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Weekly Update: MTX Overhaul

Hi Truckers,

This week we’re going to talk about everyone’s favorite topic; monetization. Sure, we could do a deep dive on FleetTM, the new mini-game from the creators of Super Truck Life from the creators of This Joke Really Got Away from Me but instead we’re going to chat about the recent MTX overhaul we’ve made and why we did it. Don’t worry, the direction we took won’t require any pleas for sympathy/money in this post because the “overhaul” was basically gutting the hell out of the shop.

A few things you’ll need to know going into this (hopefully) brief read:

  1. MTX was tacked on.
  2. The game has changed dramatically since then.
  3. Players are paramount.

We started with a shotgun approach.

Without any data to back up our assumptions we landed on “all of the things” or “two idiots that have no idea what they’re doing” if you want to use marketing-industry terminology. To drive traffic, we also added a few “ads” to the rotating carousel and a somewhat predominant nav item on the left. In general this was met with a very positive reception and people felt the approach was sincere and hopefully you’ve read enough posts at this point to know we’ve arrived at the switch portion of the bait and switch; our friends were too nice to tell us we were doing anything wrong, while a handful of redditors straight up called us corporate predators. Awesome. Although if I’m being honest the inclusion of “corporate” there was kind of a compliment because it’s implying we aren’t a couple of dipshits making video games in our spare time and an actual company with bagels in the breakroom and an accounts receivable department.

Anyways the point is it wasn’t received well, but you wouldn’t know that from our sales numbers. That isn’t a humblebrag; it’s empirical evidence that while MTX is typically ignored or chastised in public, you’re getting a lot of that critique from the vocal minority. There’s a reason companies like EA tolerate mostly negative reviews and that reason is the old adage “any press is good press” just kidding it’s money. Reputation might build or break brand loyalty but cash is king. So what’s stopping us from just throwing crate packs all over the store page, intentionally throttling crate income, and generally creating problems with cash solutions? First of all, it isn’t sustainable. It’s a retirement model, not one designed for longevity. Bulldoze your rep long enough and eventually no one will want to be your friend just like high school. I mean for Mike. I was cool as shit in high school. Second, a Ted Talk on morality is basically the opposite of why anyone reads this blog so I’ll summarize; we may be a couple of dipshits but we’re dipshits with morals. We created STL to be a fun, ridiculous experience for everyone. We intentionally decided against paywalls, energy mechanics, and/or a tertiary currency with intentionally confusing exchange rates (7,243 bullshit crystals = $4.19 USD). It’s like baking a cake made out of fat and sugar and then applying frosting but the frosting is actually mayonnaise.

That being said, we still need to pay our bills and build capital for our next game, so we needed to find a balance. This was the result:

Yeah, that’s the whole shop, and one of them is your free daily crate. To summarize, there are really two things you can purchase in the shop; the booster pack and the works, which is effectively everything including an optional cheat menu to give yourself crates, scrap, cash, and teleport around the game world (or reset your progress). The left nav no longer has a shop icon, and the carousel has been removed altogether in the UI. The only way to access the shop is a small nav item at the top.

To take it a (transparent) step further, these are both one-time purchases. We won’t let you burn your rent money buying crate packs, even if you do something like get drunk and wake up the next day to find you bought every single mount in the WoW shop which I heard happened to someone who isn’t me. On top of that, buying the Works comes with the Booster pack, and buying the Booster pack takes 5 bucks off the Works.

TL;DR the most you can spend in our shop is $10. Period.

We have plans to release the game on Steam as well, with no microtransactions and a price point of, you guessed it, around $10.

This entire decision was based on a lot of deliberation between us and we both felt really good about the direction we’re taking with this. It might not be the most profitable, but it’s the most “us,” and hopefully our players will appreciate the lack of pressure and the added value if they so choose to support the team while having a lot of fun in the process.

Still Dipshits,

Dan & Mike

Weekly Update: A New (Better) Direction

Hi Truckers,

Let’s start with a disclaimer, the way most thrilling pieces of literature begin: If you currently do not have a beverage and/or snack I strongly recommend one; I’ll do my best to be succinct and entertain you with stupid jokes and fun visuals but spoiler alert I won’t be succinct at all. We have a lot to talk about, you and I (seriously is anyone even reading this).

