Rejoice, miners! We hereby present the Roadmap, outlining our plans for what the next handful of Updates will focus on over the next half year or so. It's the furthest we have ever looked into the future - as we start getting closer to an actual release, we feel it's about time that we start planning further ahead than the usual 4-5 weeks we've been doing so far. You, we, and the game, deserve better than that.
However, it should be mentioned at this point (in very large neon letters), that what we outline here is not a promise of exactly what will end up in the game. This is the current PLAN, yes - but plans can and will change. Luckily, usually for the better. For instance, Update 16 was originally slated for August, but we moved it to September so we could put some serious effort into squashing this particularly obnoxious bug!
So, what's in the roadmap? What's the goal here?
Our primary goal is to bring the game into a release ready state. We are not stating when it will hit full release (it might still be a year from now), but completing this roadmap will bring us that much closer to pushing the big green release button. That said, we are really enjoying the journey in Early Access, and the continued success allows us to decide on when to do full release at a later point.
Let's have a look at the planned updates one at a time.
We originally released the game with 7 biomes in it. They were visually distinct, but we never managed to get as diverse gameplay in there as we initially aimed for. With the introduction of our new biome, Glacial Strata, we are taking a big step towards achieving that. The goal is to bring every biome in the game at least up to the same baseline as Glacial Strata, and will continue to work on these in parallel with the updates.
The Abyss Bar has been part of our plan from Day One, and was originally planned for the Early Access release. Now we finally got a chance to get it done, and just in time for Oktoberfest! It will be a bit barebones for now as we continue to develop the systems, but expect the bar and what you can do in there to expand over time.
The new armor sets have been teased on Twitter and are just the start of more vanity items to come. As with other things, this is something we'll produce in parallel with the more prominent update features.
When we introduced Perks, we did so knowing this was just the first iteration and that they would need plenty of tweaking and expanding to reach their full potential. But that's the way we work - we bang out a functional prototype and get it into the game. We prefer it in the hands of you guys, to use and discuss and give feedback on rather than work on stuff in secret for months. For this update, they'll get another trip through the wringer without compromising game balance too much. We hope to implement a lot of community suggested Perks, and already have a massive list of things we want to do ourselves.
This update is very system-heavy and will introduce several new long-term mechanics to keep you invested in the game. Or at least, that's our intention!
Daily Adventures will be short series of high-yield missions to played consecutively for special rewards, and are aimed at our more dedicated players. They will be seeded, so all players will be able to play the exact same mission and compare results - but for that day only.
Campaigns are also strings of missions, but they are more ambitious. We have bigger plans for Campaigns down the line, but we will initially implement one to focus on the New Player Experience in an effort to introduce a more intuitive and narrative way of unlocking content.
Character Retirement is a way to keep investing into the game after maxing out a particular Class. Basically, you retire the character and start it over, and cash in some as-yet undetermined prize for doing so - likely a way to increase Player Rank further, but probably other things too.
The Big One - our surveys show that this is the most requested addition to the game (for most of the team too, to be fair). This makes it both a fascinating and terrifying thing to design and release. It WILL change the game, but we're confident it will do so in a positive and exciting way. In any case, we'll be listening intently to your feedback and will keep iterating to get this aspect right.
Yes, the game is co-op first, but Solo Mode is still an important (and critical) gateway into the game. Therefore we want to add a bit of spice to the solo experience. The Campaign system from Update 18 will take care of most of this, but we also want to add a full upgrade path to our trusty companion robot Bosco.
In this update, we will also introduce more Difficulty Levels to bring both easier and much harder challenges to the game. We'll also expand on our internal tools and systems, so difficulty adjustments can be made using more parameters than now - currently Difficulty is mostly governed by tweaking just Damage and Health, and we want to expand on that.
Initially, we had a Tourist mode in the game. It was an attempt to cater to players that simply wanted to explore the caves and have some light fun, but several things about it felt off - for instance, you could still die, and the mode awarded no XP. We opted to remove it back then, but we intend to provide a much more fleshed-out full Exploration Mode. The design for this is still quite nebulous, but the goal is to cater to players that seek a less stressful experience with more focus on traversal, navigation, and discovery, with less emphasis on combat.
The Lore Terminal will introduce a very conveninent way for us to expand the lore of the game without getting all up in your face about it. Through playing, you'll unlock new entries, and slowly build up a lexicon of information on all the enemies, history, places, people, minerals, and so forth in the world of DRG. The plan is to utilize the scanner tool for much of this and build actual gameplay and potential rewards into it. We have tons of ideas for this, but the design is still very much in its' infant stages.
The Space Rig remains one of the most unpolished parts of the game, and it shows - plenty of you have pointed this out, and trust us, we know. We've deliberately kept it very basic to more easily accomodate new additions to it, but now's the time to start bringing it up to proper production quality. This update will not only include a serious facelift to the visuals, but also add more things to do while you are goofing around in-between missions.
This is a massive list of other things planned for 2019. We will likely not be able to implement all of these, but we certainly hope to. While some of these are also highly requested (like female dwarf models, we hear you), they also represent substantial production efforts that we would like to push a bit into the future.
The New Character Class also needs an extra remark. It has been on our drawing board for a long time, but we decided to postpone until we have seen the impact of Update 19. Otherwise, we might end up with a lot of extra work in re-doing this new Class.
Again, to reiterate, this plan is likely to change as we progress. We would be quite surprised if we end up doing things exactly as stated here - time might slip as well. But we hope this roadmap has at least given you a good idea of our intentions and of what to expect. And keep your suggestions, ideas, criticisms, and general feedback coming - it really does make a difference, even if we may not personally answer every question.
ROCK & STONE!