The Future is NOW!

Well no, not really! But it’s coming. Every step we take towards finishing this game brings us closer to finishing and launching more features as well! It’s always a difficult decision to choose what goes into a first release and what needs to be pushed back, but ultimately all of our great ideas can’t be added in at one go. It’s just to much work! So today we thought we would take up some space here to talk today about what else we have planned as upcoming features post-launch.

Great Emphasis On Your Friends

Silent Space Rebellion and Crawlspace are both community focused games. “Oh, so are all Massively Multiplayer Online Games.” Yes, we know, they all have ‘multiplayer’ in them, but that’s not what we mean. Crawlspace, in particular, is not a single player game. Oh sure, you can launch a game and play it by yourself, but you’re going to get no where, pretty fast.

One of the ways we emphasized this in the current game is with the shared station inventory. Every item you build goes into a shared inventory for ALL players to draw from. So you’d better make sure you know who gets what before you build it and your buddy picks up all the guns you needed for your ship!

But moving forward from here we are going to introduce the concept of Cross-Game Fleets. Fleets will be sort of like Guilds in other MMO games, in that you will be able to organize players together. Our fleets, however, will cross all games in our system. You can belong to the same Fleet in Crawlspace that you do in SSR, or completely different ones! And fleets will be able to own and control Territory in the Silent Space universe across all three games.

We have some other features planned for Fleets, but for now we’re going to keep them under wraps.

More Maps Required

In addition to new features, we want to shake up the existing features as well. Silent Space Rebellion features a HUGE sector map, and only about 18% of that has currently been mapped out. Crawlspace features a scant 27 systems by comparison, fixed in place, and about 180 planets.

Crawlspace is going to get a dynamic map system that will let you variably control the size and density of the game world (though this will still be within pre-defined limits). We took great care when developing this first version of the game to ensure that in the future, systems could be moved around without impacting game code. Path detection for the AI, for example, is all dynamically calculated. This means slightly higher upfront hardware costs, but we thought for the features we could add, it would be worth it.

The Heroic Journey Of a Ship

Crawlspace and Silent Space actually share a universe, though this is not referenced in Crawlspace because it is not Story Focused like the Silent Space series of games are. But the Silent Space Story is a Living Campaign. It will go on as long as the game does, with new story related missions every month. That’s not a Living Campaign though. So what do we mean when we say Living Campaign?

Have you ever wanted to BE part of the story? Maybe not the hero, but at least the guy that helped the hero get where he was going? We want that to – our intention is to closely monitor the actions of players through the forums and the game, and incorporate your actions into the story and shape of the campaign in the game! That’s right, if you guys spend all your time dominating a sector, that might have story repercussions moving forward!

The most important element to take away from this is that what you do matters. And we are going to continually add to this story as the time goes on, as long as you are willing to play our game.

We hope this gets you excited about our game! We get excited talking about it, and we can’t wait to share more with you about what we’re planning to do next! As part of that plan we are going to build a Public Roadmap for the game in the coming months, so you can understand what our path is going to be to each of the features we’ve talked about here!

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SCT Nostalgia, Round 2

We’re pretty nostolgic around here, aren’t you? Who doesn’t remember CD GAMES, DIR *.EXE commands from a misspent youth in Dos Gaming Landing? (Which is totally possible again, Thanks DosBox!)

We thought we would take some time in this space today to acknowledge and point out some of the older games that helped inspire Silent Space Rebellion!

The Classic Submarine Simulator

First up, we have Silent Service! (Which is totally on Steam? Who knew!) Silent Service is a classic, a World War II Submarine simulator that lets you sail the South Pacific hunting for enemy ships to destroy. This game provides you with all sorts of (now cheesy) graphics about your ship. Silent Service is a lot of fun to play, but the sequel Silent Service II is even better! It lets you patrol the ocean at will, choosing which fleets you want to engage with and how you want to attack.

While this is passingly similar to the play style of the older SSR, the newer Silent Space Rebellion has much more in common with…

ASCII DOS Games – Under The Gulf

This game is so old, this was the only screenshot we could find! Our developers remember it for being playable on old Monochrome PCs. One of them used to keep charts up on his walls while he played the simulator. This game is notable for having only a single control screen. Everything that needed to be managed on your sub was done through text menu options. The graphics themselves were nothing more then a top down view of your ship. This has much more in common with the modern Silent Space Rebellion interface, which attempts to hold true to a single screen for managing everything.