I won’t bore you with a deep dive of our origin story, because trust me, it’s boring. We don’t have super powers, there was no catastrophic event that lead to Mike having laser vision or a biological disaster that gave me the ability to cook ramen without crying the entire time. We were just two corporate kids that started our own company, worked with clients, then pivoted to make video games instead.

STL is, objectively speaking, our first real game. It started as a very, very simple Unity demo with a truck driving itself through a generic parallax landscape and earning coins for each mile it passed. You bought a few upgrades with said coins and did the exact same thing, only faster because that’s basically the game loop for most idle/rpg games. After a few months of adding new features, content, systems, and even a social layer, we felt we were ready to find a publisher. Almost the same week we decided to do so, Kongregate, a major browser game portal and coincidentally our first choice for STL, announced its imminent demise in response to Adobe deciding Flash’s EOL would be at the end of 2020. For those of you that aren’t huge nerds, that means the owner of Flash, the predominant software platform often used for making games that were playable in browsers, decided to no longer support it and blocked content from running in the Flash Player.  Consequently, that put a lot of sites like Kongregate on life support. Dark days, man.

This is what Kongregate looks like today:

But hope was not lost. We also considered Armor Games, a similar site still thriving after a heavy pivot to Unity; the same software we used to make STL. That’s when AG and STL became best friends and braided each others hair and had pillow fights in their pajamas after eating waaay too much candy except for the fact that that’s not even close to what happened. We were informed that STL wasn’t a good fit and they’d be passing (for now). They were professional and respectful but it still meant another dead end. Damnit.

Armor Games:

A quick but necessary aside here is to answer your first question which is probably why the hell am I telling you all of these things, especially publicizing rejection. The answer is actually simple; we weren’t spiteful or defeated, but immediately decided we’d build our own Kongregate; our own Armor Games. Custom social systems with friends, chat, gifting, and notifications? Sure why not. Premium shop with Paypal integration? Sure why not. Our own servers? Sure why not. Custom admin tools built from scratch in WordPress? Sure why- the $#%@ are we doing this? Because we can. Mike and I are (objectively) very good at designing and building web properties so we wrapped one around STL, made it a “multiplayer game” with social elements, discussed (to death) multiplayer functionality, and created a web page that felt more like an ecosystem which we realized recently detracted from the whole single-player experience.

This is what STL looks like, right now on the live servers:

And that’s the point of this post, to introduce a new (better) direction for STL (holy shit you guys he said the title!). Instead of building this MMO vibe we realized we’d rather focus on the player’s experience rather than multiplayer functionality and social integration, especially given the genre of the game. We’ve talked about drag races, multiplayer boss battles (don’t ask), community events, competitions, and other things and none of them felt particularly fun, on brand, or worth the effort required. How does one make a multiplayer experience engaging, rewarding, and most importantly fun in a 2D scrolling game with a truck that drives itself? They don’t. And if they do, they did so by abandoning the core experience of the game to make a new one, and honestly what the hell is the point of that. That’s a rhetorical question; if the only way you can make a large group of players have a good time together is by deviating from the core loop as much as possible, you should be working on a different game dedicated to that purpose, from concept to execution.

To be painfully honest, STL was never really designed to be a multiplayer game, and that became more and more apparent the more systems we added. You can drive for weeks. You can upgrade your truck a dozen ways. You can customize your truck with over 200 paints and toppers. There are several custom built radio stations with licensed music in different genres and fake sketches and a real-life professional DJ (Stevenson) who was generous enough to host a fake radio station in STL. We built 12 different loot tiers with randomly generated stats into the game for custom parts to be installed. You can craft gear with unlocked recipes. There are over 100 achievements (badges) to earn with a secondary reward track for achievement milestones. There’s a race track you can place bets on, offline progress, and a fully built inventory management system. We have daily goals and a brief tutorial. There are 9 unique buffs you can apply to your truck, a slot machine, and multiple ascensions. All of those can exist and succeed independently from any multiplayer inclusion, and we’re not even done yet — I’ll get to that.

