|RE:artificial intelligence robot colonists! (now with a poll)||
I like #1 better. Artificial colonists that show no emotion and only need power to operate would be good but it may take from the difficulty of the game. Maybe we could make it so that the player has to build expensive mainframe centers that remotely control all of the robot colonists. In order to be able to have more robot colonists, you have to have more mainframes. This would make it expensive to have many robot colonists out at once.
Or, you could go another way with this:
New tech: Digital consciousness: Humans have reached the point where they can now download their consciousness into an artificial body and live forever.
Features of artificial colonists: no age limit. Entertainment still needed. food and water consumption rate reduced. 16 hour shift time due to their artificial body not needing sleep. These types of colonists will only be created when a colonist becomes old and is about to die. Then, that colonist can become an artificial colonist if the player has purchased the digital consciousness tech and has built the required structures.
New structure: Artificial body part factory: this factory can produce body parts that are part organic and part synthetic, and perfect mesh of the two. This building generates a resource called hosts because it builds synthetic bodies. Consumes food, water, plastic, oil, steel, gold, chips, alien artifacts, triantanium, and crystalline.
New structure: Consciousness downloading center: does exactly what it's named for, downloads the colonists very being and self awareness into the artificial brain of an artificial colonist. Consumes lots of power and alien artifacts. This building generates artificial colonists.
Culture around artificial colonists: These colonists are revered as the pioneers of advanced technology and are regarded as immortal. All colonists dream of being one some day. The only problem is that you have to grow old and die to become one.
This idea was sort of inspired by the dragoons in starcraft, where warriors would be downloaded into war machines called dragoons upon death. In sc II they are called immortals.
So that's my take, let me know if you like it.
|My Colony v0.54.x Released||
Today My Colony v0.54.0 (v0.54.1 on Android) is being pushed out to all platforms and should arrive on your device shortly. This was originally intended to be a big Reptilian update but there were several engine changes that took precedent this time. Details below!
My Colony v0.54.x Changelog
The new Reptilian content is generally geared towards making the Lava World map playable. I had a lot more planned for this update, but I wanted to get it released in a timely manner, so it will have to wait until next time. Barring any major engine changes or glitches, v0.55.0 will have a lot more Reptilian stuff.
On to the engine changes. Since the last few updates, the #1 reason for crashes and getting stuck on the loading screen on mobile (especially on Android) was the game running out of memory. The reason for this is that when I designed the game originally and there were only 8 different structures to build, it made sense to load all of the assets at the beginning when you first entered the game. Today though, there are over 320 different structures and almost 50 vehicles, and many structures can now be flipped which adds extra graphics assets which need to be loaded. Because of this, you have probably noticed that the game was taking longer and longer to start up at the beginning, and sometimes it never started up at all. This was due to the game using up all of it's allotted memory from the operating system. The issue was particularly bad on Android, where the memory cap is far less generous than on Desktop computers, even on newer devices that ship with 4 gigs of RAM.
To get around this, My Colony will now only load graphics assets, on demand and as-needed. There are likely still some bugs to be worked out related to this, so let me know what you find. You might notice buildings or ground tiles not appearing right away. Generally they will show up in a second or two. Zooming in and out can also make them appear quicker some times. It might be a small annoyance, but I think the tradeoff will be worth it. Particularly on smaller colonies, the memory reductions can be quite significant.
Another new reduction in this release has to do with save file sizes. I have started compressing some of the building related save data more efficiently, which should reduce the file sizes on some saves. Your mileage will vary depending on the layout of your colony, but on my main colony, my file size was reduced by a little over 10% (compressed). I didn't do a before/after on a non-compressed colony, but it is probably similar.
Moving along, there have been significant changes to the Firedrill system, as well as the way in which 'simulated' colonists find and fill jobs. Generally, the amount of time it takes for your colony to settle back down after a fire drill has been sped up significantly. Also, simulated colonists now find and fill jobs significantly quicker than before. I realized that I forgot to apply the same improvements to the speed in which they find housing, but that will probably be in the next update.
