Thursday, March 31, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.6.5 Released

A new version of the Star Traders RPG has been uploaded to the Android Market!

  • Removed turn limits on several awards
  • Fixed Naming for "omni-stealth array"
  • fixed omni-stealth array effects in orbit
  • fixed trade with water tank
  • fixed loot with water tank
  • Added 3 new merchants
  • Added 2 new smugglers
  • Fixed enslave button for less than 5 Crew
  • Added new "executed" screen that explains death reason
  • (did NOT fix ship-to-ship dry dock with DUAL water tanks)
As usual, there is a forum page about the update:

System Depth VS Simplicity

In game design, what is your preference--a simple and easy to understand system that has a limited, but obvious number of ways to affect it, or a complicated system with a great deal of depth and many little handles you can grab and twist in different ways to steer the result?

When designing game systems, some consideration has to be given as well to the skill and experience of the player, within the system. For a shorter, casual game, or for a first time player of the game, it is important the system does not feel overwhelming and that the complexity loom like a monster and chase the prospect away. However, the long-term, dedicated gamer wants the system to continue to unfold with complexities, new twists, extra details that were previously uncovered and tactical challenges so that he or she can constantly strive to conquer it again and again in new ways, or on new ground.

We are building new systems all the time now. Health, damage, ranging, weapon costs and parameters... There is a great spectrum between simplicity VS depth. Got any advice for us, or thoughts you'd like to share?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.6.4 Released

The release of v3.6.4 is in final testing and about to be uploaded to the Android Market for Star Traders RPG Elite and RPG Free!

As usual this release includes a number of basic bug fixes, removed FC and improving the map system and avoiding freezes and memory leaks.

The Alien Hunt
The v3.6.4 release of Star Traders builds on the war between the human factions and the Narvidian and Alien creatures that stalk the quadrant. Many Captains (just read the forums) have faced the Alien scourge and among them are a select few veterans, scarred warriors with knowledge of the vile beasts.
  • Added New Officer (Alien Hunter)
  • New Officer Recruit on Wilderness Zone
  • Alien Hunter is Elite Edition Only
  • 6 New Alien Captains AI
  • 3 New Fearsome Alien Ships
  • $25,000 Credit Bonus for Alien
  • $250,000 Credit Bonus for Alien w/ Alien Hunter
Unlocking Content with Awards
A favorite feature among RPG games is unlockable optional content and abilities. This release brings several new content unlocks to existing awards:
  • Ships of Power -- Hero of the Syndicates
  • Ships of Honor -- Hero of the Clans
  • Rapid Contracts II -- Smuggler Officer Special Ability

The Ships of Power and Honor
For the "Hero of the Syndicates" Awards on Crazy difficulty there is a new, unique, Faction-specific ship to be found (one available for each Syndicate.) Likewise with the "Hero of the Clans" Awards on Crazy difficulty the player will unlock three new unique ships, each specifically designed to match the Faction from which it can be purchased.

These unique "Power" and "Honor" ships are not seen in random combats and can only be purchased by the player after completing the necessary unlocks.

The Smuggler Officer
For the player who likes executing Contracts and smuggling, there is a new unlockable ability for the Smuggler Officer. By completing Rapid Contracts III on Crazy difficulty, the Smuggler Officer gains the ability to protect 1 Package or Passenger Contract from seizure or execution during a Warship Search.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

"Destroy this criminal hiding at the dreary DeValtos Star Dock. He has transgressed against House Thulun and must be destroyed in a spectacular manner. While his ship burns against the blackness of space, please also read in a dramatic fashion, a litany of his crimes against House Thulun and by extension, humanity."

