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Let's Talk About Leaving Early Access.
8 replies to this topic - Started By Rayvolution, Oct 19 2017 12:09 AM

#1 Rayvolution

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 12:09 AM

Greetings everyone,
 
I thought I'd take a minute to write up this little announcement, and gather some feedback from fellow gamers about Rise to Ruins and eventually leaving Early Access.
 
First of all, I'd like to preface all of this by saying I'm not releasing Rise to Ruins this year. I'm simply curious how everyone feels about the current state of the game, where it's headed and how complete you feel it is.
 
Hopefully, the game will have a strong community for many several years, allowing me the freedom to continue to develop it at the same pace I always have. I love working on the game, and I love the community that has been built up around it. While all good things do eventually die, I'd like to extend the game's life as far out as possible.
 
Because of the game's practically endless development cycle, I have to decide when the game is far enough in development it feels like a complete product gamers would pay for, feeling satisfied they got their money's worth.
 
For me, the transition form Early Access to Release changes absolutely nothing in my plans, because a game like Rise to Ruins is never truly complete, there's always more cool content that could be added. Transitioning out is just a landmark moment when we tear down the ugly Early Access banner. Development will just keep chugging on as it always has, probably at the same speed it always has. But I do have to eventually leave Early Access, as game has been officially in development since May of 2014, and launched Early Access on October of 2014.
 
I would like to leave Early Access some time next year. But, I'd also like the community's thoughts on the current state of the game. Feel free to post whatever your opinions of the game are in its current state of development, and if you'd be happy with the product as-is if it was not in Early Access. :)
 
The main points I'm interested in are;
  • If you bought the game today, as a released game, would you feel you got your money's worth?
  • Does the game in its current state feel "lacking"? (Taking consideration that in this genre, there's always something to add.)
  • If the game feels lacking, what is it lacking? What is missing that makes it still feel incomplete?
  • If you were me, what would you do in my shoes with a currently successful game moving into year 4 of Early Access?
Feel free to answer all or none of the questions, they're not required, just some guidelines to get the discussion rolling. :)
 
I'd love to hear all your feedback on this, no matter what you have to say! ːrtrheartː
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#2 rwv37

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 01:04 AM

If you bought the game today, as a released game, would you feel you got your money's worth?

 

Yes, without question.  You've made a great game.  My main complaint is that it has taken up far too much of my life.

 

Does the game in its current state feel "lacking"? (Taking consideration that in this genre, there's always something to add.)

 

Yeeeaaaaaah... no.  I want to say yes, because like you say there are a million things that can be added, some of which I'd really like to see.  But since you say to take that into account, in the sense "something missing which really needs to be added in order for it to feel like a real, complete game", no, it's not lacking.

 

If the game feels lacking, what is it lacking? What is missing that makes it still feel incomplete?

 

Ignoring the "taking consideration" from the last question, I think the things that feel the most "missing" to me are not really features (like AI villages, or additional types of jobs, or cows (cowwos?)), but things to make the UI less manual.  For example, a couple big ones for me personally would be (1) sorting, filtering, and more information in things like the villagers list and the buildings list, and (2) less micromanagement of roads.

 

If you were me, what would you do in my shoes with a currently successful game moving into year 4 of Early Access?

 

I was surprised by the recent post from another player saying that "Early Access" was a huge red flag.  I don't really understand why I should care one way or the other whether it's labeled as Early Access or not.  So I guess if I were in your place, I guess I would change it or not based on how I suspected it would affect the popularity of the game, and/or my bottom line.  I have no input on how it would affect either of those things.


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#3 rwv37

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 01:15 AM

Ooooh, wait, one thing that really does feel lacking: Save file backwards compatibility.  It's a bit frustrating to have to start over whenever a new version is released.

 

The lack of this might be just because I was using betas, though? I don't know.


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#4 Rayvolution

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 09:04 AM

Ooooh, wait, one thing that really does feel lacking: Save file backwards compatibility.  It's a bit frustrating to have to start over whenever a new version is released.


That one will definitely be handled before release, no worries there. :)
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#5 Reznaak

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 09:51 AM

 

  • If you bought the game today, as a released game, would you feel you got your money's worth?

I feel like I should qualify the kind of gamer I am before I answer this question. I buy a lot of games on sale so I am never really lacking in games to play. A game has to be exceptional for me to keep it installed after a playthrough, otherwise I'll just move on to something else.

 

I picked the game up on sale, for around 5$ and at that price I definitely feel I got my money's worth. At full price I probably still feel I would have gotten my money's worth, but maybe only just. I have played for about 8 hours and I am at the point where I'd rather wait for new stuff to be added to try again. I don't feel the urge to jump in and play more like I felt after my first settlement was sacked.

