May Update - Episodic Change, Beta, Development Update
Welcome to the month of May. It’s been a few months since our last update, which we’d like to apologise for. We’ve been very busy working on the game and it’s mostly been things that are quite hard to show you as we don’t want to spoil anything.
We have a few big things to talk about in this update. We’re going to run you through a bunch of things we’ve been working on, as well as updating you on the state of the game, when the Backer Beta will start and how far from release we are. We would also like to talk about a change to our plans to release episodically. So let’s get started!
A quick note that there will be minor spoilers in a few sections that discuss the story.
The big news regarding the beta is that we expect it start in early June and we plan to run the beta for most of that month. This will be a backer exclusive beta, where we will focus on having you help us test the game on different systems and setups, help us balance the combat for each of the difficulty levels, help us root out all of the bugs and generally add a nice level of polish based on your feedback. We’re excited to get it into your hands.
The beta will be run exclusively on Steam. Sadly, running a DRM-free beta is not an option as Steam’s beta tools are quite sophisticated and we already need to work with Steamworks for the Steam launch of the game. We will release a backer only update with more details about the beta once it is ready.
In May, Tom will be focusing on finishing the behind the scenes system work that is left. It’s mostly extending the functionality of the save and checkpoint system, getting our options menus functioning in full and getting as much combat polish in as possible. That way once you all get your hands on the game we can focus on the problems you find, not the problems we already know we have.
We are getting reasonably close to release now. We don’t have anything to announce yet, as our release date announcement will go out as part of a PR Campaign to help us secure coverage from the major games websites.
Those of you who remember the struggle to get coverage during the campaign will understand the importance of doing this right. We’ll post an update on the same day that our announcement goes out.
No Longer Episodic:
When we launched the campaign, as I’m sure you all remember, we pitched Episode One of Tahira to you. During the campaign, we went to great lengths to make it clear that we were only asking for funding for Episode One because we could not guarantee that we’d be able to secure funding for Episode Two and beyond.
As we’ve continued development on the game, we realized a few things:
Firstly, the game we’re making is longer than the game we thought we were making when we pitched it to you (our estimate was 4-5 hours). Playing the game now though, some of the later combat levels take us around an hour to play through (and we should be quicker than most). So we’re confident that we’re going to deliver a longer game.
Secondly, if we get the chance to make another Tahira game, we would like to take the time to really improve on the first by creating new persistent systems and adding more features to combat. Realistically, for a team of three people, getting a new episode out in under a year would be almost impossible, but if we did, you would get exactly the same game with some new story and that would be it. That’s not how we want to approach it.
Thirdly, the story of the first game has a big scope in its own right and we believe it’s a disservice to call it an episode, when really it is just as ambitious as most video game stories. It doesn’t wrap up the story of Tahira, but it does resolve the majority of the plot threads that are in the game.
The game also has a unique story structure, in that barring the prologue, the game takes place over one day. It’s an action-packed day believe us, but it does mean that the way we put the game together doesn’t really support a month’s long journey across a world in the way that say, The Banner Saga’s caravan system does. If we were to create a second Tahira, it would be that kind of thing we’d like to develop for the game.
So, all of that to explain to you that when we release the game we will just be releasing it as Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire. No Episode One, no Part One. But we hope that goes some way to explaining that our long-term plans for Tahira haven’t changed. In practical terms, the amount of time it would have taken us to develop an Episode 2, if we had stayed with episodic, would have been so long that it may as well have been Tahira 2 anyway.
If you have any concerns or questions about the change as always, please comment on the update or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You’re the ones who believed in us enough to back us, so it’s very important to us that you understand our reasoning for changes like this.
With all that discussed, let’s run through a list of all of the things that have changed or improved since the last update.
All of the artwork for the environments has now been completed. This is a very exciting milestone for us, as the world of Tahira has now been fully realized. Pete is now spending his time polishing cinematics, the UI, adding animations where we think they’d look nice and will soon start working on some promotional art for Steam and other places.
Combat is now system complete. Our stealth system, the ability to knock people off the edge of terrain, the AI and a huge number of other things are fully implemented. Now it’s a matter of refining the rules that govern them and polishing the way you interface with them.
We now have a build running on Steam, which we’re pushing updates to. It was quite a thrill to see Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire listed in our Steam Libraries. Tom will be looking at Cloud Saves and achievements in the coming weeks.
Save and Checkpoint System:
Tom is in the process of implementing this system fully. This will allow you to save mid-combat, a feature we really wanted to implement as it’s a pet peeve of ours in some tactics games.
The game is content complete:
A big milestone for the whole team was when we got the game to the stage where the game is playable from the beginning to the end. There’s a lot of polish and refinement still to be done, but it was a huge step for us!
That’s it from us this month. The middle of this year is going to be a busy one, starting with the Backer Beta in June. We hope you all have a great month and you’ll hear from us soon!
<3 Peter C, Peter S and Tom