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Mjeno
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« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2018, 07:44:40 AM »

Development log #137

During Martin's last week of parental leave, Michi diversified the possibilities for player interactions, Julian engaged with the community via Skype and in person, and Mac made a new piece of concept art in honor of Asteroid Day 2018.


Michi (molp)

In the beginning of the week, I continued my work from last week on the visualization of the orbits of own ships, stations and traffic. Here are the current results:


I then started to work on some smaller tasks that will eventually increase the interaction between players. The last alpha tests have shown that oftentimes players don't want to produce a certain good themselves, but there are no sell orders at the time. Up until now, the only solution was to ask around who could produce it and there was no means to find out what other players were doing.
 
The new planet site information buffer allows to find out who has a base on a certain planet and what their primary industry is. A click on a plot will open the buffer on the left.    


Of course, this is no proper spying tool as no vital details are visible, that's a feature for another time...


Julian (Mjeno)

We did the first round of player interviews this week, which are shaping up to be a very valuable tool for us. There's nothing like talking to our players directly when trying to find out their priorities. I can't yet say much about the results, but our immediate course of action as well as some long-term game design decisions will be shaped by these talks, so you'll definitely hear more about this topic in due time. If you'd like to volunteer for an interview as well, don't hesitate to shoot me a message!

You may have seen that we exhibited the game on Thursday. The occasion was a closed-doors industry event in Trier, where developers and politicians came together to discuss the status quo of the regional industry. I've been connecting with other indies around my home town throughout the past year and co-founded a small group called Game Dev Saar. We were invited by our neighbors, GameDevs Rheinland-Pfalz, to showcase some of the games made by our members, including Prosperous Universe. Among other things, we did a live interview on Twitch and received some great feedback for the game by some fellow game designers.


Yesterday, we posted our annual Asteroid Day artwork, as always created by our concept artist Maciej Rebisz. The APEX interface made an appearance in this piece, juxtaposed with a mining operation outside the cockpit windows, which is being managed through APEX at that very moment. In the future, we're going to bring a little more of the concept art's flair into the game and more hints at the actual gameplay into our artworks. The concept art pieces were always meant to convey an idea of an actual game world that is being manipulated through the APEX interface, but so far, this connection has mainly existing in our players' imagination. With more and more eye-candy like visible orbits of ships and stations, the planned UI overhaul (which is still coming!) and future features like the 3D ship editor, the game world will become more and more visible within APEX itself.


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2018, 09:39:57 AM »

Development log #138

While Michi was finishing up the new fuel usage model, Julian has been busy with the creation of a wiki, the company’s rebranding, and more player interviews.


Michi (molp)

This week, I finished one of the last missing bits of the navigation overhaul: the fuel usage slider!


As you can see in the animation above, you can use the slider to tell the ship controls how much fuel should be spend on the given flight. Of course, the fuel usage selection has been in working condition before and currently is in the alpha, but there have been so many breaking changes in my latest refactorings that it didn’t work anymore.

So what’s the big deal about it? Well, calculating the minimum and maximum fuel that can be spent on a flight is not as trivial as it sounds.

There are various limiting factors, like the fixed amount of fuel necessary to get off a planet’s surface for example. A dynamic factor would be the minimum speed to catch up with your target. If you set the usage too low, the ship won’t ever reach its target!

A limiting factor for the maximum amount of fuel that can be spent is the ship’s specifications. Ships are only rated to a certain amount of g-force during acceleration and deceleration and the engines burn fuel at a constant rate. So if you have only planned a short hop between neighboring planets, the distance between them might be too short to burn all the fuel, since the ship has to turn around in the middle and start decelerating.


Julian (Mjeno)

I mentioned our company’s branding overhaul several times in the past. This week, we revealed our new logo and claim:


The logo design (created by typ neun design agency) went through multiple iterations, and we are really happy with how it turned out. The new claim is the result of a long process as well. We’ve been coming up with and throwing away worse alternatives for months, but “Expert games” finally encapsulates what we stand for, describing both our own and our audience’s approach to our games. We intentionally didn’t bring up the simulogics name very often in the past because the company has been a hybrid of web development contractor and indie game development studio. Our branding as a pure game developer now finally makes the switch that happened a long time ago in reality. That is why I’m working on a new company website that is going to go online soon.

I also tackled a completely new task this week: written tutorials! Not only that: Those tuorials are part of a bigger undertaking, a Prosperous Universe wiki. Testers have been asking about written resources in the past in addition to the existing video tutorials. Your wish is my command, as I will have them ready in time for alpha test #6.

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 09:45:34 AM by Mjeno » Logged

Mjeno
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« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2018, 10:42:02 AM »

Development log #139

This week, Michi has been implementing the new ship information feature, Julian is redesigning the company website, and Martin has completed all that is needed for the formation of Corporations.


Martin

Hello! I’m back! The things they tell you about parenthood are (mostly) true: You’re constantly tired and you feel like you don’t get around to anything anymore. But for some biologically encoded reason, you don’t care.

Anyway… a great thing about simulogics these days is that there are quite a few people that continue doing things while I’m gone, so it took me a while to catch up when I got back into the office last week and I spent a whole lot of time in meetings and calls - not only concerning Prosperous Universe. That’s not to say these calls weren’t useful: Some of them dealt with pretty cool game design topics that we’re tackling for the next alpha and I’m pretty stoked about getting to work on them!

Meetings aside, I actually managed to work on the game and it felt incredibly good to also dive back into code. By “code” I mean actual code of the game… not some infrastructure or management project. In fact, I finally managed to complete the server-side implementation of corporation formation. So I’m hopeful to finally wrap this feature up some time over the coming weeks!


Michi (molp)

This week I continued to work on the list of smaller tasks to make the game more interactive. For example, I added a ship information tile that is opened when clicking on a ship that is not one of your own:


The tile provides some basic information about the ship and its owner but not much more yet. We have a few ideas what could be interesting for the players to see here, but we will add the information gradually when the corresponding features are implemented. For example, the dimensions and weight of the ships could be interesting, as is the ship type and class. Of course we cannot simply show what another player has stored in the cargo bay, but maybe there will be a feature to allow that in the future.

