LT in 2015 & The Road to the Beta!
Hello there good people of space sim fandom! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!! :D I hope everyone's had a great holiday season.
As we wave goodbye to 2014 and enter into the new year, I'd like to take the opportunity to introduce and explain the (major) shift in LT's dev / update process that I'll be rolling out at the beginning of 2015. In the process, I'll also be explaining the status of the beta and what we're going to do about it. This one's gonna be a rather lengthy bit of text, but I've got a lot to say...so please bear with me!
The Beta: First it's Going to Hurt, Then it's Going to Get Better...
First up, as you all have surely noticed, late 2014 has come and gone with no sign of a beta being released to KS backers. Not good. The simple but honest truth is that the game isn't ready for beta yet. Despite my constant work on it, there remains quite a bit to do (mostly in terms of gameplay implementation) before LT can enter beta. It's not for lack of trying, either. I could get a lot more specific about this failure, but I think the more helpful question to be asking right now is not WHY we don't have a beta yet, but rather, WHAT are we going to do to fix that.
Having already been through two major delays, shifting dates simply isn't going to cut it anymore. Something must change, and that something needs to be more than the target beta release date. You guys are (I think) itching for the beta. I, more than anyone, am itching to get LT 1.0 in your hands. For this reason, I've decided that it's time to take action and shift gears. It's time to finish this game. And that's what this development shift is all about :)
Introducing Limit Theory: Road to The Beta!
Starting in January 2015, the monthly updates are going to be replaced with a new update series called "Limit Theory: Road to the Beta" (RTB). RTB will be a weekly development digest, comprising text, images, and (optionally) small videos. In terms of medium, it's essentially a blend between the dev logs and the monthly update, taking the best of both worlds. You get some description, you get some visuals, and (sometimes) you get some in-game demonstrations.
But, critically, RTB isn't just a change in update granularity. It's a change in focus. With the dev logs and the monthly updates, the focus has always been to show what was done in a given time period. With the new RTB update series, however, the focus of each weekly entry is going to be very simple and very clear: demonstrate to you all, on a weekly basis, that LT has made a significant step toward completion (and beta release). Put differently, whereas the reaction to a devlog / monthly update might have been "yes, this work looks nice," I will strive for the reaction to each RTB entry to be more along the lines of "wow, yes, this makes LT more of a complete, playable game!" Tweaks, graphical enhancements, tech advancements, etc. will not cut it. With the RTB development focus, I will be looking for and pushing to achieve tangible completion of game features and content each week.
Despite the fact that the project's timeline is stretching longer than any of us would have liked, I do feel that things are starting to align in a nice way at this point. In particular, it feels like RTB is coming at the perfect time! In the past few months we've undergone the shift to fast, LTSL-based development. Last month, in particular, we saw a wealth of actual 'stuff' being implemented and iterated on in LTSL. Moreover, the tech level of the LT engine is at an all-time high, and, on the whole, more than capable of supporting the beta and 1.0. I wouldn't have been comfortable saying this only a few months ago. But now, I can say with conviction that it's time for the home stretch. It's time to focus all firepower on the deflector shield genera---uhh, I mean, on the completion of Limit Theory the game.
Now, returning to the format of RTB, I'll elaborate on the aforementioned "optional small videos." Video content in RTB is going to be handled quite differently from the usual monthly videos. Rather than simply show what was done each week, RTB videos are only going to happen when I have a feature to show off that's best conveyed with in-game demonstration. Hence, these videos are to be small (5-10 minutes), tightly-focused videos that demonstrate the (singular) feature in question -- no more, no less. Again, in keeping with the overarching theme of RTB, the idea is to demonstrate game functionality / content.
On top of being a more focused development / update ideology, RTB will also help me to remain mentally-sane by removing the 'update anxiety' that has crept up over the past few months. In RTB, there is no pressure to beat the last entry, no time for last-minute content (since it's weekly), no question of whether the entry is a success or failure. There's simply the need to demonstrate game content, end of story. It's likely that some (hopefully few) entries will indeed be failures in terms of being able to make us say "LT is significantly closer to completion!" But so be it. Such will be the harsh yet efficient nature of the RTB dev process. Game content, and game content alone, is the success metric.
In summary, RTB is all about getting LT finished and in your hands. It's about sculpting all the tech and gameplay theory that already exists into a final melange of usable, enjoyable features.
Cool, but When is The Beta?
Indeed, that's a lot of talk about Road to the Beta, but I'm guessing it hasn't slipped your mind that, amidst said talk, there was nary a date mentioned. What gives?
Well, the official release date of the Beta is, as of now, "as soon as humanly possible." What this means is that, if tomorrow I miraculously wake up with 10x as many neurons and am able to implement every remaining facet of LT in a casual 8 hours, then the Beta comes out in two days. Yes, you could rightfully point out that it's an awfully fancy way of saying "when it's done" -- but I hope that you all can see that it's more genuine than that. The truth is, I can't put a date on it with confidence (let's face it, I'm new to this and, thus far, have been pretty awful with dates). But what I CAN do is what RTB promises to do: shift the focus entirely to game completion, and show you that we're moving significantly closer to that unknown date every week. I still do have every intention of hitting early 2015, but, like I said, I'm not going to get more specific about dates.
The Road Beginneth on the Fourteenth Day.
Hopefully at this point you're all starting to warm up to the idea of some juicy, game-content-focused weekly development imagery, and are asking when exactly this RTB train is going to hit the rails!
I've decided that I'm going to take the first week of 2015 to do some final planning, preparation, and mind-focusing. I'll be getting everything ready for the start of this intense (but exciting!) journey toward the completion of LT. As such, the RTB development process and ideology will officially commence on January 7. That puts our first Road to the Beta entry at January 14!
Wow. That was really a lot of writing. I do hope I haven't bored you all, but I really wanted to do justice to the reasoning behind RTB, what it means, how it addresses the current lack of beta, etc.
In closing, I'd like to invite you all to share your comments, concerns, or suggestions surrounding RTB and the beta plan either in the comments below or the forums. I'm eager to try this puppy out and see how you all like it (and how it speeds up the coming of the beta), but in the mean time, I'll be equally-eager to hear what you think about it!
Happy New Year from Limit Theory!
That was a lot of dull text, am I right? If you managed to wade through it, you really do deserve a medal. But I don't have medals to send out at the moment, so instead, please accept some festive LT screenshots! Behold: the inhabitants of the Limit Theory universes are currently celebrating the New Year in style after a remarkable research breakthrough in astrofireworks technology!
How these colorful, spaceborne fireworks manage to pull themselves downward on a universally-aligned vertical axis remains a baffling mystery to top physicists. Regardless, as one particularly-eloquent researcher put it, "physics be ****ed, they're sparkly and that's all that matters." An 'opportunist' (who refused to be named) also commented that "if you pop two big rounds on either side of a cargo ship, nine times out of ten they'll be too blind to notice a transfer beam cutting through the hull." Delightful! What better way to celebrate the New Year than with a festive bit of thievery!
Well, that about does it! See you all on January 14...and until then, see you on the forums :) Happy New Year!