Story Inspirations

Of course, Silent Space Rebellion is about much more then just the game play. It’s about the much larger universe that we created for the game. The obvious influnces of Modern Science Fiction cannot ignore the vast contributions by Star Wars and Star Trek, but Star Trek attempts to explain everything away with Science and Star Wars has filled in the gaps with the many many storied adventures of it’s expanded universe. We decided much more vieled references were more fun – they made the universe seem larger, even if they never got followed up and used again, kind of like…

This game series did a wonderful job of dropping references to things that only appeared once, but added so much depth to the universe. Things like local band names, and ship names, down to who won the Bombers Cup are attended to in detailed manuals and fiction. Though you may hear of some of those things again, for the most part there are just there to give flavor to the world, something we are hoping to accomplish with Silent Space Rebellion!

We hope you enjoyed our (second) trip down memory lane…more then one hour was wasted playing one (or more) of these games before we wrote about them, our next blog post will be back to the future!

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STC Nostalgia

Courtesy of one of our better testers, we have a trip down memory lane today. Back in 2011 we ran a short Alpha Test for some of our combat mechanics. The idea was to get a feel for what worked, and what didn’t, and what needed to be on the screen.

Our Alpha Testers worked diligently to uncover all kinds of interesting problems with the game, we detailed just a few below.  Stay tuned all the way to the end though, we’re going to talk about a new feature to SSR.



Yes it’s true. This early version of our interface had no way for you to monitor how fast your ship was traveling. In the new version of SSR there is a slider to control your speed by percentage, and it’s part of the main HUD for controling the direction of your ships travel.


User Error

Our old server wasn’t very powerful, and instead of making one or two datacalls, the game was making 9 or 10 per page refresh. We knew that wasn’t going to cut it in the long run, but this was a mechanical test to see if the core ideas for the game were sound, not anything meant to be optimized. As it turns out, the mechanics were sound, and the new game has a much reduced load on a much more powerful server.

The Best For Last

The last screenshots (there are two here) on our list of Epic Video Game fails from SSR, was caused by entering the combat screen without engaging a fleet. Without any kind of qualifier on the call to load ships into the combat screen, EVERY ship was loaded into the combat screen…all at once. This is roughly 1600 ships engaged in combat with a single player at one time.

Fortunately, this is no longer possible on our new combat interface.



Something New

When reviewing the new engine we were building for the game, one of the topics that came up repeatedly was Player Choice. It’s easy to say that Player Choice should matter in a video game – it’s even easy to make Player Choice matter in a video game. But that’s not actually what we mean when we say Player Choice.

Sandbox style video games should be designed so that the player can play the core features of the game any way they want to. Most games do a very poor job of this – if you are primarily a damage dealer, they expect you (at some point) to offset those skills with some healing powers to help keep you alive.

We went the opposite direction.

You want to be stealthy? Put everything into Stealth! You want to be heavily armed, put everything into your weapons!

There are already more then 100 purchasable pieces of equipment with which to outfit your ship, and 15 different ship types to fight with in the game. So how can we add to this?

Crew Members

There is a new loadout option for “Crew Members” that will allow you to slot crew members into specific positions on your ship. Note that for Story Purposes, even though you can remove Sahara from the Radar Operator slot, she will still communicate with you about your ship and your story missions (because that is her job).

But the new Crew Members bring with them a whole new set of skills that can enhance your ship in combat, from improving your radar to improving your torpedoes.

Check it out! We hope to see you in game soon, and as always, SINK ENEMY SHIPPING!

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Public Test Server – Now Online!

We are happy to announce that we have a Public Test Server online for both our games!

Crawlspace – a Multiplayer Browser Based RTS! Play with your friends, build new stations, conquer new planets!

Silent Space Rebellion – a Single Player Browser Based RPG! Stalk your prey, follow the continuing story, and Sink Enemy Shipping!

You can sign up to play now in our Beta Testing by following the links above.

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Firing Updates!

Wow! So many changes since our last post. Crawlspace is really slamming along – updates to the weapons system means we are testing combat fully for the first time. The entire inventory system is now in game and working, and so are fighters and bombers (We could write a whole post just about that!).

Most recently we’ve been working on implementing the Orders Menu, for commanding all those AI ships you can build from the citadel. Enough talking, here are screenshots:

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Brace For Impact!

