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Wasteland 2 has been released to great acclaim, earning Game of the Year from PCWorld, and reaching #1 on the Steam sales charts! Thanks to all our backers for helping us make this game a reality!
61,290 backers pledged $2,933,252 to help bring this project to life.

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Beyond the Current Boundaries

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Howdy Rangers,

Chris here to give you a snapshot on our current progress. First off, the next beta update is being wrapped up! It’s been in testing for the past few weeks and we’re putting the final touches on it as I write this. You can expect it to go live next week. 

This beta update will include the first release of the Linux build, new merchant UI elements, the Missile Silo map, the Darwin Village map, an updated leadership skill, a few new enemies with unique AI (I dare you to get in combat with the suicide monks…), many additional balance tweaks, tutorial, lots of optimization and oh-so-much more. As always, we will put full patch notes up on our tumblr when the patch goes live.

One thing we were excited to look into were stats showing how long people were playing the game. It can be hard for a developer to estimate exactly how long a game takes because even when playing through fully, we're still too familiar with it to not go through it fast. But now that we've had people playing it and based on how long they've been taking on the live content, we can estimate the full game will likely take the average new player around 50 hours on a normal playthrough. Though it'll take quite a bit longer if you're looking to fully explore every location and mission.

Now let's talk development: at this stage we are working not just on beta builds and polishing those areas, but on tweaking the game's systems and taking lessons learned from beta feedback and applying them throughout the game. Every day our level designers are adding new touches and various levels of reactivity to the game. For example, in this next update you'll find major areas are now open to you right from the moment you leave Ranger Citadel, rather than being plot-gated.

As we're finishing up more Arizona areas we are intensifying our work on Los Angeles, and for the entire game we are making great progress. Much of the team is on California right now, adding layer after layer of depth into the current design.

There's a few points I’d like to talk about a bit more in-depth…

Systems & communications

One easy-to-forget but very important point going forward for us has been the way the game communicates on its systems. What I mean by that is how much the game informs the player of its underlying systems, how clear and easily available this info is, and to what extent the game helps and guides along the player. At the heart of these kind of cRPGs lies a sense of discovery and figuring things out by yourself. We consider it one of Wasteland 2's strengths that you can often try something new and then have a mission proceed differently because of a different approach you tried out.

That said, when it comes to interface and understanding systems there is no harm in showing off much of the details necessary to make informed tactical choices (assuming it’s done in a non-intrusive way), starting with the simple tutorial tooltips we put in. The game will ship with a sweet old-school manual and reading it before you start will give you a good head start, but we've also added a number of "tutorial" tips in the game. These pop-up on the right side of your screen when specific triggered events happen, and give a quick explanation of the way things like combat, dialog and levelling up work. We focused on making them clear, short and non-intrusive, and experienced players or those who just don't like tutorials can switch them off with a single click.

The other big thing in systems communication is how much and how clearly the game details its under-the-hood system formulas. This was not something we spent a lot of time on prior to the beta launch, in part because it is relatively low-priority, in part because many of the systems are still fluid and up for tweak and balance patches. The new character and skills screen was a step forward in this as it enables players to see how stat increases or equipment switches influence their key stats. For those interested in learning more details in this code update, the tooltips in character creation (for derived stats) give a deeper breakdown. Check those out on your next playthrough!

Wasteland 2 as it stands has not had many balance passes done, and that influences how balanced the attribute and skill system may seem. In the currently live builds, you might feel like you’re leveling up more often than you should or you have too many skill points. This is intentional as part of the goal is to have you try out the various options and give us feedback.

One very significant system we have not yet put in is the tying together of attributes and skills, where the skills are either capped or heavily influenced by a specific attribute. This is an important balancing factor in a party-based cRPG like ours, because you are likely to have a total of seven party members not far into the game and will have a large pool of skill points to use. It continues to tie into one of our pillars of having to make difficult choices that will affect gameplay. Early on in the final game, this heavy feel of a multi-talented group will remain, but once we start putting our caps and ties system in, you will need to be more careful in your skill choices when you progress further into the game. Of course, by this point, you will have tried a variety of skills and become more informed about what you wish to focus on and how to spread your skills among various characters.

