General Category > Stars Beyond Reach... This World Is Mine

Release Date now Oct 21st, next beta wave later, subtractive design.

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Wow lots of things!  I am really tired and only have so much time/energy to devote to this particular topic, but here goes:

The Release Date Has Been Pushed Back... Again
Wondering if we'll ever finish the game?  This is one of the reasons I'm not too keen on doing a kickstarter.  The answer of "it's done when it's done" is the best sort of answer you really want to hear for a game that will be any good, but it's not the sort of thing that people who have already paid you want to hear.  Neither is the fact that substantial revisions are incoming.

But I digress.  The new release date is the 21st of October, and I think we can actually hit this one based on how things are shaping up.  Is the new amount of time enough?  I don't know the answer.  I'd love to be the experienced designer/producer/project admin that just goes "oh yeah, that's totally enough, well done."  It bothers me immensely that I can't do that.  I know that I have a propensity for optimism that can be destructive, and correcting for that is an ongoing process that is one of my greatest challenges.  Not over-engineering game systems is a very-related challenge that I'm also tackling, and hopefully one helps the other.

Anyway, analysis of the current schedule and the things that need to be done in that timeframe seem possible, so I guess I'll leave it at that.

There Really Will Be Another Beta Wave!
Just not yet.  Basically in my mind the game went through an early "phase 1" beta that was very rough, and then entered a whole new "phase 2" beta with territories and a whole bunch of other stuff that really changed how the game plays and feels.  We are now coming up on a "phase 3" beta with the new events, revisions to the military, no more social progress, no more meals, revisions to scouting, and a whole host of other things.  Bringing in new testers right before all these changes hit seems like it would be super counterproductive.  So that's my target: getting to phase 3 within the next 2-3 weeks ideally, and then hitting new waves of testers hard.

YES I totally want more testers!  It bugs me a lot that I can't bring you guys in sooner, trust me.  I know some of you are really chomping at the bit, too, and I appreciate that.  But the game that you'll see in phase 3 is going to be a much sleeker, more refined version of what is there now.  What is there right NOW, as in today as of this writing, is actually kind of a mess anyway: the various systems are halfway between phase 2 and 3.  So that's something useful for us to have our existing testers prod at a tiny bit, but for the most part all testing is waiting for phase 3 to really resume in a hardcore fashion.

"Streamlined" Does Not Mean Dumbed Down
What I'm going for is complexity that doesn't trip you up.  In other words, the sort of complexity where an expert just flies through things and makes it look really easy.  But where you start out doing it and are feeling competent...ish... but aren't flying through things remotely.  And would be absolutely destroyed by an expert.

That's a big difference from a scenario where even the experts get tripped up on small nits routinely, or where new players are absolutely lost and feel like they have nothing to grasp at.  The difference between those two things is what I mean by streamlining.

In a lot of cases that is meaning subtractive design: there are certain game mechanics that I myself avoid because they are too fiddly or complex to be fun.  It's not that I'm averse to complexity, but I have enough other complexity in the game to focus on, and so things like the atmospheric composition are just things that I ignore.  And anyway, that's just moving numbers around, so it's not exactly an exciting thing to do.  It's not just tedious, it doesn't even have any sort of satisfying payoff!!  That's an example of a mechanic that has to either die or be majorly revised.  In that particular case, it dies for the player and is revised for the AI.

In other cases, such as with the military, it actually means making it so that there are fewer steps to things.  That does mean taking some of the individual legwork out of certain short-term decisions... but it places the emphasis back on long-term thinking and planning ahead, and then those short-term situations are the result of at least medium-term thinking.  That's a goal I've always had for the game, anyhow: not having a bunch of military micro.  Right now there is a bit much of that, and there is just something a bit "off" with it.  It's not a terminal case, so it's something that needs some notable revisions but not a wholesale reimagining from the ground up.

Part of the reason that I want new testers only once phase 3 is started is because you have to really see the whole picture to get a feel for what I'm trying to do here.  Yes in some cases mechanic X might become simpler or go away, but mechanic Y is added and overall there's a shift in where the focus of your attention is.  Your motivations for doing (to existing players) familiar actions change.  The strategies become more complex and varied, even as individual actions become simpler.

That's the goal, anyhow.  I've been absolutely ripping through design after design, just tearing things apart and rebuilding them and killing all my darlings.  I'm still not done yet with that on a design level, and Keith of course then has to actually code each thing after I get that bit of design down on the page, so the process is ongoing.  But I expect that phase 3 within 2-3 weeks.  That is my extremely focused goal.

Anyway -- thanks for your continued support!

Captain Jack:
I can only imagine how this has to feel for you since there's both time and money on the line. Really curious to see what you have in mind for streamlining the military options. Best of luck.

I really appreciate it, very much so.

I can only agree with Watashiwa...Hope you get to take a breather every now and then. Wish you all the best!

Thank you very much!  And we are having a better work/life balance than in past projects, at least.  So that's a big plus.  Design-wise in particular, I don't do my best work when redlining it.  I always thought I did just fine, but looking back historically... no.


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