2015, 2016 : Out with the Old, In with the New

AAB Here. A year or so ago, I wrote that I had been asked to take on some more direct control of the company. It was 256’s turn for a break. I had just had some pat leave before that, so fair is fair.

Anyway, at the time I set some clear goals for 2015. I shared some of those with you at the time. We had to grow income. We had to create a new flagship game. Then promote it, and crosspromote the portfolio. We had to maintain existing games, and improve them if possible. We had to test out new technologies, new approaches, new theories. We had to grow the team. We had to move offices. We had to pay for all of this.

I put a plan into place. It was aggressive but attainable.

Income > Financially we hit our year goals within 5 months. Much of that was due to winning competitive government supports. These are kind of like VC investments, but with different goals than only maxing profit. We gained $135,000 for building World War Mobile and  $500,000 for building Star Pirates : Infinity (SPI). We also had others including Export Fund for travel, hiring supports, and more. Players will never see the results of this as directly as a new feature; but new features would not exist without these. We are very grateful for the trust the organisations have shown in us. We will ensure we deliver well. The net result of this is we can pay our bills until at least end of 2016, even with a much expanded team.

World War Mobile > We soft launched World War Mobile in the fall of 2015. The game worked, and hit all the criteria that government asked of us. We could see the game was ok, but we could do better. Plus the world was changing too. We had started the game in 2014, and a new type of Mobile JRPG was hitting the market. So we pulled WWM, and adapted.

Wasteland Heroes : Boss War > We’re really excited about this. This is what WWM evolved into — a Mobile Platformer JRPG. It will soft launch Feb 2nd, 2016 in Canada on Android. It’ll roll out to other locations, and other platforms. At that time, we’ll start sharing game play visuals, and even a form of preregistration. We may even ask some of the existing Mods to pretest in late Jan. From what we can see, WH will be a new flagship game. At least that is the plan. We have the funds to promote it right, although we may make a deal with someone for that as well. It depends on initial response. We’ll know soon enough.

Tentative Rollout Roadmap of Wasteland Heroes: We had committed to a rollout roadmap by Jan 5th. Surprise here it is already. Further Android rollouts are likely Australia, NZ week of Feb 19th, and in March UK, USA, and remainder of majority native English speaking locales. iOS rollout is contingent on a bug free version of the Game on Android — Apple’s 2 week delays for updates mean we cannot advance before we can trust a build 100%.  We, again, apologize their problems become your problems. Localisation into other languages for Android will occur in parallel with the iOS dev. All of this, of course, assumes Wasteland Heroes is moderately successful. Times will change if it performs better or worse, or if we get some additional funding.

Star Pirates : Infinity > Production has already started on this Card Collecting Game based in the Star Crash Universe. It will roll out as a Beta in 2016, and continue to develop. It has some really neat game tech that we’re not discussing yet, but it really adds to the fun.

There are other plans for new games, and furthering existing projects, but that depends upon how these games do, and hearing back about additional government supports – we’ll know more in late January.

 

Existing Games > So what about the existing games? With a growing team led by Christian Latour, most are getting support and some get good love! Read more here: http://www.shgstudios.com/were-growing-again/
The exception is Guts and Glory. GnG was a stepping stone on the path to Wasteland Heroes. While we thank you for your support, GnG simply didn’t take. So GnG will likely be officially sunset soon.  That means it will now officially be no longer supported with new development, but still be live for the foreseeable near future. Those who spent in the 3 months leading up to sunset will get some additional benefit from SHG, likely in Wasteland Heroes. We don’t have to do this but we try hard to be moral, and respect those who support us.

New Things > We tried out a lot of new things this year. I think we should ask Tom Brown, our Tech Lead for WH to write that up one day. We also rebranded as SHG Studios. That’s been a good move. Oh and we got some press, and won some awards. Small Business of the Year for Hamilton, and the 1Awards. Both very cool signs of a well run business. And super exciting for us!

