EARLY ACCESS SUPER TRUCK LIFE

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Upcoming Patch

Hi Truckers,

We know it’s been a bit since the last patch, what with Mike moving into a new place, my upcoming move, and constantly adding to our list of things we want in this mega patch because we still can’t afford to hire a project manager to tell us to stop. This patch will be focused primarily on tuning, but with a handful of huge changes as well that we’ve (mostly) mentioned in the previous posts. We thought it’d be a good idea to compile everything into one post to provide transparency and get people pumped for the next update. With that, let’s get into it.

Over the last month+ we’ve been playing through the game a lot, tuning, and revisiting. This has been a generally fun process because we weirdly like playing our own game but at times a frustrating one as well. Some needed changes were obvious, while others were sneaky bastards hiding among the dozen systems that all need to play well together. We also revisited a handful of things that have gone pretty much untouched since the beginning of time. We’ll start with the big(ger) changes:

  • Collectables now spawn on a set timer, every time
  • Clovers now reduce the collectable spawn timer
  • Gold and Upgrades are now persistent — they will not reset when reaching a new level

We’ve been testing these change extensively and the game is objectively better, but we also needed to approach tuning. A lot of tuning. Like so much f$#@ing tuning:

  • Upgrades are more expensive now that they’re persistent
  • Route cash rewards have been reduced
  • Buff timers start at 20 minutes, up from 10
  • Fleet pricing has been reduced across the board
  • Fleet drivers level up faster
  • Fleet progress (crate) requirements have been heavily reduced
  • Fleet Total Progress bar label has been changed to actual progress numbers
  • Offline progress cap has been reduced
  • Goal part rewards have been reduced
  • Loot tables have been reeled in; higher tier parts will be more rare
  • Crafting recipes will now sort by type in the ALL list — this will make new recipes easier to find
  • Rare crafting pieces will now drop more often
  • Scrapyard upgrade prices heavily reduced
  • Collectable goal requirements have been reduced to 3/5/7 down from 5/10/15 etc
  • A whole bunch of bug fixes after we broke everything (again)

In addition to all of these things, we’re also going to be adding a Reset button available in the options (stats) menu where you can simply reset/wipe your current progress and start from the beginning. Maybe you beat the game and you just want to play again because why wouldn’t you this is the best game ever made according to our moms. Or maybe you rolled a bunch of garbage loot and chose your upgrades poorly on level 1 and you want to try again.  Either way, you should be able to do that without having to request we do that for you on our end, so we’ll get that in the next patch. Probably.

Lastly, and this is a big one; once this patch goes live and nothing bursts into flames we’re going to be focusing less on tuning and more on a standalone version of the game. It’s a big undertaking but a necessary one. In short, you can play the game offline. You don’t have to connect to our servers and everything will be saved locally. Also we don’t have to pay for servers, which is nice.

So when the hell is this patch going live? Well, we’re not sure yet. My life is going to get messy for the next few weeks as I’m moving to a new spot in the most complicated way possible, while Mike is still getting settled in and juggling a thousand other things. We’re super pumped to get this thicc boi live though, and we’ll continue to update you as we make progress. If you want to make us cry we still monitor and respond in Discord, otherwise just keep on truckin’ while we get the mega patch wrapped up.

XOXO,

Dan & Mike

The Move

Hi Truckers,

Just a quick update that will inevitably turn into a comprehensive one because historically in blog posts I’m incapable of brevity. First of all, the title. The Move is about two moves; the one Mike is currently suffering through and the other is a recent discussion we had to move the game away from idle game tropes and give STL the unique persistence other idle games rarely follow.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Mike has been in the process of moving and the only thing more fun than moving is doing it in 100 degree heat, so that’s pretty fun. He’s mostly settled in but hasn’t had a lot of time to hit the punch list we’ve been building but he will be in the near future. The punch list covers almost everything mentioned in the aforementioned post with the exception of a new concept we’ve been throwing around recently regarding upgrades: they’re dumb and we don’t like the way they work.

