STARDROP Preparing For Early Access
There are multiple reasons as to why some of the more important factors are how Steam deals with Early Access games and also how the new Steam Discovery 2.0 has changed the way games are being shown across the Steam store. These changes have increased confidence that the game will do much better now then if we released before.
I believe that launching the game now will enable us to grow our audience. We'll be able to regularly show off updates and also incredibly important we will be able to tap into the player base's feedback. These can be bugs or simply just suggestions and by showing our community that we listen to them and regularly update it will strengthen the relationship between the two parties which is something that's still incredibly important to us.
On top of that we hope that with some more financial backings we can do even more regarding the game's development. It's incredibly hard to judge how well we'll do when we launch into Early Access but it's not our biggest focus. Obviously the better we do the more we'll be able to pull off in terms of quality and content.
In short I believe this move will be worth it in the long term and will be another means for us to get the game out there and build up a reputation.
Additionally we have also created a new public dev branch that anyone can opt into. This public dev branch offers a more up to date version of the game at the cost of breaking certain elements such as the SRO missions and missing narrative content yet players will be able to wander around on the STARDROP and play around with new features.
We will release updates to the default branch akin to episodic releases. This means that I will release a good chunk of the game that advances the overall narrative. However due to the nature of the game still being in development, older savegames might break at some points so keep that in mind.
New Communication Channels
Right now myself and other team members have been preparing for the transition to Early Access and have set up a few new channels of communication that we'll be using to increase community involvement and overall feedback.
STARDROP Public Discord Channel: We've set up a public Discord Channel where people can join and hang out with us. I'm always online on Discord and will be able to answer questions or just have a chat. It's probably the most direct way of communicating to us that we're able to offer.
Public Trello Board: I've set up a public Trello Board so that tickets can be added by the community. Feature requests, bugs and other kinds of feedback can be posted on there. I will take a look at these and depending on which tickets are the most requested try to respond appropriately. Of course it's important to note that I have my own development schedule and will be committed to that first. But it will influence how I plan development depending on the requests / feedback provided.
In preparation for Early Access I've been busy implementing and fine-tuning existing gameplay features. I will go over some of the more important ones in this post.
DataPad Map System
I have implemented a map system into the game. You will be able to see a good chunk of the current area that you're in at any time. The idea behind it is to aid the player enough so that he or she won't feel completely lost.
The map displays location names and will show points of interest. These are illustrated by red dots and they can be anything ranging from a computer interface to a DataPad containing a log. It was important to me that players been given an extra layer of information for them to find their way.
Green dots indicate Data Save Stations and the yellow dot is the player him/herself.
That said, I am always able to hide certain objects and complete areas where I see fit. Hiding objects are reserved for secrets and easter eggs. I will never hide an object that is important to the main mission. I will hide areas however when the player isn't able to reach them yet.
These areas can include secret areas as well. For instance, before you enter the SD-01 (the first ship in the game) it won't show up on your map until you open the airlock doors and can go on board.
I have thought about a system where only the rooms you've been in would show up but to me that was going against the idea of a map system helping the player so I opted to selectively hide certain areas personally where it makes sense.
Below you can see how the map currently looks in-game. The map system is not yet finalized in terms of how it looks and I most likely will attempt to refine it at some point.
DataPad Remote Android Control Override
I've been wanting to add this feature for a long time and it's now pretty much fully implemented. At one point in the game You will be able to unlock this new feature and be able to control certain androids through your DataPad.
Post Process and Color Tone Overhauled
The game has received a complete aesthetic overhaul. The latest version is highly representative of what players can expect from the full game. On top of visual effects we have also further polished and optimized the game in several areas. Including scalability options.
We will keep optimizing and further polishing throughout Early Access and share all out updates with the community. Below are a few images from the latest build of the game and the one we will release during Early Access.
STARDROP DEMO UPDATED
To make sure that people get a proper impression of the game in it's current state I have updated the demo of the game to reflect this. Some of these new features such as the map system and the main menu overhaul as well as other updated game mechanics are all present in this new version. Content wise the demo remains the same yet in the future I will add in one more side mission once it's finished.
The demo is currently only available through Steam but we will do our best to provide a download over here at some point.
I hope that with this update I will have brought everyone up to date and am looking forward to continue to push new content out and working towards finishing the game and it's story conclusion.
Joure and Team V
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