Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sprites vs. Portraits - Creative License

As an artist, I would like to defend the creative license required when creating sprites for characters, enemies, and bosses. But, you are the player--and your opinions are more important than mine!

So, let me make my case. It is very clear that the mediums between the two are different. Portraits (of the face, or entire body of a character) are much larger than a sprite--in this case, the sprite is anywhere from 1/4 to 1/8 the size of the portrait. Sprites a very small, and every single pixel must be used to convey the form, motion, and texture of the creature in question. A portrait is much larger, and has space for decoration, trinkets, accessories, interesting clothing and the like.

It is only natural that the sprite will be a diminished version of the portrait--both in size, and in detail. Not only are the details smaller, but many of them will simply disappear. If there is a decorative lions head on the character's shoulder pad, it is likely impossible to properly show the decoration on the sprite. If you'd like to dispute the point, try it for yourself!

The lingering question is then--should the artist create boring (you could also say simple) portraits of characters and bosses so that the accompanying sprites can match the portraits, or is it more engaging to see flashy, exciting portraits full of detail and intricacies even if much of that detail is lost as the character is boiled down into a sprite?

[[ Attached is an example of one such simple portrait and sprite. All of the details in the monster's portrait can be copied into the sprite without dropping anything. But, the desert raider wears simple garb, carries a simple weapon, and purposefully has no details that cannot be transferred. ]]

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Divergent Paths in Role Playing Games

As a gamer, I know and understand the desire to explore every inch of an RPG, to find every hidden cottage, to open every chest, smash every crate, and check every side passage just in case. If you are immersed in a story within a deep and engaging world, you do not want to miss any tidbit of information, flimsy rumor, or hidden secret. If you are excited by the tactical aspects of a game, you want to reach every level, and discover and exploit every advantage you can--just so you can destroy the opposition with that much more satisfying finesse and utter dominance.

I believe this desire is in fact a natural instinct of gamers, and one that most RPGs have catered to over the years. Such secrets, side quests, and optional distractions provided depth to a game world. This instinct often runs counter to another driving force within gamers--the desire to be able to make meaningful decisions that change the world or alter their course in a greater story.

It seems a classic problem to be caught between the two. There are games that allow the character to chose to be evil or good, and in some cases the choice feels superficial (Fable 1) where the choice affects your powers and meaningless NPC reaction, but does not alter the core story. There are games that allow the character to make choices that lead them down radically different paths throughout the game world (some of the Star Wars games)--truly branching the story. Future role playing games (the Mass Effect series) will develop this concept farther, allowing you to affect the world and its denizens in many ways, through active (directly making a choice) and passive choices (ignoring something that is happening elsewhere), brining computer gaming closer to pen and paper games, in which your ability to affect the world is paramount.

You could suggest that the answer lies in game replay. If the game is exciting and engaging enough, a player will be excited to play through the game a second time, trying the alternate courses and options until he or she has exhausted the entire world, even if it takes multiple runs.

Game play can be dry if you feel as if you are rail-roaded down a certain path. As a gamer--what is your preference? Would you rather follow a single story line and gain full access to the world in a single run, or have a real handle on changing the face of the world and your place in it, but in doing so, make certain alternative realities only accessible through replay?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Star Traders RPG v2.7

Version 2.7 is be released to Android Market!

New Features

  • New Ship Movement System
  • Smooth Map Movement
  • Combat Sound Effects
  • Music Sound Track
  • Improved Difficulty System
  • Improved Contract Difficulty
  • Improved Merchant Reputation System
  • Game Text Fixes
  • Fixes All FC

Read more:

Star Traders RPG Merchants, Reputation and Player Feedback

Star Traders RPG players have been sending excellent feedback via e-mail, on the forum and on Twitter! It is great to hear from everyone and trust me, we are hard at work to improve the game and live up to your suggestions!

Consistently recently we have received reports that Captains are confused by the behavior of some[*] neutral and faction Merchant Captains. In light of that feedback the next release will contain a revised set of rules for Merchants and Smugglers operating under a Trade Permit for a Faction.

