Welcome to another Project Orion news update. If you’ve been following our updates for a while you might be worried to hear “News” instead of “Dev Blog”; our last few News posts haven’t exactly been good news. While we’d love to break that trend, this won’t be the update to do it. We’ve once again made some serious changes to how we’re releasing the game and also what content we’re including in Project Orion.
The Bad News
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about release delays from us, and we’re equally weary of posting them. But this is the reality of the situation and we want to be entirely honest and transparent with you, so here it goes.
Project Orion will not be releasing on January 8th. We know that what we wanted to create with Project Orion is extremely ambitious, unfortunately to the point that we had very little idea of what we were committing to. Over the past 6 months we’ve been learning what’s really involved in developing and shipping a game, and with that knowledge comes the realization that it is going to take a lot longer to finish than we anticipated.
So with that news we’d like to clear up a few things right away:
The rest of this update is dedicated to a detailed look at what’s going on with development and related changes in the future. We will be detailing changes to gameplay and features in tomorrow’s Dev Blog.
Or, the story so far..
To sum it up we were being extremely optimistic and naive with our time estimates. The more in depth answer involves a bit of a summary of development up until now.
When we launched our Kickstarter back in April we were right out of college. We were confident that with a few months of long hours and hard work we could have the game ready for a September release. As the summer progressed life inevitably intervened for most of the team. Instead of working full time on the game we had to pick up jobs to pay the rent (not to mention mountains of student debt) which really slowed our momentum. This was a direct consequence of only crowdfunding for the licensing costs and resources we couldn’t produce ourselves.
As the end of July neared we began to recognize that there was no way to make our initial release timeline work, so we pushed out the first in our sequence of “bad news” updates. With the release pushed another three months we were once again confident we could work hard and get the game finished. This seems like a good time for quote from Charles Darwin: “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”. At this point we really should have been able to see a trend forming.
Fast forward to October and history once again began to repeat itself; we had a release date looming with way too much left to get done. Enter “bad news” update number 2, with the release pushed to January and the game being cut into a two part release. By now we had started to see that we we’re in a bit over our heads, but rather than making drastic changes to the game and release schedule we we’re once again overly optimistic with our estimates. We even made the huge mistake of setting a release date for Part 1.
That brings us to now, once again stuck between an impossible to meet release date and disappointing our backers and fans. Hopefully that gives you some insight into how we got to where we are now, and some context on our decision to take the time to make Project Orion great. When it really comes down to it the decision was between some disappointment now or a lot of disappointment on release, and in this at least we think we made the right choice.
Dev Blog Schedule
Along with the changes to the development timeline we are also making a change to our Dev Blog releases. Going forward we will be releasing them on a monthly schedule instead of bi-weekly. We made this decision for two reasons, to give you bigger updates with more significant changes, and to give us a bit more time to work on the game.
Some weeks it can be difficult to find content suitable to the Dev Blog format. For example, it’s hard to present rewriting our turret’s targeting and movement systems in an interesting and visual way. Having more time to prepare the Dev Blogs will allow them to have more interesting content, videos, and features.
Alpha and Beta Releases
We will continue to post Alpha builds as we hit milestones throughout development. Future releases will be very focused on gameplay and user experience rather than just catching bugs. Beta releases will begin much closer to release as is typical of beta testing. We really value our testers feedback and take all their criticism seriously. We know that playtesting is a key component in making a great game.
On the development and project management side of things we don’t plan on making any radical changes. This might seem strange given the reason for this update, but we’re actually moving forward at a steady and (more importantly) sustainable pace. Our main issue was with extremely poor estimates, not managment of the project as a whole, which you’ve seen from our many Dev Blogs showing snapshots of our progress.
That brings us to the end of what we hope is that last of the “bad news” updates, and with that we’d like to end on a more positive note. While delaying the game is disappointing to all of us we hope it also shows our level of commitment to Project Orion. We’ve now been in development for twice as long as we initially expected, with an even longer road ahead. At this point another team may have started looking for the easy way out. We haven’t even considered it. We are dedicated to releasing a Project Orion that everyone will enjoy and that we will be proud of.
Thank you for all your support, and be sure to check out tomorrow’s Dev Blog for details on gameplay changes and to see what we’ve been working on these past weeks.
-The Project Orion Team