A quick summary of the development during the last two months: September and October 2013.
“Early access” to the Early Access
A week ago we realized that Space Engineers is in a good shape and so we decided to make it available for purchase during two 3-hour and 24-hour windows. This allowed us to make some people happy and to perform a large scale testing.
We were very surprised and pleased by the response of the players. Not only the interest was 10x bigger than what we hoped for, but also the community “got the game” surprisingly quick and started to create amazing works and post screenshots and videos. The response was really great. You can’t see this from the outside but I can assure you that the already good morale of our team has increased 10 times
The other positive outcome was the feedback that we started to receive. It appears that 95% of the community suggestions are already in some form in our project plan. This is a good sign because it means that our taste is very similar to what our community wants.
We are preparing the integration of Steam Workshop. I hope it will be available within a few days after Oct 23.
Then we want to look on the max speed of the jet-packs (probably just a temporary hack since we want to do it properly later and with regard to “realism”). We also did some tricks to increase memory limits (also, just a temporary solution).
There are tens of other features that are in progress – the most important is multi-player. We have an internal deadline when we want to release it, unfortunately this is a big and hard-to-estimate feature, so I don’t want to disappoint you if something gets in our way.
Of course, then there’s the manual building, inventory, drilling and harvesting – all is done, we just have to un-disable it, test it, polish it and give it to you.
We have set up a crowd-localization project and during the weekend the community managed to translate 8 languages, while 10 more are in good progress. It’s very likely that we will add most of them to the release on October 23. Thank you very much!
We didn’t have a “full game” optimization phase but we already performed tens of intermediary and very specific optimizations. Mostly during implementing a new feature – we knew that some algorithm will be performance or memory demanding and so we didn’t waste time naively with a brute-force approach. Instead we implemented it with optimization in mind. Sometimes it’s better to implement a new feature already optimized than to postpone it and do it later (when you have forgotten most of the details already).
The players say that they were expecting the game to run poorly but instead it runs very well. This makes us programmers very happy.
Anyway, there are many opportunities for more optimizations in the future.
October 1 was the “feature freeze day” (we stopped adding new features and worked only on the important polishing and bug fixing tasks). From that moment on, we focused entirely on making sure that the game is stable and bug free and that Oct 23 won’t be a fiasco.
Testers created a list of testing scenarios: various HW and OS configurations (Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 32-bit/64-bit, different language packs), alt-tab, sleep or hibernate computer while game is running, CPU from Intel and AMD, GPU from NVIDIA, ATI, Intel, multi-monitor settings, load tests, game-play tests, etc.
We also ordered some testing at a HW lab – www.quanticlab.com
– where they performed tests on even more HW configurations. I can only praise these guys, great professionals.
During this phase, we caught many HW incompatibilities and so I am glad we did it. If we were testing this on the players, it would be a shame.
BTW, we have an “automatic testing tool” for Space Engineers – we capture mouse and keyboard events while doing something in the game and then we can replay it automatically. This allows us to automate “boring” moments of testing.
I want to thank each and every one of my colleagues, without them we couldn’t get Space Engineers to the stage it is now. Together, we were able to meet all milestones on time and with the expected quality.
I also want to thank our growing community which provides great feedback and gives us more reasons to continue making Space Engineers what it deserves to be.
We can’t reply to every comment, but I can assure you that we read all of them and they will influence how Space Engineers develops. Corrections: actually, after the explosion of interest it’s very hard to keep track of all comments 🙂
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Warning: Space Engineers is still in development. Everything in the game is subject to change.