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The Path of Indie Developers…

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“The Skies”… Ambitious project, small indie team, limited time… Unbroken spirit and strong aspiration for bringing this world the game that will make the difference in the industry and win the hearts of players.

If someone would ask us what Indie Developer’s Path is we’d say that it’s an every-day battle. :) “The Skies” has started almost 2 years ago and during this time we’ve been struggling with so many things: from the first distrust to us as the new team with ambitious plans to limiting our resources and speeding-up all the development milestones trying to achieve impossible: create unique MMORPG with lots of great opportunities for the players for twice shorter period of time than it typically takes for the teams twice bigger than ours.

Wonder how it is going? Good. We’re alive and no less brave and ambitious… well, may be we just don’t look that fresh as at start… :)
What to expect?
Already this winter, 2016, we’re going to roll out alpha early access on Steam for everyone to taste the game world with the basic features.
What are our further plans?
Keep struggling and finish this game. :) By the way, at the moment we’re taking part in the contest here: http://www.indiedb.com/games/the-skies by voting for us and helping to win ad package that would be a huge help for us, indie developers and our upcoming launch on Steam!

Stay tuned. “The Skies” is coming…

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Economics as it is

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Stephen King once said: “We’ve switched from a culture that was interested in manufacturing, economics, politics – trying to play a serious part in the world – to a culture that’s really entertainment-based.”

True… But  I would say that today some spheres of entertainment, particularly gaming industry, become so realistic that you have all the chances to learn some real life lessons: in military, in economics, business, strategy, whatever. Seems like already very soon there won’t be any bounderies between the real and virtual world at all.
If you ever ask me which is the most challenging and complicated task in the development of the SKIES MMORPG, I would say that one of them is definitely economics.
Creating the real world economic processes in the virtual computer world is the task that can be compared with the computer realization of the human’s brain by its complicity. There are so many factors that impact the world market. Probably, there are no less of them than neurons in the cerebral brain cortex. In the game world the role of such neurons can be performed by the players and the task of the developers to provide ready instruments that will help the players to interact with each other.

Price formation. Supply/demand
We understand that it is impossible to take into account all the factors that impact the prices in real life. That is why we make the emphasis on the most important ones.
Economic server during the long time period collects the statistics about every purchased and produced good. Based on these two curves, at every time moment, the economics server counts current “ideal market price”. This process is running for every game item.
Every time the player enters the shop he can get the new actual price for that or another item. The more item is popular the bigger extra charge will be. The more of such items are getting dusty on the shelves, the less such price will be.
By collecting statistics during the long period of time we minimize critical impact on economics by one certain purchase. But in general, every even minor good’s production on the fabric or the purchase of one item in the shop will make its impact on the overall price formation.
 Automatic management on the plants
This was our other one complicated task. But the first solution appeared to be also the solution for this task. Automatic manager was supposed to decide which goods should be produced on the fabric and which of them shouldn’t. But after we’ve developed the market price for every good, most problems were resolved. A manager of the plant can compare the market place with the prime cost and choose the most profitable item for production.
Connection between goods in the game
Most of the elements in the game are connected. Some of the subjects are the parts, details of the other ones. For example, the iron is being produced from the iron ore. And the iron it its turn is the part of the armour, weapon. Thus, the rise in the price for the material causes the rise in the price for the new weapon and armour.


Business

Players who have the aim to develop their business in the conditions of the in-game economics, can set the prices for the goods purchase and selling, number of the working places, salary.

 

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Say “No!” to the donate pressure! :)

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It becomes a stereotype that Free to Play means rough monetization in a game, which makes the paying audience dominating. Of course, if we take into consideration modern MMO, we can see that paid units, clothes, weapons give players a lot of advantages. If a paying player donates, a player who doesn’t spend money has no chances to win. However, this system has been polished and modified for many years and now there’re some good solutions. So if you use stupid pressing monetization, you create the game not for people but in waste. Dota 2 by Valve is a good example of the interesting monetization when developers made it possible for players to compete thanks to their experience and skills; monetization is just an option, a decoration.
Being players too, developers of The SKIES have always hated modern Free to play with its terrible donation and have tried to create a rather moderate and light monetization. We think that by combining FPS with the role system we made it possible for players to compete thanks to their level of experience. Monetization provides some minor weapons modifications, which you can also add on your own by finding necessary details and improving your production skills. Some other monetization options are:
1. Weapons improvement;
2. Improvement of your passive skills that can also be improved while playing;
3. Limited in-game currency purchases;
4. Premium account that allows you to get more experience while fighting and provides an opportunity to create your clan;
5. Personalization of armors and weapons – decorations and choice of the color;
6. Purchase of weapons and patrons on the black market is limited like the purchase of the in-game currency. There are just several offers and you can’t buy more;
7. Extended set of haircuts, textures;
8. Reset of the player’s paramaters;
9. Participation in arena combats with bidding;
10. Rental payment for the territory that you can use to build your house or your business;
11. Purchasе of cool transport;
12. Clan’s base building;
13. Hiring helpers;
14. Gifts.