Upgrades is one of the oldest systems if not the oldest system we built, which shouldn’t be surprising considering one of the defining characteristics of an idle game is an upgrade system. It was based on a simple loop: drive for cash, use cash for upgrades, drive faster to earn more cash.

While this works on a fundamental level, the problem is once you level up aka ascend, earn prestige, etc  you lose your hard-earned cash and your upgrades reset. This is very common with idle games and while it made sense in the beginning it no longer flows with the rest of the game. You maintain your parts, paints, scrap, scrapyard upgrades, badges/badge points, crates, fleet status, and everything else, but your cash and upgrades are just gone. This requires a newly leveled player to earn a few bucks all over again, stop at the truck stop, upgrade their truck, and get back on the road. It’s just not fun. It feels like a chore and losing your progress feels like a kick in the lugnuts, especially if you leveled up with millions (or billions) in your wallet.

With that in mind, we’re going to make cash and upgrades persistent. Every upgrade and cent you earn should be persistent/permanent and once we discussed the details it immediately felt like a huge improvement over the current system. We want players to feel powerful, accomplished, and like every investment or earned currency is theirs to keep and reap the rewards. With a cash/upgrade wipe every level, it’s antithetical to that goal and the one system in the game that doesn’t follow the overarching STL philosophy: winning. There’s no gas meter. Your parts don’t have durability. We put in a recycle bin instead of a trash can. Paints don’t slowly peel off your truck. Buffs are nothing but positive. Weather doesn’t slow you down. Your truck doesn’t explode every 10 minutes. Every system has a reward. Even rewards have rewards like badge points accumulated for earning badges. We put idle progression inside of idle progression with the Fleet and Scrapyard. It’s idleception. You level up and you unlock new recipes, buffs last longer, you go faster, better parts appear, your paint inventory is getting ridiculous and seriously can you just like smash some of them you’re killing our servers. But the point is all of that feels super rewarding and then all of the sudden f*ck you your upgrades are gone and you’re poor as shit. Not fun.

Granted, that means that upgrade accumulation will slow down since you’ll be keeping upgrades between levels. The trade off of course is that they’re yours forever, and your truck will never get slower even if temporarily. Upgrades will feel more valuable and worth the investment.  Cash will become a savings account instead of a temporary voucher that expires when you level up.

Anyways, updates will keep coming and the game will keep improving. Mike is even working on an offline version of the game but I probably shouldn’t have said that because it’s in its infancy and we don’t even know for sure if it’s possible and now it’s too late because my delete key is broken and Mike is mad at me I hope you’re happy.

Moving On,

Dan & Mike

 

Still Alive

Hi Truckers,

Happy Thursday. Let’s just talk about the pink truck in the room; yes we’re still alive and also yes we’ve been a bit inactive as of late. At least, on the surface. Last week we spent a solid 7 days playing STL from scratch to gain some perspective as a “new” player. This gave us the opportunity to experience the game as a whole, identify where it needed the most balance, and discover any sneaky bugs still incognito. Combined with player feedback and analytics especially after the squish, we had a lot to unpack.

For starters, we found that while the recent squish was incredibly effective in making the game flow at a much better/approachable pace especially for new truckers, it had a somewhat predictable negative impact on other systems; buff timers felt too short, crate loot rolls were too generous, and upgrade prices went from a click fest to a brick wall in a matter of seconds.

In addition, while collectables were reworked on our end a bug prevented us from fully testing this — but on the positive side clovers actually matter now. The fleet was a blast, but leveling up new drivers was too expensive, they leveled too slowly, and while I was expecting a crate or two on level two, I wasn’t even close. Offline progress worked as intended but with the generous 4 hour cap and squish we effectively gave people the opportunity to nap through two levels without doing anything.

