Announcing Project Highrise: Las Vegas

by matt v, February 2nd, 2017

Since we launched Project Highrise back in September, we’ve been working away on a bunch of things. Some of them we’ve already released and our friends at Kasedo Games put together a lovely video that quickly summarizes all of those updates.

But we’ve also been working on something that, until today, we haven’t shared with you. Without further ado, we’re excited to announce the game’s first expansion  – Project Highrise: Las Vegas.

Project Highrise: Las Vegas will bring the glitz, glamour and wealth of Sin City and a fresh challenge as you vie to build the next great Las Vegas resort. So get ready to go “all in” and join the cutthroat world of high-rolling resort moguls. Create a getaway destination for the mid-century elite, an oasis of decadence in the Nevada desert. Keep hotel guests pampered and comfortable in sleek suites with gourmet room service. Add glitzy casinos, posh nightclubs and book the hottest performers to draw in the crowds.

Here are some features we’re working on bringing to Project Highrise: Las Vegas:

  • Casinos – Entice people to come and part with their hard-earned money in style, with all new casinos.

  • Hotels – Why do your visitors need to leave at all? Keep the business travellers and high-rollers rolling through, with rooms of all sizes that fit every need – but be sure to keep them happy as your ratings depend on it!

  • Events & Shows – Bring in the best show in town, and attract crowds of happy visitors… and their wallets. Have them come in for the show, but stay for the food and the games.

  • VIPs – Invite rock stars, comedians, or business gurus to come and perform at your venue – but just don’t expect them to come for free! The bigger the celebrity, the bigger the demands.

  • Evolved Gameplay – Experience how the new location challenges your building skills, from new type of Air Conditioning utility, to special service elevators, NPCs, and more.

Head over to Steam and add Project Highrise: Las Vegas to your wishlist!


Making an entrance

by matt v, January 26th, 2017

Since we launched Project Highrise back in September, we’ve watched many of our dedicated players build some truly monumental, epic skyscrapers – monster buildings that exceeded even our own experiences and expectations.

By massive, we mean things like this one. It keeps going and is more than twice as tall as the screenshot suggests, the game just doesn’t zoom out any further.


If this is your building, let us know – we’d love to give you credit!

But one of the things lacking for many (ourselves included) was a way to make a suitably monumental, epic lobby and entrance for your skyscraper. If you wanted to add what real estate agents call “curb appeal” to your skyscraper, your options were limited to single floor wallpapers along with lovely statues and fountains inside and out.

But no more! After some lobbying (you knew that would happen, right?) on the Steam forums and because we thought it would look fantastic, we’ve launched two and three floor tall lobbies.

Above (clicking for full size is recommended) we’ve got the glass and steel variant that lets in lots of natural light. Other than the imposing hanging sculpture near the front door, you’ll also notice that elevators change appearance when they’re entirely flanked by these new, tall lobbies. Very fancy light fixtures are optional, but recommended.

Now here’s a three floor tall lobby. Instead of glass and steel, we’ve opted here for some sophisticated tile work to compliment the geometric hanging decorations that float above our lobby. We’ve got some utility closets here that will also change in appearance when surrounded by lobbies for a better aesthetic fit. And as requested by many on the Steam discussion board, you can have lights on the ceiling and decorations on the floor with the new lobbies.

We’ve really enjoyed creating all of these updates over the past few months. It’s also been great fun getting to know some of you on the Steam discussion boards and finding out what you like about the game, wish we would change or hope we would add. Since release, we’ve added quite a bit to Project Highrise and our friends at Kasedo Games made a short video, a sort of then and now retrospective covering the four months since launch.

And yes, there is more coming. Happy building!

 


Rooftop restaurants, holiday decos and more!

by matt v, December 7th, 2016

‘Tis the season for a Project Highrise update! We’ve just released version 1.3.0 with a bunch of exciting additions. Here’s what’s new:

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With new holiday decos, you can get your skyscraper into a festive mood inside and out. Add everything from some diminutive yet mischievous mistletoe hanging over a doorway to a majestic two-story outdoor Christmas tree to spread joy to passersby.

While the season for enjoying outdoor dining and reading the newspaper outside is well behind us here in Chicago, it’s just getting warmed up in Project Highrise. Posh patios provide your apartment dwellers space to enjoy the great outdoors from on high.

