Hey everyone,

Our awesome animator, Germán Gaussmann, found that having the Usonian nation’s ‘Conveyable Matter Liquefier Specialist’ (flamethrower!) unit pull out a knife for their close combat attack looked sort of awkward while holding their flamethrower, so he went ahead and made this awesome spring loaded bayonet for them!

It may not have made them deadlier (they’re already plenty deadly!), but it does make them even cooler!

Check it out:

Hey guys,

One of the cool things we’re doing in Diesel Tactics with achievements is that they unlock titles for you to use which your opponent will see when they’re playing against you.  It’s another way to customize your persona in addition to your avatar.  For example, as soon as you hit the 1800 mark for your Elo rating, you unlock the title ‘Major’.  So, if you wanted to use that title and your username was “Malaise” your name would display to other users as “General Malaise”!

There are essentially two ways to unlock titles: reaching a given Elo rating and completing achievements.  Your Elo rating works similarly to Go, Chess, or League of Legends, where the more skilled the opponent you beat, the more your rating moves up and vice versa.  Attaining certain ratings permanently unlocks titles for you to use, so you can intimidate opponents with titles only available to skilled players!

Aside from your rating, achievements that you unlock also provide you with a new title that you can use if you want.  Here’s some of the achievements that we’re looking at using as of right now, though this list is subject to change!

The format is: “Achievement Name” – What you need to do to get the achievement – “Title unlocked”

 

“First Blood” – Win a game – “Ring Knocker”

“Bug Out” – Surrender a game – “Général” (is that offensive?)

“Grease Monkey” – Field and win with an all vehicle army – “Grease Monkey”

“For the Fatherland!” – Win 5 games with Kaiserreich Nation – “Alleyman”

 

We’re going to have a ton of achievements and titles, so I think everyone should be able to find a title that they like!

If you’ve got any thoughts or suggestions we’d love to hear them, so let us know!

Hey everyone,

 

Just wanted to quickly show off a couple of the menu screens we’ve been working on for Diesel Tactics and see what you guys think of them!

 

 

Main Menu Options

This is the current main menu screen, with the options menu popped out.  The background is greyed out slightly to bring focus to the menu.

 

We’ve tried to keep all buttons one tap away to make everything easy to get to, and the pop out options menu allows us to keep the screen uncluttered when it’s tucked away.

 

 

Leaderboard

This is our leaderboard which shows users stats across all platforms, so we’re using our own custom leaderboards rather than Apple’s or Google’s.  It is currently filled with nonsense!

 

 

Achievements Screen

This is our player profile screen (showing off my wonderfully original username ‘A’) which will display achievements players have completed (and the players progress to achieving ones that they haven’t completed), their current rating (we’re using an Elo score), their avatar, and their title (‘Lancer’ in this case).

 

One cool thing we’re doing is allowing players to select their title based on ones that they’ve unlocked by completing achievements and attaining ratings.  This means that you can actually show off your achievements since your cool title instantly lets people know what you’ve done!

 

 

Army List

This is the players army list where they can choose to create or edit their armies.

 

Players will have a limited number of slots per Nation (which are like teams in games like Hero Academy, which we’ll have 2 of at launch) to build their custom armies in.

 

Similar to building a deck in a collectible card game or an army in a tabletop game like Warhammer, players in Diesel Tactics will be able to customize their armies to suit their gameplay style.

 

 

Army Creation

This is where you’ll actually be creating your specific armies to take out onto the battlefield.  You can name your army, select it’s colours, see the stats and info about the units (the text boxes are obviously incomplete, unless of course you guys like plain text overlapping the UI!), and of course select the specific units that you want to include in that army.

 

 

Store Menu Skin Packs

Finally, this is our store screen.  We’ll be offering new colours to customize your armies, new skins to completely change the look of your units, extra game slots (you can only have so many simultaneous games being played, and this allows you to increase that cap), and finally new nations, though we won’t have any available at launch since we’re still making the 2 that will ship with the game!

