As you may have noticed by now, the NS2 closed beta has been released! We have been working our butts off to get the game ready for this milestone and, well, we're actually quite tired. But besides that, we're very excited!
This update reveals the new NS2 Fade and his new blink ability (see mayhem below). It was always the goal to have the Fade truly teleport properly, but the old Half-life engine never seemed up to the task, so he just moved really fast. Not any more! He can disappear and reappear behind marines, on top of structures and pretty much anywhere else his little black heart desires. We've also released the alien "Whip" structure, an all new hive sight (which any of my co-workers can attest, I keep talking about) and tons of other fixes and improvements.
The other big change you'll probably notice from our previous versions is improved performance on both the client and the server. With the last few updates we've been putting a lot of effort into this and we're going to continue to work on it until it's perfect.
Next up - we're reworking and optimizing the commander interfaces to make them more useable and MUCH faster. We're also going to be adding in the Onos, new flamethrower effects, pathing fixes, new maps (mineshaft is on its way) and incorporating the feedback we get from all of you. Instead of waxing rhapsodical about these details, let me take a moment to explain why we're releasing this beta when the alpha has been so rocky.
In a perfect world, we would have a big pile of money, a big team and some gleaming technology that works perfectly for our dream game. We would know exactly what we're building, how long it would take and we would create everything once. Anyone that's worked on a game or written any piece of software of any size or interest knows this never happens. So the amount of money we thought we needed wasn't enough. Not even close. The technology we started with wasn't working for our features. Not even close. Our team wasn't big enough and everything took way. Way. Longer.
But all was not lost. From the day we released NS v1.0 when it "wasn't ready" (remember the pings on that Halloween anyone?), we learned that there is tremendous value to shipping. Anyone can imagine what a great game is like, but shipping makes it all real. It answers all sorts of questions, cuts through the crap and raises many more. You find out what works and what doesn't. And during that time, when you have everyone sending you e-mail about what you need to fix RIGHT NOW, you are incredibly focused on what is most important. It's crystal clear, because it's not in your mind, you've played it. This doesn't happen when you're in R&D mode or when you're testing with a small group of players. WIthout shipping, you change the wrong things and try to build the best solution, not the right one.
So when we released the alpha, when our funds were running low and we were wondering how we could possibly get to the finish line, we decided to ship. There were more technical and other problems than we realized and that's always painful, but the pressure and attention and real-world testing made it very real and helped us get it working faster than if we kept it to ourselves. Now, short on resources and needing more input, we knew that we had to release beta. Having a deadline set in stone (today) made us work even harder and fix so many things (surprise!) right in the nick of time. It's kind of magical how it works. So in a perfect world, none of this pressure would be necessary. But we don't live in total financial abundance and we are forced to work with what we have. So far so good.
It has been an extremely long and difficult journey for us, but we're rounding the bend in the last leg of our journey. We had no idea how much work we were in for when scoping out this game (which later also became an engine, a map editor, lua debugger and more more more). Speaking for myself, if I knew how much work this was going to be, I may not have done it. Yet here we are and here you are.
I want you all to know that, unlike most developers, every dollar of pre-orders has gone into making the game better. We are co-creating this game together and none of this would have been possible without your financial and other support. Now we simply ask that you play, give gentle, honest feedback and know that we reading, listening and working - to make this game great.
Thanks to all of you - players, Constellation members and pre-orderers. We wouldn't be here today without you.