If someone was to ask me today what I thought they should study to get a job working on video games, I would tell them MATH. Everything in video games comes down to Math in one way or another – building a model is 3D points in space (Geometry!), scoring points is of course regular addition and subtraction. And collision detection in a video game is all about Trigonometry.

Today we’ve been working on the radar functions for the batteries. It’s important that the radar system functions properly first, primarily because of the lock system. You may remember the lock system – the lock system is responsible for determining how likely a hit is to be scored against a target. This is critical for determining certain turret AI functions (as well as enemy AI systems in general).

The lock system is complicated. Complicated enough that we don’t want to explain it here. We are big believers that when you play games like this, you should rely more on skill then on calculating out the results of the battle before you have it. For this reason, you will never find us writing out some crazy formula like Lock% = Range * Gunners Consumption of {Inserted Caffeinated Beverage Here} / {Random Value derived from Programmers hours of sleep for last week – likely a single digit number}. Will you be able to guess at them? Of course, but we aren’t going to tell you what they are.

The long and the short of it (that’s funny, and you’ll see why in a moment) is that it mostly comes down to range. (See? See how it’s funny now? Okay, maybe not.) But it also comes down to the settings on your radar. The radar has three different modes it can operate in: Track, Scan, and Disabled.

Disabled radar mode is painfully obvious – the Radar is off. This will reduce your radar signature to the enemy, important if you’re trying to sneak through a system. Track allows you to lock up and see only a single target – this mode will blast radar waves at the target and increase your lock percentage, but at the expense of not detecting new targets…or alerting you to them. If you are operating in a fleet, as you should be when playing Crawlspace, you may have another ally nearby with the ability to detect enemies for you in which case this is not an issue. But you’d better not try this alone.Scan mode is a bit more useful – it will allow you to lock up to eight targets (four for each battery, and four for each squadron of fighter/bomber craft. (We’ll cover Squadrons in a later post, as they have not yet been implemented.) Your lock will be of a lower quality, but you will be able to pick up new targets.

In addition to range, the power of the radar itself will also come into play when dealing with locks. The more power you have blasting them, the better the lock will be. These are controlled through two settings – Sweep and Range. Sweep addresses how much area left and right the radar will look for. This can be anything from a 45 degree cone in front of your ship to a 360 circle all the way around it. The lower the setting, the higher the power of the radar.

The opposite is true of the range. The higher the range – the higher the power of the radar. But the range to the target comes into play here as well, balancing it out. However, if you’re sending radar signals out 12 AU’s in a 45 degree sweep and the target is right on top of you, well…locks don’t get much sweeter then that.

Until Next Time, Sink Enemy Shipping!

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Galleries, Away!

A wise internet marketing article once suggested that Indie Game Developers should spend 25% of their time doing nothing but marketing to be successful. If that’s true, we’re well on our way to success. Previously, our corporate site was a mashed together mess we made ourselves out of desperation. It functioned as an online image gallery/corporate front page/document repository/developers forum for keeping all our information and communication in one place. However, we have better tools for that now, so it’s time for a change!

Currently we’re in the process of a major move for our corporate site to use this Word Press blog as a full corporate site, including media, press releases, and contact information. You might notice a change in the URL you used to get here – and also changes to the tabs above. These are all great things that will help us better brand our messages. So let us give you a quick update about some of the key features these are bringing you.

Crawlspace & Silent Space Rebellion Pictures

Want to know what our games our about? These pages are for you. With quick, concise descriptions, they’ll have you eager to jump into our flagship products in absolutely no time at all. These pages will also be used to host all kinds of media related to our games. For example, the Silent Space page currently has concept art, a models gallery, and some screenshots of the game! These are all things that were wildly missing before, but are back into action now.

Developers Blog

Want to know what our developers are thinking? So do we, and you can find out here. They share their thoughts on everything from art direction to story direction, to coding problems they aren’t enjoying having to solve. A very personal touch from our hardest working individuals, this is the place to REALLY find out whats going on with your favorite games.

Press Page

Watch this space for official press releases and announcements. We wouldn’t want them getting mixed up with the Developers, programmers are sensitive creatures after all.

Please don’t forget to Visit us on Facebook to see our latest art postings, musings, polls…and to leave us your valuable feedback! We love to hear what you think!

Until Next Time, Sink Enemy Shipping!

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Fire at Bob, Commander!

Something that’s becoming a common theme on this blog is talking about how to handle different types of player actions in a manner dissimilar from modern games. There is a fine degree of control necessary when operating any sort of military vessel in space, and we want to give it to you.

