Author Topic: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.  (Read 11870 times)

Offline x4000

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Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« on: March 10, 2015, 08:13:45 PM »
Okay, I'm pretty much going to snip bits of an email I sent out to staff:

[snip]

Here's the TLDR:

1. The game is feature-complete, and the testing is going well.  There's a lot still to do, but it's definitely a fun game!

2. That said, there are a lot of ongoing balance, graphical, and interface things going on that simply just take time.  I'm not really referring to anything that the artists are doing (though that does also take a lot of time), I'm referring here to things like the animations for attacks, etc.

3. There are a number of interface fluidity and clarity things that are really bothering me, and it's something I want to work out before I get into having other players touch this at all.  They'll be a distraction, not a help, at this point.  I want to be whiz-bang  good at playing this before I really get other people into it, which is a big departure from all our past games except AI War.  I feel it's important.

4. The art is still, frankly, ongoing.  Not that anyone is running late or anything like that, but it's just an absolutely huge amount of art.  And to really show this well in videos, there's a variety of things that have to be done.  The buildings are coming along famously, and the particle effects and other animations are in progress, but it's just a case where I'd rather have our first showing of this look amazing rather than show something sooner than later.

5. Once we do get players involved, I want to really have a goodly long bit with them really beating the heck out of it, and then later a goodly while where we can have this in the hands of press prior to this going to 1.0.  There's a vague chance we could still pull that off by May... but it would be a major crunch if everything went perfectly, and it would be a fumble at the 1 yard line if things went anything less than perfectly.

What this means:

A. [snip] We'll reach out to the various other indies and find out what we can about releases in June.  Hopefully if the game is awesome then it won't matter what time of year we're releasing in, but [snip]

B. We aren't bleeding cash per se, but our reserve is continually dripping away at varying rates.  The discount promotions that we've done with our existing games, even TLF, have been less than stellar.  Possibly it's partly the time of year, but part of it is probably also that Steam is just so saturated now.  In the past if we put the Valley games on sale, we'd get a certain amount of income because people would see them and try them out.  Now in a crowd of 100+ games each week being on sale, it seems like most of our serious income except for AI War and TLF is disappearing.  Which in some respects is fine, but it does mean that we can't drag this out indefinitely.

C. I'm not keen to do a public beta, I'd like to keep this closed.  I think that doing it publicly would be something that removes some excitement and urgency from people.  We only get one launch.

D. I do plan on asking the testers to feel free to make donations to us for the game via Paypal if they want to help support us.  They aren't buying the game by doing that -- [snip] -- but it might give us a little bump in revenue there.  Those who can and wish to contribute can do so, those who can't or don't want to or who feel they are already doing enough with their time can not.  If we want to think of some Kickstarter-like rewards for people who donate a certain amount, then I suppose that might be interesting so long as it doesn't take a huge amount of work to do those rewards.  But I don't want to go too far down that path, anyway.

E. For the art schedule, mostly this won't affect a lot, although this will give Blue and Cath some more breathing room for extended polish, things like vehicles, marketing images, etc.  The buildings are still the top priority, but [snip]

F. Ideally we wind up with the artists being done at least a month in advance of the game being released, which actually seems feasible with this revised schedule.  That way we have time for proper trailers, press builds without any temp graphics, and so on.  During that time, we can also have Blue and Cath starting on the next title's art, which is great to get ahead on.  I'm super excited about that next title and don't feel like that one will be such a time hog to create, incidentally.

G. Overall we will continue as planned for the most part, with the exceptions of not trying to put out a gameplay video this week and [snip].  And then beyond that, we'll see how things feel.  If we hit sometime in April and are thinking "wow, we totally could release this in May," then, well, we will.  But right now I want to be planning for the realistic case, and then if something changes then we can be pleasantly surprised.  There's a lot to do, though, and I'd rather do it right than release in May, all told.  As much as releasing in June is a scary prospect, it's definitely better to Do It Right (tm). ;)

[snip]
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Offline mrhanman

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2015, 09:30:53 PM »
Do what you've got to do, guys.  I, for one, can wait.  :D

I'm just glad you're in a position to be able to work on it for a while longer.

Offline Aklyon

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2015, 09:45:44 PM »
Take your time if you need to, guys. I'm in agreement with mrhanman.

