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Join developers behind the hit racing game Nitronic Rush as they take futuristic arcade racing to the next level!
4,174 backers pledged $161,981 to help bring this project to life.

The Workshop Discovery Update is Live + Steam Daily Deal at 33% Off!

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It’s been an intense couple months assembling this latest update, but with some persistence and thanks to dedicated experimental build players we’re finally ready to ship. Today we’re announcing our biggest update yet, the Workshop Discovery Update! This update puts the focus on discovering excellent community-created content while improving usability throughout the game. The vast majority of implemented features and fixes were directly based on feedback from early access players. Thanks again to anyone who reported a bug or gave a suggestion since the release!

The Workshop Discovery Update

As we approach 500 user created levels, we wanted to ensure that great levels are visible and that the community has a say in what's being promoted through Workshop. This update allows you to easily rate Steam Workshop levels, find them easier in the level select menu thanks to new sorting features, automatically download levels from online servers if you don't have the level, create quick playlists, and tons more. There are also improvements to the main menu, split-screen menus, server browser, results screen, input system, level editor, and other underlying systems!

Read the massive changelog hereBeta Build 3519 (Changelog)

In many ways this update is a refactoring of several core systems such as input, networking, workshop integration, and menus. After observing fresh players enter the game for the first time we needed to take a hard look at the baseline accessibility across the board. The initial user experience doesn't seem to be terrible but there were a number of concerns we needed to address before diving back into gameplay and content iteration. While I do wish we had gotten our refactoring to a state where we could release this update sooner, I don't regret the major strides the team has made toward improving the experience.

Steam Daily Deal! Distance is 33% Off!

As a bonus we've also been chosen to be a Daily Deal on Steam! Distance will be 33% off for 48 hours (ending 10am PST on Friday), and we'll be visible on the front page for 24 hours starting now. If you know someone who's been waiting for a sale make sure to let them know today!

Get Distance 33% off (until Friday 10am PST): http://store.steampowered.com/app/233610

Twitch Stream Tomorrow! (12pm PST)

In classic fashion we’re well overdue for a community stream, so join us tomorrow at noon (12pm PST / 3pm EST / 8pm CET) for some multiplayer matches and dev Q&A! If you haven’t already, you can follow us on Twitch to get a message once the stream is live

Follow on Twitch.tv: http://twitch.tv/refractstudios

3 Months of Early Access

Distance has now been out for 3 months on Steam Early Access and it has seriously flown by. Fortunately, reviews have been extremely positive and the feedback from fresh players has been a massive help. We've been reviewed by Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Eurogamer, True PC Gamer, Super Best Friends, AltF4Games, FantaBobGames, etc. along with a continual flow of Twitch streams and YouTube videos being released. All in all we can see several areas in which we could have had a stronger release, but at the end of the day we focused a lot of our energy on improving Distance. Having a solid game seemed like a safe marketing bet for us.

With the few number of people working full-time on Distance, our greatest challenge has been staying on top of bugs brought on through user generated content and online play. None of our programmers get a massive kick out of system design, so developing heavy systems like networking and the level editor can be a battle to ensure that every scenario is properly tested. Distance is getting to be a surprisingly large game between the story mode, split-screen, online play, and Steam Workshop/level editor support, so we continually have to be smart about what features are a good fit for the team to work on.

When we started the year we imagined that we'd put out updates more frequently, but as things progressed we realized that it made more sense to package everything into a conglomerate build. When you update you'll definitely have a lot of new things to explore. Some of the core refactoring led to unstable behavior early on, so launching the experimental branch worked incredibly well to tie us back into the community and help us iterate on riskier features based on feedback.

(rating a level from within the level select menu)

Jason spent about a month revamping our input system, and fortunately it seems to have fixed most of the major reported issues. Input issues have been our biggest bug type reported so far, so keeping on top of every random controller possibility has been a continual struggle, especially when OS X and Linux enter the mix. The cool part is that force feedback is finally supported on Logitech devices like the G27 steering wheel, so those who have one at home can finally get the arcade cabinet experience. Jason also revamped our networking to function more smoothly (it's way too crazy to get into detail here), which was another impressively monumental task.

