As we enter 2014, looking back, it’s been a great year for Flix and Eden Star...
At the start of the year we began by rounding up designs and started pushing key prototypes towards the full gameplay loop. Our goal was to create a basic (but fairly bug free) combat demo by the end of the year that helped bring together the vision for the game.
In order to make Eden Star with as few compromises as possible, we looked into the world of crowd-funding opportunities. We felt that this avenue provided fans and players a sense of ownership and gifted us with the means to create a truly epic, awesome game.
Over the following months, a small group of the team worked on preparing the Kickstarter project, working through the information, media, tiers, and rewards required whilst the main team worked on developing prototypes of initial gameplay designs that were flagged as our biggest hurdles for development. A huge amount of progress was made by the Dev team in a very short time and we held focus groups in order to gain honest, unbiased feedback on the basic gameplay. As is always the case with decent test sessions; the feedback was invaluable and revealed areas such as the control system and HUD feedback that required a decent amount of work, other areas of note included far more clear and effective ways of introducing controls and features to new players.
In preparation for pushing out public builds the crew we had working on the kickstarter also submitted the game to Steam Greenlight and we were humbled and ecstatic to be voted through in the record time of 6 days by you awesome people. As a massive thank you, we decided to accelerate Dev work so that we could bring something to the public as soon as possible. We rushed through the final organisation of the kickstarter and put together a basic tutorial for the tech demo in order to present at as many game events over the coming months as we could. In September the team were given the opportunity to show off a very early build of Eden Star at the Eurogamer Expo in London, one of the biggest public game events in the UK. We were excited to be exhibiting alongside other talented Indie game devs such as Mark Foster (CHROMA) , Coilworks (Cloudbuilt), I Fight Bears (FIST OF AWESOME), KO-OP Mode (Skipping Stones) and Rain Games (Teslagrad) - all of whom we're amazing people - but we were most excited to share what we had been putting together!
The Tech Demo went down amazingly well at the event and we were rewarded with incredible feedback and smiling faces, even winning game of the show from 1001-up! Although it was early days, and there was plenty more work to be done, the build we showed got a great amount of media coverage and an amazing response from players. After rushing through the kickstarter planning we unfortunately missed the first launch window and the first wave of media attention due to a delay in the authentication process, but we decided to launch the kickstarter at end of September anyway. We sent out press-packages which included early versions of the Pre-alpha combat Tech Demo, and received positive previews and support from PC Gamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, Kotaku, GamesOn.net, and 1001-up.com, video reviews from Pixelenemy.com and Raven, and even some livesteams such as Spootyman’s Twitch channel!
It was amazing to see people from around the world get their hands on this early version and enjoy what they had played! Despite the enormous help of Kickstarter backers and the gaming press, the overwhelming response was that people wanted to get their hands on the early build as soon as possible. After listening to the community’s feedback we decided to announce, whilst showing Eden Star at Minecon 2013, that we would cancel the campaign entirely in favour of early access.
This result was a better outcome for everyone involved! Immediately, we launched via Humble Bundle widget, through our own site. We flipped our previous, complex tariff and tier system on it’s head and stripped it down to a single pre-order in which anyone who pledged just $15 or higher would get access to Alpha and, dependent on funding, Beta and beyond, as well as receive the Pre-alpha Combat Tech Demo completely free!
This simplification of our systems allowed us to put our energy into development and has given us the time to improve the Tech Demo and add additional features; including automatic turrets, construction tweaks, tighter performance, a basic day-night cycle, and a clearer tutorial section to get new players into the game faster.
Whilst finishing the demo we started moving the team over to development of the remaining pre-production components in UE4 and more recently into early production of the Alpha build. Development of the Eden Star Alpha (in UE4) is now going strong, allowing us to do what we originally set out to do with far more efficiency, greater performance and aesthetic style.
Over the past few months we have been exhibiting the Eden Star Pre-Alpha Combat Tech Demo around the world, from Kiev to Paris and from London to Orlando, it has been amazing to hear your feedback and put it into the game. With help and support from our friends at Nvidia and Epic, the team are now working through prototypes of many new features, pushing the limits and discovering just what is possible within the new technology. We hope to show you some of these features very soon!
So, thank you from all of us at Flix, to everyone who has supported us over the past year!
Catch you later!