Steam Marines

Steam Marines

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apsyse  [developer] Nov 5, 2013 @ 9:57am
Roadmap (Last updated 24 September 2014)
Developer Update (24 September 2014)
Full release is here! Steam Marines is out of Early Access and is being sold as a full game. Thank you to everyone who made this possible!



Developer Update (16 September 2014)
Full release is coming. UI/UX changes will be pushed in the next major build along with bug fixes, new items, talent/stat/skill tweaks and other changes. Full release means Steam Marines will be out of Early Access and the full game I've envisioned.

That does not mean I will ignore Steam Marines for the foreseeable future. Bugfixes and other support is of course to be expected. I sincerely thank anyone and everyone who supported me, financially and otherwise, and provided feedback and suggestions during the development period. It's been a strange two and a half years :)



Developer Update (13 July 2014)
We're in Beta! My focus on the path toward release is primarily UI/UX, bug crushing, and overall player experience. I still intend on adding new content: items, weapon/armor mods, changing talents/stats/skills/perks, but the meat is all there for release.

Thanks to everyone who supported me this far through Early Access, and especially the people who were kind enough to offer feedback and report those pesky bugs! >:D



Developer Update (17 June 2014)
Linux port is pretty much done unless I get a slew of OS-specific bug reports. Huzzah! Next step is Alien Deck and beta.



Developer Update (9 June 2014)
Plugging away at the Alien Deck and the Linux port! Aiming to get the next major build out in a month or so. Enemy upgrades, boss encounters, and difficulty balances (including Brutal) upcoming.

After that will be beta and polish - expect a heavy focus on UI/UX in beta and less focus on gameplay changes and major systems. Will also be looking at Steam Trading Cards and possibly Achievements.



Developer Update (1 May 2014)
So with v0.8.7a the five decks of the steampunk spaceship are now implemented with bosses (there needs to be further tweaking but it's essentially all there.) Next on the list is the Alien Deck, new enemy mechanics, and marine talent/stat/skills reworking.

Then onward to beta!

I must apologize for the art delay which has in turn slowed down project progress. It's all this guy's fault:
http://www.SteamMarines.com/media/images/promotional/Patriarch-Psychic.gif



Developer Update (17 April 2014)
Small update regarding what's being actively worked on and what's been chopped or reworked:
  • Scout/Grenadier class changes being worked on along with stats and skills.
  • Bridge and Alien Deck bosses being worked on (art got a lot behind schedule - sorry about that!)
  • Brainien encounter being reworked.
  • Enemy AI upgrade - this dovetails with the ??? difficulty.
  • Overwhelming sentiment regarding ship destruction is don't do that, so I won't.
  • Missions are still on the back burner.
  • 99% probability Steam Marines will enter beta at the end of April/early May and I will start porting the game to the Unity 3D engine. This will allow Linux builds, possible mobile builds, and structural reworking so I can implement other major systems or content in the future.



Developer Update (27 February 2014)
Of the original 22 weeks I slated for the original roadmap, only 8 weeks remain. What is still on the list (or chopping block) for the next two months?

Marines
  • Scout and Grenadier class changes. Scouts already seem to be the favored class, and Grenadiers with Frozen weapons are very strong, but they need some tweaks to their talents.
  • New Stats and Skills. Hacking was sort of taken over by the new Engineer class, but I'd still like to expand both areas of marine progression.

Decks
  • Auto-turrets, much like the Support class talent, need to be implemented particularly in the Armory Deck.
  • The Bridge Deck is not yet fully implemented. There are still unique items, encounters, and more planned.
  • The Alien Deck is not implemented at all yet (although you can see the basic tileset in the images directory). This is intended as the final deck; whereas you can choose deck order after the Command, the Alien Deck is always intended to be last.
  • The Brainien boss is not fully implemented, and the Bridge and Alien Deck bosses are not implemented at all.

Enemy AI
I still want enemies flinging other enemies, killing their way to marines, and other assorted nastiness. Actually the new Gunship boss exhibits some of those traits!

Missions
Older players (in open alpha) might remember that this was implemented but removed for detracting from the core gameplay. They were basically random secondary and tertiary objectives like keeping the entire squad alive, knocking enemies into space, or finding secrets and awarded experience based upon completion. I'm still trying to find a good way to bring them back into Steam Marines.

A way to trigger a random scripted event may be preferable. In this way the player can opt to take on a challenge for a specified reward rather than get randomized objectives at the start of each level. Feel free to throw ideas at my face!

Ship Integrity/Destruction
Deck Integrity was also in older builds and acted as a "hunger clock." This was (again) removed because I felt it clashed with the core gameplay. It operated by removing a random amount of integrity every turn and when a deck integrity reached 0 the deck was lost, including marines on it. Deck integrity was also reduced when walls were destroyed.

That probably would have worked out except the player only has one squad of marines ever so the onus was to save integrity whenever possible. Right now I'm considering a more staggered approach where the deck bosses are actively trying to destroy the deck they're found on and, if not killed within a certain number of turns, succeed. This would result in the deck being lost and impact the resources (items, weapons, armor, unit spawns, survivor spawns, et cetera) that could be found although the squad could proceed.

