Aug 22, 2016 Another Update

Hi everyone! It's been a little bit of time since the last update - sorry about that! A lot has happened since March, so let's fill you in!

- I am still hard at work on Astraea! I work on it every evening, as long as I can each day. I have people asking me constantly when the game will come out and I can only say "soon". I want the game to come out as badly as you do - but I also want to make sure the game is loads of fun!

- I recently performed a major upgrade on all our servers. As a result of this, a number of our core services (website, Astraea login, etc) went offline for around an hour this weekend. It appears everything is back up to speed, but if you notice something not working correctly, you can let us know via email!

- I also removed the Norwind forum this weekend. I mentioned when I initially set it up that if it wasn't going to be used, then I would remove it. So that's how it is. I may spin up a fresh forum when Astraea launches, but until then the forums will remain offline.

I'll try to keep this feed updated more often! Until next time!

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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 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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