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.
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!