Category Archives: Mecha Ace

Steam Summer Sale Bundles Available Now

summer_sale

Some of you may have already noticed that Steam is currently having their annual Summer Sale.

What you may not know is that Choice of Games has put up its entire catalogue on sale at a 25% discount. On top of that, they’ve put all of my currently published work up in a series of bundles, which are discounted even further.

That means you can get a bundle consisting of Mecha Ace and The Hero of Kendrickstone or one made up of Sabres of Infinity, and its sequel, Guns of Infinity for a total of 44% off!

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up any of those titles, now would probably be the best chance to nab them.


Mecha Ace out on Steam!

Mecha Ace is now available for purchase and download on Steam!

This is kind of a huge deal for me, because I’m mostly a PC gamer, as are most of my friends: Steam is the “big one” when it comes to digital distribution platforms for me, and it’s really cool to see something I’ve made up there.

That being said, for those of you out there who don’t have Mecha Ace yet, now would be the perfect time to pick it up: it’s currently 34% off on Steam and will remain on sale until the 12th.


Mecha Ace Update, and What’s Coming Up Next

It’s now been little more than five weeks after the release of Mecha Ace, and I’m proud to say that it appears to be doing really well. Despite a few pesky bugs on release, Mecha Ace has gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews on all three of its release platforms, and I’m almost certain that Choice of Games has recouped every single dollar of their investment into this interactive fiction of mine.

Updates are still ongoing, and I will continue to work on new bugfix patches for as long as new bugs are being reported. That being said, the bugfixing process is only taking up a miniscule fraction of my time.

So what’s next?

Before I’m able to direct my full attention to any other projects, I need to tie up the remaining loose ends I’ve accumulated over the years. First among these is Master of Fortresses 2. Development slowed down dramatically while I was writing Mecha Ace, but I’ve been able to put a great deal more time and effort into it since Mecha Ace’s release. So far, I’ve made exceptional progress, and over the past week or so, I’ve been opening up what I have right now to a small group of testers.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to put up some long-awaited gameplay footage from a thoroughly tested and balanced version of the first level, sometime this week.


Mecha Ace is Out!

Title_Screen_Finished(L)

Well, the day’s finally here: Mecha Ace is out in the iOS app store, Google Play store and the Chrome Webstore.

Clocking in at 230 000 words, this interactive fiction is pretty much the largest and most ambitious project I’ve ever done. I hope that everyone enjoys the story, setting, and characters I’ve put together over these past few months.

You can get Mecha Ace for your Android device here, for your iPhone or iPad here, and for Google Chrome here*

 


Mecha Ace Q&A: Part Three

With Mecha Ace’s release imminent, it’s time for me to post the third, and final section of my Q&A thread on the Choice of Games forums. I hope these sections have answered any questions you might have about my upcoming interactive fiction.

Sneaks asks:
Precisely what caused CoDEC to rebel?

A:
There’s no one real reason, but there are a few major causes. Foremost is the Imperial government’s moratorium on new colonies, preventing those living on the frontier from expanding in search of new resources. Almost as important was the Imperial government’s refusal to allow colonial governments to field their own armed starships, meaning that any piracy on the frontier could only be answered by armed industrial armatures based from space colonies (which would have very limited range), or pleas to the Imperial military for aid, which could take weeks, or even months to arrive, if at all. In addition, there was the Imperial government’s insistence on favouring corporations based in Sol or its core systems, which obviously did not sit well with corporations based in the frontier, which had become very powerful during the initial colonisation of the outer worlds (who were also straining against the moratorium). Lastly, there was the fact that while most major colonies had instantaneous FTL communications via very large and expensive ansible facilities, the comm channels were all-but monopolised by the Imperial government (never mind that the ansibles themselves were funded and built at the Empire’s expense), mostly to micromanage the various Planetary Assemblies, which had nominal power, but whose authority could be overridden by any member of the Empress’ court. 

On top of that, there are already been minor rebellions and civil unrest. Generally, the Imperial response has been demanding that the “traitors” (who are often not even aware that they’ve been labeled such) to surrender, publicly executing the ones who do surrender, and saturation-bombing the areas where any suspected rebel holdouts are hiding.

Needless to say, this has not made them very popular.