These changes were in part to address a lot of the complaints people have about unemployment and jobs being filled. The old method had simulated colonists fill jobs based on the general unemployment rate of the colony at large, so if you had massive unemployment, they would find jobs slower, and if you had low unemployment, they would find jobs faster. In my mind, this offered a more realistic simulation, as it doesn't make sense (in 'real life') to be able to just call a fire drill and suddenly an economy is back to normal. Judging by the forums though, I think most people perceived this part of the simulation as a bug, so it has been removed. Simulated colonists will now fill jobs at their earliest convenience.
What has not changed though is the colonists' daily cycle. In general, a healthy colonist will have his day divided into 3 parts: work, sleep, time off. So if your colonists are 100% employed, which is unrealistic but somewhat common in this game, then you should at most expect 33% to be on-duty at any given time. I know that many people perceive this aspect of the game as a bug also, but to me, changing this would make the game sooooo easy, even easier than it already is.
Next up, the engine now supports adding a bit of color to certain in-game structures. This is mainly necessary for the upcoming Colony Wars game, and an example can be seen in the screenshot below:
The flags on the building now take up the color that was set in the Overview tab on the statistics screen. I might expand this more to other structures, but it was primarily put in for the benefit of Colony Wars. I also noticed that it is not working right on iOS yet, so I still need to figure that part out.
Finally, there has been a suggestion in the index for lighted roads. I made some engine changes and added one in there as a test, but I want to see how it impacts performance before expanding it further. To be determined.
So anyway, that is it for today's release. Much more on the way, so stay tuned!
|RE:Introducing the Imperial Trade Representative||
I’m not sure of the member you are referring to, but if we knew for sure then he/she would be banned from the FFF as using exploits is against our policy.
Anyways, some of us at the FFF had a meeting to talk about ways that would reduce some of the ongoing GBT issues.
1. Players should not be allowed to go over their current storage limits. This can currently be done by placing a request for resources or by receiving a gift, resulting in a player able to hold millions of something with only 50k of storage. Making it where excess resources from gifts or GBT requests simply filled the current storage and the excess disappears prevent a player from being able to stockpile billions of a resource without the proper capacity.
2. Tying into the issue above, there are certain resources that currently have no storage limit. These include Ore, Gold, Aluminum, and Uranium to name a few. There’s no reason that I can see for any player to need a nearly infinite amount of a resource. Using the warehouse or another storage building to limit this would make more sense.
3. The amount you post for trade cannot exceed your current storage capacity. Meaning you cannot have multiple contracts that add up to 100k of a resource for sale on the GBT if you only have 80k storage space. This would already be minimized if #1 was implemented and holding more than your current storage was not allowed anyways.
4. The storage limit for a certain resource is reduced by the amount of that resource you have listed on the GBT. Once the contract sells, the storage space returns to normal. This way if the contract is not sold and the resources are returned to the player, it does not exceed the storage capacity. Or anything in excess of the storage capacity vanished upon the return of those resource.
5. Possibly tie the GBT to your consulate or capital level, so that only players that are within +/- 1 level of your consulate or capital level can see your trades and vice versa. Allow the max trade amount to increase with these levels as well, so that smaller levels only trade with smaller levels and larger trades stay with the larger levels.
I’m not sure what your current plans are but hopefully these will give you some more ideas on possible solutions to address the issues of players using GBT exploits for personal gain.
|Fall 2017 Ape Apps Update||
Back in the day at the old Ape Apps blog, I used to post monthly updates as to what I was working on, what was coming out next, and what my top apps and games were. I really don't have time for all of that these days with all of the concurrent projects I have going on, so instead I decided that I will give broad quarterly updates instead. So prepare yourself now for glory, with the first (and hopefully not the last) Ape Apps quarterly update post!
Fall 2017 Update
The last three months of the year are always the busiest time for me, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there are several holidays which means more traveling and time away from work. In addition, a lot of new devices come out during the last few months of the year, which usually means new O.S. releases and new bugs to work through. It also means a lot of new customers come on board, so I generally try to get everything updated to the latest SDK's so that everything is fresh for the holiday user rush. Since I have several hundred apps published across multiple platforms, this is usually a significant undertaking for a one-man show.