Bit sad about how my birthday month sounds like it isn't that great for releases, but thats beside the point. :)

Offline x4000

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2015, 10:21:12 PM »
Thanks guys. :)
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Offline Meph

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2015, 10:54:45 PM »
Yeah, it's worth pushing release back a bit if it means putting out an even better final product. And if you do need more beta testers I'd definitely be keen. This is one of the games I'm most looking forward to this year.

Offline Captain Jack

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2015, 12:04:22 AM »
Glad to hear the game is fun Chris, that's was my biggest fear. I expected it to be interesting of course, but genre mashes are touchy.  :-X

As for delaying, do what you think is right. It's not quite a case of "Delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game bad forever", but it might feel that way on your end. Like you said you've got one release, so it has to count.

If you do decide to have donation rewards, I'd suggest immortalizing them in the game: something like their name on a relic of a lost civilization you find while surveying, or a reference to The Gods Must Be Crazy. If you've got an equivalent to TLF's galactic twitter feed, you might put them in that. You don't want to spend time or resources that should be going into the game.

Out of curiosity, is the next game Airship Eternal?

Offline Misery

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2015, 01:48:52 AM »
I'll start by giving my obligatory "argh", as per standard protocol, and then ask, what IS the schedule for the beta/whatever at this point?

As the others have said though I'd rather see the proper amount of time put into it, rather than having it rushed to meet some arbitrary date.  I hate when that happens.  It never ends well, for most developers.

Here's hoping though that this one wont be another "releasing at the same time as Diablo" thing.  There's been alot of overhyped releases lately that inevitably always dig into the potential profits for the smaller guys.  Even when said game turns out to actually not be very good.  Like that "Order" game or whatever it is that came out recently and caused a barrage of complaints.  Apparently it's pretty bad, but that didn't stop people from spending money on it that they could have used for something better.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2015, 01:52:07 AM by Misery »

Offline Mal

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2015, 02:27:27 AM »
Arcen Games does games right. I have bought your titles on multiple platforms ( steam and gog) because I love them so much. Take your time.

In the meantime, I would love to be able to buy Arcen style swag - IE AI War/TLF/Bionic Dues shirts, pins, stickers ( Who would not love a sticker with this on it :













« Last Edit: March 11, 2015, 02:50:10 AM by Mal »

Offline x4000

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2015, 09:19:11 AM »
Glad to hear the game is fun Chris, that's was my biggest fear. I expected it to be interesting of course, but genre mashes are touchy.  :-X

Genre mashes are definitely touchy, but in a lot of respects this is less of one than most of our titles.  AI War is kind of like that: yeah it has aspects of 4X and tower defense and grand strategy, but it's taking those ideas and putting them into what it squarely knows it is: an RTS.  It uses those to enrich the core RTS, not to be a halfling.  Valley 2 is a good example of a halfling that you have to like both halves of in order to enjoy fully.

With this one, it's squarely a 4X, but it's taking the citybuilding elements to go "why can't we just build with more buildings, directly on the map, and have more challenges come from within our civilization rather than always from external sources?"

As for delaying, do what you think is right. It's not quite a case of "Delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game bad forever", but it might feel that way on your end. Like you said you've got one release, so it has to count.

If you do decide to have donation rewards, I'd suggest immortalizing them in the game: something like their name on a relic of a lost civilization you find while surveying, or a reference to The Gods Must Be Crazy. If you've got an equivalent to TLF's galactic twitter feed, you might put them in that. You don't want to spend time or resources that should be going into the game.

That is a fantastic idea!  Yeah, we still have more natural wonders that we plan on doing, too, so that would work out perfectly.

Out of curiosity, is the next game Airship Eternal?

More or less, yes.  What Airship Eternal is morphing into.  I'm not quite keen to say what that is just yet, but I'm excited. :)

I'll start by giving my obligatory "argh", as per standard protocol, and then ask, what IS the schedule for the beta/whatever at this point?

It's kind of a "when I'm ready" thing for the most part, but I'm hoping that it will be no later than the first of April (insert jokes here).  That would give us a solid two months until the very start of June for a release of 1.0, which would be ideal.  That would also give me a solid 3 more weeks by myself as the only tester to beat this thing into submission prior to you guys seeing it. ;)

It's been a little under a week and a half since we hit feature-completion, and I'm really pleased with how things have progressed thus far since then.  With that rate of refinement keeping up, 3 weeks should fit well.

