Patch Notes

Alpha 35: Environmental Impacts on Phenotypes

Hello, fellow Tyto students! This week’s update is around Environmental Impacts on phenotypes. This means it brings you the ability to feed your Drakons if you’ve leveled up enough to unlock that, tweaks and fixes to the Drakonarium, more tutorials for our newly-onboarded students, and, best of all — more questing goodness!
New Quests!
Note: To accept any of these quests, you’ll need to have achieved Heredity level 6!

 
Unfair Polar Bears

There seem to be reports of a rather bulky-looking polar bear roaming the biodome. What could be causing this bear to be so much tubbier than its fellow polar bear peers? Talk to Supervisor Antton, and he’ll point you in the right direction to this possibly troubled little polar bear.

 
Bunglesome Bunny Biology

Tyto Student Chen needs someone to help him with his genetics research! He’s on the brink of a world-shattering discovery…or so he claims. He’s in desperate need of data that will back up his claims. The subject of his research: the Himalayan rabbit. Why himalayan rabbits in particular? Well, it seems these little bunnies have the peculiar ability to bear multiple fur patterns. Chen thinks he might know how and why, but he’s going to need a fellow peer to lend him a hand. Think you can do it?

 

 
Drakonarium Updates!
One new addition we’ve added to the Drakonarium this update is the ability to feed treats to your cute Drakon family! These treats can have all sorts of cool effects on drakons, such as tweaking their colors, so stop by and feel free to experiment!

 
BUG FIXES + TWEAKS

A Profanity filter has been applied to naming Drakons. Now, if you try to name your drakon a naughty name, you’ll be given a much cuter suggestion.
Upon confirming your Drakon’s Name, players will no longer see a generic drakon picture; the window will show a 3D model of their newly hatched drakon.
The RP costs in the Look Book will now turn red if the player does not have enough RP to purchase a drakon for use.
Fixed bug in which the mouseover for Drakons bred with a Look Book drakon would not show their parents from the Look Book
Players can now use the transit center inside the Academy to access different areas. It will be to the far right of Dr. Reneau and Tetsu.
Look Book drakons no longer have maturity timers.
Fixed a bug where the “level up!” animation was playing on nearby, unrelated player characters if the player had levelled up.
If a Drakon’s profile pane is open and they are sent to Halycon, it will now automatically be closed.
All Drakon menus will now close if the player decides to talk to Yoshi in the Drakonarium.
Fixed a bug that prevented some players from using items during the bed tutorial.
Drakon trait icons will now change color if they are selected or moused over.
The drakon eggs in your egg inventory will now occasionally wiggle!

Patch Notes

Alpha 34: Heredity Quests and Drakons of Many Colors

Hello there, Tyto Students! This week’s update brings even more quests to the Heredity Module, as well as the ability for your drakons to breed into a variety of different colors and hues! Read on for more info…
CONTENT UPDATES
New Quests!
Note: In order to accept these quests, you’ll need to have reached level 5 of the heredity module.

 
A Bolt from the Blue

In his seemingly never-ending quest for a perfect garden, Tyto Student Yosef has, yet again, run into another roadblock. This time, his blue timpita plants are growing far too tall and covering up the rest of his precious flowers. In the past, you used 2×2 Punnett squares to help Yosef, but this time, you’ll be using a 4×4 square! Find him at his usual spot in the Student District and come to the rescue once more.

 
A Dog By Its Bark

Dog-Walker Claire Madeline is excitedly sending in her application to Tyto Academy soon. As per the requirements, she’s been working on a report, mapping out the genomes for her cute, sweet little dogs.  One problem, however: while she’s worked long and hard on the report for her application, the thought of presenting her report to Tyto scientists fills her with fear. Why don’t you help her out and visit her in Espeth Park? She’d really appreciate the help of a full-fledged Tyto Student.

 
Feathered Features

Tyto Student Asa is, just like many others, looking to leave her mark on the world. She wants to be unique, stand out from the crowd, and be her own person. Likewise, geppettos come in a variety of shades and hues, each one putting their own spin on the same basic color palette. Unlike you, Asa hasn’t started learning about heredity yet, but wants to know if geppettos of different hues have different genotypes. Talk to her in the Academy and solve the mystery!
 Drakonarium Update!

We’ve also updated the Drakonarium in this patch. Now, when breeding Drakons, you’ll find all sorts of color combinations and patterns on the bodies, wings, and tails of the cute little creatures! There are too many different combinations to count; you can mix one drakon of one color with another to create a mix of the two (incomplete dominance), or maybe even a fusion of the two colors (codominance). Or, maybe you’ll find something completely different? In any case, don’t be afraid to experiment!

 
BUG FIXES + TWEAKS

Fixed issue in “Similar Snakes” where the “Analyze” button in the UI was cut off.
The UI for Dr. Yoshi’s Menu and the Look Book inside the Drakonarium have been redesigned to look cleaner and easier on the eyes.

 

Patch Notes

Alpha 31: Heredity Module Updates

Hello, Tyto Students! This week’s update brings even more content to the ever-expanding heredity module!
NEW QUESTS
Heredity Quiz

Espethian Rowan wants to test your knowledge on common words found in heredity, and has henceforth prepared a pop-quiz for you! Think you’ve got a handle on their definitions? Seek Rowan out, and accept her challenge!

Note: In order to accept this quest, you must have completed “Pink on Yellow Can Vex A Fellow,” from Tyto Student Yosef in the student district first.

 
Some Peas If You Please

Espethian Mike Columbus is a big admirer of Gregor Mendel — one of the founding fathers of modern genetics — and is recreating one of Mendel’s most famous experiments in Espeth. Think you can repeat history and come to the same conclusions Mendel did? Find Mike at Tyto Commons inside the Student District and let him know you’re interested.

Note: In order to accept this quest, you need to have completed both “Genotypes and Phenotypes” from Tyto Student Omar and “Pink on Yellow Can Vex A Fellow.” Both quests can be found within the Student District.

 
Multiple Alleles

Supervisor Cherie, now leaving the biodome supervisor life behind in favor of following her dream and becoming a teacher, has cooked up another lesson plan for you. This time, it’s about Multiple Alleles. She needs a bright, young Tyto Student such as yourself to test it out on, so why not lend a hand?

Note: You’ll need to complete “Pink on Yellow Can Vex A Fellow” to accept this quest.

 
The Spice of Life

After the previous fiasco with Lady Choggerly, Espethian Lawrence is determined to learn from his past mistakes and become an expert on genetics and heredity. He has a few questions about asexual vs. sexual reproduction, but is a little too embarrassed to ask an expert after his previous blunder. Use your big brain and advice from Tyto experts to teach him the difference between the two!

Note: You’ll need to complete “Pink on Yellow Can Vex A Fellow” to accept this quest.

 
BUG FIXES + TWEAKS
Gameplay:

EXP rewarded for completing heredity quests has been re-balanced to ensure players will be at level 3 at the end of the current quest chain, and be working towards level 4.
The Punnett square puzzle’s star-ratings have been fixed to reduce every 10 seconds (or 1/3 of your current time limit.)
Quests with special items, such as the Flittermice Cage in “Pollinate and Prosper” will now be returned to the NPC upon successful completion of the quest.
Evidence cards for detective quests have been tweaked to scale better on smaller monitors.
Fixed a bug where the Punnett Puzzle would, upon starting, mark incorrect options as correct.
The instructions for selling an item to a vendor have been rewritten to be more accurate.
Fixed a bug in which players could leave an area with the “Quest Complete” window active and not receive their reward.
Players will no longer continue to move forward if they enter a conversation with another character while having auto-run active.
/Beckon and /Cheer emotes will now properly display in-game.

