Weekly Update #132: Road to Beta

#1

Hi everybody ! In this update I would like to come back on the state of the project as well as our plans and schedule for this year.

We’ve recently announced our permanent beta launch on the 9th of February for Lunar backers or above. For the full details, check this thread on our forums:


The choice for the date has been tricky. As you may be aware the game isn’t feature complete yet. However we feel that beta backers have been waiting for a long time already and Keith will be mostly unavailable between mid-February and March (he’s preparing his wedding), so the next window of opportunity would have been April which was too late.

The other problem is that we still need to invest a significant amount of time on the user interface / menu system, as many of the remaining game features have a dependency on it (like the star map, missions screen or equipment upgrades). This will likely take weeks, during which there will be no further patch or gameplay changes. This is currently scheduled to start right after the beta launch, so starting mid February there will be a period with a slowdown on development news / patches until the first version of the UI is ready, probably around early April.

In the short term, for the beta launch, development will focus on the AI and flight model updates, finishing up the capital ships control scheme and weapons systems, and tentatively the return of the asteroid belts. I originally wanted to publish an intermediate patch for the flight model updates, but the AI changes have been pretty complex so in the end the next patch is scheduled for early February, right before the beta access.

Once April comes, we will be focusing our efforts on implementing the last remaining gameplay systems. We have been working hard on this game for many years and as you can imagine, delaying the game to 2020 simply isn’t possible any more for a lot of reasons so we’re currently targetting a form of launch or another after mid summer. We’re going to evaluate our development status around May-June to decide if we go for an Early access or directly for a full release. It is pretty likely to be an Early access though as we still have a lot of work to finish and content to add before Battlescape could be called a full game.


In other development news, the AI behavior / boids changes are almost finished. I’m pretty happy with the way things are turning out. Battles certainly look more structured and interesting than before. There is still one blocker: I’ve entirely reworked the priority / targetting systems, so that capital ships favor attacking other capital ships (rather than often trying to chase a lonely interceptor, like in the current public version… sigh… ) and interceptors favor attacking other interceptors or bombers.

One thing isn’t work out too well yet: bombers. Due to interceptors having a higher priority towards attacking them, bombers often get “ganged up” by tons of enemy interceptors at the beginning of the battle. It is pretty hard to find good parameters / weights to the heuristics formula so that interceptors have a higher priority towards attacking bombers, but aren’t ganging up too quickly on them either.

On the art side, Dan’s still working on collision meshes. Once all collision meshes are ready, we’ll implement more refined intersections for projectiles (using the collision mesh instead of the bounding box). It will look more pleasing visually too but I wonder how this will impact hit accuracy when a player is firing at a distant interceptor (it is easier to hit a big bounding box, than an actual mesh with a more complex shape). This means that we’ll probably have to rebalance the small ships weapons and/or interceptor stats at some point.

Kristian has finished texturing the cruiser or almost. He still has to generate a UV map for ambient occlusion and color map skins. We should be able to present some renders in the next update. Our goal is to have all ships texturing finished (or close to) by April.

Jan is still doing a lot of misc work, related to improving geometry / texturing on station modules, experimenting with new particle effects, importing new weapons meshes (we now have the assets for laser countermeasures and missile/torpedo launchers for capital ships) and more.

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#2

Laser countermeasures? Missiles/torpedoes for capitals? Yay!

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#3

Fully textured ships yay.

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#4

Great to hear the state of the game and future plans. Thank you Flavien and team.

I’m quite worried about I:B ever reaching critical player mass as a multiplayer game to be played as envisioned.
Looking at the statistics of the last few events, interest seems to level out even though more people have gained access or had temporary access. Forums are also quite, quiet. The game definitely seems to fall into some obscurity during development, which is ok to some extend of course and stretching the whole thing out isn’t optimal either.
Anyway, I hope that the permanent Beta release can alleviate my concerns, looking at the trend I don’t think I can expect it. I:B has often surprised me though.

I really respect that the decision seems to hinge on the actual definition of a full game and many potential buyers of the game will thank you for that. Even if I’m unsure that it is the best strategic decision. Honesty is hopefully rewarded.

Still out of my personal opinion I have started to dodge early access games until release. That works if I am really interested in them and check up on them every couple of months or have them in some wishlist. Not so much for other games. Early Access to full releases seem to have virtually no impact when it comes to publicity or even emotional.
I still try to consider a full release as the big thing it is … or rather seemed to be in the past … but the plethora of games and open development have watered down the impact a full game release has.
Most youtubers I follow maybe put up one additional video when a game releases … kind of like “revisit”. The whole thing feels tremendously less exciting then the early access release.
This is from my personal subjective opinion though.
I just want to voice my concern because I care for the project … even if not much can be done to better the chances for I:B, I think there still are some options, they are increasingly difficult to pull off.

