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Shared Source, GUI, Dev View, and Crafting

September 18, 2015

Welcome to Eco Dev Blog #1! With our Kickstarter and Pax finished, we’re hard at work getting the game ready for our alpha release. We’ll be posting these dev blogs more or less weekly, so expect lots of updates as we build towards alpha.

And as a reminder for community discussion check out Eco’s sub-reddit, EcoNation and Dewy Hills.


After an amazing month of PAX and the Kickstarter, we now have a chance to get back to working full time on the game, with the addition of an awesome community of people who’ve backed us. This week I’ve been working with Jeff to get the community side going with plans for the forums, dev blog, slack, etc, working with our lawyer Alex to create a source code license (we are sharing that this week).

I’ve also been working with the dev community to create a web-browser interface into our simulated ecosystem. This will let players open a webbrowser and get detailed views of what’s happening in the world (can be limited for players in the game, so its not god-mode, but server ops and teachers and devs can get the whole view). This involves a ton of new web-tech being added to the project, which I’m not personally familiar with, so having the community’s help on that has been phenomenal. Since we hadn’t sent out the source code yet, they’ve created a dummy server that serves up animal and plant positions, updating frequently, and rendering them in a map that can be panned and zoomed and clicked. This will be really useful for debugging, but also many other kinds of tools.

Major props to our dev community members repeatpan, scots, schlongfry, and timd for creating this, and to everyone else who participated in discussions. It’s been a really promising start to our dev community, and looking forward to continuing to grow it as we release the code soon.

The next task the dev community is taking on is a browser-interface for our server properties. I’ve created a video outlining this task here: https://youtu.be/s6RwtdP5PAAand we’ve started discussion on Slack and our Dev Forum about how to do it.

We’re also working on an account system that will allow people to login and add or upgrade a pledge, so people who missed the Kickstarter or want to upgrade to dev tier levels will get access to that soon.

Worked on a mockup for an iteration of the crafting system:

Crafting takes time depending on your skill, and the building owner can extract a fee depending on that amount of time (crafting tables are always tied to a building). The queue can be shared with other players building things, and are ‘first come first served’, but later we’ll have other ways of selecting queue order.


Been working on source migration over to GitHub, so our developer tier backers will more easily be able to collaborate during the projects continued development. In that same vein, I have been drumming up support over coding style guidelines (StyleCop!) to keep things from getting too out of control with everyone’s various coding style. Sadly John has vetoed the curly brace battle but I haven’t lost the war yet.On other fronts I have been reworking our current UI setup. It needed a bit of an overhaul to get things ready for alpha and more will be coming soon as Milenko starts getting assets ready to put in.


I spent the week doing a number of fixes to our prior content and making way for future expansion. I made it so you can actually get out of the water, tightened the controllers down, and did other interaction-related polishing. For the ‘pickupable’ objects and for possible interactions with objects, I got a nice highlighting shader implemented that will show what can/can’t be done in the world.

Besides these quality of life fixes, the week was focused on getting a new kind of backend for client->server communication that will hopefully ease life for us and (eventually) for modders using our API.

Upcoming for me is building zoning and the beginnings of staking territory.


Spent first couple of days settling back into the project and my old/new office. Played the game for the first time since december, and started making a high level “to do” list. Started doing first pass on some character designs and contemplating the UI redesign. That would be a big one.

Ah and everything else will be a big one too. Everything needs so much love.

Some scrappy sketches for the week:


Week two, continuing wrestle with User interface.

Trying to nail the style that is going to work with ECo as it goes through different stages of player/world development.

I feel like I am getting somewhere now.

here are some examples of tries and failures as I am going along.


And finally, this seems to be the style and look I am settling on:

UI REV_Something.jpg


On vacation looking at things like this:


It’s been a busy week playing catch up with the ever-expanding ECO community. It’s amazing to see what is being accomplished already, from code additions, to roundtable podcasts, to ECO pillows for home decor! As the web developer for Strange Loop Games, it’s my job to setup all the web services that will support the community.