What would you like to have added in this tile if you could make a wish?

Besides the ship information tile, I also worked on the more technical subject of monitoring the game world. I finished a framework to collect and display metrics and as a test added a statistic for daily, weekly and monthly active players. I am going to show some screenshots eventually, but right now there is not much to see yet.


Julian (Mjeno)

Most of my work time this week went into our company website’s overhaul. I started by throwing away last week’s first attempt at a redesign and got cracking with a completely different template as a new starting point. I can’t show you anything yet, but we’re nearing the finish line and will probably reveal the new design in a couple of days. Besides that, I conducted two more player interviews this week, applied for some prizes and events, engaged in local games industry politics, and took care of a long overdue clean-up of our company’s shared files. Not every day in game dev is exciting, okay? Wink

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2018, 06:14:58 AM »

Development log #140

While none of us have anything show you just yet, we do have some exciting things in the works. First and foremost: the Chamber of Global Commerce!


Martin

I’m keeping it short this week: I mainly continued working on the client-side implementation of corporation formation but it’s not quite ready to show pictures yet. See you next week. :-)


Michi (molp)

Just as Martin I don’t have anything to show this week, but I can tell you a bit more details about what I am working on at the moment Smiley

For the next alpha test we want to introduce at least one feature that are about playing more competitively and/or cooperatively than the game allows so far. We have sketched out two features and I started to implement the first one:

The ‘Chamber of Global Commerce’ (CoGC) is a planetary structure that can be built on any planet that has at least one player base. The CoGC is an expensive building, but no single player has to build it alone: everyone with a base on the planet can contribute resources towards its completion.

Once the Chamber of Global Commerce is built, it allows everyone on the planet to vote for a week-long economic program. While the program is running, the players will be able to vote for the next program and so on. Programs will for example give a boost for a certain industry (Agriculture, Chemistry, …) or increase the satisfaction of a certain workforce.

The weight of a player’s vote depends on her workforce: the more workforce she has and the happier it is, the more it counts.

But everything has a price. The CoGC will have a constant upkeep that has to be paid to keep it running. Just as with the building costs, everyone on the planet can contribute to it.

I just started to work on this feature, so more details will follow in the next weeks.


Julian (Mjeno)

Besides more player interviews and some applications for events and prizes, I had two main tasks this week:

First of all, I finished our corporate homepage! Once I get the green light, I’ll show it to you guys. I also made a dopresskit page for the site besides the downloadable press kit. I’ve heard a couple of journalists say they prefer it due to its standardized structure.

Second, I continued on with the wiki, which is advancing less quickly than I hoped. The first pages I’m creating for it are the written tutorials. The existing ones were written to be read out loud from a teleprompter alongside concrete examples on the screen, resulting in a lot of wording and formatting I had to completely redo for the written versions. And, of course, there will be a lot of changed and new content in the next test that needs to be added to the tutorials. I’m not taking any screenshots for it yet because I want to wait for the game’s upcoming visual overhaul. We may already be working with someone who might have sent us a first version of the new APEX look this week. Maybe.

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2018, 11:08:37 AM »

Development log #141

While Julian is about to set set course towards a full-blown marketing offensive, Martin is getting Corporations ready and Michi is working on the mother of all material trees.


Martin

Almost there! This week I finished more or less all of the server-side code required to invite another company as a shareholder to your corporation and to respond to such an invite on the invitee’s side. The former already has all the required UI components while the latter will get its interface some time next week.

On a more technical note: In our clustered architecture, things tend to become more complicated once more than one entity is involved in any given transaction because quite a bit of boilerplate is required to ensure the game’s overall state remains consistent. At the same time, one important principle in programming is DRY: Don’t repeat yourself! And the code I’ve been writing recently definitely didn’t feel very “dry”. Writing cross-entity transactions feels more tedious than I think it should, so I might have to look into this some time soon… everything we’ve planned for the coming weeks in terms of new features relies heavily on inter-entity-interactions, so I’m worried we’ll waste a lot of time and produce hard-to-follow code without some additional abstraction. I can hear Michi screaming “Stop writing frameworks!” in my head!


Michi (molp)

Last week I told you about a new feature I am implementing: the Chamber of Global Commerce and I hoped to be able to show some screenshots of the corresponding tiles this week. Well… I got sidetracked.

Our team is currently being supported by a fellow game designer. He came up with the two features I described last week and is now moving onto refining/redefining all materials in the game.

As you might know we have a custom tool for that purpose that we wrote a long while ago. It looks like this:


It is pretty good in defining materials and buildings and especially good in finding circular references and dependencies between different materials. Its main focus are materials, so it is hard to see which materials are produced and consumed in a certain building. Our game designer asked for a visualization of exactly that and so I built one this week.

In this screenshot, buildings are the large green rectangles and the materials that can be produced in them are embedded. The arrows indicate which material or resource is necessary to build another material:


Elements in the tree can be clicked and only the selected element and its graph-neighbours will remain. In this example, the small structural element has been selected and thus its input materials and uses in other products are visible.



Julian (Mjeno)

My work week has been short due to a quick trip to Berlin and back, but it’s also been an important turning point. I’ve essentially been pondering the following question: Is there such a thing as marketing a product too early?

For the past few months, I’ve been in a bit of a weird spot. My most important task has been (and remains) to get people to play our game - but the game cannot be played yet. You may remember that in one of my very first devlogs, I talked about setting up a so-called funnel. Because the game isn’t out yet, that funnel is currently aimed at newsletter sign-ups rather than game sign-ups. It works as follows: get people’s attention on our social channels and external websites, direct them to our homepage where they sign up for our newsletter and then let them know when the game comes out. For this funnel to work best, every step needs to pique (or maintain) the user’s interest and naturally lead them to the next one. In the past, I was afraid that the funnel wasn’t ready. That if I started a broader marketing offensive now, including contacting members of the press and the whole shebang, many people would drop out along the way and not give us a second chance when everything was finally optimized. Most importantly, our new website isn’t up yet, and I still think it will generate a lot more newsletter sign-ups than the current one does. It just looks so much more interesting.