Here's hoping though that this one wont be another "releasing at the same time as Diablo" thing.  There's been alot of overhyped releases lately that inevitably always dig into the potential profits for the smaller guys.  Even when said game turns out to actually not be very good.  Like that "Order" game or whatever it is that came out recently and caused a barrage of complaints.  Apparently it's pretty bad, but that didn't stop people from spending money on it that they could have used for something better.

Urgh, yeah, hopefully that won't happen again.  Somehow I missed Order, but I caught all the stuff with H1Z1, mainly because I follow that genre more.  Incidentally, I'm in love with Dying Light these days since I can't get my 7 Days to Die fix given how that's in the middle of a revamp.

Arcen Games does games right. I have bought your titles on multiple platforms ( steam and gog) because I love them so much. Take your time.

Thank you so much!  It really does mean so much to all of us, and certainly me. :)

In the meantime, I would love to be able to buy Arcen style swag - IE AI War/TLF/Bionic Dues shirts, pins, stickers ( Who would not love a sticker with this on it :

Those are hilarious!  Wow, I love them.  I'd love to do some Arcen style swag as well, and we've experimented with that in the past.  The main problems are:

1. It's a big question as to who would buy them -- if the market for that is large enough.

2. The margins for that sort of thing are incredibly tiny.

3. Given the tiny margins, when people spend money on the swag instead of our games, that's actually a loss for us.  Not sure how much that would happen, arguably "not at all" to "very little," but it still makes me worry.

4. Really making a shirt or similar that catches people's eyes and is pleasing requires a very specific sort of artist, and being funny requires a specific sort of humorist.  I'm not sure that we have the requisite folks on staff.

5. That said, we have made buttons and stickers in the past -- PAX 2012!  There were a limited run of 1000 Valley buttons that you could get, in a variety of I think 5 or 6 kinds.  You know, I'm not sure I even have any now.  I do have the giant banners from that event, though.
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Offline Shrugging Khan

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2015, 10:10:32 AM »
I don't know about the rest of the world, but as far as I'm concerned you can release it whenever you see fit. If it's early and buggy, I don't mind. If it takes another half-year and it's flawless, that's just as good. Arcen knows what's best, and I'm gonna buy it either way.

Just make sure it's a good game  :D
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Offline x4000

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2015, 10:11:16 AM »
Cheers.  :D
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Offline Captain Jack

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2015, 12:54:21 PM »
*releasing at the same time as Diablo snip*

Did that actually happen? That can't have been fun.

If you're aiming for June you should be careful of E3. Given the anemic upcoming lineups for all three consoles the press is going to hype up announcements harder than usual, meaning indie games that aren't coming to the trio won't have much play. You ought to aim for the start or end of the month, keeping in mind E3 could snip off any launch enthusiasm that survives to the week of should you release early-but-not-early-enough.

And ooh, changes to Airship. This should be interesting.

Offline x4000

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2015, 02:21:05 PM »
Hmm, really good point on E3, thanks for that.

And with Diablo 3, we actually had Valley 1 out for something like a month and a half prior to Diablo 3.  It was selling like crazy.  Then Diablo 3 came out and sales the next day were 1/10th what they had been the day before... and they never recovered.  From other indies I heard that sales on mobile devices were down right after Diablo 3 came out.  That's kind of an unprecedented thing before or since to my knowledge.  Pick your major release of an anticipated product, and it apparently pales in comparison to Diablo 3.

That said, it doesn't take a Diablo 3 to smash individual titles that are at all in their genre range, so we're still super careful.  Diablo 3 wasn't unique in that it had a major effect on any particular game or group of games, but rather that it seemed to affect ALL games, or nearly so.  Crazy stuff.
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Offline Captain Jack

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2015, 03:13:13 PM »
You could almost make that into a marketing blurb. "So good it took Diablo 3 to distract from it!"

But it's interesting that D3 was that much of an event, particularly given the post-release consternation, are other Blizzard games similarly disruptive? Would you count 4X as its own genre, or under a broader strategy umbrella? City builders are almost an open field (RIP Maxis), but strategy is only slightly more crowded. Aside from Starcraft 2's last expansion, I think your only notable upcoming competition is Hearts of Iron 3.

Offline Castruccio

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Re: Stars Beyond Reach pushing into a June release.
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2015, 03:23:24 PM »
Watch out for Batman: Arkham Knight.  It is Rocksteady's latest Batman game (they developed the massively successful Akham City and Arkham Asylum, and they have been working on this one for years).  It launches in June on PC and Console.


 

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