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Joshua

Early Access - Development Blog #1

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Hello Survivors,

 

Thank you for your patience as we finalized writing this month's dev blog. Over the past 2 months, a lot has happened with the studio which we wanted to include in this blog and we felt it was best to wait until everything was lined up. I (Joshua) also took a much needed vacation to replenish the energy reserves! Don’t worry - the rest of the team was hard at work while I was away and there has been plenty of planning and discussion. Also Karan and WarG have a bunch of art content waiting to be implemented!

 

First, I'd like to address the concerns of the reduced server populations. We are well aware of this and are planning our journey through Early Access accordingly. We believe this is relatively normal for an Early Access game in the current games market. From our success at launch, we have seen that there is great demand for an action-focused looter shooter - and we’ve also seen the demand for additional content to keep you all engaged. With that in mind, we have now hired an additional developer (Reuben) who will assist with pushing out new content more frequently.

 

Reuben will start at Spotted Kiwi Interactive on the 1st of August and will be working alongside myself and our artists to implement pending art and create new core gameplay elements. We are also going to be working on migrating the game to the latest Unreal Engine version (4.22), which includes lots of server and client performance improvements.

 

Secondly, I wanted to address the concerns of content timelines. After many internal discussions we have decided we want to accelerate development to reach a v1.0 release as soon as possible. This will allow us to bring more content out to you in a shorter amount of time.

 

From the most recent polling carried out by Gary we have established that the currency system will be the next core feature to be implemented into the game - as per our roadmap we are planning to have this implemented in August. You can see all the content we have planned for the game here: https://trello.com/b/yGBsrAZF/xera-survival-public-roadmap.

 

We’ve also made some internal changes to how we plan to deliver patches and content updates. We will aim to deliver at least one major content update per month, alongside 1-2 hotfix patches to address any bugs or issues.

 

Thirdly, there is the frequent questioning of when there will be a wipe. We have always said that wipes are inevitable. We believe wipes are the best way to reset the game economy when major changes are implemented. This moves us onto the implementation of seasons.

 

Given the plan to accelerate development, the seasons system will allow us to have a schedule of wipes to keep the game’s economy fresh as we’re adding new content. It will also give us the opportunity to introduce new skins as well as rotate skins from the previous season. A season will run every 2-3 months and at the start of every season there will be a full wipe. We also plan to allow players to earn seasonal rewards, based on leaderboard position for both XP and Skill Rating. We will have more details coming in the future as we continue to discuss this internally. We would love your feedback on seasons so feel free to tell us what you think!

 

We have plans to start “Season 1” when the currency system has been implemented. We hope that this system will offer more transparency for the timing of wipes and offer new opportunities to be one of the top players each season.

 

Tim (Infamy) - Marketing Director

 

In the first week of June we were all pretty much flat out keeping the plates spinning. Since then I’ve been hard at work on business development – we had a great deal of interest from publishers, other retailers besides Steam and they all need answering. I’ve been building Facebook advertising campaigns which hit alongside Patch 3, with help from Facebook’s marketing team. We’ve now translated the Steam store page into French, German, Russian, Polish, Thai, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese – thanks to community members who have helped proof-read, please let me know if you find any problems.

 

We have marketing via Facebook planned for all the monthly patches going forward, plus of course to the community, and we have big plans for a massive push around Halloween time, especially in North America. Stay tuned!

 

We’ve worked hard on modelling now that we have the first cash burn figures (Steam’s reporting is a month in arrears). We answered our main question - can we recruit more staff soon? Reuben will soon be on the team, helping Joshua with programming to speed up the rate we can bring new content and features into the game. We’re in this for the long haul through Early Access, but hey, it will be nice to make the haul a bit shorter by adding resources.

 

Gary (IcedYoshi) - Community Manager

 

What an amazing launch it has been. To keep you guys up to speed on what I've been up to the past 2 months, here is a breakdown.

 

As of June 10th, I was officially hired full time by Spotted Kiwi Interactive, and I have been in my current role since January of this year. Previously I served as a community moderator for the game. What this means to you guys as a community is I am now able to dedicate all of my spare time to the studio and to you, our wonderful community.

 

On a daily basis, I have a lot on my plate such as monitoring all social media outlets for the studio, monitoring Discord, our forums, reddit, and keeping up with the industry by knowing what's going on with other studios and games being developed. I am also responsible for monitoring support tickets and responding in a timely fashion, as well as all reports that come through our in game reporting system. On top of that, I'm in charge of our QA team and regularly do a lot of internal testing myself.