What I don’t think any more is that not marketing before everything is ready does us any good. It’s only half true what many people tell you, that waiting for the right moment to advertise is crucial. It might be crucial not to write to bigger press outlets before anything newsworthy happens. It might be true that we only have one shot to get covered by the biggest gaming magazines out there, or at least that we have to make the first shot count. But anything else, like contacting smaller influencers, writing to more specialized press, giving interviews and putting Prosperous Universe on games lists, will most likely be worth more the earlier we get into it. Worst case: some people will not find the game in its current state and its current presentation too interesting. But even they will have heard of us, going from Cold to Warm Audience. Maybe they will check back in a few months. And even if they don’t - with the sheer number of potential customers out there, we have no chance of reaching all of them with our budget anyway. So, at the end of the day, the longer we’re out there, in as many places as possible, the bigger our newsletter list will be when it really counts.

That is why, starting next week, I’m going to finally do what I’ve come here for: get the game out there. I’m done with most of the preparation anyway. Alpha #6 is still a few months away, but for it to be as big as we want, a lot of (online) legwork will be required on my part. Wish me luck!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2018, 07:34:02 AM »

Development log #142

Corporation invitiations are now done, providing the fundamentals of all Corporation features to come. Michi pushed forward both the Chamber of Global Commerce and the visualization tool from last week. Julian moved into a new office, where he got busy adding Prosperous Universe to games lists throughout the web.


Martin

I did it! Development of the basic Corporation feature which - for many reasons - dragged on for many months despite its relatively small scope, is finally finished! As always, there are various bells & whistles that could be added, but for now you can found a new Corporation, invite other companies to become shareholders and those invitees can respond to your invitation. Doesn’t sound like too much, but given the role of Corporations as the foundation for many of our mid- and end-game features, I’m very relieved to finally have this wrapped up!

Once the basics were in place, I started working on the first actual practical benefits of Corporations: Auto-managed, internal chat rooms for all shareholders. But more on this next week. :-)


Michi (molp)

I continued to work on the material editor and the Chamber of Global Commerce feature this week.

Our game designer is quite happy with the visualization of the dependency graph I made. Although it is just a quick prototype, it is quite usable, but of course lacking some features. So I took the time and added a few things. The most important is probably the visualization of the workforce. Right now there are pioneers, settlers and technicians in the game. Each of them depends on commodities like food, drinks, medical equipment and so on. On the other hand, buildings depend on the workforce to operate properly. I visualized the workforces as single nodes and both dependencies as arrows from and to the these nodes.

I made some progress with the Chamber of Global Commerce feature as well. Unfortunately there is still nothing to show yet, but we’ll get there. Smiley Right now I am in the middle of implementing a tile that will show the progress of a planetary project and lets the player contribute resources towards finishing it. Planetary project is a general term for all projects that have a global scale. The Chamber of Global Commerce is the first one we implement, but there surely will be others in the future. Let us know if you have some ideas. Smiley


Julian (Mjeno)

As promised last week, I started working on the game’s online reach in view of the upcoming alpha test, which is supposed to be a few orders of magnitude bigger than the previous ones. However, before that, I made quite a drastic change in my working habits.

As you may know, only Martin works from simulogics HQ (his office at home), whereas Michi and I have our own bases of operation hundreds of kilometers apart (i.e. our offices at home). At least until now. After years of working from home - first as a freelancer, then for simulogics -, I decided to rent an office for myself. I made the decision last Sunday, reached out to a few places on Monday, got an answer on Tuesday, started moving in on Wednesday and set up all the new furniture on Thursday. Funnily enough, both Michi and Martin are about to move their offices as well. So here’s the first of three new simulogics offices you’ll get to see:


It’s not quite finished, but it’s almost there, and I already love it. It’s a corner office with huge windows opening to a beautiful university campus. In fact, I enjoy working in the new office so much that I spent my whole weekend there - and I intend to utilize this enthusiasm while it lasts!

Now, on to something equally important: The first step in my marketing offensive, which is list entries. Google Analytics says that the most important source of traffic to our website is the few MMO websites that already have us listed. No matter what we do on our own channels, these entries outperform them every week, even though Prosperous Universe is just one out of thousands of games listed on these pages. What I’m doing now is contacting the admins of all the pages the game is not yet listed on and asking them politely if they can add it. If all of them do, I expect the increase in traffic to be quite dramatic, but even a handful might double it over night, as the current metrics suggest. I’m still in the process of composing all those personalized messages and haven’t sent out any yet because I’m waiting for the new landing page on our website to drop first. That’s happening next week in all likelihood, so stay tuned!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2018, 07:35:59 AM »

Development log #143

In this week’s news, our redesigned studio website is now live and Corporations are getting their own chat rooms as well as their first large-scale cooperative feature: planetary projects!


Martin

As you might remember from last week’s post, I started working on the first actual benefit of Corporations: Having a private chat-room that all shareholders are automatically added to.

That sounds easy enough, but I quickly encountered two annoying problems. Firstly, the chat code is one of the very oldest bits of code in our code-base. We basically used it as our proof of concept when we designed the initial cluster architecture for the game, so many improvements to code style and structure that were available when building later features are missing from these parts of the code (let alone what will soon be three years of development experience on our part). Long story short: Plugging on the functionality needed for the automated chat channels proved to be a bit more challenging than I had planned.