You get the idea. The (very) good news is that the vast majority of issues we found in a full playthrough is just a matter of tweaking some numbers. Buff timers should increase, fleet progress should be faster and cheaper, upgrade prices should scale more smoothly, loot should be a bit less bountiful, and so on. Bugs were minor, balance was easy to identify, and overall the game felt pretty fun. With all that out of the way, here’s a (subject to change) list of what we’ll be tweaking in the next patch:

  • Reduce loot rolls
  • Fix minigame unlock bug
  • Fix scrap sync issue
  • Increase base buff timer
  • Flatten upgrade cost curve
  • Reduce offline progress cap
  • Reduce fleet level up cost
  • Reduce fleet progress req.
  • Fix collectables spawn bug
  • Reduce goal req. (collectables)
  • Reduce route cash rewards
  • Reduce scrapyard upgrade costs
  • Explore recipe sorting
  • Explore “game over” screen
  • Explore upgrade functionality

Like I said, this could change, but this is where we are. We know it’s been a bit since the last update and we appreciate your patience. While we don’t always drop personal details in the posts I should mention that Mike is currently moving and moving is literally the worst so he’s been a little preoccupied. Fortunately that gave me some time to play the hell out of STL and see what all this hype is about I mean it’s just a stupid idle RPG with a truck why does this game even exist. But since it does, we might as well try to make it a little better.

Still Alive,

Dan & Mike

Squishy

Hi Truckers,

Happy Friday! This is going to be a reasonably short post (or not), but we wanted to provide the same level of transparency we always have and let you know what we’ve been up to.

While we’ve always relied on our amazing player base to provide insightful feedback (and hurt our tiny feelings), we also track user behavior to gain some insight without the feedback. This includes things like player behavior and retention. For example: “how many truckers came back after their first visit” or “how long does the average trucker play before closing their browser window” or “why did we spend two years of our lives building this f’ing thing.” Most of those can be answered by simply consulting our stats and making adjustments accordingly, especially when players don’t opt-in to share that info which is a lot more often than you might think.

But before I address the weird title of this post and dig into what we’re working on for the upcoming patch, we need to go back a little bit so forgive the exposition in advance.

As mentioned in previous posts over the literal years, finding a balance between idle and actionable is a constant struggle bus. We want the game to have longevity and appeal to the idle fanbase who rely on weeks or even months of a side hustle minimized on a task bar, but also keep the twitchy demographic looking for constant stimulation and activity happy and satiated. This is tricky, but it’s an organic balance considering Mike and I favor slightly different playstyles. I’m more likely to let Cookie Clicker idle until I’m dead, whereas Mike loses interest a lot sooner. This makes for a good dynamic given our goals even if we have to verbally punch each other in the face a few times before one of us concedes. That aside, when we introduced STL to Armor Games — we also posted this whole story — we were told verbatim “idle game feels too idle” and even a recent review we received said the same thing, although the game was still praised for what it was. Fair enough.

With that in mind we realized the bones are there, the activity of new players shows commitment, but the moment there’s a “now what” new players go from fully engaged and active to the absolute opposite, close the game, and rarely return. This is obviously a problem, so… title.

We’ve been testing a massive squish on our staging server. The initial starting route was 100 miles, which scales from there. We cut that in half to 50 and play tested. It felt better. There were more things to do and the sense of accomplishment was increased dramatically. However, it wasn’t quite enough so we almost cut it in half again and brought it to 30. This felt like a different game (in a good way). Yeah, it’s shorter, and yes you’ll get to the endless road a lot faster than previously, but it’s a better experience overall. If you haven’t seen Egoraptor’s Sequelitis episode Castlevania 1 vs Castlevania 2 this is a good philosophical comparison you can dive into here. If you’d rather not, I’ll summarize: Castlevania 1 was a master class in game design, whereas Castlevania 2 was built around the idea that longer = better. It introduced grinds, timesinks, and other things that Castlevania 1 didn’t care about, even if that meant the game was over a lot faster. This is the direction we want to go.

After we squished routes, we took another look at goals. Once you finished the starter goals and the first batch, you were left with hours to wait for the next batch. We squished that too. Goals now reset every 15 minutes and we’re working on adding more goals to the mix, but we’ll get more into that in the future.