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Ready for a fight on the desert land?

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Every weapon in The SKIES is not just a weapon. That’s something that has its own story and mood. It’s time to learn some more about the throwing weapons, rifles and cold arms  now. Let’s see which one will become your faithful companion in the post-apocalyptic desert world of The SKIES:

Cold ArmsClub. There is no better face surgeon than batt of a soldier.
Stick. The dogs are afraid of a stick for a reason, it can smash a head.
Spiked club. A handmade morning star will find a soft spot even in armor.
Knife. An irreplacable thing in the desert and life. It won’t dampen, wedge up, and will help in cooking.

 

Termal Grenade & Smoke Grenade & Pine Grenade

Termal grenade. You’re not afraid of fire untill you meet this grenade.

Smoke grenade. Do you want to be invisible as a wanderer? There is a way.

Pine grenade. Chills down any attack and covers the back at all times.

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Throwing knife. Every boy is taught how to use this weapon from his childhood.

Shuriken. Eastern exotics is it the desert now.

 

 

Molotov Coctail

 

Molotov cocktail. This drink is worth sharing with the enemies.

 

 

Stone & Brick

 

Stone. Won’t kill you, but will leave bruises.
Brick. Doesn’t fly too far, but does it steadily.

 

 

Impulse and Stun Grenades

 

Impulse grenade. Does someone need a push? Does someone need an impulse?
Bash grenade. A blind enemy is a dead enemy.

 

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Grenade. WIll stink out an enemy from any cover.
Impact stun grenade. Known as “Handsome” – stuns from the first time.

 

 

Saiga

 

Pioneers cry “the weapon of our youth” while shooting at the bottles at the next start.

 

 

 

Traveller

 

Traveller. When a person is called a “travaller”, many shudder at the memory of this dangerous weapon.

 

 

Remington 870

 

Old doesn’t mean uneffective. Loss of iron ore is still pounding all the way round.

 

 

Rupor

 

 

Do you want to reach the crowd? Take a megaphone.

 

 

 

 

