Naval Tactics: Captains of the Spanish Main sets sail on May 14

iconI am happy to announce that Naval Tactics: Captains of the Spanish Main has passed Apple review and will be available to download from the App Store on May 14. Prime your muskets and buckle on your cutlass and join us to test your tactical skills on the high seas! Purchase it during the introductory sale for $4.99; after the introductory sale the price will return to its normal $7.99.

Naval Tactics: Captains of the Spanish Main

I am very happy to announce the upcoming release of Naval Tactics: Captain’s of the Spanish Main! Strap on your cutlass and unfurl your sails as you embark on ship combat on the high seas in the Age of Sail! Watch the trailer, visit the website, or post in the new forums!


Chimera Software Announces
Naval Tactics: Captains of the Spanish Main
Tactical Board Wargame for iOS 7
Available Spring 2014


(Atlanta, GA) February 3, 2014 –  Chimera Software is thrilled to announce Naval Tactics: Captains of the Spanish Main, a fresh way to experience the tactical board wargame genre on iPhone, iPod, and iPad.  A modern take inspired by old classics, this brand new adventure into turn-based naval combat will leave your tactical mind reeling.

“After spending three years on our hit 4X space strategy game Starbase Orion, I wanted to bring things back down to Earth for a while” said Rocco Bowling, founder of Chimera Software.  “Naval Tactics is focused on tactical naval combat in the 1700′s. Ship battles in the Age of Sail are unique in their tactical complexity, where the use of wind for positioning and fleet formations are critical components to dominating your enemy. Combine this with savvy turn-based mechanics on a hex map, mix in some traditional board game mechanics and the final combination is a savory bite any strategy/tactical gamer will savor.”

  • Built for iOS 7: Asynchronous Games with GameCenter, Universal Binary, Retina Display
  • Infamous Naval Battles: Position your ships and fire your cannons in glorious Age of Sail combat
  • Board Game Mechanics: Hexagonal maps and turn-based gameplay keeps this game easy to learn, but hard to master
  • Customizable Fleets: Customize your fleet before each mission by selecting from a variety of ships
  • Captain Cards: Acts of valor and surprise await you by utilizing these unique cards
  • Premiere PvP Experience: Simultaneous turns, asynchronous play, multiple matches, real-time chat, and more
    • Balanced Engagements: Let your tactical genius shine in a variety of balanced game modes
    • Built using the premier multiplayer experience that drives Starbase Orion, one of the best asynchronous turn-based systems available on iOS
  • Practice vs AI: Play offline against the computer to sharpen up your skills
  • Pass and Play: Play locally with your friends and family using a single device

To learn more about Naval Tactics, please visit:

Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Chimera Software is the independent publishing entity for Rocco Bowling (owner and founder).  During the day Rocco is CTO for Small Planet Digital; at night he exercises his creativity by creating award winning games.

Video Update #3: New Music by Mark Kent

I have been working hard to get v1.2.1 out to the beta group, and I worried that making video update #3 would prolong it even further. Thankfully fellow Starbase Orion player and composer Mark Kent saved me that trouble! Mark graciously offered up his talents and has composed four separate tracks totaling nearly 30 minutes of original music. Many thanks to Mr. Kent, Starbase Orion has never sounded this good!

Video Update #2: Continuous Asynchronous Multiplayer

Our shiny new dedicated server will allow us to move away from GameCenter’s “turn stick” approach to async multiplayer by throwing away the turn stick and allowing players to take their turns at the same time.

Video Update #1: Cloud AI

“Cloud AI”, an upcoming feature for Starbase Orion, allows single player turns to be processed on the cloud instead of by your mobile device. We’ve just begun exploring all of the advantages this will have, but one of the immediate advantages will be turn speed.

Till next time, KickStarter!

Thanks to everyone who backed the project for porting Starbase Orion to Android, PC, and Mac. We gave a good showing, but in the end failed to raise the money required. I learned a lot running this KickStarter; if and when I do another KS it will be that much better for it.

Now that the KickStarter is over, what’s next? One of the aspects of the KS I was personally excited about was being able to work on a custom server to open new doors for improvement in Starbase Orion. This is something I started researching before the KS began, and a couple weeks ago started implementing. But what will this mean for the Starbase Orion player? Having a custom server will open up a ton of possibilities, and I’d like to mention some of them now!

Please note these are all possible future additions. All of these features will definitely NOT be in the first version of SO that uses the custom server, but they are all long or short term goals I would like to achieve eventually.

