I've just polished off the 0.52 update! It's up on Steam and the members area. Here's the full update blog from Caroline and myself.
The key goal with this release was fixing as many bugs as humanly possible and as humanely as possible. Specifically the issues that made the AI do things that were annoying to the player or slowed down progression. All the lock ups and weirdness should be out of their systems now.
The next feature is the adding of new food types and growth systems. Generating food is no longer just a case of dealing with fruit trees and chickens. You will need to grow a varied set of crops. Each plant type is accurately simulated, so will grow at different speeds and react to different conditions. You'll need to balance the energy needs of your colonists diets against that of micro-nutrients and the effect on moral that a bland diet might have.
The next feature is the long awaited first person mode. You can control robots, turrets, colonist suit cameras, and even... doors. It's particularly useful for quickly moving your IMPs and Utility Robots around the base quickly to respond to emergencies.
Here's a video of me showing off some of the features.
Counting the Eons
Our next release will be a few days into the new year and will add more GUI and interaction polish, first aid and new features to the medical room, domestication of alien fauna and colonist-pet interactions, plus a load of new items to place around the your base. Check out the road map to see where we are with remaining features.
Today is the last day in the office for us as Caroline and Hannah head off for their holiday breaks. We're all having a few glasses of Schloer this afternoon. Such decadence!
I'll be working a lot more polish into the game in the coming months, so let me know if you have any feedback on the latest build, Steam reviews are also very appreciated!
Maia 0.51 is now out on Steam and the members area. It's another really big release. Fixing a lot of the issues and omissions from the previous milestone and adding some cool new features. It also adds full 64 bit support with 32 bit compatibility for Windows. The full update blog by Caroline has all the detail.
Most notably, I have been creating some stand alone single player missions. For me these will help in the preparation for adding the campaign to the game and in testing the sandbox. For you, these will challenge your ability to get a solid base up and running and to deal with unforeseen events and emergencies.
Other changes include the chickens which now have a more detailed AI with their own wants and needs. They will eat, rest, roost, socialise and explore, and need to be fed if you want them to be a decent food-source. Despite all this they still love to self immolate.
The AI needs have also been overhauled. For instance colonists can now differentiate different pieces of research equipment and tasks, so they don't build all the easy things first and then forgot to build a terminal to ever actually do any computation.
On GUI and input, the email system is much improved and important emails now open immediately for the player. There are new warning emails for events like solar storms and mission success/failure screens that take you back to the menu. When mousing over an item, or placing it, there's now a lot more information about the item so there's a lot less estimation involved when planning your base.
In interaction, picking up and dropping build orders now makes more sense. In interaction mode you can click a hologram to pick the item up, re-engage build mode and move it. Right clicking drops out of that building mode. No need to press keys or the on screen buttons any more. There's a lot of things like this that need smoothing out, but soon the game's interactions will start feeling a lot more fluid.
I've put together a provisional road map for the next few milestones. This details all the large features and changes that are incoming to the game as we take it to completion.
There's a lot to do but we now have a nice solid build to implement those features and depth into.
I'm hoping to get at least one major update out by the start of December and another before the holidays. I'll keep you updated!
As promised I released Maia 0.50 this week. Here's a video of me playing through the current build:
This is the most stable and playable the game has ever been. As well as implementing whole raft of new features, I worked hard through the bank holiday and managed to kill all the critical bugs plaguing the game and also nail a massive one third of the issues in our tracker.
The game, whilst still very rough around the edges, has begun to come together really well. Watching robots get angry with the colonists, seeing the Megacephalalgia creatures enforcing their territory, it's all starting to look quite alive.
Last night I did a quick livestream and played a two and a half hour game without a crash or critical bug. We witnessed some really interesting and surprising emergent behaviours. At one point an IMP was carrying an occupied bodybag to the storage room, found it full, and then proceeded to walk to the furthest edge of the base, discovered a quiet corner and then hid the body in a dark side passage. I'm still absolutely creeped out by it and I have no idea how the robot decided to do that.
On the feature front the new climates, custom map generation and the Utility Robot are the biggest changes. Whilst we never made the stretch goal for the robot designer, I did agree with your feedback that we should work in more variation and roles for the robots. The Utility Bot is what I've come up with. The generic base is designed so it can mount all sorts of tools. In this build this allows you to create a useful repair robot, but it is designed to work with any logic we give it. For instance I could stick the top of the turret on it and suddenly we have a hunter killer droid. Alternatively a small radar to create a mobile weather research station or perhaps even some mining explosives and we have a remote activated demolition system.
I'm currently working on rebuilding the roadmap now we have reached the critical 0.50 milestone. There are a lot of big features still to go and a whole load of important small ones. For the former the first person mode, proper support for multiple bases, one off missions, the campaign etc. For the latter, the list is almost endless, but has the things that will make the game infinitely replayable such as more player choices and interaction, more subtlety in the AI, more items for the base, more research perks, more complex interactions between agents and of course lava. Lots of lava!
If you have any feedback on the game, or the updates, or anything! Do let me know. I'm very keen to kill every single bug in the tracker over the coming weeks, so report everything that catches your eye. Also if you are a Steam user, leaving us reviews is also super helpful as it's feedback for us and also helps potential new players figure out if the game is for them.
