EARLY ACCESS SUPER TRUCK LIFE

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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

Fleet, Scrapyard, & Routes Balance

Hi Truckers,

Another Tuesday, another patch. This week, we took a hard look at balance and made some pretty big changes based both on your feedback and items collecting digital dust on the backburner:

  • Reduced Scrapyard income
  • Reduced Scrapyard capacity
  • Increased Scrapyard upgrade cost
  • Increased Fleet crate reward requirements
  • Reduced route lengths across the board

I know some of you are going to see this as mostly a nerf patch, because it mostly is, but there’s a method to the madness so allow me to explain. First, Scrapyard was relatively easy to max all upgrades by Ascension 4, which was never our intention considering Scrapyard doesn’t even unlock until Ascension 3. It also works offline, which means you could potentially rake in millions of scrap within a few days. Thanks again to Pylot_Kwis who provided screenshots confirming this. With this nerf we tried not to over correct and find a fun balance between value in upgrades and income without ya know, breaking the game. Let us know how it feels or if you’re really upset about it it’s totally Mike’s fault.

Next on the list, a simple change to Fleet makes crate income less frequent by extending the progress requirement. At max level, what we intended to be a steady trickle of supplemental crate income became a noticeable firehose, effectively diluting the value of crates and route progression in general similar to the maxed out Scrapyard.

Speaking of routes, this was the opposite of a nerf; all routes from your first ascension and beyond have been reduced quite a bit. This means less grind, more crates (and rewards), and faster progression in general. Not only will this offset the above nerfs a bit, but it should make the entire experience a lot more meaningful and rewarding. That being said, as always we’re leaving it to our amazing players to make fun of us and/or provide feedback until we get this shit “right.”

Let us know what you think of these new changes and feel free to make suggestions on Discord. This week we’ll be working on fine tuning the shop layout and functionality, locking down the STL trailer, and updating the website because seriously it’s been like 2 years.

Nerf Squad (Mostly),

Dan & Mike

Build 268a is Live

Hi Truckers,

Y’all have been providing a lot of invaluable feedback that’s allowed us to make some pretty drastic improvements over the last few weeks, and we appreciate the hell out of you. This week, we’ve got a pretty thicc patch that addresses a lot of these issues and adds a handful of enhancements we’re pumped about. We’ve also got a solid plan for the next patch but I’ll get to that in a minute. Less go:

  • Fixed vending machine button interactions for crates
  • Fixed vending machine button interactions for parts
  • Fixed vending machine button interactions for paints
  • Cleaned up crate roll animations (should be smoother now)
  • Cleaned up route ending star/coin animations
  • Removed legacy code from map for events
  • Fixed truck animation code on map when moving to new region
  • Optimized webgl tooltip code
  • Fixed slot machine max bet bug when user has more than 1 million coins
  • Added a new sound when a daily goal is ready to be claimed
  • Added a new sound for claiming regular daily goal
  • Added a new sound for claiming golden daily goal
  • Added a new sound for hiring a fleet driver
  • Added a new sound for equipping a fleet driver
  • Added a new sound for claiming a badge reward

Like I said, she thicc. Props to Mike for going beyond scope and knocking out a handful of (hilarious) audio cues on a handful of actions. We’re still missing audio feedback on a few elements but we’re all over that shit and we’ll squeeze them into the next patch. Speaking of which, we’re going to be tackling some balance issues including Scrapyard cost and payout, Fleet progression, and route lengths — we’re going to reduce them to avoid any endgame “grind” that feels more like a “slog” which is antithetical to STL which is about “fun” and not “we ran out of content so idk just leave your computer on for another month.” We’ll also be tackling something no one gives a shit about (until they absolutely do) which is the Shop. As some of you know, when we launched STL we had a slightly more aggressive business model where the shop was prominent and advertised in multiple places. The shop inventory itself was also massive and we experienced some minor criticism from new and existing players just kidding they called us predators. We’ve stripped it down a lot, and now there are only technically 2 items in the shop, but this is confusing and we can’t effectively say the game is “free of microtransactions” which is kind of a bummer.

Instead, we’re going to take a much more simplified approach. The Shop will contain two items: a place to claim your daily crate as usual, and “The Works” or “Literally Our Rent” or “Name Pending” which is basically a ton of stuff like Auto Nitro, Power Boosts, Cosmetics, and the infamous Cheat menu if you want to break the game for funsies. The free version of the game will always be available with no paywalls, energy mechanics, and/or hidden bullshit, with the option to throw a few bucks (likely $4.99) our way via The Works package.

That’s it for now, keep that feedback coming. Oh, and special shout out to Pylot_Kwis in Discord who recently pointed out that the Scrapyard needs some serious love.

