Building a Better Beta - Right Now!
It’s hard to believe we're finally at a place where we're ready to put a playable version of Wasteland 2 into your hands, but today's the day. What a road it has been to get here.
It has been an enlightening experience learning what is entailed with this new transparent development process. I admit it isn’t easy to release code before it’s complete, as I have hundreds of issues on my list still to be addressed, but it’s time for the next phase. All backers eligible for the beta from your original pledge (that is, any tier of $55 or more except the $60 late backer box) or an add-on can now log in to your Ranger Center account and retrieve your Steam key for the Wasteland 2 beta. You’ll find it at the bottom of your Donations page. I should also note that we've had quite a few requests to offer the game on Steam Early Access, which we will do after our backers have had first crack at it.
PLEASE DO READ THIS UPDATE BEFORE YOU START TESTING
Creating a deep RPG is a unique challenge, in that so many elements need to be working well together, with 95% of the game's underpinnings complete before beta can begin, which is what we've all been working so hard on this last month. Now, however, is the stage of development where the magic happens. With most of the mechanical issues behind us, now we can really start digging deep into the game and finding ways of taking it from good to great. No amount of prepping and planning can replace old-fashioned hands-on playing, testing and iteration time, which is why we are so grateful to have you, our backers, help us hone this process like never before. So thanks once again to all of you for giving us this opportunity to make your game in this new and open way. Your input has been, and will continue to be, critical every step of the way, and Wasteland 2 will be better because of it.
For your convenience while playing, we put together a reference card. This serves as a basic guide to gameplay and the game's interface.
All the game's major systems are now implemented, which allows us to expedite the amount of depth, fun and subtlety that gets in, but this is an ambitious game both in terms of scale and the amount of reactivity we have planned, so please don’t forget that we are not complete, and that there are still a host of issues that need to be addressed. I’d like to highlight some of these so you know what you’re playing and how the final game will compare.
Because this beta doesn’t include all the Arizona maps, this portion of the game will feel a bit more linear than the full experience will, particularly with the first maps being narrower locations rather than proper hubs. The final game will have a more open feel where you can poke around and check the defenses of higher level areas and perhaps snatch an item or two. So fear not, as there will be more strange areas to discover in the final, and we will be dropping more in throughout this beta phase. In addition, we’ll be adding more quests to each map as well.
A number of skills are not implemented in the backer beta, namely, Silent Move, Salvaging, Animal Whisperer, the backer informational skill and, quite ironically, Combat Shooting (ironic if you are familiar with Wasteland 1). You’ll run into a few situations where you could use those skills and we’ll work to balance and roll them out later, but the vast majority of skills are in so you'll be able to try most possible solutions. The character system is complete but not necessarily fully balanced, many XP rewards and upgrade values will still be tweaked.
The beta is launching only for Windows PC initially. We’ll look into launching Mac and Linux versions soon, but they will need more testing before we feel secure in doing so.
As you may remember, we spent quite a bit of time iterating (based on your feedback) the main gameplay HUD, and that process made it better. We have not had that same luxury yet with the inventory UI and character creation, so we expect a lot of comments and you can expect many changes. There’s inconsistency with fonts and colors etc. and the bottom line is that we are not happy with it yet. So please give us your feedback on it, we’ll be looking to polish it up as we did the main game HUD.
The game is also still pretty rife with typographical errors. Report them as you see them!
I must say I am very happy with the musical score that Mark Morgan has put together, he’s doing a great job nailing the mood we envisioned. We are still weak in the ambient sound area and we know how important sound is for setting the mood and connecting you to the world. In addition, we need more sounds for messaging player successes or failures and the sound levels are not dialed in yet which creates an inconsistency in volume.
We are also not finalized on all of the voices so again don’t assume that voices are set in stone. I thought it better for you to get a sense of the radio with some temp voices if need be.