(the ever growing pile of testing controllers)

Kyle and I have been focused on general usability, bug fixes, and taking a whole new look at Steam Workshop. Getting in the feature to sort levels and load them efficiently is one thing, but making it usable on a controller and visually cluttered has been the true challenge. The goal was to make playing community levels smoother and more engaging, so I'm crazy excited to finally get this in the hands of more players. I didn't expect menu development to be so entertaining, but once I got into a groove it was hard to pull myself out of it.

My biggest lesson from these past few months has been how tough it is to continually switch gears after the launch. After crunching on marketing stuff for several months, I've been mostly excited to stay focused on coding and contribute to the feature development. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it's been at a cost of public progress updates and community interaction. Going forward I hope to bring more balance to my daily activities and do more to update players on our developments.

On a side note, make sure to check out the interview Kyle and I did with BigSushi.fm! It covers early access, our take on design, and a ton of other random stuff.

 BigSushi.fm interview: http://www.bigsushi.fm/episode-185-refract-studios/

Future Developments

Kyle and I were able to attend GDC last week which was surprisingly productive. Last year we decided to just to focus on PAX East and skipped out on GDC, and this year we did the opposite. In future years it seems worth it to attempt both, but like many developers we hope that they refrain from double booking the conventions on the same week (again). Overall it was great to get out of the office and pick the brilliant minds of any developers willing to talk. Thanks to those who reached out after our last update and made time to meet!

While VR was the big topic this year, Kyle and I spent more time looking at what Unity 5 brings to the table. Long story short, Unity 5 was officially released last week and it could bring a bunch of theoretically positive improvements to Distance if we were to upgrade. Of course there will be a considerable amount of time required to port to it, and we already know of many things that will instantly break (e.g. physics). In any case we want to attempt to take the plunge sooner rather than later to see how feasible it is.

If you follow the experimental build changelogs you might get a taste of how sporadically we function. We do our best to stay on top of feedback and improve areas that are sorely lacking, but it can be too easy to fall in feature creep based on player wishlists. I really have enjoyed tackling UI and Steam Workshop features for a few months, but I think after messing with Unity 5 it'll probably be time to return to something more artistically creative. I'm not sure if that's more adventure mode content, new music, or design improvements to existing modes, but I'll likely return to something a bit more risky. Kyle and I will partner up for both the Unity 5 experimentation and what comes next.

Jason has already gotten started on random track generation... and it's looking amazing. I won't spoil too much, but here are a few images that should give you an indicator of where he’s going.

(takes just a few seconds to create a standard generated track)

(let’s run the generator for 3 minutes, how about an insanely twisted “spaghetti” track?)

(and somehow it’s completely playable without ever intersecting with itself!)

Eddie and Laura have had less time to develop new content this year, but they've still made good progress in terms of creating some new assets. For example, Laura designed some sweet new sideless roads based on players' requests. To get them fully integrated Kyle wants to make our road system a bit more generic so we don't have to spend endless hours recreating every single style of road segment for every type of road, but the art is basically done.

Eddie has been developing a simpler start and end zone to essentially create your own using other in-game assets. He's also optimized some previous assets to hopefully improve framerate for some. Here's an example of his improved shard obstacle.

As always, thanks for the feedback from everyone during our first few months on early access. When I signed up to make a racing game I didn't expect to spend two months on menus, but it's been a lot of fun finding ways to highlight many brilliantly designed levels on Workshop. Keep up the great creations!

If you made it this far in this post, what do you think about this style of update releases? Do you prefer the massive conglomerates or are you excited about the more sporadic, frequent experimental builds? Let us know in the comments, and we hope to see you online!

- Jordan (with everyone at Refract)

Refract at GDC! Experimental build and upcoming major update

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Before I give a quick recap on our progress this year, I want to mention that Kyle and I will be at GDC next week! If you'll be there and want to see our latest developments or ask questions about anything let us know! Hit us up at any of these:

It's been a couple years since we've done GDC, so we're excited to finally catch up with old friends and put a focus on learning from the greats. Please do feel free to say hello if you'll be around!

The Experimental Branch

In classic Refract fashion we might have bit off a little more than we can chew, so this next major build release has been a long time in the making. Literally hundreds of changes have been made to the core game, and with these improvements comes plenty of bugs.

