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December 09, 2019, 01:24:48 PM

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Mjeno
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« Reply #80 on: August 04, 2019, 04:48:43 AM »

COLLEAGUES WANTED!

If you are passionate about Prosperous Universe or space economy sims in general and you fit one of the profiles below (or you know someone who does), don’t hesitate to get in touch! Read more on our website.

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Mjeno
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« Reply #81 on: August 04, 2019, 12:39:14 PM »

Development log #194

This week has been mostly about one big thing: simulogics is hiring! If you are an experienced Game Systems Designer or Web Frontend Developer, you might want to check out our open positions.


Martin

What a week… as it’s usually the case, the first week after a vacation renders the positive effects of said vacation somewhat moot. There are just so many things that don’t disappear during your absence but merely pile up. Combined with the fact that July was the first month after our annual team meeting - at which we decided to try a few organizational changes - my work this week was dominated by “management stuff” of all kinds.

I won’t bore you with the details, but just highlight the two most important items:

1. We finally decided to publish two new job ads, one for a game systems designer, one for a frontend developer. Actually creating these positions is still pending a funding application, but if we want to hire these people starting December, we need to start looking for them now. Please spread the word and let anyone know about these offers who might fit the profile!
2. I set up the list of goals and work priorities for August, many of which revolve around the free-2-play release, of course.
Next week I’ll be mostly away on contract work, so see you again with a more elaborate update in two weeks!


Julian (Mjeno)

This week, I finalized the pre-production of our upcoming Free-to-Play trailer, paving the way for production to start next week! Martin liked the ideas I had for it and hopefully so will you guys.

I also took care of distributing the above mentioned job ads. You wouldn’t believe how many relevant job listing websites there are, and how differently they function. Some let you post ads for free, but many won’t. Some even require you to get in personal contact with the site owners before telling you anything about their conditions. All in all, it been’s a somewhat tedious and frustrating endeavor, but now the ads are out there and hopefully being seen by the right people. If you want to help out, we’d appreciate a retweet!

Anyway, a lot of work has piled up on my end as well. I wish I had been on a vacation, but I’ve been sick since last Tuesday and I’m trying to catch up now. So if you don’t mind, I gotta get back to it!

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 #82 on: August 11, 2019, 06:55:03 AM »

Development log #195

With the Free To Play update rapidly approaching, the team is working on a brand new trailer and already preparing to become nostalgic of the early days.


Julian (Mjeno)

Hi, everybody!

Since Michi is still on vacation until tomorrow and Martin has been out of the country, you’re stuck with me this week. That’s okay, though, since it’s been a rather exciting one: We started production on our Free To Play trailer, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but here’s a quick peek.


Our First Access Trailer was generally well-received:




However, it did not convey at all what the gameplay is like. To compensate, we released our Honest Trailer on April 1st of this year:




With the F2P trailer, we are now finally working on a trailer that marries artworks and gameplay while not parodying the hell out of us. I already added the first draft of music and sound design to it, and it’s shaping up nicely.

On a different note: Free To Play is approaching quickly, so a lot more players are (hopefully) going to enter the game soon. That’s why I’d like to take the opportunity and ask our existing community to help me gather awesome things to remember the early days by. If you did something cool in or around Prosperous Universe or know someone who did, please leave a reply in the forum! Thanks in advance. We’ll return with all hands on deck next week.

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 #83 on: August 18, 2019, 01:39:47 PM »

Development log #196

Today, we not only unveil the date and release notes of the upcoming Free to Play update, but we already take a peek at what’s next content-wise: a number of big updates dubbed ‘Expanse’!


Michi (molp)

This week I wrapped up the last issues and tickets for the upcoming Free To Play release! Since it is in most parts a rather technical release without many new features, the release notes are rather short. You can have a look at them at the forums. We decided to make the release notes public one week early since there is also a change for the BBH and BDE market makers.

Besides the Free To Play release, I started to work on the next big release with the codename ‘Expanse’. The Expanse release consists of several sub-features that we will release one after the other. We will go into detail what the release is all about but for now I’ll just briefly explain what the first sub-feature is about: Production Fees!

Eventually we want to give the corporations more control over planets and systems and let them compete over getting that control. Having control over a planet for example will allow the corporation to set (and collect) the production fees that every player has to pay when queuing a production order. Instead of implementing everything at once we will start with the collection of the production fees and only allow the factions to collect them. That way we can make sure everything works as intended and the players will get used to pay a small fee.

The production fees are based on the recipe’s duration, for example: The daily fee is 15NCC. If a production order uses a recipe with a duration of 8h the fee is 5NCC. The fee is calculated when the order is queued and deducted once it starts. A queued production order therefore can only start if the necessary input materials are present and the funds are available. The fee is always using the currency of the governing entity.

Here is a first screenshot of the production fees in the production order screen:



Martin

This week I played the manage-it-up game that is running a game studio.

As Michi already described, we’re only days away from our Free To Play release. At the same time, we are preparing for three other projects in parallel:

1. The features leading up to Expanse (see Michi’s post)
2. Expanse itself
3. The overhaul of the material tree for all features included in and beyond Expanse
This means I’m spending quite a bit of time (and stealing Michi’s in the process) to plan work and write concepts.

Meanwhile I started screening and organizing the applications we received. Our ads for a game designer and web developer position have been out for a couple of weeks now and I conducted promising initial interviews.