 

 

  • Does the game in its current state feel "lacking"? (Taking consideration that in this genre, there's always something to add.)

 

Early game felt good, late game felt somewhat lacking.

 

 

 

  • If the game feels lacking, what is it lacking? What is missing that makes it still feel incomplete?

 

I feel this genre has the same difficulty in keeping the late game interesting that the strategy genre does, so I don't think it is a particularly easy problem to solve. I enjoyed the tenseness of the early game very much, but the difficulty seemed to ramp down pretty quickly after my walls and towers went up. After that there didn't seem to be a whole lot to do other than build the buildings I hadn't built yet to see what they do. My first blood moon was a bit of a surprise but other than that it was pretty smooth sailing.

 

So if there was one thing I'd like to see added it would be challenges to the late game, something to look forward to other than watching my population number go up. 

 

 

 

  • If you were me, what would you do in my shoes with a currently successful game moving into year 4 of Early Access?

This is a harder question for me to answer since I know as much as John Snow does about game development. I guess I'd set up some goals that I'd want to complete before leaving EA and set a deadline for myself. Maybe halfway to the deadline I'd re-evaluate said goals, focus on the ones that are achievable and cut the ones that aren't. But like I said. I know nothing  :P


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#6 Tasao

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 10:43 AM

The main points I'm interested in are;

  • If you bought the game today, as a released game, would you feel you got your money's worth?
  • Does the game in its current state feel "lacking"? (Taking consideration that in this genre, there's always something to add.)
  • If the game feels lacking, what is it lacking? What is missing that makes it still feel incomplete?
  • If you were me, what would you do in my shoes with a currently successful game moving into year 4 of Early Access?

 

 

The game is definitely worth its cost as it stands as far as I'm concerned. I'm not sure how the general public would feel, though. I just know I got the game on sale and have clocked over 200 hours, making the ratio of enjoyment to cost pretty massive.

 

The main thing that I think could be noticeably lacking is explanations of some of the systems. An in-game help menu, with pictures maybe, explaining how essence, water, farms, happiness, armor, tools, etc, work would go a long way towards making the game feel more complete. Incorporating some of this into the tooltips and GUI elements would be great as well.

 

For example, when you mouse over Iron Armor in the work UI, a tooltip pops up telling you what it is, how it works, how to make it, etc. Maybe a hint or tip or something as well. Like the Water Bottler tip might point you to how to best produce a lot of them so players don't build a bottler before they have enough excess water and end up with 0 water bottles and no clue why.

 

Almost every system could benefit from this. A loading tip mentions roads degenerate faster in rain, but where else do you see that? A new player might make some roads and then when they see patches of broken road think they just missed a spot. Does rock regenerate? Sometimes it seems like it does, and why else do rock fields exist after you mine a mountain down? That's something the tooltip for the Mining Facility could address. Another could be how to maximize essence production, or how much food per villager you should try to keep on hand and how many farms that might take.

 

Unless it's your intention to leave a lot of this as a mystery for players to sort out on their own. It may improve longevity. Some players, once they know some numbers, will optimize for them and push the game immediately to its technical limits and burn out. If your intention is to leave some of the game mysterious so new players have to learn the ropes the hard way and slowly improve over subsequent settlements, you might want to somehow indicate that, either overtly or through implication.

 

Another area in which the game may be lacking is a way to control villager movement and work. A way to assign jobs directly, and housing, and restrict them to some areas or out of some areas.

 

If someone expands very far, and they have harvesting, refinement, production, and some storage and ancillaries on both sides of the map, it would be a huge help if they could order certain miners to work out of one mining facility, and others to work out of the second one on the other side of the map, and then to be able to build houses near those and have those miners live near their jobs. And then you could do the same for the carpenters, stone cutters, woodcutters, farmers, etc, and effectively have to parallel settlements on the same map, with a fleet of organizers or unrestricted villagers moving between the two as needed.

 

Aside from a layer of polish to allow new players to grasp the game's mechanics quickly, this game would probably still be strong without the "Early Access" warning.


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#7 kwerle

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 11:53 AM

I bought the game a few days ago, so I feel super qualified to address this.

 

I'm pretty sure this isn't a game.  It's a sim.  I think that's a distinction worth making.  Some won't.

 

Lacking:

* Goals and victory conditions (thus not a game)

* A real tutorial - not a vid

* A better explanation of what building do and how they interact

* Better UI for building affects.  How wide an area will that well service?

* Better explanation of mechanics. 

** If I tell a tool producer to have 2 swords on hand, does that mean 2 in the building?  2 in the total area supply?  2 in existence (stored and in use)?