To help with dev to player transparency (and the testing process in general) we recently announced the availability of an "experimental" branch for Steam users! While we're in the final stages of testing our update, players that feel like living on the edge can update to access to the most "bleeding edge" work in progress features. Here's some of the highlights in the latest experimental build:

  • Added level playlist functionality in the level select menu for creating quick playlists
  • Added automatic Steam Workshop level downloading if you attempt to play on a server with a level that you don't own
  • Input system revamp (i.e. if you reported an input bug this build probably fixed it)
  • Added Logitech G27 support with force feedback
  • The level select menu now supports advanced sorting and rating
  • Revamped the server browser window to be more accessible and allow for hiding private, full, and incompatible servers
  • Fixed most scenarios where the car could tunnel through objects
  • Downloading Steam Workshop levels in the main menu now only downloads newly subscribed levels
  • If you unsubscribed to one or more levels the game now prompts you to delete them
  • Add the ability to move to next or previous level in a set at the end of a match
  • Upgraded the visuals of the main menu to feature your car and highlight community content
  • Added Friends leaderboards category in the Results Screen
  • You're now prompted to rate a Workshop level after finishing a match
  • Fixed tons of issues with the chat window in-game
  • Some minor performance improvements
  • Plus dozens of other tweaks and bug fixes

If you'd like to access this build simply follow the instructions at the link below. Just make sure to read the WARNING section about reverting to build 3315 before updating! Also make sure to report any bugs you find on our bug reporting site, labeling them with the build number you see in the upper right corner.

The Big Update

The focus for this update (as you can probably see above) is on discoverability (is that a word?) and usability. While we're unfortunately not including any levels of our own in this update, there are now over 460 community created levels we want to make sure you don't miss! We wanted to do our best to highlight the content we found enjoyable, and allow the community to more directly affect visibility through rating in-game. After GDC we hope to finally get this monstrous update out the door, and at long last I'll be able to do a proper development breakdown of all of the major changes. Stay tuned, and if you're making it out to GDC we hope to see you next week!

- Jordan (with everyone at Refract)

The Christmas Update is live! Twitch stream at 4pm PST today

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Hi everyone!

It's been an insane couple of weeks since the launch but things are going really well. Last week ended up being a bit slower than we hoped due to another round of flu-like illness passing through the office, but after pushing through this week we're finally back and fully engaged.

Our first few days on Steam went far better than we anticipated, and in no surprise our time has quickly been soaked up by the flood of emails and messages. I'll talk more about the specifics in a minute but first I need to mention something happening in just a couple hours!

Distance Advent Calendar on Twitch! TODAY at 4PM PST

(Screenshot from Da Ham/Krispy's level "Rats_Christmas." And yes, that's in-game)

Today marks the final day of the Distance Advent Calendar, a community-run event where track creators have been sharing incredible new level creations each day this month. The 24th and final level of the event was shared today, so we’d like to take a moment to play through every Distance Advent Calendar level shared this month!

We’ll also be playing some multiplayer on Kyle’s new tag level Jingle Valley, and there might even be a couple interesting surprises… See you there!

Watch us play Distance Advent Calendar levels LIVE! (4pm PST / 7pm EST / 1am CET): http://twitch.tv/refractstudios

The Christmas Update: Beta build 3314 is live!

We also just released a new Distance beta update! It's a minor update that features a new Christmas-themed reverse tag level, a remix of Carol of the Bells (I know, very original), art tweaks, new level editor features, and a fix for the negative leaderboard time bug.

Read the Changelog: http://refract.com/post/106091591631/the-christmas-update-beta-build-3314-changelog

If you want to just listen to the new Christmas remix, here it is on SoundCloud!

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#DistanceMoment Competition Winners

Thanks to everyone that shared #DistanceMoments during the weekend before the launch! There were some really great posts shared, so it was incredibly hard to narrow them down to our top five favorites. If you have a chance, I'd check them all out respectively on Twitter, Imgur, and Facebook. Anyways, in no particular order here are our top five:

"Never laughed so hard in Distance as when this happened: #DistanceMoment", Kristian Larsen

's video poster
Play

""Wheels? Where were going we don't need wheels!" "We're gonna fly doc?" "No Marty.. l meant lasers" #distancemoment", Nicholas M-L

"#distancemoment just a few epic screens from the official levels", Christian McClanahan

"#distancemoment Distance level editor + some patience = icy roads!", Ian

"Taking friends advice to design a new level #distancemoment", Mr. Ben

We've already contacted the winners with info on how to claim their prize, as each wins two copies of Distance Deluxe via Humble Bundle. Thanks again to everyone that participated and congrats to our winners!

