Hello, everyone! Warning: text-heavy update. If you don't know someone who cares about preorders, feel free to skip this one.
Early Access? Nope.
About a week ago I posted my thoughts about offering FRONTIERS for early access. (You should probably skim it so you don't feel lost.) I was conflicted by the whole idea and wanted a little feedback. The response wasn't unanimous, but the stories I heard - both in the forums and during the fact-finding I did on my own - convinced me that early access at this stage would be a nightmare.
But I was also reminded of a head-smackingly obvious alternative - preorders! All of the benefits and none of the downsides. So I've decided to go that route. Here's the Humble Bundle widget to prove it:
Why didn't I think of that earlier?
Preorders were constantly suggested to me by various outlets immediately after the Kickstarter was over, and I turned them down every time. My feeling was that Kickstarter backers understood that they were participating in something risky, but some random person pre-ordering the game would have every right to assume a guarantee of delivery. At the time I couldn't offer that - I believed I'd finish the game, of course, but believing and knowing are hardly the same. So I ruled out preorders and basically forgot about them.
But the early access discussion reminded me, and at this point the game is looking good. You can install it, load it and play it, and it basically resembles the final product. It has its issues* and still has a ways to go but if someone wants a guarantee that they'll get what they paid for I can offer it with confidence.
Is early access really all that bad?
You would not believe some of the horror stories I dug up during my fact-finding. All of the warnings about the crazy demands of players and avalanches of bug submissions gobbling up development time appear to be true. This is all on top of my misgivings about the system in general.
There may come a time when early access is appropriate - presumably when first impressions aren't as critical and I genuinely need the feedback from much, much larger groups of people - but I'm steering well clear until those benefits outweigh the many, many downsides.
Wait, no perks? What's the point?
No perks, and no point beyond 'I want to support this game *rightnow*!' I figure there will be two kinds of reactions - either someone sees a chance to preorder FRONTIERS and says 'Awesome, I'm in!' or they scoff and say 'No beta access? No perks? Psh, pass.' Both are legitimate reactions; I'm just not going to worry about the second group.
I had to push back pretty hard against offering beta access or kickstarter-style perks. Apparently that's the typical approach right now, and I guess it makes sense. But I'm taking this route to avoid getting swamped with more players and fulfillments during the beta stage. Those of you who pledged for beta access will undoubtedly keep me busy enough.
Alright, that's all for now - Next update I'll talk about multiplayer! Cheers,
*Speaking of issues: That texture problem I posted about in the last update is under control. It's not totally solved - not yet - but it's no longer holding up the rest of development. So that's a plus.