More Lyz! – Studio Dev Blog

Watch Out!
Watch Out!
Fantastic
Fantastic
Ready to go
Ready to go

 

 

Hello Players! Just a reminder to those who have not played the new missions in Zombie Moon (or have friends who haven’t played them): they are still available and they are fantastic. Go on and play them! Don’t worry, I can wait…

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Finished? Awesome! Lyz has done a fantastic job with the cosplay and she has a bunch more you can check out on her site, facebook, and instagram. Also for anyone who is at PAX Prime this weekend Lyz will be there as well go out and say hello for us!

In Zombie Moon news we are now pushing out more missions every 1-2 weeks for those players who are of high levels. We are hoping to extend the end game so it doesn’t cap too early. Because of our last update we can now get content to players without doing an app update to the game. We will also be adding more tasks to the task list next week so get prepared for that! As always if you have any questions or running into any issues feel free to use the help desk and tell us about it. Look forward to more updates next week!

Zombie Moon Content Boost! – Studio Dev Blog

Hey Everyone, Wings here again with another update! Zombie Moon has received a new update to help us bring you more content without downloading the app every time. With this new update we are bringing out new Tasks that can be done Daily, Weekly and during Special Events! Additional tasks will be coming as the days go by. On top of that we have Achievements, currently only available for Android users (Apple users will be getting achievements on next update, please be patient with us). We have also added a social page in the settings screen making sharing on social media much easier than ever before!

Lyz Copslay ZM
Lyz Copslay ZM

Now for the best announcement… we have also added some new missions! Specifically going along the lines of Star Pirates… Zombie Moon now has a new mission starring Lyz Brickly! She has done a fantastic job and we’re very excited to add her to the Zombie Moon Universe. Definitely check out more of her work here. Also check out the new mission in game now, if you want the full content don’t forget to update to the latest version 3.3.06.

We are planning more content over the next few months with new missions and tasks. Stay tuned!

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!

Zombie Moon Updates

PhoneZMGUIsmall

 

There’s a lot in the pipeline for Zombie Moon.  Amazon and Apple users – version 3.0.39 is awaiting review by Amazon and Apple which brings SQUAD CHAT back, and makes Zombie Moon available to Blackberry 10 players!

The promised refresh of the look and feel of the game is underway.  The video refill option so popular with Guts and Glory players will soon be making its appearance in Zombie Moon (yes, this means you can combine Quests, Tasks, Level Ups AND video refills for Energy stockpiles before wars!)  And a bonus daily collectible powerup for players with Elite status will replace the ad banner area (players who’ve made purchases automatically earn Elite status).

Then, later we’ll be looking at aISIS upgrades (later, you’ll power up your AI to boost your marine’s HP – as you donate to your squad, you’ll also be powering her up) and potentially an automated system permitting squad transfers from owner to deputy and squad boss combats!  It’s going to be a busy few months!

Zombie Moon Updates

Previously we rebalanced point drops and added silver, gold and platinum drops however the promised examination for point use for energy and supplies have remained an outstanding task.  We’re applying a change to point refill costs for supplies and energy where it is 20% more efficient.  We try very hard to ensure such changes are always fair, so this is being honoured for players who have previously spent points and will show as a surplus.

The big update for the client to use our newer, more powerful engine has completed and we now await Apple’s approval.  Since this unlocks two new game features (quests and tasks) we are delaying the rollout to Android and Amazon to try to align availability approximately with the release on Apple’s App Store.  Once everyone has access to the new game features, we plan to be bringing across a popular option from Guts and Glory – an option to earn supplies and energy refills via video watching (currently, we can offer this on Android only but hope to extend this to the other platforms also).

We’re continuing to work really hard on the game improvements and hope you enjoy them!

ZM Holiday Release Timeline

ZM Holiday Release Timeline

The next 2 months will be busy for Zombie Moon — updates galore!  All positive we hope. Assuming all goes smooth there will be updates for the other games too.