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#5

I seriously think on the 9th when Beta backers are given access, you should still label the game as ‘Alpha’. It’s important to be clear about the state of development.

If you call it Beta, people will try it, be disappointed, and not come back.

As @Lomsor said, as a multiplayer game it’s crucial to have as much simultaneous interest as possible.

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#6

For testing purposes it would be nice to have a neutral station somewhere, where both teams can spawn and no bots show up. It would allow for deathmatches.

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#7

When you introduce flight mechanics changes in the pre-beta patch, be aware that those kind of changes were ALWAYS highly controversial in the past, and will be again. Cause the flight feel is at the very heart of the game. It would be very risky to patch that close to Beta start and leave it unchanged for a few months if reception is negative. So i hope you have that on your radar, and quick tweaks (or in worst case, reversal) is something you can do.

Games these days are extremely vulnerable to botched releases - be it Beta release, full release or whatever.

And Battlescape is really low on everyones radar. Which is a bloody shame but hard to change. This game is objectively doing a whole lot of things right, but as we get closer to - as you yourself admit, - a point where you just have to get it out of the door, no matter how far you got, and there are still gaps in the core features to fill up… we are closing in on a make or break point.

I know you plan on saving a marketing push for close to release, but without building up some publicity and momentum, no matter what you plan, it wont be enough. It is time to start a course change from underselling yourself to overselling yourself. You need to start get people hyped up again and looking forward to the release.

While your honesty and transparency about what you are doing is greatly apprechiated by all of us following the development, you need to start getting the story out again what this game will offer at release, especially to people that have not heard about it, or forgotten since the Kickstarted days. People need to really look forward to it. And that means you can not continue for much longer with statements like “we will see what we can get done”. You need to commit to something along the lines of “This will be in the release - and it will be awesome.” Have a good deep look at some “flashy” features that could be easy to implement but boost the outside appeal of the game for people that have just seen screenshots and videos. E.G. Orbital Bombardment. And also “flashy” features that are work intense but give high sensual payoff, like weapon FX overwork, sound FX overwork.

Last but not least, i sure hope you have a better plan for future (rare but super important) high follower count streamers visits to the game than just put them in the game and have them spend many minutes to hours to figure things out and grind up to big ships and get into big fights. At the minimum, you need a way to admin cheat them into a capital ship, if they accept that offer, and get right to a big fight, showing off the actual strong point of Battlescape. Get their viewers the best show and them the best experience. Never, ever again talk in their lifestreams about what is missing or not working. Instead, talk about what you have and what is working. People typically do not rewatch lifestreams. You need to get the message accross the first time, if you are very lucky a streamer will provide a cut highlights video with positive commentary afterwards, but that is not something you can count on, cause it is a lot of work not spent on streaming other, more popular games. And of course let us know when we are needed to provide fleet action not just for normal testing, but for such super important PR occasions.

I wish i had a better sense of how to push public awareness and excitement forward. But ultimately, it is your job, we can only try and help. With maybe 9 or so more month to make or break day, it is time to at least seriously try to start building up hype momentum. This game has the substance to be a big hit, but is sooooo undersold. Get on your roof and start shouting. I know you dont like that part, you prefere to build and build and improve and polish… but those days must come to an end.

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#8

I am happy to see this game getting to the beta stage but i have been pretty disillusioned with the game for a while now. I had been following this game for around a decade now and was really excited when the kickstarter finally happened. I have like $120 in the game i was soo stoked but this development schedule has been absolutely killer to the momentum of the game. The alpha plays really smooth but i honestly hate the mechanics of the battles and it makes the game feel like a cheap arcade game rather then a serious space game. I understood that it was just a combat dogfighting kind of game but i just cant take the game play seriously. I love flying down to the planets and they are just stunning from space too. This game has soo much potential to be amazing, i really hope to see a progression system and some more mechanics to the gameplay. The flight model is really weird in atmo although i know you have been looking at changing things up for that. I dunno, i just lost my zest for the game and it still seems to be developing at a snails pace.

I know this sounds like a downer of a post but i really do hope this game is a stunning success and you guys pull it off. While i know most people are not even aware anymore of this game that is frankly a good thing guys because at this stage i think many people would be just turned off from the game in its current state sadly. I wish you could get a round of investors somehow that would let you speed things up.

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#9

Can you elaborate on that ? What do you not like in the battles ?

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#10

Man some of ya’ll need to be realistic with your expectations and remember the dev team is basically 2 guys (plus modelers/artists) working on this game in their spare time in addition to working day jobs. That being said, the kinds of things regarding marketing hype, can’t really be done unless Flavien stops working on the actual game systems, which will slow down development. Personally I think it is better for him to keep the game development progressing, he’s not a marketing guy by trade.

