SugarMill v0.4

Hi, community!

The version is now at 0.4! I’m really excited seeing how the game has rolled out and how players are connecting with the game. I have corrected, adjusted or added over 200 different things in this new version. Also now the game has 28 different quests to complete.

Sales!

Well! Let me say that last Saturday, Sep 9 was the best day in sales for the game.  After 9 months in Early Access. We doubled the best sale ever.

I want to say that in the beginning, it was not like that and at times I felt really discouraged. One day thinking about my skills I realized I was completely naive in the Marketing field and then decided to familiarize myself with it. I ended up reading 5 books and marketing they all are key elements of the success of the game. Which are slowly starting to show up.

By no means, do I want to portrait the game as perfect or done. The game still has its known and unknown issues.

Sneak peak to coming art:

Dock

Blacksmith

Lumbermill WIP

Books!

Here I’m sharing the books I’m giving credit to for the bit of knowledge I got about marketing.

The Tipping Point

Growth Hacker Marketing

All Marketers All Liars

The Lean Startup

Also, I read an ebook on game marketing that was good too (Sorry can’t find the link anymore) The title is: VideoGame Marketing and PR

From my perspective I feel that my lack of knowledge in marketing was brought up to a new standard, I fell well versed on how to develop a product that consumers will actually consume. In today’s society, everyone is bombarding us with different products to spend time on, starting with social media all the way to the news channels. Certainly, that is one of the end goals of any product, get users to spend the biggest amount of time on your product and that my friend is a huge challenge, I took on a few months ago.

In the beginning, I was seeing majority of users playing the game for 1, 5, 10 minutes and closing the game and it was heartbreaking. I started to slowly improve this by making countless modifications in the user experience and now I see half of the players playing more, some have played 9, 14, and even 15 hours in one single day! So I’m really happy to see over 700 games published last August on Steam and the over 4000 games published so far this year players are finding SugarMill spending some time in it!

In my Marketing learning process, I also learnt that a user will make a lens for a product in less than 3 seconds. Basically, any person has a set of established rules and expectations for every product in the market and based on that,  in less than 3 seconds you will make a quick and definite judgment on any given product. That initial judgment will be the lens on how you will perceive the rest of the product. Therefore your product has to make a good impression right away in the user’s eyes regardless what that means.

Source: Steam Spy

The average gamer has over 30 years and is being gaming for over 15 years so if you are creating a game. Be sure that standards have to be met due to the crazy amount of games out there. Your product has to be good for real.

Community!

The game community has grown a lot and is getting active slowly. I’m really pleased how users have helped me fix bugs and suggestions to change the game!

SugarMill’s Roadmap

-Path priorities(4) road type, dirt, gravel, stone, bricks (diff speed bonus boost)

-Decorative items(3)

-Allow/forbid products into Storage(2)

-Livestock(2)

-A well or way to collect water from river(2)

-On shift + bulldoze = demolish roads only(2)

-Immigrants(2) (set in dock amount of them) max of 5% of locals, coming in every 7-15 years

-Spacebar pause

-Job prioritize button (so workers do jobs you need to get done first)

-Auto trade or recurring orders (every year, every 2 years, 5 years)

-Research tree

-House upgrades

-Crown quest for export wood

-People (adults) list to select them by click

-Heavy load and Wheelbarrow prioritize orders

-Show a list of workers in buildings

-Walk around the village in 1st person camera

-People if over fertility age should not move out of their parents

-While placing road should show red if not placeable

-Shipyard will need hardwood to build ships

-Slavery

-Inland defense(combat)

 

Patches

I have done at least 33 different patches since Dec 16th, 2016. And I’m saying at least because I have updated the game a few times and haven’t had time to post a patch about it. That’s 273 days divided by 33, I have updated the game in average every 8.3 days. Just realized that and wanted it to share it!

v0.4 Hotfix 1

http://steamcommunity.com/games/538990/announcements/detail/1449452797320917755

v0.4 Hotfix 2

http://steamcommunity.com/games/538990/announcements/detail/1449452797326067912

Sep 15th patch!

http://steamcommunity.com/games/538990/announcements/detail/2532569135594617954

Conclusions

I want to make clear that the game is still a work in progress and still has a journey to finish, but overall I’m really happy with the path its taking.

If you lack any knowledge, now matter how boring the topic may sound, I would go on Amazon and research the best books on it. Then buy it and read it every night a few pages at a time. I also take notes of what I read every night it is like a reminder for your own mind just writing it out again!

Also, follow your guts and keep working hard. To develop any kind of product and be profitable is an uphill walk with many obstacles in the way; however, if you persist you will reach the top!

SugarMill’s version 0.5 is coming Dec 15th!

Thanks for your time guys!

