In This Episode
– In the News: XBox One and the “next gen”
– Indie Feature: Cloning and open development
– Dev Update: Important info about RtS and the Steam version
– Player Spotlight: The Mystical Forest By KlienerDrGmod
Here’s the short version:
After much thought and discussion we’ve decided to remove the relay multiplayer system from Race the Sun. We are doing this so we can focus on improving areas of the game that people use and enjoy. This feature won’t be in the Steam version, and we’ll be removing it from the DRM-free version in a future update.
Dropping a feature from a game is never an easy decision – especially after we’ve made the game with the promise of that feature, and shipped it to our customers.
We set out to create several experiments for Race The Sun. The Simplex World Creator, and the world portals are two experiments that have worked out really well, and we feel were big successes.
The other experimental feature we designed was a unique multiplayer system. These relays allow you to play an asynchronous race with up to 3 other players. Our fans and Kickstarter backers seemed excited about it, and we were too. We spent over 2 months working on this feature, which is part of why the game slipped into the late summer instead of our May/June target date.
But the reality is, it’s just not a feature that’s working out. With over 6,000 players and 35,000 daily high scores submitted, only around 300 relay games have actually been completed since we introduced the system. The way it works right now is a pretty clunky experience – requiring you to share a link that leads to a web page, where users can “claim” the next leg of the relay. Most relays that are started never get a follow-up run from another user. Only about 0.5% of the games that are started actually get completed.
In addition to the usability issues, the idea itself has some design flaws that we didn’t anticipate at first: It’s kind of unsettling and difficult to jump into a relay game at region 5 or so without being “in the groove.” The result is that most players who continue relays end up dying quickly, which makes them feel like they’ve let their team down. Ultimately, most team relays end up with a score that’s pathetically short of the best single-player scores we see daily. This is a great sign that the system has some serious flaws.
Lastly, it’s a feature that’s rather complex on the server side, and contributes to our overall maintenance costs. We were dreading the idea of trying to make this work with the Steam version, the non-Steam version, and future platforms, each requiring specially-coded leaderboards to support 4 players for a single score.
And so we were faced with the decision of either putting significant resources into trying to fix this system (probably requiring a month or more of our time) or just dropping it altogether. Given the other goals we have for the game, the fact that we’re such a small team, and our lack of confidence that this was a feature players were going to love even if it were “fixed” – we decided that dropping it is the right choice.
In summary, this will let us focus our efforts on enhancing the core single player experience and mod tools, it will help reduce our server costs, and it will make it much easier to get the game on more platforms – which we hope to announce soon!” We hope you are as excited as we are about the possibilities for Race the Sun going forward – and we hope that you understand why we have made this choice. We want to avoid months of delay and use our time making the game more fun and interesting for everyone.