Monday, 29 Feb 2016
Warning: long post incoming.
So, here we are. The long anticipated "developer-access" launch has happened !
We were crunching hard all during these past days, some of us not going to sleep before 4 to 7 am. I personally have been crunching for most of February, but even so, this was a "soft crunch". These past 3 days however.. oh boy... last time we worked that hard was the days before the Kickstarter launch. Needless to say, we're all pretty tired and we're gonna slow down a bit for the coming days.
So, how did the launch go ? In fact it went pretty smoothly. Which is not to say that it was perfect, it absolutely wasn't, and many people had issues with their accounts access rights or the installer. But there wasn't any major issue ( other than some well known bugs ) in the game itself. No major stability issue, no major framerate issues ( a lot of users seemed to be pretty happy with the performance, and was above their expectations. A few even ran it on laptops at decent framerates ).
But overall, we are most than satisfied with the launch, and we think it has gone as well as we could realistically expect considering our low resources and budget.
Personally, on a scale from 1 to 10 ( 1 being a catastrophic failure and 10 the perfect launch ) I'd say it was a solid 7 or a 8.
The game was launched yesterday at around 8 pm GMT.
The server hasn't crashed once during that time, and we had a peak of 35 players a few hours after the launch. It was really fun to see players getting used to the controls of the game, fly around, explore planets and shoot at each other. Then press ESCAPE by accident. My evil plan has succeeded, it seems..
And so much for the "cease fire" gentlemen's agreement. Within minutes, everybody was firing at each other and chasing others around the asteroids. I even got killed a few times
While the server itself was stable, it seems like there was a few network hiccups, with sometimes players failing to update for many seconds. After a while it stabilized again. The server isn't exactly too powerful and it has limited bandwidth, but I don't think we were close to the limits. We might have to investigate later with a better server and more stable bandwidth.
So far feedback from our testers on the prototype has been overwhelmingly positive. Of course, the game isn't perfect and features a lot of placeholders and systems that are barely functional ( I'm looking at you, warp systems ). There seems to be a bug with flight auto-assist disabled that prevents you from side strafing; the annoying cockpit flickering bug once you die is still there; but overall it's working pretty well for a first release.
I'd like to share two quotes ( I won't name the authors, they'll recognize themselves ) that made me burst into laughter when I read them.
"Man, I must've been following this off and on for 9 years. It's kinda surreal to be playing this prototype"
"whaouu this new cargo ship is awesome !!"
The first one is self-explicit. The second one made me laugh because the "cargo ship" is an untextured placeholder, and I definitely wouldn't quality that as "awesome".
A lot of the new content on the asteroid base didn't even exist a few days ago. Two or our artists, Jan and Dan, worked on it until the last minute ( adding the hangars where you spawn for example ) to give the asteroid base some sense of scale from these industrial insallations. It'll definitely look much better once textured and lit.
Kristian has made new texture packs for planets ( I love some of the new Mars-like surfaces ) and the new asteroids. They are more colorful and varied than the ones from the Kickstarter, although I'm sure nobody remembers
The UI also got a revamp, but it is functionaly identical to the KS one. It's still a placeholder though. In a few months we'll do a serious pass on it, both in terms of functionality and visual look.
The bomber ( the new flyable ship ) currently behaves more like a fighter. This is a conscious choice, since I didn't want player's first experience to be with a sluggish ship that has no missiles or torpedoes yet. Once we have an actual fighter implemented into the game, there will be massive tweaks to all controls and physical parameters to make the ships feel more like what their roles imply.
Before I close this post I should list 2 VODs of the event from yesterday:
I'd also like to mention Caesar's 4K screenshots which are absolutely stunning: