The 2017 Roadmap

#1

Hey everyone this week’s update is all about our plans for 2017. Obviously, our biggest goal for the year is shipping Infinity: Battlescape to retail. This was originally estimated to be in September but because we’re likely going to be 4-6 months late with releasing the Alpha there’s a good chance the final release of the game could slip into early 2018. Fortunately, we’ve been judicious with expenditures (in no small part due to sacrifices made by team members) so financially we’re able to cover the delay with some extra room to spare.

Our near-term focus is of course on releasing the Alpha. This will consist of finishing up the networking, new UI system, and creating initial implementations for all major gameplay systems. Last October we promised that we would offer a free play weekend for Alpha backers to make up for the delay. We’re excited to announce that the release of our latest patch has gone smoothly and we’ll be making the game available to Alpha backers on Friday, January 27th at 2pm EST through Monday, January 30th at 2pm EST. Please keep in mind that since the Alpha isn’t ready yet this will be a build of the prototype and many parts of the game will be unfinished or even non-existent.

Approaching a small outpost

After the Alpha is released and as we look toward the Beta there is a major problem we must address – marketing. Nobody on the team has much experience with marketing and if anything over the last year and a half we’ve all learned that we’d prefer to avoid bothering with it. Unfortunately, marketing is critically important to the success of Infinity: Battlescape so it’s something we’re going to have to master once the game begins to mature.

For starters, the easiest way for us to begin marketing the game better is to empower you, our fans, to go out and spread the word about why you love Infinity: Battlescape. The cornerstone of our strategy for accomplishing this is video. We obviously don’t have a lot of resources to build something incredibly elaborate however it’s still something we’re going to invest quite a bit of time into. Most of this effort will be concentrated on the ability to record and play back gaming sessions - similar to Blizzard’s Overwatch. In fact part of the reason the networking has been taking so long is that Flavien has already spent a considerable amount of time on the playback system.

Inside the hangar bay of a station

Another way for us to empower our fans is to make sharing snippets of video as easy as possible. Experienced streamers are still going to work with specialized streaming software however we want to make it effortless for less dedicated users to quickly share short videos with their friends. Our plan for accomplishing this is to create a hot key for toggling video recording on/off as well as a hot key for recording quick 5 second videos for posting to Twitter or as a gif on forums. We want to integrate support for YouTube so that the game can automatically upload these videos for you in the background. Our video recorder will make use of dedicated hardware on your CPU or GPU so it should have a minimal impact on framerate.

We’ve discussed the possibility of attending one of the PAX conferences this year. The most likely candidates are PAX West and PAX South. Through our research we’ve arrived at an estimated cost of ~$10k which is quite significant for a small company like us. If we see a large enough bump in sales after the Alpha is released we’ll attend one of those conferences. Otherwise we’ll save our pennies and look at attending PAX in 2018 after the game ships to retail.

On approach to a large station

Rounding out our marketing strategy is improving our website, search engine optimization, getting better with Google analytics, developing an ad campaign through various social media platforms, and of course releasing the game on Steam. A common question we get is when will the game be available on Steam? Due to the mechanics of their review system we don’t want to release Infinity: Battlescape on Early Access until sometime after we ship the Beta.

You can summarize 2016 as the year we invested in the foundation of what we believe will make Infinity: Battlescape a successful game that we can support for years to come. This year will be the year we bring it all together to craft a great gameplay experience. It’s going to be a hell of an effort, the struggle is real, but we’re confident that, with your support, we’ll deliver an experience that’s truly special.

A large station orbiting a gas giant

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Beta ETA after - 3 month delay?
Correction for Alpha backer play-test weekend dates
#2

The game will continue to have its own stand-alone client after you launch on Steam, right? When the time comes, I’ll be able to download my copy of the game from this site?

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#3

That sounds really awesome. Good to hear. I hope you’ll have this money for PAX 2017 because this is the type of event that will spread the word better than us. Also a regular content on YouTube official channel is the sexond most important part I think.

Btw, good luck for this year !

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#4

That’s correct, we will maintain a separate standalone client.

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#5

Great to hear your thoughts on what could happen next! Pity I’m away over the free weekend so I’ll miss the excited Alpha backers joining in. Still, it should generate some hype, and you’re right that recording gameplay videos/gifs will be a fantastic way of building reputation. Marketing is a necessary evil!

Also I’m honoured to have some of my pics included :smile:

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#6

Cool cool.

