9/15/2019 in devlog
This issue of our development log doesn't require a title: The number is enough to convey what it will be about. Julian is still on vacation today, but Michi and I take a moment to look back on 200 weeks of development.
Just a quick reminder before we get started: To celebrate this milestone we will be doing a live stream on Monday. Feel free to join and ask us about the game, the development or just touch glasses.
200 devlogs means that we have been posting one every week for almost four years now. Having such a small team and working on such a grand project, this milestone triggers somewhat mixed feelings: On the one hand, I'm exceptionally proud that we're still going strong and keeping at it. On the other, it feels like we should have been done at least a year ago, no? What have we even achieved? Are we getting anywhere?
To answer these questions I took a quick look at devlog #100, posted roughly two years ago on October 15th 2017, and it was fun to see the differences between then and now:
At that point in time, we had just wrapped up our very first closed alpha test with a few dozen testers, not even thinking about an actual release. Now we are in First Access, with the game generating at least some revenue every month, thousands of users having signed up over time and around a thousand weekly active users.
In log #100, we were incredibly happy that the game didn't just blow up on first contact with real users. There also was no balancing or content to speak of. Now we have a material tree that's been working very well and seems to keep users engaged for months even though we haven't officially started adding any mid-game content yet. Our technical foundation - so far - stood the test of time and very little of the bugs or problems we encounter are due to the technology choices we made. Touch wood it stays that way!
Back then, we were planning test runs lasting around two weeks. Nowadays we need to be cautious not to forget mentioning to new players that resets do happen even though we don't know when. This really is one of the most satisfying tidbits from this trip back in time, because it means that people stay engaged, that the game is alive despite its current limitations and that people don't want to loose their in-game progress despite it all officially still being an alpha test.
Also noticeable is the slightly different look of log #100, owned to the fact that it took another few months until Julian joined the team and revamped our communications. Now we are actively seeking not one but two new employees, applying for funding and generally making plans far bigger than we might have imagined 100 weeks ago.
Could we be further down the road after 100 weeks of development? I guess. But did we reach a higher level than we were on back then? Absolutely! And I plan on continuing making progress for the next 100 weeks and beyond.
I returned from paternal leave this week and was amazed how well the free-to-play release went. Sure, Martin had to do a few hotfixes, especially after the rules for the company deletion have been made stricter. But all in all it went well.
After reading through 2 weeks worth of emails and tickets and a recap call with Martin I started to work on the issues for the next feature release again. In my last devlog I told you about the production fees and showed a first screenshot. This week I almost finished the backend part of the production fees. The fees are now accounted for correctly and transferred to the governing entity, for now that is one of the factions.
Since the Expanse release is a relatively big release we decided to split it up and release the 'Expanse Prelude' earlier (possibly this month) and the rest when it is done. Prelude will incorporate the production fees, building depreciation and some minor bugfixes.
Prosperous Universe is in development since October 2015, that is almost 4 years now! This week we celebrate 200 consecutive devlogs. I cannot tell you how proud I am of Martin and the whole team that we somehow managed to stay afloat the whole time and were able to develop the game without any major breaks. The recent free-to-play release showed that there are lots of players that like a game like PrUn (once they discover it) and that is a very positive outlook for us. Because it fits the occasion I decided to share some screenshots from its development over the years (right click and select 'open in new tab' for a larger version)
This is one of the first screenshots of the game, about 2 months into development (December 2015). Back then we haven't had the tiling user interface yet and everything was displayed in freely adjustable windows. The world map was in the background the whole time and even had colored backdrop. We got rid of the backdrop in favor of a cleaner and more abstract look later.
In 2016 Martin redesigned the user interface into the now used tiling interface. The screenshot below is one of the first drafts. At the same time we added a consistent color scheme and proper fonts.
The user interface has been evolving slowly ever since and this screenshot of September 2017 looks pretty familiar already. The universe map has been redesigned once more and the system maps came into play.