E.g. Player fails to kill the Revenant fast enough on the Engineering Deck. Player can proceed but Engineer survivors can no longer be recruited and scopes and armor kits no longer spawn. Score is affected negatively. Maybe too many lost decks means no chance at New Game Plus?

As usual, feel free to throw ideas at my face!

??? Difficulty
This is still coming, but I'm waiting for the Alien Deck to hit a live build first so I can balance everything all at once.


What happens after 8 weeks?
Steam Marines will most likely enter beta. I've been getting gameplay results (thanks to everyone sending those in!) and it's really clear that most people play on Normal and don't get past the Medical Deck. What this means is that I'll be focusing more on the early/core game as opposed to overarching/NGP content.

Beta doesn't mean feature freeze for me. I intend on supporting Steam Marines past release as well. But it does mean I don't want to be adding major systems between beta and release. The goal will be on bugfixing, tying up loose ends, and polishing.

I did not clear my own roadmap as fast as I would have liked. Part of that is of course due to the nature of software, but also because I added stuff that as I went along seemed more important, such as:
  • Exposed data for mod support.
  • A perk system for all marine classes.
  • Rolled random event system and space weather into one aggregate system.
  • UI changes to make common information more accessible, and ease in new players.

Updated Roadmap[www.steammarines.com]

-------------------------------------------------------------


What's this Roadmap for?
This is intended to give a general overview of the direction Steam Marines is headed in. While I would dearly love to lay out every detail and promise that 100% of those will be implemented, that's simply unrealistic. Development of software, and particularly games, is a more organic process. Some things you think would work really well might turn out terrible. And if you tunnel vision your design you may miss out on some really great choices.

Roadmap in image form.[www.SteamMarines.com]


Major Features
  • New class, "Engineer." Tech specialist and close quarters combatant.
  • Alien Deck. Get invaded? Invade right back. Fight those aliens on their own turf.
  • Space weather. Corrode armor every turn. Meteor strikes. Obscuring gas.
  • Deck integrity. Decks can be lost. The whole ship can be lost. Try to stop that.
  • Missions accessible from the Ship Overview screen. Impacts ship integrity.
  • Random encounter system, similar to how survivors are recruited.
  • More varied and deep AI. Retreat, reinforcements, and more independent thinking.


Concepts and Concerns
Steam Marines is quite playable and replayable in its current state. I do have concerns about how "samey" the first deck is especially if players haven't made it very far. My hope is that the random encounter system will help alleviate that. I may also trim the Command Deck from 5 levels to 2-3 and use those to buffer the Alien Deck when it's implemented.

Modding is something that keeps old games fresh and exciting. Unfortunately I did not set Steam Marines up to be highly modular in that way. Curious players may have noticed a "mods" directory in the guts of the game. While I don't think I can expose the resources to have modders fully rewrite enemy AI or implement whole new classes, I can expose resources like sprites, music, sound, dialogue strings, base unit stats, randomizer ranges, and data of that nature. To be frank this is not a terribly high priority for me right now but it's on my radar.


Timeline
The roadmap image lacks a timeline - a fairly important feature! I can tell you that I want a full release by April 2014. That gives me slightly less than 23 weeks to put all this together. It's why I did not include modding, deeper marine classes (on top of a new class), and some other major features I would have liked to.

That time also has to account for polishing existing content, bug fixing, balancing, et cetera. It's quite ambitious. I won't be that upset if it all gets implemented but polishing takes longer than anticipated.


Closing Remarks
Luckily for the lot of you, Steam Marines is still in malleable shape. You can influence what direction it ultimately takes. Please leave questions, comments, and general feedback on what you like, don't like, or would prefer to see me emphasize on the roadmap!


Thanks for reading!
Last edited by apsyse; Sep 24, 2014 @ 1:27am
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Showing 1-15 of 78 comments
Mr. Stimpson Nov 5, 2013 @ 10:13am 
You sold me at "Throw their comrades at you." and "Kill their own to reach you."

Thanks for the road-map. apsyse! All the changes look promising and I'm looking forward to everything coming in the next 6-12 months :)
Mikolaj Nov 5, 2013 @ 11:00am 
First, thanks for being so open with the development!

Second, - space weather? aren't they all on a ship?
Mr. Stimpson Nov 5, 2013 @ 11:06am 
Originally posted by Mikolaj:
Second, - space weather? aren't they all on a ship?

