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Join developers behind the hit racing game Nitronic Rush as they take futuristic arcade racing to the next level!
Distance has been released on Steam Early Access to great reviews! We'll continue to develop the game alongside our amazing backer community and aim to release the finished game on PC and PS4 when it's ready.
Distance has been released on Steam Early Access to great reviews! We'll continue to develop the game alongside our amazing backer community and aim to release the finished game on PC and PS4 when it's ready.
4,174 backers pledged $161,981 to help bring this project to life.

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PAX East, Team Changes, New EULA

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Distance at PAX East

Ellie and I will be heading out to Boston for PAX East next week! We’ll be showcasing a preview of our upcoming beta update at Booth #23131. This update features big changes/additions to Arcade gameplay including improvements to Stunt mode, a first version of the announcer, Steam achievements, and a few other surprises!

Of course it wouldn’t be a Refract booth without some ridiculous over-the-top booth lighting. See above for a mockup of the booth I created using Distance’s level editor. I’ll also be posting previews of the lighting tech on Twitter leading up to PAX.

It’ll just be me and Ellie at this year’s expo, so if possible we’re looking for volunteers to help run the booth. If you’re passionate about Distance and are interested in volunteering some time in exchange for expo access, please contact us at ellie@refract.com.

New Team Members

Today I’m excited to announce that Refract has added three new developers to our team! Please join me in welcoming Brent Potter, Galen Heninger, and Kristian Larsen to Distance’s development!

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the Distance community you might know them better as Ashamael, snowstate, and Krispy. They’ve contributed greatly to Distance’s community over the years (on top of creating some incredible level content). We’re excited to now bring them behind the curtain to help complete Distance’s Adventure mode.

 (check out Forsaken Shrine for a collaboration between all three creators)

While I can’t yet show the content they’ve been creating for Adventure mode, I recommend checking out their previous works on Steam Workshop. Trust me when I say that the new stuff they’re creating for Adventure mode will be worth the wait.

EULA Update

Finally, on a slightly less exciting note, we’ve updated our EULA and added a dedicated Privacy Policy. You can review it on our website:

If you’ll be at PAX East we hope to see you at Booth #23131! Watch out on Steam for news about upcoming experimental builds. Otherwise stay tuned for more info about our upcoming major update!

- Jordan (with everyone at Refract)

Booting Up 2017

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Hi everyone! It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a long-form devlog, so now that 2017 is in full swing I figured it was time to bring it back. For those that haven't been following the development closely via Twitter and Steam announcements, it includes answers to all of our frequently asked questions (including info on physical backer rewards, the launch window, the PS4 release, etc.) as well as thoughts on Adventure mode, new music, and more!

In short, development is going well. We recently released our most ambitious update to Distance yet: The Ghost Update. It features ghost racing, a replay viewer, official HTC Vive support, an increased online player limit, a new stats system, and tons of other improvements. It’s now available via Steam Early Access and Humble Bundle. Check out the trailer for a quick overview, plus your first teaser for the final release of Adventure mode!

As usual, if you have feedback you'd like to share, let us know via Twitter or the Steam forums. Those are the places where we've had the most success in keeping up with feedback. We can't seem to enable notifications for comments on Kickstarter, so please be aware if you post here we might miss your note. Hope you enjoy the devlog!

- Jordan (with everyone at Refract)

Distance October Update: Revamped Reality

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Hey everyone! We have some cool news to dive into today, but real quick I need to mention something important:

Update your address by Oct. 16th for physical rewards

At long last, we have a pipeline in place to send out shirts and posters! Since it's been quite some time since we asked for your address we wanted to give you another chance to update it. You should be able to edit your survey response on the right panel here.

Once we have the addresses at the end of next week we'll start sending stuff out. Obviously we've been distracted and got behind on these rewards, so we'll be including a small bonus in with each package. Thanks again for your patience.

Revamped Reality is live!

(check out the new trailer featuring VR gameplay)

Following gamescom and PAX we shipped the Revamped Reality update. Check out the trailer above! It's a huge step forward towards releasing the final game. We upgraded to Unity 5 which improved overall performance, upgraded all of our menus, and added new features like cockpit view and VR.

As a quick reminder, if you haven't grabbed your key you can access Distance beta via Humble Bundle. Click here for instructions.

Build 3920 features:

  • Better overall performance
  • Faster level loading
  • VR integration
  • Cockpit view
  • UI revamp (with mouse support)
  • Improved car color customization
  • Improved player names in multplayer
  • New editor assets
  • And more... 