 

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SugarMill Version 0.3

Hi pals

SugarMill Version 0.3 is here and I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Feeling that the game is slowly ramping up, it has become a more stable version of itself. I’m still taking into consideration everything users suggest but at the moment I’m focusing on polishing and finishing this huge project.

– SugarMill Ver 0.3 (Improvements highlights since Ver 0.2)

The main graphical improvement was in the quality of the image. It was mainly achieved adding and/or tweaking post effects. SSAO was added differently in the game and a really small amount of bloom. Pursuing a more realistic and appealing image.

Version 0.3 highlights:

  • Image quality enhanced
  • Trading Cards were added
  • New pathfinding system
  • Buildings get built 10x faster
  • Dockers improved
  • New assets added
  • More than 100 things were added, fixed or adjusted

 

 

– Trading Cards

5 Trading cards were added to the game as suggested by Valve. Is nice seeing a few of them drop in my inventory.

– New pathfinding system

I’m using the NavMesh system from Unity that uses the A-Star algorithm. The reason why I started using it in this version was that now I can set things in real time. Although the Unity system has some small bugs I see the potential in it. I had previously built two differents Pathfinding algorithms.

-Community feedback and suggestions

One of the most important components of the game is the community interaction and value added trough useful and constructive feedback. I want to thank all and each member of SugarMill’s community for the feedback provided through the past 6 months. Also, I want to take this opportunity to encourage old and new members to participate and use the in-game features to drop feedback or post your ideas, or suggestion in the forums. Gathering community feedback and reactions are certainly been quite the journey and a truly rewarding experience overall.

-Steam Early Access

The game is still in early access but its days are counted. I’m looking into releasing options already. I can surely say that SugarMill should see its final iterations in Early Access sooner than later.

-SugarMill’s Progression

Mar29 2015

Oct14 2015 (Concept)

Mar10 2016 (Greenlight – Greenlit in 12 days)

Version 0.2

Version 0.3

-Added

We are slowly replacing all assets that don’t fit with the game style. Below are the last 2 assets added to the game. These models have around 10K polygons and were modeled in Maya and textured in 3dsMax.

Shack

WoodHouse

Also, new crops were added for the farms.

-Steam Summer Sale is here. SugarMill is 45% discounted!

-Conclusions

In saying all this, any project could be enlarged, perfected and polished forever there is a moment in where the tipping point has to be reached and decide when is time for concluding the work. Being the developer and director of a project like this one is a really challenging task. And as an individual, you get attached and see the potential growth of your game. But some day, you need to touch land and realize that it needs to be finished.

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

 

 

SugarMill v0.2 Available Now

SugarMill v0.2 is here. In this article, I explain and lay out the improvements and additions to this new version of the game.

 

Hi, mates!

Excited to announce that SugarMill ver 0.2 is here. The game has being improved a lot ever since launched, 16 weeks ago. Many things have been added or fixed in the game. Mainly based on players input and always leaning toward its final destination.

 

-New features 

-Graphics (new 3d assets and textures are being added or replaced on game. The image itself of the game camera it’s being enhanced too)

-Night and day cycle (Now the game features a night and day cycle. The citizens will do their normal activities but after sunset, they won’t go out anymore)

-Quest system: The game has a quest system that guides you thru it. It helps you and teach you to master the game and also prizes you with money at the end of each quest

-Products specs: Now on the bulletin window you are able to see how to produce each product, the inputs needed and where to produced. Also, you can see the price on them.

-Budget: You are able to see each year’s budget. The budget is broken down in expenses and income.

-Exports: A breakdown of what each export was about. Including date, building, product, amount and transaction value.

-Roads: Now you can build roads. They were just introduced in the latest patch so I’m looking forward to hearing the community reactions on it.

-GUI: The game is showing a brand new GUI. This time is more compact and pushed towards the corners of the screen so the user can see more in the middle of the screen.

 

– Video

A nine minutes gameplay video. Right in the beginning, I will start with the creation of a small square.

 

-Roads

I have been working to get the roads done for a while. There are always being there but I never liked what I did. This week I end up doing piece by piece manually in 3d. Then I randomize them manually too. This was all done pretty much one by one. I picked different colors for the UV mapping and scaled some of them too. I end up with 7 different variations for inside roads cells and 3 differents for each side. The corner cell is always the same but rotated.

Above are all the differents parts that are used to create a Road in the game. In game, I found which one I will use based on the tiles surrounding one.

 

-Unity implementation of the Night and Day cycle 

The cycle is quite simple I have a directional light(sun) moving thru six points and always facing the middle sphere.

So the cube on the lower right represents the dawn and the one in the lower left the sunset. The ones in the top will be noon. It works like a charm and was quite simple to put together. I also change the environmental color and sunlight color at night, sunset and down.