Server-side Turn Processing

With a custom server we can start doing the turn processing on the server (instead of your device). This provides numerous advantages: decreasing the ability to cheat, make the game more stable (low memory crashes when “press turn and it crashes”), quick server patches and updates (if the bug is server-side I can fix it without needing to submit an update to Apple). While all of this obviously applies to multiplayer games, it it can also apply to “single player” games! In Starbase Orion all games are multiplayer games; “single player” games are simply multiplayer games with one human and multiple AI. So long as you have an active internet connection, you could play a single player game hosted on the server, giving you all of the advantages of doing so.

Cloud AI

While we will continue to support playing Starbase Orion without an active internet connection, the majority of the time you probably have one. And if you have an active internet connection, the you can access a powerful server on the cloud. That server has three very important things: much more CPU power than your iOS device, much more RAM than your iOS device, and persistent storage that is not on your device. The AI algorithms in Starbase Orion are greedy when it comes to CPU and RAM. SO uses heuristics-based genetic algorithms; that’s a fancy way of saying the AI looks at a bunch of possible ways to take its turn, theorizes how the game would play out given those orders, and runs it through a heuristic to see if it should do that or not. These kind of algorithms gain so much from having more CPU, and running your games on a powerful server will allow the AI to examine more possible plans per turn.

Game Data-Mining

Another popular strategy for AI development is to examine, catalogue, and analyze thousands of played games. This data is then fed into the AI to teach it what works in certain situations and what doesn’t. Currently we don’t have access to any game data; Apple does not provide us access to GameCenter servers, and we certainly don’t have direct access to your single player games. With a custom server, server-side processing, and a few months of it being live I will have a wealth of data to start playing with (enough to make a nerdy man cry).

Contiguous Asynchronous Multiplayer

GameCenter has a convention where there is a “turn stick” that gets passed between players in a game; only the player with the “turn stick” can play their turn. When they complete their turn, they submit it and the next player gets a notification. While this can work for the majority of games, it is not ideal for Starbase Orion!

When you play your turn in Starbase Orion, what you are really during is creating a list of orders to be played at the end of the round. When everyone has defined their orders, the round is processes simultaneously and the results present back to the player. As such, the concept of a “turn stick” adds unnecessary latency when playing a match. With a new custom server all players will be able to enter their orders at the same time,

Real-time Chat

One of the built in features in the Smart Fox Server is a complete chatting system. The new “multiplayer” section in SO will contain “The Space Bar” where players can lounge and chat if the mood strikes them. In addition, each game will have a custom, persistent chat room just for that game, so you can easily chat about strategy or whatnot between turns.

Server-side Game History

Every turn of a game played in the cloud will be stored on the server. This fact will be able to power several new features: the ability to roll-back a game to a previous turn (details TBD), game replays and player spectating.

Browseable Player Profiles

Know this great thread on the forums where committed players look to find other players? Now that ability will be completely in game, where you can write a little ditty about yourself and let other players know you want to play with them, your timezone, and your game preferences.

Better Automated Match Making

There is a lot of improvement that can be done here, so suffice it to say when we control the server we can implement whatever we want. I have some cool ideas around this but we’ll save that for another post.

Ladder Rankings

What’s a competitive 4X space game without rankings? This feature has been a long time coming, but only made sense if the rankings mean something. GameCenter did not provide enough controls and security to make this feasible, having a custom server does. I plan to implement a variant of the ELO ranking system.

Automated Tournaments

SO players have organized tournaments using the forums in the past, but until now have lacked the tools the really make it work. New victory conditions, turn time limits, and automated bracketing will all play key roles in allowing successful online tourneys.

Integrated Friend System

All of your GameCenter friends who play Starbase Orion will be listed inside the SO interface. Use this to invite them to games, send them private chat messages, see their profiles and more.

Periodic News

The “multiplayer” section of Starbase Orion will also contain a “News” section. This will be updated with patch notes, stores, tips, strategy, highlighted forum posts, and more.

These features just scratch the surface of what will be possible. We can use more players in the beta testing group to help iron out all of the issues.

Hello KickStarter!

I am thrilled to announce that our KickStarter project STARBASE ORION: Now Colonizing Android + PC + Mac is now live! We have just 29 days to reach the funding goal of $40,000 USD. I am confident we can reach that goal and more, but we’ll need your help. Please spread the word about the KickStarter on your favorite social media avenues. Interested parties with access to an iPhone/iPad can download the new Starbase Orion: First Contact to live a portion of the full Starbase Orion experience.