Last but not least, I continued working on a few items from my “management to-do list” created at our annual team meeting two months ago. So if it feels like I didn’t get any “real” work done this week, it’s because I haven’t ;-)


Julian (Mjeno)

As you can imagine, the F2P release next Friday has been on my mind all week, and a big part of that, again, has been to get the new awesome trailer ready. Maybe you remember that our FA release trailer took us about 18 months to finish, so doing this one in about three weeks was quite the challenge.

What’s more, it ended up being about twice as long as we anticipated (which is my script’s fault, to be honest), so it was extra difficult for everyone involved to stay within the time frame we set for ourselves. My job has not only been to come up with the concept and contents and provide our amazing motion designer with all the materials and feedback, but also to create the sounddesign and music for it. Our previous (serious) trailer was a lot shorter and more epic, so it was fairly easy to build up and maintain the right level of excitement in the music. This time around, because of the video’s longer duration and more down-to-earth, gameplay-oriented nature, I’ve been having a harder time nailing the music’s dramaturgy. Nonetheless, I’m proud of how it ultimately turned out. I’ll make a little breakdown video for our VIP supporters (planet tier and above) once the F2P stress has died down a bit!

One last thing: Some people have contacted me directly (thanks for that <3), but I would appreciate some replies to the “awesome community stuff” thread. It’s okay to toot your own horn if you did something awesome!

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 #84 on: August 26, 2019, 12:00:34 PM »

Prosperous Universe is Now Free to Play!

Dear licensees,

in December of 2018, Prosperous Universe launched into a closed alpha state we call First Access. Since then, we have been constantly at work to improve the game and add new features. We did so in cooperation with a small but wonderful community of dedicated players who kept on playing the game despite it being a huge work-in-progress and, most importantly, us throwing a hard paywall into their path right after sign-up: Unless you got a key for free somewhere, you had to pay to even get a glimpse of the game.

While this model has served us well over the initial months and the game continues to be very much in development, we feel like it is time for this wall to finally come down!

So as we have announced for quite some time already, today we are switching to a freemium model: Anyone interested can sign-up and play the game indefinitely without any payment required. Only if you want to use all the features APEX has to offer, you need to upgrade to a PRO license.

We will provide more insights into our motivation behind this move in next Sunday’s development log. Until then, I recommend you check out the dedicated release page or, if you desire a full change log, head over to the forums for just that!

And last but not least, there is an amazing new trailer. Check it out:




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Mjeno
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« Reply #85 on: August 30, 2019, 04:41:01 AM »

Development log #197

This week’s issue of our development log will be slightly different from our usual ones. Obviously, everyone on the team has been super busy with the ramp-up to our free-to-play release on Friday. If you missed it, here’s our release trailer once more:





But instead of talking about all the tasks involved in getting this release out the door, I thought it would be more interesting to write a few words about what free-to-play means to us and why we are doing it in the first place, especially because the term itself comes with a lot of baggage.

Consequently, the first and most important bit of information is that in the case of Prosperous Universe, free-to-play means just that: You can play the game for free. What it does not mean is that we litter the game with micro-transactions or that we add pay-to-win features that give you a massive edge over non-paying users (more on that below). It also doesn’t mean that you should play it for free (more on that below as well).

With that out of the way, let’s talk a bit about why we are doing this and why we are doing it now. To be honest, we weren’t to keen on going free-to-play just yet. We quite enjoyed working on the game with our small and personal community of dedicated players. Developing in the knowledge that your players understand that things could go wrong at any time, or that the server might need a reset to implement a big new feature, is a great thing. We also didn’t have to deal with much in terms of cheating, abuse and general community management just yet, simply because the numbers aren’t anywhere near where this becomes a concern.

But that’s exactly the problem: Prosperous Universe is an MMO. The overall experience and economy relies on the markets being liquid and the companies interacting. While we can see desirable developments at the hotspots around big markets in the game, the few hundred active players we have at the moment just aren’t enough to bootstrap the kind of economy we have envisioned.

To solve this problem, there really is only one solution: We need to get more players into the game. Julian can do a lot to generate exposure and to bring more people to our website. But for anyone who’s not a hardcore fan willing to pay for a support tier without ever having tried the game before, so far the Prosperous Universe experience typically ended right after sign-up and before the payment screen. It became painfully obvious that our semi-private alpha test would have to come to an end.

Which brings us to the next problem: The intricacies of designing a fair payment model that’s not pay-to-win.

For a short while we considered going with a demo system similar to what we use over at AirlineSim, meaning that you could try the game for free for a certain amount of time but had to pay or leave after that time passed. While this would have been fair and transparent, it would still have denied access to the game to anyone who isn’t willing or able to pay for whatever reason. Since there are little truly limited resources in PrUn (unlike in AirlineSim), we decided that this approach wasn’t worth the effort, especially because we would still have to implement measures against misuse of trial accounts.

This only left a true free-to-play approach in which anyone could play for free forever. And the question: What would make people pay for the game anyway? We knew that pay-to-win was off the table, so it had to be mostly quality-of-life features that made playing the game more enjoyable, but not necessarily easier. But we also had to keep in mind the potential misuse of trial accounts mentioned above which are less of an issue when everyone always has to pay.