Bigger Better Team & Office > Our team has doubled in size this year, including adding Bret Measor as SHG Production Manager. We may stay this level, we may grow, we may shrink. We’ll know in the next month or two. We’re at 16 people for now including contractors (really!). Growing past 20 people changes company culture dramatically; so if we do that, we’d have to reorganise into clearer functional groups. It may be better to have a strong core team, and contractors. We will see. Oh and we moved to twice the space in Feb 2015, then held a kickass party in April 2015. We’ll do another one this year, at about the same time. Bigger and Better. We just got new furniture, a gaming couch, and will look to add decoration and cool stuff in the new year.

What does 2016 hold? Well I’m certainly not the company lead anymore. That ended spring of 2015. But we have a really awesome management team, with efficient cross communication. I’m super happy with those hires, and how it’s come together. The owners/admins are not the day to day leads of everything anymore. We expect that trend to continue as we grow into other spaces. We do need to solidify the Art Director position for new (existing?) games. Maybe a Stats/Live Ops person. Pay our team more, we hope. Always more team members in all spots are welcome if the budget allows.

I think we have clear plans for a lot of things for 2016 already. Having the money to know we’ll pay staff is huge. It does mean we’re committed to some things over others, but that’s cool. These are good and important projects. As for our plans, we’ll know better in Feb after hearing back from the funding applications, and WH’s level of success.

2015 was our best year yet. The company grew in great ways; so did I personally. 2016 looks to be awesome as well.

Happy Saturnalia, Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years and whatever other holidays you may hold dear.
AAB – Colin Ferguson, Dec, 2015

A New Member Joins SHG Studios…

Hello, SHG Community.

My name is Bret Measor. This is the first of many dev blogs by me, and I want to start off my first entry by introducing myself and my video game industry history to the SHG Studio community.

My work in the video game industry started shortly after completing a 2 year video game & design course at the International Academy of Design located in Toronto, Ontario. I had a very hard time getting any work as a student fresh out of school; I was too “green” for any local studio to take me on. I decided to make my own experience and started my own company called Hard-Circle, Inc. and we focused primarily on free to play browser based games made with Adobe Flash and 2D pixel art. I ran that studio for 5 years and we created around 30+ games for some of the biggest clients in the free to play space.  I wore many hats ranging from CEO, designer, producer, and artist.

After my run with Hard-Circle, Inc. I decided it was time to pack my things up (I was worn out), and head out to Ottawa to work for an educational video game studio called VINCI Education. I spent a year and a half there honing my skills in game design, production, and team management. Together with my small dedicated team we created 6 fun educational games, and 1 educational MMO (still in development). It was a great experience for me, the change of scenery, and working with really talented people helped hone my skills.

During my time in Ottawa, SHG Studios was undergoing a transformation and looking to expand their already talented roster with dedicated leadership. I returned to Hamilton and was brought on board in May as the Product Manager/Game Designer responsible for their newest mobile IP called World War Mobile (title pending) due for release on Android devices in the fall/winter of 2015.

I hope you enjoyed my first dev blog post about myself. The next dev blog I write will be more focused on the new IP World War Mobile (title pending). Check back regularly to the SHG Studio blog to see more dev blogs by myself and the rest of the team at SHG. If you wish to follow me on my adventures you can @BretMeasor on twitter.

New Updates Ahead for Mobile Games – Studio Dev Blogs

Hello everyone! You’ll see me online with the alias Wings and I’m new here at SHG Studios. You may have seen me in the game chat or on the live stream we hosted a little while back. I have joined the company recently to work on both Zombie Moon and Guts and Glory and there’s plenty to talk about there!

Mission Boss: Axis Remnants!
Mission Boss: Axis Remnants!

We have worked to complete a bunch of new features over the past few months. Some of you have noticed we have added Mercenaries to both ZM and GnG, Mission Bosses to Guts and Glory and Squad Bosses /Squad icons to Zombie Moon. There have also been a number of  minor bug fixes and updates.

Tough Squad Boss ahead!
Tough Squad Boss ahead!

