Rebuild: Android Beta

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Posted by Sarah Northway | Posted in Development, Rebuild3 | Posted on 21-07-2014

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I said I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it, but here I am tooting the horn: you can now play the Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville beta on your Android phones and tablets!

How to get it: preorder the full game from rebuildgame.com - includes PC, Mac, Android & Steam keys too.

How to get it: preorder the full game from rebuildgame.com
includes Windows, Mac, Android & Steam keys too.

But wait, don’t get TOO excited. It’s still slow, unlikely to run well on anything that costs less than $300 or is more than 2 years old. I’m rather thrilled at how much better it is now than a month ago, but there’s a long way to go.

Colin using Rebuild as a stylus to play Rebuild.

Colin using Rebuild as a stylus… to play Rebuild.

In my career of porting PC games to mobile (all 4 years & 4 games of it), the hardest part is always graphics optimization. It’s given me a renewed sense of wonder for games like Assassin’s Creed and the Elder Scrolls (which Colin and I were respectively binging on last month). How do those games look so amazing when I can barely drag 20 flat buildings around the screen without losing 10fps?

Obviously engine plays a big part in it, and Adobe AIR (aka Flash) is known more for its ease of use than its speed. But the other big part is, I imagine, the thousands of man-hours spent making sure every last drop of system resources is used optimally. Mostly it’s about CPU vs RAM. Lots of little moving parts need more CPU power. Fewer bigger objects requires more RAM. Hit the ceiling on either and your framerate plummets or your app crashes. So if you’re wondering which new tablet to buy, MEMORY DOES MATTER. And I mean Random Access Memory, not what people call storage space on iPhones in their Orwellian desire to confuse language and oppress free thinkers.

Post apocalyptic religious leaders can have any hairstyle they want.

Post apocalyptic religious leaders can have any hairstyle they want.

Anyway speaking of binging on games, I’ve been playing a lot of Rebuild this week. Well, I do that every week, but it’s easier now on my phone because I’m less tempted to stop every 5 minutes and tweak some variable. I played a whole game with no scavengers, which was successful thanks to trading with Gustav & the Pharmacists. Even though you have to wait for stock to replenish now, you can horde resources and sell them at a huge profit when a faction is desperate enough to pay double. Haggling is less punishing now so I ended up with a leader who was a part-time trader, part-time preacher.

For the next big update I’m going to focus on getting the rest of Stephen’s events in, working on the happiness system, and starting campaign mode where you’ll be moving from village to town to city.

(I think the one in the middle is Adam himself!)

(Adam’s handiwork. I think the one in the middle is Adam himself!)

Colin and I are still exploring Super, Natural British Columbia this summer, which is honestly the most perfect place on earth between about July 10th and September 3rd. Check out our recent roadtrip photos with our rad 80′s Porsche.

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Rebuild Combat Enhancements

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Posted by Sarah Northway | Posted in Rebuild3 | Posted on 13-06-2014

Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville has been live on Steam Early Access for about a month. Time for the first major update! It’s doing very well there, with sales already matching the Kickstarter funding, and an entire third of players are buying the deluxe edition. I <3 you guys!

The Update

The first monthly game update just went live after some vigorous testing by forumgoers. It adds a new attack system where you get a couple options that may improve your combat odds before you roll those die… but they often come at a price.

See here for the full version 0.632 changelog.

This guy is going to mess up all your well laid plans

These guys are going to mess up all your well laid plans

I also added a new type of zombie: the mobile zombie mob. You may remember these guys from Rebuild 2: they appear from offscreen and make a beeline for your fort, giving you a few day’s warning to get your defense in place before they hit your walls like a storm.

And I’ve been tweaking the difficulty, because according to reports people are being Impossible, and that’s just plain wrong. In the new update, soldiers are now 30% less effective, and there are nearly twice as many hidden zombies spawning everywhere. But because I just can’t be that cruel, I also reduced the chance of death early in the game, and added a chance to be injured instead of dying to starvation.

Where are we now?