Read more:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.6.3 Released

  • Fixes FC on Main Map
  • Fixed FC in Contract Offer
  • Fixes Map Freeze Issue
  • Trade may end shortage
  • Trade may end surplus
  • Trade may increase ban length
  • Contracts Where Reputation too Low for Palace go to Spice Hall
  • Contracts Where Reputation too Low for Stardock go to Spice Hall
  • Improved Time Consumption System for Star Dock
  • Improved Time Consumption System for Trade Exchange
  • Improved Trade Reputation Curves and This
  • Improved Torpedo Accuracy for Aft Upgrade
  • Improve Contract Payment for Palace
  • Improved Contract Payment for Military Base
  • Improved Shortage Pricing
  • Improved Shortage Quantities
  • Fixed Dry Dock Transfer Bugs with Water-Fuel/Water-Tank
  • Fixed Dry Dock Force Close
  • Improved Sector Dock Reputation Curves
Read more:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trese Brothers Software on Amazon!

The Amazon App Store has launched and Trese Brothers Software was there on day 1!

Have you ever wanted another copy of Star Traders RPG? Here is your chance to buy another copy.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Secrets of Steel - Can't Get Enough

Here at Trese Brothers Software, we simply can't get enough game development! Over the last five months, there has been an out-pouring of community support, amazingly active forums, gamers offering tons of help, and the sheer enjoyment of creating games that people love to play.

We look forward to working with all of you awesome gamers and fans as Secrets of Steel and other Trese Brother projects are revealed to the market! Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.6.1 Released

Forum Bug Reports:
- Acknowledge Button
- Rep Loss / Rank Loss Death
- Massive Rep Loss Cap
- Trade Records / Trade of Records Exploit
- Need More Skill / Depth on Smuggler (Tactics/Negotiations)

Normal Bugs:
- Ship Change Routine Fixed
- Some Force Closes Fixed
- Filters "Combat Intro" Conflicts
- Fixed Ship to Ship Transfer Bugs
- Improved Dry Dock Data Performance
- Improved Supply / Demand System for Capital World

Read more:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Improving Great Things - Like Dracula or King Arthur

In response to the newest upgrade of Star Traders, there was a post on the forum:

"Great to see a good thing like this not getting abandoned but instead being continually improved."

Star Traders RPG is a project built on constant hard work, user feedback, and a desire to create great video games. It is very exciting and motivating to see this appreciated on both side of the coin--the community and gamers love it, and the development and artistic teams are rapt in the fury of creation.

Under that poetic description, it is simply hard word, sweat, blood, and sleepless nights that keeps a project like Star Traders cranking along.

Another project by which I have been continually impressed, owned by an artist who has a similar hard working approach, is "Dracula vs. King Arthur" ( ). Check it out. It is updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a new page like clock work. Much like Star Traders RPG, it is a product built on the creative fury of the team behind it, and I believe that shines through. Check it out!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.6.0 Released

- Ship To Ship Cargo Transfer
- Rumor Type Balance Returned to ORIGINAL v1.5 levels
- Increased All Economic Factors
- Tons of New Ships
- Improved Character Class Special Abilities
- Improved Spice Hall Rumors
- Improved Performance
- Fixed Award Bugs
- New Game Improved
- New Ship Icon
- Updated Bonus for Electronics/Weapons on lower difficulties
- Fixed Image Display Margins on toasts
- Improved Option Page Performance
- Improved Upgrade Page Performance

What is coming up:

- Player Bases
- Full Urban Zone Trade View
- More Space Hazards
- More Upgrades
- More Ships
- Diplomacy
- Manual By Elizabeth & Crew
- Hardware Acceleration in Honeycomb

Read more:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

People of Laenfall - Facial Studies

[ The people of Laenfall, the world of Secrets of Steel, are wide and varied. Much like previously posted monster collages, this is a set of sketches of many of the people you might meet across the expansive world. I will repost as some painting bring these friends and foes to life! ]

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.5.7 Released

Star Traders RPG has been updated on the Android Market once again.

This is a critical bugfix release and I encourage everyone to upgrade for maximum ST RPG joy.

