Happy New Year! We wanted to give you an outline on what we will be building in Q1 and hence what you can expect to be incrementally layered into Outscape, as well as an update on the findings from the recent mini survey.
A huge thanks to all of you who completed the mini-survey we sent out over the holiday period! This survey was much shorter than previous ones, and helped us to understand if we were moving the needle or not on the key areas players highlighted in the last full survey, as well as allowing us to keep our thumb on the pulse more generally.
For the survey, we had around a 40% response rate, which is unheard of in normal products (in our previous careers we were more used to 1-3% after a considerable amount of pestering). We hypothesize this shows the strength and eagerness of the community to help Outscape to succeed.
The key findings in order of magnitude (worst at the top):
- The game is not newbie friendly. Many players just didn’t know what to do or how to start. The game needs a tutorial and in some areas the UI needs tweaking and to be more self explanatory, there are also some clear usability issues. We have a good idea of what we need to do here based on many consistencies in the freetext provided by players in the survey. 60% of players drop off very quickly because of this, however those that persevere through the first few sessions tend to find a rewarding experience.
- A higher than expected number of issues related to client-side crashes, poor performance and bad state. We have focused most of our efforts on server stability because a crash there affects everyone. However there are segments of players having severe difficulty running the game – these players tend to give up early and don’t post to or even know about our forums and community.
- Lack of multiplayer / MMO experience. Outscape wasn’t designed as a single-player only game. Yet we haven’t layered in capabilities such as Alliances, a proper Chat, mechanics around trade including easily giving fleets or planets to other players. People then benchmark us against other single-player games and of course we are not feature rich in that respect, hence a degree of disappointment. Some players have worked hard to overcome some of these limitations and are finding a more rewarding experience, but it’s still far from ideal.
There were of course a number of very useful other findings and we will be using those to fine-tune our roadmap. That said, on the positive side, ~25% of players suggested they would pay full-price for the game in its current form.
Q1 2019 Outscape Roadmap & Focus
Turning to Q1 2019, we have already completed high-level designs for alliances and this week we wrote the first-lines of alliance back-end code. Our UX Designers are currently working on the front-end. This feature won’t arrive immediately due to its complexity (which is why we’ve left it so long), and we need to get it right, not only from a player perspective, but it also has implications for scalability on the server-side. We appreciate many of you have been patiently waiting for alliances for a while, so we’re very excited to have started on it!
Because of the need to be able to change how you want to view your alliance in the starmap, we will also add the Map Filters feature to the client, where you can also turn on and off other things in the starmap. This will likely grow in functionality over time.
Give away a fleet or planet
To complement alliances (although having an alliance is not a prerequisite) we want to add a feature enabling you to give a fleet or a planet to another player. To prevent too much uncontrolled craziness, this would have to be done in a way that prevented it from being abused e.g. to give a planet the receiving player would first need to have a colonizer in orbit of that planet.
We are also looking at ways to have a much better chat experience, which can fairly quickly be made also available on the web (and later a mobile client). This would also integrate with alliances, e.g. there will be an auto-generated alliance channel for alliance members only.
Improving the leaderboards further and adding player profiles is also a Q1 priority. Profiles mean you can earn and track XP, rank and earn awards (giving you both easy and more advanced goals to achieve whilst you play Outscape). These awards will also be linked with Steam achievements at a later date. Profiles will be visible to other players, they will also show which galaxies players are in and other key stats. You will also be able to add a Bio and link to your discord if you wish. We also plan a reverse search – Discord ID to player profile.
Interact with your neighbours
We plan to add a mechanic to early game allowing you to see which four players are nearest to your homeworld (roughly which direction and how far, but not specific enough to easily find those players). When combined with player profiles and chat you will be able to see more about players starting near you and be able to initiate a chat with those players (and of course perhaps form an early alliance).
Growth limitations revisited
We will look at recent additions causing growth limits in the game, we know that these are too hard and limiting, we want to introduce another complementary mechanic which will allow us to change the way current limitations work. This needs a whole separate blog post, but the goal is to put the players more in control (without grinding or routine tasks) and yet mitigate ‘snowballing‘. However please do keep playing in earnest even if you are not in full agreement with the existing limiting mechanics because it gives us valuable data as to what will make the most fun and rewarding experience. This means we are able to optimize the game for you. In the meantime, we will continue to tweak current limits as needed.
We hear the need for more automation loud and clear, in Q1 we will start with research automation, but we will add more in future, e.g. trade routes.
A v1 of a tutorial will also be added in Q1, we will be relying on existing player feedback on this before we invite a new wave of newbie players into the game.
Game client fixes, improvements and wiki integration
We will be working hard to understand, enumerate and fix client-side issues which were raised as part of the survey. We will also be tackling some key usability challenges. In addition we will ensure the Wiki is fully updated and that key game screens have an ‘i’ icon which links directly to the relevant wiki page.
During the dev process we will continue to tweak and optimise gameplay, there are a bunch of other things we plan to do, but this post is already very long! We will keep you updated as often as we can (in-between feverishly designing and coding).
Outscape on Steam
Outscape flew through Steam’s Greenlight process (as Beyond Dark at the time) and in anticipation of releasing there in Early Access we are going to get the Steam page published. It will enable more new players to find out about Outscape and join our ever growing community.
Finally, please do keep feeding back and suggesting on the forums as well as helping each other out. We have a great community and we all want to make that a cornerstone of Outscape as the game grows!
As always, please tell us what you think in the forum about anything in this post.
See you in-game!
Outscape Dev Team