Posted by Black Lab Games in Uncategorized on December 1st, 2012

Star Hammer Tactics is back on GamersGate.

That is all.

New Dead Yet

Posted by Black Lab Games in General, iPad, Star Hammer, Tactics on November 28th, 2012

Despite the lack of activity, Black Lab Games is not dead yet. There is even a new game in the works!

In other news, Star Hammer Tactics is no longer available on iPad. It is still available on PC though, via Desura. There is even a demo!

Updated to 1.0.1!!!

Posted by Black Lab Games in Star Hammer, Tactics on December 10th, 2011

The first update to Star Hammer Tactics for iPad is now live on the App Store!

So, whats new? Well…

* New campaign mode. The original campaign mode had a 45 second time limit on turns. That mode is now called Arcade mode, and the time limit is now 60 seconds per turn. The new mode does not have time limits on taking turns, and is called Classic mode.

* Touch controls. Some of the code that handles the controls (such as selecting and moving units, looking around the battlefield) has been re-written. The changes should make commanding your Strike Group easier. For example, previously, selecting a ship and moving it was two separate actions. Now, you can select and move a ship with a single gesture. Targeting enemies with missiles is easier now too. Smoothness!

* Combat cinematics. When ships enter combat, the combat sequence has been upgraded to include camera rotation and close-ups on ships/aliens as they explode when destroyed. Explosions! Danger! Excitement!

* Tactical display HUD changes. The HUD that shows info about the selected ship in the top-down tactical view has been re-arranged.

Oh, and the icon has been changed.

Star Hammer Tactic 1.0.1 App Store Icon

L8r, Paul

On camera interview with Gamepron

Posted by Black Lab Games in GCAP, Random on December 7th, 2011

When I was at the excellent GameConnect Asia Pacific 2011 last month, I had a chat with the one and only Jessica Citizen from Gamepron about Black Lab Games, being a developing in Perth and other stuff. The video has now been posted…here.

Released!…and giving credit where it’s due

Posted by Black Lab Games in iPad, Star Hammer, Tactics on November 24th, 2011

Today, I’m excited. Star Hammmer Tactics for iPad has just hit the App Store. You can download it for free right now! (Note that their is an in-app purchase to unlock some of the options and missions)

Available on the App Store

I wanted to acknowledge the assistance of a number of people that contributed in some way to making this game. It’s a much better game for there contributions. In no particular order:

* Anthony Sweet, for the mission briefings, and the excellent suggestions during beta testing;

* Aaron Welch and Noel Barrot for the Nautilid models;

* Simon Wittber, for the music, moral support and general awesomeness;

* Simon Boxer, for the shiny new Star Hammer Tactics logo (and the Black Lab Games logo too);

* And the other testers: Jack Casey, Andy Dent, Brendan Ragan & Andrew Hawkins

Thanks guys!

L8r, Paul

Game Center

Posted by Black Lab Games in Game Development, iPad, minis, Star Hammer, Tactics on November 23rd, 2011

A new feature in the iPad version of Star Hammer Tactics that was not available in previous versions is support for Achievements and Leaderboards.

Neither PSP Minis, nor XBLIG support this feature. I’ve used Game Center to provide Achievement and Leaderboard features. (Oh, and Unity developers, I highly recommend the Prime 31 GameCenter plugin)

There are 4 leaderboards that players can post scores on – 3 in Skirmish mode, and 1 in the campaign. The Skirmish mode leaderboards track the number of single-player skirmish wins; one for each difficulty (Easy, Standard and Hard). So, the more skirmish battles you win, the higher up the leaderboard you go.

In Campaign mode, the leaderboard tracks the time taken to beat the campaign. The less time you spend making moves, the higher up the leaderboard you’ll go!

Game Center

There are 13 achievements to unlock, for such this as winning battles, completing the campaign, reaching quantities of kills in ship-to-alien melee combat, and other stuff.

There is plenty of scope to add more achievements to future updates, too!

L8r, Paul

Campaign revamp

Posted by Black Lab Games in iPad, Star Hammer, Tactics on November 22nd, 2011

I’ve posted before about how I think the iPad version of Star Hammer Tactics will be the best version yet. New development tools, and a platform absolutely made for strategy games have made the job of improving Star Hammer Tactics a fun and creatively fulfilling experience. One aspect I’m really happy with is the revamp of the campaign.