Mercenaries is a solution to the lack of allies in both GnG and ZM, you can buy a permanent ally that will never leave you. Mission Bosses were added to give missions an upgrade. Bosses also pay out well, so make sure you build up your army to take them out! ZM now has the long awaited Squad Bosses, which is another way to get some cash while challenging yourself and the members of your squad but don’t forget about the War!

All those beautiful new squad icons! Thanks Shawn!
All those beautiful new squad icons! Thanks Shawn!

One important note that you may not know is in the Squad Manage Page. If you click on your squad icon you can now change it to one of the new icons we added so check them out!

We have plenty of features planned over the next couple of months including a big update to Zombie Moon coming soon, so stay tuned!

Changing Trends – Studio Dev Blogs

Welcome to the dev blog!  My name is Christian and I’m the Product Manager at SHG responsible for the Starcrash series of games which is our browser based titles of Star Pirates, Gates of Camelot and Spy Battle 2165.  As some of you know, SHG Studios has been undergoing some transformation since the beginning of the year and I’ve had the good fortune to be part of these exciting changes.  As part of our new look and style, it is our intention to provide a bit of extra community interaction through blogs and developer diaries like this one.  Our studio is very proud of the library of games we currently feature and the purpose of recent increases in the size of our team is to begin some exciting new projects.

My work with SHG Studios began about 6 months ago but I have known some of the team for many years.  Prior to SHG, I worked with another game studio in Hamilton and we would see each other at various industry and community events.  When my last contract was completed with the previous studio, I began to look for a new place to apply my talents.  With a solid reputation as a growing small business in the community, SHG was the first call I made.

I’m really excited to bring my experience to the great communities found in each of the browser games.  While they are built on the same engine, the different themes offer a nice variety of play.  Within Star Pirates, I enjoy building up my ship stats and unlocking new areas and new story elements.  Gates of Camelot has some really nice equipment.  I can easily picture the sword and horse my character has equipped.  And finally Spy Battle, where I’ve had the opportunity to see some very interesting faction wars.  All three games have some great game mechanics and story content but games that offer online persistent play also require ongoing attention and that’s where I’m focused

We’ve already made some updates in each of the games, mostly housekeeping level changes but big plans are under way.  We’re looking at increased content for all of the games and updating some elements that will improve the feel of the game.  Efforts are already underway to increase the community size by bringing in new players.  The largest addition of late was a new Exclusive Commission in Star Pirates.  This new story is the culmination of a collaboration with a cosplayer from the UK.  Giulietta provided us with a really nice character we were able to feature in game.  We look forward to expanding this system and adding similar new content in the other games as well.  If you haven’t experienced it yet, we encourage you to check it out.

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So we encourage everyone to check back on the site from time to time, some of my colleagues will also be posting about their work so there will be plenty of opportunities for community feedback.

Playing Catch-up

It’s been awhile since we’ve honoured our players for their hard work leveling in Star Pirates and Spy Battle.

Here are all the notable mentions since we last posted.

Star Pirates:
Level 50: BunnyBlaster, pothocboots, The Viking, Soylent, Drakion, IfrIIquIS, Le Chef, PuckInEye, maximus, Alverin, Warped Speed, ONE EYE SNAKE, John Dark, Rinchwind, Hawkfunk, redd1, Edward Valiant, Ghost Grojar, Ghotir, Insidious
Level 60: aussiepirate, Action Man, afterblast, G@ntt, Zapp Brannigan, Kwazy, Hone, Javelin, Wash, Staneslav, Johnmaduk, skycool, Invader Zim
Level 70: Excalibur Richthofen, Marcus Heinous, GloBug, Bridgeburners, Dunn, Spaerhawk, psychlops
Level 80: fishboy, Commodore Roadkill, Agent Smith, Philbo, Raven Arrow
Level 90: comsat, Chuck Anumia, Sum Dum Ghai, Mnementh, zelefex, Terwin
Level 100: HRH Attila The Hun, Don Karnage
Level 110: Soulsnatcher, calvin, StarWolf, A Filthy Space Hobo, Hoban Washburne
Level 120: Greenish
Level 150: Slagdar
Level 160: The Undertaker
Level 180: Medon
Level 280: Mr Awesome

