News

News about the upcoming competitive multiplayer city-builder Zero Sum Future

Mega Patch Notes 8/7/19

Fellow enterprising space capitalists!

Zero Sum Future is getting a new, major update to celebrate what should hopefully be our last month before release. There's a ton of ground to cover and we're super excited about it, so here’s the meat of it:

  1. We have totally overhauled our user interface in game. A large number of redundant elements have been removed, and both the warehouse display and the planet display has gotten some nifty new bars to help you figure out exactly how your enterprises are functioning.

  2. The theme of the UI improvements continue: We've added animations to these new elements, and they should look and feel a lot smoother during regular play.

  3. Because a fresh UI overhaul isn't really worth much without some improvements in the sound department, we did just that: For the past 2 weeks, our sound guy has been working feverishly around the clock to bring you a completely overhauled sound library. Most of the UI sounds have been reworked, and now the in-game units have nifty tricks like making humming sounds when working well, or the shuttles increasing their engine pitch when traveling faster.

  4. Oh, and because he can't help himself, our sound guy also composed a brand new track for regular gameplay, and two quick themes for the loss/victory themes.

  5. We've redone most of the network code to deliver a better experience to our players: The games should no longer desync or go down in random crashes. And now, you can connect to games you disconnect from, for those with spotty internet connections.

  6. The Carrier and her particles have been improved to go along with our sound improvements. It looks properly sci-fi and hyperspace-capable.

  7. The sound engine has been overhauled to let diegetic sounds work properly in the vacuum of space. Games should feel a lot more alive when every working building has it's own little hum.

  8. The level-of-detail calculation for planets has been reworked to look and feel a lot smoother – this one won't be noticeable to most people unless if they went out of their way to find bugs in previous builds, but at least our graphics guy can sleep a little better at night.

While this is the current version, we're not quite done with our mad update pace this month:

  1. At the moment, the tutorials, the map editor, and the single-player challenge mode are all disabled as we're scrambling to overhaul those systems to work better and just be more fun to use. The tutorials should be done in the next few days, and we have exciting plans for both the map editor and the challenge modes.

  2. The UI for the title menu is still the old version, and, frankly, looks quite outdated. The graphics guy has been remanded with appropriate disciplinary action and will be submitting those changes later this week with a groveling apology.

  3. Because we were at the height of our popularity during our 50% off sale a few months back, we've made the decision to drop our price point to $9.99. This will allow us to deliver better value to our players, and help us continue to expand the playerbase of Zero Sum Future. If you wishlisted us in the past, now is the best time to get in.

That's it for now! As mentioned previously, we'll be pushing out a series of major updates this month, so stay tuned for more announcements soon!

by Ryan

Zero Sum Future free weekend!

Today through Sunday, May 19th, Zero Sum Future will be FREE to play on Steam! In addition, we’re running a 50% off sale, so this is the perfect time to get in on the space colony building, scheming, and double-crossing action. A massive update of game systems, graphics, and sound is also live with the start of the free weekend for you to enjoy. Try it before you buy it, and help us continue to refine the Zero Sum Future experience into the razor-sharp competitive game you want it to be!

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or questions, please feel free to join our Discord or email us: zsf@plungerhorse.com

by Ryan

The Particle and SFX Overhaul: What's it All About?

In Zero Sum Future, there are lot of things you need to be successful: a plan of action, a willingness to take risks, the cunning to see an opportunity, and – perhaps most importantly – the flexibility to capitalize on that opportunity.

That flexibility is only possible if you have the most vital resource of all at your fingertips: information.

Since the Early Access launch of Zero Sum Future in January, we’ve gotten a lot of good data from players about what they like and where the pain points are. Overwhelmingly, we hear that players are missing key notifications and gameplay events because they aren’t clearly communicated. Some of this we can chalk up to the game’s learning curve, but we’ve also taken a careful look at the current implementation of the game’s notification systems and we believe there’s a lot of space to improve it. This is the logic behind Zero Sum Future’s upcoming VFX and SFX updates, which will introduce a slew of graphical and audio reminders to make key gameplay elements pop.

The list of places where these updates will take effect is really too long to list in a summary blog post, but we want to give you some visual examples of what this will look like. Consider the Burger Joint, which delivers tasty burgers to adjacent buildings (enemy or allied). Right now, the only indication you receive that a building is buying hamburgers is a tiny little icon of the product hovering over that building. There are two problems with this presentation. The icon isn’t especially exciting or easily distinguishable in the cityscape that surrounds the planet, and the cash you make from each sale doesn’t stand out in a way that makes it easy to see how often you’re selling hamburgers at-a-glance.