Not only is multiplayer unique from a gameplay standpoint, it also requires a lot of moderation and tech overhead. For those of you that have played a multiplayer video game, you’re well aware of the potential toxicity on the social level. There are only two of us; trying to moderate potentially thousands of players is basically impossible.  On top of that, if we get thousands of players chat will become a minefield of spam and a playground for trolls. We’d have to keep that locked down with profanity filters, volunteer moderators, ban hammers, extensive EULA policies, and possibly even legal intervention if something went sideways. We’re just not big enough to handle (or want to handle) that when we could be focusing on good times for our truckers. The requests to our servers also goes through the roof, bogging servers down, increasing costs, and adding to our workload. It’s just not worth it.

This is what STL currently looks like on our staging server:

Just a few minor changes. No big deal. For starters, the entire bottom of the screen wasn’t cropped out; it’s f’ing gone. Chat, DMs, Channels, and that carousel that absolutely no one ever complained about have been stripped from the UI. We removed Notes and Friends from the right panel and replaced the space with a larger area dedicated to Goals. Because Goals are fun. With the carousel removed we also decided to move the Shop into a more subtle top nav item, removing it from the left side altogether to put less focus on MTX and pissing people off with MTX which also definitely never happened. The left nav is now reserved for action items the player cares about, and frequently jumps between. If you haven’t been keeping up on the blog (aw), we’ve added 4 more ascensions and a new loot tier, additional crafting recipes, 6 new buffs with unique bonuses, and tweaked balance and rewards relentlessly to the benefit of the player. There are also visual/audio improvements, like a spinning barber pole animation on the mile bar with little sparks that fly off the end as you hit miles, randomly placed cash and scrap feedback text to keep things lively, multiple indicators on web elements when interacting, and audio cues as well.

Leaderboards have been removed completely. We realize this one might hit a few of you in the plums, but rest assured it was for the greater good. While we always listen to our players, creating a fiercely competitive environment was never our intention either, and ironically the leaderboards were born after a few closed beta players requested them because there was little else to do in the game. Now that we’ve got so much going on leaderboards just seem arbitrary; especially when things in the shop could potentially give players advantages over others. It doesn’t seem fair, fun, or a holistic approach to a game otherwise absent of a multiplayer focus.

We also reworked the MTX shop to provide more bang for your buck, if that’s your thing. You can even buy the “full game” which hilariously kills the MTX shop entirely and we’ll never bother you again. This decision, much to the absolute irritation of every predatory cash grabby game on the planet, was a joint decision to give people the option to opt out of further MTX purchases and get absolutely everything in the shop while simultaneously hooking your bois up with a decent meal and by a decent meal I mean buying a nice bottle of scotch to celebrate your generosity and our inability to spend money like responsible adults.

On top of everything else, if you made it this far (thanks for that, by the way), you might have noticed something interesting in that last screenshot I deceptively failed to mention. See it now? No? It’s this:

Mike has been working his wrinkly old balls off on a desktop version of the game. For those of you that don’t want to rely on a browser, you can download and install the game and slap that bad Larry right on your desktop. You’ll still be fully connected to the servers, and when we push new builds and updates you’ll get those without having to do anything other than restarting the game. Lastly (no, really) some of you are aware that backgrounding the game in a browser, including switching tabs or minimizing can lead to frequent disconnects. We’ve explained why this happens in the past and even introduced offline progress to counter this issue as many idle games do because it’s basically out of our control otherwise. Not only can you background the desktop client, but you can minimize that shit entirely without getting disconnected. If you own Cookie Clicker on Steam, you know exactly what that feels like. We’re testing the app and so far everything works beautifully. I’m sure we’ll encounter a bug or five but until then, weee!

