We have a lot of subjects to cover, so I’ll go straight to the point. There should be something interesting for all of you, so scroll away!
Kickstarter rewards form reminder
Last week we sent out email forms to every backer who was eligible to receive a physical reward. We would like to remind you, if you’re one of the people in question to fill out the form. Without it, we cannot possibly obtain your address. We sent out a form last fall, but this was just to know the general popularity of the different items.
Last week we also released a new video. We demonstrated a couple of new mechanics, and towards the end, mentioned that we would update the prototype with these mechanics.
We’d like to confirm this. We will officially send a third (and probably final) update of the prototype. The reason for this update is that thanks to the feedback of the prototype backers, we were able to pinpoint major problems in our core gameplay. We then decided to focus on fixing those major problems before moving on. We needed to guarantee that our core gameplay was at a certain level of quality before thinking about doing a more official release (mainly the alpha and beta).
Right now, we’re working on polishing those features for release, and a final batch of bugfixes. But a prototype update should be expected in the coming weeks. This leads me to my next subject:
Beta backers upgrade!
We’ve been getting a significant amount of comments from our Beta-level Kickstarter backers. We know we’re way over the deadlines we gave pre-Kickstarter, but those deadlines are impossible to take back now, and they are completely unrealistic considering the direction the project has taken during the Kickstarter. Just as a matter of information, Kickstarter required us to put in estimated deadlines before we launch. And once the Kickstarter has been launched, we cannot change the deadlines. The situation after the Kickstarter was, however radically different, making those deadlines quite absurd.
We understand that this is a rather complicated situation. On our side, we are still squarely in prototype phase, and the beta is still faraway. On your side, it sucks because after all this time, you still do not have a playable version of the game.
So, we have a solution: We will short circuit the whole process and simply upgrade everyone to the prototype. On one side, the prototype backers have had a significant time to mess around with the game, as well as having the chance to contribute to the debugging process, an invaluable contribution to us. On the other side, beta backers can at least play a version of the game, even if it’s not called a beta.
We’ve been stressing out about this too much, and we think that simply giving everyone a game to play with will allow us to put this behind us and focus on the game.
We plan on releasing the next prototype update to the prototype backers. We will gather bug reports and then (probably) release a patch. Once we know that the patch worked and everything is stable. We will send download links to the second half of our backers and hopefully everyone will be happy. :D
We cannot give a precise time-frame because the amount of bugs we will be getting can vary wildly, but we would like to have done this before we leave for PAX East (yes we will be attending the upcoming Penny Arcade Expo in Boston, more info on that soon) on the 21st of March.
By the way, we’ve made a significant breakthrough regarding distribution of our prototype. We had been looking for an auto-patching/distribution solution for quite a while now. And alas, no service exists that does this kind of task as well as being reasonably priced for independent developers.
Building our own patcher system would have been impossible. It would have required at least a month of dedicated development to get a very basic system running, and paying a third-party would have been extremely costly. The prices offered by established patching systems like Pando or SSN, are completely out of our league, as well as being taylored to AAA games and MMOs.
Until our good friends at Humble Store introduced us to some developers at Steam and we were able to integrate SteamApps. They offered us a very cheap and effective solution. So now, when downloading the game from Humble Store, you will be able to obtain Steam Keys, and your game will be added to your Steam account. However, this Steam version will have a significant difference: it will auto-update regularly. So we will be able to release bug-fixes almost on a daily fashion if we need to. This version will be more up-to-date (while remaining DRM free).
Mind you, this has nothing to do with Steam Greenlight and being on the Steam Store. We have not begun the submission process regarding this, we are just hosted on the Steam servers thanks to our connections with Humble Store.
New website & re-opening of pre-sales
We’ve been working on a new Website that will be hosted on castlestory.net since before Christmas with our friends at Tractr. We are nearing its release time, and with the opening of this site, we will be re-opening pre-sales. We would just like to inform you that you will be able to pre-purchase the game and secure a spot in the public beta.
New dev diary schedule
Finally, we have decided to change the way we post our blogs. Since last year, we have been posting a blog every week (more or less towards the end of the week). But this is incompatible with the way game development works. Posting a blog on a regular fashion causes undue stress on our side because the completion of features and the flow of interesting things to say is anything but regular. Because of this, we often rush to finish things before Friday, and rarely succeed. Moreso, this causes some of us to work weekends to post the blog, in order to avoid taking precious work time during the week.
The result is sometimes, blogs without content, and less than enthusiastic communication from us ( we don’t want that, don’t we? ;) ), and other times monolithic diaries with way too much content (like this one).
We would like to change the way we blog by posting small twitter-like commentaries on the daily life of Sauropod studio, and then posting more relevant dev diaries that are further apart, but should be more interesting to read.
Do not worry, we still plan on communicating just as much, but a less rigid structure will benefit everyone involved. ;)
This is all for this week. If you made it this far, congratulations! You have earned two robot parts.
Thanks for reading!
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