It’s been a long time coming, but the beta is finally in sight!

The post below should straighten some things out regarding the scope and how it’s all going to work!

What the beta is

It’s a way for you to help us make a better game, by finding bugs, annoyances, and sharing your thoughts on what can be improved upon (and the things we’ve got right).

What the beta isn’t

The Minecraft Alpha, where you could already do a ton of stuff, and where its open ended nature meant that the alpha version was pretty much a complete game in a sense. So, if what you’re yearning for is the final product, a beta might not be for you!

How long is the beta?

For the average player, a playthrough where you disregard everything but the main quest would probably take about 30 minutes.

If you complete the side quests, around 60 minutes.

Getting 100 % completion (side quests, rare drops, cards, crafting, fishing, challenges, etc) would likely take a few hours.

The game isn’t very long yet, as we’re still in a phase where we add new features, and we want to be somewhat done with the basic framework before going into full content crunch.

How many people will be invited?

In two weeks, we’ll invite 5-6 people, mainly to test out the system. A week after that we’ll send out more invites. How many sort of depends on the amount of interest shown, but a majority will probably get in. Since we want new ”first impressions” between each major update, we want to keep a portion of potential beta users on standby.

After the beta has begun, older applications will be picked first, so if you post before the start of the beta, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get access within the first few updates.

Do I need Desura?

Yes, you’ll need Desura. For those not sure what it is, it’s basically like Steam (but more lightweight). We use this platform because it makes it very easy for us to gather the community and manage invites etc, as well as providing some convenient features like auto updating.

Enough with the info! Where do I sign up?

We’ve created a forum over at IndieDB with a registration thread! Log in with your Desura/IndieDB account and post whatever. If you’re someone we might know from the blog/Facebook/Reddit etc, feel free to mention that in the post! You absolutely don’t need to write a pitch or anything – apart from some veterans the picks will be random.

When you get invited to the beta, you’ll also be invited to a top secret forum where you can discuss the game with us and other users!

We’re quite overwhelmed (and humbled) by the great reception of the video we posted last week. Most people seemed positively surprised at the combat system currently in place! There’s a couple of other subject we’d love to do spotlights on, so if we can find the time, expect some more videos in the future! :)

Now, let’s talk about the new things we’ve got to show this week. First off, we put the stylist to work! After months of just looking pretty in his booth, you can finally visit him to change your appearance.

You can both change hairstyle, or dye your hair or any of your clothes. Getting a haircut costs money, but changing colors is free!

Both getting a haircut and changing the color of something is a pretty straightforward affair, and you’re able to see the end results by looking at the preview to the right!

Apart from ending Franciscos welfare run, we also added something that’s been a long time coming: achievements! In the game, we call them ”trophies”, because we’re crazy like that.

The basic system probably doesn’t need an explanation, but here it is anyway: it’s a series of challenges geared towards obsessive people like ourselves. Usually though, most games give the player a nice sound, a pop-up and an entry somewhere and call it a day. We wanted to add something extra, and so every achievement comes with some form of reward.

Also, we have plans for some kind of housing system, where some achievements will give you actual trophies or decorations to put on display there! More on that when it actually exists…

Let’s stay true to tradition and finish the recap off with an animation! This time, it’s a new one handed weapon, The Stinger (quite literally)!

Tomorrow we’ll set up a way for you to register for the beta launch!

Stay tuned!

We’ve been going at this devblog thingy for nearly nine months without ever missing a recap, and while it’s a great tool to showcase the constant incremental improvements to the game, we’ve realized it isn’t quite as good at giving readers (especially newer ones) insight in how the game is actually played.

Sure, you can watch the SGA Trailer and see that it has a cute pixel art style, character customization, lots of loot, and maybe plays sort of like Zelda. For many people this is enough to get excited, but some might be curious as to how it all works more in-depth.

For the latter group (and anyone excited about the game, really), we’ve thrown together a pretty comprehensive walkthrough video explaining our combat system!

As usual, keep in mind that the footage is from a work in progress. Nothing shown in the video is final or anything, but it’s a good indication of our current direction of design!

It might also be worth pointing out that some of the more insane parts of that video is more of a showcase of what you can do, not what you have to do. Our advanced mechanics are there for execution fanatics to indulge in, but we won’t force the average player to ascend to such a level. Unless you want to beat all that bonus content we discussed last week… in that case you better buckle up!

To wrap up the post, here’s a care package of animations from Fred!

The guy on the bottom is the city alchemist, Remedi, who needed a few extra animations for an escort quest where you must protect him from the blood thirsty inhabitants of the Pumpkin Woods!

Settling on a difficulty for a game is tough. We’re not making Super Meat Boy, where difficulty is a major selling point, but we don’t want to make the game a casual stroll in the park either.

What we’re going for now is tough for a casual player and challenging for an average player, but probably a tad bit too easy for hardcore gamers.

In order to add some extra mileage for those wanting to push their characters to the limit without putting huge road blocks in front of “normal” players, we added a feature to the arena called Challenges!

At the top level, you can select between Challenges and Versus.

Challenges are just that. Designed trials where your performance will be graded! In multiplayer, you’ll cooperate in these.

Versus is a collection of mini games where you can challenge your friends to a farm-off, the noble art of chicken herding and other wacky mini games! We might cover this in more detail some other time.

In the Challenge menu, you’ll see a list of all unlocked challenges, together with your current best grade (the grades go from ‘C’ to ‘S’). You’ll unlock more challenges as you progress through the story!

Most challenges will be tied to the combat mechanics of the game. For example, you might fight through waves of difficult enemy constellations, or battle a nightmare version of a boss!

When you’ve completed the challenge, you’ll get to see a scoreboard with your grades!

When you return to the arena reception, you’ll receive different items depending on what grade you got. Whenever you beat a challenge on S-rank for the first time, you’ll be rewarded with a unique item!

To move on to a completely different subject, we’re going to do the unthinkable and actually posting some info regarding the beta!

A while back we contacted Steam to see if we could run the beta on their platform. This was just before them announcing Greenlight, and as such, six weeks later we received a template reply telling us to check that service out.

Now, Greenlight seems great. However, it isn’t launching until the end of August (+Valve Time?), and there’s also no way of guessing right now how much Greenlight interest we must garner before being put on Steam, and how happy they are with indies prancing around running betas on there. While our skill at postponing betas is at Olympic level, even we didn’t want to delay it indefinitely!

So, we couldn’t do Steam, but we still wanted some centralized platform with automatic patching and ability to select users to invite. An indie friendly alternative to Steam that does just this is Desura.

Desura is pretty similar to Steam in many ways, and should be a pretty familiar experience for most players used to Valve’s platform. We’ve set up an IndieDB-page for the game in preparation. This is probably also where we’ll open up forums for our beta testers!

The beta isn’t running quite yet, but as you can tell things are moving along! We still have a few things to throw into the mix as far as the game goes. In the coming few weeks, we’ll give you more detailed information on how to register for the beta (we don’t know yet :D ), and shortly after that we’ll be throwing out the invites!

Wow, today’s post became really long… glad you made it to the end! See you next week! :)

This week, we’ll simply distract you with some art while we finish off a couple of more quests for you to enjoy in that legendary beta…! ;3

Fred’s main focus this week has been revisiting our beloved Evergrind City and creating more flavor animations for the people living there.

Since it is a relatively large city we want to avoid it getting stale and lifeless, which is why we are focusing on adding as much movement and animation to as many elements as we can. Without going totally overboard of course!

And Vilya has finally finished remaking the portraits!

We’re celebrating that by starting some new interface work that you’ll hopefully be able to see next time :)