Watch the first ever Distance Tag Tournament

If you missed it on Saturday, we saw our first ever Distance tag tournament! Since Distance doesn't have a spectator mode it required some ingenuity from the commentators, but overall it was a blast to watch. I personally feel like I learned a lot about the potential for long term competition in Distance just as a spectator, and I can’t wait to see the next match-up some day.

I won’t spoil the winner in case you want to watch it all the way through. See below for the entire stream on Twitch (the action starts around 30 mins in): twitch.tv/splaysh/b/601353668

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Initial thoughts on the Steam Early Access launch

When researching marketing stuff before doing our Steam Early Access launch I wasn't able to find much online, so I hope to contribute my own longer postmortem at some point. In the mean time, I've been writing a quick rundown on what we did before/after the launch, and what stands out in my mind right now. Since this update is already getting pretty long, I'll post it on refract.com as soon as it's finished.

Long story short, it went better than expected. We were in the top 10 sellers several times during the first couple days, and all month we've been in the top selling racing and early access game categories. Thanks to all the testing from beta players the build seemed to hold up really well, and reviews on Steam have been surprisingly positive.

In any case, I want to mention the one thing that impressed me the most during this launch. It wasn’t sales numbers, reviews, or the fact the build didn’t fall apart on day one. It was something else. Over and over again I hear reports from new players joining servers with skilled players. Instead of destroying them on the track however, these early backers take the time to answer questions, patiently share advanced techniques, and thoroughly explain how Steam Workshop levels work. On top of that we saw two excellently run community events (DAC and the tag tournament), where every day there’s something new to check out.

Anyways, thanks to so many of you who have been wonderful ambassadors in our community. You've paved the way for positive growth and creativity in the community, and that really opens the doors for bigger and better opportunities on the development side as more players dive in to play multiplayer, create levels, and give quality feedback. Keep up the great work!

Upcoming Beta Updates

While nothing is set in stone, it looks like in 2015 we’re going to be concentrating our efforts on bigger updates instead of smaller, more frequent ones. It’s been our style so far during the alpha and beta, and it seems to give new features a chance to breathe and get proper feedback. I'm honestly not sure what our next big feature will be, but we're still working through the various bug reports and suggestions from the past few weeks to help determine that.

As some may have noticed I opened up the private backer forums to the public so that all of the early access players can get caught up on past developments and updates. If you're new to Distance and are looking for more gritty behind-the-scenes details, you can read many of our previous updates in the Development Updates forum.

From all of us at Refract we hope you have a great holiday season and conclusion to 2014! I know I'm excited to fire on all cylinders in 2015 (and not just because 2015 is an beautiful number, which it is), but it'll be good to take a bit of time to reflect on everything learned in 2014.

I hope you can join our Distance Advent Calendar party on Twitch at 4pm today! In any case have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and we'll see you in 2015!

- Jordan (with everyone at Refract)

Distance is now available on Steam! Reddit AMA + Twitch stream today

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After 2.5 years of development including a Kickstarter campaign, Greenlight campaign, private alpha, and private beta, Distance is available for everyone on Steam Early Access! The reaction to the current beta build has been phenomenal, and in our first day we somehow found our way into the Top Sellers list! Thanks to everyone that took a moment to help us spread the word yesterday!

Sharing Distance on Steam Early Access

While we're still being promoted through Steam, we could use your help if you haven't mentioned Distance to your friends! Here are a few things you can do to help:

Retweet: bit.ly/DistanceSteamRT
Share on Facebook: bit.ly/DistanceSteamFB

Helpful links for sharing:
Steam page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/233610/
Website: http://survivethedistance.com/
Trailer: http://youtube.com/watch?v=57AFXGzrhrs

Another simple but powerful way you can help is to leave a review of Distance on our Steam page! Once logged in, a spot for your review should show up halfway down the store page.