 

One important thing that I want to mention here is that no store purchase will give a player an advantage in the game.  Colours and skin packs are purely aesthetic, game slots just let you play more games, and new nations give you variety but all nations are going to be balanced as perfectly as we can.  We don’t want anyone to be able to buy an advantage.

 

I also wanted to mention that we’ll be offering players the ability to play as many simultaneous games as other asynchronous games do (something like 40-50) without players paying anything.  The game slots item will really just be for the most hardcore players!

 

So, that’s it for now.  Thanks for taking the time to check out our game and let me know what you guys think!

More video today from our talented animator German Gaussmann!

This time it’s the dreaded Rattenfänger Soldaten (Ratcatcher Soldier) from the Kaissereich nation!  Using new laser technology and having had one of their arms voluntarily removed to be replaced with a mechanical claw, whispers of the brutality of these new elite soldiers in the ranks of the Kaiserreich Korp have quickly spread across the warfront.

Hey everyone,

 

Just a quick post today to show off the animation reel for the Usonian nations Stove Piper unit from Diesel Tactics.  These guys are incredibly versatile as they have the ability to take out enemy vehicles while still being able to hold their own against infantry using their machine guns!

 

Here’s the vid:

 

Hey everyone,

 

I know it’s been a long time since I last gave any information about Diesel Tactics and that is largely due to the fact that we’ve had some issues with workers coming and going, which in turn has caused work to stall in several areas.

 

In general we are moving forward at a good pace at this point, with internal testing having recently begin on iOS and Android devices, and we are coming out with bi-weekly new builds.  Given that, I’m really hoping to be in beta relatively soon and that has me very excited!

 

We’ve also finally gotten back on track in the animation department by bringing on a new team member German Gaussmann who has already put out some stunning work.

 

Here’s a quick video of some of the animations for the HT-A4 “Big Willie” Heavy Armour unit from the Usonian army.

 

Today I wanted to talk about evil and being the bad guy in games. Heroes and anti-heroes are cool, but a well written villain is even cooler. Before I start though, I just want to preface things by saying I’m using ‘evil’ in a very simple, game applicable sense. I’m not really delving into the deeper philosophical definitions of what is and isn’t evil, or whether or not evil can actually exist.

I love games that give me the option to have an evil side or even to be the bad guy. That being said, I have never played a game where I really felt like I organically became the villain. By that I mean that more often than not ‘being evil’ is almost nothing more than an aesthetic choice with a few dialogue options here and there changed based on your good/evil meter, which by the way is a very outdated way to do the whole light side versus dark side thing.

I’ve intentionally used that wording as I believe the recent Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO is one of the biggest offenders of pretending to offer players moral choices. For a supposedly story driven game, the choices you made as a character basically made no difference other than whether or not you chose the jerk option from the dialogue tree or not, but then made no further impact on you or the world around you. Actually, it changed one thing: your position on the light side/dark side meter! You would need a certain number of points one way or the other to use certain powers, and that was it. Terrible game mechanic. You’d end up making choices that were against your play style or character simply to make sure you got the points for the correct side.

But even worse than the fact that the mechanic itself was intrinsically flawed was the fact that you never made a single real decision in the game. You either picked the jerk option or the nice guy option. At best that is one single choice that you made at the beginning of the game and that you’re basically just asked to verify all the time.

The reason I claim that there no decisions to be made in SW:TOR is that all of your options are either blatantly good or obviously evil. A good example is one mission where you can either give some medication to some refugees to save their lives… or not. Wait, even if I was a dark side character I would still give them the medication. I lose nothing and maybe I can sway some people ‘join the dark side’ as it were. Why would you go out of your way to make more enemies rather than possibly recruiting more followers? That’s not evil, that’s just stupid. And that was a huge problem for me; you could either be an unrealistic, altruistic, good guy or a moron. There were no evil characters, just white knights and douche bags.

You know what would have been an interesting decision in that mission? How about that you could take what little medicine you managed to salvage and hand it over to the Republic scientists who could create a vaccine to save countless future lives, but that would mean that these people right now, standing in front of you, begging you to help them and their children, well, they have to die. You don’t have enough to do both and a vaccine or cure won’t be ready in time to help them. That’s a decision. “But neither is clearly good or evil”, the game makers will cry! “However will we give them points to define their morality?”, they will plead! “Our precious, precious points…” will be the last we hear from them as their questions trail into sobbing.

