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Some shifts to the game and future updates as inspired by my recent time at GDC 2016.

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Hey everyone!

I am in the process of recovering from an excellent journey into the depths that is GDC 2016. The show was hugely inspiring and humbling and really made me excited to get home and work on Simulacra. If you ever have the opportunity to go in the future you definitely should, regardless of your connection to games and their creation. The passion and creativity is infectious, and seeing the sheer number of people that devote their lives to making games is awesome in the classic sense of the word.

Sitting in on a number of different, from the “800lb Gorrilla” talk by Boss Key to “Making the World of Firewatch” presented by the always excellent Jane Ng, catalyzed me to want to make some changes to the way I have been working on the game and how it connects with you, the community.

First off, I am going to be placing a much greater emphasis on building smart, quality content. I have been very happy with the framework of the action gameplay so far but frankly with such little to do, it grows boring quite quickly. By building small amounts of quality content I plan to flesh out the maps more and more to make them the immersive and engaging spaces I really want them to be. This also means that I am going to be temporarily retiring any work on the base management. Even though that is a section that I feel is important for the game as a whole, it is dragging down the rest of the development because I frankly don’t have the programming or design experience to make it the way I want to right now. I would rather have a half of the game done well and working than the whole game done poorly. So for now it will stay on the back burner, hopefully slowly percolating into something delicious over time as the rest of development continues.

Secondly, I would like to make some shifts in progress updates. From the start I wanted to make a game that was open and accessible and I think a lot of regards I have been reasonably successful in that, mainly due to regular build releases. However this has dug into my time pretty significantly and many of the releases didn’t have that drastic of changes. Also, I’m definitely aware that most people don’t have the time to download and play through each build, meaning a good deal of the updates were passing by invisibly. For these reasons I am going to release builds mainly to coincide with milestone updates (roughly monthly or so) and instead using most of the weekly or so updates to release screenshots, lore, etc. Hopefully that will strike a good balance between “bite sized” content with good visibility, and solid well tested releases with meaningful content updates.

With all the heavy things out of the way, I am really excited to dig into the game and put some of my new knowledge to the task. I’m particularly jazzed by some PBR (physically based rendering) tidbits that I think will help balance out some minor texture problems I was having and testing out more advanced approaches like photogrammetry to help generate certain content quicker and to a higher quality bar.

As always I am open to any questions or comments, especially in regards to larger shifts like these. Let me know what you think, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thanks! - CJ

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