Aside from being able to target all of your weapons independently, you’ll also be able to directly control their AI actions by setting each battery to a specific mode.

These modes are a little complicated, and still subject to change (as everything here is) but our intention is to allow you to perform behaviors you’re not normally allowed to perform. Not all enemy units will charge head on into enemy fire, some will turn and run away. A group of light fighters confronting a battleship alone, for example, will flee in the face of overwhelming firepower. But how do you convince the enemy that’s in their best interests? In this case the answer is Suppressive Fire, but there was no way for you to know that! So we’ll explain.

Hold Fire

This command is overwhelmingly obvious, it will force the battery to stop shooting and the battery will not engage in shooting again until the order is changed. This is the default mode for all batteries. This mode of fire is for approach or stealth situations.

Restrained Fire

This is the maximum ammo conservation mode. This mode will fire every few seconds at a target, only when it is range and when it has the best chance to hit. That means if a target is moving towards you, it may not fire right when it enters range, but instead wait until it approach much closer then it normally would. The idea of this mode is that you can fire at an enemy without merely throwing out tons of ammunition in the hopes of hitting something, and more valuable weapon types (torpedoes, missiles, cruise missiles) will be more effective as they will be the most likely to hit.

The rate at which a battery will start shooting at this mode is determined by the Lock Strength. Once you have targeted a ship, you must lock a target to engage it. Locks can range anywhere from 1% to 100%. This number determines the likelihood of a shot fired now reaching it’s target. This number will generally start around 25 and work it’s way up the closer you get to the target. Batteries set to restrained fire will not open fire on a target until it reaches at least 85% lock strength.

When set to this mode, a battery will fire until it’s ammo is expended.

This mode is best set when you are trying to destroy an enemy to escape a battle – every shot will count.

Sustained Fire

Sustained fire is very similar to the above – except that rather then depend on lock strength to determine when it will open fire it depends purely on range. Once a target has entered range, the weapon battery will fire short bursts from its weapons every few seconds, maintaining ammo but also beginning to fire as soon as a hit is at all possible and stopping only when it’s ammo is expended.

This mode is best set when you are just entering an engagement and want to inflict maximum possible damage on a target before closing to finish it off.

Fire at Will

This command will order a battery to fire at a target as soon as it enters range and not stop until it is out of ammo. This is slightly different then the sustained fire mode above because the battery will run out of ammo much quicker in this mode, as it does not stop occasionally to rest in between shots.

This mode is best set when you are in the middle of a wild melee and don’t care what gets caught in the crossfire.

Suppressive Fire

This command will order a battery to open up immediately! It will begin firing at a target and continue firing at a target until it runs out of ammo or the target is destroyed. This command will deplete your ammo even faster then the previous commands, and worse, is not dependent on range or lock.

This mode is best set when you trying to intimidate an enemy from closing. This mode can also be used for larger weapons – such as anti-Capital ship weapons – for targeting groups of fighters the battery might not otherwise be optimized to hit. With such a massive amount of fire power going out, the odds are good even one or two close misses can take out a target.

That wraps up our notes on the various battery AI control modes. Stay tuned this week, we’re going to talk more about Target Locks and how to maintain them!

Until next time, Sink Enemy Shipping!

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More Guns with Fun

More fun with the inventory system last night, this time with most of the kinks worked out. Sometimes you just have to quit for the day and get some sleep, or you won’t get anything at all productive done. So let’s take a look at loading equipment.

The first step you’re going to follow here is loading weapons from the Citadel Station Secretly Named Station to be Announced Later. This inventory, as we mentioned in yesterdays post, is shared with all the other members of your team. If there are 7 guns available, it’s not 7 guns for you, and your buddy, and your buddy’s girlfriend, it’s 7 guns split between all of you. Once you’ve pulled a gun out of inventory, it’s loaded onto your ship. Loading guns on your ship takes up valuable tonnage space that can be used for other components to help improve your combat capabilities. This tonnage is returned to being available when you unload equipment from your ship.

In the image below you can see we’ve loaded four guns on board our ship. These are not out of the station inventory and can’t be used by other players in your group.


Before you can use any of these guns, however, you have to load them into a weapon battery. Every ship has four batteries (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta) that can be targeted independently of each other. As we mentioned yesterday, we are splitting the difference between letting every weapon target a different ship (programatically impossible) and every weapon targeting the same ship. You can see in the image below part of the ‘Tactical Screen’ that shows what weapons are available for loading, and the current target of two of the weapon batteries.


