Q3 2016 Development Update and QA Progress

This post is just a brief update about current development work for Outer Colony.  I post minor updates almost constantly to my Twitter feed, so feel free to follow me over there to see what I’m doing on any given day. Still, there’s always a bunch of different things happening internally in the development of OC, and oftentimes it’s too much to convey in 140 characters.

Since the end of Too Many Games, I’ve been adding a bunch of high-level gameplay elements to Outer Colony. These aren’t so much radically new system features as they fun and interesting world elements that directly challenge players. Adding things like cyborgs, bounty hunters, rabid animals, mystical cults, and secrets has been filling my days for the last few weeks.

I have to say, although I always have fun programming Outer Colony, this kind of development is particularly fun. It’s technically simple, compared to writing underlying systems, as all of these features merely exploit existing systems and sit on top of them. I suppose that a lot of this is what one could call “traditional gameplay”, but it’s just a ton of fun to test it all and see the underlying mechanics of Outer Colony play out. Bullets bouncing off metallic cyborg limbs to no effect, strange narcotics altering NPCs’ perceptions of reality, secret, weird items doing…weird things. Outer Colony gives a player an entire world to interact with, and I think these fun elements are the last bit of spice that Outer Colony needs to be a most palatable dish for players.

I’ll just post a few teaser images here to give some ideas about the new world elements that I’ve been introducing:

Cyborg

Character sprites for a cyborg.

Crashed Ship Grid Day

The crash site of a Freighter’s League ship.

Yurt Grid Day

A Quar’thanid yurt (for anyone who remembers the Quar’thanid from old TFR).

BeeShaman

Character sprites for an itinerant bee shaman.

As these hints hopefully suggest, there’s a mountain of cool stuff making its way into Outer Colony, and I think these elements all go a long way toward making the game as rich, varied, and interesting an experience as possible.

In addition to adding all these gameplay elements, I’ve been in a general mode of testing everything. As these new elements exercise the underlying systems and push them in extreme ways, I’ve been eradicating all the bugs I’ve been coming across. A lot of general polishing has been taking place to get the software ready for the public. This extends beyond just fixing bugs and smoothing out the general user experience. One thing we’ve been working very hard on has been improving the look and feel of Outer Colony, in a general effort to make the user interface as attractive as possible. After all, we want it to look like a game, and not, as my artist said, “like a tax program”.

I think we’ve made a lot of progress, and a screen shot of the current main UI can be seen here:

NewUI

There are a few minor adjustments to make, but I think we’re most of the way there.

There have been a ton of other features developed in the last two months as well, but my focus has been on getting as much development done as quickly as possible. As such, I haven’t taken the time to do write-ups on the website about the new work. I’ve also decided that I’m going to use articles on the website as our user help system, so I’m aiming to publish a bunch of new posts and pages here in the next couple of months to provide more insight into all the work that’s been done and to ultimately explain the features in a way that helps users play the game.

Keep in mind that all these efforts are focused squarely on preparing Outer Colony for its public release. We really want the public demo to be as awesome and fun as possible, because the end goal is to give players a game that they have fun with for hours and hours and hours. I want Outer Colony to be the sort of game that people think about playing while they’re at work, and to make it that awesome takes a lot of refining and perfecting. I think we’re well on our way to achieving that end, though, and I can’t wait to release the demo and get OC into the hands of players!

Posted in Game Design, TFR Updates