From the Captain's point of View
  • The Captain knows he will no loose reputation by ignoring, acknowledging or retreating from merchants (if they really are merchants. Bounty Hunters with high Stealth may appear as Merchants.)
  • The Captain will see the Acknowledge button for Merchants. This button will appear in a way similar to Smugglers -- the Merchants and Smugglers want to leave the area as much as the Captain does.
From the Merchants point of View
  • The Merchant AI no longer reports any Captain who does not acknowledge Faction Authority IF the Captain's reputation is above -15
  • The Smuggler AI no longer reports any Captain who does not acknowledge Faction authority IF the Captain's reputation is above -20
  • The Merchant and Smuggler expect to acknowledge at long distance and leave the area. Any attempt to advance to closer range is a violation of Faction laws. Most Merchants will report that infraction to the Faction.

[*]The game contains many different types of each Captain (behavior, how they spend the XP, ect) for each major category.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trese Brothers Software: Listening and Acting

TreseBrothers wants to hear what you think. Our most recently released game, Star Traders Elite, has benefited so much from community feedback. The critical part here is that our dev team is not just listening to feedback, but as so many of you have noticed, we are acting, and acting quickly. In a lot of ways, a great game like Star Traders Elite was built by you, the community.

We'd like to say thank you, and invite you to comment, reach out, suggest game ideas, enhancements, and anything else you'd like to share about how to make better games. And that means games that you will enjoy more!

Monday, December 13, 2010

From the Trese Brothers Workshop: Secrets of Steel

With a great groan, the ground heaves and splits, revealing the great under-ground workshops of Trese Brothers Software...

Deep within the pit, epic music is blasting as klaxons roar to life, warning that another war torpedo launch is about to be tested. Nearer the surface, the clanging of hammers and the roar of monsters dominates the smoke-filled air. Smiths toil day and night, churning out an arsenal of deadly fantasy weapons, even as story-tellers, wise men, and witches come from the world around to weave an epic story, in an open-ended world.

We are very excited to announce our upcoming game release -- Secrets of Steel, an Android fantasy RPG set in an vast, dynamic universe. Travel an immense world, exploring and fighting back both the mystical and mundane forces of evil and tyranny. Recruit a diverse squad of companions and friends whose bonds and sacrifices define an era.

The epic prologue to Secrets of Steel is now live on KickStarter:

Do you want to be part of the Legend of Steel? Keeper of Secrets? Join our team as a backer and take part in building the next great Trese Brother's game.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trese Brothers Customer Service Policy

Google has stated that:

Over the next several days, we’ll be updating Android Market on devices running Android 1.6 or higher. We’re writing to alert you to several changes being introduced with the update that may affect your applications:

* The details page for every app will now utilize and display the app’s “Promotional Graphic” assets at the top. If you haven’t done so already, we recommend uploading “Promotional Graphic” assets for your apps as soon as possible.

* Users will be able to filter applications by content rating. If you haven’t added a content rating for your published apps, you should do so immediately at the Publisher site by December 15 -- applications or games without a rating will be treated as “Mature”.

* We will be reducing the purchase refund window to 15 minutes.

* We will be increasing the maximum size for .apk files to 50MB, from the current 25MB.


Regardless of what Google does we will continue to offer full refunds to any customers who has trouble.

We are now offering a guaranteed 48 hour refund policy for any Android Game Purchase.

Just e-mail me,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Star Traders RPG Guide: Copy Captain

The Copy Captain Feature is found under the "Roster" in the Star Traders RPG Elite game.

You can use it to play your existing Captains from Star Traders RPG in Star Traders RPG Elite.

In some ways, Copy Captain can be used as a saved game. One Beta-Tester said:
Saved Games! I can start a game on Crazy or Hard in "Star Traders RPG" and get to Level 5. I like my ship and he's in a good spot, a starting point.

I Copy Captain him to Elite and he goes off on a wild adventure and dies at level 10. Usually it is the Narvidians, I can't help myself the ships have 1000 Artifacts on them.

I delete him in Elite (or don't) and make another living copy of him at level 5, the same one from Star Traders RPG, and keep playing on Elite again.

I could even go back and try to level him up to Level 10 in RPG before I copied him to Elite. But then if I died in RPG I couldn't copy him anymore.