Which leads me to the second problem. When faced with the challenge of editing code you have a hard time understanding, it’s of great help to have a suite of automated tests that make sure that any functionality that’s been there before still works as expected after you’ve made your changes. While we fortunately do have such tests in place, they were running so slowly that it was cumbersome to use them. And having to wait for minutes every time you want to run the tests obviously hinders development progress. So I spent some time on top of my allocated budget (aka on the weekend) to look into these performance issues. They are not quite solved yet, but there are improvements. To be continued…


Michi (molp)

I made some progress on the Chamber of Global Commerce feature this week:


This is the tile where players can contribute towards the completion of a planetary project, like the Chamber of Global Commerce. The upper part shows some general status information including the total building costs. The part in the middle is a new contribution widget I wrote. Every material necessary in the construction of the project is represented as a line with a slider. The players can then decide how much of their goods they want to contribute and also see how much is left until the project can be constructed.

Once they made up their mind and hit the contribute button, the selected commodities will be removed from the personal inventory and added to the project. Finally, a new entry is added to the list at the end of the tile and everybody can see who has contributed which materials and when.


Julian (Mjeno)

I spent most of my time this week working from my new office, and so far it has provided me with the productiviy boost I was hoping for. I got a bunch of e-mails ready to get Prosperous Universe on as many game lists as possible, and all our existing entries have been updated with new texts and images. I’m still holding back on quite a few (already composed) e-mails because I’m waiting for the new Prosperous Universe website to drop first, which is happening next week.

This brings me to the biggest news of the week: Our game studio simulogics is now finally and officially a game studio! In truth, it has been one for a long time, but our studio website didn’t reflect that. (We used to do a lot of contract work and developed our games on the side.) On Wednesday, we released our overhauled homepage design - check it out!


Lastly, of course, I’m getting ready for the upcoming industry events. We’re exhitibing Prosperous Universe at devcom’s Indie Area on Sunday and Monday, so be sure to say hello if you’re attending. I’ll also be at Gamescom from Monday to Thursday next week. We’re not exhibiting there (this year), but I’m always happy to chat! You can probably spot me around Indie Arena Booth (Hall 10.1 Booth A020) most of the time, I’ll be wearing my hand-made Prosperous Universe patch:


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2018, 03:32:37 PM »

Development log #144

The new Prosperous Universe homepage is finally live! Michi gives a deeper insight into the Chamber of Global Commerce, Martin continues our “new office” mini series, and Julian is in Cologne for devcom and gamescom.


Martin

Work on automatically managed chat rooms and the required refactoring of our somewhat outdated chat code made some progress this week and I’m almost across the finishing line.

That said, I was primarily traveling this week. Next to some family time and baby-sitting I visited my future hometown to sign the rent contract for our new apartment. And since we all work from home, that means I also signed to contract for the next home of the simulogics HQ. So behold! My contribution to our on-going mini series “Impressions from around simulogics offices in the making”:



Michi (molp)

I am still working on the Chamber of Global Commerce feature and focused on the voting system this week.

As you might recall, the Chamber of Global Commerce allows everyone who has a base on the given planet to take part in the weekly vote for an economic stimuli program. In this overview, the players can see the current program, the upcoming program and (not shown) a few programs that lie in the past.


When clicking on the “program/vote” button, a list of all programs that can be voted for comes up sorted by influence. Players don’t have a single vote each week, but rather an influence whose size depending on how much workforce they have in their base and how satisfied it is.


Clicking the name of a economic program or the “view details” button will open another tile with detailed information about the program. It features a short description of the program and a button to vote for it. In the table below, all voters are listed sorted by their influence.



Julian (Mjeno)

I’m writing this from my hotel in Cologne and I’ll have to keep it short because it’s already getting late. The big one first: Our new homepage is finally here! Isn’t it beautiful?

Secondly, the opening day of devcom was awesome, especially because quite a few people were really enthusiastic about the game. Events like this show that, even though our audience is small, it’s also really dedicated. For every person saying “this looks way too complicated for my taste”, there is one saying “this is exactly my jam”. (You know, along those lines.) Check out our humble stand:


Other than that, I continued getting Prosperous Universe on game lists all over the Internet this week. Anyway, I have to get to an industry party thingy. Looking forward to another day of devcom and gamescom. If you spot me, come say hi! I’m wearing the Prosperous Universe badge on my shirt.

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2018, 11:15:15 AM »

Development log #145

Thanks to devcom and gamescom, the game has seen record numbers in traffic and newsletter sign-ups. In the meantime, Michi’s Chamber of Global Commerce is nearing completion, and Martin is setting up everything needed for key-based access to the next test. Alpha #6 is coming…


Martin

Once again, I’m working on the utilities required for operating a game like Prosperous Universe: After wrapping up the auto-managed chat channels feature for Corporations, I switched my attention to the Prosperous Universe account management system or “hub” as we tend to call it. At the moment it’s merely a placeholder that allows sign-up, login and password reset, mostly for our forums and our limited closed alpha tests. And it doesn’t hold any state of its own, it just serves as a UI to our central account registry used across our games.

With the next alpha coming up, this is going to change. First of all, we plan to let a lot more people into the game, so we need a more user-friendly way to grant access. People should be able to sign up and - for example - unlock alpha access by a using a key.

Then there’s all utility stuff: Changing your e-mail address, choosing your notifications settings, deleting your account… all these things no one ever really thinks about but that have to be there.

Last but not least, PrUn must make some money eventually, and the hub is going to be the place where this happens. It’ll allow to pick your desired package, open and manage the transaction with our (existing) payment systems and keep track of your game time, access levels etc.

Not the most exciting stuff, I know. But that’s what you’re going to read about from my side over the coming weeks. :-)


Michi (molp)

This week I continued implementing the Chamber of Global Commerce feature.

While players could already cast their vote on the upcoming economic program, the mechanism that counts the votes and actually starts the new program has not been implemented yet. Below is a screenshot that shows a series of programs. Each voting period has only been two minutes, so I could properly test it. Later, the programs will most likely last one week.


