Spaera - BlazingTedd


As previously we previously mused about, the big 2017 patch is here. Some of the thoughts that went into the big changes in this patch can be found by clicking here:

Part 1
Part 2

We are looking forward to discussing all the changes with you on discord!

Gameplay Changes
  • Overflowing Blocks on the top of the board are no longer cropped during a clear. After cascading, if a block is still left overflowing on top, the player loses the match.
  • Orb Clearing mechanics have been changed. Magic orbs can now only match with each other as a match 3 color or they can be cleared via horizontal or vertical explosions.
  • Normal playable blocks now come in only 3 colors.
  • Off-color blocks only appear in specific spells such as Luna's "Luna Punishment" spell.
  • Board dimensions changed to 21 by 10.
  • Added a myriad of new pentaminos.
  • Orb and Exploder spawn location rearranged on play pieces.
  • Adjusted block clearing combo multiplier to be more aggressive.
  • Garbage lines generated by each player's combos now cancel each other out before being applied.
  • Timer till Panic Mode is increased from 150 to 200 seconds.
  • Players start with an empty board now.
Rebalancing

Adjusted many spells to accommodate different board dimensions.

Known Issues
  • There are some performance issues in this build mainly due to an engine upgrade.
  • There are some board glitches where the incorrect block will be displayed for a short period of time during cascading effects, brick magic and other parts of the game
  • There are some UI layer issues littered throughout the game.
  • There is a slight lag to the game when a player is invited to a private match.
  • There are some errors to displayed combo Hits calculations.
Spaera - BlazingOrb
As we are getting to polishing up a patch for next week with the system changes mentioned in the previous post, we'd like to talk a bit more about the system what's going to be included.



Fighting For Pieces
If you've met us in person or talked to us about Spaera, you've probably heard us talking about what we feel the shared piece deck means to the game. In our minds, the central deck is one of the core components of the game. It opens up the potential for consistent and direct interaction with the other player and enables players to speed up or slow down their pace to fight for pieces. Ideally there are favorable pieces that players fight for, and hard to use pieces that players actively avoid and try to force the opponent to acquire. We consider this mechanic to be like "footsies", which is a term commonly used in fighting games such as Street Fighter to describe the control of space between fighters either through movement or through actively using moves and abilities. In the current system, however, making a split-second decision on whether a certain piece is unfavorable to your opponent can be quite a daunting task. We wanted to highlight the favorable and unfavorable pieces better and at the same time free up some of the player's attention in order to take advantage of these pieces.

In the current test build, we reduced the number of colors on playable pieces down to 3. This preserves the match and cascading mechanics but frees up some mental bandwidth so players have less colors to worry about matching. We also added more piece shapes and color patterns to shift more of the decision making process to piece selection as opposed to piece placement. What this does is reduce the load on identifying what clear-able colors an opponent has and allow for better recognition of whether an incoming piece from the deck is a harder to clear shape and is likely to be undesirable for the opponent. This ties back to our last blog post about end-game survival. These changes should open up more options for players to proactively finish an opponent.

We would like to emphasize that this is a large step that we are taking in what we feel is the right direction for the game. This means that we haven't finalized everything and more changes are coming as we get more feedback from all of you. Thank you for your continued participation in our Spaera Early Access build and stay tuned!

Spaera - BlazingOrb
Hello Spaera Fans,

Spaera updates have gone a little silent since the beginning of 2017. As mentioned in the New Year's update, we've been experimenting with various system changes as we are still not completely satisfied with the current feel of the game. On top of tweaking game mechanics, we've also been busy cleaning out bugs and preparing the game for the full Steam launch.

Before summarizing what changes we are considering, we must first discuss the issues we are addressing. After shifting the whole game to a cascading combo and match-3 system last year, we've been in a constant struggle to balance the pacing of the game, along with defining clear advantages that players can achieve through skill.

Endgame Survival

The glaring problem to us was that it's rather inconsistent to cleanly finish your opponent, unless you're using a character such as Joseph or Rafael. Over the course of the year, we ended up adding a lot of game mechanics to try to fix this problem. Despite mitigating the issue, we didn't like the direction the game took. Most of the time, winning in end game situations still felt more like the other player accidentally died rather than due to something you proactively did.

