Author Topic: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.  (Read 2013 times)

Offline x4000

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Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« on: June 05, 2015, 10:23:34 AM »
Blah!  Not the news you wanted to hear, right?

Well, unless you're already a beta tester.  In that case, that probably IS the news you wanted to hear. ;)  Without giving away any sort of spoilers or whatnot to those not yet testing, I can say that testing is going really well in the main, but it is a huge game and it needs the proper amount of time to come into its full form AND be properly documented and tutorialized and so on.

Pushing for that July release date was about to give me a heart attack, and I managed to switch around my schedule some so that I won't be out of the office so much in August, which is good; that had been one barrier to pushback before.

This game is making enormous leaps and bounds every week of the beta, and I'm super excited about where it's heading.  The thing that's been bothering me to no end is just that feeling of not having enough time to really make it as close to perfect as possible.  I don't want to just stagger across the finish line with all the features in place but a mess of minor bugs and minor/major clarity issues.  We need that last time to get everything of that sorted out.

What Does This Mean For Future Testers?
Probably I am going to slow down the rate of adding new testers a bit, at least in the short term.  As I've said all along, I need fresh perspectives every time we make major changes to the game or to the way that the game communicates itself to you (ie HUD, tooltips, tutorials, etc) so that we can find out both what is fun and what is clear.

Thus far our main focus has been on what is fun, and really honing in on that.  But some of the testers that have been coming in have really been getting lost on the "what is clear" aspect of things, and that's understandable.  There's just so much I haven't had time to properly document yet, and that's something I need to be able to spend the correct amount of time on.  But for those who ARE already into the game and have in some cases dozens of hours in it, continuing to keep them engaged in finding things that aren't fun or that aren't balanced or whatnot is a process that has to run alongside the clarity issue.

There are also some testers who have a copy of the game, but dropped out of active testing a while back because they felt lost in prior versions.  To those folks, I completely understand that, and my request is that you continue to give it a break for a while, and when the tutorials and so forth are in, then I'd love your revised opinion.  Distance from the game will be helpful for that purpose, and hopefully you fall in love with the game at that point -- once you can actually tell what you're doing.


All in all I could not be more pleased with how this is shaping up, but that nagging issue of time is the thing that has been eating me alive.  An extra month ought to do it on that front.  (Then again, maybe I'm like Marty McFly going "ten minutes ought to do it."  Dude, you're in a time machine -- give yourself an hour or two, for crying out loud.)  In seriousness, I think that this is a date that we can hit, based on what I am seeing presently in mantis, reports from players, and so on.  I don't have a crystal ball, so I could still be wrong, but at the moment that looks solid.

Now back to work for me! ;)
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Offline Shrugging Khan

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2015, 10:48:16 AM »
Sounds good!
Do you have the cash reserves to forestall it so far, though?

And if you still have the old policy of just letting beta testers play the finished game for free, then will you even have any prospective paying customers by the time testing is done? :P
The beatings shall continue
until morale improves!

Offline x4000

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2015, 10:54:52 AM »
We do have the cash reserves, although it's definitely unpleasant.  At least we're not having to use our line of credit constantly, like we were in developing TLF.  So that's a plus.

In terms of beta customers keeping the final game for free: if we only sell a few hundred copies of this, we're in really really bad shape. ;)
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Offline Sounds

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2015, 11:26:17 AM »
I've had such as busy week myself with my own project work that I've yet to get back to my second play. My initially play through left me wondering how you'd pull it all together by July, so the date move seems the right choice.

As yet, I've not actually commented on the game itself, but I hope what I've logged in mantis is helpful. I can see the kernel of great concept, what I'm struggling with is that the interface is getting in the way of the fun for me. This type of concern might dissipate with repeated plays; however will the next batch of players give it sufficient time to let the fun shine through ? An thats something I'm not so certain about.

Offline nas1m

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2015, 12:56:31 PM »
I think this is the right choice, Chris.
This game is going to be great!
It just needs its time on the stove - like every self-respecting serving of quality ;D.

I think things will be vastly better for it!
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Offline crazyroosterman

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2015, 01:55:09 PM »
I'm actually quite relived your not releasing this in June personally I was getting worried(again I know I do that a lot with you chaps) you wouldn't be able to as  sounds so nicely put it .pull it all together. since every time a problem with this game gets solved a new one seems to come up to annoy people. ps in july I might take a break from this game for a week or 2 because id like to play this game feeling fresh again really.
c.r

Offline Chthon

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2015, 02:58:44 PM »
If you don't move it again, this will be released for my Birthday. Please keep it that way if possible :D

Offline Tolc

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2015, 04:17:56 PM »
We do have the cash reserves, although it's definitely unpleasant.  At least we're not having to use our line of credit constantly, like we were in developing TLF.  So that's a plus.

