Weekly Update: February 9, 2024

Last week I announced that the Jupiter opt-in beta was ready, but that it might be a bit rougher than previous betas. At this point, the feedback from players is that it is actually pretty solid. There are still some issues, but nothing game-breaking. Anyone planning on starting a new game may consider jumping in with Jupiter, as it has more content.

I thought this week I’d talk about one of the bigger challenges I face in development: how hard it is to predict what players are likely to do. One of the main issues during the early phases of Early Access was players getting stuck with no obvious next course of action. Often players would propose adding some new kind of hint system, but what was really missing was my understanding of 

when hints were needed as opposed to how to supply hints. This is getting better, but for any new piece of content it’s fairly safe to assume that I won’t realize what will and won’t be obvious.

Similarly, players really like when games acknowledge them doing something unexpected. Whether it’s solving a problem in an unexpected way, or just doing something weird (even if it gets them killed). If the player thinks “I bet nobody does X”, then does X, and the game reacts in some way, that’s delightful.

One thing the game’s analytics has told me is that I tend to overestimate how apparent some things are. I think the sweet spot for Easter Eggs is if 1-5% of players who get that far into the game encounter it, that’s good. There can be 1 or 2 super rare Easter Eggs, but spending a lot of time on content less than 1% of players experience is inefficient. There is one Easter Egg that I added that I thought quite a few players would discover. But according to the anonymous analytics so far only 1 player has seen it. So with Jupiter, I relaxed the conditions needed to trigger it.

If you’ve ever tried something in the game hoping for something interesting to happen, but nothing did, definitely let me know. Depending on how hard it is to add the logic to detect that behavior, I may add a reaction.

Here’s what I did in the past week:

  • Started work on asset requirements for Steam trading cards
  • Patched the Jupiter build with the following:
    • Numerous optimizations, variable caching
    • Mission goal indicators now display mission name
    • Crew quarters module
    • Ship gains a bonus to repair rate when no threats are near
    • Connectors now cost 1/2 hex and are treated nearly the same as empty space for thermal dissipation
    • Fix for being unable to trade with a faction after completing a specific mission
    • Added several missing analytics markers
    • Shrink module point light radius to reduce flickering
    • Changed cruiser and dreadnought lighting color to match other bridge module
    • Fix for research details panel placement when zoom scale not 100%
    • Fix for the reinforced exhaust vent lighting issue
    • Fix for a null reference error

Until next week!
– Kevin