In general, we pride ourselves in our flexibility to adapt our systems based on feedback and internal and external discussion, a good example of which would be our Ranger Corner thread where we asked for feedback on charisma, with my reply and thoughts here. Charisma was the attribute most in need of updates to make it more viable, and we are constantly evaluating and modifying the way our attributes work.

Barter Screen

When we launched the new inventory screen in the last beta update we had not yet started working on the new barter screen. This was also a good opportunity to do a Ranger Corner thread talking about the barter screen, and you can find my reply on the topic here.

As with the inventory screen, it was key for us to significantly improve functionality as well as the look of the screen. In the new barter screen, it is much easier to compare items you're buying to what you have equipped, as well as sell and manage multiple stacks of junk, view full stats of items before purchasing, and sell from your entire party inventory rather than going character-by-character. Here's a look at the screen:

Los Angeles

One thing we've long since avoided talking about is LA. And we're still pretty wary of spoilers, so the following text will be spoiler-light, but if you want to avoid them completely you may want to skip.

In the near future, we will have almost all of Arizona in the hands of our beta backers (after this upcoming update the beta will include all but one major area and the final small maps), we can't resist the temptation to talk more about the second half of the game…the Los Angeles area. I specifically say "Los Angeles area" as it includes some locations that are in the Los Angeles metro area, rather than just "the city proper".

Los Angeles is a separate world map from Arizona. A lot of Arizona has a feeling of familiarity for the Wasteland 1 fans, as it sees the return of quite a number of Wasteland 1 locations and factions. This familiarity was important for us to keep, as there's a long gap in time between the release of WL1 and the upcoming release of WL2, and strong narrative ties help bridge that long gap.

On the other hand, Los Angeles allows us to get back to some of the wildness the Wasteland setting allows, by opening up a fresh new area with weird possibilities. Los Angeles as it stands now is a sprawling city-scape, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world, with recognizable landmarks such as Hollywood and the L.A. Coliseum. The current L.A. with its nearly four million inhabitant’s needs water imported and thus may seem like a naturally semi-arid climate, but this is primarily due to human influence. With most of the human presence wiped out by the war, the creation of small and mostly toxic lakes of water by the post-war storms, and the shifting of air and water currents, the Los Angeles of Wasteland 2 is a lush area. Nature has reclaimed much of the ruined cityscape.

In L.A., we decided to make many of its recognizable landmarks key locations, including the aforementioned LA Coliseum and Hollywood, but also such spots as the Watts Towers and the Griffith Observatory. Our design process started with, “What would be the most bad-ass areas in L.A. for the player to visit”? We then sprinkled these areas with weird cults and weirder creatures. One example is the Pistol Packing Priests faction (conceived by our lead writer Nathan Long), which were previewed in the first Wasteland 2 novella. This burgeoning religious cult believes the apocalypse was God's justice brought to man, but the task is left unfinished, and it is up to them to sweep the last vestiges of sinfulness off the earth, by word and by bullet. Mostly bullet…or hammer…or any other blunt/sharp/shooty object.

With these areas dominated by strong factions that have no familiarity with the Desert Rangers, this opens up great new possibilities for us to challenge and offer diverse choices for you. One faction may have an internal conflict, a splinter group with beliefs that differ from dogma, giving the opportunity to choose one side or play them out against each other, or re-unify them. But another may have an external enemy with no chance of reconciliation, a conflict the player might decide is best to avoid entirely, but one which they can also use to their advantage to help one side gain dominance and wipe the other side out.

Many L.A. areas are in a state of equilibrium as you arrive at them (though not all are, some may require immediate action), giving you more time to explore the "towns" of various shapes and size, and get familiar with the people and the faction's beliefs, trade, resolve smaller missions, or even progress without ever triggering any conflict at all. Los Angeles shines in a strong variety of locations. That variety evincing itself not just in visuals and flavor of the location, but also in how open or guided an area is, how conflict or hub-oriented it is, etc. etc.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look at one of our LA levels in the Unity editor. This town – built around the Watts Towers – is between the stages of Wild West and civilized, the arrival of the Rangers may well determine which way it goes…  

Since such a high-level view may seem a bit obscure, here is a closer level render (but with the camera still further out than it would be in-game). Each building can be entered, making Watts the kind of open hub that you could find around the halfway point of Wasteland 1.  

