause screen
  • Added new green square icon to world map screen to indicate your own adventures
  • Made special attack keys bindable
  • Allow binding of COMMAND keys on OSX.

  • Fire Lord and Ice Wizard have had their early special attacks re-balanced
  • Made all world map adventure icon's be the correct rotation
  • Added correct head to Ice Wizard (Male and female)
  • Renamed MANA to be EMBER (Fire Lord), FROST (Ice Wizard)

  • Fixed chests not staggering their loot properly
  • Possibly fixed slug not dying issue some players have reported
  • Fixed a few loot items that were not using correct visuals when equipped on female characters
Community Announcements - holliebuckets
Okay folks! Its the post-PAX bug fix!!

  • Splash Screens now display properly
  • Tutorial levels now display correct Polaroid image
  • Collectible Polaroids in Tutorial levels - WIP
  • "Memory Unlocked" text displays when memory is collected
  • Memories 2-8 added
  • Pause Menu fixed in all Tutorial Levels - Note: Still tiny in generated dungeons
  • Fixed collision on Tutorial Level 1
  • Fixed collision with first springboard on Tutorial Level 3
  • Simplified Tutorial Level 12
  • Fixed spelling errors
  • Springboard "force" fixed in all Tutorial levels
  • Volumetric light adjusted in Levels 1, 10, 11, and 12
  • Adjusted key "unlock" time

Go check out the story arc! Come say hi when we Live Stream tomorrow at 8pm CST
Community Announcements - Chris
We've deployed update 1.1.2b. You can read its patch notes here. Nature conspired against our ability to release 1.1.2b by first killing our internet for 14 hours last night and then our electricity for half of today. In the end, our determination triumphed, so we were able to deploy the update when we intended to. This update also includes the new Elite Armour Set skins that can be purchased by pressing M in-game. Thanks for your ongoing support!

In the patch notes, we've tried to include more context than normal, explaining the reasons for balance changes. Is this something that you'd like us to do with each patch?

I'll be working on the new Development Manifesto over the weekend and expect to post its first articles early next week.
Community Announcements - Spicy Horse Games
Greetings Hunters!

Writing this update I'm reminded of the "Bring out your dead!" scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," wherein an old man, not wanting to go on the dead-cart, protests, "I'm not dead!" "I'm getting better!" "I feel happy!" Meanwhile, John Cleese insists, "You'll be stone dead in a moment."

Well, we're not dead.

Based on the silence around here since our last mega-news generating update, you might have got that impression. I wouldn't blame you. Truth is, when the BS gets that deep, it's best to ignore it and just plow forward. The "failed Kickstarter," "Spicy Horse in debt," "we can't report facts, so let's just make up shit," headlines now seem like a distant, laughable hallucination.

In the meantime our "little Akaneiro team," which mainly consists of one guy (thank you, Muhammad), has continued development on Akaneiro. Everyone else at Spicy Horse has been focused on "The Gate," our 3D Action-CCG game. Thankfully, for Akaneiro and our studio in general, that title's doing very, very well. Yay!

So, here we are today with proof of life: An updated version of Akaneiro and news on continued development. First, the patch notes for the version being posted to Steam, Kongregate, and SpicyWorld:

* Fixed the assignment of Skills at Level Up
* Fixed bug that allows bypassing of a fence in town.
* Fixed bug to prevent accidental purchasing of items.
* Invisible wall removed from Reap as you Sow mission as well as other major bugs that prevent level from being complete-able.
* Invisible enemies and stages with invisible items in should now be fixed. (Still appears on some items and certain video cards).
* Skill training exploit patched.
* Fixed 3D model to display worn armor correctly.
* Map hotkey 'M' should now be functional
* Fixed bug with mini-map opening settings
* Plum wine and Red tea items should now be usable.

Going forward, development on Akaneiro will continue. There's a long list of bugs that still need to be squashed and improvements to be made. If you have anything you'd like to report, please submit a ticket to us via our ZenDesk Support Channel. Beyond bug fixing, efforts are also being made to bring Akaneiro to tablets - that's the next big goal on our list. Longer term, we need to make significant adjustments to Akaneiro in recognition of its failure as a F2P game - either improving the F2P systems or removing them completely. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome and can be shared with us here in the Steam community.

With that out of the way...

I posted (a version of) this note regarding transparency in the games industry with a recent update to the Alice: Otherlands KS project. Copying it here because it touches on issues that were brought to light by my transparency with the Akaneiro campaign.

/vent on

After the most recent major announcement about our Akaneiro project - specifically the fact that we were "in the hole 1.7 million dollars" - a lot of people speculated on the stability of our finances and ability to deliver on campaign promises. So much of what was being reported was so outlandish that I felt it better to ignore the BS, move forward, and provide proof of our health with tangible results. I hope this update answers your concerns about this campaign.