I’ve also put in numerous bugfixes, tweaks, new sounds and other tidbits. All this has been possible thanks to the peaceful and refreshingly uneventful environment here in rural British Columbia. As you may know, Colin and I have lived in some interesting places since we gave away all our stuff and started traveling 4 years ago. We spent last winter in Argentina & Brazil, but decided this summer that we should see some more of our home province. So we’ve rented a house in the mountains about an hour east of Nelson, a town well known for its hippies and marijuana farms. The property we’re staying on does have a small commercial herb farm… but it’s the other kind of herbs.

It is crazy full of wildlife out here. We saw a muskrat, a marmot, and a beaver on our first day out. Practically petted the beaver, and I’d never seen one outside of a zoo before. We’ve woken up and, from our bedroom window, while lying in bed, watched a black bear ambling through the forest. Herds of deer graze regularly just outside the window where I work. Chipmunks, squirrels, snakes, and raccoons – the real, natural kind that live in the woods. Today on a hike up at Kokanee Glacier park we even startled a baby grizzly bear (one of Colin’s most feared animals)… but we didn’t stick around to meet her mama.

kaslo_forest

bc_deer

inner_beaver

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Rebuilding: Factoring in Factions

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Posted by Jack Shirai | Posted in Game Design, Rebuild3 | Posted on 30-05-2014

One of the largest additions to the Rebuild series that you can look forward to in Gangs of Deadsville is, well… the gangs. Of Deadsville.

Factions! There are other groups of survivors out there, and they’re struggling just as hard as you are to reclaim the city’s territory before it’s overrun. Of course, that means that your little band of upstarts is in their way, and they’ll let you know how they feel about that. Indeed, stumbling upon the stronghold of a new faction usually means that your fort is in for the occasional raid on its supplies, as well as other, more subtle forms of sabotage.

But wait! It’s not all bad. You start on pretty neutral terms with most factions when you first meet them, which means that they are perfectly happy to talk to you while they’re wandering the city. You can peacefully interact with a faction by sending a survivor out to start a Trade mission on their caravan icon when it appears on the map.

riffsOnce you’ve done that, you’ll get a nice pop-up listing all the resources and items both sides have to swap. If you’ve played a game like, oh, say, Fallout at some point in your life, this menu should seem a bit familiar! You can click on objects your trade partner has available to see how highly they value them. Once you’ve determined that, you can start offering possessions of your own until both sides are at least equal in value, at which point you can swap goods! Hey, if you’re feeling particularly generous, you can even offer more item value than your partner is asking for, which could result in the faction gaining some Respect for you, and perhaps giving you better deals in the future. 

If the faction’s caravan is being a bit too stingy for your tastes, you can always try to Haggle. This gives you a chance to reduce the markup that the faction is applying to its items, but beware: haggling can backfire and raise the markup, so make sure you don’t accidentally price yourself out of something you desperately need!

Some of the factions have access to a pretty wide range of items, while others definitely have specialties. Looking for Medicine? Making friends with the Pharmacists is probably a good idea. Besides, look at those honest, not-at-all-shifty faces! Who doesn’t want to party with those guys?

 pharmacists

In addition to Trade, you get a few other options whenever you click a faction’s caravan, such as the ability to attack it. This is a difficult proposition, but it is a great option for jerks, or for players trying to weaken or outright wipe a faction off of the map. Be careful, though, as factions won’t just sit back and let you snipe at their caravans unpunished!

Sound like a lot? We’ve only just scratched the surface of what factions will eventually offer. As time progresses, factions will get their own unique storylines and random events, more detailed battle mechanics, and a wider range of diplomacy options. If all that piques your curiosity, now is the best time to pick up Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville up on Steam Early Access!

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Rebuilding: Getting Your Food Fix

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Posted by Jack Shirai | Posted in Game Design, Rebuild3 | Posted on 22-05-2014

“Food security”, despite what you may think, doesn’t actually refer to whether your household food supply is safe from thieves and grizzly bears. No, it actually refers to whether your food supply is sufficient enough to prevent starvation, which is a constant threat in the post-zombocalypse world of Rebuild.