Shout-out  

We wanted to give another shout-out to a smaller, promising Kickstarter: The Red Solstice, a squad based strategy RPG. It set on Mars in a distant future, with all the science fiction trappings you could hope for. The game has tactical 8 player co-op focused on hardcore survival, class-based character advancement and advanced tactics. Aside from the 8 player co-op campaign, they're also going to offer a narrative-heavy single player campaign.

The campaign is over halfway there, with $27K funded of a $50K goal with 10 days to go, so let's give 'em a boost in the final stretch! They're also part of Kicking It Forward, pledging to spend 5% of their eventual profits into funding new Kickstarter projects.

And lastly, we are posting portrait art and quotes every week, you can check them all out on our tumblr.

Chris Keenan
Project Lead

Quick Status Update

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Hello Rangers,

First and foremost, we wanted to be sure all our backers knew that our $10 add-on which we've been offering on the backer store will be closing down next Friday, the 28th of March. This week will be the last chance to jump on board this limited-time offer.  

On to other news. We're about a month into our three-month plan that we mentioned in update 44, things have been progressing well. We are simultaneously working to fix issues and bugs with the game in general based on feedback to the beta while other team members are moving ahead in finishing all the LA content. While the next beta update (coming soon) will not be quite as sizeable as the last one it is another significant content expansion (adding a new area) as well as UI upgrade (implementing the new barter screen). Here's what we said on it earlier on our blog:

The next update to the Wasteland 2 beta will be another sizeable one. We are adding more content in the form of the missile silo map, an interesting location that is set to challenge your problem-solving skills. Here is a short description from Jeremy Kopman, the level designer on Silo. “Slashed across eastern Arizona is a deep, winding canyon that provides the only access to a vast, resource-rich valley. As if traversing the labyrinthine paths – full of vicious animals and sociopathic raiders – wasn’t hard enough, the area is controlled by a fanatical branch of the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud. These monks worship Titan, bringer of death by the Great Glow… and a live ICBM with a nuclear warhead. Too bad braving this deathtrap is your only way to reach your next mission target: Damonta.”

Other News

We've received a draft of the first of the two Michael Stackpole & Nathan Long novellas, tentatively titled The Earth Transformed. It will be going through rigorous proofreading and editing and then go out to our backers.  

We've also made Wasteland 1 – The Original Classic available on Desura. We're very happy to be joining another fully DRM-free service that offers the game for Windows, OSX and Linux. The key generator on the Ranger Center will not offer Desura but if you're a Linux user who has been waiting for a fully DRM-free option, please do contact us here or on the Ranger Center and we'll get you a Desura key.

On the concept and portrait art front, check out this spiffy gentleman's life motto, along with a pair of creepy dolls we feel go well with our post apocalyptic vibe. 

Shout-Out

And finally, we wanted to give a shout-out to an excellent looking Kickstarter project, Ashen Rift, a new take on classic shooters set in a barely recognizable, twisted and dead earth where you fight howling monstrosities. Worth a look for its atmosphere and unique ideas alone. Ashen Rift is from a smaller indie studio rather than the larger efforts we've promoted in this space, and we enjoy supporting the dreams of smaller indies to become professional developers.

Thomas Beekers,
Straightening out the Lines 

And. Here. We. Go!

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Calling Ranger Team Echo back into action,  

This is just a short update to notify all of you that some of the things we've been talking about of late are now live: the beta update, the $10 add-on and some new videos. First and foremost, the large beta update has just gone live on Steam. Additionally, the OSX version of the beta is now also live for our Mac backers!

The full list of fixes and tweaks runs well over 2000, you can view the long patch note list here, which runs the gamut from optimization to fixing small and large bugs to expanding the game's content. We also updated the beta's reference card and expanded it a little bit. As a reminder, this update will break existing save games.