After some rethinking, experimenting, and analysis, we identified the main culprit of the problem. To retain the spirit of Spaera Beta 1, we tried to inherit many of Beta 1 mechanics, and unfortunately some didn't fit quite well with our current system. Specifically, there was a mechanic such that when a player's board was filled to the top, the player would survive as long as a clear was made. In Beta 1, this increased the chances of a comeback, but survival at the top was still difficult with an opponent applying pressure. This is problematic for Spaera's current system because matching 3 to clear even when you are at the top of the board is common and trivial, degenerating the end of each match to an attrition of matching any 3 to survive since excess blocks will be cropped.

Panic time color blocks, green blocks being more rare, inherently difficult to use pieces, etc. were all design decisions to make it more difficult to survive near the end of each match. The problem is, death felt random. This has strayed from our idea of marrying fighting and puzzle games. Losing should occur because your opponent made a better move or you made a big mistake. Likewise, winning should be because you made less mistakes or made a critical move against your opponent. We want to bring the game back to these roots.

The most critical change that we have coming for Spaera moving towards a 1.0 release is this:
  • If a player is at the top of the playing field and the next piece overflows in any way, the player has lost.
In other words, no blocks will be cropped even if a player makes a clear at the top. After clearing, if any cascaded block lands outside of the playing field, the match is over. This change has allowed us to roll back some of the more esoteric design decisions we made, which resulted in streamlining the basic game play and pace of Spaera.

As of now, we are revisiting changes and experimenting with things such as increasing or decreasing the number of colors, board dimensions, as well as having more shapes in pieces. Let us know your thoughts and any ideas you'd like us to try, and expect an update with these changes in the near future!



Community Announcements - BlazingTedd
2016 has come close to an end, and we hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday season. With upcoming features such as the tutorial, a training mode, finishing up the story mode, and game mechanics tweaks, 2017 is going to be a big year for us as we target getting Spaera to full release.

This patch is going to be the first of a series of game mechanics changes to address some issues and concerns we have to the current pacing and overall feel of the game. Please be patient with us during the process, as the game will often be a bit broken in terms of character balance. The main feedback we are looking for right now is your thoughts on whether the new mechanics look and feel fun.

Changes

Chain Multipliers
Previously, while clearing and making fancy chains feel good, they have not been very rewarding. In particular, they don't do anything more than doing multiple small, separate clears, yet take more time and thinking to set up.

At the moment, a line is sent to the opponent for every 12 blocks you clear. Chain Multipliers increase the number of blocks counted by 0.5x for every additional chain.

For example, a 3-clear cascaded into a 8-clear, and then into an 11-clear would count as:

1 * 3 = 3
1.5 * 8 = 12
2 * 11 = 22

For a total of 37 blocks being counted, resulting in 3 lines for attacking. Compared to the previous patch, this would've been counted as 22 blocks and only added 1 line to the opponent.

Row Tweaks
One of the concerns we have is that matches are lasting too long when a player is at the top. Even though we like having comeback potential in matches, we'd like to make them less frequent. In order to do this, we are planning to tweak the patterns of lines added to opponents, and for this patch, we are making the patterns a bit more random as a start.

UI Polishing and Minor Changes
We've brushed up some of the UIs and changed the wording on the text of XX blocks cleared to XX hits to represent how much damage the player is actually doing after multipliers.

We are looking to further tune our UI to make it more clear as to how many more blocks are needed to send a line, and what the exact multiplier is for a certain clear.

Bug Fixes
  • Fixed bug where the game crashes after playing a certain number of matches.
  • Fixed bug where using a Rafael spell would sometimes make deck pieces disappear.
  • Fixed clearing animation bugs involving Rafael's Skyward Cadenza.
  • Fixed bug where acquiring an Orb via the Orb meter did not trigger an orb acquired sound effect.
  • Fixed a bug where sending to a Private Match invite to a player on the Title Screen would put the inviter's game in a weird state that prevents the player from playing online.
  • Misc. bug fixes.

Known Issues
  • Non-English Steam Names are not showing up since international font isn't supported yet
    There is currently a temporary fix to strip the foreign characters away from the name, but we do intend to support the display of foreign characters.

