We’ve recorded a new podcast episode going into what we’ve been working on lately, and as promised I have a summary of what we spoke about below for those of you who don’t have the time to listen (this one clocked. in at 34 minutes - our longest yet).
Jump on the Podcast section of the site to check it out.
Release Plans - Last time we mentioned it, we were looking at May for a launch date. Currently we’re looking at the very end of May, but May nonetheless. If that changes, we’ll let y’all know! Meanwhile, we’re planning an announcement of the game’s launch / date etc very soon alongside a trailer. The plan is to reveal the structure of the game and the size/scope of it. So the next one of these you get will feature a trailer link and let you know just what on Earth (or perhaps I should say in Apollo) to expect come launch day.
Podcast Summary -
Polish Phase: Much of what we’re occupied with right now is just finding and squashing bugs, readying the game’s Steam implementation, looking for logic errors in stories, that sort of thing.
Opening Sequence: Following on from the work we’ve done on the tutorial section, the early stages of the open world have had a lot of work. Many small ‘mini encounters’ which introduce the player to the basic concepts of the game like trading, smuggling, passenger ferrying, salvage etc have now been added. The idea is to not railroad the player but have plenty they might happen to find which help orient them.
Long-form testing: We’ve been watching close friends sit and play the game for 2-3 hours at a stretch now rather than just testing combat mechanics or single stories. We’re looking to see if the game’s opening educates players about what they can do well enough.
Animations: While the animations themselves were built ages ago, they’re just being implemented now. NPCs on space stations will have appropriate idle and active animations, and facial animations are up next.
AI: We’ve been tackling AI on a per-ship-class basis. Authority vessels will scan your vessel appropriately and fine you as necessary if you’re found to have illegal goods. Merchants stick to their routes accordingly. Pirates are up next.
Space Station Detail Pass: All the architecture and lighting for space stations is done, but now we need to give them some life. That comes in the form of signage, flags, news-tickers, NPC spawn points, decals for walls and vending machines.
Story Logic / Exit Points: This game never lets you fail and retry a mission. So at any point throughout any story, we need to account for the chance that the player fails to complete the task or just chooses not to and pisses off to the outer rim for like… no reason. So we’ve been tracking activity with timers and adding angry messages etc accordingly.
PDA Functionality: Your personal PDA device which you use to interact with NPCs now also houses a ‘notes’ section detailing all your current commitments and promises made to NPCs, as well as a map-in-your-pocket of the whole Apollo cluster.
Contract Edits: We’ve had to cull a few contract features to get the system working in time for launch. All contracts are now either A to B or A to anywhere, and they each only allow one kind of good. We hope to add anywhere to B contracts back in later, but for now they were breaking too many things.
Contract Types: We’re hoping to have more than just good trading contracts in there, but how many others we can get in between now and launch will depend on time. Other potentials include hacking contracts (hack X ship), salvage contracts (retrieve X cargo), scavenging contracts (retrieve cargo from X derelict), bounty hunting contracts (destroy X ship) etc.