>> Learn more about the update

Survive the Editor contest

(grand prize winner earns this majestic trophy)

Survive the Editor is a 3-week long Distance level creation contest. We're so excited to be working with members of the community to bring you a fun competition with amazing prizes!

Running from Oct. 3rd to Oct. 24th, weekly winners will be chosen during the "Speedy Saturday" multiplayer meetup. Each week we'll announce a mode and theme, and it's up to you to create a level that impresses both our judges and the community.

This week's mode is Challenge and the theme is Industrial. We're giving away prizes in 4 different categories so there are plenty of chances to win! If you don't feel like participating you can watch the judging live each Saturday.

>> Click for the deadlines & prizes

2016

We still have quite a bit to finish before Distance is done. Getting Unity 5 integrated was fortunately one our last "big" technical hurdles before shipping Distance, so moving forward a lot of the upcoming work is content creation and mode improvements.

While we think it's possible to be tech complete by the end of 2015, being content complete (a.k.a. final release) is looking like Q1/Q2 2016. If you’re anxiously awaiting the release all I can say is that we’re moving as fast as we can while still retaining a certain level of quality. It would be even slower without the continual feedback from the early access community.

As you may have also noted, we've been improving and adding to Adventure mode all year. To maximize the impact of playing the final story we've decided to only release updated Adventure content as a complete package near the final release. It might be tough waiting to play through the new content, but we really think it'll be worth it in the end after we've massaged out all of the rough edges.

On a side note, for future updates we're heavily considering merging Kickstarter backers into our main mailing list to simplify things on our end. Watch out for the same format of update coming from a slightly different source next time. Until then, Steam Announcements and Twitter remain the best way to keep up to date.

Thanks as always for being a part of this exhilarating development! 

- Jordan (@torcht for more dev updates)

We're Headed to Gamescom! The Big ICYMI Update

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Hey everyone! It’s been 100 years since our last Kickstarter update, but as many of you know we’ve moved most of our announcing and devlog-ing to our Steam announcements page. In case you’ve been missing out, I’ve collected the major highlights from the past few months and linked them below.

TL;DR:

  • Kyle and I will be in Germany at gamescom next week! We’ll be unveiling new Adventure mode content, the new announcer, VR + cockpit view, and more
  • We’re looking for gamescom volunteers! Read below for more info
  • The Trackmogrify Update added random track generation, custom music support, boom box mode, a spectate mode, etc.
  • The PS4 build is far along thanks to a new team member, and Sony showed it at E3
  • We’re currently upgrading to Unity 5 which gives huge performance improvements
  • We’re finally adding mouse controls to the menu (big overhaul)

We’re headed to gamescom! Looking for volunteers

Next week, Kyle and I will making the trek to Germany to show Distance at gamescom! We can't wait to meet so many of you that haven't been able to attend U.S. conventions. As a part of the WIN and Indie Arena booths (hall 10.1, number A 050 / B 051) we'll be showing new story mode levels, VR + cockpit view, synced concert lighting, and more. It's going to be crazy. If you're a journalist or streamer and would like schedule a meeting, email ellie@refract.com to set something up.

Since it's just Kyle and myself attending we can use all the help as we can get (especially with events like tournaments). In exchange for volunteering at the booth we can get you special access to the expo and likely some other rewards. If this interests you email ellie@refract.com with the subject line "Gamescom volunteer" and we'd love to chat with you.

Visual Highlights

Since I’ve already been posting a ton to Vine, Twitter, and Steam, I figured it would be more efficient to just link to all the posts so you can choose what interests you. Since pretty images are how I like to digest information, here are some visual highlights before you dive into the nitty gritty.

(Trackmogrify / random track generation is a blast)

(We’re stepping up our arcade cabinet game)

(VR + cockpit view is pretty cool)

(Custom music + dynamic visuals)

(Mouse-controlled menus are almost here)

(Adventure mode is getting exciting)

(Community-created levels just keep getting better)

Recent Steam Announcements

Next Steps

While we’re heavily focused on gamescom build right now, we’re also in the process of putting out a new Unity 5 experimental build with improved menus and car physics. Watch the Unity 5 experimental build feedback thread for the latest news there. Of course when it goes live on the default branch we’ll post a proper Steam announcement as well. We haven’t forgotten about physical backer rewards either, I just honestly got overloaded trying to manage them alongside everything else this year. After the convention is over Ellie and I plan to complete the final ordering/shipping. Thanks for your patience. If you’ll be at gamescom we hope to see there!

- Jordan (with everyone at Refract)

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)