Apr 22, 2017
Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
Hi all,

I apologize for the long delay in updates to the game. Several factors have contributed to the delay, I'll discuss one here.

In the past few months I've tried to put together an update more than once, but keep running into the same issue: the game has grown a bit beyond my capabilities as a programmer. I'm hesitant to push updates that could fix a few bugs, but destabilize the game.

I'm going to make another attempt, but if I am not able to get something together in the next month that seems solid I think there are two options for the game:

1. Release the game as free
2. Reduce the price of the game to a cost that reflects the value of the game with an uncertain update schedule

Neither of these precludes further updates, but clearly a regular update schedule is not something I can promise. I'm reducing the price regardless, and will decide on pt 1. in part based on any feedback I get. I do think the game offers some value as is, and provokes some thought about technologies that would be useful on Mars.

I welcome any discussion or feedback on these ideas.

Sol 0 was my first attempt at making a game. I've learned a lot, and honestly the game probably should never have been as popular as it is - I think there is a huge opportunity for a quality Mars city builder, and the subject matter seems like it was compelling enough that the quirks of this game could be overlooked!

Thanks for all your support,

Sol 0 Team
Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
Version 1.04 has now been moved from the testing branch to the main branch, and is available to everyone!

If you would like to read about the new fixes and features, check out this announcement for details:

http://steamcommunity.com/games/387370/announcements/detail/597102827885627322

A summary of the changes is listed below, copied from the previous announcement:

New features in 1.04
  • Geodesic domes have been added. More on this below.
  • Community-made translations can now be shared through the Steam Workshop. If you have made a translation you wish to share, you can upload it using the Map Editor.
  • A number of AI/pathing improvement relating to finding the most efficient route to a target location. I'm chipping away at this over time, and I think this update should resolve a few more edge cases where units do not perform as expected.
  • A few performance improvements were realized. Improved caching of few unit components, may not be noticeable except on mid-range CPUs.
  • If independence has been declared, the population will only automatically increase if beds are available. This allows you to have better control over the colony growth post-Earth.
  • ... other minor bug fixes.

Geodesic Domes

The idea for the dome had been floating around for a while. It seemed like a quintessential Mars colonization structure, and I finally decided to add it. The Geodesic Dome is very large, requires a lot of resources to build, and can only be constructed once independence has been declared.

I'm pretty happy with the role this building plays in the game. Independence has always been a bit unfocused, with no real objective once the monument has been built. With the dome, the player now needs to maintain a strong production line, probably involving lots of methane, ore mines, and 3D printers.

This is what the dome looks like:



There are four quadrants, and each quardant can have something different. At the moment there are three options: a forest, which prevents the dome from losing oxygen as quickly if power is lost; a living area, which adds beds; and an engineering academy, which reduces the population required to support the colony. In a quadrant a tower can be constructed with up to three buildings. So you could have three living areas, or two and one engineering academy, etc.

The dome takes up a lot of room and you'll probably need to plan ahead from the beginning to support it:



Multiple domes can be built, but colony planning will be very important to make sure there is enough free space! Originally the dome was a bit smaller, since I wanted it to fit on every map. But it ultimately became a huge mega-structure, at the expense of possibly fitting on some of the more tight maps.

I'm excited about the dome because I spent a fair amount of effort building a good base of code. I can easily add more options for structures in a few hours of work. Essentially, I just need to make and texture the 3D model, and it plugs right into the code. I'll likely expand the menu in future updates, a few ideas might be a farm, aquaponics lab, or manufacturing facility (to make heavy machinery). I'm open to other suggestions.

The next update will likely add one or two dome-buildings, and continue the focus on AI and pathfinding improvement.

Thanks for your support!

Sol 0 Team

Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
Sol 0 version 1.04 is now available on the 'testing' branch. If no issues come up in the next few days, 1.04 will move to the main branch. If you would like to try out the new features before they hit the main branch, you can right click on the game in your Steam Library, select Properties, and select the 'betas' tab and select the ‘testing’ beta branch.

The usual disclaimer applies that this is a 'testing' version and may contain bugs that the full release will not! This version is provided for you to try out the new features, and I'd appreciate reports of anything that doesn't work quite right. Below is a description of what is new in 1.04:

New features in 1.04
  • Geodesic domes have been added. More on this below.
  • Community-made translations can now be shared through the Steam Workshop. If you have made a translation you wish to share, you can upload it using the Map Editor. More on this below.
  • A number of AI/pathing improvement relating to finding the most efficient route to a target location. I'm chipping away at this over time, and I think this update should resolve a few more edge cases where units do not perform as expected.
  • A few performance improvements were realized. Improved caching of few unit components, may not be noticeable except on mid-range CPUs.
  • If independence has been declared, the population will only automatically increase if beds are available. This allows you to have better control over the colony growth post-Earth.
  • ... other minor bug fixes.

