Community Announcements - sean.colombo
We might have picked up some other improvements to the engine, but there were at least two changes:
  • Games that are already started, now show their Game Settings in the list of games on the Online Game Menu Screen.
  • When reloading a game from the server and all of the moves get played in rapid succession, it no longer plays all of the move-sounds on top of each other (which could be rather jarring if your speakers were turned up). Now the replay of those moves is silent.

Linux, Mac, and Windows are all at the same release version.
Community Announcements - sean.colombo
It's finally here!! :D Today, we've released Asynchronous Play! This means that you can play a game even when your opponent is not online (and vice-versa). So it'll be a lot easier to find players and to finish games.

Here's some things you need to know!
  • All online games now support Async... instead of Quitting, you can now "Leave" the game. This is perfectly safe, you will be able to come back at any time.
  • All online games now have a "turn timeout" setting which controls how long you have to make a move. The default is 7 days, so this is typically just to prevent users from abandoning a game when they're losing. If a turn-timeout passes without the active player moving, then that player forfeits the game.
  • To avoid the problem of two people having to be online at exactly the same time to start a game, you can now "Start Alone". Basically: if you "Create Game" online, then you hit "Ready" in the lobby, but nobody else is in the lobby yet, you'll have the option to "Start Alone". At that point, you'll go into the game (and you can even move, if it's your turn) even though there is no opponent. You can safely leave the game and it will still sit around waiting for someone to join it. NOTE: You can not start a Private Game alone... because you can't invite Steam players who aren't online (we're working on another way to do this eventually).
  • The first time you play, you will get prompted to connect to "BlueLine Cloud". This is not a 3rd party service (we're BlueLine.. it's just the name of our game-servers). If you connect, then your data will be available to you outside of Steam (sort of anti-DRM). If you choose "No Thanks" you can connect later, but it's recommended that you do connect.

Since it's been a long time since our last release, there have also been a number of other changes:
  • Our entire graphics library has been updated to use the latest version of FNA. This increases performance (better frame-rate on really old computers) and should make the game more compatible to graphics cards that have often had problems.
  • GamePad support on Linux is back (it had broken).
  • The list of games scrolls better
  • ?? Probably a lot! We've been holding back releases since January to make sure that Async was super-stable before releasing it on Hive. We released it first on Reversi, then improved it, then released it on Khet 2.0 and improved it more.... then tested more, polished a few things, and only NOW is Hive getting it! Much has happened in the meantime. Keep an eye out for any bugs!

In the last couple of hours since we pushed this update (we run through a bunch of production tests before doing the announcement) we've ALREADY noticed more people playing online than usual. This is going to be great for the community!! Please play online often to help keep this as a great place for finding Hive opponents!

If you run into any issues, please let us know... we'll be watching the Issues forum closely!

Enjoy! :D
- Sean & Geoff
Community Announcements - sean.colombo
A while back, we mentioned that we were making Async play for all of our games.

We released it along with Reversi. Made a bunch of fixes & new features (such as allowing starting of games asynchronously) and then released it on Khet 2.0... more fixes & features (including re-doing the connect-to-cloud process), and now it's coming to Hive.

It's done, it's tested, and we're just waiting due to timing-reasons. In the meantime, we're doing small housecleaning-type stuff to make it shine around the edges.

We've made a bunch of fixes to async since it first launched with Reversi, so hopefully the Hive version will be pretty stable even at launch. It's been months since we've pushed a release of Hive, so much has changed in our engine. We've update the rendering engine, made performance improvements (so it can run fast even on slow computers), and more.


Async play seems to have finally stirred up a bigger online community for Khet 2.0, and I'm hoping it does even better for Hive.

I'm really sorry that it's taken so long for async to come to Hive (I really thought it would be a couple of weeks, not a couple of months). Hive is our "crown-jewel" so to speak (our largest community), so we wanted to make sure the async was really good by the time we released it. We might only get one chance at this.

Multiplayer communities are tricky because you always have to stay above a certain threshold of users... if you drop below, then users stop checking for games (ever!) and it just gets desolate quickly. With this update, we plan to FINALLY turn the tide and get the online Hive community to critical mass.

After the release, please contact us with any bugs you find... and please have fun finding other people online to play with! :-)

We will try to drive a bunch of people to the online play, right around the time of the release... and if we get enough games going, hopefully there will always be some action in the online community.



Talk to you in about a week!
Community Announcements - sean.colombo
A while back, we mentioned that we were making Async play for all of our games.