Forget the old way of doing things. It’s time to launch your lunch!

 
 

Look at the majestic hamburger. See it sail through the atmosphere, arcing gracefully through a trail of tasty condiments, on its way to feed the hungry workers of your planet. Now that is hard to miss, and you’ll easily be able to tell what’s happening as you scroll around the planet to manage your assets. It’s also easier to tell now exactly how often burgers are being sold, so you can slam down a few more Burger Joints if business is good.

The Burger Joint isn’t the only proximity-based structure in Zero Sum Future. The Reactor will also be getting a new particle to indicate that it’s providing additional energy efficiency to adjacent buildings (it’s a work in progress, but we’ll share pictures soon!) You should now be able to see at a glance how efficiently you’ve woven Reactors throughout your colony to maximize coverage and minimize hydrogen consumption.

While building visibility upgrades should do a lot to help you see these interactions, there are some other pretty important gameplay moments we want to spruce up. In particular, Carrier Powers will be receiving brand new particles and associated sound effects so you’ll know that you’ve been Commandeered or Monopolized instantly. While it’s fun to prey on other players who aren’t paying close attention and stab them in the back with their own resources, currently it’s a bit too difficult to notice and too punishing to miss. All of this is subject to review in the future, and we’re committed to making sure the balance of subterfuge and audio-visual impact is right.

We hope you’ve got a better picture of the main project on our plates right now to improve Zero Sum Future, and don’t forget to check back this week for another blog entry on the upcoming Map Editor mode and what that will ultimately entail for the game!

Until next time, may your profits soar and your competition crumble.

-Eric

by Ryan

Developer Update 2/25/19

Hello again Zero Sum Future fans!

It’s been a busy first month of early access, and we’ve learned a lot about what’s working for you in Zero Sum Future and what could use some improvement. There’s a lot in the pipeline right now, and we want to give you a good idea of what you can expect to see from us moving forward.

  1. Memory leaks and performance issues
    We’ve recently completed a round of updates to the game engine and game hosting which should address a number of crashes that people are experiencing. Client-side fixes for these issues are also underway and you can expect to see patches rolled out to Steam in the next week or two.

  2. Particles, SFX, Animations
    Some in-game events are difficult for novice players to notice if they aren’t paying close attention, and in a game as fast-paced as Zero Sum Future you’ll get buried if you aren’t on top of things pretty much all the time. To that end, we’re going to implement a suite of new particle effects and sounds to make it a little more obvious what’s going on. For example, when you’ve got a building placed near a Reactor to benefit from its power-efficiency aura, you’ll get visual and auditory feedback that confirms that your placement is good. If you don’t see those particles, you’ll know that you didn’t get it quite right, and it should make it easier to learn the proper placement for the future. You’ll also see and hear new feedback when players activate Carrier powers, so you’ll know who it is that has Monopolized a planet or Commandeered your Starport.

  3. Single Player Campaign
    Zero Sum Future will receive a ~6 mission mini-campaign, totally free, in which you’ll get to dive into the shady fringe system politicking and business dealings of the Zero Sum Future universe. There’s a lot of brand-spanking new mechanics and powers to explore in the campaign and they’ll undoubtedly find a home in multiplayer matches, too. We’re pretty pumped to share more with you about this campaign as things take shape!

  4. Map Editor
    In order to build our single player content, we're creating a fully-fledged map and script editor that's going to be totally available to all our users. When it is finished, you'll have access to the same tools that us developers have to create content you can share and enjoy with everyone.

The future is bright, and we’re eagerly looking forward to March as a month with a lot of sweet changes to improve the experience. We’re always listening to feedback, so hit us up on Discord, Facebook, Twitter, or at zsf@plungerhorse.com if you’ve got a message you want us to hear.

Later this week we’ll have another post with more details on the particle and sound update: how they work and what we’ll be using them for.

Until next time!

-Eric

by Ryan

Patch Notes 2/5/2019

  • NEW GAME MODE: Sandbox - in Sandbox Mode, you are free to build to your heart’s content, away from the constant competition and pressure found in the other game modes.

  • UPDATE: Increased the difficulty of the AI.

  • ADDED: Increased number of resolution options.

  • FIXED: Particles will now turn off correctly.

  • FIXED: Endgame message will now reset correctly.

  • FIXED: Lobby browser no longer flickers when trying to select a lobby.

  • FIXED: Commas now appear only where they are supposed to.

  • Increased size of Planetary Status icons.

  • Improved the memory impact of the particle system.

  • Improved memory usage of the Renderer.

  • Added in more error checking.

  • The Map Editor is almost available! We hope to have something ready for you in the next patch.

by Ryan