Remember that thing called The Ship? Yup, it’s back. Time to don your finest evening wear, sharpen your toasting fork and say farewell to your friendships. They belong to us now.
Next Monday (15th Feb), The Ship: Remasted leaves dry dock and sails into Early Access, so we just wanted to take some time to explain what that means and what you can expect from us over the next few months.
Transparency & Community Involvement
Early Access is all about community involvement and that’s one of the main reasons we’re going through this process. We’re still a small studio with limited resources, so as much as we’d love to, it’ll be impossible for us to implement all the great suggestions players will come up with. This is a big project and it’s important we keep it on track by ensuring that we don’t veer off course too much (this, of course, doesn’t mean we can’t look at new things in the future though!).
However, we’re always open about what we’re doing and as such you can expect regular updates on the progress of the project.
The first source of information players will have access to is our Development Roadmap which will be updated frequently. The roadmap sets out what we have planned and gives you an idea of what stage each component is at (and the summary at the top will give an overview of the current status of the project).
Some of these things are inflexible (it’s important we stick to our schedule), but other areas we do have some flexibility with. So for example, we won’t be adding new maps to the game (as part of this project at least), but for things like the security system, needs system and the new UI, we do have some flexibility to take on and implement feedback from players. Drop by the Steam Community if you want to chat about these things.
We’ll be releasing regular updates for the game, so expect things to move along at a good pace, but please keep in mind with any development project, delays can happen. We’re not going to release an update if it’s producing too many bugs in testing, so that might delay some patches coming out. We would expect to be able to release updates twice a month at least.
In addition to this, we’ll be running parallel testing which all players will eventually be able to opt-in to if they want. This would involve testing new content and features before the update goes out to the public version of the game. Again, drop by the Steam forums if you want to get involved.
Each week we’ll also publish a Weather Report. This is a short update on what we’ve been doing recently and what’s coming up, as well as looking at some interesting recent community discussions. If you’d like to follow the progress of development, but don’t necessarily want to get involved with testing – this is for you!
Most of our team are active on the forums and will regularly comment on discussions and might ask you for more information if you report a bug (screenshots, output logs and system specs usually). There’s already a high volume of posts on the forums, so we can’t reply to every post. But, everything is read and the feedback does make its way back to the right people, so please, do come along and share your thoughts.
State of the Game
***VERY EARLY ALPHA ALERT***
We’d love to be able to show off a finished game and call it Beta so you can all tell us what a great job we did. That would be a good day.
Instead, we have a legitimately early alpha game. There’s lots of stuff still to be added and bugs, oh the bugs, there’s lots of bugs! Sexy, funny and terrifying bugs!
Well, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but “early alpha” is a fair description of the game right now. It’s entirely playable, but only 4 maps are currently available and some features have yet to be added. We’ve also got more work to do polishing and optimising the performance of the game. That said, feedback from testers has been very positive and we hope you’ll agree.
One of the key areas you’ll notice (and is potentially an issue if you are thinking about buying), is that the game is currently LAN only. We don’t expect this to remain the case for long (a few weeks), but be aware of this anyway.
Early in the project we looked at different options for multiplayer – LAN, Dedicated Servers and Relay Servers – and decided that Relay Servers were a good all-round solution that would work for everyone. We spent time working using Unity Cloud Services for this, but it is still a fledgling product and it hasn’t worked out (it’s functional, but the bandwidth allocation is too small for The Ship, so matches were timing out pretty fast). We still hope to revive this option when Unity offers this as a paid service which will allow us to purchase a higher bandwidth.
LAN is functional and although this isn’t ideal for some players, it is an option. A number of players have been using Evolve to run LAN games, but we should stress we haven’t tested this method and can’t currently support it. We’ve used the closed testing period and will use the first few weeks of Early Access to optimise the performance of the game in preparation for Dedicated Server support.
The team are also working on Dedicated Server support just now. This will allow anyone to set up a game as a host without too much trouble (you will be able to install the Dedicated Server tool separately if you want, but everything could be managed via the game menu) and also easily run the game on rental servers if you so choose. We would expect this to be released for testing pretty soon although we don’t have a firm ETA on this just now.
If you’re happy to get involved with testing the game at this early stage, you’ll still be able to check out the available maps, and any feedback you have would be great.
We’ve added a loyalty discount of 25%, which is available to anyone who has the original game in their Steam library. This will only apply for a short period after we launch into Early Access.
Your move, punk. 😉
The team here at Blazing Griffin would like to say how great it is to be working on The Ship! This project has been a looooong time in the works! The original game is fantastic and it’s been a great pleasure to have several of the original devs join the team as Technical Director, Lead Programmer and Animator. Bringing an old franchise up to date is a huge challenge and a lot of work has gone into the project – it’s great to see such positive feedback so early on.
Fans of The Ship have been great – hugely supportive of what we’re doing and the response so far has been amazing. Thank you all and we hope you enjoy what’s still to come!
The Blazing Griffin team