 

First a bit of background: Since the launch of Zombie Moon one year ago we’ve poured hoursSHG-HEADER3 into getting the technology right for Zombie Moon.  We’ve explored 3 different technologies and conducted full rebuilds of the game.  We’ve spent well over 1,000 hours of work where benefits can’t be seen directly.  It’s been incredibly frustrating work for the team – we’d rather be adding cool new fun features, however – the long, painful path is done. With Snakehead Game’s adoption of Unity 4.6 we’ve hit the Promised Land. We have been working on new features for the past 3 weeks and we’re actually slightly ahead of deadlines.  So we feel confident letting you in on the plans for its evolution now.

… And a bit more background: Figuring out the right technology that actually works is difficult.  As well as using, testing and upgrading three technologies this year (Phonegap, Unity 4.4, Unity 4.5 with NGUI, and now finally Unity 4.6), we had also tried Corona and AIR a year ago.  Working through this process with a live game is a bad idea. We did it so that we could keep delivering upgrades, but it is hard to build stuff, and test it without breaking code that is live. So we shifted to working on something else.  We’ll talk about that later.

 

What does this Mean for StarCrash Games? (www.starpirates.net , www.spybattle.com, & www.gatesofcamelot.com ) We know we need mobile interfaces for all games. That’s where the world is right now. Our mobile modes are very efficient for existing players, but don’t bring in new players.  Without new players, our games will die over time.  We need to cultivate our existing titles with new technologies, but that gets complicated. So here’s the plan for the StarCrash games:

Step 1 – Efficient cross-promotion between our existing games.

Step 2 – Bring over (some) features we’re testing in the mobile world; including tasks and a better introduction, along with creating new content. This is cool for existing, and new players.

Step 3 – Figure out then develop getting something into the app store for those games, that is both interesting and yet not overly complex.  Security is a big issue as well.  This is a lot of work.

 

What does this mean to Zombie Moon?  Zombie Moon got so much attention and effort in 2014, and yet there is little to actually show off as new features. This sucks for everyone involved – players and developers as well. So the plan is:
Santa Claws
Step 1 – Update Zombie Moon from Unity 4.5 NGUI into 4.6  That started Dec 8th and targeted finished by mid January.  The improvements in the 2D environment of Unity 4.6 provide great improvements in efficiency and let us focus more on new, fun features.

Step 2 – Add in some new content. It’s actually Christmas & New Year related content. Not incredibly complex, but fun! 🙂  It’ll be some new mission content added once per week during the season, then removed around Jan 6th.

Step 3 – Pausing wars for 3 weeks of the Christmas Season, (Last war starts Dec 11th, restarts Jan 6th, war bonuses do not extend over the break).  World Chat will be activated the same week of the last war, but this means that SQUAD CHAT will NO longer be active. For now we can’t do both, and World Chat seems the clear favourite (and better for new players too). We intend to bring it back, and add new features such as muting, but we can’t efficiently do updates until the 4.6 is in place.  We’re not going to waste our time spending 2 weeks to build something in 4.5 that we can build AND test in 2 days in 4.6. Let’s do wins here.

Step 4 – About World Chat. It will NOT be moderated.  The Admins will NOT be in the chat as Admins, even.  Over time, we will be adding in both World and Squad chat.  Also, we will add the nannybot (replacing swears with funny words), and players able to ignore other players. But that will take time, certainly after conversion to 4.6.  Until then please remember you asked for this so please play nice and don‘t make us regret this.

Step 5- Add new features including “daily” quests, tasks (i.e.  complete this action 10 times for a bonus), and a much improved introduction. We need tasks to create a great introduction That introduction is what is going to drive new players into Zombie Moon, and the new features, plus social side, will offer them a reason to stay and play.  These will be live end of Jan or early Feb on Android, week after on iOS.

Step 6 – Promotion of Zombie Moon, and cross promotion to other games. We’re also adding in new ways for free players to get bonuses, and better things for supporting players.