Some notes on the marketing/video snipets. This doesn’t come as a suprise to me, I somehow anticipated you planing to do this. Anyway, I personally would prefer a match/demo recorder as it would allow for extremely more elaborate Machinimas, but I see how that probably would be more work. I hope you can utilize existent interfaces to the fullest. I myself find the gain from such “user friendly” recording systems rather nebulous. I would appreciate someone linking me some collected number like total view, people reaches by built in marketing features like this compared to external recording software.

Anyway, something you should definitely consider adding when you do the marketing push is the “cockpitless” camera view from the modding thread. You can remove it later on (or add it to the server settings :wink: ).

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#7

Nice to see the plan coming along. But, about marketing.

People who have significant reach on streaming platforms and youtube aren’t going to use the in-game recording system over their preexisting setups, and tools like nvenc(shadowplay) have given pretty much everyone trivially simple recording and history buffering ability. As you said, your team isn’t experienced at the brilliant and/or devilish marketing tactics many projects use to draw people in. Sure a few web ads aren’t going to hurt but i’d really like to stress that, knowing you are bad at marketing, probably don’t dedicate a significant chunk of resources to it.

Additionally i don’t believe Newtonian combat and even the procedural tech is quite as flashy and concise as the competiton. A couple of ships doing Newtonian maneuvers at range even around an awesome capital fleet doesn’t quite have the effect it used to. Battlescape will have some cool stuff but will that cool stuff be optimally created to convey everything in tiny videos? Probably not, and its not a good idea either to start trying to make it so.

I think at this point the best possible marketing you could hope for is the gameplay itself(and i dont just mean combat, the purpose of mines, stations, cap ships, the overall flow of battles even fun little unpredictable quirks that make the game unique are all vital). What has people demanding their friends buy a game to play with them and keeps people interested long term. Just making sure a bunch of engine designers arent underestimating the difficulty of a critical bit. Since the 2017’s roadmap’s mention of gameplay consists of ‘we’ll implement it’. (also that it seems like working netcode, vital to everything game related was held up by a gimmicky recording feature)

(also things like not having a potentially creepy always on update service is also good marketing)

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#8

That’s a worry for me as well. Hopefully by this stage there is a game design document that outlines headline and sub-category systems, an estimate of how long each system will take to develop and a note on any risks involved.

The risks should cover anything that is in any way experimental. Severe risks would be new tech that has never been tried and might not work at all in the time frame given. Low risks would be features that you’re aware will need balancing and while they work may not be as satisfactory as you like and could consume more time than they should if you’re not careful and/or brutal with time management. Each risk factor should have mitigation which for severe risks will say what your backup plan is if that experiment fails.

Your game design sounds more ambitious than I was expecting and I can spot some risks with it without even looking very hard.

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#9

You’re not wrong in some senses, but I believe one of their biggest selling points (pre-gameplay) is the ground-to-space technology, and space-to-Surface of course.

This is still a major USP for the game and we can do no harm by emphasising it! The rest is pretty, but the seamless transitions are key.

On a side note, I hope gameplay reflects this unique aspect of the technology. We need gameplay that encourages diving to the surface of planets and back into orbit again. The less time spent in deep space, the better! (Without sacrificing the sense of scale).

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#10

I really wish you guys got your priorities straight, half of this roadmap is not a priority, especially the very risky marketing strategy that you are gambling on. You should be focused entirely on getting a minimum viable product released.

For instance I have never heard anyone recommend a game to me because it has a match recording feature. It’s an after-thought at best, same goes with this video recording and YouTube integration. They are flashy additional features that are best left for when they are actually needed and when the players are asking for them. There is no game at the moment and you are presenting and devoting more thought about stuff that should come after gameplay, it’s a bit disturbing.

I understand that Keith is working on his own money and doesn’t cost anything for INS, but it would be useful if you thought of his time as a resource with an associated cost.

The installer basically took a year worth of Keith’s time to make and it still has issues, it’s really not part of the minimum viable product. As soon as you release to Steam they will handle all the distribution for you, much better than you ever can. Looking at the bandwidth costs involved, AWS charges around $0.1 per GB of data, which puts the cost of rolling out a patch at ~$250 for all Alpha/Dev backers and ~$500 once Beta has been released. This is around 2-3 days worth of Keith’s time and a year has been spent to mitigate that cost with a very complex system, a simple diff could have sufficed, it might never pay off.

It just seems like you guys are still in some sort of a silicon valley startup dream state, rather focus on what is vital at this time than laying foundations for the next Facebook.