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From Kickstarter to STEAM

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November, 26th –  with the first playable build we decide to check our luck at Kickstarter. :) Why Kickstarter? We think that it is really great project that allows people to realize their dreams by getting honest crowdfunding. There are so many young start ups in the world and very often, they simply don’t have money to accomplish something that might change the world in the result. Therefore, such projects are often sold to moneybags or their dream remains a dream. Thanks to Kickstarter, these projects still go live all in all. That’s what we were thinking about it. We prepared all the materials, made fun video, developed pledge system and started our journey.
To tell the truth, our experience wasn’t really exciting. The days were passing by, however, the funding wasn’t that active. Besides, we’ve found out that because of previous negative experience, people do not tend to believe newbies like us who appeared from nowhere and don’t have any name, as it may seem from the first glance. We’ve been rather surprised to discover this, because we thought Kickstarter is the place where start ups are born, but not the place, where people expect to see another one Cloud Imperium Games (developer of Star Citizen) or  inXile Entertainment and Obsidian Entertainment (developers of Wasteland 2). No, I am not saying that it’s Kickstarter’s fault that people didn’t believe us. :) It is absolutely understandandable that backers also saw enough cases when the project was funded but had never been released. Our MMORPG The SKIES sounds ambitious, because the project is really huge and it also has a lot of ambitious tasks: such as self-developing economics, non-linear storyline, open world, combination of FPS with the MMO, realistic production system consisting of several grades, etc. Besides, we are the young team, and don’t have the famous name yet. We do realize this, but we also know what we’re doing. That is why it doesn’t seem unrealistic to us as it may seem for others who have played many games, but haven’t seen such decisions previously. They could only dream about them though. :)
We still didn’t give up on Kickstarter community and tried to vary our journey with the fun video that we kept making for them about our project, the team and the process. :) You can watch the whole series here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOopXtZuBjzN0a_x8OHuTFg
Please, do not judge us for our English. Some compatriots said that it was our huge mistake that we made Kickstarter video voicing it on our own instead of hiring the English-speaking person. Well, our goal wasn’t to impress. :) We just wanted to show our team and life as they are. It was the real challenge for the guys to learn words in English for all the videos. But they tried hard. Not because we didn’t want or couldn’t hire the dictor, but because it seemed to us more fair to spend our efforts and talk to people personally on their language and to talk to community personally.
Now, looking back we also think that it could make sense to create better pledge-system. I mean, in our case we had a lot of not physical items to present, such as game features which depend on the development time. It could make sense to prepare the gifts that you can touch and that would really stay dear to someone’s heart after the game is released and gains popularity. Well, who knows…
Another our mistake was adding the video of game play that couldn’t really impress… It was the very-very first playable and it was lagging. It would make more sense to wait a bit more and provide the version that would look better. But again, being young, bold and extremely fair, we decided to share what we had and then just keep updating with the further progress. What we’ve learnt is that there is no place in the world where you would succeed with the publicity without any marketing. Even at Kickstarter. We’re all visualists. We all want to see something that would impress us.
Crowd funding became an interesting experience for us. But since one of our major goals was not to get funding but to announce about ourselves, our project, its features and start involving people into this complicated game world already now, we think it worked pretty well too. Even though we didn’t succeed in crowdfunding, we still wish everyone to reach their aim in this. And in order to support all the crowdfunding projects, we’ve launched the challenge called Shake or Back :) The rules are similar to all the challenges (like Ice Challenge, etc.) You simply need to do the same as the person on the video: http://youtu.be/9XIEMBkXM7w   back 3 projects, at least with 1$ or whatever you can afford and pass the challenge to other 3 friends by publishing it somewhere.
Three days after Kickstarter we also launched on Steam Greenlight. We love Steam. :) This was the first place where we could imagine The SKIES’ presence once the game is ready. And here is where we were not mistaking. The community of Steam showed really great interest in our game. I would even say it was impressive how positive they were. For example, it took us just 10 days to get to TOP 100 on Steam. The next day we already got to TOP 50. :) More than 90 per cent of comments were just positive. More than 70 per cent of votes were: “Yes, I want this game”. If you take a look even at success Greenlight stories, the numbers are typically lower. So, for us such a huge support was really encouraging and inspiring to provide early alpha access for journalists and most active community members already in January.
A lot of developers wonder what statistics they should have and how many votes to get in order to get to Steam. Well, I wouldn’t say anything new: there are really no exact numbers. But, of course, you can expect that if you get to tops and there is buzz around your game, you’re on the right way and can expect green light. The faster this accumulation happens – the more chances. Perhaps, our statistics will be helpful for you:
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As you can see there were ups and downs during this time. Our highest points were 1568 visits and 759 votes “Yes” on some days. What is great about Steam is that it is absolutely just up to community to judge the game… Yes, we were spreading out the news via our social pages, sending letters to journalists and receiving some publications what was also helping to make people aware of the project and visit the page. But it is still up to them to vote positevely or not. We’ve met a lot of support also from Russian-Ukrainian community who were inspired to see their compatriots on the market of gaming industry with such a great project. We’ve met a lot of support from other countries too and requests to add different languages: Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese and others what we’ll be glad to do. :)
Of course, not everything was so bright and positive. There were also some negative comments, some fears, some discredit, which we could understand. But what we’ve discovered, is that you shouldn’t be afraid to speak with these people too. Very often after friendly communication they can even accept your side, of course, if you have real convincing facts and is fair. Just accept the fact, that everyone has their own position, respect it, and everything will be fine. :)
What we’ve learnt? In brief: Steam community is very different from Kickstarter… Of course, it depends on your project and your goals what to choose, but for us Steam was the most right place, because it is absolutely our core audience. And if you need to start building community, it’s better to do this with Steam too.
From that moment, we’ve started to be transparent for our future community. We update them with the development progress, our upcoming milestones, answer all the questions and keep our blog. It’s a great feeling to know that there are people who’re waiting on your game, who support you and provide suggestions.
Never give up, even in the face of apocalypse ;) And good luck with your projects! and whatever you do!
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The weapon and armour production

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In our game production works as four-levels system:

1. Resources – basic elements for production. They are extracted by players or produced at special resource points such as mines, pits, farms, etc. Various combinations of basic elements are used to produce elements of the second level.
2. Materials – the second stage of production. Players can find materials in certain places, they can also be produced from resources in special workshops.
3. Weapon, armor, medicine, food, shells, etc. These are objects of the third level, obtained by use of materials. They can be produced at special factories. They are the final products, which a player gets.
4. Improvements for weapons influence their parameters. Weapon can be improved in special workshops. Production system allows players to control the world economy. You’ll find more about that in an article about the economy. Each player can produce elements of any level. Production is influenced by several parameters of the role system, which can be developed by a player in order to achieve better results.

Weapon has up to 5 slots for improvement and each type of weapon has its own improvements. Players can modify their weapons by themselves or in workshops. These improvements add new modes of fire and pointing, they also extend the range of weapon’s functions, such as damage, reloading, pointing accuracy and so on.

Both armor and weapon are produced from the standard materials, but to produce unique items you’ll need additional materials, which you’ll have to find. We don’t want to apply the sandbox principle in production like in similar games of the genre. We strive to make this scheme more user-friendly and also engage offline users in production system – so that a player can go to bed and be sure that in the morning his character will earn money at the factory and new weapon or resources will appear at the market.

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