Dev Diary #11: Release plans clarified

The latest Dev Diary is mainly about the team’s visit to PAX Aus 2014. But it also i contains some clarifications regarding the upcoming releases of the beta build and the early-access release on Steam. 5LS announced that the beta will be available as early as next week! The beta build will be available to all backers who backed at 29£ or more. Sometimes in December we will see the game appear on Steam as an Early Access title. This early access release will be available to all backers of the game!

The speed of development seems pretty crazy at the moment, considering that the (fairly rough) alpha build happened not so long ago and we will see two more releases this year. Of course, the game will not be “done” yet in December, and it will likely remain in Early Access for some time. Nothing is known yet about how long the early access phase will last and when we will see a final “1.0” release (that will probably depend on a variety of factors, including backer feedback and how many bugs pop up).

Satellite Reign at PAX Aus 2014

First of all: I am sorry for the lack of updates recently. My laptop died, and as I don’t have a second computer available at the moment I had to wait until the replacement arrived. It’s all sorted out now, though.

Satellite Reign has been shown off at PAX Aus 2014. You can find some reactions on Twitter, and there is some additional information about it in the latest Dev Diary.

The team is now back in Brisbane and (presumably) hard at work to prepare the upcoming beta release.

Pre-Alpha: Gameplay videos, RPS piece

It has been an exciting couple of days since the first ever build of Satellite Reign has been released at the end of last week. A bunch of gameplay videos have gone up on youtube which show a variety of gameplay and missions. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for notifications of new videos.

The pre-alpha build has also been covered over at RPS, where it has been met with a lot of praise – and apparently some anxiety as well, as the author seems (unnecessarily, in my opinion) worried, as “there’s so much that could go wrong”. He seems genuinely excited overall and even says that “it looks and feels fantastic so early”.

There has also been an upsurge of activity on the forum, and I hope to cover some news tidbits in a future update.

More pre-alpha gameplay videos

Here are two more gameplay videos of the pre-alpha build. They both show the first mission, in which you have to free one of your agents. It is nice to see how people are choosing different ways to solve even this very first mission.


Some more videos:

Pre-Alpha released to Transistor backers, first reactions positive

Today marks the release of the first playable build of Satellite Reign to some of the backers of the Kickstarter campaign. The build is available for download via the Humble Bundle store for all backers who backed at the tier of Transistor or above. A new sub-forum has been opened over at the official Satellite Reign forum to post comments and questions about the alpha build. Bugs should be reported through a mechanism ingame.

First reactions in the forum of backers who played the build seem to be predominantly positive. There is high praise especially for the dark sci-fi atmosphere and the music. As was to be expected, there are also plenty of bugs and problems reported, which are sure to keep the 5LS guys busy for a while.

Expect more news soon as more information and hopefully also video of the alpha build will emerge online.

Here is the (probably) first ever user recorded gameplay video on youtube:

5LS on customization

5LS developer Dean has been rather active on the forum recently. Here’s what he had to say in response to a question about customization:


Team Customisation
The team will always consist of 1 of each of the 4 classes, they will not be interchangeable/stack-able.
For example, you won’t be able to have 2 Soldiers and 2 Hackers to make up the team, this doesn’t mean you can’t bias the entire team towards a specific play style you prefer, it just means each agent will have unique skills and ways of achieving goals in your chosen style.

Agent Customisation
There are a plethora of skills, items, weapons and augmentations which will allow for a wide range of game play styles.
You will be able to spec out the entire team to be heavily defensive, heavily offensive or any mix in between.
Even within these broad archetypes the class system allows for subtleties per agent.

Agent Visual Customisation
Given the scope of the title and the resources available to us we need to be very smart about what we invest in creating. With such a small team going crazy on character customisation was a luxury we couldn’t afford.

The following is what we felt was a good balance:

– Each of the 4 agents can be either male or female
– Agents gain the head/hair model of any person they high-jack and clone which allows for a wider range of face/hair/racial combinations
– You will be able to change your teams colour palette
– Each weapon has a unique model
– Certain backers tiers will have an alternate skin
– Certain backers will have their names and/or face in the game

In the scheme of things visual character customisation for a title such as this, while adding to mood, doesn’t add much to game-play and when balancing our time between tasks which can make the title more attractive and tasks which can make the game play better we air on the latter.