Star Traders RPG Guide: Smuggler & Exploration

Star Traders RPG Play Guide for Smuggler
  • Use Stockpile in Cache to Store Electronics, Weapons and Artifacts
  • Stockpile on Multiple Planets Near Independent Worlds
  • Sell Normal Trade Resources to Fund Repairs & Trade Permits
  • Empty/Sell Caches of Electronics, Weapons and Artifacts Under Shortage Rumor if possible
  • Purchase High Value Trade Resources (Electronics, Weapons and Artifacts) at Faction Worlds
  • Sell Smuggled High Value Trade Resources to Fringe Worlds
  • Recruit On Fringe Worlds for Hardy Crews
  • Get a 100+ Cargo Hold
  • Achieve 10+ Explorer (for RPG-Core Planets)
  • or Achieve 25+ Explorer (for Elite Planets)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Inspiration for Star Traders RPG

Today I notice a 3 Star Review on the "Star Traders Elite RPG" reviews (one of our first 3 stars on Elite) and it stung a little bit reading it.

"Vae victus? De valtos? Uh warhammer 40k ultramarine novels much? And no sounds -_- otherwise ok game"

I want to acknowledge that I have been inspired by great authors my entire life and Star Traders RPG wouldneverhave existed without the books I read as a child and young adult.

Settings like Dune, Star Wars, Warhammer 40K, Firefly, Issac Asimov and a whole host of unique one off words.

I am a sucker for the Space Opera and I am the first to knowledge the debt I owe to these worlds and authors.

I felt (perhaps I was wrong) that a fair way to acknowledge these greats was to include minor references -- Spice, De Valtos, Serenity class, inquisitors, artifacts, spacing guilds, syndicates, Tennath, Rychart and so forth.

I tried to keep the references subtle but I am happy to state for the record that I owe the literature that covers my bookcase -- both Java Programming Books and Frank Herbert, et al. a great deal.

- Cory

PS: Working on Sound and Music today.

PPS: Colter didn't create Vae Victus -- he got it from the same place I did, actually -- Brennus of the Gauls.

I get the review but crediting WH 40K for "Vae Victus" seems a unfair to world history and ancient literature.

Vae Victus is "Woe to the conquered (ones)" in Roman Latin.

It will make sense once "Story Mode" drops. =)

Read more:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Star Traders RPG Guide: Military Officers

Currently I feel that the key to the Military Officer lies in combining Conflict and Contract to create success. Unlike the Rumor and Resource driven Merchant/Explorer class, the Military Officer must find success in the relationships between the Syndicates and Factions.

Key Behaviors:
  • Stockpile Only Water-Fuel, Weapons and Electronics
  • Always Play for more than one team
  • Avoid Pirate Status -- Buy Pardons to Clear Pirate Flag and Most Wanted
  • Avoid Factions in Alliances (Contracts Against Them in Particular)
  • Mercenary for Any Solar War -- Go Blockade the Enemy Immediately and Sustain
  • Mercenary for Any Spy Battle -- Go Surveillance the Enemy Immediately and Sustain
  • Electronics are critical resources for Military Officers during Surveillance.
  • Weapons are critical resources for Military Officers during Blockades or any Combat.
  • Military Officer must seek Rank, Edict and Trade Permits with all friendly Factions
  • Records are critical resources because they are produced by Military Action and can be sold without Trade Permit. Records let you recover from small negative Reputation easily
  • Warrior is for Boarding. The Military Officer's best bet in combat is to get on board the enemy ship and kill the Captain in a hand to hand duel. Warrior, Weapons and Ship Boarding Action Upgrades should be a Military Officer's top priorities.
  • Sometimes I Stockpile some Artifacts in case of Jail
  • If you are playing a Capital Ship (25+ Hull) you should raise Pilot to at least 10 before taking command of a Capital Ship
  • If you are playing a Military Ship (75+ Crew) you should raise Intimidation to at least 10 before taking command of a Military Ship
  • If you are playing an Operative (Blockade/Surveillance) you should raise Tactics to at least 10 before taking to Battle at Secure Sector (Rating 7 and Above)

I find the Military Officer is at his best with a Crew armed to the teeth for whatever task is at hand. A Military Officer could sell all his capture weapons for profit and Reputation. Initial leveling and Faction Rank may grow faster, however, the Captain needs to consider the wars ahead.