  • Fixed Mutiny Bugs
  • Fixed Acknowledge Button Defect
  • Added 2 New Ship Images
  • Improved Serpent's Tooth image
  • New Ship Designs
  • Bold Battle Stations button
  • Alliance Summary on Combat Introduction
  • Crew Loss Toasts
  • Improved Pricing on High Population Worlds
  • Improved Water-Fuel Generation
  • Fixed Bugs with Orientation Lock and Keyboards
  • Faction Specific Ships in Encounters
  • Faction Specific Ships in Military Base
  • 6 New Attack Shuttles
  • 6 New Defender Class Corvettes
  • 18 New Faction Pilots
  • Fixed Rank Pricing on Impossible
  • Improved Fuel Use Curves (more fuel) on Insane & Impossible
  • Increased Pirate AI on Crazy - Impossible
  • Reduced Bounty Hunter AI on Normal - Basic
  • Improved Armor Soak vs. Ram
  • Improved Armor Resistance for Battle Prow

Read more:

Have you seen the Story Teller?

I heard the StoryTeller is a man, but others have said she is a woman. One young man I met claimed he met her in the woods while he was walking, and that she was a one-eyed hag of terrible power. He said her words bent his sword into a heap of slag when he tried to challenge her. He said her one eye saw as well as three.

Don't Wikipedia it--you won't find it there in the listings. A friend--who I haven't seen since--told me that the some write it as StoryTeller because its not a man or a woman. That the StoryTeller lives out here somewhere in cyberspace, flitting in and out of the great data centers of New Boston.

The most credible account I have heard is that he is just an old man who runs the old steam train between here and there. He runs the Engine with an ease that lets you know he was born to do it, and that he'll do it till he passes. If you're lucky, he might call you into the Engine room from the station platform, and fill your head with stories while the old steam train chugs to there, or to here, whichever way you are heading.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Star Traders - The Race is On!

As both Star Traders and Star Traders Elite near big review milestones, the race is on! Star Traders RPG is about to cross 3,000 reviews (2965) and Star Traders RPG Elite nears 2,000 (1933).

Star Traders RPG Elite is looking like it will take a near second to the big milestone.

Come on! Go! Go!

[ Help us out, and review either Star Traders game and drive them up over these important milestones in comments! ]

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Artistic Review - Wacom Bamboo "Fun" Tablet

When I chose to re-join the artistic community a few months ago as a Art Director behind the Trese Brother's Software's creative vision, I was faced with a steep learning curve. I had never used a tablet before, and had only junior experience and exposure to digital painting, Photoshop, and the whole lot.

Obviously, to start, I new that I needed a Wacom tablet. The brand name seems synonymous with a digital artist's workspace, and the only brand I knew. Everyone has one--I should get one too! They are not prohibitively expensive, but they do run into the hundreds of dollars.

As a constant traveler, I knew I needed something small. As a constant traveler, I needed something durable. And since few computer parts are truly durable, and I had never used Wacom before, I wanted something cheap. Because, I knew I was pretty likely break it within 6 months of buying it, I choose the Bamboo tablet from Wacom. Its small, has a very limited feature set, supports a limited amount of sensitivity, and generally does not stack up to the other tablets.

However, I would highly recommend the Bamboo to myself. Because of my travel, because of my hard demands on hardware, and because of my burgeoning level artistic talent, it was perfect for me. The tablet has been all across the US, to Europe and back, has scars and scratches around its edges, and is still as good as new.

So, in summary:
  • Its tough
  • Its cheap
  • Its tiny (and portable)
  • It gets the job done, even if it doesn't have all the extra features and power

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Secrets of Steel - Monster Variety

[The variety of dangerous duelists, spirits, and mythical beasts grows daily... Here is a completed monster collage for Secrets of Steel from a post last week!]

Monday, March 7, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.5.5 Released

The newest version of Star Traders RPG, v3.5.5, has been uploaded to the Android Market!

Changes and Improvements in v3.5.5
  • Orientation Bug Fixed
  • Ship Pricing Fixed
  • Improved Ship Pricing for "Star Trader" Character Class
  • Pardon Pricing Fixed
  • Improved Pardon Pricing for "Captain" Character Class
  • Added "Ignore" Action to Combat Intro Page
  • Added "Status" Action to Combat Intro Page
  • Store Cache Location in Log When Cache Created
  • Dry Dock Button Refreshes After Ship Sales
  • Spy War Toast Improved
  • Trade War Toast Improved
  • Better Android 3.0 Performance
  • Reduced Zoom Map Crashes
  • Fixed All FC Reported to Google
  • Fixed 2 Bugs/Logs Sent Via E-Mail

A Question - Mobile Gaming Continued

A follow up question!