Evil always has a reason, otherwise it’s just sociopathy. The greatest villains are the ones that we can relate to. The ones where we can say, “I may not agree, but I understand.” Star Wars is actually rife with these characters, and the Empire itself is not inherently evil. They just want some order to the chaos that must exist in a galaxy where you have so many species interacting with one another, all with differing goals and ethics. You can actually picture that maybe things would be worse if they weren’t there, but at the same time you think maybe they should tone it down a little. They are the father who is a little too disciplinary, but all he really wants is his child to be safe. He’s worried and he’s scared of the big, dark world out there and the thought of his child being all alone in it terrifies him. That’s what the Empire is: a reaction to fear. And all of us, to some extent, can understand that, even if we don’t agree with it.

Here’s the thing (getting back to games!), I want evil to be meaningful and quite frankly I want it to be mechanically better. The simplest way to make evil a valid option is power. Evil should be easier and better. I would love to play an MMO where the mechanics make the bad guys better than the good guys, and there is no way that I wouldn’t play a good guy in that game! I want to feel the lure of the dark side, a mechanical reason to feel jealous of what they’ve got. I want to feel outgunned by the forces of evil and I want to feel like victory is impossible. But, when it does happen, and the good guys win, it feels amazing!

And the evil in my ideal game needs to have a reason. When you go the ‘bad guy’ route there should be legitimate repercussions and your actions should leave a mark on the world. Look, you want to start a mining colony somewhere? Good guys make deals with local governments and pay workers fair wages, resulting in less profit for themselves, meaning less ability to fund the war effort. Bad guys? Bad guys just enslave the local population and annihilate anyone who stands in their way. No deals, no wages, maximum profit, which equals more power! More soldiers, better training, advanced weapons, and quite frankly the element of fear on their side. But the players have to live with that choice. That game world now has an enslaved population that they made that way, because they wanted to be more powerful. But, if the good guys can somehow free that population, well, you probably have a lot of recruits pretty eager to sign up for the good guys!

If there’s no advantage to being evil in a game, and then you play that way anyway, well I hate to break it to you, but you’re just a dick. To reiterate: not evil, just dick. Which is basically a 13 year olds definition of evil. As you get older you (should) realize that there are always reasons for the things that people do. And, if you give them a chance to explain, you might even find yourself sort of agreeing with them.

On the left side, a villain. On the right, a dick.

On the left side, a villain. On the right, a dick.

Well, that’s my thoughts on evil (or lack thereof) in the current gaming scene, but I did also want to mention quickly that in The Elder Scrolls Online beta I encountered a mission early on that actually gave me a bit of a moral dilemma to solve, with no option being 100% good or evil. I won’t say more since there’s an NDA on the beta. Oh, and if Bethesda wants to come after me for just saying that, then I think they might be the evil ones in this scenario…

I’m Canadian and as a Canadian I love hockey. I play hockey as much as I can (3 or 4 times a week) and, though I have watched less hockey since the last lockout dampened my enthusiasm somewhat, I do watch my hometown Montreal Canadiens as much as possible.

I think that hockey is the greatest sport in the world, with more creativity and elegance than anything else, and a skill level that goes way beyond all others. I think you need to play hockey to truly understand what makes it so wonderful, which is why I believe it’s difficult for people who don’t have local outdoor skating rinks to get into the game the same way us fanatics from the frozen nations do.

A lot of Canadians feel the same way that I do about hockey, and that’s why this winter Olympics at Sochi was such a wonderful opportunity for us as a nation to say to the world that we think that the rights of human beings everywhere are more important than a game. The open oppression of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered is just not okay, and I kind of thought that most Canadians felt that way as well. But I call bullshit on all of our liberal posturing and equality touting social messages, as we as a country can’t even stand up for what we (supposedly) believe in if it means we don’t get to play a damn game. It’s embarrassing and it’s pathetic. The Olympics are meaningless. They are games. We are talking about choosing to play a game over choosing to stand up for what we think is right.

