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Mar 21, 2016 Astraea and VR

Hey everyone!

So I've been experimenting more with VR the past few days. One of the things I've noticed with VR in general is that to make a good VR experience, you need to build a mode/game specifically for VR. Not just tacking it on. As you may remember a long time ago, I had initial Oculus DK1 support in Astraea. When the game detected a headset, it would zoom the camera into the characters head. So when you looked around, you would be looking through your characters eyes.

While this was certainly neat, it was definitely gimmicky and absolutely 'tacked on'. And certainly not fun.

After lots of brainstorming, I've come up with Astraea's VR mode which I think will be fun and unique! So if the game detects a VR headset (initially I'm supporting Oculus and HTC Vive - and maybe one more), you will become a virtual god.

You will be able to look in front of you and you will see a miniature sized version of the town (this works in multiplayer - everything in Astraea works multiplayer). In one hand you will have a palette that will contain a variety of in-game items as well as special 'god' items. Does your friend need some extra wood? No problem! Just reach down and yank a tree out of the ground and snap it in half!

So VR players will be able to command storms by waving around their hands, place or move items, mess with villagers or players (e.g., pick them up!). I'm still working out what you can all do as a god, but ultimately the town owner will be able to control all 'negative actions' (destroying things, throwing villagers around, etc).

In the end though I want players to be able to experience Astraea from a totally different perspective and from a totally different game play experience. I want the game to be fully playable in VR, but from a completely different viewpoint and experience from the regular game (you don't have to chop trees for example - you can simply pull them up with your hands).

That's where I'm heading right now! Don't expect to try this anytime soon though. I want to do a lot of onsite testing first before I push it into the master branch. In the meantime I am still working on a nice content update. Hopefully that will be done soon!

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Mar 10, 2016 Astraea Progress

Hi everyone! I wanted to give you all an update on my progress with Astraea. I've been hard at work on a number of big features. For starters, the "Social Hub" is now implemented and working on a basic fundamental level. The idea behind this is that this hub will be a central city (aptly named "Astraea") which can hold up to 200 players at once. A couple things are interesting about this hub. This city is persistent! You see, with your own town when you join or leave a server your town data is never saved to that particular server. Instead your town data is stored on a single central server which the game server temporarily downloads. I chose this method, because it allows players to play on local listen servers or dedicated online servers without affecting your town at all. So if you play on a dedicated online server you can play locally later if you woud like. Or even switch to your own dedicated server. After you leave a dedicated server, the server cleans up, resets itself and makes itself available once again in the server pool so another player can use it.

So as you can see, the regular game servers are not actually persistent at all. Once you leave the game, the server clears out all it's data and put's itself back in the pool. That's how it's been since day one. With the hub, I had to add persistent functionality. So when all players leave, the town will remain exactly how you left it (unless another player decides to change it)! I'm very excited how well it works. Right now this hub is using the normal development map (the same one your town uses) for now. I am keeping an eye on how well it performs and functions and will begin adding more goodies to the map in the near future.

Anyway that's all for now! I'll try to post at least once a week with specific gameplay features I'm working on!

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Dec 16, 2015 Astraea 1.0.9.5 Update Released!

Hi everyone! A few days ago I released a new update for Astraea! You can grab the update from your Norwind account page (or if you use the Norwind Client the game should automatically update). I'm hoping to keep up the pace and have updates coming regularly!

As always I look forward to your feedback and suggestions!

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Nov 25, 2015 Indie Alley at C4 - A Reflection

Nearly a month ago I was at C4 showing off Astraea for the first time in public! It was a great experience and it was really exciting to see all the people stop by the table to check out the game! This was also the first time split screen has been shown publicly. It was really cool to see kids and friends building towns together on the same screen. It was a big hit! I had 2 systems set up with 4 controllers total. It was super awesome to see all 4 players building and playing in the same town at once. I was hoping to show off a new mini-game (Archery) at C4 but I couldn't quite get it stable enough (I was literally programming for 3 weeks straight up until the last 30 minutes before I had to pack up and leave for Comic Con. It was crazy)! Now that I'm all rested up though it's time to get back to work! I received a lot of excellent feedback and plenty of awesome suggestions that I'm planning on incorporating into the game. There is a lot of work left to do and I want to make sure this is the best possible game it can be.