Spy Battle:

Level 50: Fitzghon, deckard, littlecat, Grey Ghost, GreyWolfXR, Biftad, Norway, Turtle, Havlock, Aesir
Level 60: Donner, Dwarfius, R805C, I_I!I_I, Lucky13, Adversary, Jack, scatloch, Wayne Johnson, Leather Wolf
Level 70: Boreas, TheClutch
Level 80: Jimmy Bond, DaMoore, Vorkosigan, psychlops, Madawc
Level 110: Natasha Fatale, Shannon
Level 120: Maxwell Smart
Level 130: ZeroOne

Congratulations to all our players! Expect to see this weekly from now on.

StarPirates Ascension 2 Details Released

Ascensions are the “Game within the Game” expansion to www.starpirates.net. They enable experienced players to relive the joys, and struggles, of their early days in the game. The first hours of playing in Ascension resemble that of “Hunger Games” with wholesale chaos, and mad scrambles for power. Soon after the Ascension experience turns into more of a hide-and-seek leveling project bound with a tight story that unleashes both more knowledge of the StarPirates Universe, and new types of items, critters, and playability.

The first Ascension was launched in 2011. www.spybattle.com, SP’s sister game, launched its Ascension soon after.

Now at the end of 2012, another Ascension is expected to launch for StarPirates. It’s been hinted at for a while, and storyline and coding is already done, although graphics, items, and encounter balancing are still outstanding. This means that ideally Ascension 2 for StarPirates will launch in December, although it could be earlier or later.

There are some details that can be shared about Ascension 2:
Entry Requirements: The requirements to begin Ascension 2 are that you must be level 50, in a Dreadnaught Mk III or better, and have completed the first ascension

Booty: Ascension will provide SoE specific items.

Race: The first 10 players to complete SP Ascension 2 will receive an award; the first person will receive an additional reward and medals.

Time Limit: 6 months after the start date in AC2, players will no longer get free hourly debris searches, and lose PVP access (cannot attack other players or be attacked by other players). The AI advice will inform players of how close they are to reaching that limit. Point searches, slots and fuel-based activities will still available.

Completion: Follow the story; win at all stages; get to level 40 then defeat the final encounter.

Coliseum Gets Its Independance

By player request, as of Monday, October 22 Coliseum will be migrated from an app inside of Facebook to a stand-alone site.
Current players will be able to log in through the ‘Connect with Facebook’ button. New players will be able to register with a Facebook account or a username/password combination.

As of Monday, October 22 the game will move to http://www.coliseumconquest.com. Please pass the word!

Ascension 2

Great news for all free captains!

Work on a second Ascension for Star Pirates is well under way. The story has been written and transcribed into hundreds of mission nodes, and well over a hundred encounters unique to Ascension 2 have been created. Currently work is being done to integrate this mission properly into the existing game, and there will also be some graphics and items which will need to be created. Then it will be ready for the first phase of testing!

I’m very excited to see this mission come to life, and I hope you all are excited as well.

SHG May Save your Life!

SHG is dedicated to helping bored office workers – it’s our calling. It turns out that we may be helping not only save your sanity, but your life as well.

The recently launched documentary on Boredom shows that boredom isn’t the relaxing state we thought it was — it’s actually very stressful on your system raising cortisol, and so blood pressure and all that bad stuff.

It’s a pretty neat video, and it’s caught public attention so the director is doing the PR rounds now. Check out a summary here on YouTube.

Robocop at SHG

As you may know, the new Robocop movie is being filmed now. And where better to showcase near future urban Dystopia than SHG HQ. Hmm, that didn’t come out right.

Anyway, it’s not exactly IN our building but all AROUND 195 James St. N, Hamilton. On every side of our building the film crews are working hard, but mostly at night.

Rumour has it that Head of Shield, errr, Samuel L. Jackson was hanging out in our parking lot last night. Scarily the area is littered with M16 and 9mil shell casings.

Maybe a homage to el Robocopo, or Ed, needs to make their appearance in www.spybattle.com.