 

So what happened to Admin256? After 7 years of running a company, we need to mix things up. We’ve had the same jobs for 7 full years – no changes, no promotions, no growth personally – we need new challenges. Plus, our team is now strong in many ways, and needs their own challenges.  So 256 is really stepping back and doing research and coding on some deep ‘stuff’ we’re coming out with over the year. This ‘stuff’ will be added into new games, but ideally back integrated into existing ones as well. Too soon to announce details, but you’ll see!

 

Anything else? Yes, SHG expects to continue to grow the team this year. We hired 2 new staffers a few months ago, and just added a new person for a 6 week contract to support the 4.5 to 4.6 growth. We are limited to the number of team members in the present office so we’ll need to move if we keep growing.  For all its hardships on the coding side, 2014 is a great year for our business.  With government supports, revenues are quite solid, and so many great pieces are in play. Now to make improvements to our games!

 

You get Government Supports?  Yes. Oh yes.  And it subsidizes a lot of your game play. Ontario is a great place to make games.  ArrBilly spends a lot of his time networking and learning about these, and Ice implements them.  Rob (a new staffer) is also helping administer these government supports.  So that’s where a lot of our time goes. And yes it’s worth it. The twist is that these do alter our strategies and tactics (which is the whole point from the government point of view, to maximise local growth).  So government wants us to create new games (yay!), and if we do we can maximise these supports.  Making sure the new games have features that can be easily added to existing games is therefore really important.  So, let’s be clear, creating new games is cool in itself, but also the best way for us to support existing games. (This isn’t super obvious, I realise, but it’s real.)

So, new Games?  Yup. And supporting existing ones too.  Now that our focus is off of core tech issues, we can do new, interesting stuff in all games.  Details to be announced as time rolls on.  We also want to see about distribution deals for the new games to really expand their success and allow for more updates and great new game features, but that depends upon their initial success, and the success of Zombie Moon and our other games. With this plan, we hope that everyone wins.  We’re excited by the opportunities and direction of Snakehead Games for the future and hope that you’ll enjoy the ride along with us.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and to a Great 2015!

Cheers, Admin ArrBillyzmtime

 

Tentative Zombie Moon Holiday Party Plan

December 10th

  • Holiday Missions Volley 1

December 11th

  • World Chat Reactivated, Replacing Squad Chat for now. (Both are live in Late Jan or so.)
  • Last War of the Holiday Season

December 15th – 17th

  • Holiday Missions Volley 2
  • Wars Offline – Peace on Callisto from Dec 18th to Jan 7th.

December 23rd

  • Holiday Missions Volley 3

December 30th

  • Holiday Missions Volley 4

Jan 6th

  • Holiday Missions Removed
  • Wars turned on for restart of Jan 8th
  • Provide some details of the new project we’ve been working on. Do some trial tests.

Jan 15th

  • Zombie Moon in 4.6 at SHG. Testing commences.
  • Work on new features in Zombie Moon begins – tasks, quests, improved introduction, better squad chat etc., If they can be brought in, they are live end of January (or so).
  • Around this time we should be launching our new project.
  • Show first steps in adding quests, improving tasks, and introductions in StarCrash games.

ZM Custom Search

ZM Advanced Search Filter
ZM Advanced Search Filter

Now that 3.x is live on all our supported platforms (including Blackberry via the Amazon store), we’re able to again resume further game enhancements.  Some of those new elements we’ve been designing for a while are are now approaching a release point. For example, the existing notification system which uses a third party service just isn’t meeting our needs. A completely new replacement is nearly ready, using only code that we control.

Here’s another such item – a custom search.  This presents a few challenges adding into an established mobile game, such as efficient display and speed of use. We’ve simplified this so that a new button to the left of the existing search is added – tapping it brings up the screen you see here. The values in this screen are “remembered” each time and usability is solid. We feel this will be especially useful for players during squad wars.

Next up:  refill cost reductions on supplies and energy.  Earlier, we reworked how the supply drops functioned and added in the silver, gold and platinum box feature. As part of the overall update, it has been intended to revisit and adjust the supplies and energy point use.