The last thing I want to mention is that I can speak for both of us when I say we have no regrets. We knew we’d make mistakes, learn from them, and move on. We knew that not every feature was going to be a resounding success and fun is subjective. We knew we’d piss some people off (on accident) and make amends. Everything we’ve built we’re glad we did. Even though we did in fact build our version of a gaming portal like Armor Games, it doesn’t mean we can’t use that in the future; STL is not just the first game we’ve built, it’s the first of many. Our social wrapper will be applied when we decide to make a true multiplayer game, and we’re pumped to get to that point. For now, we’re focused on STL being the best single player experience we provide, and we hope y’all are excited to experience it when it goes live… at some point. We’ll also be overhauling and utilizing our Discord exclusively to keep the community intact. We can gain insights through feedback, share screens for work sessions, host AMAs, post updates, and interact with our awesome truckers without the need for multiplayer integration in the game itself. Our Discord will become the Strike Interactive HQ, not only focused on STL, but every game we build from here on out. We hope you’ll join us there.

Next week, we’ll be diving into the last piece of the puzzle; Fleet. A robust mini game focused on managing a fleet of truckers under your own flag that’ll let you hand pick drivers to build an army, earning crates and other rewards down the road (get it). Thanks for reading the most absurdly long blog post in the history of the internet and for sticking with us on this ridiculous journey. I’d show you a screenshot or two but my fingers are going to fall off.

Much Love,

Dan & Mike

Weekly Update: Balance, Polish, & Content IV

Hi Truckers,

We’ve got another exciting update for y’all so strap in; there’s a lot to cover today. Last week we talked new unlockable buffs, new effects, and the new ascension skill tree. The week before that, we added 4 brand new ascensions to game. But that’s old news, because this week we put in some overtime and burned through a ton of balance, polish, and content just like the title implies. Let’s start with this:

I’ll save you some time checking the previous post, and point out that not only did we add yet another ascension bringing the total to 6 before the Endless Road (which is its own end game content), but in order to do so we introduced yet another loot tier: Elite. This tier unlocks once you’ve ascended for the 5th time. All 6 ascensions, 6 additional buffs, and unlockable loot tiers are fully functional in testing. The vertical slice is no longer a slice, but a delicious apple pie that you can actually eat because that’s one of the buffs. Here are the six new paint sets in all their original-sized glory in case you can’t tell from the screenshots:

Also, here are the panels you can’t see in the new ascension layout for buff unlocks:

Once we wrapped up the content, we burned through the list and made a “few” additional tweaks:

  • the scrapyard now has a % on the nav, to let you know how full your scrapyard is
  • complete rework of scrapyard income and timers
  • balanced routes after the first ascension
  • added more sound effects to the UI
  • added more crafting recipes for end game content including recipes requiring Endless Road drops
  • “gamble” now “slots” at the diner
  • slots now have a max bet limit

At this point you might be thinking “wow these posts really get me pumped it’d be a real shame if I could actually f’ing see any of it live” but there’s a lot we’ve got to test. Not only did we add weeks and weeks of content but we also tuned the hell out of everything along the way. The entire ecosystem has changed. We’ve overhauled multiple systems including foundational things like Storage, Crafting, Scrapyard, and Loot. Y’all get it. The point is we appreciate your patience more than you know, and we’re trying to share as much as we can every week, but when this patch goes live, it’s going to be huge. Not only that, it should be close if not ready for Early Access (out of Beta).

Regardless, we also did a few other things I can’t get into right now. Let’s just say the UI has been overhauled again. Redesigned. Rebuilt. For reasons I’ll dive into next week, along with a thorough explanation and those pretty pictures.

Currently Content with Content,

Mike & Dan

Weekly Update: Balance, Polish, & Content III

Hi Truckers,

Today we’re getting buff. I mean, we’re going to talk about buffs. Reading a blog post while sitting or lying down is the opposite of getting buff. That being said, we’ll be exploring their new effects, how to unlock them, and what they are. Let’s dive right in:

A new panel has been added to each ascension: buffs. While you still start the game with the three (taco, nitro sweat, sausage) you’ll unlock a new buff each ascension. Once unlocked, the buffs will become available in the diner:

Notice the red arrows indicating the diner now has three “pages” to dig through to find those delicious buffs. I haven’t hit ascension 4 yet, so if I try to check out the last set of buffs, I get this:

You bastards. Guess I’ll just have to ascend to find out what those are going to do just kidding here’s the full list with the new labels as well:

Mark’s Taco: +1 Scrap/Mile
Nitro Sweat: 2x Nitro Duration
Jeff’s Sausage: 2x Coins/Mile
Mike’s Burger: 2x Nitro Fill Rate
Hot Fries: +5 Nitro Power
Choco Shake: 1.5X Collectible Value
Apple Pie: +10 Scrap when Smashing
Dan’s Coffee: +5 Engine Power
Frosted Donut: Better Loot Drops

That’s the whole buffet, baby. We’ve temporarily removed the events (and their buffs) from the game as well until they’re a lot more fun and engaging (like mini-games, for example).

