3/4/2018 in devlog
The next alpha test is scheduled to start next week and we can't wait to see how it goes. It will feature tons of improvements, re-balancing and new features we've been working on for months. Plus, we've been cooking up an extensive tutorial series to help new players get into the game and bring our or veterans up to speed. Here's what we've been up to in the past week, racing towards the finish line.
With the next alpha test finally around the corner, I deviated a bit from my current work on notifications and implemented an unrelated feature without which the test could not start.
I don't want to go into too much detail, but in the next alpha test, players will start with a very different set of initial supplies compared to earlier iterations. In fact, they will start with almost no supplies at all and anything they need to set up their first production facilities they'll have to procure on the market. Since the game world starts more or less empty I re-enabled market maker NPCs that sell and buy certain materials at fixed prices. Contrary to previous versions of these NPCs, they now don't actually match particular buy or sell orders placed by players anymore but instead place "infinite orders" that hang around the order book forever to provide players with clear pricing cues. Obviously, we'll monitor trade activity closely and will adjust the price brackets if necessary.
After I was done with that, I returned to my work on notifications. In particular I worked on getting the game to actually send out push notifications via email. While this is technically done now, a lot of details still need to be taken care of, like proper email templates, localization, making sure all legal aspects of sending out emails are respected (remember the GDPR-stuff from last week?) and so on. My priority before the test will be to allow users to customize which notifications to receive in the first place, though.
As usual before upcoming alpha tests I spent most of my time this week preparing the test. One of the bigger tasks was to create a new test universe with our World Editor tool. I recycled the tech tree from the last test and made lots of small changes to fix issues that came up during the last test. Afterwards I fired up the universe generator that procedurally creates a new universe.
For the first time in the tests there will be two different factions to choose from. I edited some resources into the start systems by hand to make sure that players will have a good start, while also trying to make sure that trade between the factions will be necessary later in the game. If everything goes well we'll see the first foreign exchange trades in the next test, since the two factions have different currencies.
Besides all that I added in-game notifications for ships arriving at their destinations, the expert system and when production orders are finshed using Martin's new notification system.
I spent 90% of my time this week preparing tutorial videos for the upcoming test. Making a couple of proper videos all by myself is a very time-consuming process, even more so if they're about breaking down some fairly complex systems. There will be separate tutorials for using the APEX interface, setting up a company, space flight, and foreign exchange totaling over 30 minutes.
When the topic of tutorial videos first came up last month, we realized that APEX is not only the game itself, but at the same time in the fiction of the game. That's why I decided to speak in character as an APEX spokesperson to make learning the game a little more fun. There's hardly any acting involved, since it's logical for APEX to provide its customers with tutorial videos. All I needed to do was replace some words - like "players" with "users" or "video" with "transmission" - and add a few world-building snippets here and there. And of course, as I showed you last week, set up a green screen to make it look like I'm broadcasting from a space station.
I love shooting and editing video, so even if all this isn't worth the effort, it's at least a lot of fun. However, I'm confident that the tutorials will help a great deal since Prosperous Universe isn't the easiest game to get into.
As always: we'd love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!