The refund policy on the Android market has changed drastically in the last few months. There was a time when any of us could download a game and usually play it to completion within 24 hours if we wanted. If not to the end of the game, long enough to know if we were getting our money's worth (see yesterday's post).

With a 15 minute window, I am more squeamish about purchasing games, and especially those with notable after-install downloads, because I know you basically get one shot and a few minutes to decide if you like it.

What are the factors you are watching to decide if you want to refund in the first 15?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Question - Mobile Gaming - How do You get Your Money's Worth?

What is it about a mobile game that makes it worth the money? The cost, and more importantly, patterns and length of play are radically different from the normal video game. As is the accessibility and times at which you can use your mobile. And while I have no research to back it up, I can tell that the demographic is also much more widely spread than the traditional VG.

In a emerging genre of games that is fighting to take center stage, how do You (yes, you!) get your money's worth? When, as a Star Traders RPG fan commented, a new game costs less than a cup of coffee, how do you know that you got enough for your money? Is it time played, amount of fun, hours invested, replay-ability, the fact that you can come back to it months later and still be engaged? When there is an XBox or iPad a few feet away, as some Star Traders RPG fans have commented, and they find themselves sitting with their Android trying to take the galaxy by storm on what some have described as "amateur graphics" ...

How does that compare to a cup of coffee? I usually down a cup of coffee in 10 minutes or less (or it gets cold), and I am still trying to put Star Traders RPG down after 3 months, ... it just stays hot!

Are there certain genres you gravitate toward? Do you play casual, and keep the games around on your phone? Do you delete and check back in months later?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.5.1 Released

The newest release of our Star Traders RPG Android game is available on the Google Android Market!
  • New Memory Manager
  • Fixes Reported FC
  • Much Faster Map
  • Fixes Duplicate Officer
One of our most commonly reported game crashes is the dreaded "out of memory error" and this release represents the culmination of several weeks of work to refactor the ST:RPG memory and bitmap managers to be more efficient. Hopefully the results will be a dramatic improvement in performance for low memory devices -- and a complete elimination of OOM errors (bold statements!)

Friday, March 4, 2011

To the Fringes of the Quadrant - Translating Star Traders

Star Traders has always had a strong international audience, which could be surprising as it is a game that involves a lot of text and numbers and could be hard to play if that content was not in your native language. However, there has been a growing international community, dominated by Russian, Italian, and Spanish speaking users.

In order to share the Star Traders universe more fully with these communities, we embarked on looking for translators to help us bring the gaming experience to our largest communities in their native language.

In our search, we found and have started using, a (currently) free, online, collaborative translation platform. Excitingly enough, it can taken native Android string libraries and hand them off to translators. For anyone out there considering translation, we'd like to share that our initial interactions and projects with this community of translators has been exciting and successful, and we'd recommend it as a powerful platform.

Here is the project site URL:

Joining is free and easy. Just follow the links.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.5.0 Released

A major release of Star Traders RPG has been upload to the Android Market!

This one is of particular pride for me because it contains two of the most commonly requested features:
  • Resume Move
  • Take All Explorer
  • Take All Harvester
And it is our first application certified to work on Android 3.0 Honeycomb and the Motorola XOOM. Along with those major improvements we fixed a number of bugs and added other improvements like:
  • Better Explain Encounter Flags
  • Improved Performance of Main Map
  • More Descriptive Toasts for Conflicts

The forum has a discussion thread that is dedicated to the Star Traders RPG v3.5.0 Release and is a great place to post questions!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Star Traders RPG v3.4.11 Released

New Star Traders RPG release has been uploaded to the Android Market:

This release includes the following changes:
  1. New "Orientation Lock" Option
  2. New Rapid Zoom Map Depart Option
  3. Improved $$$ @ Military Base Contract
  4. Scaled Torp Damage by Difficulty
  5. Enabled Torp Rearm from Enemy Ships
  6. Spy Toast for Buy Rumors Exhausted

Secrets of Steel - Families and Communities of Enemies

To continue the discussion around exciting enemies in tactical RPGs (or any RPGs) it seems important to, at times, challenge the characters with families or societies of enemies. Rarely do civilized or sentient creatures stand alone in the world, without assistance, friends, or a community.

