Upcoming Release / Test Group Expansion

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Upcoming Release / Test Group Expansion

Postby Administrator » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:38 pm

To keep everyone up to speed, this is just a quick post on what I'm working on currently and what the upcoming releases will feature. I want the expanded test group's release to contain enough of the getting started tutorial to teach most of the basics needed to set up a small, but generally functional colony. We're probably going to be up around 100 tutorial steps by the time this is ready, since even a small colony has many necessary parts.

Each tutorial step, though, is a minor pain to create. The tutorial as a whole requires some meta-planning, as the steps have to fit together in a coherent way that enables the player to grow their colony as they work through the tutorial process. Each step requires a bit of its own planning, since I have to figure out how to explain (at least on a basic level) what it's trying to teach a new player. Then I've got to write the step's text, configure a bunch of peripheral data (where's the view going to be, how am I going to prompt the user to do the right thing on-screen), and write a bunch of custom code for each step to correct the user when they do something wrong, or recognize that they've done the right thing and respond appropriately.

Then, various garnish needs to be added, like achievements / other things to keep the tutorial fun and to help the user have a great time while making their way through it.

As you can probably tell, the whole thing is rather time-consuming. From earlier testing, though, we found that this is the best way to introduce new players to the game, and we're sparing no effort in making Outer Colony as accessible as practically possible.

So! How far along am I to the release for the expanded test group?

The getting started tutorial currently has 65 steps. I've probably got another 20~35 left to add until it's ready for wider consumption. Most of the 65 existing steps were part of the last release.

For this release, the tutorial will include a bunch of new sections.

As of this morning, these in green are done:
-Using the Inspection Tool
-Mining Ore
-Material Refining
-Manufacturing (this was a sizable topic to cover)
-Crop Planting
-Material Synthesis
-Order Priority Adjustment
-Essential Room Equipment (Lamps, Miscellaneous Furniture, etc.)
-Plant Harvesting
-Free Form Construction
-Child Care

I'm working right now on:

I still have to add (This list may grow as I identify other essential topics):

Moved back to a later release:
-Colonist Media System
-Colonist Activity Configuration

Many of the most critical feature requests / bugs found in the last release have already been addressed. There's one significant bug I've found where colonists aren't undertaking sufficiently bad actions when they're unhappy for extended time periods, and there's another bug Torvus found where mothers freak out when they can't find an open bed to drop off infant children. Both of these have to get fixed for the wider release, as they're very damaging to gameplay.

There are going to be dozens and dozens of gameplay systems that simply aren't covered in the guided tutorial yet, and the website will have to be used by new players to explore these features for now. I'm not sure how much I want / need to cover via the guided tutorial, and for now, I just want to use it to teach players the basics. I think that some of the advanced functionality is better explained via the website and videos, anyway, and I'll be expanding the guided tutorial further after this as necessary, once I see how the new testers handle everything.

I hope that makes a bit of sense, and I appreciate everyone's patience while I work through things! I only get one chance with a particular test group to see how they handle learning Outer Colony as brand new users, so I put a ton of effort into honing things as much as possible before a release that includes new users. Thanks again, and I hope you guys will find this release to be a lot of fun!

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