UI Updates

In SpyBattle and Starpirates, you’ll now see smaller graphical updates for ease of play. My fav is the one click build change – lab coat please! Or maybe it’s the always available click to get to the airport (spybattle) or navigation (starpirates).

Also we’ve added and updated Clean mode – a stripped down, no graphics version of mobile mode. In addition, some older graphical modes will be retired and or renamed. This decluttering is much needed!

Ascensions are Ascending!

Ascensions have gotten a boost. There are numerous, lovely new juicy “player” targets in Ascension.

Why? Well to help you level up faster, of course.

Which Ascension you ask? Well all 3, in both StarPirates and SpyBattle. You’re welcome.

But you haven’t played in a while and surprised there are a full 3 ascensions? Well then rejoin the game – either game – and learn more.

Chat, not Shout. Also, what do you Collect?

Next week, the Halls of Fame will be expanded so many very common and some common items now show for collecting. This is fun for collectors and those who sell alike. More HOFs will roll out over time.

You will also see a number of other, smaller upgrades including the “Shoutbox” being changed to “Chatbox”. Silly perhaps, but intentional about the purpose and mutual respect offered to all.

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

SHG is Small Biz of the Year!

Ham-Cham-Awards

 

 

 

 

 

SHG Studios is the Small Business of the Year in our city!

There are a lot of great businesses in the area, who both create jobs and build the community. We happen to be one, and we’re really pleased — very, very happy — to be picked as the Small Business of the Year by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

It was part of a large award show, with maybe 1000 in attendance. Quite the who’s who of the city. Very fun event — except for the nerves. I hadn’t been that nervous in a long time – I guess childhood dreams and all the come into play.
SHG-Ham-Chamber Award

The award is cool all on its own!  But perhaps this will help others (government funding, and distributors) believe in us that bit more.

@snakeheadgames if you follow us on twitter for the community chatter 🙂

And if you want to read more, check out an article or two:

http://www.900chml.com/2015/03/10/31564/

www.thespec.com/news-story/5469806-rapscallion-owner-wins-two-hamilton-business-achievement-awards/

 

The Quickening

Quickening is a process whereby things speed up, or life begins.  In our genres, The Quickening is slightly different.

The Quickening — Beheading one of the ever living produces a powerful energy release from their body called a “Quickening.”

SHG is enjoying a Quickening.  The retirement of the 256 accounts has unleashed a powerful energy into the SHG ecosystem.

As per the post from 4 weeks ago, we had a series of holiday missions go live, plus world chat in ZM!  Cracking energy there now.

It gets better. As promised in that post, we are creating new things, both for their own sake and to support existing things.  To that end we can announce that the new game will be Guts and Glory.  (cue pipe and drums!)  GnG is a mobile game, almost ready to be launched.  It’ll likely hit external beta this week.  So on that note, we need some help: what icon do you like best?    https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/P23MYT6

We’re looking for feedback on the icon path we’re pursuing there.  The sooner, the better!  Expect us to chop and change the survey as it goes on.  Now remember, icons are small and on busy pages.  So please try to image in that as you’re completing the survey.

Zombie Moon’s development onto 4.6 is going must faster than planned (thanks Tom Brown).  This means the neat new features in GnG are being back installed into ZM. And in fact, already have been. Bug fixes are just about done, and testing is starting. So expect to see the new ZM game, with the new features, live in the next few weeks.

Both games may get a SIMPLE web browser interface too. That enables PayPal ecommerce rather than expensive Apple, Google or Amazon only.

OK, more to come, but that’s enough for now! 😀

— AAB

ps: The web games were not ignored with their holiday traditions, including the visiting of Nick.   He left gifts of black eyes and particle trails all over the place.

pps: If you’re confused why we’re building new games, when we should be updating existing games, then I really, really recommend you read the article from Dec 9th.

Visiting Xenephon!

Some people go south to winter.  I personally think that’s a wise choice.  Some folks choose to shiver their way through the yearly expansion of the Canadian Tundra.  Others escape WAY far south and go to a summer.

Only the hardiest, craziest sort of human would go from Australian Summer to Canadian Winter — for fun.

But Xenephon is that Hardcore. He’s one of the few trifecta Hall of Famers(he’s on the HOF in all three web games!).

That’s right Xenephon was in town, and we have the pictures to prove it!

AAB, AABaby, AlexRoss, MMG! (peeking over Alex's Shoulder), 256, and Xenephon
AAB, AABaby, AlexRoss, MMG! (peeking over Alex’s Shoulder), 256, and Xenephon

If you notice, you can see the treats AlexRoss brought in! 🙂

Brightshield, AlexRoss, Xenephon, AABaby plus AAB
Brightshield, AlexRoss, Xenephon, AABaby plus AAB

This pic has the two players looking at an early demo of the new Zombie Moon. After that we got some solid feedback from both on that, and other matters 🙂

Tom Brown (newbie!), AAB, AABaby, Alex Ross, 256, Xene, & Rambling Josh
Tom Brown (newbie!), AAB, AABaby, Alex Ross, 256, Xene, & Rambling Josh

You’ll see Tom Brown on the left, responsible for the 4.5 to 4.6 conversion of Zombie Moon. And on the right is Rambling Josh, the fella who is doing much of the front end for Guts and Glory.

The visit was about 3 hours, and pizza and great chat was had by all. Thanks for coming Xenephon, and AlexRoss! It’s awesome to have such great, social players like ya!

Christmas Truce

100 years ago, World War I was raging.  The soldiers who had signed up thought they’d be home for Christmas. Not true, in fact it raged on for many more years. But at the time they didn’t know that.  Along the lines though, in many places, on Christmas of 1914 the soldiers on both sides braved crossing the lines to meet with their fellow men.

It’s a famous story, which the militaries on every side still try to hide to some degree. Fraternisation with the enemy was a offence punishable by death.  But the soldiers on all sides decided that the establishment wanting them in the meat grinder isn’t as important as treating people as people.  And being treated as people.

Anyway, relates to our games in some ways, but is just a good story to share.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30433729

 

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.