We’re happy to announce that after almost 2 years of Alpha development, our team has successfully pushed the first BETA marked build of Take On Mars to Steam. While this suggests that we’re closing in for the final release of the game later this year, there is still a lot to be done and polished: including additional features we’re considering for further development.
In that aspect, we see the first BETA release as an important milestone that sets the basic boundaries for the game – meaning that from the gameplay perspective, no radical changes (such as the additional multiplayer mode or the manned missions were in the past) should happen in future.
From a player perspective, the main task of this BETA release is mainly to provide a set of stabilizing fixes: for example the texture crash bug that was causing a lot of pain recently, as well as several other crashes, should now be resolved.
Looking ahead, we will keep adding content until we reach a feature complete BETA, and we will also be looking at some refinements to the content that already is in the game. The first iteration of these refining efforts can already be seen in this build, where we’ve reworked most of the user interface, including the one in our in-game editor.
Announced earlier, we will of course keep working on the redesign of building blocks (there are still several tasks that need to be done) and with some additional help from our fellow game designers at Bohemia Interactive, we will also think about possible tweaks regarding the overall experience players have with Take On Mars.
With the first BETA release, we’re also changing the price of Take On Mars a little bit – from now on, new players will be able to buy our Early Access BETA starting at 21,99$/19,99€/15,99£, while of course nothing changes for those of you who already own the game.
Take On Mars was originally announced two years ago at E3 2013. What was then a Mars rover simulator has grown into a significantly larger game - especially with the addition of a manned section, multiplayer and new locations such as the Moon or the Low Earth Orbit. Since Bohemia Interactive is sponsoring the first PC Gaming Show[www.pcgamingshow.com] at E3 this year, we thought we could use the opportunity to present Take On Mars there - and we did. With a brand new trailer and a 33% OFF sale!
Prepping for E3 combined with a bunch of other major things on our to-do lists ultimately resulted in moving the BETA release a little bit further. As we also want the BETA release to be as stable as possoble, we want to avoid pushing updates too often, because this could make the odds of randomly messing things up quite high.
With that said, we've had a period where we seemingly kept things quiet, but the reality behind the scenes was quite the opposite of that. Let's take a look at some of the things our team's been working on lately.
Major building redesign
Changing the design of buildings and building blocks is something that not everyone would consider necessary, but it's going to be an important part of the BETA release. The word "redesign" in this context means not only changing the models and textures, but basically reworking the entire system of what players can build with available parts.
Bases built with the new building blocks will feel less like "bubbles" and more like real buildings. Making the blocks larger and available in many different shapes and variants should also sweeten the building process and lead to more unique, believable structures. Also, interior and exterior blocks are now separate. This allows for the construction of greenhouses (only exterior panels with windows), or full buildings with several floors and rooms.
Since proper interiors would feel empty without more equipment, we are now also working on additional furniture pieces, such as sofas, beds or new chairs that have their intended functionality.
Ragdoll and character animations
Don't jump around a lot in Take On Mars, or you'll experience some nasty falls! If you are subscribed to the Test Branch on Steam, you've probably already noticed the new contextual climbing animation. Another addition to the character movement in the BETA will be ragdolls. If you, for some reason, miss your jump, fall unconscious, die, or have no oxygen, your friends will be able to drag you into an airlock, or you'll be able to recover your things from your body later - all that with new animations.
Killing bugs and crashes
We've been recently fighting some nasty crashes related to texture size, which we will need to reduce a bit, because it was filling the available video memory in a sub-optimal way. Also, atmospheric zones are incorrectly generated on occasion (sometimes a zone is not generated where it should be), so this is one fix we need to take care of, as well as bunch of other things: for example, we've spent quite some time working on the Steam Workshop implementation, which we are quite proud of. It is fully functional now and makes the process of joining multiplayer sessions with mods much easier.
Before the BETA release, we also need to address another important part of Take On Mars development: localization. We are now coordinating the translation of Take On Mars into 10 different languages. Combined, the original English texts contain more than 38 000 words, while the biggest portion of the text is dedicated to the Take On Mars Wiki (which is basically a big educational handbook with everything you need to know about Mars or space exploration).
One thing we would really, really like to emphasize is that majority of translations is taken care of by either enthusiastic professional translators or with the help of Take On Mars community members. We would like to thank everyone participating in the translation process for their hard work (hint: they will be soon able to read their names in Credits!). After we finish the largest chunk of translations during BETA, we are confident that players from around the world will appreciate the effort put into it. Please bear in mind though that translations in BETA will be a work in progress, constantly developing and improving until full release, as will be the case for the whole game of course.
BETA release date and one sneaky surprise
We have the the BETA release scheduled on July 3rd, 2015, and we will do our best to deliver in time. After all, we really want to, because if all goes well, we should be able to treat you with a very exciting addition to the game sometime after BETA. But let's just keep it a surprise feature for now on.
I would like to start off by thanking you all for your support thus far, it has been tremendously rewarding, and Take On Mars would not be what it is today without you!
Thanks to this and our desire to make this game as great as possible, we have decided to revise the release plans.
This means our previously released 'Roadmap to Release' is no longer applicable.
The planned Beta release has been pushed to the 16th June, 2015, and the final release date will be determined after that point, because we want to avoid promising a release date and not delivering on time, preferring to properly finish what we have planned rather than unnecessarily cut features that bring a lot to the game.
I am also happy to announce that our team has slightly expanded in order to help bring the project to completion while keeping to a high level of quality.
I believe this is very positive news and the team is elated, so it is our sincere hope that you, our dedicated fans, are as well!
In short, this means:
* Beta release on the 16th of June, 2015
* Final release date TBD after Beta
* Planned features will be completed, nothing will be cut from the plans
* The team is focused on polishing and improving existing features
We really hope everyone is as happy about this news as us, and we look forward to receiving further feedback from you all!
Today we released a roadmap[www.bistudio.com] detailing our plans for Take On Mars from January 2015 through to release of version 1.0 in June 2015. It details the most important highlights, such as the completion of the survival elements, the addition of the Manned section to the Space Program mode, and most importantly, release dates.
Many, myself included, are looking forward to the addition of the Manned section to the Space Program mode, and we sincerely hope not to disappoint. This will be story driven, focusing on survival in a catastrophic failure scenario. I am sure this culmination to the Space Program mode will whet the appetite for playing with friends online in the Cooperative or planned Competitive modes. I hope to meet many of you on the surface of our red neighbour.
I'd like to clarify a few things about the plan, specifically about the move to Beta. While still within Early Access, the game at this point will move into a feature-lock state, where no additional features are added and rather existing features and gameplay mechanics are tweaked to perfection. There may be exceptions, but the idea is to make the game run as smoothly as possible giving everyone the best possible experience.
Additionally of note, tutorials will be added in May, which will help new players get into the game intuitively via short in-game videos that will be played in correlation with what the player is doing. For example, driving a vehicle for the first time will bring up the tutorial for controlling vehicles, and so on.
I hope we deliver to expectations, and would reiterate my gratitude for all your support since initial Early Access release back in August 2013.