Next week, we’ll be digging into the Ascension Skill Trees; permanent upgrades in a skill tree you can purchase every ascension including improvements to offline progress. So exciting. So vague. So worth the wait for me to reveal more details (?) Ok fine damnit, you win:

So Buff Rn,

Dan & Mike

Weekly Update: Balance, Polish, & Content II

Hi Truckers,

Today we get to share two more things we’ve designed, built, and thrown into testing. Let’s start with just some really minor stuff that’s totally not a big deal:

Notice anything different? No? How ’bout now:

That’s right; we’ve added 3 new ascensions already in testing! Amazing! Impossible! Loud noises!

Not only have we added 3 new ascensions, each one comes with a new paint set, unlocked loot tier, crate pack, increased buff timers, and tasty new recipes so get ready to get crafting. If that doesn’t get you excited first of all how dare you and second of all let me ask our existing players a question: Do you scrap your parts for scrap to spend scrap at the track or craft or do you smash parts for pieces and regret that because now you can’t afford to bet or craft without enough scrap?

Yeah, I blacked out twice just writing that. The short version is by choosing to sacrifice scrap or pieces when scrapping or smashing, respectively, you were sacrificing one thing for another. It didn’t feel like a fun choice, and with the RNG on pieces it felt even worse. It was also difficult to remember crafting recipe requirements resulting in a constant jump between crafting and storage. We went ahead and fixed that:

Smashing a part or paint results in both scrap and pieces. This functionality is also in testing, and it feels good. You also might notice the left panel now includes the name of your topper and paint you currently have equipped. Did that too, nbd.

At the risk of recycling content from the last post, I’d like to briefly summarize what is currently in testing (which essentially means it’s fully functional, with a few bugs we’re ironing out):

  • Overhauled loot system with better rolls, rarity unlocks, intuitive/bigger percentage ranges, and poor rarities vanishing forever as you ascend
  • Overhauled crafting system with significantly improved recipes; lower requirements, and a handful of new recipes for the 3 new ascensions
  • 3 shiny new ascensions with fully fleshed out rewards including 3 new paint sets
  • Shorter goals timer
  • Shorter track timer
  • Smash & Scrap is now just smash, and it does both things
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements like no more crate stuttering
  • Cheaper upgrade scaling at the garage so you can specialize in a “build”

On the list:

  • Route balancing
  • New sound effects and improvements
  • New radio stations
  • Endless road scaling
  • Badge balancing/staggering
  • More leaderboards
  • Scrapyard balancing – faster intervals, less scrap
  • 6 additional buffs in the diner
  • More…

While I could explore a lot of these in more detail, we’ll get to that in the coming weeks. Instead, here’s a sneak preview of the new buffs to hold you over. Get it? Because it’s food? I’ll see myself out:

That’s all I’ve got to share for now, but we’re getting close to getting some of these bad bois live. Stick around.

It Was a Food Pun,

Dan | Mike

 

Weekly Update: Balance, Polish, & Content

Hi Truckers,

Nothing makes me happier than starting this blog post with a new title. Holy $#@% you guys. It took a while to get that backend overhaul done but it’s done damnit and now it’s time to go hard on the fun stuff; balance, polish, and content. While those three words seem relatively straight forward, maybe they aren’t, especially when it comes to this beautiful disaster we call Super Truck Life. Effectively, balance means pushing numbers around. For example, the upgrades purchased at the garage scale way too fast and become almost completely unaffordable pre-ascension. That’s a balance issue. We’ve already reeled in the multiplier and it we’re testing it; it feels way better. Polish is basically taking something we did a century ago and revisiting the layout, icons, fonts, button placement, sounds, etc where applicable. An example of polish would be adding sounds when claiming badge rewards because right now there aren’t any at all and it provides the player with no feedback. Content could cover a lot of things, but really this means adding ascensions, radio stations, events, and mini games. We’re doing all of these things, and prioritizing accordingly. Speaking of which, here’s what’s in this week’s patch:

Live:

  • Fixed a wallet bug where purchasing something was taking more cash than was required — thanks Spooble, you’re awesome
  • Fixed the “why am I naked” bug where you would load in occasionally without pa(i)nts on
  • Fixed a performance issue that was causing the crate to stutter/freeze on opening

In Testing:

  • Loot table overhaul (details below)
  • Crafting overhaul (details below)
  • Garage upgrade balance

Before we dive in, feel free to jump ahead if you don’t want to hear all about loot and crafting. There’s going to be quite a bit to cover and even though we have offline progress now it’d be great if you weren’t earning it while in a coma from reading through things you don’t care about.

We’ve definitely mentioned the loot tables more than once, but those words are drowning somewhere in a sea of blog posts so here’s the recap: loot feels ok. It should feel good. A lot of crates were being opened and not a lot of drops were happening. On top of that, the ascension increasing the loot quality with the tiers intact was a little confusing and the % range on tiers was limited. Basically we built a beautiful little loot system that almost immediately started to hulk out of its shirt and starting breaking furniture. We needed to simplify, and sometimes simplifying means starting over. So we did. Here’s how loot currently works:

  1. There are 11 loot tiers: cracked, common, uncommon, rare, epic, legendary, heirloom, insane, overpowered, dan’s, endless
  2. Each part has roughly an 7-8% stat range: cracked – 1% -8%, common – 9% – 16%, uncommon 17% – 25%, and so on
  3. Ascensions determine loot quality: it is possible an ascension level 0 (haven’t ascended) rare engine is weaker than an ascension 1 (have ascended) uncommon engine regardless of the tier
  4. Loot tables are determined by a singular table with percentages. Cracked might be around 60% and Epic might be closer to 10%. This never changes
  5. All loot tiers are available from the beginning of the game until the end with the exception of Endless gear which is, unsurprisingly, only available on the Endless Road

This felt messy; it wasn’t “bad,” but it also wasn’t “awesome” which is kind of our baseline goal for all of our systems, especially the one with the biggest rewards. We could have simply shifted some numbers around to make better gear drop more frequently, but that didn’t feel awesome either. Here’s what we did:

  1. There are still 11 loot tiers. However upon further evaluation we decided that the word “uncommon” was stupid and boring so it is now officially “mighty.”
  2. Each part has roughly a 9-10% stat range. This may seem insignificant, but it’s much easier to determine if you got a “good” part or a “crappy” part at first glance: cracked – 1% – 10%, common – 11% – 20%, mighty – 21% – 30%.
  3. Ascensions no longer determine loot quality. An epic engine will always be better than a rare engine. This simplifies the system and the player experience a lot. Going from a rare at 31% to an epic at 50% is a much more exciting jump.
  4. Loot tables now change based on ascension, because tiers are subtracted and added, shifting probability; see #5
  5. Legendary is the highest loot tier until you ascend the first time. Once you ascend, the heirloom tier is unlocked, and the cracked tier is gone forever. Eventually, the common tier drops off as well, while higher tiers keep unlocking

Basically loot is simplified, more rewarding, easier to identify and compare, and we’ve shifted the probabilities around a lot so better drops with bigger ranges drop more often.  Over multiple ascensions certain tiers will drop off to remove clutter/garbage, while every ascension introduces a new loot tier and target for our more min-max players. This is a vast improvement over the previous system, and feels substantially better. It’s in testing on our end; right now we’re just trying to determine if the tables are fair which is a little tough with a small focus group. Soon enough, we’ll be relying on player feedback to make sure we get that balance right.

Crafting is an entirely different issue but requires a much smaller explanation; it’s almost unapproachable until you’re absolutely rich. That’s a problem. The recipes required a lot of pieces and scrap. A lot. They also didn’t really provide the bonuses to justify the cost until much later in the game as I already mentioned. To double down, the recipes didn’t necessarily make sense, or follow a simple pattern. In other words, it didn’t feel intuitive because it didn’t meet expectations. If I’m building a slightly better version of an engine which required 1 engine piece, I would expect the new engine to require 2 engine pieces. That’s not really how things worked and it gets confusing quickly. We needed to fix that too.