Pressing “Turn”: Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

Starbase Orion: First Contact IconIt has been a fantastic first year for Starbase Orion! From its launch in October of 2011 till now, SO has been installed on over 65,000 iOS devices and SO players have logged over 2.5 million sessions. Those numbers are all the more impressive since it has never done “free for a day” to pad them. Our customer’s continue to love that firm stance on pricing; in an age where app prices fluctuate faster than a feline on catnip, SO’s pricing policy and continued refusal to do a “free for a day” or “99 cent weekend” sales has been a breath of fresh air (we have been asked to do a FAAD three times over the past year and have refused each time). You put your trust, confidence, and money in us and we are going to stick to our guns.

A core community of fantastic players have taken a first hand role in shaping the evolution of the game by joining the discussions on the forums. They have helped fuel over sixteen updates to the game, with each update packed with new features, balance changes, and continuous improvements. This trend will continue in 2013; so long as the players support it, SO will continue to grow and develop into a 4X game to rival any other.

So what’s coming in 2013? Over the past year there have been dozens of inquiries about Starbase Orion running on Android/PC. As a result of these, we are going to give it a shot! Next month we’ll hold a KickStarter campaign to raise funds to bring Starbase Orion to other platforms. While this will be no small endeavor, I have already been busy getting the foundation prepared to begin the port. This includes developing a cross-platform environment to build from one code base to all platforms, researching GameCenter replacements to improve the multiplayer experience, and more. I am particularly excited as these improvements would positively impact the iOS players with a more robust multiplayer experience with real-time chat, smart turn time-limits, player profiles, game roll backs, simultaneous turns, and true ELO rankings.

I am truly excited with the success of 2012, but I am even more excited about the prospects of 2013! With the support of the SO fans behind us, it is going to be one wild ride.

Starbase Orion v1.1 Available In The AppStore

New Starbase Orion IconWith over three dozen new features, Starbase Orion v1.1 is the largest, most comprehensive update to date. There are so many new features, there is something to excite everyone!

I would like to personally thank all of the Starbase Orion players who joined the testing group to help make v1.1 the best it can be. VanderLegion, ddebernardy, elph, bmike, ed, thebardofblasphemy, Ayjona, Xlom, Kabukiman, waynebo, Dalmuti, Jusvah, GALATICA_Actual, General_Grr, Stormbringer, Treksdot (and everyone for whom I do not have a forum name for) thank you so much for your tireless efforts in helping improve the game!

• Pass and Play Games
Who else enjoys having a get together with friends to battle for galactic conquest? I know we do, and so do the numerous Starbase Orion players who have requested Pass and Play games be added! Now you can enjoy battling it out with friends when you only one device to play on.

• New Map Size, “Massive”
You wanted more stars, we’re giving them to you. The new “Massive” map size is approximately 50% larger than the “Huge” map size.

• New Game Speed, “Quick”
Want to speed the game up a little? Now you can by playing a game on “quick” speed, which reduces all production and research costs by 75%.

• More Empires Per Map
Previously Starbase Orion limited games to four empires; you can now enjoy the game with up to eight empires! For single player, that means you and seven computer opponents, for GameCenter and Pass and Play multiplayer that means four human players and four computer players. Which leads us too…

• Computer Empires in Multiplayer Matches
Not satisfied with conquering your friends? Now you can up the ante by throwing up to four computer empires into the mix. Now wouldn’t it be cool if you could team up with your friends against the computer players…

• New “Allied” and “Survival” Game Modes
Joining the current “Classic” (free-for-all) game mode are two brand new game modes available in single and multiplayer games. “Allied” mode splits all of the empires into two teams mixing human and computer players. “Survival” mode is your human vs computer cooperative mode, can you team up with your allies against a team of the new and improved computer players? We’ll see with…

• Faster and More Devious Computer Opponents
Battle-tested by some of the finest Starbase Orion players around, the AI for SO has received continual improvement in both performance (how quickly it takes its turns) and strategy (how much of a challenge it provides). If you beat the game on Impossible then the Starbase Orion AI wants a rematch! And if that still isn’t enough for you, you can now take on multiple computer opponents in “Survival” mode!

• User Customizable Build Focuses
Players can now customize the priority listing for the Industry, Farming, Research, and Military build focuses. Don’t want to build Cloning Facilities? Or you want all planets to default to Funding or Industry when idle? Simply go to the CUSTOM BUILD FOCUS option in the main options menu. Custom build focuses are synced over iCloud and are shared between all of your current games!