 

As you can see there is a lot that I do every day, but I enjoy every single moment of it.

 

Most recently I have been heavily involved with talking to Joshua about the feedback you have all sent and I want to thank everyone for voicing your opinions on what you would like to see change and be added to the game. Prior to the last content update, I had been leading the charge on the testing of our most recent patch including getting to the bottom of why our new Crashed Helicopter Event caused so many issues and assisting with the rebalancing of several items within the game, and planning out our 3rd event, the Civilian Bunker event. It's been a ton of fun interacting with all of you and I can’t wait to help bring even more content along with the rest of the team in the future!

 

Thank you to everyone for your continued support!

 

Jack (Backyback) - Partnerships Coordinator

 

I have been busy working on keeping all of our amazing Partners and Creators plugged in and enjoying the game, as well as getting new creators on board and helping them create quality content for XERA: Survival.

 

My day to day activities consist of answering new partner applications, reaching out to content creators currently playing the game, working with current partners and creators to organize events and giveaways, and providing overall support to the community when Gary is getting some much needed rest!

 

I have also been working with our Partners to create their very own skins in game! These will be rolling out quite soon!

 

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Thank you all for making our dream become a reality!

 

Karan - Artist

 

The past 2 months I’ve worked on the XERA research bunker as well as some other assets that have been previewed in our art-wip channel on Discord. Some early progress was shown some time ago but this time it's been populated with lots of props to make it an interesting place to explore with a few surprises in it. I’ve also created some other small buildings that will be used to fill some of the small areas of the map. The next big project has been the motel building, which was shown in the Discord channel. I’ve spent the last few days working on creating new props to fill every room of the building to make it feel what once was a nice place to stay…

 

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Mikhail (Wargr) - Artist

 

Over the past 2 months I have made a lot of progress designing new skins that will be coming in the future.  Of the 100+ different skins that I completed the past 2 months, these are some of my favorites that will be coming in the future!

 

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As always, thank you all for your continued support. We really appreciate those who are sticking around for the journey, and hope if you are sitting on the sidelines that you’ll join us once again when the time is right.

 

We’re really excited about the expansion of the team and hope that you are ready for all the new content that we have planned.

 

Cheers,

Spotted Kiwi Interactive 

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Posted (edited)

Firstly, welcome Reuben to the team, look forward to seeing your work!

I'm glad that you recognize the demand for the type of game you're creating and understanding the stagnant period we're in rather than letting it demoralize you and the team. 

 

Monthly updates is a fantastic format to ensure that each update in meaningful and lets players know they can come back month to month during the development cycle to test and tryout new things.

Seasons is an amazing idea in my opinion. I suggested this for a previous game a lot of us played called Just Survive, it creates an endless sense of replay-ability and competitiveness, implementing rewards and building your game around the idea of a season life cycle will make it addicting, it also gives you a clearer path on how to balance loot and build content as now the game doesn't have a forever life span.

All in all I'm looking forward to the future of Xera, you have your head well screwed on to make an amazing game and once it's there, getting players will not be an issue. Keep up the great work.

Edited by Oreo
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Posted (edited)

The only thing which worries me is that when players reach a place in the top of the season in SR they will avoid playing like they normally
would in an effort to lose less SR and get the reward.
For example people might choose to not play when only one of their friends is online and wait for 2 more to optimize their SR gain.

I'm not sure what the system will exactly look like but maybe its a good idea to have the score on the scoreboard represent the maximum SR you had that season.
So players can hit a certain SR goal and play without stressing or getting frustrated about losing SR.

Edited by TheDuke

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1 hour ago, TheDuke said:

The only thing which worries me is that when players reach a place in the top of the season in SR they will avoid playing like they normally
would in an effort to lose less SR and get the reward.
For example people might choose to not play when only one of their friends is online and wait for 2 more to optimize their SR gain.

I'm not sure what the system will exactly look like but maybe its a good idea to have the score on the scoreboard represent the maximum SR you had that season.
So players can hit a certain SR goal and play without stressing or getting frustrated about losing SR.

Maybe we could do something with sr depreciation (is that the right word?) where people will lose sr if they are inactive for 3 days.  Thoughts?

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, IcedYoshi said:

Maybe we could do something with sr depreciation (is that the right word?) where people will lose sr if they are inactive for 3 days.  Thoughts?