We also looked at other things that felt like we were intentionally or unintentionally slowing down the player. One of these is the deceleration when you want to hit the Truck Stop. While Mike did an amazing job making the truck realistically slow down and stop, it’s tedious early on when you have to go from 5 power to 0 power over the course of a mile. For new truckers, this feels sluggish and tedious. That’s gone too.

Lastly, we looked at collectables; those little floaty bois you click on. One of our players commented that even after equipping clovers the frequency of collectables didn’t seem to get any better. There’s a reason for that. The way collectables currently work is this: every x seconds a collectable may or may not spawn, depending on your “luck.” You can increase this luck by equipping clovers, but it doesn’t change the frequency of the spawn. Best case scenario; a collectable always spawns once every x seconds and that timer never changes. This is being reworked: collectables will now spawn every x seconds regardless, but the x is determined by your luck. So, for example, if the slowest collectables spawn speed is 2 minutes, you can reduce this time with clovers, but a collectable will always spawn, it’s up to you and your gear as to when that happens.

We’re also balancing Fleet to be more engaging and affordable as well, and fixing a few bugs brought to our attention by the aforementioned amazing player base.

In summation, we’re working on a lot of things, but we’re going to try to get them all in the new patch coming… soon. That’s all for now. Have a nice weekend truckers!

Squish it Real Good,

Dan & Mike

New Trailer & Website

Hi Truckers,

Happy Wednesday! We’ve (finally) finished the first version of the official STL Early Access Trailer. It’s just too bad we don’t have a shiny new website to feature it on except we totally do because we also did that. Check out supertrucklife.com and revel in all its glory. Or just skip the site altogether because you’re already playing the game. Or if you want to do neither of those things you can just watch it right now:

Also, a big shout out to all of our new players. We hope you’re enjoying the (Super) Truck Life and if you’re not feel free to hurt our feelings in Discord.

We’ve got some big plans moving forward including extensive polish, tuning, and eventually a guest account so you don’t even have to log in if you’re (Super) paranoid. As mentioned in the last post, updates will be on a new schedule and by that we mean no schedule because updates will be more of a “when it’s ready” vibe. That being said, we’re counting on our players to tell us what we did right, what we did hilariously wrong, and to report any bugs or issues via discord and/or through our fancy form. All of your submissions go directly to Mike and he definitely totally told me personally that he’s excited to fix bugs instead of improving the game and adding fun things.

We’re pretty pumped for the future of STL and we’ll continue to improve the game until the end of time or until we run out of money and become homeless; whichever comes first.

Ya Bois,

Dan & Mike

 

 

Weekly Update: Weekly Update

Hi Truckers,

Happy Tuesday! That title may have confused you, but this week we’re talking about just that; the weekly update. With rare exceptions (holidays, etc) we’ve been posting every week consecutively since our first launch post in August of 2020. Yeah, 100+ posts over the course of almost 2 years. Until now, that mostly made sense. We’ve always wanted to keep our community updated on every little thing we were doing, even if it was just an announcement about how Mike and I were taking a week off because we occasionally need to leave the house.

However, as we have reached the massive milestone that is Early Access, STL is at a point where outside of the occasional bug, server maintenance, and polish there isn’t going to be all that much to talk about. On top of that, our personal schedules have changed, we’re working on a second game, and there’s still that STL trailer/website we’ve been working on for a few weeks. Lastly, there’s the whole marketing and launching the game in a finalized state that is going to need some love.

In short, there’s a lot of (good) shit going on, but STL and the blog will no longer be receiving (scheduled) weekly updates. If we happen to do something two weeks in a row that’s great, but we’re not going to commit to it is what we’re saying. Feel free to hit us up on discord with questions or suggestions and be sure to submit a report here if you find a bug so it’s added automatically to our punchlist.

Much Love,

Dan & Mike

Weekly Update: Website & Trailer

Hi Truckers,

Short update this week. No patch today because we’re still working on the website and trailer for STL so we can bring in some new truckers and make things all official and stuff. The website is nearly done, although the trailer might be a bit.