To be clear, Spicy Horse was in a tight spot financially during January of this year. The studio was only weeks away from certain death. Not a fun spot, but also not an unusual spot for an indie developer. It's also not unusual for a developer to spend their own money towards making a game - and then be "out" that money - but the way it was reported... Perhaps the oddest part was that I was (and am still) willing to reveal these facts about our business to the public. Thankfully, our investors saved the day with another infusion of capital. Since then our latest game, The Gate, has found significant success, and things are better than ever.

None of this was ever about our inability to manage our budgets or schedules. Yes, we spent 1.7 million USD on development of Akaneiro. At the peak of development we burned around 60kUSD per month on salaries for the development staff. Our spending and development pace followed preset budgets and schedules - and, for the most part, we kept spending and/or scheduling on track throughout development. Given the amount of content was that produced and the scope of the game upon launch, most industry insiders would label Akaneiro a success in terms of its efficiency in converting dollars into content and features. That it failed to generate income post-launch is another, oft repeated, story.

Lots* of games get made, then fail to turn of profit. (*I think "lots" could truthfully be replaced with "most"). A lot of development studios go under as a result of investment into games that ultimately fail to deliver expected financial results. It seems beyond odd to me that this concept would need to be explained to the press (and audience) who consume the industry's products. It's not a bizarre model unique to the game industry either...

To any person or "reporter" wanting to snipe at me from the anonymity and security of their Internet sofa: Please take a moment to ask yourself why companies don't normally reveal detailed information about their operations and struggles. Consider your reaction when privileged information is shared; and your power to shape the relationship that exists between gamers, press, and publisher/developers.

Do you like secretive publishing entities that operate like black boxes: taking your money, vanishing it into canceled projects nobody's ever heard of, and treating you like you can't handle the truth of how the industry functions? Based on my read of your internet chatter, you'd prefer a more transparent system in which your opinions mattered and development happened in collaboration with the audience. Then again, based on your reaction to the truth of my studio's struggles, honesty should be answered with pitchforks and torches.

You create your own monsters.

For the more rational and supportive of you, once again, many thanks for your continued kindness and support.

/vent off

I'll post more Akaneiro news as it happens. And I expect the next news will be regarding another patch - then, hopefully, a tablet version. Difficult to estimate when (if ever) we might get multi-player into the game, as that will require effort by our network team (who are currently 100% occupied with The Gate). As I said before, the success of The Gate will largely determine our ability to devote resources to Akaneiro. The good news today is that The Gate is doing really well, so the future is looking much brighter for Akaneiro and Spicy Horse.

From "The Hole" in Shanghai,

Community Announcements - Jerc
Substance Designer 4.2 is now available along with the free Substance Engine plugin for Unreal Engine 4!

SD 4.2 Main Features

  • Automatic and continuous export - Allows you to see updates to your substance in real time in any hot-reload enabled software (Toolbag2, Unity, Maya, etc.)
  • sRGB/Linear switch both for 2D and 3D visualization.
  • New wear and tear filters
  • Environment map can be displayed in the viewport
  • Improve antialiasing in bakers

Full Changelog

[Graph] Export outputs continuously
[3D View] display environment map in the viewport
[3D View] Allow to drag & drop images from the Library to the Viewport
[3D View] move the environment map/parameters to the scene parameters
[3D View] Handle rays going below the horizon in PBR shaders
[3D View] Control exposure instead of environment intensity
[2D View] switch to view image as srgb/linear
[Bakers] Improve antialiasing in bakers from high poly mesh
[Graph] Add the export output buttons in the graph toolbar
Deprecate the DirectX9 engine

Bug fixes

[Bakers] World Space normal map is not look normalized
[Bakers] Baked map has a wrong name
[Bakers] Display material name instead of id index
[Bakers] UV to SVG: Grayscale Mode: Black is a valid ID.
[Bakers] Image resource not reloaded after baking update
[Bakers] Auto-normalization of baked height maps with cages
[Cooker] Wrong SBSAR code generation
[3D View] Default material is still visible when using the "view outputs in 3D view" function
[3D View] 3d view is empty
[3D View] 4k textures are always displayed in 2K
[3D View] Cubemaps loaded from HDR panoramas are downgraded to 8bpc
[Library] Default filters are not sorted correctly
[Explorer] Export with dependancies does not keep default library path
[Explorer] crash when moving a graph inside a package
[Explorer] Crash when reloading package
[Explorer] Crash when unloading a package
[Graph] Editing a FX-Map creates a "Parameter" tab
[Graph] adding nodes in a frame deselects currently selected nodes
[Graph] Duplicating a node display the graph parameters instead of the new node ones
[Mac] Thumbnails of subgraphs are not correctly rendered
[Parameters] Step option does not work
Community Announcements - The Behemoth Megan
Howdy, y'all!

If you didn't keep up with PAX East news last weekend, then you may have missed the news that BattleBlock Theater Steam will be coming out at $14.99 USD once it's released. We just did a recap of all our PAX East 2014 announcements HERE.

After two weeks of rigorous beta testing, we’ve determined that we are in fact developing a game! In true Behemoth fashion we have no current release date, BUT…we know the price. $14.99 US Dollars! Did we mention we’ll be coming to Steam for Windows first, with Linux later this year? Not yet? Well there it is! Lots to celebrate and look forward to.