Serious Love,

Dan & Mike

 

Bugs & Stuff

Hi Truckers,

It’s Tuesday and that day is the greatest of all days because we fixed more things after Mega Patch introduced more things to fix because that’s how it works. Let’s go:

  • Fixed trigger height on the Daily Crate so you can click the button instead of just the image
  • Fixed a potential security hole by adding server side locks for all minigames – some server side calls were not checking for ascension level
  • Removed scrapyard and track goals if they’re not unlocked yet
  • Debug (cheat) menu modified so you can skip miles within 10k of the warehouse without skipping multiple routes
  • Overhaul of map and map animations when traveling between regions — work in progress

And… that’s it. The map overhaul is taking a little longer because the map with all those cool travel animations was something we did literally years ago and like a lot of old systems it’s less “fix a few things” and more like “take it outside and shoot it in the face” then rebuild it. We should be done with that in the near future. We’ve been listening to our Discordians (is that a word?) and trying to knock out as many fixes as we can before we introduce the game to a broader audience, but over the next few weeks we’ll still be tuning and fixing bugs y’all find.

As far as the “stuff” portion of this post, we’ll be making some changes to the overall structure of the discord including a “happy hour” chat on Fridays (down the road), and working on an STL trailer to promote the game. Exciting stuff. Also, as some of you know we’re working on a second game. Details coming… eventually.

Byeee,

Mike & Dan

 

Build 267b is Live

Hi Truckers,

It’s been a week since we launched Mega Patch and things have gone pretty well, especially considering Mega Patch was a f’ing behemoth and we only discovered (with your help) a few minor bugs. Ok, a few of them were a bit more than minor but hey they’re fixed now so it’s like it never happened. That’s how that works… right?

Anyways, build 267b is live and we did things:

  • Fleet drivers now gain experience/levels much slower (as intended)
  • Fixed bug associated with burger buff causing all sorts of hilarious nitro issues
  • Fixed issues with visual feedback not displaying current wallet (cash/scrap) amounts even if they were accurate on the server
  • Fixed bug that fortunately no one but us found allowing the player to claim crates indefinitely

A quick note on that first bullet point — if you’re currently employing capped drivers and want to test the new balance, please hire new ones — sorry, but it’s better than a wipe 🙂

Moving forward, we’ll be focused on any additional glaring bugs, optimization, and adding some minor content, but at this point STL is in the final phases of Early Access so expect to see an influx of new players in the near future. Thanks again for all your feedback and please keep it coming; we know things aren’t perfect but it gets a little closer with every build (spoiler: it’ll never be perfect, but we’ll try).

Truck Yes,

D&M

Weekly Update: Post-Launch

Hi Truckers,

We hope you’ve been enjoying Mega Patch in all its glory. Over the last few days, we’ve been collecting feedback, playing through the game ourselves, and compiling a list based on priorities. Unsurprisingly, we/you found a few bugs we’re looking into. Surprisingly, there were literally only a few. We’re digging in and trying to fix the most offensive issues as quickly as possible, so quickly that Mike has already pushed a ninja patch to fix an issue with Fleet that is no longer a ninja patch because I just told you about it.

Either way, it won’t be long before Mega Patch meets our/your standards, we release the game into the wild with some marketing efforts, and collectively watch Mike spiral into madness as our servers crumble into the ground. Wee!

Now that STL has hit a pretty massive milestone being all feature complete and stuff with this patch we’ll be focusing on a periodic punch list to improve STL at a slightly slower pace while we plan for the future. There isn’t much else to say since Mega Patch went live on Friday, but know that we’re pumped to make it even better over the coming months while simultaneously working on a second game and occasionally reaching out to our significant others somewhere in the mix before they leave us.

Lastly, a quick thanks (again) for all your feedback and support. It’s a little premature for a post mortem but let me say that this has been a hell of a ride and STL is finally (almost) in a spot where it feels like a complete game we’re (almost) confident inviting many more players to experience. Until then, we’ve got some work to do, but as always we’ll keep you posted.

Can’t Stop Even at the Truck Stop,

Dan & Mike

Mega Patch is Live

Hi Truckers,

You read that right. Mega Patch is LIVE! After months of design and code and punishing our livers into oblivion we’ve managed to reach a major milestone for STL; Early Access! Holy s#@%!

This might be a good opportunity to go through every single solitary change we’ve made over the last few months but honestly there’s so much I wouldn’t know where to start. But I’ll try:

  • Redesigned UI
  • Refined Track & Scrapyard
  • New Minigame: Fleet
  • Refined ascensions/rewards/unlocks
  • New buffs
  • New recipes
  • New radio stations
  • Route balance
  • Bug fixes
  • MTX (shop) overhaul
  • Loot overhaul
  • Drone (auto-collectables)
  • Auto Buffs
  • Debug (cheat) menu
  • New Goals (rewards)
  • Refined Goals
  • New Badges
  • Refined Badges (rewards)
  • Optimization
  • Multiplayer wrap removed
  • Notes, Gifting, etc removed
  • Ad carousel removed
  • Cried a little
  • Full blown existential crisis
  • Drunk texted Mike
  • Put Mega Patch together
  • Shipped it
  • More…

Needless to say, we did a lot. Like a lot, a lot. Now it’s your turn. All you have to do is play the game, provide some feedback, and we’ll apply that feedback to future patches before we confront our insecurities and go public. Jokes aside, we can’t thank y’all enough for all the support, love, and contributions you’ve all made throughout this super stressful fun process. Where do we go from here, you ask? Well, STL still has a ways to go, we’re prototyping another game (not STL2), and restructuring Discord. Exciting things. For now though, it’s time for a drink. Or several.

