PAX East 2017

A couple of weeks ago Jeff and Nick took Forts to Boston, MA, for PAX East., as part of the PAX Australia Roadshow. We had a great corner booth, with four stations set up, and a big screen running the trailers. The Boston gaming public really took a shine to Forts and there was barely a free moment to check our appointments calendar. Speaking of appointments, The Zero Review came by to chat and awarded us Editor’s Choice – Best Indie Game of the show.

Many a content creator came by and expressed how excited they were to play Forts against their friends on their channel. In fact, it was great to meet a few of them in person, including long time supporter Ctop, as well as Dreagast and Demo Storm. We also me a couple of Aussie YouTubers LazarBeam and Mr Meola. They’ve all been making Let’s Play videos of Forts as part of out Influencer Outreach PR initiative, so please check them out.

Being part of the PAX Australia Roadshow was a real honour. The guys at Surprise Attack did a great job organising the show, sorting out the booth, banners, padded flooring, and volunteers. These were all a great help, but the real value was them bringing round reps from various platform holders and publishers. All in all, it was great to be in the company of great aussie games like Armello, Think of the Children, Hacknet and Dead Static Drive.

Next stop, launch. Be sure to add Forts to your Steam Wishlist and we’ll see you on April 19!

 

Launch Date and Commanders Announced!

We are happy to share that Forts will launch on April 19, 2017. The commanders feature has also been revealed, along with 3 of the 9 commanders in total. Not to mention our Steam store page is now live!

Commander characters are a new feature for Forts, available in multiplayer and skirmish modes. Each of the nine Commanders have passive abilities, active throughout the battle, and a powerful dynamic ability which, once charged, can change the tide of battle. Choose the commander to compliment your strategy. More to be revealed soon!

Eagle Eye – Eagle Empire

Passive Abilities

  • Laser Sights: Snipers are fitted with adjustable laser sights.
  • Increased Accuracy: Machine Gun and Minigun spread is reduced.
  • Bigger Magazines: Machine Gun and Miniguns magazines capacity increased.

Dynamic Ability

  • Explosive Bullets: Snipers, Machine Gun and Miniguns fire devastating bursts of explosive shells.

Architect – Dragon Army

Passive Abilities

  • Cheap Materials: Fort building materials have a reduced cost.
  • Higher Storage Capacity: Batteries and Metal Stores enjoy increased capacity.

Dynamic Ability

  • 4x Build Speed: Weapons, devices and structures build at 400% normal rate.

Armourdillo – Iron Bear Alliance


Passive Abilities

  • Cheap Armour: Armour and Doors are less expensive to build.
  • Quick Open Doors: Doors open and shut at twice normal rate.

Dynamic Ability

  • Rapid Repair: Weapons, devices and structures are repaired at an increased rate, and for half normal cost.

Much Love at AVCon

It was wonderful to return to my home city of Adelaide to introduce gamers there to Forts during AVCon. After a bit of difficulty getting our passes we made our way to set up on Friday evening. Eventually I had a couple of power cords tested and tagged and then we hit the town for a bit of last minute shopping. I needed two cordless mice and a network cable for showing multiplayer. This time we had three machines: two laptops and a PC. After that Anna and I had dinner at the famous Yiros shop on Rundle Street.

Brad who organised the Indie Game Room did a stellar job. There must have been 50 odd games on show altogether. We were between the venerable and popular Armed with Wings and a new developer called Somewhat Interactive showing a meditative mobile game called Slidance, involving sliding squares around the screen. Across the way was Mighty Kingdom’s mobile game Boombot and Volnaiskra’s platformer Spryke – a fun but challenging game featuring a fish as the player character.

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My good friend from Ratbag days, Szymon, showed up in the morning to assist for the day. The morning started slowly but soon we had a steady stream of players checking out the game. I had spent some time crafting a new map to exhibit at shows. Previously we used a more-or-less symmetrical map with a combatitive AI. This showed players the core gameplay, but the learning curve was too steep, causing frustration.

This time I gave the AI a larger structure but fewer powerful weapons: several machineguns and one heavy mortar. This minimises enemy attacks and reduces the number of fires the player must put out, while still showing action and putting a time limit on the game. The player has a complete array of weapons to wield with a short gap to bridge in order to control two missile launchers. Of course most maps do not start like this but we want new players to experience an exciting introduction to the game.

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This new strategy turned out to work almost perfectly. I could show people how to select and fire a single weapon, how to group two similar weapons and how to repair damaged structure. This would keep them going for a while. If they really got into it I would show them how to extend the structure to control the missile launchers, which are more complicated to aim and fire. If players happen to suffer critical damage they could restart to give it another go.

One young man play the game for over 2 hours. I had to ask him to give other players a go – and he gracefully gave up his seat and then started teaching the new players. There were many youngsters of six years old and up who also gave it a good bash, showing that the usability improvements we have made since PAX Aus last year have paid off. D1DLC had me on camera for a short interview, and today Forts appeared on Brad’s top picks for AVCon.

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There were a few minor issues with the map. The first was the absence of tech buildings, so if any advanced weapons were lost they couldn’t be rebuilt. Another was that due to the fog of war feature, which hides the internals of the fort, it was not obvious where was best to target or what the AI was doing. I addressed these issues on Saturday night, making a mod to unlock all weapons, and turning off fog of war in the mission script. Sunday was busier than Saturday and the changes improved the experience. We managed to set up a few multiplayer games too, which are always fun to watch and coach.

One of the highlights for me was seeing Anna teach a more mature woman the ropes, and then see them defeat the enemy fort. The game appeals to a wide range of ages and both genders. Feedback was very positive and one gamer told Anna he loved the game even before he played it. We managed to collect about 60 email addresses for the mailing list, and gave out perhaps 100 cards.

All this is very encouraging. I’ve got a few more ideas on how to improve the introductory map, and a list of small changes that should reduce building frustration and make aiming easier. These smaller events are very useful for getting feedback and refining the user experience. Big thanks to Brad, Szymon, Anna and the AVCon organisers and volunteers for helping to put on a great show.

Press round-up

As you know, since PAX Aus we’ve been busy developing the Forts, making great strides with the networking and the single player campaign. All the while, we’ve been getting a nice trickle of positve press, as the word gets out, through things such as Screenshot Saturday. Check out some recent mentions below.

GameLuv.com

Earlier this year, we submitted Forts to the 18th annual Independent Games Festival. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but did receive a positive reception from GameLuv.com who selected us as one of the 20 best games in contention. There were more than 700 entries.

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Thumb Throne

This enthusiastic write-up from ThumbThrone.com that really sells what the game is all about, and makes a positive comparison to the classic game Worms, which is a definite inspiration. It’s great seeing people really connect with the concept, like this.

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Indie Game Enthusiast

As you might expect from their name, enthusiasm is again apparent in this article from IndieGameEnthusiast.Blogspot.com. It’s a well researched piece, which not only features the trailer, but also gifs and screenshots. Always welcome!

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Game Watcher

Forts is often compared to World of Goo, and this comparison comes up again in this GameWatcher.com article, which is no bad thing. Less good is when the Forts is mistaken for a ‘tower defence’ game. Nevertheless, the author has listed a lot of the features that makes Forts so unique, which is always welcome.

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Screenshot Saturday

Playing around in with chain reactions and Single Player map ideas.

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Drill Instructor Demo

While digitally painting the Drill Instructor character, Nick recorded his art process, which you can watch below. Complete with commentary, Nick shows you the techniques he uses in creating the Forts art style.

Screenshot Saturday

Tim ‘Crackshot’ Auld has made some jammy shots in his time, but this one takes the biscuit! #241

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