The most immediate difference you'll notice will of course be the updates character and inventory screens. Update 43 had the goods on that so I won't go over it again in detail, we're looking forward to seeing people play around with it. Other than just looking better the new inventory adds a lot of functionality such as an all-party inventory and direct mouse-over comparisons between an item with your currently equipped item (by holding shift).

The second big thing is the addition of the fifth major location in Arizona, the Prison, which was formerly the Ranger Center, now taken over by a rival militia. Ranger Team Echo heads into the Prison in search of ways into Damonta, a town seemingly unreachable beyond a radiation wall.  

Combat sees a significant overhaul in this update. We added stances and expanded the use of destructible cover and height advantages and ladders used by enemies. These combat improvements are still WIPs so expect more iteration and functionality going forward.

Of course there are a lot of smaller updates to existing areas. We changed and expanded the ways some of the major scenarios in the first areas play out, as well as adding smaller events and missions, many of which have an impact on larger quests down the line. And just as a reminder, while the beta is limited in areas we are simultaneously working on later areas in the game, tweaking and iterating and applying the lessons learned from the beta.  

Enjoy!  

Jumping on board

We have launched our limited-time add-on option for existing Wasteland 2 backers. This $10 add-on will be available for purchase for a limited time, and will give access to Wasteland 2's beta. It does not include the other extras from the Steam digital deluxe edition. To purchase this add-on, log into your Ranger Center account, you will find it under the backer store tab.

Torment backers: If your tier included Wasteland 2 and you didn't already get the beta as an add-on, you are eligible for this $10 add-on as well. Log in to your Torment pledge management account and the add-on will appear in the Torment store listing. This applies only to tiers that include Wasteland 2. Please contact us via the system if you run into any problems.

We manually import PayPal pledge data into our system. We will increase the frequency of these updates but please be aware it can still be a few days before your pledge is registered. When it is registered, the key will show up at the bottom of your "Donations" tab, on either system. Please note the system is only set up to provide one key per account, and will not process multiple purchases from a single backer.

In other news: we had to close the Wasteland 2 backer store shortly after the beta went live for procedural reasons, but as you may notice the store is back up now! The tiers have seen some adjustments as we're moving forward and closer to the final release price: the basic digital tier is not $35, the digital deluxe edition is only available on Steam, and the basic boxed edition is $65.

Twitch

If you want to see some of the things this update brings, we did a live stream on Twitch TV earlier today to show off the new goods. You can view the video in its entirety on Twitch.tv here.

Brian Fargo,
Leader in Exile 

FTW For the When

85 likes

The comments from the early beta have continued to help us craft Wasteland 2 and the next beta update will reflect the changes we have made based on your feedback along with the many scheduled additions. We've made great progress on this beta update and are currently putting it through final balancing and testing touches: it will go live on Steam next Monday, the 24th. But I know the question on everyone’s minds (and tweets and Facebook posts) is “When will Wasteland 2 be done?” Of course there is always the glib answer of “when it’s done” but we owe you more detail on the process than that.

I’ve always envied when big developers like a Blizzard or Id were able to give such answers as there is huge correlation on iteration time and the final game quality. It’s why so many classic games stayed in development for the time that they did. 

To date we have had a total of 2,300 bugs and suggestions (not counting duplicates) reported from the beta testers and from our outside compatibility testing group since December. We have fully addressed over 1,100 of these items including a host of compatibility issues. On top of that production is moving forward on all fronts, you will see in the next update we have a new inventory UI, new locations on the map to explore, changes to existing locations to add depth, destructible objects, more satisfying combat animations, more ambient sounds, etc.

I promise I’ll soon stop boring you with yet more statements about how great this process is but it truly has been invaluable. Having a large passionate group like yourself playing the game early assures we don’t miss any critical details.  

I must confess that we dared to make an ambitious game. Wasteland 2 is big in every conceivable way, from the amount of writing, hours needed to complete, re-playability options, graphic diversity etc. One might argue that it’s more ambitious than it needed to be but from the outset we wanted to create a classic that would hold a spot in your mind along with the other top RPGs of our time. We know we have some big shoes to fill and we want to push the envelope for what makes a great RPG.  

