1.7 Progress - the good, bad and the ugly
It is just over one week into development and time for small update.
Some good news... a new development build of IP has already undergone ~10 hours of android device testing and this build of the game is running stable. Every 1.6.3 game feature has been ported over to the new Unity3D version and retested. Testing was on a mid-range android device and that is handling with ease a new 64-sector universe with ~2000 AI ships. The test build is still fairly close to 1.6.3, so you might say that this isn't huge news. But, to get to this point has been.. challenging. More excitingly, this test game session never crashed whereas 1.6.3 always crashed. Hopefully an extremely long-running bug causing crash when changing sectors may finally be solved. Now, there is just the small matter of implementing everything on the "todo" list.
Now to bad news.. vanilla game-mode universes "Unchartered Space" and "A wormhole too far" will be retired in 1.7. These scenarios were added when the sandbox mode was poor, and they were probably a better experience at the time. With 1.7 the sandbox mode is becoming far more interesting and it is too involved to patch these universes up to the same level. Scenarios will remain - scripted missions with storyline remain a part of future plans.
And ugly.. no pre-1.7 save games will work with 1.7. There will be no upgrade path. I've had to make this decision before so I have good experience the pain it causes players. But, it must be done. The shape of a 1.7 game will become completely unrecognisable to pre-1.7 and the upgrade effort is too vast.
Finally I am really thankful to everyone expressing an interest in the new version of IP, messaging me with suggestions or otherwise continuing the community.. I'm blown away by this.
1.7.0 IOS Update clarification
This is to clarify the situation with IOS/App store. Some have noticed that there is yet to be a change to the IOS App Store page with news of the upcoming update. Rest assured, all new updates will come to IOS also. There has never been a technical challenge with porting IP onto IOS (thank you Unity). But, the update to App Store will be after the Google Play release. The timeframe is to be confirmed.
Version 1.7.0 preview
Version 1.7.0 will be a big-bang update. By this I mean that a very large list of things will change all at once. Often it is best to change just small things. But for this update I intend to throw in every feature and fix on the "idea" list that there is time for.
I will maintain the following page page where progress will be updated often (probably weekly). The intention is not to over-hype the update but more to keep people posted on the progress.
An apology, some history and future plans...
I would like to take some time to apologise to players of the game for the fact that updates to the game abruptly stopped in 2017. And sorry that it was never communicated what was happening at the time. Our players were left in limbo, never knowing what the plan was and I fully regret this. The following is not an excuse, but at least some explanation...
There wasn't some corporate-like decision to move on. The reality was more of a situation of extreme stress for me personally and a situation that was leading to me becoming desititute (like those bankrupt in-game factions after losing so many of their ships).
To explain how I got myself in this situation I go back in time to the beginning...
Interstellar Pilot started in 2008 by me (George). It wasn't a game at this time but a tiny experiment to help learn how to use Unity3D - a game engine used at my university where I studied games programming. One of my fave games as a kid was Starfleet Command which felt unique as it had hexagonal shield points. I thought it would be cool to make a battle simulator in Unity similar to that.
Working in my spare time I eventually had something that you might call a game. It just had a skirmish mode and a few ships. I published it to Google Play, and this was cool. After many years in the Play store I had obtained a massive... 50 downloads. But this was actually great - it was amazing to have others play my own game and sometimes enjoy it.
Getting on with other life stuff I occassionally made some tweaks to the game, based on my own crazy ideas and also from suggestions that players emailed. I learnt how to monetize it. But.. for such a long time the game could only bring £50 per month. Mostly the game just sat there quietly in the Store.
Something odd happened around 2016 (I forget the dates). The "universe mode" had been released - a more fuller sandbox version of the game and features became larger. It was starting to prove popular. Downloads went up like crazy. By some miracle IP had climbed into the top 100 action games on Google Play. And now people were buying the add-ons in greater numbers. But it was not a picnic... the game needed to quickly morph from an experiment into the quality expected (it still does). Code written 8 years earlier needed replacing. I embarked on massive projects, replaced the entire universe backdrops with higher quality, replaced the entire UI with UnityUI, added more content. It became complex. And players needed support. There were never proper tutorials so it was a miracle anyone could work out what to do. But if you requested support at this time, you will know that every single email was answered - it was a daily task for us. I did this all on IP while working full-time, often working on IP until early hours and then starting a real job a few hours later. It was hard work but it was an amazing experience.