In terms of beta customers keeping the final game for free: if we only sell a few hundred copies of this, we're in really really bad shape. ;)

Good to hear that your not that close to financial disaster, I was worried there for a second when reading this thread's title. And I'm certainly buying a copy from GOG once you release even if I get the free beta copy ;)

Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2015, 05:33:48 PM »
At the risk of getting flamed, I would like to point out, that i thought testers (which i would also claim to be a part of, though not right this second) were in this for the testing.

Meaning, i didn't sign up to get a copy and then say i didn't understand it, that i didn't like the way it did this or that. Or that i was frustrated and quiting until heck freezes over.

I thought testing meant, if i found a bug, i'd post it on mantis. If i found a ui that i was not certain was clear, that i would post it on mantis and say i thought it was unclear and that maybe that could be looked at. Or that if i was swamped by diseases and pollution and bugs, that i would duly note them in mantis and ask if x diseases was where you wanted things right now, or if i was doing something way different than everybody else that was playing the game.  :)

In other words, i would try not to complain about not having fun, and i would test it to the best of my ability. And let other heads decide if that was cool, or no, or where the average curve of players was going to fall. Or count myself among the noobs and have them customize a failsafe easy-peasy kid friendly difficulty level and label it the 'Teal' difficulty level, like they have a 'Misery' level on the other end of the spectrum.  :)

Anyway, i've said my piece, so back to forum lurking and reading and waiting for the noob-noob level when chris throws the least of us to the polish sharks.  :)

-Teal 


Offline kasnavada

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2015, 07:02:43 PM »
+1 for teal. I didn't even know about that "gift" myself. I assumed I'd pay. I probably will.

About the decision itself, I think it's for the best for calendar issues - summer steam sales coming. I'd consider it risky to get a game out around that.

Offline Sounds

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2015, 08:04:27 PM »
...
In other words, i would try not to complain about not having fun, and i would test it to the best of my ability. And let other heads decide if that was cool, or no, or where the average curve of players was going to fall. ...


Measuring the 'fun' factor, even at the beta stage, is an integral part of the testing process. To ignore it is to potentially produce a stable game (hopefully 'bug free')  that works yet is quite sterile to play.

Note I'm not saying SBR is sterile to play, I'm just commenting about game testing. So no flame intended either here; just adding my 2cents worth.  :P

Being too new to playing this beta I can't really offer meaningful questions to the wider beta audience yet. Watch this space.  ;D

Offline FroBodine

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2015, 10:47:17 PM »
Great decision, Chris!  From the few hours I have played since yesterday, I already really enjoy the game.  I just wish I knew what the heck I was doing, and how all the pieces fit together.

So, I'm very glad you are giving your team and the game the time it needs to mellow and get more perfected (wow, bad grammar). 

I look forward to the game becoming more clear and understandable, and especially a good tutorial.  You guys have shown that you can make excellent tutorials, so I know this one should be superb.  It really needs a comprehensive tutorial that runs through many turns of the game.

Onwards!

Offline x4000

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2015, 09:51:55 AM »
Thanks for all the support everybody. :)

Lots of head-nodding and gratitude in general on my end.  A very few brief responses:

1. I feel like giving the testers a free copy of the game is the freaking least that we can do for all the help they give.  Also, short of revoking your license keys (which would be a real dick move on my part), you already have the game, so I'm not going to take it back or something.

2. If folks who are testing the game want to "pay" for it, the best way for us is honestly a "tip".  We get between 98% and 100% of what you tip, depending on where you live.  The next best for us is the Humble Widget, where we get 95%, and then our site (fastspring) where we get 92%, and then everything else other than that is 70%.  Not that I care where you buy it -- buying on Steam or GOG or whatever helps us get more featured, which in turn helps us get more visibility and more notice from other folks.  So that difference in income there is something that is greatly made up for by the added exposure, which is just absolutely critical for us.

3. Folks who do come and test and don't like it and walk away with just a brief first impressions post and nothing else (and sometimes not even that) do bother me.  I don't hold a grudge or something, but I would like to have a tad more.  The first impressions posts are extremely hard for me to read emotionally most of the time, and I have to be in just the right frame of mind.  I'm not there yet.  If the items in there can be translated into mantis issues, those are concrete non-emotional things that I am much better equipped to deal with.  As soon as I start getting too emotional in my reactions, my productivity goes down and that's not good for anyone.  Mostly that's my job to keep in check, not anyone else's responsibility, but it's an inherently stressful situation for anyone to be in my place about now.