We released it along with Reversi. Made a bunch of fixes & new features (such as allowing starting of games asynchronously) and then released it on Khet 2.0... more fixes & features (including re-doing the connect-to-cloud process), and now it's coming to Hive.

It's done, it's tested, and we're just waiting due to timing-reasons. In the meantime, we're doing small housecleaning-type stuff to make it shine around the edges.

We've made a bunch of fixes to async since it first launched with Reversi, so hopefully the Hive version will be pretty stable even at launch. It's been months since we've pushed a release of Hive, so much has changed in our engine. We've update the rendering engine, made performance improvements (so it can run fast even on slow computers), and more.


Async play seems to have finally stirred up a bigger online community for Khet 2.0, and I'm hoping it does even better for Hive.

I'm really sorry that it's taken so long for async to come to Hive (I really thought it would be a couple of weeks, not a couple of months). Hive is our "crown-jewel" so to speak (our largest community), so we wanted to make sure the async was really good by the time we released it. We might only get one chance at this.

Multiplayer communities are tricky because you always have to stay above a certain threshold of users... if you drop below, then users stop checking for games (ever!) and it just gets desolate quickly. With this update, we plan to FINALLY turn the tide and get the online Hive community to critical mass.

After the release, please contact us with any bugs you find... and please have fun finding other people online to play with! :-)

We will try to drive a bunch of people to the online play, right around the time of the release... and if we get enough games going, hopefully there will always be some action in the online community.



Talk to you in about a week!
Community Announcements - sean.colombo
Just wanted to give a head's up on some significant changes before they go live in a few weeks.

One very common request we've had from users is for the option to do "Asynchronous Play" which means the ability to play someone even if they don't stay online. So you can just login when you have time, play one turn, then log-off and the game keeps going.

We've always planned to have this, and now we're finally on the way to having it done! This is not something Steam supports, unfortunately, so we have to create our own game-servers and replace a bunch of the built in Steam networking stuff.

== What changes will I see? ==
  • You will now be able to play with people even when you are not both online the whole time. This is sort of like "play-by-mail" versions of Chess. This should lead to more online play, as well as some MUCH more challenging matches for those who want them.
  • When you go to play an online game for the first time after the change, you will be prompted to set up a BlueLine Cloud account. This is a free account, and all it does is tell our game servers who you are on Steam. This is just a technical limitation. This is very similar to the PlayFab signup when playing Planetary Annihilation.
  • If everything works as planned, you'll never have to log into BlueLine Cloud manually.
  • Email: When you provide an email address during BlueLine Cloud account, we'll NEVER sell that address to 3rd parties. We WILL use it for sending you notifications such as "It's your turn" or "You have 1 more hour to play a turn or you forfeit!". You'll be able to turn off/on each notification at any time. We'll also put the email addr on our BlueLine announcement list which is super sparse (I think we've sent 2 messages in 4 years) and you can, of course, unsubscribe at any time.
  • When you set up an online game, there will now be a Game Setting for Turn Timeout. If a player takes longer than this amount of time, they forfeit the game. We currently plan to allow this to go as high as 30 days per turn and as low as 1 minute per turn. This is not meant to be an implementation of "speed" games or "timed" games (that is likely to come later), this is just a way to prevent people from having games go on literally forever if they're losing.
  • The timeout settings will show up in the list of online games. It'll say something like "7D/turn" which means you can take no more than 7 days per turn.
  • Some fixes: Steam was always really bad at actually reporting which games were in progress. Now, we're in control of that code so it's likely to be way more accurate.
  • Some potential bugs: Please keep in mind, we're running our own game-servers now, and there are likely to be hiccups and potentially even some server down-time. We'll be doing our best to keep them up as much as humanly possible, but our game-servers are about 10 years younger than Valve's so realistically, we'll probably mess up occasionally before everything is perfectly stable. Please be patient with us & report any problems as soon as you see them!


== Future Coolness that this enables ==
Once we have our own game-servers this paves the way for several other really cool features that we've always wanted. These include: game histories that you can review turn-by-turn as well as super-cross-platform play so that you can play games against platforms other than Steam (PC/Mac/Linux) such as iOS/Android. This will make an even larger pool of players online at any given time. All of these features will take a really long time, but having our own game servers is a huge step in that direction.