Later down in the thread, he followed this up with the following:

As mentioned in my previous post above we will have the ability to tint the agents.
– Skin
– Hair
– Primary clothing
– Secondary clothing
– Glow/Trims

These will be palettes I create (not individually accessible) and you will access them most probably at some period during the cloning process, although we haven’t finalised this yet.


Gameplay video details: HUD display

Thanks to the recent gameplay video, we now have a much better idea of what the various ingame HUD display elements are for. The three horizontal bars that I’ve speculated about turn out to be health (red), shield (yellow), and ammo (green). The one for ammo consists of two separate bars, a larger and a smaller one, showing the ammo for primary and secondary weapon, supposedly. As for the four hexagon shaped elements left of the portraits: In the video, we see the first one of those blink in a yellow color once the agents are “trespassing” in an area where they are not authorized to be. The other hexagons then might indicate higher levels of danger, or perhaps how strongly the agents are being looked after by the police (= stars in GTA?). The two small triangles next to the agents’ portrait show an antenna signal (left) and the equipped weapon (right). The smaller icons at the bottom, which I first thought were inventory slots, turn out to be abilities. In the video, we see demonstrations of three abilities: healing, world scan (with a really cool visual effect) and grenade.


What appears to be missing from the HUD, then, is an option to drug your agents. So that may not be in the game, or it may get added later, as the HUD is apparently not finalized yet. A couple of things that I noticed and that I suspect may not be final yet are the following: The HUD does not show which agent(s) are currently selected. That seems a bit odd. <update>: actually, it does, but the effect (highlighting) is very subtle and hard to see. </update> Another thing is that the agents have a small portrait over their head, which is probably supposed to help identify them at a quick glance. The small portrait adds quite a bit of visual clutter, though, and does not really appear to be needed as clicking on the large portrait at the bottom would presumably be the fastest way to select a specific agent anyway. It will be interesting to see how the HUD develops in future versions of the game. As 5LS have recently announced that they hired a dedicated UI artist, we can probably look forward to a number of changes, at least on the visual side.

New gameplay video

Some details from the recent UI screenshots

The newest dev diary (it is #10) contained a couple of screenshots which showed off some of the in-game User Interface (UI). At a closer look, the UI elements reveal a few details about the gameplay, and also raise some questions. First of, here is a closeup of the UI overlay seen ingame:


Each of the four agents from the team has one such UI element, presumably used primarily to select that agent. At the center is the agent’s portrait. To the left of it, there are four little hexagon-shaped elements. In one of the screenshots, one of the hexagon shapes is filled out with yellow color. My first guess was that this shows whether the agent is selected or not. However, on second thought it does not really make sense as an agent can only be selected or unselected, and there is no need for four elements. Could it perhaps indicate how many agents are grouped together at a time? If so, it could correspond to this element in Syndicate Wars: syndicate_wars_UI_element

This is just a guess, though, and it may be something totally different.

Below the portrait, there are three horizontal bars. They would appear to be status indicators, one for health, another one could be shield, the third perhaps for ammo? If so, this would raise the question where the UI elements for drugging the agents are – drugging being a prominent feature both in the original Syndicate and in Syndicate Wars. Another possibility is that my guess is wrong and the three bars are in fact for drugging? If so, this would mean a return “back to the roots”, that is to the three-ways drug system of the original Syndicate:


Further down, below the bars, you can see the inventory slots. They are mostly empty on the screenshots we have, but you can see a hand grenade icon (with three grenades?), a flashbang (?) and what appears to be a health kit.

More interesting info comes from the UI design, which is being done by Liz Ballantyne, as we learn in the dev diary. Besides showing off the WETWIRED V2 TERMINAL item, the screenshot appears to show off the resource system. We find three resource items in the top right corner:


These appear to be dollars (obviously), and then health supplies (?) and uranium/something nuclear? That those are in fact resources is indicated by the “Requirements” line on the WETWIRED item, which apparently requires 100$, 3 medical supplies, and one uranium (?):


How we gain those resources (besides money) is still unknown. Luckily, the release of the alpha version is nearing and we will soon know much more about it.

Dev Diary #10: Alpha approaching

A new dev diary, number #10, is up on the Satellite News website. New screenshots, coding update, information about alpha and beta releases, a first glimpse at the soundtrack, and more!