Take for example the Longbow Carrier, one of the best for a traditional Military Officer. With 100 Crew and 90 Cargo during War the Captain can Cargo 25 Water-Fuel and still have space for more than 60 Weapons and 5 Luxury Rations. This configuration is Epic in Combat and Blockade.

That same configuration is a disadvantage during Surveillance. The Military Officer is attempting a complex action with a full ship and receiving no bonuses for the Cargo. Therefore, the Military Officer above strives to have at least 60 Weapons and 60 Electronics ready for use when Spy War or Solar Wars occur.

A full Cargo hold slows down the ship, increases random encounters and makes docking at civilized planets more difficult. The traditional Military Officer will offload some Weapons in a secure location before returning to HQ.

The Military Officer will be consistently doing missions for multiple Factions. While doing Blockade Missions he may take Bounty Hunter missions.

However, the Military Officer's real focus is on participation in Conflicts. Each Conflict has a different type of reward, but when used in combination they have a powerful way of elevating the Captain's standing with his Faction.

The Military Officer will be sure to maximize payment, reputation and Faction rewards for his work by ensuring that he has the appropriate Death Warrants (Edicts,) Permits and Ranks.

The Military Officer will be sure to minimize his expenses by repairing, healing and purchasing supplies at the most favorable Faction.

The Military Officer will more often than not avoid more rumors than he will attempt to reach. Rumors like open battle, shortage and so forth mean very little to the Military Officer.

However, a wise Military Officer may still find some rumors very helpful -- Weapon Surplus is one that comes to mind.

Evil Bears Updated to v1.2

While not our most popular product, Evil Bears does give Andrew and I something we enjoy -- a goofy Arcade-style game to play with. It might not be everyone's favorite, but I get a good laugh out of it from time to time.

This recent update (v1.2) still does not include the sound features I have been working on but it does include a much revised difficulty scale. I can now get past level 20 when I am playing well and scored over 10,000 points on my very best game.

I think the difficulty is getting much better now. The difficult balancing act between what is "too long" for a game and what is too short.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Star Traders RPG New Contract Types

There are two new Contract Types in Star Traders RPG 2.5.0

  • Requires Rank 1 To Take Contract
  • Best vs. Solar War Enemies
  • Easiest for Military Captains
  • Extra Bonus w/ High Rank
  • Best vs. Spy Battle Enemies
  • Extra Bonus for Death Warrant
  • Creates Valuable Record Resource

The Inhuman Humanoids

Drawing characters that are not human is an exciting challenge. The range of humanoids runs a huge gambit, from elves (just the ears!) to dwaves (short, stocky humans) to fenrians (wolfish), to any other animal you can image (snakes, lizards, foxes), to truly inhuman humanoids (golems, kupos, robots). Recently, working on an upcoming project from TreseBrothers, we have been planning the races of a fantasy RPG world based around on open-ended story. A few non-humanoid races were added to the story, and we consciously chose to stay away from near-humans (elves) and only use inhuman humanoids in really out-of-the-way or exotic situations.

Inhuman humanoids have been used in many classic fantasy RPGs. The Frog in ChronoTrigger, the Rat or eagle-men in Shining Force, Kupos throughout the history of Final Fantasy, Red XIII in Final Fantasy 7. Our upcoming project features two inhuman humanoids that can be recruited as player characters.

You either love them, or you hate them. What do think about them? Did you ditch them or play them religiously? What made one character more compelling or exciting than another? Was it because they were emotionless, their personality, their amazing artwork, or the fact that they were covered in fur?

[The attached images are NOT the two inhuman humanoids in question. Come on, a bug and a snake!?! I just like sharing some recent artwork. Check this blog on your Android phone and let me know how the images look on your device!]

Discord + New Logo

Folks - we're excited to announce that we've started a Discord server. All players, all games, all Trese Brothers, all the time. ...