When you first start a new city in Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville, you’ll find yourself in possession of a bright-eyed group of four survivors, but very little to feed them with. One of the most important tasks early in a new game is to achieve a state of food security; that is, to start bringing in at least as much food as your Hungry, Hungry Survivors are putting away.

hugefarmLike the previous games in the series, the most reliable source of food for your survivors are farms. Unlike previous games in the series, however, farms in Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville come in a few different sizes and shapes. Regular 1×1 Farms produce 1 unit of food per day, while 1×2 Big Farms produce 1.5 units, and 2×2 Huge Farms produce 3 units of food per day.* Farms produce food for your crew automatically, but you can also assign a survivor to work a farm to double its output. Since a survivor consumes 1 unit of food per day, having someone work a farm produces at least enough extra food to feed the worker, and in the case of a Huge Farm can produce an accordingly huge surplus! For that reason, and since you can only ever construct regular sized Farms yourself, you should definitely seek out and try to reclaim any Big and Huge Farms you happen to see near your base.

Try not to think too hard about what kind of food these farms are producing, though, especially since they start producing food immediately after being built. Quick-growing mutant crops?! And you thought genetically-modified food was bad for you. Don’t even get me started on what makes up the 1.5 units of food that come from the Pig Farm.* Who’s been taking care of those pigs all these years? I don’t think I want to know…

pigfarm

That’s not the only way to get juicy units of food to cram into your survivors food unit-holes, of course. Hunting for wild animals in Fields and fishing in the ponds of Parks are also good sources of food, but can be a bit unreliable. Of course, if you’re starving and have a survivor to spare, why not try scavenging for goodies in a nearby apartment block, or trading materials to a wandering merchant in exchange for food?

Wait, we haven’t talked about either of those things yet? Well, I suppose you’ll have to wait until next time… or you can find out for yourself right now by picking Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville up on Steam Early Access!

 

* These numbers are, of course, subject to change as we tweak the game’s difficulty. If you’re a food production number enthusiast, be sure to keep an eye on the official wiki’s Food and Farming pages for updated information!
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Rebuild 3: Steam Early Access on May 16

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Posted by Sarah Northway | Posted in Development, Rebuild3 | Posted on 09-05-2014

Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville is set to go live on Steam early access next Friday. That means the beta’s about to begin and you can all play it! I’ve been waiting for this day for about, let me see… about fourteen months!

Beta? Why isn’t the game finished yet?

Lovely new mission icons for the many-many things you can send survivors to do

Lovely new mission icons for the things you can send survivors to do,
several of which were not, *ahem*, exactly in the original design doc

Yes, it’s been longer than expected, and I’m cramming more content into this game than I imagined when I first set out. But I was playtesting Rebuild 1 and 2 last month for the Survivalist Edition bonus content, and was shocked at how clumsy and simple both games seem compared to Gangs of Deadsville. This is, like, a real game we’re making here.

For Early Access launch I’ve decided to raise the price of the game from $10 to $15. So turns out all y’all pre-order-ers got a good deal. One more missed marketing opportunity on Rebuild’s road to success.

Okay, so why early access?

Steam logo

Just ask my awesome alpha testers. I’ve been sending them monthly builds since last November, and their feedback has affected everything from the UI to difficulty balancing, making me rethink survivor skills and zombie attacks. They’re even helping us write random events. Let me tell you as soon as I have a spare minute I want to add Steam Workshop stuff so you can mod the game.

There will also be a direct-download version for Kickstarter backers and anyone who preorders through the official site, and an Android beta build later this month. But Steam’s a more public, mainstream store, and I’ve found the Early Access community surprisingly cool and forgiving with other beta games I’ve played.

I’ve been developing this game in public since the beginning, and though it’s been extra work (my stuffed inbox for instance), the motivation alone has been worth it.

Speaking of that inbox…

Community Managementarianism

I do need some help in this department, since I’m about to go from hundreds of playtesters to thousands. So I’m bringing on my good friend Jack Shirai (@Roshirai) as Northway Games’ new community manager. He’ll be haunting the forums as Roshirai, posting here about Rebuild’s development, and taking my place at all the tedious political luncheons that we game developers are often forced to attend.

One more week to go. Wish us luck!

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