We all know that the heart and soul of a good RPG is having the player’s actions have consequence, and this is a major focus for us. We have a team of programmers that handle all the scripting for the maps, and most of their efforts at this point involve making pass after pass, adding in more depth to what we already have. This is a combination of adding more places to use skills, more ways to work around situations, and a greater degree of meaningful effect based on what the player has chosen to do. We also need add a greater connectivity between the maps, so your decisions have ripple effects in other areas of the Wasteland.
This will be the greatest area of focus as we analyze your play and listen to your ideas. So PLEASE share your clever ideas so we can turn up the charm and depth.
Along these lines, it probably isn’t a good idea to use the shovel on Ace’s grave.
Combat and World Economy
This area is fairly robust, but there has been little work in regards to balancing the difficulty, so expect some areas to be quite hard while others may be too easy. In these types of games the balancing can swing wildly from day to day with just a few variable changes. Just tweaking the amount of ammo that can be found can greatly change the experience. The enemies you’ll meet in the beta are pretty early-game, which makes fights a little more straight-forward, as their AI is simpler than some of the later-game enemies. There are not very many merchants right now, and their inventory is not particularly balanced. Basically the world economy has not been balanced yet. The currency and item drops and their trade value will likely seem off to you, as it’s far from final.
We are also missing quite a few SFX in combat and we need to better message how much the player can actually do. Again we will be keen to get feedback on this area of the game. In general we like that the game is a bit hard, but only so long as the player can learn from the battles and conquer them armed with that knowledge.
The fog of war is not incorporated in the navigation map so you’ll be able to see some detail but not be able to explore or see most of the discoverable areas that will be in the final game.
The code for handling the camera is also not final, and again your feedback will help us to dial it in and give enough user options to make it work for everyone. We still intend to integrate destructible objects to add greater realism and visual payoff into the scenes.
Please make sure you check out the options menu, as you can customize a number of things, like saturation, edge scrolling, etc. Giving you the option to customize the experience as much as possible was another goal of ours. Again, expect many additions here, but there is already a lot of fine-tuning you can do.
There’s some more topics to talk about that are not directly about the beta content, so let me cover those one at a time.
Press or Video Coverage
If you’re a twitch streamer, YouTube personality, or work for the video game press, you’re probably wondering, “What am I allowed to do with the beta?” For the Wasteland 2 beta, we are not putting any restrictions on written and video coverage. Feel free to stream the game, produce YouTube videos, blog about it or write articles about it. You’re free to use any revenue programs available, such as the YouTube Partner program. The only thing we ask is that you explicitly mention that this is a backer/early access beta, and not necessarily representative of the final product. Other than that, please do share - the more the better! Do note that the focus of this beta is on getting feedback from our backers and not about getting press reviews.
CenterCode and Documentation
Though I continue to tell the programmers not to put bugs in their code since they will just have to remove them later, we know there will be many a pesky bug. With that in mind we’re launching our CenterCode bug reporting site now as well. Each eligible backer will be receiving an invitation email to your Ranger Center primary email. Follow the link to register on CenterCode, providing detailed information on your PC as you do so.
The site itself is pretty straightforward; you can report bugs and input suggestions which go straight into our internal bug reporting system, where we deal with duplicates and assign them to the appropriate developer. Simply describe your problem or suggestion, go into as much detail as possible (especially on how to reproduce bugs) and hit submit. The other important function of CenterCode is the “Resources” tab, which we’ll use to provide technical FAQs, system requirements, troubleshooting info and more as we progress in the beta.
I must also give thanks and praise to the hard working team here at inXile. I am fortunate to work with such a bright and passionate group of people who are hyper focused on making a game we can all be proud of. Thanks, everyone!
We’ve all been pouring our heart and soul into Wasteland 2, and I hope it shows. I’ll never forget the elation from those first two days of our Kickstarter campaign and how happy I was to get this chance. Now, after the long journey, I am filled with excitement and nervousness.
Thanks again for your support, have fun, and let’s work together to make a classic.
Your leader in Exile