With these considerations in mind, we settled on a kind of hybrid between a restricted demo mode and classic freemium: While purchasing a PRO license for APEX will grant you access to QoL features (especially in the future), it will also grant you access to actual gameplay features that are generally off limits to non-PRO users. The features in question are typically ones that are easily exploitable using multi-accounts, so having to pay for them introduces a natural (albeit not impenetrable) barrier to misuse.

One could argue that this gives a considerable advantage to PRO players, simply because non-PRO players don’t even have access to all the markets the game has to offer. But at the same time, we are convinced that this solution strikes a good balance between fairness and earning money. We don’t do micro-transactions, we don’t “hunt whales”, we don’t have anything in the game that allows players to throw endless amounts of money at us. We feel like that’s a good thing, but it means that at the end of the day, we need a higher percentage of paying players than other free-to-play titles might.

So can you play Prosperous Universe for free? Absolutely! If you stick to the major markets and don’t care about getting involved with politics and private trade too much, I’m convinced you can have a great time despite the limitations of a trial account. But should you play without a PRO license forever? I would argue the answer is no: You are missing out on some great stuff :-)

I hope these ramblings provided a bit of insight into our thought process that lead to Friday’s release. Do you think our approach is fair? Do you have questions, suggestions or comments? Then please feel free to join us on Discord or the forums and let us know!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #86 on: September 01, 2019, 01:10:16 PM »

Development log #198

With a big release and an even bigger influx of new players, this week has been a massive milestone in Prosperous Universe’s history. The team has been very busy beating the drum, making new FAQ, fixing bugs, and creating some exclusive behind the scenes content.


Martin

The final week of the month was packed with work. That work was spread across all our projects, including preparing for and doing a new release of AirlineSim, migrating and upgrading an internal tool we use for localization (not for PrUn, yet) and some end-of-the-month customer stuff.

The work with the most bearing on PrUn was fixing a bunch of annoying teething issues in the beginning of the week. For a major release, the free-to-play release went rather smoothly, but there we still a few bugs that needed to be troubleshooted and fixed. Now the logs are mostly clear of error messages again :-)

Last but not least, our hiring efforts continue and we are preparing the next round of interviews.

That’s it from me this week… got to run!


Julian (Mjeno)

My week has been packed, like Martin’s, but it was 100% focused on Prosperous Universe. More specifically, I’ve been posting, e-mailing, sharing the hell out of our Free 2 Play launch and its trailer. It got picked up by a few MMO-centered websites like MMOHuts and MassivelyOP, and I’m hoping that some YouTubers and streamers will give it a try soon as well. I made an influencer policy page to make it easier for them which is going to be on our website soon.

The best part of the week, of course, has been the big amount of new players coming in. We peaked at 125 active users at once the other day! Thanks a lot to the existing community for helping out; I would’ve spent most of my time this week answering questions if so many of you hadn’t jumped in. Since a lot of questions were repeated over and over, I made an FAQ in the forum to link to. I also added a bot to our Discord server that provides links to the FAQ, the Handbook, and other helpful resources. The bot comes with a leveling system that ranks users by participation on the server, which is quite fun as well.

I spent the weekend making a new behind the scenes video in which I break down the history and thought process behind our new trailer and give some insight into its music and sound design. It’s only available on the exclusive comm channels (for planet level supporters or higher). If you are eligible and want to check it out, I linked it in the VIP sections on the forum and Discord.

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 #87 on: September 08, 2019, 12:40:54 PM »

Development log #199

Prosperous Universe has never been more active than these past two weeks! What’s more, the game is starting to get some attention on Twitch.


Julian (Mjeno)

Hey, everybody!

It looks like I’m by myself today, as Martin is traveling over the weekend and Michi is still on parental leave. The two will return tomorrow, at which point I will go on my first vacation in forever (and essentially work on other things, yay). If you happen to be at Baltic Dev Days, hit me up!

First off, let me say: The universe is brimming with life right now. We’ve never had more players and activity in and around the game. It’s an amazing sight. (And Promitor is full once more.)

At the beginnig of this week, I organized a little giveaway on our Discord server. We gifted APEX PRO Licenses to 10 lucky winners. Congratulations again! Other than that, I continued to beat the drum about Prosperous Universe with varying degrees of success. The game first peaked at 125 connected users last week (and 1.300 active users over the whole week). I thought we wouldn’t beat that any time soon without another big marketing push, but a few days later, we had suddenly had 136 connected users (and 1.400 active users this week). We asked the new players where they were coming from, and they told us that a Factorio streamer called rain9441 was streaming the game on Twitch. He played Prosperous Universe again last night, and I have to say that he got the hang of the game really fast, and his community seems into it as well! (I’m also proud to report that the way he found the game was actually thanks to an SEO measure I took a few months ago.)

What’s more, an old friend of mine also started streaming the game this week on his channel ZeisPlays. The way it came about was quite funny: I posted the new Prosperous Universe trailer on the Fantasy User Interfaces subreddit, which he created years ago. I even made the intro music and sound logo for the FUI podcast he was doing at the time. He saw my post last week because it garnered a lot of positive attention on his subreddit and got in touch, not knowing it was who had made it. Long story short, we had a chat and he ended up playing the game on stream a few days ago.

Speaking of livestreams, you may have noticed that development number TWO-HUNDRED is coming up next week. To mark the occasion, we will be doing another livestream ourselves on September 16th, 8 PM CEST. It’s still a few days away, but feel free to follow us on Twitch already. See you in a week!