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#11

I completely agree with those saying forget about built in video recording, let alone uploading!

The vast majority of marketing is going to be from committed Youtubers/streamers who will have their own recording setups. I just can’t see implementing this video stuff as being a good use of your time.

However, the ability to record whole match demos like the source engine (ie not a video, but a log of all game objects’ positions & orientations that can later be replayed) and full 1st person spectator would greatly ease Battlescape’s adoption as a competitive game.
I know nothing about Blizzard’s Overwatch but something like the source engine demo system is what I think @INovaeKeith means by the playback system.

#12

I haven’t noticed the recording / upload feature.

Please define your following statement:

How long exactly is “a bit of time”? 1 week? 1 month?
For all I care, I’d rather invest that dev later on, once the beta is beginning, or at least when the gameplay foundations are done.

As for the PAX, or for that topic any other game conference: scrap them. For the moment the demonstrations will be considered at best as “engine demo”, useless at worst.

I know that you guys are trying to bring some more money, since it’s obvious this kind of work does not go around for free… but how would you expect us, “the fans”, to spread the word when there’s not that much to show?

Please get the gameplay foundations done, then we can talk about us fans giving the word out.

#13

My objection is that these recording features, as explained in the roadmap post, are already available to gamers.
Right now when I start the prototype I can use the build in nvidia recording features that has recording ability, 5 minute clip automation and integrated uploading ability to youtube etc… I also have a second overlay that lets me do that, the integrated windows 10 game recording feature.

So why invest time and money into a feature that is already available?
Even with a well working solution in the game, I probably would not use it, I already have my folders set up, I know the hotkeys, the software works flawless etc…

The apparent usefulness in marketing your product is also a bit overestimared. Only a tiny fraction of gamers are interested and willing to share game clips and push them on social media, the ones that successfully do that, probably don’t want to upload unedited ‘raw’ clips.

For this strategy to work you also would need a large and active playerbase first, and that isn’t likely to happen before at least beta release.

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#14

And what if you have an AMD card? What if you’ve never heard of ShadowPlay and have no idea how to use/configure it? How do you propose we acquire that large, active playerbase?

#15

AMD’s version of Shadowplay is called ReLive and Windows 10 has a built-in recording feature. As for how to acquire a large active playerbase, you start by making a good game…

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#16

Amd users have the gaming evolved app and the windows 10 game recording feature. People won’t just become interested in such a feature just because its there, and doing that is not rewarding for a user. For most people there is simply no reason that is good enough to do it.

What I’m claiming is that sharing of game clips is going to happen either way. It won’t have a noticeable impact and devoting ressources into a feature that is already available isn’t good.

The only way to succeed is to present an interesting and cool game that people desperatly want to play. So in my opinion you should focus on finishing the basic necessities and move onto integrating gameplay and shipping the thing as fast as possible.

People are already peeved that alpha isn’t out since october. It is januar now and alpha is still a few months away.

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#17

Many of you seem to be automatically assuming that any marketing effort on our part, including the video sharing stuff I mentioned, will be at the expense of the gameplay. We understand that if there is no gameplay and if it isn’t good no amount of marketing will help. Likewise having a good game does not guarantee sales. A good game is worthless if nobody knows about it or how/why it’s good isn’t being effectively communicated. Lastly most players aren’t interested in learning about ShadowPlay or Gaming Evolved or any other sort of 3rd party software that requires even a hint of configuration. Our goal with the video sharing is to reduce the barrier to entry to looking up keyboard mappings, noticing there’s a hotkey for recording video clips, and then just simply hitting that key. Lastly NVIDIA’s Shadow Play driver consumes 30% of my CPU while my computer is idle. Not exactly a quality piece of software.

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#18

When you get the game in a good playable state, your best way to advertise (and cheapest) is to get the games in the hands of the big twitch/youtube streamers.

On a side note…i am helping out with an Indie game myself, and what we have been doing during development is stream the game on twitch every now and then…and during stream we have a QA session with the devs/CEO for people watching. Last stream we had 600+ people watching, which was a good way to get the game out there for others to see.

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#19

We’ll absolutely engage with streamers once the game is more mature however their reach is a drop in the bucket next to real virality. Minecraft is a perfect example of that. People constantly upload short clips of fun experiences - that’s real virality. Our video support will only go so far as to make that process as effortless as possible.

#20

Just curious, once Alpha users are allowed access to the game…we will be allowed to stream on twitch? and post videos? Or will that be prevented by an NDA for awhile?

Pre-alpha test week-end FAQ