3/17/2014 – Beginning of the End

Status

The endgame has begun – the focus has shifted from ‘let’s experiment with gameplay and environments‘ to ‘we need to lock this shit down yesterday.’ Possibilities are whittled down to actualities every day now. More and more content is getting cut to fit everything into the schedule. (Don’t worry, it’s still nothing you’ll miss – though that buffer is nearly gone.)

My immediate goals are to finish the beta, get the game on Steam / GOG / Humble Bundle (I will definitely be using Steam to distribute the beta, so a Steam Greenlight campaign will be launching shortly), then use the beta feedback to tweak the game until it’s ready for the general public. And this all has to happen in three months, four tops.

This is the stage where things get really, really difficult. It’s been challenging up until this point, of course, but the margin for error was forgiving and I took advantage of that. Over the next few months I will have to expertly balance PR, development, business and personal life / health leading up to the game’s release and a major slip-up in any one of those categories could sink the project. This is it. The plates start spinning now.

I’m a big believer in acknowledging the possibility of failure. Failure hides in the corners of every large project waiting to slip a poisoned blade between the ribs of an overconfident project leader. This project has to look especially enticing – first-time developer, ambitious design, low budget, epic scale. But acknowledging the possibility of defeat doesn’t mean accepting defeat as inevitable, any more than looking both ways before crossing the road means accepting death by semi as inevitable. I get paranoid when I don’t see failure sneaking up on me, because that means that I’m either kidding myself (or, even worse, that I haven’t challenged myself.)

Expect fewer devlogs from now on. When I do post they’ll be dense and important.

Read more here: 3/17/2014 – Beginning of the End

3/5/2014

Status

I thought you might be interested in a count of raw submissions for each kit type:

  • Early Book Kit: 21 (leveled off)
  • Final Book Kit: 56 (still seeing new submissions)
  • Master Chef Recipe Kit: 117 (leveled off)
  • Plant Creator Kit: 185 (leveled off)
  • NPC Creator Kit: 21 (still seeing new submissions)
  • Coat of Arms Kit: 14 (leveled off)
  • Engineer Structure Kit: 7 (still seeing new submissions)

The Plant Creator kit for Botanists is by far the most popular, but the book kit is catching up really quickly. There was a small trickle of submissions for the first two days and then it jumped to 20-25 submissions a day with no sign of slowing down. I’ve only checked a small handful to make sure the kit was working properly (it is) so I can’t speak to how good they are yet, but I’m optimistic.

I’m actually a little stunned by how popular the plant kit was. I was prepared for ~300+ submissions but I was expecting more like 50-70. The good news is there’s far less redundancy than you’d expect. I’ve only got 11 plants marked down for potential merging so far. (If multiple plants have the same visual/edible/medicinal etc. properties but have different names then I want to turn them all into the same plant, just with a variety of local names. I’ll be contacting and securing permission from each backer to do this so don’t worry about your plant disappearing without notice.)

Exactly how all these plants will fit into gameplay remains to be seen, but back when I offered the kit I knew that it would be very different than the standard ‘memorize the appearance and properties of 5 kinds of plants’ that you see in a lot of survival games. I’m excited by the idea of a game world that actually has some biodiversity. If you’re dumped into some random forest there will be hundreds of species of plants that could either fill your belly or kill you (or make you hallucinate!), and there’s no way to tell which it will be just by eyeballing them. In the real world you’d have to rely on a field manual – in FRONTIERS it’s going to be the Examine skill. Anyway, really looking forward to getting them all imported.

There’s also surprisingly little redundancy in the recipes. Everyone wisely assumed that the basics would be handled by someone else so nearly every submission is unique. Of course redundancy in recipes isn’t nearly as problematic as it is with plants, so provided the ingredients and arrangement of ingredients don’t conflict I don’t mind including a few subtle variations.

Read more here: 3/5/2014

3/4/2014

Status

This is pretty crazy – these two cities use the same terrain textures. They also use the same structure pieces, just with different textures. You can get so much mileage out of a small handful of assets:

Read more here: 3/4/2014

2/28/2014

Status

Remember when I talked about the glut of content that was going to get created now that some of the technical foundations were laid down? Well, it’s happening in a big way. In the last week I’ve created over fifty structures, five new dungeons, about a dozen new characters, dozens of new items, etc. And that’s only about 1/3 of the total content I’ll be mass-generating for the main quest. From now until next week I’m doing a huge caffeine-fueled push to complete the main quest assets so alpha testers can start playtesting it. Then it’s on to the beta! I have no deadlines or release dates for the alpha or beta – I’ve learned my lesson there. All I’ll say is that it’s coming along.

I’m strongly considering using Steam to distribute the next alpha and eventually the beta. Still not a for-sure thing but that’s what I’m leaning towards. There are two main things that appeal to me: it’s easy it is to create and generate beta keys, and it’s stupidly easy to rapidly patch the game or upload new content without having to distribute a completely new build. I’ve been working on a patching system and it’s kinda-sorta operational but not to the point where I’d trust it for distributing updates to hundreds of alpha & beta players.

I’m really loving the work Given’s done on the new Willowpeak so here’s another screenshot:

Read more here: 2/28/2014