When a new program starts, all players that have a base on the planet with the Chamber of Global Commerce will get a notification like this:


Clicking the notification will open a new tile featuring the CoGC.

Besides some minor issues and testing, there is only one larger piece of work left and that’s the upkeep of the CoGC. The Chamber of Global Commerce needs a constant flow of materials as upkeep. Every player with a base on the planet can contribute and if the goal is not reached at a certain date, the CoGC will stop working.

I started to implement this last piece but didn’t manage to finish it, so you’ll have to wait until next time. Speaking of… I am taking a vacation, so have a good one! And see you in two weeks.


Julian (Mjeno)

As you might know, we exhibited Prosperous Universe at this year’s devcom, a pre-gamescom event aimed at game developers. Here’s a quick recap: First of all, there was a lot more press than at Quo Vadis during Gamesweek Berlin in April. Since gamescom started right after devcom, I felt like journalists were more willing to make the trip than they were for Quo Vadis and Gamesweek Berlin. Second, we had quite a few really enthusiastic people at the booth, more than at any other event in the past. As a result, we saw record numbers in website traffic and newsletter sign-ups this week. Third, there were several service providers, platform owners and other potential business partners that actually piqued my interest. Most of the interesting ones could either help us promote or sell the game, both of which is probably going to become important this winter.


After devcom, I spent two days at gamescom. Since it didn’t concern Prosperous Universe directly - apart from some business meetings of various degrees of formality -, I’ll spare you the details. What I will say is: This year’s gamescom was by far the busiest, coolest and most tiring one since my first visit in 2014. I went to something around eight parties throughout my stay in Cologne, and that’s not counting all the receptions and events during daytime. I was so busy that I hardly thought of taking photos at all. Here’s one somebody took of me and some game dev friends outside a party on Tuesday night:


As you can imagine, I didn’t get much done since I returned back home apart from catching up on sleep and slowly gaining back my voice. I’ll finally be back in my new office tomorrow morning to tackle all those devcom follow-up e-mails.

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2018, 06:09:34 AM »

Development log #146

This week, we announced a new freelance team member: Alexander Zacherl is assisting us as a game designer! Michi took some well-deserved time off, Martin has been preparing the “hub” and Julian has been handling press contacts and legalese.


Martin

Just as planned, my work this week revolved around the Prosperous Universe account management system (aka “hub”).

My first course of action was to get the current implementation back to work using a more robust technical foundation. When I wrote the initial version of the hub, I opted for quick turn-around times and fewer technical components because the whole thing was more or less a single-purpose app that merely served as a thin layer above our existing account management backend. Now I’m paying the price by having to do things twice. But there’s a saying among programmers: Any software needs to be written at least three times before it’s any good!

Anyway, I achieved my goal. All existing functionality is back in. It just doesn’t look all that great yet because I haven’t quite finished the visual design. It’s going to use the latest style improvements from our new homepage as well as the first parts of the UI rework in progress for the game itself (more on that in the future).


Julian (Mjeno)

First things first: This week, we revealed a new team member. Alexander Zacherl is a freelance consultant on design, marketing, and management. For us, he has been and will be busy with game design problems, ranging from the material tree (remember the tool we built for him?) to dominance systems that will become an important part of how Corporations interact.

Now a fun fact about me: My primary field of study at university was literature. My minor subject was linguistics and translation to and from French and English. I chose not to work in any of those fields, but some of the skills I acquired do come in handy sometimes. Like this week, when I set out to translate our privacy statement as well as our terms of service. You think you know a language until you are confronted with legal texts, user manuals, or scientific papers. Luckily, these are the kinds of texts we were actually being prepared for at university (because that’s the job reality for many translators), so I think I’ve been holding my own.

Another thing I’ve been doing all week was to keep in touch with the first journalists I reached out to or met during devcom or gamescom. Among other things, we’ll be contributing a few articles to different game development sites that will allow you to peek behind the scenes of some of our processes.

Lastly, list entries are still keeping me busy with everyone having their own requirements for word count, highlighted features, wanting unique texts or us linking back to their site. The uptick in newsletter sign-ups is continuing, although, looking at our analytics, I have to say honestly that it can’t be attributed to our new list entries. When all entries are online and some time has passed, I think I’ll do a write-up of their impact on our traffic.

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2018, 06:46:17 AM »

Development log #147

Things have been quiet this week, with both Michi and Julian taking some time off. At least Martin soldiered on, getting the new account management system ready for the next, (hopefully) massive test run.


Martin

Despite a relatively short week in terms of Prosperous Universe I managed to more or less wrap up the rewrite of the current account management interface. The functionality was already in place last week, this week I merely finished the visible parts. With this I should be able to follow the “release early, release often” paradigm and replace our current system with the new one next week, with incremental changes being deployed to production continuously whenever they are ready.

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #31 on: September 16, 2018, 01:25:02 PM »

Development log #148

While Michi has been weaving the effects of the Chamber of Global Commerce into existing features, Martin is still finishing up the account management system, and Julian is working to increase the game’s visibility on social media.


Martin

Last weekend I must have caught a cold at a community event for our other game AirlineSim because on Wednesday I started feeling sick enough to follow past me’s advice and take some time off to rest. Due to this and contrary to my experience described in devlog #88 (seriously…that was 60 devlogs ago?!) I started feeling a lot better by Friday and I actually was able to get some (light) work done, mostly the finishing touches to the rewritten account management system and the deployment of said system in our test environment. But that’s about it…I guess being somewhat healthy is better than an additional paragraph in the devlog, no? So see you next week!


Michi (molp)


I am back from my vacation and continued working on the Chamber of Global Commerce right away.

Take a look at the CoGC overview:


There is the new “upkeep” section at the bottom. The CoGC requires a periodical upkeep to function properly. Every 30 days a new upkeep cycle starts and if not all materials are contributed by the players owning a base on the given planet, the CoGC will go into strike. If on strike, the voting mechanism for economic programs will still work, but they won’t have any effect. The amount of materials necessary for each upkeep cycle depends on the amount of bases established on a planet.