  • The Spaera Client still needs some performance tweaks.
    While we've made improvements on performance, performance improvement is always something we feel we can do better. If you are seeing performance issues and/or sluggishness, please let us know.

  • Panic text sometimes goes behind the board if it shows up during a magic spell.

  • There are still some unexpected graphical glitches here and there.
    We fixed even more of them this patch, but if you still see any glitches, please report them. We'd like to make sure we don't miss any of them!

As always, if new bugs are found, Please report them to the Steam Spaera Discussion Page!

And one more thing
Keep an eye out for your orbs! Rumor has it that a certain someone has begun to show up and snatch orbs from players!

Thanks to @MrSmileAlot for the Tsubaki art!
Nov 9, 2016
Community Announcements - BlazingTedd
Greetings!

For this patch, our focus has been on bug fixes, tuning the clear animation, and laying down the foundation for a tutorial mode and possibly a training mode in the future. We are aiming to get a simple tutorial mode up in the next few weeks to help welcome new players to the game.

Changes
Single Player and Versus P1 controls have been merged. The original scheme has become cumbersome, and especially with the conflict checking between Single Player and Versus P1 controls.

The original intent was to try to address the scenario where a player has a keyboard setup that uses the whole keyboard, but would likely use only a portion of the keyboard if it were to be shared in Versus play. Having separate settings would allow the player to play the two different modes without adjusting controls.

However, the implementation shouldn't have checked for conflicts between controls as mentioned above, and the player shouldn't need to rebind joysticks like what niconico said. So we are going to merge Single Player and Versus P1 controls back into just a Player 1 mapping.

Bug Fixes
  • Fixed bug where the music can momentarily stop in the middle of the game.
  • Fixed bug where the music stops when two Rafaels both use Lingering Intermezzo.
  • Fixed bug where the indicators for duration-based spells do not disappear if they were ended via an activation of another spell.
  • Fixed animation bug where blocks drop incorrectly when a horizontal explosion clears bricks.
  • Fixed a bug where the client fails to connect to the server if the username contains the '|' character.
  • Partially fixed bug where move descriptions on the Character Select Scene fail to appear if you're playing on the right side in an Online Match.
  • Fixed misc. server-related bugs.

Known Issues
  • Non-English Steam Names are not showing up since international font isn't supported yet
    If an opponent leaves an Online Match due to being invited to a Private Match, you may get stuck. Please restart the client if this happens

  • The Spaera Client still needs some performance tweaks and can get sluggish over time.
    If this becomes an issue, please restart the client to fix it for now.

  • Panic text sometimes goes behind the board if it shows up during a magic spell.

  • There are still some unexpected graphical glitches here and there.
    We fixed a few of them in this patch, but if you still see glitches old or new, please report them. We'd like to make sure we don't miss any of them!

As always, if new bugs are found, Please report them to the Steam Spaera Discussion Page!

Community Announcements - BlazingTedd
As part of the incoming patch update, we will be taking down the server for about an hour on Tuesday 11/8 at 11:00 PM PST.

The new patch will include various bug fixes, increased server stability, and animation tweaks. Full patch notes to come later!
Oct 26, 2016
Community Announcements - BlazingTedd
The large influx of users from Humble has helped us surface some bugs that require hotfixing. Keep them coming to Help@blazingorb.com!

Hot Fixes
  • Improved Resolution Handling
    The current system isn't 100% ideal yet, as we learn to wrestle with our new Engine. For now, the system should be able to pick up supported resolutions and handle them appropriately. If you are noticing blurry graphics in full screen mode, try setting a higher resolution in the options before changing to full screen.

  • Minor Network Tweaks
    We've found some network socket related bugs both on the client and server side that we've ironed out. More Network Stability... Yay!

  • Added Graphics
    As early testers and early early access folks know, some of the game's assets are still placeholders. We continue to add the assets back in every patch.

Known Issues
  • Previously saved options will be reverted to the default settings
    Apologies for the inconvenience, but this is a side-effect from the changing of the format for controls and options.

  • Non-English Steam Names are not showing up since international font isn't supported yet
    If an opponent leaves an Online Match due to being invited to a Private Match, you may get stuck. Please restart the client if this happens

  • The Spaera Client still needs some performance tweaks and can get sluggish over time.
    If this becomes an issue, please restart the client to fix it for now.