It was also very humbling to sit next to some top notch developers (Zi at Toasty Games who made Parallax and Graeme from Owlchemy Labs who consistently makes top tier indie games). It was very surreal and quite an honor to meet local developers of that caliber. As a gamer at heart - it was very cool to meet these devs! There were also some other awesome developers that I unfortunately didn't get a chance to meet (Corey at ZenFri (Clandestine: Anomaly) and Lesley from The Campfire Union (Lost Cities VR) to name a couple). It was extremely intimidating sitting beside such prestigious developers and frankly I was worried that people would scoff at how early in development Astraea is compared to the other games. But the people who played the game had great time (there where some kids who played for over an hour in one session) and frankly that's what counts! It was very cool and great to see so many laughs and smiles!



Last (but definitely not least) I want to thank Aaron and Jake from AYBOnline. Thank you so much Aaron for giving me the chance to show off such an early version of my game at C4 and a huge thanks to Jake for dealing with my bazillion questions and organizing such an awesome event. You guys did a great job.

I had a great time and I'm glad so many people had fun playing an early version of Astraea!

Oh one last quick note - I'm working on fixing up a few things and I should be back to weekly Astraea updates very soon. The 'Comic Con crunch' broke a number of things in the main PC version. So once I get that fixed along with the archery mini-game I'll roll out a new update!

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Oct 15, 2015 Astraea Coming to PS4, Xbox One and Wii U

Hello everyone, my name is Brandyn, and I'm the lead developer of Astraea. Astraea is an open ended multiplayer sandbox game that allows you to build a town, run a farm, and make lots of friends! We will be showing off a console version of Astraea for the first time ever at the Central Canada Comic Con this October. Our booth will feature exclusive console gameplay with split screen co-op mode! We are very excited to announce that Astraea will be launching in early 2016 on Xbox One via the ID@Xbox self-publishing program, on PS4, Wii U and Steam!

Astraea is all about giving players the freedom to design their own towns by allowing buildings/structures/objects to be constructed wherever the player would like. When you’re not constructing your town, interact with the villagers to see their energy level and overall happiness, decorate your home, or even go shopping in the capital! In Astraea, both you and the villagers will be able to plant/harvest crops, raise farm animals, and participate in activities and more. Relax in your town by spending the day fishing on a boat or docks, riding around on horseback, etc.

Another unique feature of Astraea is the ability to create and play mini-games in your town. Some examples of mini-games are: archery, racing, fishing tournaments, and more. You can invite your friends to enter your town to compete and play these mini-games. Astraea was designed to be an open ended game, so do not feel rushed when creating your town and let your imagination soar!

We are very excited to have the opportunity to show off Astraea at the 2015 Central Canada Comic Con! This will be the first time that Astraea has been displayed publicly on a console platform. The Central Canada Comic Con event runs from October 30, 2015 to November 1, 2015. The table for Astraea will be located at Indie Gamer Alley in the BaseLAN section. Be sure to come visit our table as we will be showing off new exclusive gameplay as well as split-screen multiplayer! Also, do not forget to fill out and drop off your ballot at our table as we will be raffling off some prizes!

We hope that you are excited about Astraea coming to consoles! Astraea is a unique experience where, not only can you invite your friends to visit your town but you can develop it together! Enjoy building your town, raising farm animals, planting crops, fishing, and other fun adventures with friends or by yourself! Thank you for your interest and I hope to see you in Astraea in the future! Thanks for reading and feel free to post questions and thoughts in the comments below!

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