I think it would help, but not solve the issue entirely. If someone is active enough to get himself on the top of the leaderboards they are most likely online every day or every other day with their friends. So they will just do whatever is most SR efficient within these three days probably still missing out on gameplay as they might refuse to play solo, duo or enter certain higher risk areas on the map. You could narrow down the timeframe in which players need to be active but i think that might make people feel like the game is a chore and enhance the feeling of frustration when players lose SR.

Edited by TheDuke

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Thanks for the being in communication with the players which in my opinion is the key to provide a healthy future to come. Having said this, I've played the first 2-3 weeks and I left due to work but I kept an eye on the discord and reading the announcements and patch notes on my phone and it's going good. Yes, there's no players at all maybe but I believe it's a phase every indie game goes through and I strongly believe in the official release of the "final" version of the game, I really think it will attract a lot more players. I've seen good feedback and a lot of interest when popular streamers were trying it out and I think the game will get lots of attention when out of the EA. I will be returning soon to my home and I'll definitely spend some good times on XERA.

As to what I would like to see next:

Moderated weekly PvP events to gather the community around. Pick a city, get rid of robots and let people kill each other. Last to survive wins skins or weapons. The player with the most wins/points gets a special reward. But hey, that's just my point of view, maybe no one likes this type of events or maybe it was already suggested. Could also be great for group PvP.

 

On 7/30/2019 at 4:39 PM, TheDuke said:

The only thing which worries me is that when players reach a place in the top of the season in SR they will avoid playing like they normally
would in an effort to lose less SR and get the reward.
For example people might choose to not play when only one of their friends is online and wait for 2 more to optimize their SR gain.

I'm not sure what the system will exactly look like but maybe its a good idea to have the score on the scoreboard represent the maximum SR you had that season.
So players can hit a certain SR goal and play without stressing or getting frustrated about losing SR.

 

On 7/31/2019 at 7:22 AM, TheDuke said:

I think it would help, but not solve the issue entirely. If someone is active enough to get himself on the top of the leaderboards they are most likely online every day or every other day with their friends. So they will just do whatever is most SR efficient within these three days probably still missing out on gameplay as they might refuse to play solo, duo or enter certain higher risk areas on the map. You could narrow down the timeframe in which players need to be active but i think that might make people feel like the game is a chore and enhance the feeling of frustration when players lose SR.

 

In my experience, leaderboards don't really work the way you're thinking. To be at the top, you must stay at the top and that means you have to be active. Good players that enjoy the game and play leaderboards don't ever stop playing usually and at some point they don't care about the skill rating points going up or down. It's like new people starting inthe game, they find weapons and they stash it all and make a huge GIs and get mad when they lose items... but after a while you just don't care about items because that messes your confidence in fights, IMHO and from my own experience in a very similar game.

So there's not much to worry about the leaderboards as people will grind for the top and eventually an inactive player will go down in the leaderboards.

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Posted (edited)
On 8/6/2019 at 2:08 AM, RosherTV said:

In my experience, leaderboards don't really work the way you're thinking. To be at the top, you must stay at the top and that means you have to be active. Good players that enjoy the game and play leaderboards don't ever stop playing usually and at some point they don't care about the skill rating points going up or down. It's like new people starting inthe game, they find weapons and they stash it all and make a huge GIs and get mad when they lose items... but after a while you just don't care about items because that messes your confidence in fights, IMHO and from my own experience in a very similar game.

So there's not much to worry about the leaderboards as people will grind for the top and eventually an inactive player will go down in the leaderboards.

I am speaking from past experience with shattered skies.
From the moment an opportunity would arise to gain more pkr, people would jump on it. Regardless of whether or not it improved their gameplay experience.
Dying in stupid situations would frustrate people time and time again.
Yes, obviously players on the top of the leaderboards would be very active. Thats one of the reasons I don't think simply implementing an SR decay after not playing for X amount of time would work, that and the fact the game might start feeling like a chore once you narrow the timeframe down enough.

Being at the top of the leaderboards however does not require you to be active unless large amounts of new players keep flooding into the game adding more SR to the total SR pool, or low SR players leave the game as that would mean they added SR to the lets call it 'SR pool' and won't be taking any more large chunks from higher SR players once the season has progressed.
As long as that keeps happening the average SR that corresponds to a certain skill level would keep rising.
If however the playerbase stays stable there should be a point at which a player reaches his 'maximum potential' and only gets an average of x amount of kills vs x amounts of deaths to players with an average of x SR meaning theres neither real gain nor real loss of SR.
This ofcourse is all assuming they will be going with a bracket system in which killing people in the bracket above you grants more SR and vice versa.

I could be overlooking something here so correct me if im wrong :P

Edited by TheDuke

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