Over the weekend, we went through the entire crafting sheet and shaved a ton of requirements off, made sure every subsequent recipe followed a specific pattern, and reduced the absolute $#@% out of the scrap costs. Scrap is much more supplemental now, and much less substantial. Anyways, we’re testing this too.

The crafting system will likely go live in the near future, but the loot system won’t. We need more ascensions/content for the loot overhaul to make sense, but we have plans for that too, like the ascension skill tree that we’ve already built wireframes for that I’m going to casually mention then expand on next week right before I end this post incredibly abruptly.

Until Next Time,

Dan/Mike

Offline Progress (and More) is Live!

Hi Truckers,

The moment you’ve all maybe been waiting for has finally arrived; offline progress is live! That’s right, any time you’re offline your truck will keep on truckin’. Your progress is now saved in real-time so say goodbye to those extremely fun and not even remotely annoying desync issues. Now that offline progress actually exists, it’s probably a good time for a quick recap.

Offline progress aka Cruise Control™ effectively puts your truck on auto-drive the moment you disconnect from the server (we’ll let you know with an alert) and keeps going infinitely until you get back. When you do return, and you better damnit because those crates aren’t going to crack themselves, you’ll get another alert letting you know how far you drove, the amount of cash you earned, and any crates you picked up for completing a route. Boom.

A few things of note while offline I’ve mentioned several times in the past but I mean honestly I don’t even read my own posts at this point:

  • Buffs are inactive
  • Nitro will not trigger (including auto-nitro)
  • Parts, upgrades, and shop bonuses are applied to offline power (speed)
  • Overall power is reduced while offline

Yeah, that last bullet point. After almost two weeks of testing, we landed on reducing the offline power for a few reasons. First off, it’d blow your mind how fast you can drive across the game world when you’re literally doing anything other than playing the game. You could blow through all that tasty content while drowning in watermelon White Claws and binging Squid Game and if that sounds oddly specific I did that last week; mystery solved.

The point is, building a game so people can avoid playing it as much as possible felt equal parts stupid and hilarious, but also increasing route lengths to obnoxious distances felt like we were punishing the active players. We landed on reducing overall power while offline because it felt like the most fun/fair approach. Active players can keep on truckin’, while offline junkies still make a lot of progress without skipping the entire game. As an added and definitely calculated bonus, we realized this could provide opportunities to introduce “offline parts” like engines or totems that improve offline performance. We’ve always wanted to introduce “builds” to improve player agency and this is the first step in that direction. Let us know what you think!

In addition to offline progress, as mentioned the last few weeks, we needed three very specific alerts. “Alerts” are basically notifications over the game client when we need to tell you something, like the server is going down, you’ve been disconnected, and/or what kind of things you(r truck) did while offline. All three of these have been built, implemented, and tested. Done.

Lastly, with a little time left, we made a few small changes to the timers. The Daily Goals now refresh every 8 hours, down from 24 hours. You probably don’t need a lengthy explanation as to why, so to put it in simple professional game dev terms, it felt bad and now it feels less bad. We also shaved 4 minutes off of the Track cycle, so instead of races every 10 minutes or so, they run every 6. Have fun with that.

Before I wrap this up, I can’t resist the opportunity to thank our players once again. Y’all have been patient and supportive the whole time and we appreciate it. This patch has been a slog but a damn necessary one, damnit. Now that we’ve got offline and real-time progress we can completely focus on balance, polish, and content, and we’re f#$@ing pumped.

Pumped af rn,

Dan & Mike

Weekly Update: Alerts & Offline Coming Next Week

Hi Truckers,

Short post this week, for reasons. We get that the “coming next week” part of the title excited you slightly less than if it wasn’t there at all, but we’re still ironing out a few bugs and tweaking balance (offline power, server timers, messaging). We’ve put an unreasonable amount of time into this patch so we want to make sure everything is delivered as intended. While we were hoping to release everything today according last week’s update, we also mentioned “no promises” because it turns out that spending a month developing features then less than a week testing them is a terrible idea.

