BIG NEWS: This October, We’re Going Early Access! (PART 1)
Well….2020 has been one hell of a year hasn’t it?
Our plan was to launch Depths of Sanity in the Fall on at least 2 of the 4 platforms we’d be bringing it to. In February we had our best showing ever at PAX East, but with the sudden announcement that E3 would be cancelled, the warning signs of what was to come were already there as we packed up that Sunday.
By now, every in-person gaming event for 2020 has been cancelled. This was always going to make things more difficult for indies, but with events in early 2021 also on the chopping block, it’s an even bigger problem.
The fact is, ever since we had a basic playable demo years ago, we’ve been taking this game to festivals every chance we could to have players mess with it, get their feedback, and improve it. The way the game controls, the type of mechanics it has, and even some features we can’t quite talk about yet all came from consistent player feedback over the last three years. It was you guys that brought our game from a barely realized tech demo to the game it is today.
Which puts us in a bit of a pickle when it comes to getting all the testing and feedback we need for this last stretch.
And to be frank, everything going digital just…sucks. It’s very, very difficult to build an audience and get player feedback just through digital events, especially where you’re one of hundreds of games and are hoping for an algorithm to deliver you to an interested player. While we’ve been grateful for the events we’ve been a part of, it’s clear that they’re not as effective as in-person conventions for what we need. And that’s before the fact that for those of us on the team, many of our day job situations have changed quite a bit (either having way more work, or having to spend time job searching).
Development got a lot harder on all fronts, and our ability to get the word out about what we’re making shrank considerably.
So at the end of June, we asked ourselves two questions:
- How do we get more people playing our game, while also contributing to its development and feedback?
- How do we keep ourselves developing at a steady pace despite all of the interruptions in our lives?
And at that point, only one answer made sense: Early Access.
HOW WILL THIS WORK?
On October 30th, Depths of Sanity is going to release on Steam Early Access for a reduced price (more to come next month). In this initial state, you’ll be able to play the first 3 chapters (out of 6) to completion. This would be about 45–50% of the game, and it will contain all mechanics, story elements, boss fights, and secrets of the final game.
After this initial launch, the plan is to work in player feedback and to release the remaining chapters of the game every 2 months. Chapter 4 would come out by the end of December/early January, Chapter 5 end of February/Early March, with the final Chapter releasing somewhere in April/May.
The goal is to spend 6–8 months in Early Access fine-tuning the game and incorporating player feedback before the full launch.
HOW WILL THAT AFFECT GAME PROGRESSION?
It won’t. Your save data will carry through the additional patches and chapter additions, which will add even more to previous sections.
For example, when we release Chapter 4, you’re not just getting a new biome and story segment — you’ll be uncovering new tools and weapons that can help you more deeply explore the previous sections. And, depending on player feedback, there may be additional enhancements that also release if we’re seeing a consensus from our audience.
WHAT ABOUT THE CONSOLE VERSIONS?
Development across consoles is still happening, though it will be a bit more staggered. Once we leave early access, the full game will launch on Steam and XBOX One simultaneously. A few months later, the Switch version will be released, and then after that, the PS4.
We would love to be able to launch all versions at once, but it’s clear that given our stretched time across the team, that likely won’t be the case (but we will update you if something changes and allows that possibility).
SO WHAT NEXT?
It’s been a long road to get to this point, and we’re incredibly excited to show you the full first half of the game. But in order to really bring it to life, we’ll need your help in order to polish the final product. There are tools, environments, bosses, and all sorts of elements we haven’t been able to get audience feedback on yet, and we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make them all as interesting and as fun as possible.
Your voice is invaluable for that, and we hope you’ll support us in this endeavor.
We’ll have another blog soon on pricing, launch details, and a few other perks we’re going to be giving our early supporters for betting on our team. If you’re one of the people who played us at an event and were like — “man, this is pretty cool” — we hope that you’ll join us on this early access journey in October.
We’ll be speaking soon on a TON of updates with development, so stayed tuned!
Thank you all so much,
The Bomb Shelter Games Team