Geodesic Domes

The idea for the dome had been floating around for a while. It seemed like a quintessential Mars colonization structure, and I finally decided to add it. The Geodesic Dome is very large, requires a lot of resources to build, and can only be constructed once independence has been declared.

I'm pretty happy with the role this building plays in the game. Independence has always been a bit unfocused, with no real objective once the monument has been built. With the dome, the player now needs to maintain a strong production line, probably involving lots of methane, ore mines, and 3D printers.

This is what the dome looks like:



There are four quadrants, and each quardant can have something different. At the moment there are three options: a forest, which prevents the dome from losing oxygen as quickly if power is lost; a living area, which adds beds; and an engineering academy, which reduces the population required to support the colony. In a quadrant a tower can be constructed with up to three buildings. So you could have three living areas, or two and one engineering academy, etc.

The dome takes up a lot of room and you'll probably need to plan ahead from the beginning to support it:



Multiple domes can be built, but colony planning will be very important to make sure there is enough free space! Originally the dome was a bit smaller, since I wanted it to fit on every map. But it ultimately became a huge mega-structure, at the expense of possibly fitting on some of the more tight maps.

I'm excited about the dome because I spent a fair amount of effort building a good base of code. I can easily add more options for structures in a few hours of work. Essentially, I just need to make and texture the 3D model, and it plugs right into the code. I'll likely expand the menu in future updates, a few ideas might be a farm, aquaponics lab, or manufacturing facility (to make heavy machinery). I'm open to other suggestions.

Language Workshop support

If you have been using the localizer tool (see the forums) to make your own translations, you now have the ability to upload these to the Steam Workshop. If you start the Map Editor and press the 'upload' button you'll now see an option to upload a translation file made with the localizer tool.

I've added a 'Language' tag to the Workshop, and you'll be able to subscribe to community-made translations and apply them from the settings menu on the Sol 0 home screen. I know one French translation has been heavily worked on, and I've had fun playing the game in French.

I'm available to help support translations. Send an email if you're trying to make a translation but have a question on how the tool works or how to get your translation up on the workshop.

...

I think this is going to be an update that will add some fresh gameplay, and I'm looking forward to the feedback.

The next update will likely add one or two dome-buildings, and continue the focus on AI and pathfinding improvement.

Thanks for your support!

Sol 0 Team

Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
Hi all,

Version 1.02 is now live and off the testing branch. 1.03 will be coming soon. As a reminder, here's what's new in 1.02, which is now available for everyone:

  • Sol 0 now supports achievements. There are six, one for each mission patch, and one for unlocking the last level. If you already have some of these patches, just starting the game will award you all the achievements that you have already unlocked.

  • Accidentally clicking through the GUI is no longer possible – prevents accidentally deselecting units, especially on the main GUI and the biology strain mixing window.

  • Minor optimizations and refining of the pathing introduced in 1.01, mostly improving behavior in some edge cases.

  • Sol 0 now supports localization. I would eventually like to officially support between 4-6 languages. Official language support is going to take a bit more time, since it involves paying for a high quality translation and modifying a few graphics that contain text. However, unofficial community translations can now be created using a translation tool available here (Windows only), and lets you modify nearly all the game text and share the language file:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/wc2b8lm8je9e374/Localizer.zip?dl=0

Check out the threads on the forums devoted to the Localizer to read more about the tool, or send me an email if you're interested in adding in trying it out and need some tips!

- Sol 0 Team
Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
Apologies for the delay in getting this update ready. A few of the items took longer than expected to implement. Sol 0 v1.02 is available on the testing branch. If you want to try out 1.02, right click on the game in your Steam Library, select Properties, and select the 'betas' tab and select the ‘testing’ beta branch. The game should start updating. Below is a description of what is new in 1.02:

  • Sol 0 now supports achievements. There are six, one for each mission patch, and one for unlocking the last level. If you already have some of these patches, just starting the game will award you all the achievements that you have already unlocked.

  • Accidentally clicking through the GUI is no longer possible – prevents accidentally deselecting units, especially on the main GUI and the biology strain mixing window.