  • There are still some unexpected graphical glitches here and there.
If new bugs are found, Please report them to the Steam Spaera Discussion Page!

Oct 24, 2016
Community Announcements - BlazingTedd
We are on our 4th patch cycle since the Early Access Release! Thank you all for being patient with us as we continue to improve Spaera!

Balance Changes
  • Setter's "Setter Cannon" is Now a Level 2 Spell and"Blast Hurricane" is Now a Level 3 Spell
    We wanted Setter Z to have more attacking options so we decided to try moving his offensives spells into the lower tier.

  • Setter's "Setter Cannon" duration is reduced from 3 turns to 2
    As part of the change above, Setter Cannon's duration has been reduced to fit in terms of power as a Level 2 Spell.

  • Setter Z's "Blast Knuckle" slow effect reduced from previous patch
    Last patch we changed the way Blast Knuckle worked by having it also reduce the base drop speed. It was a bit overpowered so we reduced the slow effect.

  • Harland's "Gas To Solid" Spell buffed to fill the whole bottom row
    This is a change we've wanted to do for a while as a slight buff to Harland. It's not a game changer but the bonus attack blocks from the clear is welcomed.

New Stuff
  • Character Specific Confirm Drop Particle Effects
    Those who were part of Spaera's Beta1 probably remembers this little subtle spell effect. Each character has their own special particle effects when using Confirm Drop!

  • New UI Assets Updated
    As we get closer and closer to a final release, placeholder UI elements are getting properly populated and replaced!

Bug Fixes
  • Resolution Change Bug Fixes
  • Screen Transition Bug Fixes

Known Issues
  • Previously saved options will be reverted to the default settings
    Apologies for the inconvenience, but this is a side-effect from the changing of the format for controls and options.

  • Non-English Steam Names are not showing up since international font isn't supported yet
    If an opponent leaves an Online Match due to being invited to a Private Match, you may get stuck. Please restart the client if this happens

  • The Spaera Client still needs some performance tweaks and can get sluggish over time.
    If this becomes an issue, please restart the client to fix it for now.

  • There are still some unexpected graphical glitches here and there.
If new bugs are found, Please report them to the Steam Spaera Discussion Page!

Community Announcements - BlazingOrb
For this patch, we revamped the control customization feature from the feedback we received last patch. Because of this change, control settings from previous versions will be reset. Other changes in this patch included network optimizations and misc. bug fixes.

Control customization should now support almost all controller types. If you experience problems, please calibrate or remap your controller in options. And if that still doesn't solve the problem, please let us know!

Community Announcements - BlazingOrb
We are on our third patch cycle since the Early Access Release! Thank you all for being patient with us as we continue to improve Spaera!

Balance Changes
  • Rafael's Lingering Intermezzo duration reduced from 7 turns to 5 turns
    As with the rate of gaining meter, Rafael's Lingering Intermezzo is capable of stringing into another Lingering Intermezzo, making it more powerful than it's supposed to be.

  • Setter Z's Blast Knuckle now slows down your drop speed
    We increased the effects of Setter Z's Blast Knuckle as it seemed to be a bit ineffective as a control ability.

  • Blocks required to build 1 magic meter increased from 70 to 85

Menus and Options
  • Full Screen and Resolution Selection
    There are now options inside the options screen to switch to Full Screen Mode and select your desired resolution.

  • Joystick Customization and Versus Mode Key Customization
    You are now able to customize your joystick buttons as well as customize your keys for Versus Mode. We are seeing some issues with certain controller, but if you seeing any issues, please let us know with the controller model and operating system version.

Bug Fixes
  • Network stability fixes
  • UI navigation fixes

Known Issues
  • Previously saved options will be reverted to the default settings
    Apologies for the inconvenience, but this is a side-effect from the changing of the format for controls and options.

  • Non-English Steam Names are not showing up since international font isn't supported yet
    If an opponent leaves an Online Match due to being invited to a Private Match, you may get stuck. Please restart the client if this happens

  • The Spaera Client still needs some performance tweaks and can get sluggish over time.
    If this becomes an issue, please restart the client to fix it for now.

  • There are still some unexpected graphical glitches here and there.
If new bugs are found, Please report them to the Steam Spaera Discussion Page!

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