Launcher:

Download can now be paused and resumed.
Download process also improved for more stability.
Icon now displayed in the taskbar.
Mac can now use copy/paste in the fields.
Windows About pop-up actually displays information about the Launcher.
An issue where logging out and then logging back in that made the play button launch the game has been fixed.
The Launcher now saves window positioning and sizing between sessions.
An issue with the clear logs pop-up where the X cancel button was acting as the OK button was resolved.
Disk Space check improved and more accurate; Launcher will display a pop-up if there’s not enough space.

Behind-the-Scenes

Prioritizing the Production of Tyto Online

Hi! Lindsey here.

I wanted to give you a quick look at how we prioritize the production of Tyto Online, and how we decide what we’re going to work on.

So what you see below is a small part of our backlog in a program called JIRA. A backlog is basically just a prioritized list of all the features, bugs, and things we need to do for the game! 

 

This is the heart of all the tasks we have to do and how we organize it all. And every two weeks we go through a “sprint” — a set of tasks that we want to complete for the updates we release. Right now, we’re in the midst of our Drakon Breeding: Part 1 sprint, and in our backlog are all the tasks that are involved in this sprint, like “I need to be able to click on and see different genes,” and “I need to be able to access the Drakonarium from a hotbar,” or “I need to be able to breed drakons.”

We call these tasks “user-stories,” which we create as we determine what the user is going to want to do in the game, and set them alongside bugs and other things we need to do as we make, build, and grow Tyto Online. Sometimes they’re from new features we want, and sometimes we make them based on requests from our players.

This is our current sprint, where you can see what there is To Do, what’s In Progress, what needs to be tested, what needs to be reviewed, and what’s finished.

 

 

One of the important things to understand about how we prioritize production is that we have a GIANT backlog, with 130+ items in our main backlog, 40 in another, 60+ in our Bug backlog and HELO backlog, and so on. All in all we have about 300 items across all the organizational areas and lists we have in JIRA.

So when it comes to prioritizing all these tasks, we generally try to go from top to bottom — what’s highest priority down to lowest priority. For example, at the top of our list are things like making sure players can see buttons in order to complete and start conversations, while wayyyy at the bottom are things like “I want to be able to automatically bar non-holographic pets from entering biodomes.” Obviously that would be a pretty minor story-driven thing, so that’s toward the bottom of the list.

There are times when people will report a bug or tell us about an idea they have that we think is awesome — but that awesome idea might end up at #200 because it’s not immediately essential to clarifying gameplay or the features we’re currently putting out. We will definitely get to it, which is why we keep it in our backlog; it’s just that it’s a long, long list that we have, and we have to be very careful about how we prioritize things. It can be really challenging to balance how much time we spend on adding new stuff and making sure we fix any issues that are confusing to users, but right now we do have to prioritize usability first.

So every couple of weeks we start a new sprint, working through the top priorities as a team, and JIRA will generate some cool visuals so we can track our progress. I can see how the work is being divvied up:

 

 

And poor Nick has the most tasks assigned to him right now (he does all the user interface).

I can look at how long it’s taking to get different new issues taken care of:

 

 

And our overall sprint progress: 

 

 

If it looks like a lot, that’s because it is — it’s a pretty complicated process when you have a project as big as ours. But it’s also pretty great when you see the outcome of it all!

News & Announcements

Choose Your Dino-Dome!

Today we have a big announcement…

We’re about to begin work to add a dinosaur biodome to Tyto Online!

We’re really happy that our art team is finally about to have the resources and time to pull off a new biodome highlighting the Cretaceous Era! It’s really important for us to be as scientifically accurate as possible, so we have three pretty specific times and locations we’ve been trying to choose from.

So that’s where you come in!

From today until Tuesday, June 26, you get to vote between three different dinosaur groups and locations:

(1) Cretaceous Mongolia, including Flaming Cliffs: including the Velociraptor, Protoceratops Deinocheirus mirificus, Plesiohadros, and more!

(2) Cretaceous Hell Creek: including Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, ankylosaurus, and more!

(3) Cretaceous European: Including some lesser-known dinosaurs such as Turiasaurus riodevensis, Ampeloasaurus atacis, Baryonix walkeri, and more!

