February Pre-Alpha Test Recap

Another month, another OrbusVR test! We had a great time last night hanging out with you all, and based on the feedback we've gotten so far, the vast majority of you had a fun time as well. Thanks for coming out to help us test the servers and the client, and to those of you who suffered through crashes and helped us debug issues, we especially appreciate you! If you didn't get to already, you can leave us our feedback on the community forums to tell us what you thought about the game.

Overall, around 700 people participated in the test yesterday over a 10 hour period. During that time, more than 580 hours was played. Many people played for more than an hour, and one person actually played for 7 hours and 48 minutes! Wow!

Since we've started doing these stress tests a few months ago, more than 1500 people have played in OrbusVR. It's amazing to see the support the VR community has given this game. We're really humbled and we appreciate all of you immensely.

What Went Well, What Went Not As Well

The test went really well overall. We had a few bumpy moments in the first hour (that's how it always goes) where people triggered bugs that caused server and client crashes. As with anything, there's only so much we can catch in our own testing; when you get 100 people in something it's going to stress it and uncover additional issues. For one typical example: two people attacking a monster at once, then one of them dying right as the monster tried to poison them, then the other person attacking the monster at the same time, was apparently an issue. Go figure.

After those first hour bugs were worked out, though, and we pushed out a new client, the vast majority of players were having only minimal issues, and the server was very stable. We did have to restart the beginning zone about once every 2 hours to clear out some stuck monsters that were slowly eating up all the CPU, but we have a plan in place to fix that before the next test.

The main disappointment of the night for us was definitely the combat balance. It became clear from the feedback that the monsters were tuned to be far too difficult, especially in the beginner zone. Most people felt like they were only able to kill monsters in a large group, which isn't what we intended. We'll spend a lot of time working on the game balance before the next test...the idea is that you should be able to solo a same-level monster, and multiple same-level monsters would require a small party, and elite-level monsters will require a full party.

But still, hearing from you about how you tackled the dungeon, found new friends, and went on rune-discovering adventures is what makes it all worth it. So I really do hope that you had a fun time, and you are looking forward to spending more time with us in OrbusVR in the future!

The Future

Speaking of the future, let's talk about that! Now that we're past our last Pre-Alpha test, I'm excited to outline how we see this thing going from here to Early Access.

Kickstarter

We're going to kick things off with a Kickstarter campaign beginning March 6th. This campaign will only last one week. Both because we are hoping to take advantage of a Kickstarter themed promotion happening during that time, and because we don't really want to slow down development for a whole month (or more). And I can tell you from personal experience, doing a Kickstarter campaign will pretty much kill all game development until it's over.

This campaign will hopefully be our chance to start getting covered on major VR news sites and gaming sites, and just generally expand awareness about the game. So please help us spread the word when the time comes!

During this Kickstarter, we'll have some great rewards you can choose from. Closed Beta and Alpha access, head start for when the game launches, even the opportunity to get a Market stall permit or have your likeness permanently enshrined in the game world forever. So be sure to check that out on March 6th and see what you might be interested in.

Note that the fundraising goal for the campaign is going to be modest. We have looked at what other VR Kickstarters are doing and it's clear that while the VR market is passionate, it is also small. The good news is that this game is already 'fully funded.' We will finish it no matter what. But if we can raise some extra money now to spend on more art, better sound effects, a proper writer, and more help in general? Well that's worth the effort for sure, and hopefully you'll find us worthy of your support.

Testing Schedule

We'll be rolling out a full testing schedule during the Kickstarter campaign. But generally speaking, we are going to move into official Alpha status before the next test, which will be in late March. At that time we'll start having more frequent Closed Alpha tests, probably every few weeks. We'll also hold a couple of Closed Alpha tests, but those will be 6-8 weeks apart, like our previous tests have been. So if you want the opportunity to play everything as soon as we're working on it, be sure to look at getting into the Closed Alpha tests.

We anticipate staying in Alpha for 3 - 4 months. Our original goal was to go into Beta at the end of Q2 2017 (so in June), and we're on track to hit that or at least not miss it too badly.

After that, we'll remain in Beta until we think the game is ready to launch into Early Access. We think that will be around 3 months, but it may take up to 6 depending on how the tests go. During Beta we'll continue to do frequent Closed Beta tests, while offering the occasional Open Beta test as well.

That means the game will launch into Early Access no later than Q4 2017, with our ideal goal still being Q3 2017. We'll keep you up to date about how we're feeling on that target as we move toward the date.

What's In the Next Test?

Although we haven't set a date just yet, in the next test you can look forward to:

  • Better monster balancing
  • The first crafting class introduced
  • Expanding the Fishing class
  • Re-working of the looting system
  • A re-work of the Warrior shield (to make it actually block things)
  • Performance improvements, bug fixes, etc.
  • Plus some surprise stuff we're not even going to mention yet! :-)

See you at the Kickstarter campaign in a couple of weeks!

Riley Dutton

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