Next week we’ll be diving into release cadence and what to expect moving forward. Our schedules have changed, STL is almost ready for an EA release, and we’re slowly making progress on the second game in our arsenal. Instead of weekly updates, we’ll most likely be pushing updates as we complete them instead of a strict weekly schedule, but we’ll get into all that next time. We know STL still needs some polish and bug fixes but don’t worry, they’re on the list.

Keep on Truckin,

Dan & Mike

Level Up

Hi Truckers,

We’ve pushed yet another patch and this one is all about the new “level up” vernacular we’ve used to replace “ascensions” which as I covered in the previous post, is confusing and weird and dumb and stupid and dead now. If you didn’t read last week’s post, we briefly stumbled through an explanation trying to define the problem while providing a solution, which potentially only confused people further, so I won’t repeat that same mistake. I will however, try to summarize with a bullet list and a screenshot:

  • Any mention of “ascensions” has been replaced with “levels” globally
  • Level 1 panel has been added to the ascension (now level) panels
  • Level panel star icons have been replaced with locked/unlocked icons
  • Ascending is officially “leveling up”

Here’s a screenshot of the new level panel:

Hopefully the visual clears up any confusion, but essentially when you start the game you’ve unlocked Level 1, just like all video games since the beginning of time. You start the game with a naked truck, nitro boost, loot tiers up to legendary, 3 starting buffs, a handful of crates, and some basic crafting recipes. This sets the stage for where you are, what you can do, and what comes next. In short, it provides context.

As you can see by the icons, you’ve unlocked level 1, and level 2 (and beyond) is locked. Once you finish level 1, you’ll unlock level 2, and all the rewards that come with it. Simple.

In addition to everything we’ve already done in this week’s patch, we’re almost finished reworking the website and building out the official STL trailer. We’ll keep you posted on both.

Truckers for Life,

Dan & Mike

Build 270D is Live

Hi Truckers,

Yay, it’s patch day, which is always a good day. Unless we miss something and things break and everyone loses their minds which has never happened. We’ve done things in this patch. Let’s talk about those things:

  • replaced and/or added new sounds to all interactions
  • reduced fleet hire and level up costs
  • reduced overall route lengths (again)
  • drone option checkbox now works as intended
  • improved audio mix across the board
  • “ascensions” are now “levels” to simplify everything

Before we get into that last one I just casually threw in there at the end, let’s talk about the other changes first. Several sounds were replaced to fit the theme/brand of STL, and others were added where sound was absent. Let us know your thoughts when you’re done unmuting your browser tab or desktop client because you don’t care about our feelings.

We reduced fleet hire and level up costs by 50% because through some testing we found that once you unlock Fleet and hire a few drivers (if you can), you’re essentially broke with no scrap gains outside of smashing paints/parts, the occasional collectable, and the +1 buff. This felt limiting and we’d rather you had enough scrap to hire/level/reroll drivers until you find a solid starter Fleet.

Overall route lengths were reduced for reasons. A lot of them. But the TL;DR version is that while idle games consistently pride themselves on a grindy slogfest in lieu of “content,” we don’t. STL is intended to be an idle game at its core, with minigames, crafting, nitro, gambling, procedurally generated loot, collectables, and a lot more so active players feel rewarded for being active. Finding that balance is brutal, but we noticed towards the later levels (the artist formerly known as ascensions) the grind was too… grindy. The idle outweighed the active and threw off the balance, and we’d much rather serve a delicious three course meal that you’ll wish lasted longer as opposed to an unstoppable buffet at Applebees. If you’re unfamiliar with Applebees, lucky you. If you are literally Applebees, let’s talk sponsorship — we’re prepared to sell out and I was just kidding your “food” is amazing. Also sorry about the quotes just then.

Audio mix in this case is really just getting the levels right. For example (and not limited to), we reduced volume on nitro sounds a bit and the idle truck engine as well.