 

Once the votes are in, we’ll announce the final winner! Then we’ll start the research needed to create a sustainable ecosystem from producers, consumers, and decomposers with species from that era and location! This will be based on all the most up-to-date theories out there, and we’re super excited to release a scientifically-accurate prehistoric ecosystem expansion pack!
Vote here! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KWL79B6
 

[Images from Paleo Guy on Deviant Art, who does absolutely incredible work!]

Behind-the-Scenes

Creating the World of Tyto Online

For an educational game, the lore behind Tyto Online has a surprising amount of realism and complexity. The earth becomes uninhabitable, refugees have to experience an entirely new place, living with people who have never set foot on Earth. And because the game centers on scientific exploration and discovery, there’s a sense of necessity and conservation in completing the quests in the game.

For Immersed Games’ Creative Director Caroline Lamarque, it was important not to make the game “condescendingly sweet and innocent.” She wanted to have something “more complex than we often see in children’s media,” but not anything “gritty and dark” either. As players explore the game, they’ll see cute and fantastical alien creatures, and non-playable characters (NPCs) who are all extremely nice. And to Caroline Lamarque, positivity and a sense of realism go hand-in-hand in making Tyto Online’s captivating world.

 

How long did it take to lay down the groundwork for Tyto Online’s backstory? And what was that process like?

Caroline Lamarque: I remember that it took forever just to come up with the name Tyto — it took several days and 600+ comments on a particular Facebook post for the company to decide on it. It was Xanadu-like for a long time beforehand. And my first idea was a lot darker and grittier like most sci-fi, but we decided to reel it in because going utopian and having an upbeat sci-fi world made so much more sense.

After that, I feel like it didn’t take very long for me to start building Tyto’s universe. I had a prompt and a couple of details to start out with, but little else. [CEO] Lindsey and [co-founder] Ryan gave me a few guidelines. We could exaggerate certain things about this alien planet and fictional future to make them more interesting, but we couldn’t create any plant, animal, or detail that didn’t have at least some precedent in real life. I wrote up an idea right away and presented it to them the next day; I think they took all of my ideas immediately and we just started working from there. It’s always felt really natural to expand Tyto’s world.

Would you say that world-building is a hobby of yours?

CL: Definitely! I’ve always loved creating characters, writing stories, and building worlds. I even have an MA in creative writing. When I was a kid, I used to write a short story every day in my Lisa Frank panda notebook. Most of my stories were about dogs (I wanted a puppy more than anything for most of my childhood), and one day I made a “real” puppy for myself out of paper towel, tape, and tissues at recess. I made it a whole wardrobe of outfits out of more tissues and tape, and even a crate out of an empty manila folder! After a while my teacher told me I had to stop using up all of her tissue boxes for puppy accessories. I like to think that this was one of my first forays into world-building.

What were your inspirations for the world of Tyto Online?

CL: One thing that some players might notice is the fact that every made-up word in Espeth has some hidden meaning. Many made-up words were inspired by words in other languages, portmanteaus, or synonyms for a quality describing the object or place. “Espeth” is derived from the “esper-” prefix that means “hope” in many Romance languages. “Ovo” is a word derived from “ovum,” meaning “egg.” I thought naming the planet “Ovo” would be appropriate for a new planet: it’s roundish and full of possibility, but fragile if it isn’t handled carefully. I remember being very proud of all the allusions I strung together to make “panganog,” but I’ve completely forgotten what they were.

It seems like everyone is so nice in the city of Espeth — is it something in the atmosphere?

CL: It’s that good old-fashioned Fiction at work! Breathe it in! We wanted to create a world with lots of positivity and hope because it made a lot more sense to do so. We’re trying to teach players about how awesome science is. We can’t do that if we create a world where Tyto’s science department keeps getting de-funded and characters are too apathetic to ask you for help with their problems. We also can’t teach problem-solving if we create a world with problems that are too big to solve.

Were there any challenges along the way?

CL: The biggest challenge came from our Kickstarter backers! Many of our Kickstarter rewards allowed donors to write a line of dialogue, create a character or an alien creature. I expected to receive a lot of ideas that would be easy to incorporate into what was, at that point, a pretty sizable amount of interconnected lore. Nope!