4. Folks who come and test and don't like it (and don't value sticking around to try and help tinker) and go away and then come back later I am SUPER grateful for.  I'd actually rather that happen at this stage of the game, versus them pushing on more through something they don't like.  I'd rather have a fresh "second impression" (so to speak) after they are away from the game for a while and the game has mature and become more clear.  That's a lot more fun for that person, and a lot more useful to me, too.  Win win.

5. Those people who stay and help tinker I'm of course forever indebted to with these sorts of betas.  You guys rock.  But I hope the only ones who stay are the ones who legitimately enjoy that sort of process.  And that does seem to be the case universally, which is awesome.  In other words, for anyone who does NOT enjoy that process, I'm not trying to guilt you into staying and tinkering.  If you don't enjoy tinkering, I'd rather you take the path of #4. 

6. Testing of this sort takes all kinds, and I don't expect or wish for everyone to act the same way or give the same... "brand" of feedback, I suppose I should say.  Some people are all mechanics-focused and don't really comment much on the fun factor, and that's fine.  Some people are helping test system specs and performance and not much else, and that's fine.  Some folks are all about the spelling and grammar and so forth, and that's fine.  Some are all about the "fun or I'm leaving" and that's super useful in its own way.  Some are about the "confusing or I'm stopping for now," and that's actually super useful too (please do mantis the points that confuse you in particular, though -- that's the most helpful of all, because otherwise I have to just guess).  We have the people who are pure bug-hunters, and the people who are all about interface polish.  We have people who are a mix of many of the above styles.  I wouldn't want to do without any group out of the above, because all of them look at the game from different -- and very important -- areas.

7. One major area that is lacking at the moment in feedback is honestly on confusion.  I know that a lot of that boils down to "there's no tutorial yet" and "too many things are unexplained."  And so it's tempting to go "I'll come back when those things are in."  But from my perspective, I don't want to over-coddle players and tell them things that are obvious.  There's nothing worse than a game that's like "here's how you move the mouse.  Great!  Now click the button."  That just gets people to skip the tutorial.  So knowing the parts that confuse you NOW will help me make better tutorials in the coming month so that when you come back there's a lot more clarity.  I know that there are a lot of first impression posts that have this sort of thing embedded in a narrative format, but that's hard for me to parse right now.  When it comes to tutorial time I'll have to go back and parse all those, or get Josh on our staff to more likely, but having mantis issues would be a big help.

Thanks everybody!
Chris
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Offline Tolc

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2015, 01:23:48 PM »
3. Folks who do come and test and don't like it and walk away with just a brief first impressions post and nothing else (and sometimes not even that) do bother me.  I don't hold a grudge or something, but I would like to have a tad more.  The first impressions posts are extremely hard for me to read emotionally most of the time, and I have to be in just the right frame of mind.  I'm not there yet.  If the items in there can be translated into mantis issues, those are concrete non-emotional things that I am much better equipped to deal with.  As soon as I start getting too emotional in my reactions, my productivity goes down and that's not good for anyone.  Mostly that's my job to keep in check, not anyone else's responsibility, but it's an inherently stressful situation for anyone to be in my place about now.

4. Folks who come and test and don't like it (and don't value sticking around to try and help tinker) and go away and then come back later I am SUPER grateful for.  I'd actually rather that happen at this stage of the game, versus them pushing on more through something they don't like.  I'd rather have a fresh "second impression" (so to speak) after they are away from the game for a while and the game has mature and become more clear.  That's a lot more fun for that person, and a lot more useful to me, too.  Win win.

Those two points would actually be quite good to have in the "things to read if you want to beta test" thread if they aren't already (or directly in the PMs you send out) in my opinion. From my forum lurker standpoint I would have just made another first impression post, because a lot of people have done them, rather then just mantising the issues I come across (if they aren't already mantised that is). I will keep that in mind for the future.

Offline iozay

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach Pushed back to August 21st.
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2015, 03:59:34 PM »
I feel that delaying the release is a good decision. I have been busy with converting my initial impressions to mantis issues(Not all of them are convertible but most major ones are). :)

It doesn't feel well for me to do that during my initial experience(I prefer to make a test document first with quick notes of my impressions to make sure that it won't distract me from my initial impression - I want them as pure yet constructive as possible, mantis is not the best tool for random notes with "Ooohh, I like this!", "This looks awesome!" while I am still forming an opinion :) ).