To make things easier, I generally focus on my top performing apps, leaving a lot of the older less popular titles alone. Usually I try to update my top ten apps at least once per month, but during this time of year I like to try to extend that to the top 30 if possible (it usually isn't). Speaking of my top apps though, here are my top ten as of right now, in terms of monthly usage.
Ape Apps Fall 2017 Top Ten
Around February of this year, My Colony overtook PDF Document Scanner as my #1 performing app, and has remained there ever since. It started out as just a small project in early summer 2016 that I really had no plans for, I was really just testing out adding Isometric 2d support to my existing 2d rendering engine that I had wrote for my games My Land and Gone Rogue. Last fall though, the game really took off so I started adding more and more features to both the game and the 2d rendering engine, which has led to improvements to my other games that share the same engine as well. My Colony is sort of a mix between Sim City, Civilization, and older Command and Conquer games (minus the combat), but what has really made it popular (I think) was the fact that it is one of the only classic desktop-style builder games available on mobile. Most mobile games like this baby step the player through everything, feature build times that measure sometimes in the days, and nickel and dime the hell out of players with in-app purchases. My Colony does none of that, and it's free, with one very cheap add-on unlocking non-essential features.
For the upcoming year, my plans for My Colony are much the same as they have been for the past year. I plan to release new content updates at least twice per month, with an entire new civilization (reptilians) coming early next year. I will continue to improve and add features to the engine, and depending on the success of the upcoming "spin-off" game Antiquitas (more on that later), I will probably release another builder game with a different theme next year. I am thinking of an old west city builder.
PDF Document Scanner
With over 6.5 million downloads on Google Play, PDF Document Scanner is my top app of all time, and is the primary reason I am still in the app business today. Earlier this year it was surpassed (monthly, not in all time downloads) by My Colony, but the numbers are still close between the two. On just Android, PDF Document Scanner is still ahead of My Colony in monthly usage, but My Colony has a bigger presence on Windows, Web and iPhone.
Going forward, I am in the middle of an ongoing process of a full featured port of PDF Document Scanner to Windows and iPhone. They both currently have a published beta version, but it is still missing some key features. I don't think this app has a long-term future since many of it's features have since been incorporated into the three operating systems without the need for third party apps, but with millions of users I will continue to maintain the app for the foreseeable future.
My Network Browser app has been very popular for several years now, as in many cases (depending on your home network setup), it just works with no setup required. Over the last year I have brought it to Android TV where it has gained further popularity. I keep trying to publish it to Amazon Fire TV, but they keep rejecting it, saying that they are unable to connect to their test server. I think that their testers just don't know what they are doing, since thousands of people use it on regular Android TV and I have it installed and working on my Amazon Fire TV with no problem. No matter how many instructions I give Amazon though, they still can't get it working, so I still can't get it approved, which is a shame since the Fire TV is a bigger platform than regular Android TV.
Going forward, I am looking into adding built-in emulators to Network Browser, letting people play their old-school ROM's that are on their network using their phone or TV. I am also looking into having the app automatically download movie and tv meta data and posters for users' movie and tv collections.
What is there to say about Fart Machine? It's a stupid app, but people like it. Every few months I update it with a couple of new fart sounds.
A few years ago I pushed out a standard clone of all of the different strobe apps, and for some reason, my Strobe Light app shot to the top position in Google Play. The app is pretty popular throughout the year, but it gets huge spikes in downloads on Halloween and New Years Eve. Both holidays are coming up soon, so I expect Strobe Light to have a very good quarter.
My Planet was the first simulation game I made, and was the first game in the "My" series of games that I have since been releasing. I stole the idea from another game called Planet in a Bottle which I liked but it seemed to be abandoned by the developer. So I made a clone and added more features to it. I keep giving it small updates, but nothing major. I want to do an overhaul of the UI at some point, I just haven't gotten around to it.
Helios File Manager
My no-frills Android file management app Helios File Manager is consistently one of my top apps. There are literally hundreds (maybe even over a thousand) of file manager apps on Google Play, but I was able to boost Helios by tying it in to my PDF Document Scanner app, and now it's also (more loosely) tied in to My Colony. There isn't really much to add to Helios, but every time a new version of Android comes out I usually have to make a few changes to it so that it keeps working.