The economic programs that are being voted for now finally have an actual effect on the production. They are being displayed in the production line order management as an efficiency factor:


The Chamber of Global Commerce feature is now almost complete. The second to last missing piece is implementing the effects of programs that increase the workforce satisfaction, and the final bit is figuring out how expensive a CoGC should be, which materials are necessary for the upkeep and the concrete factors for efficiency and workforce satisfaction. Since Alex is currently redesigning the material tree and these things are heavily dependent on the materials and resources, the implementation will have to wait a bit.


Julian (Mjeno)

Maybe you remember that I sometimes do freelance work as a composer. Well, I’m once again in the middle of a project, which is why I took last week off to write some music. This week, I dialed it back and got some work for Prosperous Universe done.

Besides continuing the translation of our legal texts, I started scheduling different kinds of posts - several per week until our next test’s release, which we have planned for late November. I’m putting quite a bit of work into making them flashy; for instance, the first series I’ve been preparing consists of stylized gifs made from in-game material to highlight certain features. I’ve been poking around different ideas for regular posts, but I’ll get to that once the feature spotlight series is done:


The APEX interface is all you need to bring your company to prosperity. This highly customizable management tool will allow you to run any kind of operation from anywhere in the known universe.


Commodity Exchanges allow licensees to trade their goods on certain planets and space stations. Buying and selling commodities in the right place, for the right price, at the right time will make all the difference in your company’s success.

I’m scheduling these for Wednesdays to make use of #indiedevhour, and sometimes on Saturdays for #screenshotsaturday. So far, the reception has been pretty positive. More formats are coming next week!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2018, 09:37:44 AM »

Development log #149

With Julian wrapping up his freelance audio project and Martin in the process of moving, it was Michi’s turn to power through this week by himself, laying the foundation of the Prosperous Universe wiki.


Michi (molp)

Wow, this week I had lots of different things to do. Let’s start at the beginning!

I set up the technical foundation for a documentation/wiki website for our other game AirlineSim. We have been using a wiki to document the game, its rules and lots of other things for a long time now. It is about time now to muck out its contents and move to a new site. The new system will build on static sites and thus have way less dependencies and technical overhead.

Why is this relevant for Prosperous Universe? Eventually we want to have a similar documentation for this game as well and chances are that we will be using this setup.


The next thing on my list was extending the world editor with a tool that Alex needs to create the material tree. He asked for a view of the material tree that looks like his prototyping spreadsheet:


All materials and their corresponding recipes are listed in a large table, sorted by category. To be able to estimate the costs of a certain recipe (and therefore balance the game) we calculate the pioneer-hours that go into creating it in a recursive matter. If there is more than one way to craft something we even go the extra mile now and calculate minimum, average and maximum costs.

The last mentionable task I completed this week is the last missing Chamber of Global Commerce feature. The second type of program that can be voted for (namely workforce campaigns) are now effecting the efficiency of the production lines as intended. The CoGC has been a fun feature to implement and I can’t wait to see it in action in the next alpha. If you have questions about it right now, let me know Smiley

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2018, 12:59:49 PM »

Development log #150

Unbelievable: we are writing devlog #150! That’s quite a figure and an important milestone! Since Martin is currently enjoying his vacation and I think the honours are all his to write the 3-year-in-development celebratory speech we are going to postpone that until october when it’s three full years! In Martin’s absence Julian has started Phase 2 of his elaborated marketing plan and Michi is hunting bugs to prepare for the next alpha.


Michi (molp)

Since the CoGC feature is done, I am now looking into smaller issues and tasks that need to be done before we can start the next alpha test.

I started this week with investigating a bug that has been in the game for quite some time now. If I remember correctly it was reported in the third alpha for the first time. Here is the problem:

If you buy something at a commodity exchange and don’t have any storage there (e.g. no ship or base) than a pickup contract will be created. If you send a ship over to the comex you can open that contract and click ‘fulfill’ and the goods will be transferred to the ship. If the things you bought are too big to fit in the cargo hold of your ship, the contract cannot be fulfilled and the the goods are essentially stuck.

Fixing this was way more complicated than it sounds, since there is quite a bit of code involved in the handling of contracts. After studying the code for a while, I am unfamiliar with it since Martin wrote it, I decided to go for a minimalistic solution: The fulfill button is still there, but it will always transfer the largest amount of commodities possible and then mark the contract’s condition as ‘partly fulfilled’. That way players can either send multiple ships or do a few roundtrips to get all their goods.

In the UI it looks rather unspectacular:


The newly created pick-up contract for 125 units of iron ore.


The condition after picking up some of the iron ore.


The condition after everything has been transferred.


Julian (Mjeno)

The past week has been tightly packed as I rushed to finish up some things by the 150th devlog milestone in an attempt to finally close what my personal roadmap labels “Phase 1”. I’m not 100 % there yet, but that’s mainly due to other people I’m waiting for, so I’m not too upset about it. Phase 1 encompassed all that needed to be done in preparation for Phases 2 through 5.

In other words, Phase 1 is pretty much all I’ve done so far: Researching our (possible) target group(s) by various means including surveys among our existing followers. Helping to set up Alpha #5 including the creation of our video tutorials. Preparing and starting to execute a strategy for a regular posting schedule of game-related content in different places all-over the Internet, which I took a long time gathering. Getting the game on all relevant MMO lists out there (although some are taking their sweet time to include us). Showing the game at smaller, cheaper events to test what works on exhibitions, and to gather feedback from industry colleagues. Updating (or helping coordinate the update of) our promotional texts, websites, and corporate designs, the conclusion of which will be the publication of our new terms and conditions I finished translating this week. Most importantly, however, I’ve gathered an extensive and detailed list of websites, journalists, blogs, YouTubers, streamers, and even clans. Some of them will be contacted before our next test run, the rest right before the official launch. The goal of this phase has been to set up and streamline our PR campaign while already building up our newsletter list, which will be the most important means to let players know when the game officially starts.

