Finally – it’s time to show you what’s coming to the game over the next 3 months as we walk you through the roadmap!
We’ve already started work on it, but hadn’t been ready to present it until now while it remained a work in progress. There’s been a ton of feedback in the forums and player surveys which we’ve had to condense into pill form, chew up, and spit back out in the shape of a coherent plan… An old adage is likely to apply 😉
When does Beta start and what’s been going on?
If you haven’t seen our post from a couple of days ago, give it a quick once-over before reading on. It lays out key dates including when Beta starts and some of what’s been going on behind the scenes (and may shed some light on parts of this roadmap). That the game was developed by just two developers (until recently) seems to have shocked a lot of you – and we guess something we should be proud of 🙂
If this post is ‘too long, not gonna read’, at the end you’ll be able to find details of the chart version of the roadmap.
Please keep in mind that this is our roadmap for the next 3 months to get us to Beta – there are a gazillion features we have planned and will start on right after these. Think of the features listed here as a slice of a much grander vision – rather than the whole pie 🙂 But without any further ado:
1. A Sense of Purpose
In the current Alpha galaxy, it’s not uncommon for players to have an existential crisis mid/late game and ask what is the meaning of it all (it’s 42) before converging on coordinates 0,0 and blowing each other up!
While this will become much less of an issue as the game is fleshed out, we feel that focussing in particular on bringing a sense of purpose to the game right now is crucial. Which is where Player profiles and Win conditions come in.
# Player profiles
If you were to guess that our plans for Player profiles include Steam achievements, Awards, Player Stats and a Bio – then you’d be correct.
What is the difference between Steam achievements and Awards? Well, Steam achievements will be – ummm – things you have to achieve while playing (and then show up on your profile). For example, colonize 30 planets, destroy 100 enemy ships – that sort of thing. Whereas you might earn an Award for finishing in the top 20 of a galaxy leaderboard.
# Win conditions
Players will be able to play in more than one galaxy at a time and different galaxies will offer different types of game. Some may last a frantic few days, others a less intensive few weeks or months. Win conditions will define the game type for a galaxy, give something to play for, and determine who’s won at the end (and gets a shiny Award for their Player profile).
Win conditions won’t apply for a galaxy without an end-date. But there will always be galaxies with win conditions available to play. And while big features are still being added to the game, realistically any galaxy we launch now will end under win conditions.
2. Early Game
You know it, we know it – early game is too slow! Too much waiting around and not enough to do. It’s also not easy at all for a new player to find their feet in the game. But we’re gonna fix that…
Work has already begun on the adviser system but it needs configuring (which we’ve had to hold off on while the UI is still being updated). When ready, the adviser will walk new players through the UI and core gameplay, and shine a light on often overlooked things a player could be doing, to ensure they transition from newbie to not-so-newbie as seamlessly as possible 🙂
# Faster in-system travel
Within a star-system only an engine’s thrusters are used. Thruster speed will be at least doubled so that it takes only half the time it does now to hop from planet to planet.
# More prime real estate in your home system
Some players have found themselves starting the game in a pretty barren system and their home planet the only decent one. In future, there will definitely be an additional planet in the same system ripe for colonizing (as well as more surface resources on other planets to find and bring home for an early productivity boost).
The Tech tree restructure task mentioned below will also be performed with half an eye on improving early game.
3. Content, Content, Content
Hundreds of Alpha players completed a survey for us recently, and one message that was abundantly clear was that there is a lack of content in the game. So what’s in the pipeline?
# More weapons, parts and hulls
The designer’s wheels have long been turning on this one already and it won’t be long until we start dropping new things in to the tech tree. Dreadnaught hull class anyone?
Or how about new scanner types (one can see objects in orbit of a planet), energy weapons with a splash range, new levels for all weapons, suped-up colonization modules with integrated structures e.g. climate station, beron mine…
# Tech tree restructure
As well as adding new toys to the tech tree, the tech tree itself is getting a rejig. Deeper branches will mean tougher decisions and lead to players having different skill sets from each other.
# Tweaks to balance
Just a few ‘minor tweaks’ to civs, hulls, weapons, parts, structures… basically EVERYTHING in the game – doh!
One change to balance that deserves a special mention involves engine size and fuel consumption. At the moment, small, medium and large sizes of the same engine type have the same fuel consumption rate. This will be changed so that each size consumes less fuel than the size above. So a scout (with small engines) will use much less olzine than a battleship (with large engines) to travel at the same speed. Ships with small engines will be able to cover a lot of ground, quickly, and using very little fuel.
# Improved galaxy generation
New and more varied names for stars? Check. Better resource distribution? Check. Systems that don’t look copy and pasted from the same template? Check.
A player’s home system will have all resource types, but for other systems it will vary and lead to some being highly prized assets more than one player will likely have an eye on! But… all systems will have surface beron available so a colonizing player can get right to work on construction.
# New playable civ
A fifth playable civ – the Snithereal – will be the next added to the game. They’re almost ready to go, but there is a strong chance we may not add them to the game until the end of this roadmap and Beta has started (we are weary about adding them before all of the changes coming have been properly balanced/tested).