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 #88 on: September 15, 2019, 02:28:13 PM »

Development log #200

This issue of our development log doesn’t require a title: The number is enough to convey what it will be about. Julian is still on vacation today, but Michi and I take a moment to look back on 200 weeks of development.

Just a quick reminder before we get started: To celebrate this milestone we will be doing a live stream on Monday. Feel free to join and ask us about the game, the development or just touch glasses.



Martin

200 devlogs means that we have been posting one every week for almost four years now. Having such a small team and working on such a grand project, this milestone triggers somewhat mixed feelings: On the one hand, I’m exceptionally proud that we’re still going strong and keeping at it. On the other, it feels like we should have been done at least a year ago, no? What have we even achieved? Are we getting anywhere?

To answer these questions I took a quick look at devlog #100, posted roughly two years ago on October 15th 2017, and it was fun to see the differences between then and now:

At that point in time, we had just wrapped up our very first closed alpha test with a few dozen testers, not even thinking about an actual release. Now we are in First Access, with the game generating at least some revenue every month, thousands of users having signed up over time and around a thousand weekly active users.

In log #100, we were incredibly happy that the game didn’t just blow up on first contact with real users. There also was no balancing or content to speak of. Now we have a material tree that’s been working very well and seems to keep users engaged for months even though we haven’t officially started adding any mid-game content yet. Our technical foundation - so far - stood the test of time and very little of the bugs or problems we encounter are due to the technology choices we made. Touch wood it stays that way!

Back then, we were planning test runs lasting around two weeks. Nowadays we need to be cautious not to forget mentioning to new players that resets do happen even though we don’t know when. This really is one of the most satisfying tidbits from this trip back in time, because it means that people stay engaged, that the game is alive despite its current limitations and that people don’t want to lose their in-game progress despite it all officially still being an alpha test.

Also noticeable is the slightly different look of log #100, owned to the fact that it took another few months until Julian joined the team and revamped our communications. Now we are actively seeking not one but two new employees, applying for funding and generally making plans far bigger than we might have imagined 100 weeks ago.

Could we be further down the road after 100 weeks of development? I guess. But did we reach a higher level than we were on back then? Absolutely! And I plan on continuing making progress for the next 100 weeks and beyond.


Michi (molp)

I returned from paternal leave this week and was amazed how well the free-to-play release went. Sure, Martin had to do a few hotfixes, especially after the rules for the company deletion have been made stricter. But all in all it went well.

After reading through 2 weeks worth of emails and tickets and a recap call with Martin I started to work on the issues for the next feature release again. In my last devlog I told you about the production fees and showed a first screenshot. This week I almost finished the backend part of the production fees. The fees are now accounted for correctly and transferred to the governing entity, for now that is one of the factions.

Since the Expanse release is a relatively big release we decided to split it up and release the ‘Expanse Prelude’ earlier (possibly this month) and the rest when it is done. Prelude will incorporate the production fees, building depreciation and some minor bugfixes.

Prosperous Universe is in development since October 2015, that is almost 4 years now! This week we celebrate 200 consecutive devlogs. I cannot tell you how proud I am of Martin and the whole team that we somehow managed to stay afloat the whole time and were able to develop the game without any major breaks. The recent free-to-play release showed that there are lots of players that like a game like PrUn (once they discover it) and that is a very positive outlook for us. Because it fits the occasion I decided to share some screenshots from its development over the years (right click and select ‘open in new tab’ for a larger version)

This is one of the first screenshots of the game, about 2 months into development (December 2015). Back then we haven’t had the tiling user interface yet and everything was displayed in freely adjustable windows. The world map was in the background the whole time and even had colored backdrop. We got rid of the backdrop in favor of a cleaner and more abstract look later.


In 2016 Martin redesigned the user interface into the now used tiling interface. The screenshot below is one of the first drafts. At the same time we added a consistent color scheme and proper fonts.


The user interface has been evolving slowly ever since and this screenshot of September 2017 looks pretty familiar already. The universe map has been redesigned once more and the system maps came into play.


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 #89 on: September 26, 2019, 03:49:32 AM »

Development log #201

After a great livestream on Monday, the team jumped right back in to prepare next week’s update dubbed “Prelude”, which introduces production fees and building degradation.


Julian (Mjeno)

I’ll keep it short this week, as things have gone back to normal for the first time since our F2P launch. The whole team has finally been back together and there wasn’t much new to advertise this week, so I mostly dealt with support e-mails and such.

However, I do hope you enjoyed our livestream on Monday (thanks for 64 viewers and at least as many questions!), which is now available as a VOD on Twitch and YouTube:





Martin

I predominantly dealt with game design this week, although not directly.

First and foremost, we came to an agreement with our top candidate for the game systems designer position we advertised! The contract isn’t signed yet and we’re still waiting for a final confirmation of the starting date. But I’m confident we can wrap up the official documents some time over the next two weeks. Filling this position means a lot to us and the project. For the first time ever, we will have someone work on the game’s system design 100% of their time which should help tremendously with shipping the great new features we have planned for 2020 and beyond.

Sadly, our new employee will start no earlier than December, which means we’re still pretty much on our own until then. So I spent a few hours this week preparing a “style-guide-by-exampe” listing various materials, equipment, concepts and systems from science-fiction universes I like. The idea being that once someone else (or even ourselves) starts working on the material tree, they know what kind of style we are trying to go for.