Phase 2 will be all about the next and improved test run, which will be the start of our closed beta. These are the things I’ll be concerning myself with throughout the coming months: finishing and publishing our teaser trailer, helping to set up key-based access to the game, reaching out to parts of my contact list (to organize key give-aways among other things), creating a new batch of tutorials for all the new features, and getting the Prosperous Universe wiki ready, including written tutorials for those who prefer reading to watching videos. The start of the next test, which is ideally going to be in two months, marks the beginning of Phase 3. Plenty of things to do until then, so October and November will be very busy!

In case you missed it, this week’s feature spotlight has been the Planet Info window:

This screen provides you with information about a planet: Is it rocky or gaseous? Which resources can be found here? Is it fertile? Are additional measures required to shield structures from the environment? Choose wisely where to set up shop.


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2018, 01:08:48 PM »

Development log #151

Things have picked up the pace this week! Julian got his hands on a new build of the game, which he promptly showed to the public over the weekend. Martin has been involved with the material tree, and Michi is finally getting around to the long list of feature requests that have been piling up since the start of Alpha #5.


Martin

I am back from a short but pretty incredible vacation in South Africa! After plenty of catching up with admin work I got around to a few minor things around Prosperous Universe:

Firstly, I worked with Michi and Alex on writing down a design guide for the naming of the materials in our game. While Alex’ job is to design the material tree from a game design perspective, the actual naming of the materials falls into world building territory and it’s hard for an external consultant to hit exactly the tone Michi and I have had in mind for years but never actually formulated anywhere. The design guide should help with that going forward but expect many of the material names in the next alpha test to still be placeholders.

I then went on to do some code review of a few things Michi coded in my absence and that he wanted me to check out.

Not much to report but pretty good given that I essentially had an afternoon of time this week. Speaking of limited time: I have a lot of external contract work and a move to a new city coming up. So until I can conclude my part of the “Impressions from around simulogics offices in the making” mini series with a final impression of my new office towards the end of October, expect to see a little less content from me. I’m sure Michi’s and Julian’s reports will be as exciting as ever!


Michi (molp)

In the team-internal area of the Forums, we have this big list of issues and feature requests that Julian compiled from your feedback a while ago. Since we are closing in on an new alpha test I figured it couldn’t hurt to fix a few things.

Besides a lot of really small issues I redesigned the ship tile. This is what it looked like before:


Up until now this tile consisted only of the ship inventory and (accessible via the carousel buttons) fuel tanks. Moving fuel between the inventory and the tanks was really complicated. The tile could be opened by clicking on the transponder code in the fleet tile:


Since ships have quite a few interesting properties (and will have more in the future) I created a complete new ship tile:


I added some basic ship data and a quick overview of the fuel and cargo stores. Clicking the cargo store will open a new buffer that shows its inventory. The same goes with the fuel store: A new tile will open containing both fuel stores. Moving fuel between the cargo store and fuel store is now as simple as moving items between any stores.

Ships can now be renamed, a feature that has often been requested. Smiley

I added the cargo store widget to the fleet overview as well:


Besides these changes, I helped out Alex with the world editor and I set up a local test server so Alex and Julian could test some of the features we wrote in the last weeks.


Julian (Mjeno)

This week, I was finally given access to the new game build that includes all the new features we’ve been talking about since Alpha #5 in April. During all that time, I hadn’t gotten my hands on a newer version of the game because it was so heavily under construction. Now, though, the new features are really taking shape. I’ll tell you a lot more about that next week!

I think I mentioned it before, but in case you don’t know: I’m pretty active in the local game development scene. It all started when I co-founded a group called Game Dev Saar over a year ago, which, among other things, showcases games from my home region now and then. It happened again this weekend, specifically at a pretty cool event called SaarCon, where we (i.e. Game Dev Saar) had a table to ourselves:


The guy behind me at the table (right above the screen showing our concept art) is Felix, founder of Radical Fish Games. He brought their recently released title CrossCode. Outside our table, though, most games weren’t digital at SaarCon; the hall was packed with people playing board games, tabletop games, and some pen & paper games. There were tournaments of all sorts, a Cosplay contest, and much more. The event went on from Saturday morning until Sunday night without any break, although we didn’t make it all the way through. We had a blast, though, and I met quite a few people who were enthusiastic about Prosperous Universe. Last but not least, I even got to use my old Magic: The Gathering deck again. (I won. Heh.)

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #35 on: October 14, 2018, 07:14:49 AM »

Development log #152

With Martin travelling on business and preparing for the move of the simulogics HQ, the field was once again left mostly to Michi and Julian this week. Michi continued fleshing out the Corporations feature by starting to work on corporation headquarters while Julian took a deep-dive into the world of search engine optimization.


Michi (molp)

This week I continued to work through the giant heap of little things that accumulated over the past months…

But in a project like this, it is simply impossible to catch up. Smiley Alex is working on the final items of the material tree and has now switched focus on balancing the tree. This is of course relevant for me since I have written most parts of the tool he is using to do the balancing and he immediately found some errors and inconsistencies.

On Thursday I finally started to work on a new feature that I hope will make it in the next alpha test: Corporation Headquarters!

A while ago Martin has introduced the corporations in his devlog #142 and #143 but hasn’t had time to continue working on the feature since. So we decided that I could take over for a while and contribute to it.

The corporation headquarters will be the first project that a newly founded corporation will have to tackle in order be fully functioning. The HQs will have to be built on a planet and building it will feel similar to building a public planetary project. So far I have made a few (code) architecture sketches and only started implementing on Friday. I hope to be able to show you some screenshots next week.

We are thinking about what benefits the HQ could have for the corporation members and have come up with two things: First, it grants a productivity bonus for every member with a base on the same planet and second, it raises the number of total allowed corporation members to a higher level. We have only started brainstorming on this, let us know what you would add!