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Luxury penthouse apartments make your skyscraper more attractive to the city’s elite residents searching for high-end housing with a view (and a hot tub).

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New restaurants feature outside eating and drinking spaces. Beer gardens on the roof give office workers, residents and visitors alike a place to quaff their brews with skyline views.

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For the ultimate in fine dining, diners will enjoy feasting under the stairs en plein air well above the din of the city streets at famous rooftop restaurants.

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A few other features are also debuting with the latest update:

  • If you don’t want to worry about economics and just want to architect the greatest building in the world, you can now start a new game in Unlimited Mode. Unlimited Mode starts you with lots of cash, prestige, influence and buzz and then gives you a refill every day at midnight.
  • Want to build an eco-friendly skyscraper? The new “Going Green” scenario incorporates the new rooftop apartments and restaurants into your medal goals along with some added utility challenges.
  • Look out for occasional white stuff falling from the sky!
  • A full list of updates is available here.

Finally, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from SomaSim. See you next year!

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Project Highrise is Now Availalbe

by matt v, November 10th, 2016

Break out the hardhats and consult the blueprints because Project Highrise is now available!

You can start building skyward today. Here’s where you can get the game:

It’s also available on the Humble Store and on GOG.com.


Time for Skybridges!

by matt v, November 10th, 2016

We’ve just released the latest update to Project Highrise that we’ve dubbed “Petronas Towers”. Why, you may ask? Halfway up the twin spires of Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur is their most striking feature aside from their great height – a skybridge connecting them. Now, in Project Highrise, you can start on your very own version of that Malaysian masterpiece by doing something like this:

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Another new feature that accompanied skybridges in the recent update are cantilevered floors. Now you can build out up to four tiles out from the edge of your building.

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If you want to decorate your building for fall or Halloween, we added a few (spooky) seasonal decorations to haunt your hallways and liven up your lobbies.

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The other piece of big news since our last update is the full Russian translation translation of Project Highrise is now available.

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We’ve updated and changed a few other things and fixed some more outstanding bugs and balance issues. If you’re interested, you can view our full release notes here.

If you’ve been enjoying Project Highrise, we’d be very grateful if you could leave a review of the game on our Steam or GOG.com store pages. We’re still working hard on Project Highrise, so stay tuned. If you haven’t signed up for the SomaSim Newsletter, you can do that here to learn about updates like this one and news about our studio.


Announcing Building Amenities

by matt v, October 12th, 2016

It’s hard to believe, but Project Highrise has been out for over a month! Thank you again to everyone who has bought, played and participated in discussions. It’s been a great few weeks!

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Since release, we’ve done quite a few updates to fix the bugs and address some tuning/balance issues that we found after release. (A full history of release notes lives here). But we’ve also been working on new stuff to adorn and improve your skyscrapers. The first batch of new items is now available and here some details!

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  • Vending machines are small additions that will help make your residents happy. It gives them a place to take a quick break and escape from their desks for a few minutes. If there is a vending machine on the same floor, chances are that at break time, you’ll see some office workers head over to grab a snack.
  • Pay phones provide a place for office and apartment dwellers to converse privately in public. Look for them to head there when they need a break to phone home or to make a call away from prying eyes. Since privacy requires some soundproofing, these will also cut the spread of noises a bit as well. Like vending machines, residents will only go to pay phones located on the floor where they live or work.
  • Shoe shine stations help residents keep their fancy footwear in top form. They’ll visit them during break-time or free time if they are located on the same floor as their office or apartment.
  • Common areas are relaxing oases from the rigors of urban life. Residents will seek them out during off hours for a few calm moments. They also slightly reduce the spread of noises and smells.
  • Custodial supply rooms and broom closets help reduce wear and tear and cut down grime. As your building grows, you’ll be able to unlock a supply room that will allow you to place up to three broom closets. If a broom closet is built, grime will accumulate much more slowly for tenants on the same floor as the broom closet. Gaining more prestige will grant you access to more supply rooms and allow placement of more broom closets. Since you are only able to build a few of these, make sure that you place them on high-traffic floors or areas that quickly accumulate grime!

Update Highlights – 1.0.4 and 1.0.5

by matt v, September 23rd, 2016

Since we’ve now done two pretty big updates, we thought it would be good to share what’s gone into them. So if you’re up and running version 1.0.5, here are some of the highlights without boring you with the boring bug fixes. But you’re welcome to keep up with the current, detailed release notes here.

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  • Added a new graphics option to customize heatmap colors, for players with color blindness
    Thank you to those who brought it to our attention, hopefully this helps make the game more accessible to everyone.
  • Added a hint mouseover that displays what a tenant is going to need after they moved in, but before they start demanding it (see an icon “i”, next to tenant’s satisfaction smiley)
    Hopefully this helps you build things to keep your tenants happy and be more pro-active landlords!
  • Retuned worker and resident NPCs to patronize retail stores much more than they used to
  • Retuned retail store revenues and limits, to account for the change in customer base
  • Retuned restaurants and retail to be more sensitive to not generating enough profit
    Those three should get rid of the stores that never make money and contribute to having some better balanced game play in the stores and restaurants – but this was a BIG balancing change and involved some AI and behavior modifications, so please let us know if you see anything out of the ordinary here.
  • Enabled Steam Cloud syncing
  • Added UI scaling below 100% (for displays smaller than 720p)
  • Retuned higher-level tenants to make fewer service calls
    Hopefully this is better – but we’re still looking to optimize this further – especially for larger towers, so stay “tuned”.
  • Initial construction office can now be removed, and placed elsewhere (it shows up in the infrastructure build menu after bulldozing)

As for some of the larger bugs that were fixed that might directly impact your games:

  • Fixed incorrect logging of “I can’t get to where I need to go” feedback
    If you see lots of these showing up – like dozens of them – please let us know
  • Fixed a bug where the budget popup would show up twice in a row, give double revenue (This should also fix restaurants + retail incorrectly showing “0 customers yesterday”)
    This is something we’re pretty sure is fixed. But it was kind of a difficult bug to reproduce. If you see it happen post 1.0.5, please let us know!
  • Fixed the “+1 construction worker” upgrade getting undone if the player bulldozed and rebuilt the expanded construction office
  • Services will no longer consider themselves “overloaded” if only a small number of service calls (<= 3) were not fulfilled
  • Fixed arrow keys so that they behave exactly like WASD, +/- behave like Q/E
  • Fixed a problem with media campaign “Call in a Favor” not unlocking an extra contract

And the full release notes live here if you missed them or want to read them again.


Thank you!

by matt v, September 16th, 2016

Project Highrise released last Thursday! We’ve had an amazing week since then and that was entirely due to our amazing players. We’re humbled by the response. Thank you to everyone who has supported the game.

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We’re now hard at work on updating the game. If you’ve played a bit or a lot and have some ideas for how the game could improve, we’d love to hear from you. There are some great discussions happening over on our Steam Community forums. Join in on one of those or start your own if you’ve got a new idea!

Once we get through the post-release period, we’ll be announcing some new content. Be sure to stay tuned to these emails and to our Steam page for future updates.

Once again – and we can’t say this enough – thank you.


Project Highrise Release and Pre-order Announcement

by matt v, August 10th, 2016

Project Highrise has a release date! You’ll be able to start building skyward on September 8, 2016.

The game will launch on PC and Mac for $19.99/£14.99/€19.99.

But hold on to your hard-hats, because to mark this exciting announcement, you can now pre-order Project Highrise on Steam and save 10% off the release price.

If you pre-order Project Highrise on Steam you’ll get access to the game on day of release as well as these seven exclusive in-game decorative items to spruce up your burgeoning skyscrapers:

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  1. Aurora, a statue inspired by the dawn of modernism.
  2. A bold standing light to adorn and illuminate.
  3. Catalonia chair. A stylish standby of skyscraper lobbies.
  4. A cubist fountain with water gently cascading over carved granite.
  5. An elegant teak table, a curvaceous, contemporary design.
  6. Brünn chair. A sleek statement of modern interior design.
  7. Carrara marble walls – the height of sophistication.

Also, in case you missed it, here’s our latest game play trailer made by our friends at Kasedo Games. Check out our YouTube channel for lots more videos including quite a few Let’s Plays.

We are also working on Steam Workshop to support mods for Project Highrise. We’ll have more info about them as we get closer to release.