In 2017 I made a decision to quit my full time job as a software developer and work instead full-time on Interstellar Pilot. The game did not have enough income to support me personally at the time.. not even close. But up until this point IP had been an Android game only. There was an ace up ones sleeve.. the platform ports. It was hoped that ports to IOS, Windows Phone and Amazon Underground would provide income to continue full-time development. Players had been emailing for a long time about IOS so we had high expecations. It was hoped IOS would eventually mirror Google Play income. In short, this was very foolish and it became a disaster. IOS brought no income. Amazon Underground was much better. But worse was that Google Play income started a decline. In 6 months of effort, IP made less income than it did in 2016 but now it had COSTS. So many costs. We had become a LTD company - time was now spent on things like accounts, legal and management all instead of development. And there was never funding. Everything rested on player's IAP. I now spent less time developing. And it was not fun. I became burnt out and it was not sustainable. So, I returned to a real job.
Now in 2022, you may ask, why come back to this project and how will things be different. The why is because 1. I was asked enough times (I read your emails even if I hadn't always responded) and 2. Because I now have the motivation that disappeared after 2016. I have the same avalanche of ideas for this game that I had in its early days.
However, things must be different to when Pixelfactor collapsed for this work to be sustainable. I wish to return to IP's roots when things worked well. So;
- I will not be working full-time on IP
- I will continue my day job
- There will be no risk that we go bust
- There will be less focus on monetizing the game until there is reached a point of high enough quality
- Professionals will be used to create content rather than do so much myself
- There will be more community engagement
- There will no longer be hard-to-fulful promises (but I do really promise a 1.7.0 release this Spring/Summer - oops just broke that promise!)
Despite being part-time I expect that development can reach the levels of progress made in early 2017, which I personally think was pretty great. And when I post the upcoming 1.7.0 features that are already developed, you'll hopefully be excited. However, for now the game remains primarily my solo effort so expectations must be realistic e.g. there is no multiplayer mode on the cards :(
Thank you for reading and for your continued support
We are back. Details of a new update to follow shortly...
Interstellar Pilot released on Windows Phone 10
Interstellar Pilot released on iPhone
We are pleased to announce the next installment of Interstellar Pilot is near completion. Our focus has mainly been optimization, removing various slowdowns and saving battery life as well as making it easier for us to work with the codebase. But we have had time to add new graphics, some content and rebalancing.
This update will be released to both Google Play and Amazon stores soon. We have completed most changes and will release the update once it has been tested successfully.
We know that a lot of people will be disappointed to not see more content but rest-assured that this will be our focus after this update goes live.
New sector graphics
We wanted each sector in a custom universe to feel more unique so we've added further backgrounds and planetary textures. These new graphics will be used for all pre-1.6.0 custom universe saved games so you may see some changes after loading.
New asteroid fields
Asteroids will now appear in asteroid fields (similar to Beta Pindola / Hellemus sectors). This will make it obvious where asteroids are to be found as well as just looking a lot better. Existing saved games will also be upgraded.
New UI graphics / layouts
We've added icons for all the commodities as well redesigning some the UI screens, which were hard to use.
- Optimizations / Removal of lag spikes
- New ship variants including Magnus-EQ (mobile equipment dealer) and Ranger-H
- New job board mission type: "Ship recovery"
- New job board mission type: "Ship delivery"
- Option to hail / talk to AI pilots
- New AI faction type: Mercenary (can be hired by player)
- Randomized / Upgraded NPC ships
- Very long list of bug fixes
Interstellar Pilot coming to IOS
After a lengthly time as an Android-only game, we can now reveal that we are very close to porting Interstellar Pilot to IPhone and IPad. The current development version (1.6.0) has been extensively used on IOS and only a few issues remain to resolve. Once released, we expect both Android and IOS platforms to receive the same continuous updates.
Moving to the IOS platform is key to growing the game and we also anticipate moving to other platforms in the near future.