Give a review of Distance: http://store.steampowered.com/app/233610/

Reddit AMA: TODAY at 1pm PST / 4pm EST

Today at 1pm PST / 4pm EST / 10pm CET a few of us will be answering questions about Distance on Reddit! Visit the link below to be redirected to the AMA (ask me anything) page when it goes live at 1pm PST! Until then it'll redirect to the Distance subreddit (r/Distance).

Reddit AMA (1pm PST): http://reddit.survivethedistance.com

Twitch Stream: TODAY at 4pm PST / 7pm EST

Following the Reddit AMA we'll take a break and then we'll be streaming community levels and multiplayer for a while on Twitch! Follow refractstudios on Twitch to be instantly notified when we go live!

Refract Twitch stream (4pm PST): http://twitch.tv/refractstudios

Looking for your Steam key?

In August, we released the private beta to all Kickstarter backers and anyone that had pre-ordered up until that point. For all of those details you can read that post here.

Long story short, all backers can now use Humble Bundle's key resender to access your download page for DRM-free builds and a Steam key. To be clear, you'll never have to buy the game again as your Steam key will work for forever and we'll continue to update the DRM-free builds!

Use this Humble key resender if you need a key: http://humblebundle.com/resender

Creation of the PAX arcade cabinet (album)

I also finally posted a breakdown of the creation of the arcade cabinet from PAX if you'd like to check it out! This was just the prototype for the two cabinets we'll be building for the two $10,000 tier backers. When we build the next couple I hope to take even more photos/videos.

DIY music-synced arcade racing cabinet: http://imgur.com/gallery/Ut07z

Going Forward

Right now we're incredibly busy with all of the small details of the release like responding to all of the emails/messages we've received, but we're keeping an eye on everyone's feedback for the latest build. There are a lot of directions we could go for our next update so we'll be looking for what sounds exciting and go from there.

Now that the big release is somewhat out of the way I'm excited to write more about actual development (feature/content creation) in future updates again. This has been the craziest ride of our lives, and the train isn't stopping for a while. Since I can't say it enough, thanks as always for the feedback, encouragement, patience, and passion that has fueled this development!

We hope to see you at the Reddit AMA and Twitch streams in just a little bit!

- Jordan (with everyone at Refract)

Updated Level Editor Tutorial, 21 Hours Until Early Access!

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There are less than 21 hours until the Steam Early Access release! In many ways it's just the beginning of a new stage of development, but we tend to have a love/hate relationship with big releases. Things coming together at the end is always a blend of exhilarating and stressful, but that's only because we've poured the past two years of our lives into this and we want to see it through.

Right now we're spending all of our time in continual outreach to get Distance in front of more people. If you have a favorite YouTuber, streamer, or writer that you want to check out Distance, feel free to let them know that Distance is releasing on Steam tomorrow and we'd love for them to check it out!

If you'd like to share Distance, here are some helpful links:

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This also means that there are less than 21 hours left to pre-order the game and get 25% off. If you know anyone that might be interested in getting the discount, send them to our website here: http://survivethedistance.com

Updated Level Editor Tutorial

To accompany all of the great additions Kyle and Jason have added to the level editor, we created an updated editor tutorial! It shows how you can create a sprint level in just a few minutes, as well as revealing some of the newest features like attaching decorations to the road. If nothing else it's a great way to see the current state of the editor.

Our "Playstation Experience" Experience

Kyle and I just wrapped up showing at the two day Playstation Experience event in Las Vegas. Overall it was really fun and a great chance to show Distance to the Playstation community while catching up with members of the press. We were impressed with how well it was put together in its first year. Thanks to all of the backers that dropped by to say hi!

#DistanceMoment Reminder

We've seen some fun #DistanceMoments posted so far! I just wanted to remind everyone that we're selecting our top 5 favorite #DistanceMoment screenshots posted on Imgur, Twitter, or Facebook and giving out two copies of Distance Deluxe to the uploaders. Read here for all of the details in case you missed them. There are only two days left to enter your screenshot into the competition!

So much to do in the next 21 hours. Time to grab some more coffee... see you on the other side!

- Jordan (with everyone at Refract)