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Project Highrise – Architect’s Notes for July 15, 2016

by matt v, July 15th, 2016

Form ever follows function.
– Louis Henry Sullivan

This week, we started sending out previews of Project Highrise to press, YouTubers and streamers. Check out some of them on our YouTube channel. It was great to watch other people play the game. (By “great” here we mean a combination of anxiety about how people will react to the game and relief that they seem to actually like it.)

In the past, we’ve talked a lot about the game design and the systems in the game. In the process, we’ve also shown a huge variety of game art. So this week, we’d like to go back in time and look at the things that inspired the visual design of Project Highrise.

First, a bit of an abstract aside. We had an idea that we wanted the game to look like a past view of the future. Those imaginings are fascinating to behold – mainly to see how wildly wrong they were. Hence our offices with the hulking CRT monitors and some apartments with some very classic looking appliances and furniture. But there is an undeniable optimism to many of those images – especially those from the 1960s.

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That ideal – that we can perfect the future through design – was pervasive in the early 60s. And we took many of our visual cues from that era.

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So let’s get specific with the 1960s. We’ll start at the bottom with the color and move our way up. So, looking at images and video from Project Highrise, these color palettes might look familiar:

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That’s a color palette from a 1960s home design catalog – specifically from Eichler homes in California. Look at some of the names: Pumpkin. Sunflower. Eucalyptus. The idea that the home or building should strive to part of its environment rather than obliterate and dominate was a new one in the 1960s. These colors reflect that outlook. We drew a lot of inspiration for wall colors and base colors from these palettes.

We’ve got a similar thing going on here. The colors are meant to evoke the materials that create an interior space – deep reds and browns from wood and leather along with blues and grays from glass and steel. Here’s an example of it all brought together:

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Except that’s not from the 1960s. It’s a Mad Men set piece. They did such a brilliant job bringing the 1960s back to life, we couldn’t resist. In fact, the early inspiration for the characters in Project Highrise came from the opening credits of said TV show:

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Ok, that last one isn’t from the series, but it’s inspired by it in the way that we were. In Project Highrise, players have to be able to identify people by type quickly. So we wanted stylized characters that still provided some opportunity for variation in clothing colors.

Here’s how that all came together in the game:

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Exteriors

Those were some general influences from the 1960s (and from the 2010s view of the 1960s) when it comes to color and character art. Now let’s look at two monumental figures from the 1960s that we drew heavily upon for the visuals of Project Highrise – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Dieter Rams.

We’ll start with Mies. We live in Chicago as did Mies from 1937 until his death in 1969 and the city is chock full of his work. The outer skin of the building in Project Highrise is essentially a mash-up of Federal Center, the IBM Building and 860-880 Lake Shore Drive. Those are below in that order.

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The Mies style of architecture was unprecedentedly bold: strong rectilinear grid, supporting beams and infrastructure on the outside instead of being hidden away, showing the materials from which the building was made right on the facade. It spoke of the technical optimism of the era, and the style became the dominant influence worldwide.

We wanted to evoke that in Project Highrise as seen in this exterior shot:

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User Interface

A lot of the color that was used in the UI was specifically from the Federal Center. Speaking of UI moves us right into the other German we referenced – Dieter Rams and his Braun appliance designs from the 1960s. Let’s look at a few:

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The clean layout and integrated typography is definitely reflected in our UI, with colors and icons adopted for screen display instead of physical products:

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Here our inspiration was less visual and more layout. There is a clean, easily understandable layout that adheres strongly to a grid. Things are very simply yet elegantly balanced. All of the buttons are the same size. The knobs are in proportion to one another. And if you get closer, you can see some lovely typography. And it’s to a bit of typographic inspiration that we’ll move to next. Here we again looked back to the 60s – specifically to Swiss design. They made some really smashing posters like this one:

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The grid. The colors. The type. Doesn’t get more 60s modern than that, does it? So it’s with that that we’ll end our review of the visual inspirations behind Project Highrise.

As a final aside, we’ve heard a few people say it looks like the 1990s. I think that’s our “alternate future” bulky CRT monitors and dot-matrix printers. And also your humble narrator (and art director) is a child of the 90s having gone to high school and college in that decade. Much of it was spent (re-)discovering the music and fashion of our parents. Who mostly grew up (you guessed it) in the 60s.


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