Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Gratuitous Tank Battles Update 1.017

Yes it’s that happy time again. GTB just got another update. The full change list is this:

version 1.017
 1) Mods/DLC now support their own sample units folders.
 2) Fixed support for recorded attacks on mods/DLC
 3) Armor glows now update correctly when offscreen
 4) Issuing last minute orders to moving units no longer causes impassable routes, and happens more instantly.
 5) Division manager will now remember all your custom divisions if you swap to 'auto-management' and back again.
 6) New GUI buttons for one-click selection of auto-managed divisions, or going to previous/next division.
 7) new graphics for command truck, repair yard and command facility
 8) Improved foundation graphics for many of the turrets.

One of the biggest and coolest things is probably 6). You could always quickly flip between divisions using the tab or shift+tab key, but I guess 95% of casual players don’t spot that, but hopefully the big phat new buttons should make this more obvious to them. It makes frantic unit selection mid battle tons easier. In fact, I do wonder if the game should auto-pause when placing units anyway… or maybe go half speed? hmmm.. Here are the new buttons:

The other big change is the new units in 7). I had basically skimped on my art budget and re-used a few units rather than get new ones built, and I never really liked the old repair yard facility, or the way it was colored. The new units are better, and split into more effective layers so you can shade them better and they look more natural. Here are some screenshots showing the new units.

Patch 1.016 for Gratuitous Tank Battles

…has been released. let there be much rejoicing. The game auto-updates once a day, so you don’t need to do anything. Lets take a look at the list of changes!

1) Fixed bug where you could invite a friend with no name.
2) Added the hull size and size type to the hull picker dialog on the unit design
3) Holding down G as you drag props on the level editor now snaps them to a grid
4) Support for new 'starting year' for scenarios and equipment to set a battle
 before lasers and mechs etc.
5) Re-balanced the missile modules (slower rate of fire).
6) Re-balanced the ambulance/command/repair/supply trucks to have less hitpoints.
7) The units on the unit customisation screen now render shadows.
8) Changed targeting calculation so the fastest speed of firing and target unit
 is used, not just the target unit.
9) Battles now start with the map focused upon one of the entry points for
 attacking units.
10) Different vehicle targeting systems now have different weights.
11) Unit Design screen now filters modules to only show modules that the
 current unit has a slot to deploy.
12) Various AI balance changes.

The big items are probably the re-balancing and the change to the unit design screen (11), which I think is much better. Here is a screenshot of that screen if you selected an ambulance hull with the old version:

And now with the new version:

Much simpler huh? I don’t know why I had not done this earlier, but in any case, the screen now only shows modules that the current selected hull has a slot for, which hopefully makes that screen seem a lot less daunting for people who buy GTB thinking it’s just tower defense and think WTF? when they get to that screen. This was a screw-up on my part, because generally I feel that a good design rule is never to clutter the players view with information that they definitely don’t need right now.

There are a lot of under-the-hood changes to AI and other code affecting battles which is all a bit arcane to explain, but basically the AI should be a bit more sensible now, the various weapons and modules are more balanced, (in my humble opinion) and things should be a lot more playable in general. I don’t consider this patch to be the ‘last word’ on GTB. People who bought GSB know I love to improve and finesse a game long after release. I actually have a GSB patch (a kinda scary one) sat there daring me to release it, even all these thousands of years later.

I’ve also patched the demo for the game. I just uploaded the new steam demo, and I’ll be bunging the direct-downloaded version up on my site soon.

Gratuitous Tank Battles Tweaks

I’m working on a GTB expansion, which means a lot of playing the game to balance out some new missions. In doing so, a few things have occurred to me:

1) Missiles are overpowered. I keep thinking their limited effective range (max-min) compensates for it, but it does not, because there is always *something* for them to shoot at. I may have to nerf them.

2) I really needed to have separate graphics for command/supply trucks and also for repair/command bunkers. This was me saving money, and it was a false economy. I need to fix it.

3) I may have been a bit too tight in terms of setting the supply-limits in battles. Constantly hitting them means you tend to loiter by the entrance tiles and not enjoy the full area of battle when attacking. They may need tweaking too.

There are also a bunch of graphical mistakes I made, which I should fix theoretically, but would involve considerable re-work by artists at unjustifiable expense. It’s such a delicate balancing act to know when you are ‘speculating to accumulate’ versus ‘throwing money away for no gain’. I suspect I *do* need to get a few more improved bits of artwork done though.

Games are never finished, you just run out of income and have to make something new :D

Latest screenshots of GTB

I’m working on some new stuff. I thought I might as well upload some eye candy. Here is what I am working on today, click the smaller images for larger versions. New units and props and maps basically, And restricting some battles to just WW2 era technology (no lasers or mechs), to give the game a ‘WW2 Tower Defense’ mode, in effect.

Back from holiday, and mac testers…

Sooo… that’s enough time sat on a beach reading books. Especially if you sunburn easily and then really hurt your foot kicking a beam, and have to limp everywhere. At least there was a tropical storm to liven things up! I’m not back in the world of debugging, huge towering inboxes, and 1,001 things to do before breakfast. (Not to mention no more huge buffest at breakfast…darn…). I miss the cocktails and the live music :( (Also it’s amazing the quality of the musicians just playing in restaurants in the caribbean).

looking for mac testers

One thing on my todo list is to find some mac testers for Gratuitous Tank Battles. Have you already bought the game and want to test the mac copy? if so, do me a favour and email cliff AT positech dot co dot uk. I can only really do that for people who bought direct from me (because that’s the only way I can verify buyers), and if I don’t reply, it means a bunch of people got in there before you. Please use the email address you bought the game from.

My foot really hurts…