11/22/2014 – State of the Game

It’s been a week of squashing bugs and reading posts. Here are a couple of things I’ve learned from watching everyone play. From roughly MOST to least important:

  • Inventory bugs are the worst bugs. The inventory bugs really seem to spoil everyone’s day. Nobody likes it when their stuff disappears. So I’m putting a lot of work into those. You’re not seeing many big updates, but case by case that stuff is getting fixed. The trickiest part is getting older save games to behave – I’m sort of embracing the challenge of making that work instead of just saying ‘start a new game,’ because I want to preserve save-game integrity after we launch on Early Access.
  • Crashes after the Prologue are far too frequent. The move from the Prologue to the Unviersity is very resource heavy and as a result even mid-range machines are experiencing crashes. My changes to the character textures should help a bit, but I need to do more.
  • Players need more information about basic gameplay. And I don’t mean hand-holding, just information. The Prologue is tiny, self contained and very short. Once that’s over I get the sense that people are overwhelmed by what they don’t know. The game is simple once you know the basics (I think?), so I’m going to write a little guide book similar to the interface guide book. That will be what you find when you wake up in class – it will give you some bullet points on how to play. (I really want to implement some tutorial missions as ‘classes’ in the University, which is something Hannah has suggested. But that’s probably too ambitious.)
  • Saving and loading. It’s getting better. But players should never spawn inside an empty building, it kills the fun dead.
  • Resources aren’t obvious enough. For instance, wild animals are way too good at staying hidden. They’re actually all around you – dozens of them, seriously – but nobody ever sees the frickin’ things. I’m going to make them dumber because they’re intended to be a resource, and you can’t gather what you can’t see. Same goes for mine-able rocks, trees and so on.
  • The main survival elements seem ‘fair’ to most people, but the weather system is confusing. I haven’t heard any complaints about how quickly you get hungry or tired or thirsty, so it seems as though these elements are fairly well balanced. The exception is temperature which (on top of being buggy) seems to just confuse everyone. I need to work on that.
  • People don’t seem to mind buggy updates as long as they’re frequent. I could be misreading this one, but I’ve broken the game several times with my 2-3 builds per day goal, and people haven’t complained. So I’m going to keep doing that. (Now’s your chance to stop me if you were just biting your tongue earlier.)

Alright. I still don’t think we’re ready for an awesome Early Access launch yet, but we’re getting there, especially if this pace keeps up. Several systems have really started to come together since the beta was launched. Onward!

Read more here: 11/22/2014 – State of the Game