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 hours 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:
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 ArrBilly
Tentative Zombie Moon Holiday Party Plan
- Holiday Missions Volley 1
- 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.
- Holiday Missions Volley 3
- Holiday Missions Volley 4
- 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.
- 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.