== Questions? ==
If you have any questions, please let us know. In the meantime, we're going to go back to working on this (we've been cranking on this for 3 weeks so far, and have maybe another 3 weeks until we're done).
Community Announcements - sean.colombo
Linux was one bugfix behind Mac & PC. Just rebuilt & pushed, so they should all be in line with eachother. Thanks to Clint B for pointing this out!
Community Announcements - sean.colombo
A bug was reported, that the AI was able to move a piece which had just been moved by the human's Pillbug on the prior turn. This is fixed now.

We fixed our Mac test environment, so Mac now has all of the fixes from our previous release. All three environments (PC/Mac/Linux) are in sync once again. HARMONIOUS! :D
Community Announcements - sean.colombo
Hey there! As "unforseen4ce" pointed out, we had some regressions in our AI on the last release... especially on the Drone level. That's been sorted, and all the AI now will actually be better than it's ever been (by a little... most noticeable on Hive Mind).

The release today is only Windows & Linux so far (I've b0rked our Mac dev environment when I upgraded to Yosemite... will get that solved soonish though).

Here's everything that got pushed today:
  • AI (especially Drone level) made some dumb errors. Fixed that. This was a regression that we introduced in our last push. The fixed version is better than the AI was before the push that added the brokenness.
  • When someone joins the Online game global lobby, now there is an audible sound effect (the volume is controlled by the SFX slider in Settings) this will help you notice when someone else shows up. That was a huge problem when waiting around before... if you just had Hive open in the background, you wouldn't even notice when someone else showed up.
  • Now when people join/leave the global lobby, there will be System Messages in the chat box which will announce the person so you can keep track of who is coming & going.
  • Made it easier to see how to join a game in the new Online game global lobby.
  • Fixed display of Game Modifiers on Game Settings screen (that was another regression in the last push).
Community Announcements - sean.colombo
While we were making Khet 2.0 (also on Steam), we built a Group Chat into the Online Game Screen so that players can see who else is currently online, hanging around.

Since we wrote one engine that powers both Hive and Khet, it was easy to pull that back into Hive!

We also made a bunch of other fixes, so here's an overview of the fixes to Hive that we made over the last several weeks and released tonight (and remembered to write down ;)):
  • Redesign Online Game Menu with a new Group Chat and member-list
  • Made the progress bar update in real-time (it was too jumpy before)
  • Fix the initial Loading progress bar (it went to 50% then back to 25%).
  • Made the loading time slightly faster
  • If you press "Home" key to set the camera back to the default position, it won't spin around in a bunch of circles to get there (even if you've spun the camera to get to where you were).
  • Disabling sound in windows was causing the game not to boot for some users.
  • Made the "Play Hive Like a Champion" links in the credits actually open a link (instead of just being text).
  • Turned all links in Credits into clickable links.

This is a free update and was released tonight on PC, Mac, and Linux. If you don't have it right away, restart Steam and that will force it to check for updates.

Thanks for being Hive players! If you haven't checked out our other game Khet 2.0, you should have a coupon in your inventory for it. Please keep giving us more feedback & stay tuned as all of our games continue to improve!
Community Announcements - sean.colombo
Long time, no release! :) Things have been fairly stable, so we haven't had to do any emergency releases. If you've been following @bluelinegames on twitter, you might have noticed that we've even been able to start on our next project, Khet 2.0 - the Laser Game!

In the meantime, we've been making regular tweaks to Hive & then this morning we finally routed out a couple of Online errors that were causing certain users to have a whole barrel of trouble when trying to make online games. Tonight, that build went live & should automatically update for you the next time you run Steam.

Here's what's in the release we just pushed to PC, Mac, and Linux:
  • Dropped the number of games needed to get a full Elo Rating down to 15 games (too many people were getting discouraged in the 20's... that's sad!).
  • BUGFIX: Under certain cases, some players would start online games which would be confused about whose turn it was, so the game would basically be locked.
  • BUGFIX: Under other conditions, players could start a game where one player would have a different set of pieces enabled, which lead to crashing.
  • Performance improvement to rendering... on low-end systems that had framerates that were low, this should increase the frame-rate by about 50%! (Geoff is such a baller at this stuff)
  • Made the "Esc" button clickable on the screen to exit the game.
  • Automatically remember the FullScreen setting (made it "sticky") so player doesn't have to go fullscreen manually, every time they play the game (if that's how they prefer it).
  • Capture STDOUT and send it to our logfile... this will make debugging customer issues even easier in the future.
  • At user-request, updated the coupon-code in the Credits to be the 2nd Edition of the "Play Hive Like A Champion" book. Thanks to Randy for creating a discount for the new version also! :)
...

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