Hello there folks,
I hope you're all enjoying the Spring Update very much, as we are now headed for the final release of Solasta: Crown of the Magister! "And when exactly would that be" I hear you asking - my most humble apologies, this information will have to stay secret... for a bit longer! Keep an eye on the horizon, for you will soon know the date (for you worrywarts out there, I can tell you that it will indeed be this year). Now, for something you were all waiting for... cats!
A perfect fit. On a sadder note, Linus (cat on the right, last Dev Update) passed away peacefully last week. Sleep well my friend!
Onwards, to version 1.0!
As stated in the introduction, our next big update will be the full release of Solasta: Crown of the Magister - meaning we'll be leaving Early Access once and for all! Thanks again to all of you who joined us during this journey and whose feedback help us make a better game - you guys (and gals!) are the MVPs.
Here is a reminder of what you can expect from Solasta at launch:
- The full campaign of Solasta: Crown of the Magister
- Additional side quests, including a particularly difficult one!
- Full orchestral OST - you might have already spotted a few orchestral tracks in the Spring Update
- An increase of the max level cap from 8 to 10, with level 5 spells
- An update to the Dungeon Maker Beta
- Steam Workshop implementation to make Custom Dungeon sharing easier
- Digital Kickstarter Rewards for our Backers
- Supporter Pack Digital Rewards (special dice)
But the train doesn't stop there!
- Free Post-launch Sorcerer DLC, which will unlock the Sorcerer class to everyone (not just backers)
- Physical Kickstarter Rewards, planned to be sent the months following the release of Solasta 1.0
- More info later about our post-launch plans - we've got a game to finish first!
A small preview of the Ruins of Carillach Gar adventure included in the Kickstarter Adventure Box (physical rewards are no longer purchasable)
Peeking Behind the Dev Curtain
I'm sure you're here for more than words. After all, we've got you used to seeing progress, not just reading about it and hoping all of it is true - so here is a sample of what we've been working on the last few weeks!
Kickstarter Backers Monument of the Dead
Remember that Concept Art from a month ago? Yep, it's a new in-game level now!
Another upcoming level, also based on a previous Concept Art.
Additional Random Encounters Maps are on their ways as well!
Our talented 2D Artist is still at it making gorgeous loading screens for every new level we add to the game
Spring Update & Known Issues
For those who may not use the Steam Forums, know that there is a thread listing the Known Issues with the Spring Update version of Solasta over there. And although we'd love to tell you that another hotfix is on the way, it unfortunately won't be so as working on additional patches would put the final release of the game at risk. Now you might be wondering, why is that? Well, first you have to remember that we're a team of... less than 20 people.
Second, if you ask players how they think a hotfix is released, you'll often get the following:
- Players find a bug, report it
- Devs fix it
- Devs release the hotfix
- Players download the patch, bug is fixed, woohoo!
Well that was pretty fast. So why exactly is it putting the 1.0 release at risk? The reality behind a hotfix is... a lot more complex than that.
- Players find a bug, report it
- QA has to switch from the final game's branch to the Spring Update branch. Branches are made to separate different versions of the game, so that development on one branch does not affect another (to prevent WIP stuff for the final game to appear in the Spring Update for instance)
- QA has to find a surefire way to reproduce the bug on the Spring Update branch. Sometimes that's pretty simple because players explained how to trigger the bug 100% of the time, for example "Using the Teleporter to go to Wizard's Tower cause an instant game over". Sometimes it's not because the bug is very vague, for example "my game crashed in Caer Cyflen".
- Once QA found a reliable way to reproduce the bug, the devs start looking at it to try and find the cause. Without a guaranteed way to trigger them, some bugs can sometimes exist for a very long time. For example, we still receive reports that a monster will spend its turn running back and forth instead of attacking. However, it's very hard to find why - first it only happens very rarely, second it seems random (not always the same monster or encounter), third looking at the AI there is no reason it should do that, lastly no one's been able to find a setup that will always make the monster do its little dance instead of attacking like it should.
- Once they found the reason why it's going sideways, it's time to fix it (they will also need to switch the Spring Update branch). Now just as before, that can be very simple (oh the value was wrong) or very complex (crap, fixing this means we have to tweak how the system works, potentially impacting other areas of the game and creating new bugs).
- Now when the bug is fixed, both on the Spring Update version (for the hotfix) and the final game's branch (so that the bug is also fixed when the final version hits the store), QA will need to start testing the entire game to make sure the fix isn't breaking something else. For those who may not remember it, because we released a hotfix too quickly in December's Winter Update, the minimap (which was working properly when the update was released) suddenly started crashing the game when used after the hotfix released - due to a change that had nothing to do with it (re-adding grass which was missing from Coparann). Due to the nature of Solasta being an RPG, it takes a tremendous amount of time to test properly - there are a lot of race / class combinations, spells that you could use in all sort of conditions, etc etc...
- Remember about the branches? All that testing needs to be done on the Spring Update branch, as that's what the players are playing. Meaning that in the meantime, QA is not testing on the final game branch - thus increasing the risk of not spotting bugs for the final release of the game.
- After all of that, Devs release the hotfix.
- Players download the patch, bug is fixed, woohoo! And hopefully no additional bugs were created in the process.
Now you should understand a bit better why we can't just keep on doing hotfixes while also working on completing the game. But does that mean reporting bugs is useless? Not at all! Here is what we're currently doing:
- Players find a bug, report it
- QA test the bug on the final game's branch, to make sure the bug wasn't already fixed since the Spring Update release. Find a way to replicate the bug, etc etc.
- Devs fix the bug on the final game's branch that they're already working on, this way the bug will be fixed in the 1.0 release.
- QA keep testing the final game's branch as they do on a daily basis, to see if they find bugs and if bugs that devs say are fixed are... well, indeed fixed or not.
- Devs release version 1.0 with better quality than if QA kept on running back and forth between two different branches.
As you can see, the difference mostly lies in focusing on one single branch and committing to it, instead of dancing between two different ones. While there's probably no developer in the world that enjoy bug fixes not being available to players after having already fixed them, we need to make sure we don't split our focus too much and endanger the quality and stability of the final 1.0 release. This way, we ensure we push Solasta at a better level of quality at launch!
Article by Tactical Myzzrym