• Retreat From Combat
Combat in Starbase Orion is meant to be RISKY (committing troops to battle is a big decision and it should come with big consequences), but the number of requests for this feature to be added has overwhelmed us! You can now order them to retreat and if they survive 80% of the next combat round they will retreat to the nearest friendly system. Only combat ships are equipped to handle a combat retreat; if you engage an enemy with colony or troop ships in your fleet, the colony and troop ships will be lost if the combat ships leave.

• Primary Targets in Combat
You can now set primary targets for each ship you have in combat. Want to take out the starbase and then focus on the weakest enemy? Want half of your fleet to take out the starbase while the frigate attack specific targets in the enemy fleet? Now you can! And if you can attack individual ships, how about protecting a wingman…

• Escort Ships in Combat
Loaded up your Destroyers with point defense systems with the intent of protecting your valuable Titans? Assign your ships to escort specific friendly ships.

• Surrender Button
Does the end look inevitable? There is now an easy way to surrender the game, allowing the other players in a multiplayer to continue on without you.

• New Race Attribute: Tolerant
Tolerant races are naturally resistant to irradiated and toxic atmospheres and materials. They are able to perform minimal farming on radiated and toxic planets. Empires of this race are familiar with colonizing these harsh environmens and enjoy reduced maintenance penalty cost for buildings on these planets.

• Production Costs for Ship Systems Reduced
Prior to v1.1 ship systems in Starbase Orion were quite expensive. Now they are drastically cheaper (on par with the weapon systems); load up on your heavy armor and point defense systems! And just in time for the sale…

• New Ship System: Shield Modulation Unit
The shield modulation unit is a fantastic piece of engineering that allows your shields to remain active inside of a nebula.

• New Ship System: Improved Energy Controller
This ship system will double the recharge rate of your ship’s shields. Useful for out surviving your enemy.

• New Ship System: ECM Jammer
Enemy missiles and torpedoes ruining your plans for intergalactic dominion? Each ECM jammer provides a 30% chance of evading missiles and torpedoes, and equipping multiple of them will stack the bonus.

• New Ship System: Auxiliary Thrusters
Turning a massive starship takes a lot of force, do it just a bit faster with these additional maneuvering thrusters.

• New Ship System: Combat Engines
Do your enemies scatter before your might a little too quickly? Chase them down a bit faster with additional combat engines.

• New Ship System: Fast Missile Launcher
A smart man once said “two nukes are better than one”; we couldn’t agree more! With Fast Missile Launcher your missile frigates will be able to fire two rounds in the time it would normally take to fire one.

• New Technology: Security Training
An empire-wide achievement, additional security training reduces the maintenance cost of your spies by half.

• New Technology: Personal Cloaking Device
Another empire-wide achievement, personal cloaking devices doubles offensive spies chance of successfully infiltrating the enemy.

• New Technology: Clandestine Initiative
Are your spies dying as fast as you can produce them? Give them additional support in the field with this tech which provides your empire a 75% chance of saving a spy which would otherwise have been killed or captured.

• Industrial Production Spillover
Prior to v1.1 if you built an item your production points above the cost of that item were lost. This penalized switching strategies down the line, as you would lose production switching to build something cheaper. Now production point spillover to the next item you are building.

• New Compression Algorithm for GameCenter Games
Now that Apple has increased the size limit for turn-based game in GameCenter, you are going to see a number of new features added to Starbase Orion that were not feasible with the lower limit. The first of which is this new compression algorithm; while it doesn’t compress quite as small as the previous algorithm, it is much faster and is less memory intensive (which means less memory crashes on low memory devices). Another new change thanks to this addition is…

• New Chat Features
The first step of our multi-patch effort to improve the in-game chat; we have increased the message size from 140 characters to 512 characters, and there are now two chat channels: one for All players and one for Allied players. This is just the beginning; in future versions of SO we are looking to support real-time chat between players.

• Rock Your Tunes As You Colonize That Rock
A long standing request to be able to listen to your music while playing the game has finally made it! Now you can name out to Ride of the Valkyrie while charging across the heavens

• And More!
There are many more features (such as improved situation reports, user interface changes, race attribute tweaks). Please see the whipping post on the Starbase Orion forums for a comprehensive list.

User Created Video Overview

Thanks Oreniishi!

Remember to Like it on YouTube.