Michi (molp)

I was able to finish almost all the development issues left for the upcoming ‘Prelude’ release. ‘Prelude’ really is just a small feature release that foreshadows what will come in the ‘Expanse’ release afterwards. It solely exists to reduce the waiting time and the development scope of the ‘Expanse’ update. Its main features are production fees (see my last devlog) and building degradation.

With building degradation we introduce a new sink to the game. A building is depreciated over the course of 26 weeks, which means that its initial book value (the sum of the values of all input materials) will drop to zero. In accounting the depreciated value will appear under expenses, site depreciation. We show the book value in the buildings list:


As a production building gets older it degrades and cannot produce as efficiently as before anymore. We refer to that as its ‘condition’ and it is also shown in the building list. The condition starts at 100% and will go down to 33% over the course of the 26 weeks. The condition directly effects the efficiency of the production line and is shown as an efficiency factor:


If a production line has multiple buildings in different conditions its overall condition will be the average of all buildings’ conditions. That way there is no need to make sure that a certain production order needs to go to a specific production slot, e.g. building. They still are all equal. To increase the production line condition one of the old buildings has to be demolished and a new one has to be built. We might add a repair mechanic later on, but want to keep it simple for now.

We hope that the degradation will have a positive effect for new players since they start their production at 100%, while older players have to deal with degraded buildings.

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 #90 on: October 06, 2019, 11:49:07 AM »

Development log #202

Friday’s Prelude update has introduced a couple of new features, most of them on purpose. The big news of this week: We’re bringing on a new game designer!


Martin

The good: The contract with our new Game Systems Designer has been signed and he will join the project in January 2020. That feels like an awfully long time, but it can’t be helped. Be that as it may, we are incredibly happy to have found him and we can’t wait to share more details.

The bad: I spent the majority of my week working on authentication infrastructure for several of our backend tools, including the translation system we use for AirlineSim. Stuff like this is necessary and the translation tool in particular might come in handy for Prosperous Universe some day, but it still isn’t anything you as a player can get too excited about…I guess.

The ugly: I came down with a cold on Sunday and decided to do the only smart thing and sit it out on Monday and Tuesday. While this considerably reduced the amount of hours available this week, I am happy to report that I was feeling alright again on Wednesday. Yay!


Michi (molp)

Like almost every week that has a PrUn release, most of my time got sucked up in preparing and doing the release: finishing the implementation, testing the changes, updating documentation, writing release notes, creating the release page and finally doing the release, anxiously watching the log files, hotfixing immediate issues and of course talking to you, the players, about the changes. Of course I am not doing this all by myself, but I am still involved into most of it. That is the reason why I don’t have much else to talk about this week.

I started designing and implementing the first things for the upcoming Expanse release but there is nothing to show yet. The next week is short, as there is a public holiday in Germany, but I hope I can show, or at least tell, you what I am working on.

Over the past few days, there have been many interesting discussions on Discord about the current state of the game and the upcoming, now released, changes. I really enjoyed them and wanted to thank you for the feedback. It is much appreciated and without it we’d had a hard time designing the game.


Julian (Mjeno)

You might have heard that Prosperous Universe has been picked up by the first streamers on Twitch recently. Seeing the impact it has had on our community, I got back into reaching out to content creators on YouTube and Twitch this week. After my last wave of e-mails went almost entirely ignored despite being pretty personalized and, in my opinion, just detailed enough, I’m hoping for a little more success this time around. Our new trailer dropped in the meantime, and maybe it’ll convince a few more people to check out the game and get back to me. I didn’t shy away from bigger names this time and reached out to some creators who have been suggested by our community many times in the past. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Then, on Friday, we dropped our Prelude update for which I helped create the update page Michi linked above. It has brought about a few new bugs and questions which, beside the wiki update, have taken up most of my work time over the weekend. Fixes are probably coming tomorrow, when normal people start working again! (:

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

Happy trading!
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« Reply #91 on: October 10, 2019, 05:22:36 AM »

Development log #203

Since the F2P launch, new players have been coming in every day, but some of them don’t stay. This week, we started working on finding out why that is and what we can do to better help newbies set up their companies and stick around. Plus, the upcoming governor system is slowly taking shape.


Martin

New month, new goals. In September I spent quite a bit of time on backend tools that weren’t related to Prosperous Universe all that much. And while the theme of “backend work” continues, this month Prosperous Universe will be front and center.

The free-to-play release has gone great. Everyone playing the game since before the release has noticed the greatly increased number of players, the frequent “user X joined” messages on the in-game chat and the usually around 100 concurrently connected users.

But what we see more in the actual numbers: Sadly, only few of those new arrivals actually stick around. To use a bit of online game marketing lingo: Churn is high, retention and conversion rates leave much to be desired. This isn’t all that surprising. After all, PrUn has an (intentionally?) steep learning curve and in its current alpha state lacks a lot of the things necessary to help new players with their first steps in the game. But while we know that we lose a lot of players to churn, we don’t really know where or when.

And that’s my October goal: Build the necessary instrumentation and tooling so that those insights are available to us (and starting in January to our new game designer) so we can make informed decisions about where in the game we need to take off rough edges, add helpers or streamline features.


Michi (molp)

I am currently knee deep in the server code for the Administration Centers, so no screenshots from me this week. But I want to take the opportunity to talk about the Administration Center and how it will work.