In a lot of ways, My Land is the grandfather of My Colony, since I started work on My Colony by copy and pasting major parts of the original My Land code. My Land is loaded down with hard coding though, making it pretty hard to use the engine for anything else. Over the past year I have started working on My Land again on occasion, removing a lot of the hard coding, bringing over engine improvements from My Colony, and adding new content, both free and premium. Since then, downloads and profits have increased, and My Land is now one of my top ten apps for the first time ever. I plan to continue making content updates and improvements to the game over the next year.
My Business Empire
Most of the users of My Business Empire are on iOS, and the game gets a ton of premium upgrades relative to the amount of users it has. In fact, if My Colony got the same rate of upgrades that My Business Empire does, I would probably be writing this post from my yacht. I have recently started developing My Business Empire again, and my wife has been drawing graphics of new business for me to add into the game. I also plan on adding features like bribing politicians and having to defend your business in court with lawyers.
I released Finger Paint a long, long time ago (2012 I think), and it was never one of my top apps, but now it is. I recently added the ability to purchase stickers/stamps in the app, and as a result profits have taken off. Going forward I will probably add more stamps, and I want to add the ability to add different layers to your drawings as well.
Earlier this year, I started three new games that I wanted to have completed and released before the holiday app rush: Antiquitas, Death 3d, and Level Up More. I am on track to get Antiquitas done, I will be cutting it close on Death 3d, and I have abandoned by plans for Level Up More.
Antiquitas is my first attempt at releasing a spin-off game using the popular My Colony engine. It is also going to be the largest and most complete game I have ever published (at the time of it's initial release). I usually just put out a concept and then only continue it if there seems to be interest in the project, which takes a lot of risk out of a project, since I don't have to sink a ton of time into something that nobody will play. With Antiquitas though, I have decided to take that risk for some reason. Not only have I already sunk a ton of time into the game's development, but I am also paying for help on completing some of the assets for the game in time for a holiday release. So if the game flops, I'll be out of both time and money.
Antiquitas is a city builder game that takes place in the Ancient Roman time period. The actual game mechanics are pretty much the same as My Colony, but the style and progression are a bit different. It also has more polished visuals, music, and more sound effects. Unlike My Colony which I will probably keep adding stuff to until the last player uninstalls it, I want Antiquitas to be a mostly finished game when it's released. I will continue to update it with the latest engine code from My Colony and will probably add new (mostly decorative) content on a monthly basis, but I probably wont be working on it full time like I do with My Colony. Unless it ends up being more popular than My Colony, then things can change.
As if taking a risk with sinking time into Antiquitas wasn't enough, I am also doing the same with my other new game this fall, Death 3d. I got the idea for Death 3d earlier this year when I was thinking about an old level editor I had for Doom when I was a kid. I tried to find the level editor on the web (it was called Doom E2 or Doom Easy Edit) just to play around with it, and I was unable to locate it. Then I started reading about Doom, Wolfenstein 3d, and the rendering technique called Ray Casting, and I thought it would be pretty easy to make a "3d" ray casting game using a similar technique to Wolfenstein 3d. It ended up being easier than I though, and the core engine was done in just a few hours.
Death 3d takes place (story-wise) in the same universe as several of my other games: My Colony, Deimos, End of the Earth, and Sarge. You play the role of an LIS spy who is captured and sent to a United Earth prison camp on the moon. Your goal is to escape.
It is my first attempt at a first person game, and also my first attempt at adding online multiplayer to a game. I am releasing along side it a desktop server client where anybody can host their own Death 3d online server. The game also comes built-in with it's own map editor. It features single player campaign mode, custom map single player, online multiplayer, and offline AI skirmish multiplayer.
I have no idea if anybody is going to like or play Death 3d, but I do have plans for my new 3d raycasting engine moving forward, which I will discuss later below.
Level Up More
Level Up More was a planned sequel to my game Level Up, but I just didn't have the time or desire to work on the project. Instead I plan on upgrading the original Level Up with improved graphics, music, and sound effects. I will probably also be adding new content/zones to explore.