Julian (Mjeno)

With Phase 1 out of the way, I entered a whole new world this week: the world of search engine optimization. It’s not something I knew a lot about when the week began, so I’ve mostly been reading up on the different techniques and best practices out there. One big take-away has been that SEO evolves all the time. Algorithms change constantly, and so do the measures you need to take to come out on top. Another conclusion I’ve reached is that “black hat” SEO, i.e. attempts to trick search engines by unfair means, isn’t worth the risk. Search engines are always trying to be ahead of the curve and will eventually figure out and punish those who try to exploit their algorithms unfairly. Or maybe not - but it’s definitely not something I, a complete beginner, would like to find out first-hand.

SEO is a complex and vast topic, but it’s also easy to get into due to the huge amount of free, helpful resources out there. You might also argue that, if a thousand people are readily handing out a thousand different tips each, nobody actually knows how it works. However, I did my best to consult many different websites and videos, looking for recurring techniques, and making sure the tips were backed up by reliable data or at least a case study or two. All this resulted in a big list of possible measures to take on our own websites. I’ll run the list by a friend next week, who is the SEO manager of a pretty huge company, and anything he doesn’t cross off, I’m going to suggest to Martin and Michi afterwards. They are the ones who will have to implement all the technical SEO measures after all.

Anyway, it’s been a fascinating few days. The deeper I got into the topic, the more I felt like our every day lives are heavily impacted by the way search engines work, or at least in a much bigger way than most of us realize. I will share with you what we deemed worth doing at the end of this journey.

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #36 on: October 21, 2018, 10:37:33 AM »

Development log #153

While Martin is still wrapped up in moving to another city, Michi has been making major progress on the “corporate projects” feature, and Julian wrapped up two bigger tasks.


Michi (molp)

Last week I promised to show some screenshots of the corporate projects and here they are:


This is the revised corporation overview. You will have access to this screen if you are a member of this corporation and if this is your primary corporation. For the time being a player can only be in one corporation (the primary one), but eventually it will be possible to buy shares from any corporation.

The screen shows some basic information and a list of shareholders. We will probably make the list an extra tile or page-able in the future to avoid that the tile grows too large for corporations with a lot of members.

The last section contains a list of all projects (planned and active) of the corporation. Right now it is empty, but the button will lead us to the next screen where we can create a new project!


In this tile the players can start a new corporation project. Right now I am working on the Corporation Headquarters, but we will add more projects in the future.

To select a location for the HQ the players can enter any planet or system name to get a list of possible locations. This works just as the destination selection for ship flight.

One part is not implemented yet: The HQ will get its own site on the planet and the players need to select one to start the build process. I want to display a map similar to the planet surface map, but didn’t manage to finish it in time for this devlog.


Julian (Mjeno)

There’s not much new to report this week, as I have continued and concluded two tasks I already talked about over the previous weeks: First, I finished my research on possible SEO measures. After talking to a friend on mine who works as an SEO manager, I now have a pretty clear idea of which SEO improvements we should make to our websites and how much we can hope to get out of them. I’ll pitch the whole thing to the others tomorrow.

Secondly, I’ve finished creating the new feature spotlights! I added text to some longer ones to clarify what’s going on. I think these gifs are a cool format to get people little glipmses into what the actual game is about, which is a little hard to convey to complete newcomers. Here’s two new examples:

An accelerated glimpse into Prosperous Universe gameplay! To start producing things in your new base, you need: 1. A producing building. 2. Nourishment for your workers. 3. Housing for your workers. Luckily, you can get all of it at your local market.


No matter if you need an introduction when you first use APEX or if you want to learn more at a later point - our video tutorials are always there for you.


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Devilkay
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« Reply #37 on: October 21, 2018, 11:42:54 PM »

interesting project! Good luck!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #38 on: October 29, 2018, 02:00:47 AM »

Thank you, Devilkay! Smiley
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Mjeno
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« Reply #39 on: October 29, 2018, 02:09:17 AM »

Development log #154

We’ve been talking about the overhaul of the material tree for quite some time now. This week, the results are in: It’s now three times the size it used to be! In other news, the relocation of simulogics HQ has concluded and the teaser trailer is almost ready.


Michi (molp)

I spent a huge part of this week working on the new material tree. Alex, our game designer, has prepared a version of his work for us to review. The tree has grown quite a bit and contains now almost triple the items the old one has. We are very exited to see it in action. For the first time there will be buildings that are run by engineers and scientists. As you can imagine there is a lot of balancing work to do and this is exactly what we are up to right now.

Code-wise I finished the tile that allows to create new corporation projects I told you about last week:


As you can see, I managed to re-use the planet map to allow the selection of a specific (empty) plot if the project requires one. The map shows, just as its counterpart, all sites, ships and stations.

The corporation overview finally has a list of all corporation projects:


Next task on the list is to add a tile to allow the shareholders of a corporation to contribute to a project and actually finish building it.


Julian (Mjeno)

I started my work week in an unusual way: Writing music for Prosperous Universe. More specifically, I reworked the music for our upcoming teaser trailer, for which Mac had sent me a new, almost final cut last week. Now I’m just waiting for my voice over guy to get back to me, so I can finalize the audio and send it all off to Mac again for the final cut.

Other than that (and the usual busywork), I got my presentation on the topic of SEO ready for next week. I also wrote an article for a pretty big website which will provide insights into the inspirations for Prosperous Universe and some thought processes behind its design. I’ll let you know when it’s been publicized!


Martin

I was working these past two weeks and similar to Michi I was working on HQ of some sort, but all of that took place in the real world instead of bits and bytes. So here’s the latest episode in our on-going mini series “Impressions from around simulogics offices in the making”


This is the office in my new place. Or at least it will we. One can work there but as you can probably tell from the amount of boxes, the whole thing isn’t quite finished yet. Despite that, Michi will come for a visit next week for some planning and scheming and I am more than ready to dive back into working on our upcoming release!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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