  • Minor optimizations and refining of the pathing introduced in 1.01, mostly improving behavior in some edge cases.

  • Sol 0 now supports localization. I would eventually like to officially support between 4-6 languages. Official language support is going to take a bit more time, since it involves paying for a high quality translation and modifying a few graphics that contain text. However, unofficial community translations can now be created using a translation tool available here (Windows only), and lets you modify nearly all the game text and share the language file:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/wc2b8lm8je9e374/Localizer.zip?dl=0

A few notes on using this tool:

Start the program and load the ‘English’ file. Clicking on a text item will allow you to edit the text in the upper right box. A preview of the new text will display in the lower right box. The lower right preview box also shows a greyed out version of the original text, so you can try to keep the length the same (which is important!).

A small red square next to each text item indicates whether the text has been modified, to make it easy to find text that still needs replacing.

Once you’ve edited the file, give it a name other than ‘English’ and press Save. If you then copy the language file, located in ‘Localizer_Data/Languages’ to ‘Sol 0_Data/Languages’, you’ll be able to switch to that language file from the home screen in-game setting menu.

The tool is forwards compatible for future versions. If I add text in a later version, you can copy over all your work onto the new language file using the ‘Overwrite language file with:’ box in the lower left.

I’ll set up a forum for sharing language files… this is sort of an experiment, and I don’t know whether there will be lots of interest or very little interest.



Getting the achievements and language support in took up most of 1.02. 1.03 will return to a pure bug-fixing update. I’ve really enjoyed checking out all the screenshots and content on the workshop, very cool to see the colonies that are being created!

-Sol 0 Team
Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
I’ve set version 1.01 to live. This version has a number of fixes, primarily targeting the pathfinding. Note that this is different from AI, and the AI has not been addressed in this update (but will be starting in the next update).

With 1.01 out, and unless it causes any issues, I’ll begin prioritizing the next round of bug fixes and improvements for the next update. I won’t give a full list now, but I’d like to start addressing some of the AI issues, particularly around placing construction and fixing broken buildings. I’m also continuing to look at Steam achievements and see what it would take to get them in sooner rather than later.

A partial list of changes is below:

  • Pathfinding has been improved. Units should take the shortest distance to their target. Note this is a pathfinding fix, not an AI fix. I decided to address pathfinding first, and AI improvements will come at a later time.
  • When destroying or repairing, a ‘preview’ box appears over the target building. This should help reduce instances of clicking on the wrong building.
  • The main menu now has a ‘settings’ window.
  • When a new level is started on the main menu, a ‘back’ button now allows returning to the level list, preventing accidental colony wipes.
  • Changed the preview GUI text on the unlockable buildings to make it more clear how to achieve the unlock.
  • Fixed a few issues around construction of recycling centers
  • Added a tooltip over the population progress bar in the top left of the screen
  • Arboretums now provide a small oxygen boost to nearby hallways.
  • The TAB keybinding to rotate is now additionally bound to ‘r’
Jan 24, 2016
Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
Saving/Loading issues

I’ve released an update that should address some of the loading and saving issues that have been reported. The cause of the issues was related to the previous fix for the game crashing when exited. This means that the crash on exit issue is back in the game for now, but saving and loading should be fixed.

I believe I have a fix that will cure both the loading/saving and exiting issues, but I don’t want to make it live until I’m sure that it will work. The root of this problem appears to be a Unity issue with the ‘quit’ function, which makes the crash difficult to fix.

Next update: Version 1.01

I have also been working on addressing some of the bugs that have been reported in the discussions, and have an update (v1.01) ready. This update needs a bit more testing before release, but if you’re interested in trying it out you can switch from the main stream to the testing stream and get the update a bit early:

Right click the game in your library and select ‘properties’
Click the ‘Betas’ tab
Select ‘testing’
There is no password – the update should begin downloading

If another day or two of testing does not result in any issues, I’ll release the update. I'll post a pinned discussion in case you have any comments on the test stream. A list of changes is below:

  • Pathfinding has been improved. Units should take the shortest distance to their target. Note this is a pathfinding fix, not an AI fix. I decided to address pathfinding first, and AI improvements will come at a later time.

  • When destroying or repairing, a ‘preview’ box appears over the target building. This should help reduce instances of clicking on the wrong building.

  • The main menu now has a ‘settings’ window.

