I don’t like playing incomplete maps, but they’re all the rage these days. Put out an endless “beta”, where the main quest just stops halfway through, and pretend to everyone that you’ll ever actually finish making the damn thing.
So it’s always been my philosophy that things should be released when they are complete (barring the inevitable fields of bug fixes).
Of course, with something on the scale of Project Y4 I’m beginning to realise that this may not be the best strategy…
My main worry is the desire for voice acting, because that will lock down all the dialogue — which is pretty much done but may still need tweaking. I wouldn’t want to get everyone involved and then have to do it all again because I had to shoehorn in some extra foreshadowing (or explain something I’ve left too hazy).
Of course the idea of a staged release has been floating around for a while now, though in a less comprehensive form. The bonus missions, which languish in varying states from ideas-only to bits-of-terrain to the-odd-trigger, I have intended for some time to make seperately after the main event has been unleashed.
So, here’s the new plan…
Release 1 will contain the game and the tutorial. The game will be complete, but have no voices — in order to preserve readability, because WC3 is a bit shonky when it comes to timing those cinematic transmissions, I’ll use the same system of silent WAV sounds of roughly the correct length that I used for This Wreckage.
There will also be no music. The game will have to stand on its sound effects and ambient noise until some rabid fan-musicians appear. Ideally, actually being able to play the map will spawn interested parties who want a piece of the pie. The proof of the project is in the playing, and all that. Otherwise… Well, I can’t compose to save myself so I guess we’ll see how well it works without a secret disco ending.
Some bonus missions may be unlockable, but will not actually be present in the map. Once you upgrade to the next release, they’ll become available immediately. The others… I still need to find places to inject them.
The main line and all its set-pieces will be there with a couple of sidies (hell, I said a while ago “one per annex” and I pretty much have that) and plenty of secret non-essential areas — the game will at least be narratively complete and able to stand on its own two feet. So if you only play the initial release and never come back again, I won’t be furiously dickslapping you with an unfulfilled non-cliffhanger. However, I’d still like to cram in a little more along the way to flesh things out a bit, so I’m not going to call the main game finished until the true end.
On And On And On And On
I don’t have a concrete plan of how many releases there might be.
There are four bonus missions (Operation: Clean-Up, Operation: Gala’s Trench, Operation: Skyward Fire, and Asteroid Wars), all of which occur after the events of Project Y4. They’ll function as sort-of epilogues, unloading plot exposition that will explain things a little more. I have a rough chronological order in mind for them, so I intend to finish and release in that order (with Asteroid Wars being the only unrelated stand-alone that could happen at any point).
What does this mean for you? Well, it means that Project Y4 is actually very near release. Without the shadows of music and voice, I still need to work out lots of kinks — but barring a pirate side quest and the mechanics of the finale, it is content-wise pretty much all there.
It’s not exactly a small amount of work, but it reduces a projected first release date to a matter of months rather than another year.
And then you can play the game a bit while I work on the rest of it. And if you all think it’s shite I’ll just run crying to Unity or NeoAxis and go standalone.
Here, have a new teaser trailer. It shows more gameplay and less farting around than previous trailers.