Nocturnal_Stillness asks:
Will there be a chance to sacrifice one of your squad to take down a particularly tough foe? For example shooting through them to lower the chances the enemy can dodge?

A:
Yes, and unless you can convince the others that it was necessary, the survivors *will* call you out on it afterwards.

WulfyK asks:
How old will the [player character] be?

A:
The player character will start the game at an indeterminate age, but hints in the text imply that the player character is somewhere in his or her late 20s.

Ramidel asks:
You mean that we aren’t random teenagers who just fall into the cockpit and proceed to become the best pilot in the history of war?

Heresy.

A:
That was actually something I took a look at when I started writing Mecha Ace: I came to the conclusion that with a teenaged protagonist in this sort of setting, the player’s agency would either be heavily curtailed, or the setting would have to bend over backwards to accommodate things that a fifteen year old kid couldn’t get away with. In short, it’d be a story about growing up, and that wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in: watching someone else grow up through the traumatic stresses of the battlefield can be a rewarding experience, playing through that process would cut off a lot of options.

That being said, there are characters in those same series who do have more unrestricted freedom to act, and often drive the plot by acting more than reacting, ones with a lot more power and responsibility over the lives of their fellow pilots than the teenage protagonist does. In short, I came to the conclusion that while it’s fun to watch Amuro, it’d be more fun to play Char, so to speak.

Mecha Ace releases the day after tomorrow.


Mecha Ace Q&A: Part Two

As promised, here are some more highlights from my Question-and-Answer thread on the Choice of Games forums, regarding the story, characters and setting of my upcoming interactive fiction, Mecha Ace.

Havenstone asks:
What is gained by making the war machines humanoid? Doesn’t the humanoid form introduce inefficiencies that will lead to the downfall of whichever army is the last to ditch its sentimental attachment to bipedalism? 

A:
I’m actually glad you asked this one. The main reason for this is the introduction of orbital bombardment to the future battlescape. While combat armatures do have a much higher target profile than say, a main battle tank, they also have the advantage of being able to take to the sky quickly, “jumping” with their legs, and then staying in the air on thrusters. This means they can go from holding position on the ground to moving quickly in the air at a moment’s notice, something which is very useful when there are ships in orbit trying to take out enemy troop formations. Likewise, unlike MBTs, combat armatures have a lot more movement options in certain terrain, especially urban areas (a combat armature can hop over rubble and other large obstacles), mountainous regions and forests.

In addition, unlike aircraft, which need to be based in vulnerable servicing installations (airfields) and cannot act independently for prolonged periods of time due to fuel limitations and pilot fatigue, combat armature units can simply shut down all but essential systems and allow their pilots to rest when out of immediate danger. This sort of thing allows combat armatures to take and *hold* territory for prolonged periods of time. The fact that their overpowered reactors make them capable of exiting most planetary grav-wells mean that combat armatures fighting in a ground campaign can be based on mobile and well-defended carriers in orbit (which can’t enter atmosphere).

Thirdly, there is the fact that a humanoid combat armature has a distinct advantage over traditional space-borne fighters: namely, prehensile limbs which allow a combat armature to attack or defend in one direction, while accelerating or decelerating in another. In addition, the amount of thrust required to move one or two limbs carrying weaponry (which, also unlike a starfighter’s armament, can be swapped out on the fly) into position is a lot lower than that required to re-orient an entire spacecraft. Lastly, there is the fact that by retracting or extending these limbs (and therefore, the vernier thrusters attached to them), a skilled pilot can manage more precise manoeuvres than with fixed manoeuvring thrusters.

Lastly, there is the question of size and the need for a pilot. Combat armatures are the size they are due to one of the setting’s primary technologies: the Inertial Canceller Field Generator (ICFG), a device capable of negating inertial forces in a small area. These are needed to protect combat armature’s pilots and the delicate electronics of its flight computer (as opposed to the more robust, and more primitive computers in unprotected missile warheads) from the crushing (up to 950 gs) inertial forces of high-acceleration space combat. However, hardware limits have made it impossible for an ICF to be generated to cover any volume less than about 125 (5x5x5) cubic metres. As a result, combat armatures have their internal ICFs packed with the “squishy” flight computer and cockpit, and the more robust portions (especially the thrusters, which ICFs tend to wreak havoc with) outside. The inclusion of a pilot was simply due to the fact that with FTL communication being highly expensive and resource-intensive, having a pilot in the chair was the only way to have a human brain with a reasonable reaction time ready, even if combat was taking place light-seconds, or even light-minutes away from the mothership.