The ultimate goal of the Administration Center is to install a governor that will have the ability to set certain rules for the governed planet.

In the beginning these rules will only include the amount of the production fees per industry and the local market fees. Later on, as more features are developed, other rules might be added. The rules cannot be changed arbitrarily though: For example in faction space the fees will always use the faction’s currency and on starting worlds we might limit the fees to protect new players.

Every player with a PRO license can run for the office of governor but only for one planet at a time. Therefore a player also can only be governor for one planet at a time. The term will most likely be 14 days long.

There are two main mechanisms how a governor is elected. First, each of the planet’s site owners can cast a vote for one of the candidates during the election phase. Second, the Exodus Council (who has the oversight over all Administration Centers) will create various sized tasks for each Administration Center and the fulfillment of these tasks will grant additional votes for a candidate. The tasks can be fulfilled by anyone, not just the planet’s inhabitants, and thus powerful political alliances can be forged.

After a governor is elected, she must choose which party will receive the fees. The selection is limited to the player’s corporation (not company!) and a faction.

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

Happy trading!
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« Reply #92 on: October 13, 2019, 02:19:50 PM »

Development log #NUMBER

Intro text


Michi (molp)

The work on the administration center continues. Last week I generally described what it is all about and how to get influence to vote for a candidate. This week I implemented two vital parts: running for office and voting for a candidate.

If you follow my devlogs on a regular basis you might have noticed that I didn’t post any screenshots yet. Usually when we design a new feature we also specify beforehand how the user interface for it should look like. I then start by implementing the UI first, adding server functionality as required. This time we haven’t had time for proper UI mockups so I decided to try a new workflow. I started with the server functionality first and wrote simple unit tests to verify that everything works as intended. I hope that the resulting code isn’t as UI centered as with the old workflow.

While it is fun to work this way the obvious downside to it is, that the UI comes last and therefore there are no screenshots. I didn’t want to write another devlog without at least one screenshot so here is the first very-work-in-progress look at an administration center:


As you can see, I used a similar layout as with the Chamber of Global Commerce. Besides some general information there are three sub sections: * The current term will list the governor, their corporation (e.g. the entity that collects the fees) and will have a link to a yet to be defined buffer that contains an overview of the fees. * The upcoming term will have a list of all candidates and their votes. The votes are updated live as players vote, but you won’t be able to see who votes for whom. * Previous terms will have a list of previous governors.

On a related note, I have been asked a couple of times now what happens with the production fees at the moment and if they just vanish. The answer is simple: no, the factions keep track of how much they received and we are currently thinking about what to do with these fees. One of the ideas has always been to redistribute the money to the players, similar to a stock dividend. We could even go the extra mile and let new players receive a higher dividend than older players to make the early game a tiny bit easier.


Julian (Mjeno)

I started this week off by researching different key distribution platforms because, as I stated last time, the response to my outreach to content creators has been underwhelming to say the least. I found that out of all the options out there, Woovit sounded the most promising, so I set up an offer that’s been running since. Only a handful of keys have been claimed so far, and only half of them went to content creators who have remotely fitting channels for showing Prosperous Universe (i.e. “variety gaming” channels, not even related to sci-fi or simulation). What’s funny is that Woovit actually sent me an alert that PeterTaylorTX uplodaded a Let’s Play:




I assumed that their alerts were only related to creators accessing the key via Woovit, but apparently it’s not, since Peter has been playing Prosperous Universe for many months now. (Which is great, shoutout to PeterTaylorTX!) Depending on where this goes, I will utilize more platforms such as Keymailer, but Woovit seemed the most promising to start out with.

More importantly, I’ve been writing up ways to promote our older game, AirlineSim, this week. It hasn’t gotten any marketing attention in years and has a lot of untapped potential as a result. While doing so, I realized that I hadn’t done that for Prosperous Universe in a long time either, so I decided to get right on that over the weekend. Of course, there are dozens of marketing ideas in the backlog, but I hadn’t made a timeline of how and when to utilize them beyond our F2P release. My job is kind of periodic - lots of work around releases and not a lot to do between them -, so I’m now working on a way to mitigate that by constantly keeping the marketing machine going, at least for the next few months. I’m calling it the End of Year Offensive (or EYOOOOOOOOOO!) and I’ll let you know next week what my plans are!

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

Happy trading!
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« Reply #93 on: October 20, 2019, 01:17:33 PM »

Development log #205

In this week’s development log, we want to highlight a special community milestone and we reveal more details about the upcoming tax system.


Michi (molp)

The work on the administration center continues (Part 1, Part 2).

This week I laid more groundwork for the election part of the admin center. At the end of an election all the votes of the upcoming term are counted, a winner is determined and constituted. Then the upcoming term becomes the active term and a new upcoming term is created. The player winning the election is notified and the outcome of the election is sent to the planet which in turn notifies all site owners of the planet about it. So far so boring, but here is the interesting part:

As you might know, the corporation of the newly elected governor determines the currency in which the production and local market fees are levied. That has a serious implication for the core faction worlds where new players usually start. If, for example, a corporation from the Insitor Cooperative gains control over Montem, all productions orders will have to be paid in ICA instead of NCC. That poses a serious problem for newbies, since they don’t start with any amount of money of that currency. They would have only a few options to fix the problem:

  • Trade currency at the foreign exchange. This is limited to PRO licencees.
  • Fly to Promitor and sell some goods at their commodity exchange. Flying around to just sell a few items is really expensive.
  • Setup a local market contract in ICA and hope someone accepts it. Also limited to PRO licencees.

All these options are suboptimal for newbies and even for some more experienced players. So we decided that we need some rules to mitigate this.

1. On the faction core worlds, the currency of the local market, production fees, etc. will always be the currency of the faction. The height of the fees etc. will probably be limited.
2. In faction space, the currency will also always be the faction’s currency.

What do we mean by faction core worlds and faction space? The faction core worlds are essentially the starting locations. Faction space contains all systems within one or two jumps of these planets. Up until now, we didn’t really show which systems belong to which factions and that will change with the Expanse release. I didn’t manage to finish that part in time this week, so I’ll probably post a screenshot next week.


Julian (Mjeno)

Alongside my usual tasks (mostly support and community management at the moment), I continued on with last week’s end-of-year plan, which I will pitch to the others tomorrow. I had some smaller special things come up like investigating a small anomaly in our payments, but I won’t bore you with the details. Instead, I’d like to highlight someone else’s achievement this week: The game has officially seen its first Water Reclaimer, which is a monumental feat.


As you can see, creating this commodity requires the involvement a vast number of different industries. We initially put it into the game in order to give veteran players something to work towards while we are still fleshing out the actual late-game. We set up a Market Maker which buys the WR for quite a significant sum:


Five WR have been sold so far, infusing the game with so much new cash that we’re actively discussing with the sellers how to best distribute the new money across the universe without breaking the economy. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is: We’re thoroughly impressed, congratulations to GDP for this achievement! If you want to read more, here is a forum post about it.

See you next week!

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

Happy trading!
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« Reply #94 on: November 25, 2019, 11:57:08 AM »

Development log #210

This week, Julian has sadly announced that he will be leaving the company within the next few months. But the show must go on: Martin has been checking off administrative tasks left and right and integrated some basic analytics. Michi meanwhile has been chipping away at the upcoming governor feature and its exact rules.


Julian (Mjeno)

Hi, everybody!

I’m back from a month of sick leave, and I’ve had a lot to catch up with. I don’t know if you heard; I was hospitalized with meningitis last month and I’m still on my way back to my old self. Sadly, I won’t be back for long as I’m going to leave simulogics soon. I’m not sure how many people really care about the details, but I do want to give an explanation to the small, amazing Prosperous Universe community I’ve been a part of for the past year and a half.

I joined the team in February of 2018 as an enthusiastic Prosperous Universe fan and I’ll be leaving it as one. I couldn’t wish for a better team, game, community, or working conditions. However, being afflicted with a life-threatening disease really makes you ponder your life choices. I realized more urgently than ever before that I need to chase my dream of building up my own game studio, and that I can’t put that off any longer. I was already working on my own hobby project when I started at simulogics, and I really want to give it a go professionally. Statistically, I’m very likely to fail, but I wouldn’t forgive myself not having tried.

On the bright side, I will of course stick around as a player and also help out simulogics in some capacities. For instance, I will have a hand in future livestreams, compose the Secret Soundtrack, and stay the face of the video tutorials (which will be updated and extended in the way you’ve come to know and love). And of course, I won’t be leaving immediately; I’ll stick around until at least the end of this year. Afterwards, we’re going to need someone to replace me; I’ll post the job ad soon, feel free to hit me up ([email protected]) with your applications.

One last thing: Do not take me leaving as a bad sign for Prosperous Universe or simulogics. Martin and Michi have always been the cornerstone of the game’s creation, both in theory and practice. Given the future additional funding and the new positions it brings, I am confident that development of the game will considerably ramp up both in speed and quality in 2020. Plus, Martin has planned for a massive marketing budget – which used to be zero up until now – which will enable the game to reach a much wider audience than before. Prosperous Universe has never had a brighter future, and I can’t wait to see it.

Anyway, I hope that there is no ill will. I’ll make a proper goodbye post when the time comes, but I thought I’d let you guys know what’s up rather sooner than later.


Martin

The past few weeks have been quite a new experience for me. Rarely before in my life did I have to take care of so many non-development things with such a tremendous impact on the future of the company. Julian broke the sad news to us that he will be leaving simulogics to pursue his own project. We got super lucky in finding a candidate for our open frontend developer/designer position who might actually be able to start in December already. I made the deadline for our funding application but had (and still have) to deal with new, previously unknown conditions to qualify. Since the funding was supposed to start rolling in in December, this all turned out to be quite the rollercoaster and the train is not back in the station just yet.

Besides all the above, having the whole family go through various maladies and spending an above average amount of time on customer work, I still managed to finally get the basic foundation of our new analytics system wrapped up (which I last talked about in development log #206). I hope to get it deployed and operational over the coming days so we can start integrating it into our various systems and games over the course of December.


Michi (molp)

I released the announced maintenance release this week. It seems I rushed it a bit though. Its original release date was Thursday, but I got ill and delayed it to Friday. Well, we all know that Friday is a bad day for releases. Wink Players immediately noticed that placing FX orders was broken (it is fixed now) and the changes to the STL fuel weight and volume had unintended consequences for the fuel usage. Flights now require a substantial amount of STL fuel more than before the change. I will fix that as soon as possible. If you know of any players whose ships got stranded because of this please let us know, so we can help out!

Besides the release I worked on the administration center again. Quite a few players asked if there will be any rules to changing the rules (e.g. fees, etc.) of a planet once a player becomes governor. The answer is: it depends on the location. In the factions’ core worlds (essentially the starting planets) the production and local market fees are almost fixed, allowing only small deviations from the standard values. This is of course to protect the new players. In all other faction worlds of faction space the deviation from the standard value can be larger, but is still limited. Only in non-faction space, the governors are free to set the fee to (almost) any value. Setting them to zero is certainly fine, but we will probably introduce some sensible upper limit.


We also think about limiting the amount of changes a governor can make in a term. Right now every change to the rules will trigger a notification that every player with a base on that planet receives and we don’t want that to spam the players.

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

Happy trading!
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« Reply #95 on: December 01, 2019, 04:47:41 PM »

Development log #211

This week, Michi has finished designing the rules around the governor system. We are also now officially looking for a PR & Community Manager to succeed Julian in 2020!


Julian (Mjeno)

As announced last week, I have recently terminated my work contract at simuloigcs. As a result, I spent a lot of my time this week wrapping up old tasks, checking back with things I started long ago, and generally cleaning up my Trello board to make sure that, a) I don’t leave any loose ends only I can really take care of and b) my successor has the easiest start into their job possible. Speaking of which, the job ad for simulogics’ next PR & Community Manager is now live on the website! (Remote, half to full time, small & amazing team, browser-based simulation games. Give it a sho


Michi (molp)

I finished the local rules this week. Besides some technical details the last missing piece was a limitation on how often the rules can be changed by a governor. We really don’t want the governor to be able to spam the inhabitants of a planet with lots of rule changes, so we set a hard limit of 5 changes per term. This is generous enough to allow changes during the term yet restrictive enough. The amount of updates left is displayed in the local rules screen:


We always said that we want to have a mechanism to spend the money a corporation makes with collecting fees once we release the Expanse update. That mechanism will be a corporation dividend. To keep it simple and to be able to release as soon as possible, all currency collected will be distributed to all shareholders every accounting period (e.g. week). I started to work on that this week, but wasn’t able to finish the feature. The corporations will get finance screens similar to the ones that are available to companies, but we will start small and only include a liquid assets screen. Below you’ll see the liquid assets hacked into the general corporation information screen, but eventually that will move into its own tile. I just included it to be able to show a screenshot Wink More on that topic next week!


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

Happy trading!
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« Reply #96 on: Today at 08:10:46 AM »

Development log #212

The Expanse update finally has a release day, and it’s less than a week away: Thursday, December 12th! Read what we’ve been up to this week to get it ready.


Martin
Usually, this wouldn’t be devlog material, but this time it somehow is: I had an almost perfectly normal work-week!

I spent some time on customer work, helped with an AirlineSim release on Friday and spend the rest of my time working on our analytics system. Technically, said system is already operational. But it’s actually replacing an existing system, so my work right now revolves around migrating both our games to use the new system while also moving as much of the existing data we have into the new format as possible. My somewhat humble goal is to have all of this wrapped up before the holidays so we can actually start using all the new features it offers once we’re back in the office next year.

I also had the pleasure this week to welcome Frank to the team. You might remember that we’ve been looking for a front-end dev for a while and Frank is the one we found for the position. He’ll be freelancing for us for the remainder of 2020 before we switch into full gear with the funding we’ll hopefully receive starting January! I am sure you’ll learn more about Frank’s work soon!


Michi (molp)

The end of the year is nearing fast! We really want to ship the Expanse release before the Holidays so we decided that the corporation dividend feature I described last week is going to be the last feature that will make it into the release. There is a bunch of other things that won’t make it, most of it smaller changes that can easily be moved into a maintenance update and released early next year. One larger feature remains unimplemented and might get its own release within the next months: A few devlogs ago I talked about that voting is only one way to influence the outcome of the election of a governor. We want to implement a system where anyone can fulfill tasks for the Exodus Council in order to boost a certain candidate. Maybe it’s not that bad that this got delayed, that way we can thoroughly test the voting and see if the players like and use it. More on that next year!

To close my part of the devlog, I have a screenshot from the new corporation finances tile for you:


It shows the liquid assets of your corporation, when the next dividend payout will happen, and the last few dividend payouts. Eventually we want the corporation finances to be similar to the ones the companies have but we ran out of time for this release and decided to implement only the part that is relevant for the collection and distribution of production and local market fees. You can expect some improvements in this area in the future!


Julian (Mjeno)

The Expanse update draws closer, and I’ve been getting some things ready for its release on Thursday. The date will be officially announced on all our channels as soon as its dedicated update page is ready. I commissioned the new artwork for it a while ago and I’m working on some description texts of the new features.

We got to test the latest version in the staging environment to help Michi find and get rid of some last-minute bugs. As usual, I will keep messing around with the new features and get the hang of them before the update drops so I can update the wiki in time. I already started editing it (locally), chipping away at a pile of smaller updates that I wrote down over the past few months instead of immediately integrating them.

And of course, I have been preparing my impending departure from simulogics. This includes spreading the word about our job ad and starting to write how-tos on all kinds of job-related tasks I’ve had in the past in order to make it easier for my successor. Not all that exciting, I know, but next week will be a lot more interesting thanks to the Expanse release!

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

Happy trading!
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