Back in January we brought Beyond Sol to PAX South where many gamers had a chance to try it for themselves. The game was well received and many were asking why we weren’t already running an Early Access program on Steam. At that time all we really had was a demo of the action gameplay of the game where you flew around and fought pirates that were preying on merchant vessels along with the basics of city building so we explained to everyone that we were not yet ready for Early Access because we were missing a core ingredient – the strategy game.
Since PAX South we’ve not only enhanced the action gameplay but we’ve developed the strategy element to the point where we now have a fun action-strategy game complete with AI opponents that will build cities, declare wars, and expand their territory. Now that the core of the game is whole and fun we are almost ready for our Early Access.
State of the game
Our game is in Alpha – which means that the core features and systems are in and they work, but not all the content we have planned is in yet and we have some bugs to address. Both singleplayer and multiplayer are stable and we treat them equally in terms of importance so we’ll be working to ensure both remain in good shape.
We need your help tuning the balance and exploring the game mechanics to tell us what you like most and what you don’t like about the game so we can make better planning decisions. Then, once we feel the balance is in a good place we will be adding more content like fleet ships, player ships, weapons, equipment, and city buildings.
Our Goals for Early Access
As players, we’ve experience other Early Access games that started out fun but development was too slow – devs went dark and ultimately the game is still there and will never be finished. We feel this is unacceptable to us as players and therefore unacceptable for us as developers. To ensure you do not experience this we’ve adopted two principles described below.
Engage with our community
We are making a game that we love to play and have always wanted to make but it was also made to share with you. We want to keep you in the loop as far as what we plan to do and more importantly we want you to tell us what you think about the game and our plans. We won’t always make the best decisions but with your help we will make better ones.
Provide frequent and meaningful patches
We know we have bugs and that our game is unfinished but we also know that getting a patch once a month is not enough and becomes frustrating when that patch only contains bug fixes. We have prepared our processes and infrastructure to execute an aggressive update tempo where we will provide a mix of bug fixes and meaningful changes to the game frequently as we go. We also pledge to keep the Early Access version stable and playable for both singleplayer and multiplayer.
When will it start and how long will it run?
We plan to launch our Early Access by the end of June 2015 which gives us enough time to shore up some issues and ensure our processes are robust enough for the aggressive update tempo we want to achieve. The duration of the program is determined by the approach we are taking with our development plan.
The short version of the plan is to complete the feature set we have always intended to be part of the game but to also make room for requests from you – the community. Therefore it is difficult to estimate the time required to complete the program since we only know how long it would take to do the features we’ve chosen but we won’t know what features you will request until you’ve had a chance to play the game.
We do understand that very long Early Access programs can be very frustrating so we are aiming for brevity. We can always do more development and additions after the game is considered final so it will be about finding that balance where we can feel confident in the quality of the overall game.