We'll keep you in the loop about BattleBlock Theater Steam. Thanks to all the fans who stopped by our booth at PAX East!
Community Announcements - DamonSlye
When you first start, the game will pick a server for you. However, you can choose a different server. A quick guide:

US: choose this server if you want help getting started. This server has been around a while, and is filled with lots of friendly people.

US2: choose this server if you want to start in an all-new world that has just been opened! All characters here will be new.

DE: choose this server if you want to play with players in Germany. Most players here speak German.

UK: choose this server if you want to play with players in England.

BR: choose this server if you want to play with players in Brazil. Most players here speak Brazilian-Portuguese.

You are free to play on any or even ALL servers! However, the characters you create on a server cannot be migrated around to different servers. The reason for the new server is so players can start fresh in a new world.

Community Announcements - [foo] bar

Todays updates include:

  • A new version of ctf_lambdabunker with new lighting
  • A fix for weapon switching and the HUD failing
  • Material surface sounds now correctly again
  • Updates to the SDK tools (hammer is actually included now, yay!)
  • Miscellaneous new bugs

As always, details of changes and current known issues are listed in the game's changelog.
Community Announcements - Diet
Slaying Ghosts: How we boosted zone load by 5x

In a game like Villagers and Heroes, the game world is refereed by a central server (actually, many). The central server makes sure all the players see the same thing on their computer. Its job is to keep all the objects in the world synchronized across everyone’s computer.

Take a look at this sample screen from the game:

There are many objects in this scene: player avatars, monsters, trees, a lamp post, a road, a river, and so on. All of those objects must be tracked. Here’s a schematic drawing of what the server sees:

I labelled these objects:

1. Player Avatar
2. Monster
3. Lamp Post
4. River
6. Bridge

The server has to make sure that all of these objects are in the exact same place on everyone’s computer. So, to accomplish this, it transmits over the internet, each object’s type (tree, players, monster, etc.), and its location.

Here’s a new picture that shows this communication taking place between the server and one of the player’s computers. A player’s computer is often called a client.

Every arrow in this diagram represents a transmission that the server must make to ALL the clients in the game (at least to players who are near this location in the world). (Side Note: There is only one arrow going from the Client back to the Server. That’s because the only object that the Client has control over is the player’s avatar.) Each of these arrows is expensive. Hundreds of bytes must be transmitted per object per client. This puts Load on the server-- it eats up CPU cycles and chews up Server bandwidth. The consequence of this is that it can make the game appear “laggy” or sluggish. And, possibly worse, it can take time for all the information to be transmitted from the server to the client.

The process of transmitting information about objects is called “ghosting”. Each object in the scene exists in two places-- one on the server, and one on the client. The copy on the server is considered the real object, and the copy that the server transmitted--or “ghosted”--is considered its ghost.

Finally, I should mention that this picture is simplified. In a real situation, there are HUNDREDS of objects being ghosted from the server to the client.

What does the game Tribes have to do with Villagers and Heroes?

Now I want to take a brief detour. The engine that Villagers and Heroes uses is Torque3D. This a third-generation engine based on the game engine that Dynamix developed for the game “Tribes”. Tribes is one of the most influential games in game history. It was the first First Person Shooter game to feature powered battlesuits, team-based matches, and jump jets. It’s the forerunner of games like HALO and TitanFall. One area where it excelled was in its networking. One of the design goals of Tribes was that every mission should be completely moddable. Along with ability of any player to run their own server, it allowed the community to build their own custom missions.

However, one of the costs of having completely moddable missions, is that the server has to tell every client where everything is (and what everything is).

Look back at the picture that shows ghosting from server to client. Most of the objects in that picture never move. Of all of those objects, the only objects that DO move are the player, and the monsters. So, it is a waste that we are transmitting the types and positions of EVERY object in the scene. A better solution is to have the Client load the types and positions of all the non-moving objects from the hard drive. It is WAY faster to load from hard drive than receiving the information over the internet. Additionally, when the player’s computer can handle all this work completely on its own, this saves the server a tremendous amount of work, cutting down on CPU and bandwidth usage. Here is a schematic of what the new system looks like:

This is the system that Clark Fagot implemented for the game recently. Red arrows increase load times and put load on the server, whereas green arrows load quickly and put no load on the server.

The Results

On average, it reduced the zone loading times for our players from 40 seconds to 8 seconds. This is the difference between getting bored and keeping the gameplay rolling. In addition, it saves bandwidth for the game servers, and all the players.
Community Announcements - [ZS] Oskars
Ever wonder what goes into making a game? With so many moving parts, it's hard to know what truly goes on behind the scenes, but we're illuminating that for you on the Daylight blog! Meet Liz Lovett: Producer, and Alex Guilbert: Audio Director, and learn about their roles in the creation of Daylight- http://www.playdaylight.com/

Have a question for Liz or Alex? Let us know here!

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