Tactera Dev Update

Some Tactera news:

1) The Tactera Demo has gotten a great response, including a lot of suggestions for new features, which I plan to incorporate in the full game.

2) Development on the full version has continued with good results, but more slowly than expected.

3) As a result of both of the above, the full version of Tactera is behind schedule :(

Let’s look at each of those points in detail.

The Tactera Demo

The demo was launched at Christmas of last year, and people seem to like it! I’ve gotten a lot of mostly positive feedback. The game’s immersive look & feel and simple mechanics have received glowing praise, and I’m thrilled with that.

Of course, one big reason why the demo was released early was to get feedback on the not-so-good parts of the game and to gather requests and suggestions for new features. There have been a few ideas that have come up again and again. Specifically, most players (including myself) have noticed that the game’s balance needs work, with certain strategies or unit combinations dominating all the others. There was also a lot of confusion about how certain systems (like base upgrades) worked, highlighting the need for a more substantial tutorial and/or a more intuitive interface. Another common thread is a desire for greater control over units that have already been deployed, such as the ability to redirect them towards a new target.

I’m glad to get this feedback while there’s still time to make changes! In some cases, however, those changes can be more complicated than they seem. For instance, giving players more control over unit movement could have serious performance implications. When units were continuously marching toward their deaths, it effectively capped the total number that could be on the field at any one time. If players can retreat or hold units in reserve, it’s possible to gather so many units that the framerate drops to unplayable or nauseating levels. That’s not to say that I can’t make it work, but it does mean that I’ll need to spend extra time on finding a new solution to the problem.

Development Progress

About a week ago, the first multiplayer matches of Tactera were played at the Winter GameFest in San Diego:

This was a big milestone, and like the release of the demo, it revealed some encouraging strengths of the game (several matches were real nail-biters, with extended back-and-forth battles and dramatic comeback wins) as well as elements that need work.

Other parts of the game are nearing completion as well. The six unit types that are locked in the demo (Gunships, Heavy Tanks, Anti-Aircraft tanks, Mobile Artillery, Cruise Missiles, and Orbital Strikes) are implemented and feeling great. The campaign is fully designed, and lots of other small improvements are in progress. The full version of Tactera is shaping up well.

Delayed Launch

That said, development is proceeding slower than I had expected. Beyond Tactera, I’m responsible for updating Darknet (my other VR game), preparing for a speech at VRDC, and helping with the sequel to my old game Auralux as it nears its own launch. I knew that this would be a busy time, but I didn’t realize I was putting myself into an impossible position. Now, I can see that I overpromised when I gave earlier estimates of Tactera’s launch date.

Originally, I expected to be finished with Tactera in March, but it’s now clear that I’ll need extra time. I don’t want to give a specific date, though I know I’ll be personally disappointed if this delay adds more than a couple months to the launch date. In the best case, my schedule will clear up dramatically as my other obligations wrap up, and I can devote my time exclusively to finishing Tactera, but it’s probably more realistic to assume that progress will remain relatively slow.

Right now, I can only offer an apology to those who were expecting the game earlier and my heartfelt thanks to those who have played the demo and offered their feedback so far! I hope that the final product, when it’s complete, surpasses all your expectations.

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A game by E McNeill.