So that’s that: 2017 is a wrap! We hope you had fun holidays with family and friends and are ready for the new year with all that it may bring. Michi and myself took some time off as well, so naturally not much happened that would be worth writing about in this nicely numbered devlog 111. Hence, it’s a good opportunity to look back on what we’ve achieved so far and what we’ve got planned for the coming year.
111 Development Logs and counting
It’s both shocking and impressive (if I may say so) that we’ve managed to write a development log each week for more than two years now: Impressive, because it shows that we’re determined to reach the goal we’ve set for ourselves, namely to realize our dream of the ultimate browser-based trading MMOG. Shocking, because it is taking us so long to do so :-). We’ve got to admit…we’re somewhat behind in our schedule, but looking at how the alpha tests are going so far, with minimal technical issues, I think the time we invested to get the foundation right is paying off already.
From Prototype to Product
With the completion of the Foreign Exchange feature in spring, we had finally reached our internal Alpha milestone. That meant we had all of the elementary gameplay features working, allowing us to set our sights on getting the game ready for “first contact” with actual players. This included a lot of work that did not feel like game development at all: Pipeline building and development, operational topics like cluster and configuration management, applications for sign-up and account management…all the “fun” things you need to do to actually ship the game but which don’t actually contribute much to the game itself. Some of those things were more visible than others - like preparing our new website or opening our forums - others happened more or less behind closed curtains - like evaluating and introducing a CRM tool for our communication efforts or writing the Material Tree Editor. All in all, 2017 was clearly part of that unpleasant phase of game development in which many small projects die: the phase in which you need to take your cool little prototype and make it into a proper product.
As you can tell, PU hasn’t died. In fact, 2017 has been the year in which we started to grant access to the game to “non-team members” for the very first time. So far, we have come across surprisingly few technical issues and the tests have been very successful in revealing several game design issues we need to iron out before we can open the doors for the general public. At this point, a huge shout-out to our growing crowd of alpha testers is in order: Without your help and your valuable feedback it would be impossible for us to do the kind of testing that a game like PU - that relies so much on critical mass and player interaction - requires.
On the road to release
For everything we’ve achieved so far not to be in vain, 2018 will have to be the year of our first public release. What this release will look like exactly is still a bit fuzzy - options range from a full-blown early access release to a rather low-key “opening the doors and switching on payment” - but after over two years of development the game has to start generating revenue. From experience, I’m cautious about stating exact release dates and therefore I won’t name one at this point. But I sincerely hope that we can wrap up the majority of the alpha test schedule in Q1 of the coming year so we can start preparations for an actual release afterwards.
Either way, the year 2018 promises to be an exciting one! If you don’t want to miss anything important, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter. And if you want to be part of the ongoing alpha tests, just drop us a note on the forums.