It’s several.

Much Love,

Dan & Mike

 

Weekly Update: Mega Patch IX

Hi Truckers,

Happy Tuesday! We’re still on track for Mega Patch release which is pretty cool. Also pretty cool? New radio stations. As we wrap up polish/optimization/content we went ahead and added two new stations; Overdrive and Truck FM. The former being a hard hitting EDM station and the latter basically being the opposite of that; a talk show with a lot of hilarious skits that Mike put together with a few friends while I was probably at home binging Community for the 13th time after humbly declining the offer to join them or while I was “sick” which is what I told him when he invited me. Anyways it’s damn good content, and a nice break from the anxiety-inducing adrenaline-fest that is Overdrive. We also reordered the radio stations so there’s a nice contrast as you flip through until you find the right genre for your mood or whatever.

The final two heavy lifts remaining, which are really not heavy are balancing/improving Goals and Badge requirements. That’s basically it. There are little things on our wishlist but the vast majority can wait until after we ship this fatty. Beyond that we’re looking at literally the same thing we’ve mentioned a thousand times: packaging the patch and shipping it which is not exactly a simple task. However, we’ve discussed preloading a lot of the effort throughout the week so we aren’t in panic mode and/or destroying any semblance of a weekend and we can spend that time playing the game for funsies if that’s even possible after staring at this god damn thing for two years.

Probably.

Get Your Ass to the Endless Road (Mars),

Mike & Dan

Weekly Update: Mega Patch VIII

Hi Truckers,

Aside from regretting using Roman numerals to title these posts, I have nothing but good news today. Let’s just get to the point, for once.

Super Truck Life will be in Early Access in just a few short weeks, and we’ll be inviting some returning testers back to experience the all new Mega Patch in its mother trucking glory. This phase of the plan will give us the feedback to finally ship this bitch and finally spend the marketing budget we’ve been holding onto because Mike said blowing the budget on a baby pool filled with ramen noodles was “fiscally irresponsible” whatever that means.

;(

As most of you know because we made the mistake of setting a weekly blog schedule, we’ve been wrapping up the sheet with a few remaining items that have been hanging over our heads like the baby pool filled with ramen not sitting in my back yard right now. Recently, we balanced the Scrapyard a lot. Short version; we made the upgrades more expensive while increasing the reward increments drastically. It feels more fun to upgrade in general. Along with that, there was a nasty Scrapyard bug that led to a lot more scrap than we intended you to get and if you didn’t know about that already now you do except it’s gone so nothing has actually changed and I don’t know why I’m still talking about it.

But that’s not what I’m so excited about, although Scrapyard needed love and that bug was… a problem. What I’m beyond pumped about is what Mike did this last week that wasn’t on our sheet. At least, not specifically.

As you may have guessed by now optimization and polish is an ongoing thing that will never end and we kind of keep it around in our heads as a given so it doesn’t always get its special little home on our punch list. The first thing he did was fix the occasional “tear” in the background. This tear showed up as a black line for a second and it was very distracting. He refactored the scroller, replaced some assets, and guess what it’s still there obviously it’s not there I mean where did you think I was going with that. He also slowed down the backgrounds a lot, so they feel much smoother while simultaneously giving the whole experience a much more realistic approach. Instead of flying by the same looping elements over and over, making it feel “cheap” and unrealistic, they now move much closer to reality based on scale and distance. I wish I could demonstrate that but every time I try to put a 20MB animated gif in a post I get yelled at. It’s like the ramen thing all over again. On top of all of this not only does the game feel better but it looks better and runs better. We checked the resources and it’s noticeably less demanding. Not everyone is going to notice everything we did, but I can honestly say our returning players are most likely going to feel it even if they can’t pinpoint exactly why (I literally just told you why).

This is all heading towards the EA release in a few weeks that I spoke about earlier. The last thing we need to do is some balance changes to badges and goals to make sure they’re ya know, balanced (and fun). That puts us in a great spot to preload some efforts and prepare for the week after which is getting Mega Patch all packed up and ready to ship. That’s where you come in. We’re so close I can taste it. Not the ramen though, god damnit.

Almost There Seriously Though We Mean It,

Mike & Dan