The campaign is a series of scenarios (or missions) in which the configuration of ships is pre-determined, and there is a storyline that connects each scenario to the next. The background information for each scenario is presented through a holographic-projector type device. I have to admit, when I built the campaign mode for the first release of the game on Xbox 360, the campaign was a bit of an add-on; skirmish battles was what the game was really about.

Campaign Briefing

Campaign briefing screen, with an old briefing

Quick version of the backstory: It’s 2160, and humankind has abandoned a dying Earth and resettled on a planet called Novus. As new settlements and societies are built, a scientific exploration team on a jungle research expedition discovers a new life form in a shallow pool. Remarkably, this being takes flight, and breaks atmosphere. Based on it’s appearance, the species is dubbed a ‘Nautilid’. No sign of the Nautilids is seen for two years, until a massive invasion force arrives from space. By weight of overwhelming numbers, the Nautilids are initially victorious, and the fragile new settlements that host the last remnants of humanity are under threat of total annihilation.

In the campaign, you play the part of Fredan Dyce, a newly-graduated commander of the Alliance Space Navy. The campaign is set about 6 months after the invasion, and things are looking pretty grim.

For the iPad release, the campaign has been significantly improved. The first thing to do was to make the scenarios more varied. I developed a new scripting “engine” for the game, and built some simple tools that allowed me to easily make changes to, and test, each scenario. Instead of just a series of ‘last-man-standing wins’ battles, there are more objectives in the new campaign scenarios. Holding sectors from invading Nautilid Swarms, escorting Alliance Directors through hostile territories and rescuing fellow Strike Group commanders are some of the additions.

The other major improvement was the briefings. During the beta, I got some feedback that the briefings didn’t really convey much meaning to the scenarios they were attached to. Over a coffee with Anthony (of Lets Make Games and Handwritten Games fame), I mentioned wanting to improve the scenario descriptions. Anthony said he’d be interested in helping out, so I handed over the information about the story arc and scenario events. A few days later, I saw the first draft of the first few briefings…and was blown away! A few drafts and revisions later, and we had a new set of briefings that are – in my opinion – more fun and interesting to read, and convey more information and emotion than the older versions of the game.

Overall, I’m really happy with how the new campaign mode turned out. I think it’s gone from (arguably) a weak point, to a strength of the game.

Star Hammer Tactics for iPad hits the App Store on Thursday the 24th…that’s only 2 days away!

Star Hammer Tactics on iPad is set for launch on November 24

Posted by Black Lab Games in iPad, Star Hammer, Tactics on November 11th, 2011

Earlier today I received notification from Apple that the iPad version of Star Hammer Tactics has been approved for sale. (In case you are not familiar with the workings of the App Store, Apple has a set of checks each app must go through before it goes on sale, and it takes a few days to a week to complete). This means that everything is now in place for launch!

The release date will be the 24th of November. It will be released in all countries that have the iTunes AppStore..

Star Hammer Tactics will be free to download. Yep, that’s right, no money will be required to be able to download and play this game. You will be able to play 4 of the 15 campaign missions, and unlimited small battle skirmishes, on ‘Easy’ difficulty. To access the rest of the campaign missions, and more skirmish battle settings (namely additional battle size settings, and difficulty levels), there will be a single ‘in-app’ purchase. The standard price to unlock the additional features will be US$2.99, though I’m planning a sale during the first few days, so watch this space for details closer to release.

Oh, and check out this preview on The Electronic Farmyard. “Black Lab Games did a great job with this title…“. Cool!

L8r, Paul

So you wanna be a game designer?

Posted by Black Lab Games in Game Development, Star Hammer, Tactics on November 3rd, 2011

…then I hope you like spreadsheets…

Star Hammer Tactis Game Design Spreadsheet

First preview of Star Hammer Tactics on iPad

Posted by Black Lab Games in Previews and Reviews, Star Hammer, Tactics on October 31st, 2011

Star Hammer Tactics on iPad is getting close to completion, and we’ve gotten our first preview of the game, courtesy of the fine folks at

You can read it here.

Nice one.