Such a family of enemies have the advantage of providing a set of monsters that have different strengths, abilities, and weaknesses, but are obviously interconnected. They often fight together, in different configurations, leading to different sets of challenges or changes in game tactics.

In addition to creating a exciting set of tactical battles, such communities of monsters assert the reality of these creatures within the world. Otherwise, the character might be scratching their head wondering why every ogre fights with a giant club... don't they have war leaders, shamans, scouts, hunters, and the like? My society does--what wrong with these creatures? Without the lack of an enemy community behind a sentient creature (or some other good explanation, such as a solitary spirit or mythical beast that spurns contact with its own kind), you may not come away from the fight as immersed in the fantasy world as you went in.

Thoughts, comments?

[The following collage contains some of the images of a enemy community with the Clouded Range mountains in Secrets of Steel. As a scourge of the isolated mountain passes, ogres will appear in 5-6 varieties and wield a variety of special abilities and magic--from shamans to bearshirts, to some ogres who have mastered and command a native and deadly mountain beast, the shiggroth hounds. As with other collages, I will post more progress here to the blog! I find this sharing activity very motivating!]

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hardcore Games - You're Going to Die

Did you ever play Diablo II on Battlenet? I certain did. I admit to having a bit of addiction at that time to clicking wildly and crushing hellspawn for hours on end. Did you ever play Star Traders RPG? I certainly have. I admit to playing hours upon hours, rampaging the galaxy as a dread pirate, barely escaping bounty hunters and warships until death catches me, or surveying the galaxy, looking for ancient lost artifacts and eventually dying of multiple lost eye balls, hacked arms, and parasitic worms.

What compelled me to love and laud these games above many others? Diablo II had a term (and I can't remember if it was official, or player coined) that there was normal Diablo II and then there was Hardcore. In Hardcore mode, if you died once, you died forever. That same rule applied to your level 8 rogue who was trying to grind too fast or to your level 70 paladin who got caught in a bad mob of monsters or was doomed only because of a sudden surge of network lag. And the Trese Brothers Software lost a lot of level 70 characters back in the day. But, we kept coming back for more punishment.

Star Traders RPG is built on the same principles. You are a heroic or infamous captain, cruising the Quadrant and executing daring, crazy, or cunning moves to get rich, famous. But, as I saw on the forum once, "the world will grind you down and then you will die." You will eventually die. It's going to happen, just like in Diablo II, you can keep climbing but you will eventually end up in a bloody pile in the dust.

For me, the hook was this: your story, your suffering, and your trials are epic and compelling. You have never died, your story is a single running thread. Letting the computer kill you, and then respawning strips all that legendary away. I'd rather die a legend, I'd rather know I was going to die and keep pushing through and striking mighty blows until the end comes. It smacks of Norse mythology as well, in which the gods were told of the end of the world, in which man recognized death was inevitable, and both chose to stride forward with courage, for that was all that could be done.

As a game, without the Hardcore mode, I would never have gotten into Diablo II multi-player. But, hardcore hooked me just like so many other harsh worlds, genres, books and games. In the same way that I love my pen-and-paper RPGs to be brutal, realistic and unforgiving, I find that aspect undeniably addictive in computer games. Read George RR Martin, Melaine Rawn, go back and find a copy of Diablo II (Battlenet is still running!!!) or try your hand as a captain in Star Traders RPG, and get ready to have your heart ripped out as your characters triumph and fall. But oh how you will love it!

But that is what makes a legend. Legends are written in blood.