By the end of this year, I will hopefully have both Death 3d and Antiquitas behind me and will be ready for some fresh projects. Here is what is planned in the back of my mind right now, although this is all subject to change.
One of my favorite computer games in High School was Command and Conquer Tiberian Sun, and it's long been a goal of mine to create a clone of that glorious game. I feel that the My Colony engine is almost to a point to where it can be adapted to fit that need. You can already see some of the Tiberian Sun influence in the game. Colony Wars will be a C&C type game based in the My Colony universe, and will probably reuse a lot of the My Colony graphics and concepts. It will only have one resource (Crystalline instead of Tiberium), and will feature United Earth VS League of Independent States fighting each other in a civil war. If the game is popular, there will be an expansion adding the Zolarg as a third race. It will also feature online multiplayer and come with a built-in map editor.
Wild West City Builder
If the concept of Antiquitas proves successful, I want to make another city builder game using the My Colony engine which takes place in the American old west. Don't really have a name or details in mind yet, just an idea really.
I loved the old Sim Tower game when I was a kid, and I think mobile needs one that isn't a jank nickel and dime IAP game. I'll see what I can do about it.
My Fish Bowl
This will probably be a game for younger audiences, but it will be a fish tank simulation. You build and grow your fish tank, and the game runs in the background when you are away. You can later upgrade to better fish tanks and better decorations.
Infinite 3d RPG Game
I have been toying with the idea of taking the Death 3d engine after it's complete and merging it with the engine from my Gone Rogue game to make a procedurally generated endless 3d RPG game. There will be an infinite world map that is generated on the fly as you move around, with dungeons that crop up and are also randomly generated. There will be towns and quests. The game shouldn't be too hard to make since I basically have a lot of the coding work done already between Gone Rogue and Death 3d. The Death 3d engine will need updates supporting floor and ceiling textures, but that won't be too hard. I also plan on letting the player manipulate the game world and build things. Basically just a really big open ended game.
Ape Apps Website and RP Forums
This is an ongoing project, but I will continue to work on the code behind this website and when I feel like it is far enough along I will be bringing it over to my RP Forums website.
Ape Apps Accounts
Before long I will be removing Facebook integration from all of my apps and replacing it with my Ape Apps Account service which will sync game saves and purchases across all devices. This probably wont happen until early next year though.
If you are still reading at this point, then I congratulate you. As you can see I have quite a bit of work on my plate, but I love doing my work so it's no big deal. Basically more then anything for the rest of this year, I am hoping that Antiquitas has a successful launch. I plan on doing advertising for it at launch, and all but begging My Colony players to at least download it and give it a 5 star review to help it get a good app store ranking. Success with Antiquitas should give me enough income to work on my other projects through the end of 2018. If it flops, I'll have to come up with something new.
I have noticed that a mobile game generally has a good year of growth and then kind of slowly fades away over the next few years. My Colony has already had it's peak earlier this year, but I want to keep developing on it. That means I need some other games to help make up the revenues in order to keep the lights on. A successful Antiquitas would go a long way, and a successful Death 3d would really be icing on the cake. But of course, both could also flop. You just never know what is going to happen, but such is the life of an independent developer! I'll just keep doing what I'm doing until I need to go back into the workforce and get a "real" job.
Anyway, hope you liked this writeup. If you want to see more like this just let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!
To implement #1 I'm thinking just a priority of total number of all resources still needed and then have the bots pick the lowest number. Usually I don't even care about distance: I'm using this mode mostly when I've told ten things to build but only have the resources to finish one. So no matter how far away, I want the bots to all choose the same site.
The other mode would be too pick the site that has the least number of bots already building it. In a tie, the closest wins. This is when you've told ten things to build and have enough of *most* resources except for one critical one which would hold up construction. Each both could supply the other resources to all the other buildings as needed so you're eventually left with everything done except the one "bottleneck" resource. This is when I'd switch to the other mode so they finish the remaining buildings one at a time. :)
|Helios File Manager||
Help, support, and discussion for Helios File Manager, the #1 file management application for Android devices