It’s been a big week at simulogics HQ. There is now a concrete plan for the next couple of months of Prosperous Universe in terms of its different phases, tests, features, and even its monetization model. First Access starts in about a month. Find out below what that means and what comes next!
My week began with a short two day visit to the new simulogics HQ. Besides some organizational issues Martin and I resolved, we discussed the upcoming alpha release and a feature roadmap for the time after.
As you might know, joining the alpha currently works by saying ‘hi!’ on the forums. The forums account is also the game account. This mechanism has worked well for the first few tests: we could control how many players we let in and we could easily reach them for surveys via the forum. The downside of it was that we had to manually add a role in the forum and in our player database to allow access to the game itself.
In the next test we want way more players in the game and adding them by hand would be cumbersome. So we decided to use game keys and a streamlined sign-up process that does all that without the need that one of us has to do a manual step.
For this to work we need a new backend service that allows us to create game keys that will give a player access to a specific test. We will be creating these keys in batches and give them away on websites and social media. The service also has to register which keys have been redeemed and provide some basic internal statistics and so on.
Martin and I quickly brainstormed a (technical) interface for this service and decided that I would implement it, while Martin was working on the sign-up process at the same time. This is basically what I did for the rest of the week, after coming back from simulogics HQ.
Today, instead of telling you what I’ve been up to, let me give you a glimpse into the future:
We’ve spent a few months now working on the game without knowing exactly when we were going to launch the next test, what it was going to encompass, and at what point we would start monetizing (and how exactly). This week, we finally made some big decisions concerning all these questions. The sixth test, starting in early December, will mark the start of our “First Access” phase. The test won’t run as long as Alpha #5 has, and First Access is most likely going to encompass a few more, shorter tests. The tests will be closed, meaning that players will need to obtain a key to gain access to a test. Alternatively, it will be possible to buy access to the whole First Access phase. When First Access is over, after a few months, we’re going to go into Early Access. The main differences between the two phases will include the addition of a Dominance system, some military meta-game aspects, the distinction between paid subscription accounts and free accounts and, thus, that the game will no longer be closed when Early Access comes around. The game world will be reset between test runs in these phases. With the start of the post-reset era, the game will be fully released and Early Access will end. Of course, this is just an arbitrary distinction in that the game will continue to be actively developed, improved, and extended afterwards.
Going back to the near future. Before the beginning of First Access, I will make sure to get the wiki ready, create updated video tutorials, and prepare key give-aways via various MMO websites. That’s what I’ll start doing tomorrow!
PS: I haven’t forgotten about promising to share the results of my SEO research. On Monday, de decided which measures we are going to take. I’ll wait how that turned out and will get back to the topic with an extended write-up of our findings.
As Michi has already mentioned, we sat together at the beginning of the week primarily to discuss organizational stuff. But we also spent some time both on technical and conceptual brainstorming.
The technical parts Michi already discussed: We’ll streamline the sign-up process to allow easier access for more players. But there is a lot more to it beyond just that since we will also prepare all the backend and auxiliary systems for an actual release. Or in other words: We want to be ready to actually charge money so that after pretty much exactly three years of uninterrupted development, Prosperous Universe can finally start to earn some revenue.
Reaching that point before the end of the year is my job. This week I got started taking care of low-hanging fruit and added some basic but mandatory account management features to our “hub”. You can already “check them out” here if you have an account (and if you don’t you can create one right there as well). I then went on translating the things I discussed with Michi at the HQ into tasks for the coming weeks.
If all goes well, we will be ready for First Access in early December. We’ll keep you posted!
As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!