First on the list is to create an account system where new users can purchase the game, and our original backers can upgrade their account. This would be released already, if I were not thwarted by PayPal’s amazing incompetence! They claim our account has a super bug they have never seen before, gasp! My gut tells me their fraud detection bots are running amock and their customer service are just pawns in the game (don’t worry I’m always excessively nice to customer service agents, where else can you say, “Thank you sooooo much, you are amazing at your job and I hope you have the shiniest day of your life with sprinkles on top. Bye!”) Anyways, this will be release hopefully this week.

Also trying to get a new dev forum up, because our old Vanilla Forums just don’t cut it. At first was going to go with Discourse, which is co-founded by Jeff Atwood of Stack Overflow fame. But after looking into it, it’s Ruby base code, RAM hogging and reportedly rough installation made me opt for NodeBB which is written with Node.js and known for a fast installation. Comparing the two, they are both “modern forums” with a clean design and fancy features a forum should have. I asked for community input on this via the current dev forums, I got pretty mixed feedback. I know a lot of folks appreciate the “traditional” forums such as phpBB or vbulletin and I’m sorry we’re not going with those. In the end I stuck with NodeBB, which will be ready once I connect the forum accounts with the ECO accounts. For your login convenience 🙂https://nodebb.org/product/modern-design

In other news, we released access to the GitHub for source-access backers, the dev blog is live and you are reading the first installment, good job! Also be updating the main ECO site with more info/video for new fans. Thanks for reading and see you on the forums.

Lots more to come, and alpha happening in October. Cant wait to share the game with everyone.

-John K


The Eco Team is a collection of introverted and sometimes genius programmers/designers based in Seattle and Australia. We all grew up and thrive in the video game culture, so of course making them is our dream job. We look forward to continuing to put out quality games for the community of players.

17 thoughts

  • epicjohn99

    I am wondering if their will be animals that must be killed if your civilization is to grow? Like you need to kill all the bears/wolves/cassawarys in the area or they will start to attack you and your livestock.

    • John K. Post author

      There will be animals that may be ‘pests’, but you can always survive without having to kill them off. There will pretty much always be some bad effect from killing off animals.

  • Mysticfocus

    I hope the menus can be changed visually with modded textures! (No offense just a nice feature)

  • Trance

    Awesome! More content for the podcast. Those forums look a tad expensive though… I would’ve gone with the same type that TheEcoNation is run under – XenForo.

    Looking forward to more updates!

  • Jesse J.

    Really looking forward to this game, looks like you guys are putting in work and I cant wait to see the finished product. already have a friend who is going to be getting it as well.

  • Kyle

    I’m not sure if you’ve touched on this, but I hope you plan to include/allow for same-sex relationships, etc. I’d really appreciate it.

    • Trance

      What do you mean Same-Sex relationships? Between the animals? That’s not how the reproduction cycle works though.

      • Tim

        umm, i dont want to burst your bubble or anything, but i dont think this game is focusing on emotional relationships… this isnt exactly a story driven game, its more of a sandbox game. So technically you could start a relationship between other players, but the game is not going to help you with that.

        • Monte

          i think same-sex relationships should actually be a big deal, while yes, it stops the reproduction cycle, it still does happen naturally in nature, and could actually put a really interesting feature in the game, maybe forcing players to bread animals because the population fails to reproduce due to too much of the population turning to same sex relationships. and when it comes to players, maybe have it so naturally same sex relationships can happen between players, but maybe a government can try to ban it. this would have big implications on the game, and could force players to be active in the political system to stop them from passing the law.
          P.S. i would love to hear if it would be possible to use a rocket to reach the comet redirect it(or maybe even mine it!) im an aerospace engineer student so rockets are what i do and i’d love to see it be a part of this game.

  • Joseph

    I’m looking forward to the account system setup so I can finally buy in. Missed Kickstarter by a couple days, but I’m itching to get in on development. Also – love the style that Milenko is leaning toward. It’s very clean and crisp.

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