The most immediately obvious issue was the Founders’ Wall, an in-game wall honoring the scientists who colonized Espeth several decades prior to the game’s beginning. I was expecting people to give us their full names so that Espeth’s illustrious, venerated founders could be forever commemorated in a very solemn way. But when so many of them gave us their gamertags instead, we decided that at some point between the present day and 2142 it became fashionable to go by one’s gamertag at all times, even in real life.

As it turned out, incorporating the Kickstarter ideas made the game-world even better! A lot of ideas wound up becoming huge parts of the game, too. In fact, we are currently building an entire module around one of the alien creatures designed by a teenage Kickstarter backer!

Have you ever thought about what other cities might look like on planet Ovo?

CL: I have thought about other Ovonian cities, as well as cities on Ovo’s moons, Halcyon and Valgard! Joel, the first NPC you meet in the game, is from Halcyon originally. Espeth is the only city that has such a large Tytonian presence, which affects the amenities and people there. Ovo is also a planet roughly the same size as Earth, which means that there is plenty of room for Ovonian tundras, deserts, and other biomes besides rainforest.

What were the most important aspects that you wanted to include in Tyto Online’s backstory?

CL: When I started building out the lore for the game, I wanted to present a more complex world than we often see in children’s media. I didn’t want to make it gritty or dark, and not just condescendingly sweet and innocent either.

An example of these complications are the various “factions” in Espeth. There are Tytonians, non-Tytonians, first/second/third-generation Espethians, and Earth evacuees, and everyone feels differently about their place in Espeth and the situation on Earth.

Early on, I decided that Espeth had been founded decades before the start of the game, for reasons other than an evacuation of Earth. We wanted Espeth to have tall buildings, infrastructure, restaurants, clothing stores, arcades, and salons — you’re not going to have time to build all of those things if you’re concentrating on fleeing your dead planet. If Espeth is decades old, that means that some young people have grandparents who have never set foot on Earth. These people would not care about the destruction of Earth the way that a recent evacuee would.

As the game grows, are there any other elements you’d like to see?

CL: The one thing that I’ve been wanting to create since the earliest planning phases is an in-game arcade! Due to one of the first Espethian colonizers being a world-famous video game designer, Espeth actually got an arcade before a town hall. (This bit of lore is actually inspired by one of our Kickstarter backer’s ideas!)

News & Announcements

Introducing Our Next Module: Heredity!

We’re really excited to announce the new module we’re adding to Tyto Online — Heredity!

This is the next big step in our ambition to incorporate many different subjects in Tyto Online. So what will players be able to do in this new module?
One of the things we’re adding is a new story element: the drakons need players’ help in order to survive! After living on the terraformed moon Halcyon, an unexpected disease left many drakons sterile and unable to reproduce. So it’s up to the players to breed drakons on Ovo and add more diversity into the drakon population so they can return to Halcyon.

With the brand new quests we’re adding, players will experience many different concepts involving heredity and genetics, starting with the basics all the way through to lethal alleles and incomplete dominance and codominance. They’ll learn how to incubate and hatch a drakon egg; Yosef is back with even more problems: his timpita plants aren’t turning pink as he expected them to! And how did a baby Yawp end up in a Chogwig litter?
Players will be able to trade and cross-breed with other player’s drakons, learn how environmental and genetic factors affect the growth of animals and plants, and construct Punnett squares for their quests to predict the outcomes of their drakon breeding. As players level up, they’ll unlock progressively complex types of genes for drakon breeding, from varying horn and wing types to color schemes and even some secret mutations.                                        

All this may sound like quite a bit, and for us, that’s a good thing. The more we progress and continue adding new modules, the more players will be able to experience and choose what kind of scientist they want to be at Tyto Academy.
With the new Heredity module, anyone — children and adults — can interact with these concepts in an immersive way, and never feel like they’re going through a textbook. All part of maintaining an alien planet!