  • When a new level is started on the main menu, a ‘back’ button now allows returning to the level list, preventing accidental colony wipes.

  • Changed the preview GUI text on the unlockable buildings to make it more clear how to achieve the unlock.

  • Fixed a few issues around construction of recycling centers

  • Added a tooltip over the population progress bar in the top left of the screen

  • Arboretums now provide a small oxygen boost to nearby hallways.

  • The TAB keybinding to rotate is now additionally bound to ‘r’

  • After a few comments regarding the EULA, I’ve reviewed the content. As a small indie, the EULA is really necessary to protect against all possible issues that could come up. I think there are one or two spots I can look into addressing. Sol 0 has no in-app purchases, and never will. The price you pay for the game entitles you to all future upgrades. There is some boilerplate text in the EULA that addresses IAPs that may not be necessary. There is also a section concerning information collected from the user. I’ve intentionally disabled all data collection and statistics from the game (a Unity Pro feature). This text may not be relevant for the game.
    I’ll take these two points and discuss them with the lawyer we used to set up the company to find out if removing or altering the text would be OK.
Jan 19, 2016
Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
Hi all, I’ve just made live an update that I hope will address the game crash when exiting. This fix should work for the Windows, Mac, and Linux builds. It’s a small update, and should download fast. Let me know if you are still getting crashes on exit, but I am fairly confident they are now resolved.

With this issue hopefully fixed, I can now turn to addressing some of the bugs that have been noted in the discussions. I plan on tackling a combination of bugs and polish items, and am targeting an update with some initial fixes this weekend, most likely Sunday.

I’ve continued to enjoy checking out all the screenshots of your colonies, thanks for your support,

- Sol 0 Team
Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
We're continuing to investigate the few stability issues that have been reported. Specifically, most of the reports have been of the game crashing on exit, and some Linux users have experienced issues saving and loading levels.

A potential fix has been identified for the 'crash on exit' problem. The fix seems to be addressing the issue, and is undergoing testing to ensure that the solution does not interfere with a few important functions. This seems to be a fairly common problem with some Unity games.

If you are a Linux user who has been experiencing saving/loading issues, the vast majority of these problems can be fixed by right-clicking the game in the Steam library, selecting properties, and adding the following launch option:

LC_ALL=C %command%

This fixes a problem where periods and commas are switched in some regions. It would be desirable to make this a default launch option, and I am currently investigating if that is possible.

Virtually all other crash issues that have been reported have been due to an interaction between the Steam overlay and the mono layer, and can be resolved by right-clicking on the game in your Steam library, selecting 'properties', and un-checking the Steam overlay toggle.

If you are experiencing any issue not covered above, please email solzerogame@gmail.com and I am happy to help.
Jan 16, 2016
Sol 0: Mars Colonization - solzerogame
Thanks very much for checking out Sol 0! The launch so far has gone fairly smoothly, and I have enjoyed contributing to the discussions happening on the community hub. I’ve noticed some workshop content appearing as well – just a note, you don’t need to upload maps to the workshop if you intend to only play them on your local machine. Any map you save in the Map Editor is immediately playable in Sol 0, and will be found in the custom map list on the home screen.

The number of serious crashes and compatibility issues has been very low. I have been able to help resolve nearly all support issues, and am still working one or two cases. If you are having troubles running the game please reach out to solzerogame@gmail.com, I am more than happy to help get the game running for you.

The reviews so far have been a bit mixed, and it’s clear that reaching a much larger audience has revealed some bugs and glitches. Both the positive and negative reviews are giving me a good picture of where future updates should focus. I am closely reading the discussions on the community hub to get an idea of problem areas, and I think problems fall into a few categories:

Compatibility issues: For example, the game crashes on exit, issues with saved games on Linux systems with non-english localizations.

Bugs: For example, AI and pathfinding issues.

Polish issues: For example, no volume control or settings on the home screen, some key binding issues, and some information not presented clearly to the player that would improve gameplay.

I have solutions already for some of these (including the more serious compatibility issues). I would like to release an update soon with initial fixes for some of these problems, and afterwards try to come up with a reliable update schedule.

The AI issues will be addressed, but may be spread out over the next few updates. I have to be careful with the AI code, and coming up with a good plan before diving into the code is essential.

In summary, I am looking forward to seeing the community here grow. I appreciate the feedback so far. I will likely start a pinned ‘weekly update’ thread where I’ll let you know the latest news. Thanks for your support so far.

- Sol 0 Team
...

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