This was Canada’s best chance to actually send a message that people might notice on the global scene, and we were completely called out on our hypocrisy.

I also wanted to add that I think it’s extra sad that two players from my beloved Habs (P.K. Subban and Carey Price) are going to be playing in the Olympics and I will forever think less of them for this. I know it doesn’t matter to them, but while they are on the team it will just be hard to really root for them.

And to those that argue that these athletes have spent all their lives (oh, and by the way, my tax money!) training for this event, I would say that that is the whole point! It’s really easy to stand up for what you “believe in” when there’s no price to be paid for standing up, and if you compromise those beliefs the moment that any cost comes with having them, then did you ever really have them? Do Canadians really give a crap about the rights of all our fellow human beings, or are we full of it? It’s certainly looking like the latter.

And further, for those athletes and Olympic attenders who have the nerve to pretend to support the LGBT community by ‘daring’ to adorn themselves with rainbow colours and to wave their rainbow flags: you can fuck right off. You are such damn hypocrites I don’t understand how you can physically stand it. You are supporting oppression financially while trying to save some sort of dignity by purporting to be against that same evil. No, you don’t get to do that. You are human garbage and no amount of rainbow flags are going to make you smell nice.

I wanted to end by mentioning one of the great pioneers of computer science and artificial intelligence: Alan Turing. Turing was one of the fathers of modern computing as well as having worked to crack German ciphers during WWII. In return, he was prosecuted by his own government in 1952 for being homosexual. He was forced to undergo chemical castration in lieu of a prison sentence. He committed suicide in 1954 at the age of 41. In 2009 the British government apologized for the way they treated him, but my feeling on this is who gives a shit? It’s too damn late. Maybe someone should have said or done something at the time.

And now, here we are again. Doing nothing. Openly supporting a country that oppresses a huge part of their own population. A group of people that we clearly don’t see as equal to us.

Let me pose this question: if the laws against homosexuality in Russia were instead levelled at blacks, would Canada (or your country) be attending the Olympics? I think most of us would say that we certainly hope not. Why then are we okay when a different group of people are being oppressed that similarly had no control over the very thing they are being oppressed for?

I think I’ll end things here with one of my favourite quotes, which is often attributed to Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Oh, and sorry for the bad language in this post, but I’m a little mad and sometimes a good cussing can help.

 

Diesel Tactics leans towards the more complex side of the complexity scale for mobile games.  Right away this takes away from its potential audience most of the huge “casual gamer” sector of the mobile gaming community.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing though as I know a lot of developers who see those huge numbers and think it’s crazy not to try to get a piece of that pie, but the problem that I see with that is that despite it being the largest audience numerically it is also the most hotly contested.  I would rather have a bigger chunk of a more niche audience than to just throw my hat into the “casual” ring simply because of their numbers.

 

More importantly is that I don’t really want to make a casual game right now.  Maybe one day, as there’s nothing inherently wrong with casual games, but right now it’s not the kind of game that I want to make.  I could go into a diatribe on making games for money versus making games for profit, but I’m not really interested in that discussion, so I’ll digress.  The end result is that narrowing my market is not really my main concern while I’m working on Diesel Tactics.

 

What is one of my top concerns is whether or not it’s fun.  And here’s my general rule about complexity and fun in games: more complex = less fun.  Now, much of the time the complexity that exists within a game is required to bring the intended experience to the player, so in essence it’s a necessary evil.  It might detract slightly from the fun, but there would be no fun at all without it as the game couldn’t exist.

 

That being said, I often feel that there are some games that I would absolutely adore if it weren’t for one or two systems in place that I just felt made things unnecessarily complicated.  It’s not that they didn’t add anything to the game, but they just didn’t add enough to it to make it worthwhile.  There are certainly some extra systems that were originally on the table for Diesel Tactics that I decided to scrap.  Not because they were bad systems, but because they didn’t add enough fun to a game that was already complex enough.  We might add these systems in one day if we have enough of a player base who understand the game, but for now they are staying on the drawing board.

