Hi folks, Colin / @domipheus here.
It’s been quite a hectic couple of months. As you will have seen,
Gears of Glory: Apex Ace is not available – even though it’s July, and
the releases all said coming May 2012.
Well, to put it bluntly, I screwed up on the timing. I’ve certainly
learned something from this experience, in that it seems journalists
don’t seem too bothered by launch dates. This is the opposite of what I
expected – I thought having a launch date would give some credibility to
Domipheus Labs as an unknown entity for journalists to draw on when
trying to get some press coverage. Turns out if you have an interesting
story to tell, they will cover it regardless.
I’ve had less free time to work on the game lately – mainly due to
becoming a dad for the first time. This is one of the reasons I don’t
like the ‘indie’ label – I am very much a hobby developer, who takes his
work seriously. I have not quit my day job in search of some
far-fetched indie bliss.
The new plan stretches out the release, but I think it offers the
best chance available to make Gears of Glory: Apex Ace a game I can be
Domipheus Labs Online Services
Previously, Gears of Glory: Apex Ace was an IndieCity
only title, using its fabulous game framework. They offer an amazing
percentage of the cost price (85% to the developer if they integrate
leaderboards/achievements). However, for me, I needed more fine grained
control of the leaderboards. Like in my Leaderboard Ordering post, I wanted ordering control, and other smaller things I may talk about in later posts.
In addition to this, it quickly became clear that I was going to need
to roll out distinct game versions for each distributor I was looking
at, and that these would then have disjoint leaderboards. For the amount
of units I intend to ship, I really do not want a fragmented userbase.
So, Domipheus Labs Online Services was born.
Online Services, for the lack of a better name at the moment, is a
fully-fledged RESTful web service for game licence checking,
leaderboards and achievements. I did look for available 3rd party
platforms, but most did not cater for small ‘indie’ player sets, or
looked as though they were awash with too many features. Still my leaderboard ordering problem was left unfixed, despite them offering way more more in terms of features.
With Domipheus Labs Online Services, Gears of Glory: Apex Ace will
ship on far more distribution platforms than before – and the playerbase
will remain one, single universe with everyone connected into the same
world and championship standings.
Also, as a developer, the cost of developing the Online Services
component was far cheaper than having many different builds of the game
for the various distribution channels, and having to test and support
each one. For me, it’s a win-win.
There are greater things destined for the Online Services platform in
due course. The user management, and licensing aspects of the service
are incredibly valuable to indies which are often overlooked by the
larger ‘Game Service’ providers as being too small. I have spoken to
some indies personally and they have expressed an interest in learning
more about the service and how it can help them. If you are interested
in learning more, get in contact.
So, Domipheus Labs Online Services will launch alongside Gears of
Glory: Apex Ace, and power all of the games online features, including
user licensing, management, analytics, leaderboards and achievements. It
is expected to be opened up to other indies in due course, with a range
of affordable pricing options, from free up to a few coffees a month.
Open beta releases
Back to the main Gears of Glory: Apex Ace release schedule. It’s now
moved from a fixed release date, to having no release date with features
being rolled into several beta releases.
Release One will feature the Season Circuits. These
are racetracks which ship with the game, and each one has a global
leaderboard in which player standings are calculated, and challenges
sought. Leaderboards contain not only the lap time of the entry, but are
tagged with the actual recording of that players lap. So whilst the
game is Single Player at this point, you will be racing ‘against’ other
players in the game world.
Release Two will feature the Track Builder. The
track builder is pretty much feature complete in terms of how it fits
into the game, however, the facilities to share these tracks with people
do not exist at present. This will be discussed and developed into a
‘shopfront’ of the most popular user tracks, with people being able to
publish creations to it. At the moment there are no plans for this to
come with In App Purchasing.
Release Three will feature Multiplayer. Multiplayer
has been a real struggle to implement, not because of the engine or
actual game mechanics, but because of the way in which the internet
works now with everyone behind routers. For a game to really be
multiplayer, we need master lobby and NAT introduction servers, and this
is something again Domipheus Labs Online Services may help with. I have
always said I don’t want users to need to go and open router network
ports, which seems to be what most smaller indie developers do. This
really is not a good user experience, especially in a pick-up-and-play
title like Gears of Glory: Apex Ace.
Release Four will be the full, non-beta, release.
The beta releases will all be priced cheaply, with the purchase of a
user license granting access to all future beta and main releases of the
game. After Release Four the price of the game will increase to reflect
it’s complete state.
At the moment, I am gearing up Release One to happen in late August.
I really hope this has cleared up the state of development currently. I know it’s been very quiet lately. But development is going full throttle. The game is currently playing nicely – as long as you like technical racers, that is!
Lastly, Launch Platforms.
Gears of Glory: Apex Ace will become available on the following platforms:
- Direct from Developer
- Steam Greenlight
This has been a very long post, so finally – please tell your race fanatic friends about the game. The game needs an active leaderboard community to be fun. You can keep up to date at by liking the facebook page – Facebook.com.
Thanks for reading, you will all get the chance to play the game soon!