Dev Diary #19 - A Galactic Year 2016
Posted on December 30, 2016

Hey guys!

The year is coming to an end and most of the GJL team is on vacation enjoying the holidays. This makes today an ideal opportunity to look back at the past year of the game's development. So how was 2016 for Galactic Junk League and its dev team? Read on to find out.


Jan - Feb: 3D art team formation

  • The start of the year was marked by the personal buildup of our 3D art team. At the end of 2015 our producer Dexter realized, that the original plans for a two person 3D production were a bit unrealistic for this kind of project and a team had to be assembled.
  • In late December the team was joined by Vlado Polony, an experienced 3D artist who worked on projects such as Mafia 2 and 3. He would later become the lead 3D artist for the game. Alongside art-direction he is responsible for most of the maps in the game. Another senior addition was Tana Zacharovska, who serves as an art-direction consultant and part time artist. Currently she focuses on the remake of the User Interface, which will be implemented in the Steam release patch.
  • In February we welcomed two additional experienced 3D Artists Roman Barna, who did a lot of work on the hangar and the new Steel block series, and Martin Adamek, who’s speciality are particle effects.
  • At the end of January we bid farewell to our first 3D artist and author of some of the early 3D assets Roman Pajdlhauser, who went on to work for Massive Entertainment in Sweden.
  • Since February the personal composition of the art department (that is our concept artist Lukas Ceman + the listed 3D artists) has been stable. This has allowed them to gradually create the entire visual identity of the game from the levels and ships to the UI.

 

An example of the game’s early art direction.


March: Public reveal of the game and GDC 2016

  • The team's first major test came in March with the public reveal of the game at GDC 2016 in San Francisco. The game was still very deep in pre-alpha back then and we had to rush to create a playable demo. This required to create both a presentable early art style (check it out here) and a functional offline single player build (we quickly programmed bots, which have proven quite difficult to beat for some players :-) ).
  • Our efforts at GDC were rewarded by positive feedback from the public,  the 'Best in Play' award and some early media coverage.
  • Alongside the GDC presentation we launched the website and our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

April - June: Alpha preparations and testing

  • The months before the alpha launch were filled with the implementation and play-testing of new features such as the progression and ability systems.
  • We also focused on early-stage marketing. In this phase that meant the collection of some 40 000 alpha subscriber emails, to whom we would later send out the closed alpha invitations.
  • The initially designated closed-alpha launch date was the end of May, however due to technical issues we had to move it to late June. From a game designer’s perspective, this wasn’t that bad, because it gave us a few extra weeks to playtest and polish the game :-)
  • Our tech team grew larger during this time. In April Zalan Korosi joined. He has proven to be a great addition not only as the programmer of the ingame store and UI, but also as one of our best GJL player-testers. At the end of June we were joined by a senior programmer and current project tech lead Martin Slavkov. He's basically the guy behind all that significant performance optimisation. You can thank him for the improved framerate and lower lag in the Steam version.

July - August: Alpha is live and Gamescom

  • Very soon after the Alpha launch we realized that the closed email invitation system wasn't going to cut it in terms of player numbers, so we opened the game up to everyone. Very soon youtubers and the general public started pouring in and we were able to get literally thousands of feedback messages. This didn't last very long, however, and we decided to cut Alpha because of a player shortage in mid-August.
  • GJL was also present at the Pixel Federation stand at Gamescom 2016 in Cologne.

September - October: Beta launch and soul searching

  • On September 15th we successfully launched the open Beta (changelog here). Since then we have spent a great portion of our time analyzing and polishing the game.
  • October has been a time of reflection for the whole team. We collected feedback from the community, discussed the game and thought about, where to take it until the planned Steam launch.
  • Our marketing manager Marek Valasik became a full time member of the team to work on project promotion and the Steam Launch.

 

An example of the Steel Series - a new block set that will be available with the Steam launch.

 

November - December: It's all about Steam now

  • In mid-November, we successfully passed Steam Greenlight in a week (read more about it here).
  • We welcomed a new team member - the producer Daniel Keder, who has taken on the management of the art department and marketing as well as people development.
  • The entire team - art, tech, game design and marketing - is now focused on the game's Steam Launch on January 17, 2017. We're working hard to bring you new features and polish the existing ones, promote the game and insure everything works just right on D-day :-)

And that’s it for this... year.  2016 was the year the game got from a functional prototype in January to the Steam-ready product that it is today. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I can say for the whole team, that we are very excited about what 2017 will bring for Galactic Junk League! We hope you will join us for the ride.

What do you consider the most interesting GJL developments in 2016? Let us know on the Forum.

Next time we'll look at the planned construction rule and block balance changes.



Martin "Gajxo" Gajarsky

Game Designer