Large-Scale Real-Time Strategy (RTS) for the iPad & iPhone 

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A Fresh Lens on your own Game

Published on May 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’m currently working on another project and didn’t get to play Galactic Conflict in a while. A few days ago, I booted it up and started a skirmish Terran vs Pyros on Normal Difficulty. I got my ass kicked hard. I tried different maps, different strategies, playing defensively, attacking early, expanding early, a strikecraft-heavy build, rushing to advanced frigates, a corvette-fighter mix. Usually, I could hold off the enemy for some time but then eventually bent over. Normal AI just stomped me.

God, I feel like an utter noob. Man, I have created this game, I know it inside out, when I play-tested it (and I really play-tested it a lot) I could beat Hard AI in ~8 minutes (albeit not consistently). If you’ve ever played Galactic Conflict then you know that Hard AI is really a challenge. Now Normal AI gets the better of me. I played 5 more games until I could finally beat it, then lost another 5 in a row. Embarrassing!

Coming back to your own game when you’re no longer play-testing it and don’t do >1000 sessions a month gives you the chance to look at your game with a fresh lens. This is not possible during development when you are that much immersed that you lose all objectivity. I could always beat any mission and any skirmish up to Normal without breaking a sweat. Hard was always hard but that was supposed to be. Now I realize what a monster the AI is, even on Normal. The fact that it doesn’t come with hardcoded build orders that you can learn (and subsequently exploit) but actually thinks and adapts to your strategy like a real player makes it pretty much unpredictable. Fail to scout and get owned. Fail to get a good mix of units and get wiped out. This thing sure knows how to play the game.

I was also having troubles with the Pyros AI throwing a combo of mostly missile frigates and corvettes at me with a bit of fighters and bombers added to the mix, a combo I had a hard time countering. I wonder if Pyros corvettes need a slight nerf against fighters even though Flurry stats show a healthy distribution of ships (maybe huge capitals warships are a bit underrepresented in 1v1s at 2% but OTOH they cost a lot).

How are you guys doing against skirmish AI? Any particular units, matchups or combos that are giving you troubles?

 
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1.2 Released

Published on April 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

Galactic Conflict was just updated to 1.2 including several bug fixes, most notably Call for Help on the iPhone, as well as a Game Night event system and an in-game Lobby.

 
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Review on iplayapps.de

Published on March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

iplayapps.de has just published a review of Galactic Conflict and calls it a success.

 
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Galactic Conflict was introduced on Appliv

Published on March 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

Appliv covered Galactic Conflict on their site. Go check it out if you can read Japanese!

Link to Galactic Conflict on Appliv

Appliv(アプリヴ) -iPhoneアプリが探せる、見つかる

Appliv Homepage

Appliv(アプリヴ) -iPhoneアプリが探せる、見つかる

 
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Review on appgefahren.de

Published on March 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

The popular German app review magazine appgefahren.de has just published a review of Galactic Conflict and gave it a 4.5/5 rating. If you are able to read German, go read the article.

 
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Official Release Date: March 14

Published on March 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

We’re happy to announce that Galactic Conflict will hit the AppStore on 14 March 2013. Finally, you can join the fray. We’re looking forward to battling you guys online!

 
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Official Trailer Released

The official trailer for Galactic Conflict has been released. Be sure to check it out in the videos section!

 
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Open Beta Launched in Austria

We’ve just soft-launched Galactic Conflict Online in Austria for free. It contains Skirmish and Online Multiplayer but the Single Player Campaign is not included. The goal is to collect some early feedback about those modes, esp. w.r.t. game balance.
If you are from Austria, go grab it here.

 
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Closed Beta Complete

After two months of intensive testing and tweaking, closed beta now finally comes to an end. Thanks to all beta testers for their hard work. We are now planning to release a free version in Austria and Germany to gather more statistics and use this data to further balance the gameplay.

 
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The Challenges of Multiplayer Lockstep

Published on January 12, 2013 in Development

I’d like to share a story about the challenges of implementing multiplayer in an RTS using a lockstep model. In this model, you only exchange actions between the peers and all devices need to do the exact same simulation to stay in sync. If anything differs, the simulation goes out of sync which means you will see a totally different game on both devices.

It is extremely easy to get out of sync and I had to hunt down a lot of desync bugs during development. This ain’t exactly easy because you can’t debug the code in multiplayer because the other device would automatically get a disc.

I don’t want to bore you with all desync’s I had to fix but one that kept me busy for two nights in the first week of 2013 is particularly interesting. Basically, I did a test game between an iPad 4 and an iPad 2 and they were getting out of sync. I could not reproduce the same problem in matches between other devices so something was going on here.

During previous desync bugs, I was often wondering if the Turning machine was still a valid concept and software was deterministic, and I was often blaming floating point arithmetic when there was actually another source.

However, in this case, it was really a hardware problem. Basically, the iPad 4 (as well as the iPhone 5) have a different CPU (and thus a different FPU). It seems like single precision floating point trigonomy functions were not working correctly in the new A6X CPU. Most of the time, the calculations were identical but for some angles, the new CPU came up with different values that are actually less precise compared to the “real” result.

CPU Calculation Result
Pre A6X, e.g. iPad 2, iPad 3,iPhone 4 sin(2.42680406570f) 0.65545779467
A6X, e.g. iPad 4, iPhone 5 sin(2.42680406570f) 0.65545773506

The (albeit small) difference quickly sums up to get the whole game totally out-of-sync.
Had to go through a lot of huge trace files to finally figure that one out and fix it.

 
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