As we've said before we wanted to use the beta period to evaluate our release window. To outline our current plan: we will have the team working to lock down every aspect of the game within three months such that we are only addressing bugs. On the systems side of the game, over those three months you will see a number of iteration passes on combat which covers things like crouched stance, ambush mechanics, weapon jamming, special attacks, further UI enhancements, and a few surprises. On the skills we need to make several more passes on making them more useful or better message how they are working. We are adding AI to the remaining enemy types and adding the appropriate animations. Art wise we are wrapping up the LA maps and adding additional combat animations and particle effects to give the game more flavor. And most importantly we are continuing our iteration passes on choice and consequence, providing new options that come from the results of your actions.

We know better than to give an exact date at this point because in addition to pushing the game in the ways we’d planned, we’re going to continue to incorporate player comments that make sense for us to address. But we are in the final stretch, and are thankful our backers have consistently agreed we should take the time we need. Our current three month plan will create a significantly better game as we are in an important development phase with each week taking huge steps to improve the game. As we progress through this plan we'll of course keep posting updates to let all our backers know how the game's progressing. But do be aware the end of this three month plan does not represent the finish line, at that point there will still be work to do before we can release the game.  

OSX owners will be happy to know that Wasteland 2 will be available for their platform at the same time as we're putting the beta update out. We're making progress on the Linux version and it will follow sometime after.

Screenshots

We of course wanted to share screenshots of the upcoming update with all of you, and to do something a little different we shot them in 4K resolution (3840x2160). Click on the screenshots to view at full resolution.

 

Other News

A pair of Kickstarters caught our eye of late. One is the massively ambitious Kingdom Come: Deliverance, in the final 24 hours of its funding period and well over 300% funded, they are looking to lock up their final stretch goal. At the start of their campaign is the Middle Eastern culture inspired Zaharia, a unique project which offers a prototype for you to try before you decide on backing it.

If you want to read a little more about the upcoming update, we did a short dev blog post on it on the Wasteland 2 tumblr. There is also this meaty Eurogamer interview with me that digs in on both Early Access, the upcoming update and future plans for Wasteland 2.

As we mentioned in update #41 we are going to make the beta available for purchase to backers who don’t already have access in a limited time $10 deal. This will launch at the same time as the update. We will be doing another Kickstarter update on Monday with specific instructions.

And lastly we will be giving a live feed of the new features of Wasteland 2 via TwitchTV on Monday, February 24th at 11am PST (UTC 19:00). Please come watch us play if you want a greater understanding of the new UI and the subtle reactivity of the game.  

Thanks!
Brian Fargo
Leader in Exile

Re-Sorting Inventory

107 likes

Hello Rangers,

Chris Keenan here. Before we get into the juicy stuff, a quick status update on the backer beta.

Development at this point is going faster than ever! Now that we have all of our tools in a great place, we’re spending most of our time making the experience better. You might have noticed that we haven’t updated the beta code in a while and there is a good reason for that. The next update contains some major upgrades almost across the board. We’ve made some huge leaps in optimization and reducing our memory footprint. With your help, we’ve killed over 200 bugs in this update and implemented some great reactivity and conversation suggestions that we received from the community. The inventory system has had an exciting overhaul (more on that later) and a new town (Prison) is being added. The Prison used to be Ranger Center until they took over the Guardian Citadel and made it their home. The OSX build has been in testing and we’re fixing some compatibility issues so there is a good chance it will be ready when the next code update is live. Linux has not been forgotten and will follow after OSX is released.

Because of the scope of the update it's taking a little longer than anticipated, we'll keep you posted on its status as we keep working on it.  Last update we talked about offering a one-time chance to get into the early beta for only $10 to all our backers. The timing of this promotion will coincide with the update going out, so it is not yet available now. It will be a short run promotion so we’ll make sure to notify everyone in an update when it has started.