The ship is made of paper and gets riddled with holes, some weather is bound to come through :)
apsyse  [developer] Nov 5, 2013 @ 11:08am 
That was actually the first incarnation - breach the walls and weather comes in. How come no one has commented on the red/green "rain" with "Hey, where's the roof?" :P
Mr. Stimpson Nov 5, 2013 @ 11:09am 
lol, ♥♥♥♥ science! Logic is for dweebs :)
Mikolaj Nov 5, 2013 @ 11:15am 
Originally posted by apsyse:
That was actually the first incarnation - breach the walls and weather comes in. How come no one has commented on the red/green "rain" with "Hey, where's the roof?" :P
Oh, so the weather will be busting in and not a permanent feature, i.e. a sealed room will not have weather effects? If yes - that's great!
apsyse  [developer] Nov 5, 2013 @ 11:16am 
Ah no that was how it was initially but I couldn't get it to work well - just didn't feel right. The plan now is to randomize weather patterns that affect gameplay.
bar.pys Nov 5, 2013 @ 11:36am 
Great, thanks for sharing.
I`ll throw in some ideas later if my head will allow for this :D

For now what i can think of - personally i am all for bringing back as many lvls for marines as possible- this adds more replayability to my games :) and feeds my grinding needs ;)
Mikolaj Nov 5, 2013 @ 11:39am 
Originally posted by apsyse:
Ah no that was how it was initially but I couldn't get it to work well - just didn't feel right. The plan now is to randomize weather patterns that affect gameplay.
Pity, but still a great feature to make the game more diverse :)
Twitchblade Nov 5, 2013 @ 7:27pm 
Everything looks great! I'm super excited for the new class especially. I finally got a chance to play a lot more today, and I have a couple of questions.

Merchants- do you have any plans to lock in what stuff they sell? I encountered my first merchant today, and I realized I can keep clicking on him to get 4 different items at different prices until I got something I wanted at a super low price. The randomized prices I don't mind, but the fact that the list repopulates every time I click on him feels weird.

A hub- No idea how this fits into your overall design of the game, but is there any chance of implementing some sort of hub? I just cleared the Command decks for the first time and realized you can choose what deck to clear out next. It'd be nice if in between clearing out the decks, there was a place you could go to spend credits- maybe have a merchant there so you can restock on supplies, and a sailor there you can effectively bribe into taking a Marine's armor and weapon to augment your squad if you've lost someone. I know the game is supposed to be brutal, but giving the player a small reprieve can help salvage a run plagued by ♥♥♥♥♥♥ RNG.
apsyse  [developer] Nov 5, 2013 @ 8:22pm 
Right now merchants act as a stopgap for bad streaks in RNG. Three significant facts about alien merchants:

  • They can sell almost everything in the game, but items like Hulk Suits are rare.
  • Costs are randomized in ranges per item.
  • Cost ranges are skewed upward the more you access merchants.

A hub with a marine roster was initially planned - it certainly makes it more XCOM-like. My main issue with it is that it can break the flow of the game as well as the balance. The reason hubs are nice is typically because 1) players can rest and feel safe, and 2) players can restock.

The second issue is really what you're talking about since the game is turn-based and lets you save essentially arbitrarily. There -are- some minor things I intend to implement that may help that without resorting to a full on hub - med pod that can restore a single marine to full hp, things of that nature.

I'll give some more thought to hubs!
Last edited by apsyse; Nov 5, 2013 @ 8:36pm
Mr. Stimpson Nov 5, 2013 @ 8:28pm 
Originally posted by apsyse:
There -are- some minor things I intend to implement that may help that without resorting to a full on hub - med pod that can restore a single marine to full hp, things of that nature.

Mmm, via the random encounter system you could do plenty of things like that. That'll be tasty.
Mikolaj Nov 6, 2013 @ 12:03am 
Originally posted by apsyse:
Right now merchants act as a stopgap for bad streaks in RNG. Three significant facts about alien merchants:

  • They can sell almost everything in the game, but items like Hulk Suits are rare.
  • Costs are randomized in ranges per item.
  • Cost ranges are skewed upward the more you access merchants.

A hub with a marine roster was initially planned - it certainly makes it more XCOM-like. My main issue with it is that it can break the flow of the game as well as the balance. The reason hubs are nice is typically because 1) players can rest and feel safe, and 2) players can restock.

The second issue is really what you're talking about since the game is turn-based and lets you save essentially arbitrarily. There -are- some minor things I intend to implement that may help that without resorting to a full on hub - med pod that can restore a single marine to full hp, things of that nature.

I'll give some more thought to hubs!
But if clicking on a merchant is enough to repopulate his offer it will make players do mindless clicking until they get what they want, it's like rolling attributes in old RPGs, this was abandoned because people rerolled until they got what they wanted. Personally I find this mechanic inelegant, if we can basically access a huge list of items anyway by rerolling then maybe it would be better to make the offer bigger but not rerolling?
apsyse  [developer] Nov 6, 2013 @ 12:04am 
"Cost ranges are skewed upward the more you access merchants." >:)
Mikolaj Nov 6, 2013 @ 12:07am 
Originally posted by apsyse:
"Cost ranges are skewed upward the more you access merchants." >:)
Yes, but I do not mean all the items in the game, but a larger random selection of what the merchant has to offer, but a selection that doesn't change, instead you need a different merchant if you want to change it. Unless, click - look at the list - close - click - look - close and so on and so on is really the desired outcome.
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