In this blog post we’ll discuss our plans for immediately after we launch, and some of the things we’re thinking about for the longer-term.
Everything included here is with the goal of making the game as brilliant as it can be, and working towards an eventual full release, or Version 1.0!
Abandon Ship, Now
We’ve launched the game with an 8-10 hour (average playtest time) story that encapsulates exploration, combat and upgrading your ship. There is also a short side-story (more on that format later) which is separate from the main game and focused on combat.
We’ve tried to ensure the release is as stable and polished as we can, and ultimately we wanted to make sure that for people that play now, they can get several hours of fun, with high-quality production values.
This was really important to us. We know that Early Access can have a bad reputation for buggy, clearly work-in-progress titles. We didn’t want to fall in that category, we wanted to fit into the “squint and it’s almost a finished game” category!
But that doesn’t mean we think we’re nearly done. There is so much more that can be added and refined to turn Abandon Ship into the best it can be. These include new content and systems, as well as improvements to what is already there.
Launching a game is an especially busy period. Even once we have released there will be a few weeks where we are fixing high priority bugs and implementing in-demand quality-of-life features.
While this is going on, we will be collating and assessing all of the player feedback and updating our plans. We have a good idea of what we’d like to do, comprised of our own plans plus reports from our pre-release playtesters, but we expect to refine these plans when the full community have access to the game.
Naturally, once this plan has taken shape we’ll keep the community updated with what we’re working towards.
Areas of Attention
Here are some of the things that we’re planning to tackle during Early Access. This comes with the usual caveats – development is a moving target and we may re-arrange priorities as we need to.
This is a non-exhaustive list in no particular order, so consider it a heads up of areas we want to work on:
– Expanding the gameplay of exploration mode. This is a big, on-going task that requires many new features and content.
– Making some of the player choices feed back into the game, so their decisions may come back to haunt (or help) them.
– Vast quantities of incidental events with varied gameplay
– Involved Side-Quests
– Unlocking more regions once those have sufficient unique islands, quests and gameplay modifiers implemented
– Improve boarding gameplay in combat
– AI improvements, including getting the AI to ram and board the player
– More weapons and upgrades. The Ship Section Upgrades in particular will receive a lot of expansion.
– More ship classes and more ship variety
– Offer the player more choice in how they can avert the negative-spiral that can occur when things go from bad to worse.
– Increase crew numbers, particularly on the larger ships.
– Improve Lifeboat and Stranded gameplay loop
– Saving & Loading Options. Permadeath will always be the primary way to play Abandon Ship, but we’ll offer saving systems that compliment this, as well as options for players that want greater flexibility in how they progress through the game.
– The rest of the main story
– Greater customisation options
– Steam Achievements, looking into Cloud Saves.
– More options for graphical settings and control key bindings.
– Balancing everything, but particularly ensuring that long-range combat is just as viable a tactic as close-quarters fighting.
– An on-going mission to bug fix, improve readability and add quality-of-life features across the entire game.
I’ll be posting in more detail about some of the above in the Steam forums after release, so we can collate everyone’s thoughts.
Some updates will come in a hot-fix style. They’ll be updated directly onto the main version of the game. These will be released on an ad-hoc basis, and could involve one fix (if it’s important enough to get out there immediately) or multiple small changes.
We’ll hold back the big stuff for larger updates, the frequency of which we’ll talk about once we’ve done our planning. Because these will contain new content that will be seeded into the world, they will break your existing saves – but we’ll publicise when these are coming so you’ll have prior notice. You’ll also be able to hold off updating or go back to a previous version if you’re in the middle of a save game you’d like to finish.
These big updates will most likely be available prior to their official release in a separate branch of the game. This will effectively be the “bleeding edge” of the game where people can test the latest features, but will be a bit more unstable and rough round the edges until player feedback has helped us fix all of the issues that arise. For those that like to get involved with the development, this is where you’ll be able to make the biggest difference!
Abandon Ship Stories
One aspect we’d really like to try during Early Access is the concept of “Abandon Ship Stories” – we’ve already created a small-scale version of this with the Combat Campaign. This is a standalone game mode that focuses on combat and upgrading gameplay that takes about 30-45 minutes to play through. The story in this is separate from the main game.
We’d love to really expand on this concept with future large updates as it provides many benefits, both creatively and logistically.
Take, for example an update that unlocks a new region. This region could include the dreaded Spider Island, and have environmental modifiers that affect combat, and side-quests associated with this ominous place.
Some players will happily play through the main game to explore it, whereas the majority will likely want to jump in and immediately experience this new content.
That’s where an “Abandon Ship Story” would come in. We’d launch the update with a unique, standalone story accessible from the main menu that takes a couple of hours to play through and showcases all of the new features, so existing players can dive right in and get to the juicy new stuff.
We can have some fun with this format, too. Perhaps one story could have you as a Cultist rising up the ranks, getting a chance to control the Haliphron? Or how about unlocking the region called “The Haunted Seas” on the run up to Halloween?
We feel this is a good way to make being part of the Abandon Ship community continuously fun and exciting, as opposed to a traditional, dry “here is an update” format.
Naturally we have other, crazier ideas that are larger in scope. For those that have been following every post, every forum comment you will be aware of some things the Dev Team have mentioned that would fall into this category. Attempting those would largely depend on how successful we were during Early Access.
Even though we have a strong idea where Abandon Ship is heading, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear your ideas! The point is (and this applies from the most granular feedback to the wildest idea) we are listening 🙂