Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Launched into Early Access. Blimey etc

So…Here we are, a few days after the release of Production Line into Early Access on Steam and GoG. How did it go I hear you ask?

Well if you read my earlier post on the pre-release guesswork and nerves here, you will recall that I was hoping to sell 300 copies in the first day, and had extrapolated to that showing the game to be a decent success that i would be very happy with. It turns out we sold about triple that amount (including humble,steam and GoG), so suffice to say I am very happy with how well the game is being received. Also we are getting some very nice coverage like this, which is always good.

On the flip-side, we clearly have a few crashes in the game AND also had a bad problem with balance. Essentially, the 1.19 release which was the EA build was unbalanced in terms of the rate at which the AI researched car technology, and also the number of technologies that could become universal. The system meant that very rapidly the AI had reduced cars to being effectively worthless because you needed a ton of essential tech which you could charge for, and went bankrupt…yikes.

This was patched yesterday, and the AI is now much calmer, the list of tech that can ever become universal is shorter, and the universal tech is still (partly) chargeable, making the game much more playable. of course now a few people say it is way too easy so…thats the next step in the path of game balance :D

The big moment of stress for me over the weekend was a sort of self-induced problem. I had been working for a while (in the run-up to the 18th) on a major revamp of the way car designs are done, allowing you to define different car ‘models’ such as ‘Standard’ ‘Sport’ Deluxe’ etc, and have your production line recognize each car and install the appropriate bits. This is VASTLY better than the old system  that shipped in 1.19. This was also something that players of the game had requested quite strongly through the priorities voting, and something I wanted to get in ASAP. The problem is that I hugely underestimated the ramifications in code of doing this, and how much needed to be changed, tweaked, fixed, and tested. The result was that I had a half-finished feature I really badly needed to finish before I could look at the balance and crash issues people were angry about.

At one stage we dropped out of ‘positive’ steam reviews to ‘mixed’. ARGHHHHHHH.

So to cut a long sleepless story short, I worked a damned lot of hours on coding, testing and verifying this feature, did some emergency code fixing for the balance stuff (which is also a vast improvement) and finally after a lot of testing released 1.20 to the world yesterday (GoG build still uploading…damned internet). As a result we are back in ‘positive’ scores, and things can only get better :D

So…apart from how stressful EA launches can be what else have I learned?

  1. People don’t leave steam reviews. Maybe 1% if you are lucky. You really would be amazed at how skewed steam reviews are. I have no idea how to fix this to ensure its more balanced :(
  2. Youtubers who request keys through a proper site (like keymailer) often do not accept the key when you give it to them. then most of them who accept it never install or run the game. Most of the ones who install and run the game don’t make a video, or even tweet about it. This is both surprising and infuriating.
  3. People automatically expect to get a game cheaper in the future. We have about 15,000 wishlists already. I have zero intention of dropping the price or putting the game in a sale. it will be interesting to watch what happens as a result.

I feel so much happier than yesterday when I was stressed as hell. And yet then, today some extremist maniac blew up children in my country. FFS.

6 thoughts on Launched into Early Access. Blimey etc

  1. Great game, thanks for your hard work. One suggestion though. It was easy to get very very rich in a relatively short time, now it’s even easier with the update. I would like it to be more challenging, otherwise it gets boring fast.

    1. yup, the competitions ability to put price pressure on you isn’;t high enough, but I’ll be fixing that in the next patch.

  2. Hi Cliff,
    Congratulation for putting Production Line in EA :)

    In my mind I don’t buy it since in viewing screens and gameplay it seems to be lke Big Pharma. And I was a bit disappointed with it…

    So may be I’m wrong but this what I think now.

    Moreover, if I can suggest you some french youtubers that I like, list below : (one of my favorite for PC games)

    This is a comment from Paris by a gamer. I’m reading your blog for years.

    Thx to share this with us ;)

  3. Hi Cliff,

    Interesting game. I’m keeping an eye on it.

    Personally I use the wishlist as a reminder to myself, and so do my friends and family. Probably others too. Not all of those 15.000 are awaiting a sale or lower price. In fact, the wishlist is meant to be able to gift others games they are interested in. Don’t see it as a negative thing ;-)


    1. Agreed. My game queue is huge, so I rarely buy games when they become available. I also don’t want to forget about games that look interesting, so I’ll add them to my wishlist so I’ll know what to buy when I’ve got room for something new.

      Of course, if the price has happened to drop in the meantime it’s not unwelcome.

  4. Congratulations! What a shame that some YouTubers aren’t respecting your trust in this way, sounds like you’ve got a handle on any fixes though so it’s all up from here!

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