The only thing I can think is maybe try to find someone pro-bono and cut them in on a % pt or two in the company to do all that marketing grunt work cause Flavien/Keith don’t have the bandwidth. Really you just should cut together a new updated gameplay trailer (hell just contract PlayBenni to do it), and try to get as many interviews as possible with some of the gaming sites from now until launch to tell the fans who may not know about the game 'Hey we’re coming out this summer for Early Access. Our combat is much better than Star Citizen and we will finish our game before they do :slight_smile:

i.e. look at Google news search, a bunch of stuff from 2015, but not much since then.

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#11

We are not pushing for marketing ( <-> a new trailer, interviews, etc… ) until we have at least all the ships textured, better special effects and replaced the placeholder sounds/musics. So in a nutshell: we’re not ready… yet :wink:

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#12

I know what you mean about the wait but what disillusioned me was the sudden switch from “Infinity - Search for Earth” which was touted to be a similar game to ED with vast galaxy of systems to explore and build your own base in, so you could get lost there and return only for supplies and stuff you couldn’t source in your home system if combat wasn’t really your scene.

Battlescape was simply another leaderboard driven twitch space combat game and we already have enough of those, the latest being SC.

#13

I’m not sure what you mean by SC, but Battlescape is completely unlike SC. I assume you speak of the dogfight module.

Battlescape takes place in a huge solar system. You fight for domination of various installations that generate resources. It also has massive battles, with up to hundreds of ships. There are no other games that offer an experience anywhere close, except maybe Eve Online battles, but it’s point & click, more RTS-like.

Of course we understand that people awaiting the Infinity MMO might not like the action focus of Battlescape, but other than that we feel that Battlescape has a strong concept, it would be a shame that you didn’t give it a chance just because “it is not Infinity”…

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#14

Not being a combat pilot, I prefer to explore, build and trade with only the occasional pirate trying to take my stuff to contend with. Even ED got a bit too much with constant interdictions by pirates if you’re hauling anything of value. Pirates are not exactly known for their social network so it’s unlikely that, if one pirate knows you’re carrying valuable cargo, they’ll tell all the others.

I played Eve for a number of years but mostly as an industrialist/mission runner. I mined, built ships and traded and made a nice fortune. Only the warp to zero changes and various other things implemented in lowsec, along with the incessant nerfs of nanofibers and other things forced me to leave.

Battlescape just doesn’t fit that bill for me, so after all the hype about Infinity when it first came out, I was very disappointed that, yet another game that would have appealed to me and others like me, turned into yet another, almost purely combat based game.

#15

Let’s not forget that building Infinity MMO directly with low funding would have been an impossible task. The team has made a wise decision to go for Battlescape in order to 1) layer down the core for a future MMO that has all the battle aspects implemented 2) gather more resources and visibility. One has to set realistic goals in order to succeed! Once Battlescape will land on Steam there will be a lot of new players and hype will build up!

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#16

There was another game with resources mining and daily duties to do, as well as hundreds of players fights to defend /attack outposts. This game was BSGO and just closed for some dark reasons.
I played this game for 8 years and searching one who could replace it, i put big hope in Infinity Battlescape.
I cant play for now but trailers are encouraging, even if fight mode looks a bit confusing as we dont target directly the player like in BSGO but a point moving around him.
Lunar Supporters would be able to access today, i cant wait to test game in real.

#17

I am just really not a fan of the rounds being based around earning money to get into bigger ships, lose the ship gotta get more money to get something other then the default etc. I would have preferred something more long term that i know may not suite the round based battles where you grind your way through multiple games and unlocks into higher tier ships like many games and you have your stable of unlocked ships to choose from. I just really dont like not having many option for group makeup etc and it feels like a game that should have some progression in it.

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#18

Calm down fan boy lol…I love the game too but i also have a large investment in SC which is btw a totally different game. I get that this is only a few guys and i really do applaud them for sticking to the dream even though this has taken exponentially longer then they had anticipated. Combat mechanics and gameplay loops are still a rough yet but im sure that will polish up. This game has and continues to shine in the stunning procedural planetary tech that just blows me away every time. I wish they had gotten the budget to make the full game they had envisioned and can only hope that once this launches they have the success needed to make that happen and expand the universe into something truly epic.

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#19

i agree with the concept to start small i just cross my fingers that it can get to that point…

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#20

We’ve recognized for some time that we do have a progression problem and it’s something we’re trying to address. Unfortunately, the list of things we have to do for final release is long so our ability to address this problem is currently limited but it will be addressed at some point.