The cycle works with 3 scripts. I called them DayCycleManager.cs, ColorManager.cs, and StageManager.cs.

Also, I have another 2 directional lights. One from West to East, and another one from East to West. While the day cycle is happening I change the intensity of this 2 lights.

The implementation of it was easy and maybe I completed on an afternoon but was mainly because I had all the idea conceived and more importantly I sat down and sketched the system for 5 min and also wrote some pseudo code to help me. I have come to realized and learn the more you do sketching and pseudo code the quicker and more effective you get done a specific task.

Conclusion

A lot of things have being added and improved on the game. Still more things to come to SugarMill. Keep the tune pal!

Cheers

SugarMill : Dec 15th : Early Access

Hi folks.

This Thursday Dec 15th, I will be releasing the game on Steam (Early Access). Mark in your calendar

Below I layout the main features on this initial version.

Main Features:

Products expiration: Just like in real life, in this game every product expires. Some food items expire sooner than others.

Thirst: People need to drink water to survive. One of the challenges of the game is to keep their thirst quenched. (In real life we can only survive 3 days without water)

Measurements: No more 10 units of wood and 5 of iron to build a building. Be ready to gather 300KG of wood, and 10KG of nails to build a shack. Can you guess how much is needed for a brick house?

Horse Carriages: As the game has real measurements people can carry only so much. That’s when horse drawn carriages come into place. They carry a lot more, as a result your economy gets boosted. A person in their best years might carry around 15KG, a wheelbarrower closer to 60KG, but the smaller cart can carry 240KG.

Usage of goods: Crates, barrels, wheelbarrows, carts, tools, cloth, crockery, furniture and utensils are all needed to do the traditional activities of a town. As these goods get used, they diminish, as a result a person won’t carry anything if there are no crates. Keep an eye on that 😉

Happiness: People’s happiness is influenced by various factors. How much money they have, food variety, religion satisfaction, access to leisure, house comfort and education level. Also if a person has utensils, crockery and cloth will influence their happiness.

Port reputation: You can perform traditional trade activities such as importing and exporting any product. This indicator identifies how often ships come to your port.

Pirate threat: Pirates were still around. This indicator identifies the risks of suffering a pirate attack. If that happens your game is over. You can decrease this by constructing military buildings.

Views/Camera: The game has the traditional city building camera and also allows you to go to ground level and get a closer look at your people.

Buildings: Over 50 different buildings to construct. House model’s randomly select their textures.

Products: Over 80 different products.

Line production: To make a simple nail you need to mine ore, in the foundry melt the iron, and finally in the blacksmith make the nail. Or you can cheat if you got enough money, you can always buy the nail directly from a ship.

Resources requirement:

This is a complete detailed analysis of how much material is needed for a simple shack: 4960KG of wood and 2.4KG of nails. (This same analysis will be done for each building on the game)

To conclude I want to thank everyone that has supported me on this awesome journey that has just reached a new milestone. Sugarmill will be on Early Access this Thursday.

Thanks all!

Dev Log 10

Hi all.

The first 6 weeks of full dev are gone and I only have 8 weeks left to publish the game on Steam. Plus I will spend the last two weeks only working on the Launch, so basically it leaves me only with 6 weeks of full development.

When I think about that it gives me a mix of emotions. I feel excited and so many different things.

Launch Date:

So Steam does not support weekend sales. So if you planning on doing that, change your mind and find a week day. I decided then the game is coming Thursday Dec 15th.

First findings on the Beta Testing:

I want to thank all the Beta Testers, you guys are helping me a lot finding the issues in the game. I am really grateful for all your invaluable help.

I few things have being detected by the very few first beta players. First thing is that the game need some more documentation and help. I added a mini helper explaining how to assign workers to buildings and many other stuff. I also explained a few concepts of the game.

Size of the project:

I am not proud of it but is growing. Trying to code as lean as possible but at the same time need to get the things done in a day. Today for example I have 15 points to finish. I will say most of them were light that’s why I put so many. In an usual day I find myself doing anywhere between 6-8 points. My pass teacher of project management told me that 6 points a day is a good number. He actually told me too that you could split them in 3 for the morning and 3 for the afternoon. He also mentioned that we need rest, exercise and get some distraction too. This last weekend for the first time I rested for 2 days in a row. I was impressed how quick my mind was working this Monday. Anyways, I will say whenever you can rest more than a day a week, is totally worth it. I am the person that was working 7 days a week but is unproductive.

The project is huge and keeps growing. Actually I will advice keep an eye on your Unity project and don’t let it grow infinitely. Yesterday I added 300MB worth of assets. Unity got so stuck that would not even build the .EXE file. I restarted the computer and tried many different things. The only thing that work was to undo the new things added.

The project is has now 28300 LOC, weights 5.24GB, and has 51,500 files. I could clean up a bit, but that takes time and effort something indie developers don’t have at all.

Discipline:

If you want to be an entrepreneur you need to have some self discipline. You need to have a schedule and go by it. Do not be too hard. Do not be so soft. Be realistic and set your points of the day with the best judgment.

I was naming the folders of every new build ‘10.01’ for Oct 1st for example. However that brought a bug that took me an 1 hour to find. The problem was that I was splitting an absolute path base in dots. So I was making an array based in the dots. Once a new dot was in the path it broke. So in the future either do not talk to absolute path or be very specific for the way you name your files.

Visual Basic Scripts:

I read in a older article things you could do to make your life easier as a indie game developer. One was of automating everything you could around you and that is what I did. I have a few VBs scripts that I run to help me. I soon as I start my PC I run one that open all the softwares I need to work. Have another one that copy the .zip files to my Back Up hard disk. The most important one prepares every new build. That one copies all the files needed so the game runs smoothly every time is open. So I don’t have to copy files manually, the script will never forget one.

Ever since I change the naming convention of my builds I was not able to play the older builds. I needed to run the build from the day before and I could not do it and pissed me off. Then I created a point today to get it done with, because as a developer you want to be able to go back and see how your builds work like in previous versions.

New Logo:

The game is showing a new logotype. I ended up changing it after so much thoughts. In the end I like the new one better. With the new logo there are a few elements in representation of the main aspects of the game.

The diamond shapes on the ‘g’ and ‘a’, and the ones underneath the ‘M’ and the ‘i’ represent sugar crystals. In the last two ‘ll’ also you can see some addition of this in the top. Representing two chimneys that are linked to the Sugar production also. In the middle of the words ‘Sugar’ and ‘Mill’ there is a piece of a dented wheel, representing various things. The first represents how important the dented wheel was at that time, also representing the bridge that the Sugar industry created between the New World(Americas) and the Old World(Europe). The dot with the cross in the ‘i’ is representing the power and presence of the Catholic church on the conquer and colonization of the new world.

The new logo brings a new and renewed image to the game and also is more representative of the game. Is indeed more clean and easy to identify. As consequence I also have updated my Press Release Kit with the new Logo.

Project History:

I want to clarify that I am have been working on the game for nearly two years but it has not been in full time development for two years. I just finished my College degree this past August, a three year program at my community College, and three weeks later resumed working on the game full time again. I started the project somewhere in November 2014 but I have being working full time on the project only for 46 weeks now.

As a piece of advice never start with a big project like this one. If you are starting a new project and it’s your first, make sure that its small, doable and that at the end you can publish it somewhere. I can’t stress that enough. Because a game half done in your computer never exists beyond you, and the people that you showed to. If you are able to publish it, you will feel better about it and also feel accomplished.

New art:

Finally found an awesome 3d artist, and from now on he will be taking care of the game’s art. His name is Ronny Perez and he works in 3dsMax, Maya and other 3d tools. At the time he is only working with Maya. He is incredible efficient when it comes to polygons and vertices. All this models below are well under 5000 polygons.

There is some new art to the game. Here is a peak:

Bricks Factory:

In this building ,with clay, water and combustion element, such as wood or coal you will be able to output: bricks, roof tiles, floor tiles. This is a really important building as you will need a lot of bricks to create many structures.

Carpentry:

Here with wood and iron you will be able to produce: tools, wheelbarrows, crates, buckets and barrels. Extremely important building. When you play the game you will learn why.

Lumber:

Here the Sugarmillers gather and cut wood from the forest.

Church:

Fishing Hut:

Blacksmith:

Lighthouse:

Sounds and Music:

Yesterday and today I have being implementing the Sounds and Music on the game. The sounds have been a bit of a challenge but now they are fine. I certainly can fine tune a few things and will certainly do so. It’s hard to combine all the sounds seamlessly.

The music was added today and is pretty awesome. I have to say that the work of Joshua Snethlage from Mixed Media has been incredible.

Surprise added:

I was really hesitant to add new heavy stuff on the game for many reasons. Number one because it’s a lot of work and deviates me from the main purpose that is polish and finish the game. Number two that new things sometimes get out of control in code and turn out to take a lot of more than expected. Anyways, despite above reasons I decided to add a new building to the game that actually changes the dynamics of the game completely.

The new building is so far a secret one and will only be shown a few weeks prior release. The art is not done but its working like a charm. I wish I could show it but it’s one of the surprises of this game.

Conclusion

Once again thanks to all of you for showing support and enthusiasm with SugarMill. The game is going to be as solid as possible to release, and I will make sure it’s fun enough too.

Eight weeks is less than two month. So it’s unbelievable to me but the game will be out then.

I will keep working on the game, making it awesome for the Launch date: Dec 15th

Thanks all for your time!

Cheers!!