Broken Age Released

Double Fine’s industry changing Kickstarter for Broken Age (previously known as Double Fine Adventure) could not have come at a better time for us at inXile. They proved that there are other opportunities for small to mid-sized team besides the traditional models that had become stale for both developers and game fans alike. It was literally a few weeks after Brian decided to shelve his dream Wasteland 2 project when Double Fine made waves by taking to Kickstarter. It's become so regular now for larger Kickstarter projects to appear that we forget how much Double Fine changed the landscape, and without them making Wasteland 2 would never have been possible.

Like us, Tim was looking for ways to connect directly to his audience and bypass the traditional publisher model, and succeeded to the tune for raising over $3.6 million. And now the first fruit of the combined power of DoubleFine's creativity and fan's support is here. DoubleFine just released the first part of their adventure game, Broken Age. It is available for $25 from Steam as a season pass, which means it includes access to Act 2 when it’s released. Broken Age is getting great reviews and feedback so if you’re a fan of the genre, check it out!

Novellas & T-shirt

Stephen Blackmoore's novella All Bad Things has gone through copy editing and proper formatting for digital release, and we're releasing it to our backers as of right now! If you have the Early Access package the novella will download automatically within a day, into your Steam install folder (that is ..\Steam\SteamApps\common\Wasteland 2\Books\All Bad Things). You can also find it in your Ranger Center account, we included a link and download code for you to use under the Rewards tab (bottom of the page). Enjoy the read, we certainly did!

Following our collective disappointment at the idea of not having the Stackpole novellas, we put our heads together and came up with a solution that works for all parties involved. Rather than Nathan working on his own novella, he is combining forces with Mike Stackpole. Together, they will be delivering two action-packed novellas that tie in seamlessly with the storylines of both Wasteland and Wasteland 2. These are in the works now and we will give you more details as they near completion.

We shipped out the backer-only shirts in mid-October. If you specified your choice on Ranger Center but have not yet received your shirt, please do contact us. If you've been given a redemption key to use on the J!nx website for your T-shirt choice, please be aware the cut-off date for the use of those is February 14th.

Inventory & Character Screen Upgrade

We’re extremely happy with how the new inventory is coming along. It greatly reduces the amount of unnecessary micromanagement and is much more visually appealing than the previous iteration. Instead of being list based, we were able to make it more icon based with unique icons for all items. The list style inventory works well for a game like WL2 with lots of items to collect, but lacks a bit of the soul that comes with an icon based inventory. There is something special about getting to see all the items you own in one spot. We had always hoped to go with an icon based system, but early in the project we were hesitant to commit to it due to the greatly increased art costs. We’re now at the point where we feel comfortable taking on the challenge and know it will make for a better experience.

The image above shows the new backpack. Long gone are the days of hitting the backpack button and having 4-7 packs pop open. By selecting the party member along the side, you can see the contents of their pack. If you select the “All” button, it will show you the contents of all packs in one easy to read space. Hovering over an item in this mode will highlight the party member on the left to show whose bag it’s in. Drag it to the PC you want to have it and you’re good to go!

When you mouse over the item, you will get all stat and useful information displayed in a small pop-up. You also can further examine the items by double clicking to read the details and see any additional description information.

This grid-based inventory is not limited for space. You can manually keep it sorted yourself under the all items tab if you have your own system in mind, or have the game auto-sort it under one of the other tabs (which will not re-set your manual sorting).

At the same time, we’re also updating the character, attribute, skills and dossier screens. No longer will they be full screen but instead a more compact window, which gives us space to combine it with another screen. Additionally, dropping items in the world, adding them to hotkey bars, and trading becomes much easier when you can move this compact window around to the most convenient screen spot.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new inventory vs. the previous one. Please leave comments on our forums or in this Kickstarter update. It will be included in our next code update so those in the beta will go hands-on shortly!

In the news

Strategy Informer offers a new interview with Brian Fargo about crowdfunding and the development process of Wasteland 2.

Both Game Informer and PCGamer are offering spotlight pieces on Mark Morgan, covering his career as well as the games he's working on now, such as Wasteland 2.

Until next time,
Chris Keenan
Your Wasteland 2 Project Lead