That's all for now. I'll be back with another post when we've pinned down the next update!
Just a little update to say Update 0.49: "Use of Weapons" is going live!
Here's a video of me playing a quick game:
It was a pretty intense few months to get this done. As you can imagine, switching on the colonist's emotions and social needs absolutely broke the core game-play as they all became blubbering wrecks.
Adding in the weapons was also a massive pain. Getting the colonists to hold and interact with items has been something I've been putting off for ages, and making the them work as a coordinated squad pushed the limits of the rather selfish AI needs system to the limit.
That said, the game is starting to feel good to play. The detail and complexity of the interactions really bring the colonists to life and should invest the player in the base's well being. It's a relief, as you never really know how these systems will interact with each other beyond the design phase.
Over the last few weeks I spent some time carefully combing our bug tracker and have been systematically eliminating any bugs that caused issues in the longer term game. IMPs and colonists will now work happily for hours at a time (if you can manage to keep them alive!).
Here's a trailer that shows off some of the other new features:
There's also some update notes here on the Maia blog.
So now we move on to 0.50. As I've said before, this update will bring the sandbox to a state close to being mechanically complete. That's still a tall order, but I feel this update has laid a really solid foundation for it. I'm quite looking forward to being able to start polishing in some complexity and late game surprises.
As always, drop me an email if you have any questions, requests or feedback!
It's been a busy few months. Offensively busy. But things are going well. Time for a catch up.
The studio is now properly up and running. We have a new business coordinator; Caroline, who is handling a share of the day to day parts of running things. This has freed me up a bit to focus on running the development. She's been doing a wide array of really helpful tasks, from answering key requests to filling out the wiki with lots of detail.
I've also hired Hannah, a new full time graduate level 3d artist. She's working on some new assets and reworking a few of the ones Rudi and myself had done earlier in development. If you've been following updates you've probably seen some of her work popping up in the game already.
We also had an intern, Pete, for a few weeks. I worked with him back at Bournemouth University when I was there for my doctorate and has recently been working at Ubisoft. He's helped me put together a few editors and modding tools that I'll be releasing soon.
Financially, we are doing fine, even with all these fun new fixed overheads. If we never sold another unit we could run at full strength for another six months or at a stretch over a year. That said sales are not too shabby and as my vision starts to come together I think people are going to get really excited about the game again.
As with all things development is a series of tradeoffs, you have to pick two of the following: Doing the job fast, cheap or properly. I've decided to do things cheap and properly. As other Kickstarters have completed and been a disappointment, or certain others have made something good, but then run out of cash, we are still going strong and I am resisting the temptation to throw resources (read 'money') to get this game shipped.
We did Rezzed a few months back and got a huge amount of data and player feedback on the game. People were playing for hours and hours at a time, and we looking at design issues I hadn't really seen. Working from that I reprioritised a lot of small things.
We then took the game to Minecon last week and it seems the effort of working on connecting game design loops, and fixing bugs that broke them has started to really pay off. We had several people play the game for the best part of a day, and really enjoy it. I now have a pretty clear vision of the key features that need to be focused on for 0.50.
I'm attending Develop next week. So if anyone is around Brighton and would like to catch up, give me a shout. I'll be giving a pretty dry talk about how to set up your own studio at the conference itself.
The current state of the game.
If you've played recently you've probably noticed that the game flows far better, things are starting to be a little balanced and actions have started to have a bit more depth and meaning. The UI is more.. workable (although it will be overhauled once the campaign is nailed), and interacting with the game is more engaging and satisfying.
The main issues now lie in small annoyances for the player and a lack of a longer term game for advanced bases. Once you get research up and going you don't have much of a defined challenge or purpose. Fire gutting your base, and protobirds stealing chickens is entertaining and challenging, but the lack of a large goal in a game after a few hours makes things get a little stale. (At this point a lot of the younger kids at Minecon just started to murder off their colonists one by one, but I'm hoping not all of you are closet psychopaths!)
Week after next I will be releasing 0.49. This will add a pile of smaller interactions into the game. Hopefully turning the characters from small unpredictable little drones into little characters that feel a lot more alive. It's also got the weapons in the game, and the creatures on the surface will be far more dynamic. They will breed, migrate around and fight over territory, posing an ever shifting danger to your base.
After that we have the most important milestone: 0.50. This will be the build where we start really focusing on polishing the sandbox. It will be critical at this point that the game has no major issues and that players can really get a feel for my final intent. We're aiming for a completely bug free build. If you are one of the people procrastinating this will be the one to play.
I am putting out 0.50 at the end of August. This milestone is now fixed and I will be pushing seriously hard to ensure that I hit it and we ship something that you can sit and play for ten hours in a single session and be utterly absorbed into.
Post 0.50, as you've seen before (I'll be updating our roadmap soon), the focus will be on some of the features that sit outside of the core design such as the full campaign and stand alone missions. The campaign is fully planned, and partly scripted (as in words, not code scripts) already. It will be case of building in the scenarios, that should be quite fast with a stable sandbox.
That's all for now. As always you contact me at Simon (at) maiagame.com if you have any issues, questions or suggestions.
(PS: Everyone get their Thomas Was Alone key alright?)