** If I tell a tool producer to have 2 swords on hand, and nothing else, what happens to the folks assigned to produce when they've hit limit?

** How does patrolling work?

*** How do golems work?

** Do neighboring zones affect each other?

* What is the upgrade path?

* Is there a building dependency?  Can I ever make better houses?

 

I feel like a large set of the above should be addressed before leaving early access.

 

There are basic mechanics that feel mysterious.  I don't really understand how farms work.  I have succeeded at making food, but I'm not sure why.  Resurrect doesn't raise the dead.  That's pretty much the definition of resurrection.  I tried to use it many times before I went online and found out it only works on ghosts - which I had never seen.  How does iron work?  Where does it come from?  Is there something I should do to get more?

 

There are things that feel cumbersome.  Why do I have to mark food as harvestable?  OK, if it's outside my domain, sure - but shouldn't all food inside my domain automatically be used?

 


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#8 Rayvolution

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 02:05 PM

I bought the game a few days ago, so I feel super qualified to address this.

 

I'm pretty sure this isn't a game.  It's a sim.  I think that's a distinction worth making.  Some won't.

 

Lacking:

* Goals and victory conditions (thus not a game)

* A real tutorial - not a vid

* A better explanation of what building do and how they interact

* Better UI for building affects.  How wide an area will that well service?

* Better explanation of mechanics. 

** If I tell a tool producer to have 2 swords on hand, does that mean 2 in the building?  2 in the total area supply?  2 in existence (stored and in use)?

** If I tell a tool producer to have 2 swords on hand, and nothing else, what happens to the folks assigned to produce when they've hit limit?

** How does patrolling work?

*** How do golems work?

** Do neighboring zones affect each other?

* What is the upgrade path?

* Is there a building dependency?  Can I ever make better houses?

 

I feel like a large set of the above should be addressed before leaving early access.

 

There are basic mechanics that feel mysterious.  I don't really understand how farms work.  I have succeeded at making food, but I'm not sure why.  Resurrect doesn't raise the dead.  That's pretty much the definition of resurrection.  I tried to use it many times before I went online and found out it only works on ghosts - which I had never seen.  How does iron work?  Where does it come from?  Is there something I should do to get more?

 

There are things that feel cumbersome.  Why do I have to mark food as harvestable?  OK, if it's outside my domain, sure - but shouldn't all food inside my domain automatically be used?

 

I'm, actually (trying) to address some of the information issues next patch (InDev 28c). The new tip system will have less text, and short videos. Oddly enough, here's the one for the farm I just finished last night.

 

https://twitter.com/...796763182608384

 

I don't want to explain every single tiny detail though, the problem with that is the game is simply too complicated, people would spend more time reading/watching videos than actually playing. But I'd like to remedy that with a wiki, so curious players can do some off-gametime reading.

 

One idea I've been tossing around is a "?" icon somewhere on the GUI, and when you click it it goes into help mode, so every button clicked while the "?" mode is active will popup a tip about whatever you click on. But that may be a bit out of scope, we'll see. :)


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#9 stretch611

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 10:55 AM

(from the steam thread)
Religion???  There is only room for one religion in this game... ALL MUST WORSHIP ME!!! If not, it would be only a coincidence if a mysterious hand like force picks them up and places them on the wrong side of the wall in the middle of the night.
 
As for early access... It up to you. Some people think EA means a game isn't done and crashes all the time. (Sad the number of large publishers that have released games with this problem.) Those people will never buy EA no matter how stable or good the content.
 
Personally, I think when you feel the game is done then it is... Some people want released titles to never change. I think when you accomplish your goals with where you want to bring this game; then you are done. When you release, people will complain if you make major changes... well, complain more than they do in EA. :D  A few tweaks are ok... but anything major makes people unhappy. A way around this is to allow people to still have access to older builds if they want... That way you can progress with the game, and people that can't deal with change don't have to.
 
A few people have suggested that you add an end goal. Don't bother unless you want to. Rimworld and Factorio are also builder type games... Both have launching a rocket as end game. The real goal is survival. In Rimworld, I played many games, and only bothered to launch a rocket twice... I finished research... but didn't bother... Building a thriving colony IS the game... not getting off the planet. My current factorio save game has launched 202 end-game rockets. (Its more about factory building and optimization than colony survival) The fact is, in both of those other games of a similar genre, the end game situations is a huge, resounding, "meh."
 
Build the game you have envisioned... Accomplish what you want... then release. We are in EA, we give you feedback, but we are along for the ride. Today, tomorrow, next year, it doesn't matter, EA is just a meaningless title when it is done right.

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