Reassembly Beta Plan

The Reassembly BETA is scheduled for release this November. The goal is to have the overall structure of the game in place at this point, then spend the time between beta and release polishing and adding content. I wanted to outline the major features that will go into that.

In general the gamedev process (at least for me) involves iteratively looking at the game and then trying to change it in a way that makes it better. There is a lot of trial and error and it is hard to plan too far into the future. We got Kickstarted though, and the backers deserve to know how we intend to use the resources they so graciously provided us with. This is what I plan to work on for the next month. These items will continue to be developed through the beta period, but this month will be dedicated to laying the foundation.

  1. Asynchronous multiplayer
  2. Tutorials and introduction
  3. Steam Integration

Asynchronous Multiplayer

The basic idea is that spaceships you create will show up under AI control in other people’s game worlds and vice versa. The intention is twofold: first to do something really meaningful with player creations and secondly to provide more content than I could possibly design myself. This sort of feature is often called “User Generated Content” but I think “Async Multiplayer” is more appropriate for Reassembly because the content creation (spaceship design) phase is an integral part of the gameplay itself.

Functionally, this is a “glue” feature that requires moving data around without disruptively changing the game code. In the first iteration players will upload their fleet by flying into a wormhole. Opposing fleets will pop out of wormholes and engage the player and surrounding AI ships. We will track statistics so you can see how the alternate dimension versions of your fleet are fairing. The server will automatically validate and sort fleet uploads. Since the world is already procedurally generated and fully serializable none of this requires new technology.

The unit of ship interchange is going to be the “fleet” – a group of ~5-10 ships designed by the same person with a unified color scheme and design sensibility. Players naturally design and fly a range of different ships as they play the game, trying out new weapons and gradually increasing their point cap, and a fleet of mixed ship types is interesting to fight against and makes sense in the game world.

I am really excited about this feature. Seeing players design new spaceships that I would never have imagined has been really fun for me, and having them all come together in a world is going to be awesome. We saw during the tournaments that there is not a single best spaceship design and many different strategies are competitive. The ship sharing feature should create a feedback loop that keeps the game fresh and interesting for a long time.

Tutorials and Introduction

Reassembly is a complex game and introducing new players of all skill levels gracefully continues to be something we work on. We want to be respectful of player’s time and intelligence, providing guidance where confusion and frustration would otherwise result but without being patronizing. The paying beta players that will soon descend on the game should have as good of an initial experience as possible.

Steam Integration

The goal is to do the Beta release through Steam Early Access. This will let us take advantage of the updating, crash reporting, cloud saving, etc. functionality built into Steam. This will save us a lot of work in the long run but it will take at least a week to integrate the steamworks API and set up the storefront page.

Conclusion

These features should keep me busy for the next month. There are also several features that are planned for final release but will be added in the beta period: new block types, gamepad support, improved AI, more polished graphics, etc, etc. The great thing about an open beta is that we will be able to respond to player feedback and improve the game. Feedback from alpha testers has been integral to getting the game to where it is today.

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