This has been in active development and testing and represents a 20% bonus when replenishing supplies or energy.  The real trick has been ensuring that any and all prior point uses for these will be retroactively given.  That’s only fair – it’s getting close to when we can activate it 🙂

ZM 3.0.22 Submitted to Apple

ZM 3.0 Gold
ZM 3.0 Gold

It has been a really tough run but we’ve hurdled all the barriers and are pleased to announce that ZM 3.0.22 is now awaiting review on Apple’s App Store.

It’s not the end of updates – oh no!  For one, some of the optimizations on build size caused serious problems with the libraries necessary to operate.   Which means we could either keep a small, extremely fast but broken app or a frustratingly much larger app and push for what speed boosts we could safely keep in.  That’s not much of a choice so we’ve had to (for now) go with a bigger app.

We’re already pursuing options to improve that (indeed, most of the incompatibilities are already resolved).  And notifications were a problem due to system changes and had to be removed in this first release while we pursue superior options.

Plus – due to the aforementioned issues with some of the libraries, we had to release the item rotation visuals (but not the static images) at very low resolution due to the sheer size – otherwise we’d be way over acceptable app size.

The most important part for us is that from here we can keep supporting everyone and just keep improving things (like the zoom-in “big chat” option which is in the works) – it’s only a matter of time before version 2.x just stops working with a forthcoming Android, Amazon or iOS update.  But we’ve dodged that bullet and away we go.

So – fingers crossed – the app should be reviewed within 7 days or so and hopefully everything is a go.  It’s a little hard to say as it’s a completely new app if you recall, there’s no overlap with the old 2.x code.  EVERYTHING is new and redone.  So there’s a lot of things we have to get just right.  Here’s hoping…!

Zombie Moon 3.0 Live!

Zombie Moon 3.0 is going live. Finally! It’s been a big effort and we’ll be carefully watching and offering support for the inevitable small issues that will surface on specific environments.

Over the next 24 hours ZM 3.0 will become available as an upgrade / install for all players using Google Play.  We’re already working on the iOS version (there are still some issues being resolved) but it appears this will pass our checks and tests for Release Candidate within the next two days.

A 3.1 containing some further enhancements and items we want to offer (achievements, improved new player introduction) is already in plan and to begin immediately following the successful Apple Store submission.

 

zm3_posterreduced

So we bid goodbye to the technology and code used for version 1.0 and 2.0 – it did well, got us far but with the technology abandoned by the providers it had hit the limit of what we could do to support people.  That left us with two options:

1.  give up – never provide any support or updates

2.  start all over and make a copy / clone using totally different technology.

Option 2 was what we picked.

Committing to a complete copy/clone of Zombie Moon in totally different technology was pretty scary to take on but we did and we’re pleased to see it go live.  Backward compatibility is pretty solid, there’s still more we’ll do as time goes on but the nice part is we can actually DO more and continue to support the community.

So now we breathe a huge sigh of relief that the fruits of that labour are out there and proven as viable.  iOS version should be ready in the next 2 days for submission (and of course then subject to Apple’s approval process for when it would actually become available).

Following, we’ll see if we can resolve why the Amazon Kindle simply will not co-operate with the new code systems as we proceed with the 3.1 enhancement path.

Cheers!

ZM 3.0 Update: S4 Blocked

Squad testing for ZM 3.0
Squad testing for ZM 3.0

ZM 3.0 work continues.  We are in active Beta at this time.  There have been a lot of 3rd party blocks, for example having Apple’s development system offline for the past couple of days didn’t exactly help things along.  However, hurray – they are back online and we can continue our work there.

Support for as many devices as possible is holding us up – support for the Samsung S4 for example is proving particularly problematic.

Edge case tests and performance checks continue very nicely.

It’s easy to become frustrated at all the barriers and bottlenecks we encounter but we have surpassed each and every one and ZM 3.0 is really looking great!