It is for these reasons, especially their ability to act as armour, air support, infantry and starfighter, that humanoid combat armatures have remained a key part of humanity’s war-making arsenal.

And yeah, also because they look awesome.

WulfyK asks:
How long will the free (demo) be?

A:
It’ll go until near the end of the third “episode” (out of nine episodes and three interludes), roughly 25 000 (out of 230 000) words in.

Ramidel asks:
What’s the difference in your structure between “episode” and “interlude?”

A:
Episodes are mostly fast-paced action-centric sequences, with set objectives and direction. Most are spent in the cockpit, in combat, with the lives of the player character and his/her lance-mates in very real danger. 

Interludes are more like breather sequences. Though the plot still moves forward in interludes, you will have the chance to wander around and interact with both the setting and NPCs more freely.

That isn’t to say that interludes are entirely safe, or that episodes are spent entirely in combat, but the former definitely favours combat, and the latter definitely favours character interaction.

Mecha Ace comes out for iOS, Android and Chrome Webstore on June 13th.

 


Mecha Ace Q&A: Part One

So, as promised, I started a Question-and-Answer thread on the Choice of Games forums regarding my upcoming interactive fiction, Mecha Ace. For those of you who haven’t been part of the discussion, I’ve picked out a few highlights from the thread.

Sneaks asks:
So, what made you decide to write a mecha COG?

A:
Nothing in particular. Mecha anime has always kind of been a peripheral interest of mine (I also build gunpla (Gundam model kits) when I have the time) and it was one of the three outlines I sent to CoG last year. This was the one they chose.

Iggles asks:
Will we be able to determine our pilot’s background in depth?

A:
You’ll be able to choose quite a few things about your character’s background and motivations, as well as a little about their previous career. However, there are a few things that are fixed; like the player character’s starting rank, approximate age, homeworld, and the date they joined the CoDEC fleet.

WinterHawk asks:
What sort of stats will be in the game, and what exactly do the stats govern?

A:
There are four personal stats: Piloting, Perception, Willpower and Presence.
-Piloting is reflexes, physical coordination, and experience in the cockpit. It’s a primary factor in high-speed dogfighting and fighting with melee weapons.
-Perception is situational awareness, and aim. It’s mostly used to look for anything out of the ordinary, and in fighting at range.
-Willpower is ability to keep calm and focused in stressful situations. It’s a bit less concrete than the other three base stats, but it’s useful when you need to fly into a storm of fire, or keep your head when doing something extremely dangerous or difficult.
-Presence is personal charisma, showmanship, and logic. High Presence means you can convince people to come around to your way of thinking, inspire allies, and intimidate enemies.

On top of that, there’s your combat armature’s stats, which vary based on the specific machine you’re flying, and the modifications it has installed.
-Speed determines how fast and agile your combat armature is.
-Armour determines how much punishment your machine can take. Having a combat armature with high armour means you could survive damage which would knock you out of the fight were you flying in a more thin-skinned machine.

Each combat armature you can fly also has a ranged and melee weapon (which also vary with each machine). You’ll generally have the choice of which you want to use in combat, and each has their own unique advantages and disadvantages as well.

Lastly, there’s your count of confirmed kills, the status of each of the pilots in your lance, your personal reputation, and hidden relationship stats for each of the major NPCs.

Ramidel asks:
On the romances. Do the romance options have fixed genders, swap to fit the player’s preferences, or are you doing a mixture of both? And are any romance interests solely interested in one gender, or are they all potentially interested in the player regardless of that detail?

A:
By default, romance option NPCs have their genders randomised: two will always be male and two will always be female. However, you will have the option of choosing the genders of all four romance options if you choose to do so at the beginning of the story.

Each NPC can be attracted to the player regardless of respective genders (it *is* the future, after all), the main determinants of whether a romance is possible are relationship values, and the player’s personality values (I forgot to mention those earlier, but there is a two-axis morality scale, the two axes being warrior/diplomat and deliberation/passion). If you get a high enough relationship value, have compatible personality values, and haven’t done anything truly unforgivable to them, then that romance option can likely be taken.

I’ll probably post a few more of these in a few days: