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Development Log 4 – Road to Early Access

Now that I’ve announced HOBL2 will be coming out for early access in August 2019, I though it would be a good idea to list what needs to be done before the game is actually ready for the public.

This is a pretty high level feature list that needs to be done before the game’s ready to go on Steam. I’ve broken it down to three basic categories: critical must have features, important features that should be there but can be added later if needed and nice to have features that make for a better experience but don’t make or break a release.

Many of these features are pretty vaguely described because I don’t want this post to be a 100 line point form list of programming tasks, but instead a view into what I consider an acceptable quality and completeness metric for entering early access. I threw in a % at the end to give and idea of how far along each group is before being ready for early access. The numbers are mostly guesses rather than objective measurements.

This list is also not the list for release of the full game. Pretty much everything mentioned is a key feature for the full game and must be done before the game can be considered complete. The list for the full game is much longer and will also evolve and develop during early access.

Critical Features

  • Major systems implemented. Worlds can be customized and generated, heroes recruited and parties created. Towns can be updated, building built, equipment purchased. Dungeons can be generated, explored and looted. Combat can be fought and won or lost. The core of the game should function and early access can be used to iterate and expand systems rather than implement them. [95%]
  • Reasonably balanced. You shouldn’t die at the first encounter you meet nor should you cut through every enemy you find. The balance won’t be perfect, there will still be exploits and certain unbalanced encounters and builds, but these should be rare. [60%]
  • Stable build. The game shouldn’t crash. I won’t say never crash, and I won’t say bug free but you should have a reasonable expectation that you can play the game for a decent amount of time and it not break. [75%]

Important Features

  • Playable end to end. The game should be complete-able from start to finish. The quests may be limited, the game may not always be fun and there might not be a end game screen but you should be able to make it to the end of the game. [50%?]
  • Solid procedural generation. Generated worlds and dungeons should basically just work and produce interesting, balanced and functional spaces. This is hard to do just because of the sheer number of possible combinations, but it’s important because HOBL is based on this generation. [75%?]
  • Fun. I’d like the initial release of HOBL2 to be fun to play, even if it’s limited in content it should be fun to play the game, loot dungeons and do many the things you’ll do in the full game and enjoy it. This requires most of the features above to be working well plus enough polish to make the experience smooth. I’d like the early access to feel like a game that’s building up rather than some janky early alpha test. [75%?]
  • Bug reporting features. I’d like to have some in-game way to report issues and bugs easily and quickly. HOBL1 had a bug report button that was a good idea, but it wasn’t that great to use. For early access I’d like to have a system that makes it easy to report issues without making either me or the reported do extra work. [0%]

Nice to Have Features

  • UI fully skinned.
  • Cloud saves.
  • All hero Jobs implemented.
  • Multi-party dungeons.
  • Interesting amount of quests.
  • Varied amount of monsters.
  • Equipment and modifiers defined.

Not Planned For Early Access

There are still many features and content that won’t be part of early access until much later: non-windows builds, most monsters, most dungeon types, non-human heroes, non-human towns, music and really almost too much to list. Most content creation will happen during the early access period.

In Summary…

I hope this post give a bit more details on what to expect later this year, and hopefully lets future players set their expectations for early access appropriately.

The last few development logs have been pretty focused on either HOBL1 or some vague high level goals. In future posts I hope to look into more specific development issues and progress. Stay tuned!