Whoof! What a month! On 1st July, we launched Sunless Sea in Early Access on Steam. It did, by the standards of an indie studio’s debut videogame, really very well. This was great – and thank you all for your support – but it also meant we spent weeks struggling to deal with support issues, press, and infrastructure work. We’re back on top now, but it cost us a chunk of development and writing time
So EMERALD is a slimmed-down version of what we originally planned. But we’re determined not to go too long between major updates, so we’re getting this one out of the door. It’s in final testing now – you can expect to see it drop in the next few days.
Here’s what’s coming…
- MAP SHUFFLING. This is the headline feature. The Unterzee now feels properly uncertain on each new career. We’ve gone beyond what we originally said we’d do – not only is the map shuffled between each replay, but also you’ll see variant forms of some tiles and islands. It’s working smoothly and we’ve been careful about what gets shuffled where, but expect weird and wonderful balance stuff until it settles down.
- NEW LANDS! We didn’t manage to get Rattsey or Visage in – those will come later – but you’ll see the Salt Lions, the Mangrove College and the Sea of Autumns, and especially the Iron Republic.
- SHIP NAMES. You’ll begin the game with a random ship name, but you can now rename it without buying a new one.
- ZEE-BAT. This now works properly, and comes with a Mark On Chart feature to make it easier to navigate to newly spotted islands.
- CHART IMPROVEMENTS. It’s much easier to wrangle the chart, and it’s now way prettier.
- NEW SOUND EFFECTS. Liam’s been working on making the zee much more audible. I particularly enjoy the bats, myself.
- NEW CONTENT. If you’ve been using Get New Stories regularly you’ll have seen a lot of this, but look out especially for the Overheard on Deck events, the Nephrite Quarter in the Khanate and the unusual trading options in the Iron Republic. (The word count in Sunless Sea has officially passed 100,000 words with this release.)
- We were hoping to get enhancements to Legacies in too – but that’ll have to wait, sorry.
AND THE FUTURE. So we’ve been listening carefully to feedback. The two biggest problems with the game are
(i) combat – too long, too frequent, not fun enough
(ii) rewards – too hard to get started and too random
- As we’ve said, this is going to improve over time. But we’re going to shift the priority away from filling out each island with random events, and more towards systems and interconnected stories. It’s mostly the same content implemented in a different order – but you should find that you’ll start to see more plot arcs and routes through the game, even though the islands look a little emptier for a while.
COMBAT is a different matter. We knew it needed work – you can see it’s marked as about 65% on our progress plan – but the feedback has been very clearly that it’s the weakest part of the game right now. So our current plan (TBC this week) is to
- relabel it as 50% complete
- focus the month of August, and an extra release – STEEL – on combat, beastie pathfinding, and related issues
- slip the other releases by a month.
That’s a pain for us – and we know it’s not great news for people eager for the final release – but there’s no point us listening to feedback if we don’t respond to it. We want to make the best game we can, and all of you are helping us do that. So – thank you all! We’ll see you on the other side of EMERALD.