Once you have some weapons in your inventory to assign, you have to select which weapon  battery you want to load the weapons into (you can click anywhere in the general vicinity of the load out box to select this) You can see our empty load out box below (we’ve selected Alpha Battery in the image, evidenced by  the red border).


Once you have the weapon battery selected, just click a gun to add it to the weapons bay. You can see below we’ve now added two Medium Anti-Capital  Ship guns on board our ship, and assigned them to Weapon Battery Alpha.

Weapons not in a battery will not fire at anything, so it’s a good idea to make sure you assign everything in your inventory to a battery or it will just be wasted space!


During the development of this feature set we ran into a number of problems. For example, players can remove a weapon item from their ship inventory to return tonnage space, which also means it has to be checked against the battery and removed from the battery (we default to removing ‘extras’ from the list before we start removing weapons from batteries, but sometimes you don’t have any extras to be removed!).

We also needed the data to persist between sessions – setting up your weapon batteries is not something you should have to do every time you sign into the game. It’s easy during this process to forget the little things – like that we still needed weapons to show up in the inventory list even if some of them have been assigned, so long as there are extras in the inventory.

In the end, we ended up scraping two whole functions and adding a new callback to execute the battery creation process at the end of the inventory loading process. All our attempts to do it all at once ended badly, and if there is one thing we have learned it’s that decoupled functions are easier to modify and change later in the future.

Until next time, Sink Enemy Shipping!

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Drag and Drop or Click and Click?

Recently while working on an inventory system for Crawlspace, a discussion came up about the user interface that I wanted to share. We were discussing weather to implement a drag and drop system for the inventory. I should explain a little bit about the inventory system here so you can understand the following points.

The inventory system for Crawlspace exists for a group, not for an individual. When an item is loaded onto a ship it uses tonnage aboard the ship, and is removed from the group inventory. For items like Radar or Hangers or ECM equipment, this is the final step to equipping it. Items like this cannot be assigned anywhere except in their assigned ‘grouping’. Radar and ECM for example are grouped under ‘Special Equipment’. Reactors are under the ‘Power’ grouping, and guns and missiles all fall under the ‘Weapons’ grouping.

Initially drag and drop was planned for this feature, but after looking at the system we started to ask why. Traditionally in other games this is how we’ve seen it done – but let’s be honest. Are you ever going to drop a reactor in a radar slot? No? Then why not just let you click? Now instead of click/hold/drag/release you just hit a click – once – and the item slots into the appropriate grouping.

This was great for general equipment, loading up my ship from the group inventory is quick and painless. But what about weapons? Weapons, in addition to being loaded on your ship, have to be loaded into one of four available ‘Gun Batteries’ on board your ship. Gun Batteries allow you to take five or six weapons of similar or dissimilar types and group them all together to fire at once. We realized very early on that capital ships don’t generally point all their guns at the same target all the time – it’s a massive waste of ammunition to shot a .50 caliber machine gun at a battleship three miles off – you use the main cannon for that (or even better – missiles).

So we broke up the weapons into six categories – Anti-Fighter weapons,  Anti-Capital ship weapons, with a light/medium/heavy version of each. This way you can group all your anti-fighter weapons together, or mix and match so you have four batteries of weapons that can shoot at anything. It wasn’t practical – from a programming standpoint – to give players the ability to fire all their weapons at independent targets. You could be stuck assigning 100 targets to 100 weapons. And it wasn’t fair to force the player to target one ship at a time – this is a major draw back from modern video games. You have a massive battle cruiser with a giant main cannon and six point defense turrets and send it after a building – and it attacks the building and dies to a single machine gun trooper because it’s point defense batteries are busy shooting at the same target.

So for the gun batteries we needed a new solution – and now the process  for equipping a weapon into a gun battery slot involves first selecting the weapon battery you want to assign guns too, and then clicking the guns out of the list the same way the main inventory assignment system works. While a drag-and-drop system would be ideal for this sort of situation, we felt that it disrupted the flow of the game. Having two different  control systems to accomplish what (to the player) seems like essentially the same action means we have to write two different tutorials for managing the inventory system and the player has to remember two different sets of instructions for the same system.

Just wanted to share this – it’s interesting to note that sometimes the ideal solution isn’t the right one for a given game. We’ll have more on this after it’s been turned loose to our Beta Testers.

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