# Minor factions
Minor factions will be dispersed throughout a galaxy as native populations (instead of the playable civs which have been used for this purpose so far). They’ll be very different from each other, have their own attributes, and we want them each to eventually have their own distinctive gameplay features.
# Multiple game slots
The UI has had multiple game slots ready for months – but they’ve been gathering dust so far as there’s only been a single galaxy running at a time. Not for long…
A second galaxy will be launched soon which will run at the same time as the current galaxy. It’ll be configured differently to the current galaxy and there’ll be more going on. But more importantly, it paves the way for having multiple galaxies and different galaxy types for players to choose between.
# Growth and expansion
Speaking of that second galaxy – it’ll bring with it some new gameplay elements related to growth and expansion. For fleets, there’ll be a new control center. Each civ will support a different number of fleets without a control center, but you’ll need to build control centers to build more fleets.
For colonies, there is a new city center structure. Farms are being reworked so that they only determine the size of a colony that can be supported. A city center structure will be responsible for boosting the growth rate of a colony. We’ll go into more details about these changes closer to the launch of the second galaxy.
4. Things to do (with Fleets)
This section follows on from the Content, content, content section above which was getting too long. And these points are all related to fleets. So here we are.
# Tactics for battles
More fleet tactics for battle are coming and they will empower players to blitz through another’s ill-prepared fleet, or cunningly outfox and destroy an enemy when the odds may seem stacked against them! The visual effects for battles will also be spruced up a touch.
Currently, when one fleet is destroyed by another, the winning fleet is rewarded with resources. If the fleet doesn’t have the cargo space to accept them, they’re lost. The introduction of wreckages will change this.
Battles will leave wreckage behind which can be seen by any fleet within range. If a fleet has cargo space, it’ll be able to scavenge any associated resources from the wreckage.
# Upgradeable ships
Researched a new super-duper weapon on the tech tree and all of a sudden all of your ships fitted with the now not-so-super-duper weapon look a little… rubbish? Not to worry. There’s no need to rage-recycle them or hide them away behind some random moon somewhere out of shame.
It will soon be possible to upgrade – or downgrade – ships in orbit of a shipyard to another blueprint and avoid them becoming obsolete. This has been a frequent request from players so we’ll be very glad to get this in the game.
# Fleet to fleet transfer
This was added in the 0.82 patch but limited to a player’s own fleets. Players will be able to use their fleets to send and receive resources between each other – the devs are working on it now – but the mechanic to do so will have an interesting twist…
5. More Players Can Play
We want to make the game accessible to more players and easier to understand so that as many players as possible that are interested in the game can play.
Not having too much spare time shouldn’t prevent a player from being able to play and progress. And a player shouldn’t have to have a vast experience of playing strategy games or drive themselves crazy in a 50 page instruction manual just to make sense of the game.
It’s why there’ll be multiple galaxy types a player can join and where possible we include gameplay features to enable a player’s empire to remain productive while they are offline e.g. construction & research queues, home guard mode, etc.
Features listed elsewhere on this roadmap also fall under this ‘player accessible’ umbrella e.g. Adviser, Win conditions, Multiple game slots, and the entire next section A player friendly interface. Eventually, it will also mean greater platform/device support e.g. Mac or mobile.
# Attack and return mode
Right now after a battle, the winning fleet will stay in position until ordered elsewhere – which might not be tactically ideal. However, by selecting the forthcoming ‘Attack and return’ option from the menu instead of plain old ‘Attack’, a winning fleet will return to its original position from where the order was given. For example, if a fleet was previously defending one of your planets, it will automatically go back and continue to do so afterwards – rather than lingering around in the middle of nowhere twiddling its thumbs.
# Simplified warp speed selection and fuel usage
This was already released over patches 0.82 (boosted warp) and 0.825 (simplified fuel consumption) and you can read more about the changes through those links (the 0.825 patch included changes based on player feedback on the 0.82 patch – but we’re open to further player suggested enhancements later to ensure all important use-cases are covered).
# Full trackpad support
Playing on a laptop and navigating the star map do not go hand in hand! We’re going to make the game better respond to standard trackpad actions e.g. pinch-zoom, two-finger pan/scroll to make it easier to play without a mouse.
6. A Player Friendly Interface
The items in this section are UI and UX improvements designed to make playing the game easier. Some of these were specifically requested by players, others are solutions we’ve come up with in response to forum and survey feedback.
# Improvements to notifications
Clicks button to transfer resources. Notification instantly pops up about said resources being transferred. Player shouts at screen telling notifications to politely ‘go away’.
Yep, notifications can be pretty annoying right now but don’t worry, it won’t be for much longer. Only the most important notifications will pop up in future. Others will be moved to that object’s log e.g. planet, fleet, and could be looked up by the player if needed.
We made a lot of UI changes recently which made it easy to see from the stars and planets themselves if there are issues a player needs to be aware of (likewise from the galaxy overview). And anything important will still bubble up through the galaxy news section.
