*** Closed thread as it was superceded by State of the Game Address II ***
Figured I'd post something talking about where we are, where we have to go and when people can roughly expect various releases since it seems to be getting asked with increasing frequency and it would be better to just refer people to one place then continuing to respond to individual posts.
Where is the game at?
If you imagine building a game to be like building a cake, instead of building it up layer by layer, it is like we've built an entire slice of cake first, from top to bottom; a "vertical slice", if you will. We have virtually all the features working, core gameplay looking and feeling good, etc. However, now we have to build out the rest of the game... err, I mean cake... or do I mean game? Anyway, you get the idea. In one respect, the game is in a very advanced state but in another, the content, we still have a lot of work to do. We might even almost have two slices but we think we need at least 6 for full release and ideally, we'd like to serve you 8 slices of Grim Cake... uhh, I mean Dawn! Taking this ridiculous analogy further, not that you want me to, you could say, alpha will probably happen around slice 2.5 to 3 and beta once we get to slice 4-5.
Now for some specifics...
As you can see from the Occultist video, the gameplay is well developed and already quite fun. Balance is fairly good for an alpha. Physics, pathing, and all of those sort of underlying systems are in reasonable shape but could use polish. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough playable or content to constitute an alpha quite yet. More on that below. Major UI is all working, although the art could use some love.
This is probably the single most significant effort left before we can release the full game. We have an area almost finished that would probably provide about 2-4 hours of gameplay that is probably sufficient for the alpha. There is a much larger expanse of world beyond that, which is laid out but in varying levels of completion. Finally, there are areas we've planned even further out that don't yet exist.
I put together a quick little progress-map using a shot of the actual levels taken from the editor layout mode to help illustrate this.
The green areas are the mostly finished levels. This is probably about large enough for us to begin the alpha with once we finish adding the quests, close off the exits into unplayable area, and tidy it up. As I said, this is probably about 2-4 hours but could grow once it has some questing. It can also currently be replayed up to level 30 since I haven't put the enemy level cap on the starting area yet.
The yellow area outlines levels that are semi-developed and wouldn't take too much work to finish but need revisions, final setup of enemies and loot proxies, and polish. Some of these areas though flow right into less finished orange regions and couldn't be opened up for the alpha until the adjacent orange areas were finished.
The orange represents levels that range from partially completed but still needing a fair amount of work to barely started levels that need a lot of work but for which we have all or almost all of the necessary art assets.
Red levels are basically prototypes that need more art before they could be finished.
Purple represents an approximation of the additional areas we want to build for the final release. For some of these areas, we already have all or most of the art needed. Others would need a larger amount of new artwork before we could begin building them.
Undergrounds and "rift areas" are currently just set up as prototypes and need to have their entrances hooked into the world. We need a much larger number of finished undergrounds.
We have 3 of the skill masteries nearly completed (the other two being Soldier and Demolition). The other two masteries I've started are about 1/3 and 1/2 finished. We could go alpha with 3 masteries as we continue to work on the remaining 2. This is probably the biggest gameplay task left to finish before final release.
We have two major enemy sets that are basically completed with a large number of skills and behaviors that create interesting tactical situations. These are the zombies / aether corruptions and the grobles / dranghouls. We then have 3 minor enemy sets that include 2-3 enemy types and a couple solitary enemies mostly finished.
In total we have 20 unique enemy models right now. Each of those has or will have 2-5 different "class" variants and hero monsters based off them. Of that 20 though, 15 are in-game while 5 have finished models but are waiting on waiting animation and design work to get them in-game. Also in that 20 are 3 mini-boss / boss type creates but one is still waiting on animation and design work. Note that these numbers do not include human enemies, of which there are currently outlaws and cultists.
About 6-8 more regular enemies and another boss monster would probably be enough to ship with but I'd be much happier if we had 12-15 additional enemies and 2-3 more bosses.
There are currently no named hero versions finished, just normal and champion and the two bosses.
Loot and Economy
We have all of the common items in-game for normal difficulty. We have large number of magical affixes in-game too so that the looting feels fairly rewarding.
There are almost no unique items in yet though. We have art for about 20 unique melee weapons and a couple pieces of armor but we obviously need much more. This is something we could easily outsource if we just had a full-time artist who could help managing the outsourcing and getting the returned items game-ready.
The economy is in pretty good shape. It is actually refreshingly challenging to accumulate money and there is a good balance of finding items in the world vs. wanting to buy stuff off merchants.
Story / Quests
We have a good background for the game and a rough outline of what we want to do for the main quests. We also have brand new, much easier to use and more powerful quest and conversation editors. However, almost nothing is implemented here. We've have a few prototype quests set up in-game that will probably be in the final game but need polishing up, especially in the dialog department.
The game is running reasonably well for an alpha and I can often play for 30 minutes or more without any problems. There are a few major bugs and occasional crashes though, as well as little bugs that range from annoying to comical. This is all to be expected at this stage though and I think we're generally in good shape.
Feature / Code Completion
The game is nearly feature-complete but there are still various revisions and fixes that need to happen to some existing features and there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get multiplayer working. Our overhaul of pathing, physics and various systems broke multiplayer and the work needed to get it working again is difficult and could be extensive.
That said, we could release the alpha without multiplayer and continue to work on it. There are a few things that need to happen before alpha.
We're not far off from a minimalist alpha where players can replay a small chunk of the world that comprises about 3-4 hours of gameplay. With the enemy level caps off, it could be replayed up to level 30.
The following is a rough list of the most significant tasks that would need to be finished:
- Finish off the green starting area levels and part of the yellow slums area.
- Get at least a main starting quest-line in and polish up some of the existing quest prototypes that can serve as sidequests.
- Finish up the 3 nearly complete skill classes
- A few other programming and design tasks
Rough estimate is that this will take 6-8 months to complete with our current resources.
The time between alpha and beta will depend on whether we want to shoot for a real content-complete beta or more of a Minecraft or Path of Exile style beta where the game is more complete than alpha but still in development. I'm thinking we're probably going to want to go with the work-in-progress style beta. I think we would still want to aim to have a more significant level of content built out though and this could take some time. With our current resources, it might 4-6 months from the start of alpha but we won't know until we see how alpha goes.
We can't really provide a good estimate right now given our current situation. Getting to the full release is mainly just a matter of filling out content though at this point.