 

Diesel Tactics still has some reasonably complex concepts like a deep cover system (light and heavy cover elements, some terrain pieces blocks line of sight and some don’t, units block line of sight so you can protect rear units with front line troops, and more), but I feel that it both adds to the strategy of the game more than it detracts from its fun with its difficulty and also that I believe that it eventually becomes intuitive and players can just get a feel for cover levels by looking at the battlefield.

 

You can't just shoot through this guy!

You can’t just shoot through this guy!

 

The game also features army building, which isn’t that complicated a concept in general, but adds so much depth to the game that it could be off putting to new players.  While we will have default armies to give players an idea of good composition, there will obviously be better troop mixes to suit an individuals play style and if they don’t figure these out it could be quite frustrating for a player.  Once again I feel that this complexity adds so much more to the game than it detracts that it’s a great thing to have.

 

As much as I like these systems (and the rest that made the final cut), I absolutely understand that each one I incorporate leads to a more and more niche target audience as I will certainly lose players who don’t like some of these things or simply don’t get it.  I think (hope!) that will work out though, as if the game is as good as I think it will be, then those people in that niche will appreciate what we’ve made and will support it.  Again, a large piece of a small pie, but it’s a pie I want to make.  And eat.  Pie analogy over.

Diesel Tactics is an asynchronous turn based game, so players take their turn and then pass the play over to their opponent who can take their turn whenever they have the time.  Anyone who has played Words With Friends, Draw SomethingHero Academy, or other similar titles will know this system quite well.  The setup works well because it allows more complex games where turns can take a long time to be able to be played in short playing sessions because you never need to wait for your opponent to go and you can also take as long as you like (basically) to take your own turn.  This is a “You Go – I Go” system.

 

What Diesel Tactics does that is a little different from many of these games is it divides a game turn into separate parts, and includes a “We Go” section which is similar to the standard asynchronous setup except that both players input their turn, but the actions are executed simultaneously, thus the name “We Go”.

 

A game of Diesel Tactics starts with the “Deployment Phase”.  When you create a game the battlefield loads up and the units in your selected army are displayed across the bottom of the screen.  You select one unit at a time and place them in any square in your deployment zone, which is a set of spaces near your board edge.  Once you’ve placed your units and confirmed your setup, the game will be sent to your opponent for them to do the same.  Your opponent will not see your unit placement until after they have completed their deployment.

 

One player is randomly selected to take the first “Movement Phase” and this player will move their units as they wish and then confirm this phase.  Play will then be passed asynchronously to the other player who is shown the movement of the first player and then they can move their units in response.  Upon confirming their movement, this player will immediately be brought to the “Combat Phase” and they can enter their combat orders.

 

The thing to note about the “Combat Phase” is that each attack will have odds of success and the result of these attacks will not be known until after both players have entered their combat orders.  So, player A will select which troops they want to attack which enemies and then the game will wait until player B takes their turn and enters their attacks.  Once both players have entered their combat orders, the combat phase will be executed in order of the units Initiative statistic.  It doesn’t matter who enters their orders first or second, as this is a “We Go” phase and all attacks are executed simultaneously.

 

The end of the “Combat Phase” is also the end of the overall turn, and the next turn begins with the player who moved second in the last round now going first.

 

Players can either play a standard game where they can have a bunch of games going on at the same time which have multi-day turn time limits, or they can start up a timed game where they only have a minute or so to enter their turn, which in essence creates a live game.

 

So you can see that Diesel Tactics is similar to games like Hero Academy, except that each turn is divided into a movement part and an attacking part, rather than having them combined and doing them all at once.  Legitimately this makes Diesel Tactics a little more complicated than the average asynchronous turn based game, but that’s because it’s meant to be a little more complex as this allows it to have more meaningful, varied, and deep gameplay, which is something I think is sorely lacking on the app stores.  Our goal is to keep things simple enough so that turns don’t take forever and so that the complexity actually adds something to the game, while still having just a little more depth to give the player a better experience and a more personalized game.