That being said, there are a few reasons to get even more excited about next week. Since we probably don’t need the whole week of testing we might have a little bonus time to work on some extra polish/balance, especially if we decide to reset progress for this big boi patch. Either way, I’ll keep y’all posted and if it feels needed, post an update over the weekend with where we’re at.

Truck It,

Dan & Mike

 

Weekly Update: Overhaul, Alerts, & Offline Progress (In Testing!)

Hi Truckers,

That’s right, damnit. After over a month of planning and refactoring and consequently abusing our livers we’ve finally hit a huge milestone; the overhaul is almost complete, which includes offline progress. Here’s some of that sweet, sexy proof:

Yep, that’s real and a screenshot I took from our staging server a few minutes ago. Also, everything is now saving in real-time as I mentioned in the previous post. You can close the game at any time, and Cruise Control™ takes over until you return. When you do, that’s the screen you get.

We’re (see: Mike) also currently working through both the Server Shutting Down and Disconnected alerts which provide the player with even more delicious feedback:

While the copy isn’t quite finalized and I’m too lazy to change it for the blog post, the functionality almost is. These are all real screens. Really though.

You might find it suspicious at this point that I keep reiterating how real these very real screenshots are but that’s because I can barely believe it myself. A month ago we had desyncs and no alerts and we sure as hell didn’t have offline progress. Today we have real-time progress, all 3 alerts, and offline progress. It’s not all quite where it needs to be and we’ve discovered surprisingly few bugs, but we’re testing everything internally and holy shit you guys offline progress is a game changer. Literally, the game is different now.

Anyways, we’re aiming for next week to launch this bad Larry but no promises because if I promise you that the next blog post will be written by Mike and titled “Dan Died.” Beyond that, it’s all balance, polish, and content!

So Close We Can Taste it and it Tastes Like Jeff’s Sausages,

Mike/Dan

Weekly Update: Real-time Progress

Hi Truckers,

Remember last week when I was all like yeah sorry we’re still doing stuff and it’s too technical to get into? Same, because that’s what I said. Well good news bois and girls or whatever you identify as (we identify as trucks). We’ve made massive progress thanks to Mike’s tireless coding-while-screaming technique. That’s right…

Real-time progress is in testing! Now that travel is going through the websocket, your miles, cash, and scrap will be saved in real-time. That means that if you accidentally sneeze and close the tab or set your computer on fire because those are the only two reasons you’d ever want to stop playing, when you come back you’ll be exactly where you left off. This also means you can, in theory, say goodbye to the desync issues of the past. I know you’re all probably thinking that’s amazing it’s about f&$@ing time you nerds well first of all wow calm down ok this was really hard to build and second of all it’s not amazing enough, which brings me to the next topic; offline progress.

Instead of simply returning to an “auto-saved” state with your progress intact, we want to introduce the next step; progress when you’re not playing. This is not a new concept to anyone that has played an idle game before, but for the cool kids this means your truck is effectively on autopilot while you’re not driving it directly. The moment you close the game (or lose connection to the websocket for whatever reason) your Truck drives itself. What are the limitations/benefits/conditions you ask? I’ll break it down.

Cruise Control™ is a concept totally unique and exclusive to Super Truck Life™ and definitely not a term used anywhere else in the world. We do in fact have a lawyer to verify this but I keep them as far away from the blog as possible for… legal reasons. Anyways, CC™ simply looks at your base power, and keeps your truck rolling. This does not include Nitro (because you’re not there to press it), or any active buffs (for reasons). What it does include is base power, upgrades, gear bonuses, and any power-specific items purchased in the Shop. While it’s not going to compete with (active) Truckers smashing the absolute $#@* out of the Nitro button, it’s going to keep driving until you return. Any routes/regions you complete, cash rewards and crates will be there waiting for you.

We’re pretty excited. So much so that I don’t want to dilute that statement with jokes. This whole slog has been a bit of a jerk (Mike’s allergic to jerks), but we’re over this hurdle and pumped for the future. We hope y’all are too.

Respectfully Limited on Idiosyncratic Valedictions,

Dan // Mike