# Ship designer enhancements
Our survey results suggested that the ship designer needs a little attention, but other areas of the game needed much more attention. So we won’t be going at the ship designer with sledgehammers, just fixing what is already there e.g. categorising and sorting the lists of ship parts and weapons, improving the stats shown, that sort of thing.
# Galaxy overview tune-up
We’ll be making a few tweaks to the galaxy overview – showing more data etc. nothing major 🙂
# Screen edge scrolling
At the moment it’s impossible to select a fleet and then drag the map around to find an off-screen destination to send it to. As soon as you left-click to drag, the fleet is ordered to that position.
With ‘screen edge scrolling’, while a fleet is selected and the cursor is moved towards the edge of the screen, the galaxy will automatically pan in that direction.
# Better menus and UI elements
Most of the changes related to this task have already been done. There were new star map labels, planet labels and tooltips, and a new fleet context menu. The next improvement will be to the menu bar at the top of the UI, which will provide better info on your units and make them easier to select and manage.
# Sorting of structures and blueprints
On screens where you can browse structures e.g. order construction, view existing structures, they aren’t listed in an ordered or logical way. It’s a similar story with ship blueprints. Items on these lists will be more sensibly grouped and sortable by the player.
# More info for planet overview
The fleets in orbit of a planet are shown on the planet overview, but it’s not easy to tell which fleet is which without clicking on it. One way to make it easier to distinguish fleets from this screen will be to add the number of ships in the fleet to the icon.
The info about a colony’s home guard and army is tucked away behind a second screen. It’s been suggested by players that this should be easier to find – from the planet overview itself – so that will be happening too.
# A better ‘Back’ button
Sometimes when a player clicks the ‘Back’ button, what they really mean is ‘Zoom me out a bit so I can see more’. There are also scenarios where clicking ‘Back’ doesn’t take you to where you would assume it would e.g. you zoom to a planet from the Galaxy Overview, but clicking ‘Back’ doesn’t take you back there. We’ll be spending some time on addressing both of these points.
# New fleet management
Working with fleets is one of the No.1 issues we’ve seen from players new to the game – forming fleets and removing ships from a fleet in particular.
The fleet management screen
is getting has had a big redesign and the devs will be implementing it soon. Fleet related stats and attributes should be clearer and getting things done should be easier.
It will be possible to join a ship to a fleet from the context menu alone – no need to zoom in and drag it in to position like now (but you’ll be able to do it that way too). There will also be a new UI related to forming/breaking up fleets.
Beta and Beyond
So there we are folks, the roadmap to get Outscape to Beta.
Finalizing the above roadmap has been painful. There are features not included yet that we know the players and rest of the community are desperate to see in the game – and we share that sentiment.
But we’re looking forward to completing this roadmap before the end of the year, launching Beta with thousands of players, and then immediately starting on more awesome features on top of what we expect to be a fantastic game!
Future Releases and What’s Coming Next
This roadmap only goes as far as Beta, and Beta is scheduled for November, so what big features will we be setting the devs loose on after???
Alliances + treaties
These cooperative gameplay features have been the most painful for us to have to put to one side for now and we are desperate to get started on them. But the time we would have needed to get it done could have ended up taking as long as most of the tasks above combined!
There were two forms of automation we spent time trying to squeeze into this roadmap: waypoints and fleet modes. Waypoints will be a huge quality of life addition to the game. Players will be able to get more done while offline, and avoid the tedium of having to wait for fleets to arrive somewhere, unload cargo, send them back again…
Fleet modes will let players assign and configure a role for a fleet which it will then automatically carry out. For example, extending the current guard system to an entire star system, or a scout to explore each planet in a system and deliver a summary report.
One piece of automation we did manage to get in was Attack and return – which may be a small step, but a step in the right direction nonetheless 🙂
Better chat system
The in-game chat needs some love from the developers, but we don’t want to invest that time into the current chat implementation. Chat is one of the areas of the game we are going to migrate to a web-based system (along with the leaderboards and player profiles). That way, it can be used both within the game client or a web browser – or mobile app in the future.
We’ve wanted to do wormholes for ages but so far there’s always been a more necessary feature we’ve had to prioritise. Once they’re in the game, players will be able to use them to instantly travel huge distances: to help a friend, attack an enemy, or just get around quicker.
Players will be able to configure and big-bang their own galaxies into existence. They’ll get to set the game type and determine who gets to join – which could be friends by invite or a limited number of random players just looking for a game. It’s going to be awesome.
The list in this section isn’t exhaustive! We’ve only mentioned big things we want to do and we know players want us to do. For example, deeper options for trade aren’t mentioned but it’s something we’ll need to do, and areas of the game like battles are features where there will always be room for improvement.
If you didn’t make it through all of the post above – or just want to see the roadmap in a more digestible form – there’s a chart here you can take a look at. We’ll be updating the status of the features there as we progress through the roadmap.
Thanks everyone 🙂