Now let’s chat about that last bullet in the above list. When we started building STL a few years ago we simply adopted the most common nomenclature for progression in idle games; ascensions. Another common label is prestige. We did this to help identify as an idle game and to describe what happens when you basically hit the end of the map and you’re ready to start over. While this is commonplace in the idle genre, it poses a few problems for STL. First, it potentially alienates/confuses non-idle gamers. Second, it’s off brand for STL. We use simple and self-explanatory terms as much as possible for reasons: accessibility and approachability. Everyone knows what “goals” are except for me until I was like 20 years old.  But if we changed “goals” to “aspirations,” there’s an inevitable drop-off in communication. Another problem is the negative connotation associated with the word ascension due to a lot of developers simply adding ascensions to pad the game with no actual content outside of doing the same exact thing but longer this time. STL introduces recipes, minigames, quality of life mechanics, badges, rewards, cosmetics, and other things that are intentionally locked behind ascensions. In short, we’re basically trivializing the effort and excitement behind the content and reward systems because we’re stupid.

But above everything else, it’s the inherent confusion that comes with referring to your progress in the game as your ascension level. When you start playing the game, you haven’t ascended yet, so you’re technically on A0, or Ascension Level 0. When you ascend for the first time, you’re on Ascension level 1, but technically you’re on level 2 because you just played through the first loop. Yes, I hate explaining this as much as you hate reading it; it’s confusing and convoluted. If all the reasons listed above weren’t enough, we still find ourselves misnaming ascension levels in internal discussions e.g., “well once you hit ascension 1, I mean, you’re on ascension level 1 because you beat ascension level 0. Or level 1. Mike help” because we don’t work as cryptologists for the f#%&ing CIA. The point is we found a simplified way to explain progression; levels. When you start the game, you’re starting on level 1 because of course you are. Have you ever played a Super Mario game and started on level 0 because of course you haven’t.  When you reach the end of level 1, you’re on level 2. This makes sense in every conceivable way, is easy to communicate to the player in multiple places, separates us from the idle standard, and keeps STL on brand. And it only took 2 years before we realized it needed to change and less than 2 hours to fix it so great job us.

The patch is live, so let us know what you think. This week, we’re working on rebuilding the STL website for a lot of reasons I won’t get into right now, as well as a classic Mike/Dan booze-fueled jam session on the STL trailer that is currently in production and also a massive time sink.

Not Affiliated with Applebees,

Dan & Mike

MTX & More

Hi Truckers,

As you know, we pushed a patch this past Friday instead of this Tuesday since Mike is out of town, focused primarily on balance. For Friday’s patch, we rebuilt the Shop which I will no longer refer to as “MTX” (microtransactions) considering there aren’t any. The only purchasable item in the shop is “Buy the Game,” which includes 7 exclusive paint packs, auto nitro, and a cheat menu which gives you the option of unlimited scrap, cash, pieces (crafting), and teleportation. This is a one-time purchase and technically the only thing you can buy because we’re bad at making money. Seriously though, the Shop has undergone a handful of iterations over the years until we finally landed on no microtransactions, and combining all previous available purchases into one easily navigable item. This also changed the layout of the shop panel itself, and now fits snugly in the 800×600 main game area like the rest of the panels which not only looks gravy, but helps avoid breaking immersion.

For those of you that already bought something in our shop since the beginning will have to purchase the game again just kidding — if you’ve spent more than 0 dollars on STL at any point in the history of STL, you’ll own the “Buy the Game” package. If you run into any issues or don’t see it as “owned” when accessing the shop, give us a heads up and we’ll dig into your account.

Moving forward, we’ve got a few more bugs to smash, an official STL trailer to build, and some balance changes on the horizon, and then it’s all about ongoing tweaks and fixes for STL while we pivot our focus to our second game (more on that in the near future).

Thanks again for the feedback, support, and love y’all have shown us over the years which is a really weird thing to say considering neither of us expected this project to go on that long, but damn it’s been worth it.

No Ragrets,

Dan & Mike