Since our Early Access / Games in Development launch is just around the corner—18:00 BST 30th August (!)—we thought we’d go into a bit more detail about what you can initially expect in Sunless Skies.
What to Expect
Our initial version for the Early Access release will include one of the four game regions: the Reach. We designed this to give players something akin to a vertical slice—an industry term that means a small but functional piece of the entire game.
This is one of the major reasons we decided to launch with only one region at the start, so we could give players a small taste of what the final game will be like rather than a big taste of an emptier, less representational world.
Things you will be able to do immediately:
- Explore the Reach in your locomotive
- Use your bat to scout for nearby ports
- Dock at 11 ports available in the Reach
- Interact with stories
- Engage in combat with sky-beasts and other locomotives
- Experience Terror, Hunger, and Heat mechanics
Throughout development we will release updates that add polish and more complexity to the mechanics you see initially. We’ll also of course be adding more regions, locomotives, ports, sky-beasts, loot, equipment, discoveries, wrecks, characters, and stories.
Things that will be added in later:
- Character creation and progression: being able to select your character portrait, character name, and all the specific choices that makes your character yours
- Spectacles: awe-inspiring locations in the High Wilderness. Some will strike terror into the hearts of your crew, while others may bring them comfort. A wise skyfarer will learn routes that will keep their people’s dread at bay.
- Discoveries: points of interest in the High Wilderness. It could be something as simple as a floating crate of munitions, or the (hopefully) empty wreck of some terrible locomotive crash. These will provide resources and stories for bold explorers to find.
- Legacies: death is hard to avoid, but thankfully where one captain fails, another may continue on in their place and hope to further their great work. They will begin their journey with equipment and contacts gained by their last captain, as well as their charts and a portion of their worldly wealth.
- Trade: there are lots of ways to make a living, and trade is one of the more reputable ones you can undertake. Whenever you dock at a port, you may find people willing to sell you goods at a cheap price, allowing you to turn a profit provided you can find a buyer. Alternatively, you may hear of people who have a need some specific goods. If you’re able to source and deliver them, you will be richly rewarded.
- Kickstarter Exclusives: Owl scouts and delicious rabbit mascots! We will be sure to inform backers anytime a Kickstarter reward has been implemented
- Difficulty settings: this is definitely a long-form task we’ll need player feedback on
- Accessibility features: currently UI and text scaling is an option but we have many more tasks to tackle
- Controller support: it’s mouse and keyboard for now but we’ve designed with controller support in mind
This is of course not a full list, as that would make quite a long blog post! These are instead some of the larger, long-form pieces that will be added to the game in future updates.
What Feedback We’ll be Looking For
Opening the game to players in Early Access will provide us with crucial feedback to help us create a game of corruption, compromise and jeopardy. With Sunless Sea, you helped us discover what type of combat worked, what accessibility features were necessary and how much cannibalism truly meant to you.
We’ll be looking for similar feedback in Sunless Skies, for example:
- Is the game fun? What bits work and what bits don’t?
- Have you found any bugs or glitches?
- How does flying your locomotive feel?
- Is combat balanced? Are there areas of it we can improve?
- How is the difficulty within the game?
- Is your time respected enough?
- What accessibility features would help you play the game?
We’ll be hanging out in the Steam, GOG and our own community forum to see what players are discussing. Feedback and bugs can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, after checking our How to Report Bugs and Known Issues pages.
Following our Progress
We’ll be continuing development blogs just like this one even after we launch on Early Access, though things will change slightly.
We’ll need to take some time to analyse the player response to the game once we go live—there’s a big difference between having 900 Alpha testers and at least 11,000+ Kickstarter backers flooding into the game—not to mention any new Steam or GOG players that want to purchase the game.
That initial player response to the game will affect both the development schedule our producer Lottie plans, and the Sunless Skies Development Roadmap that Haley takes care of. We may find that things will change only slightly, but there’s a chance things may change dramatically, and so in the first few weeks our team will be busy with internal discussions before deciding on a designated path forward.
Once that’s been determined we will be able to share with you:
- A new Development Roadmap to follow along with our development in Early Access.
- Development blogs which will continue, though after the Early Access launch we will be posting them on Wednesdays.
- Patch notes will also begin appearing in Steam and GOG so you can see exactly what has been added to the game each time we update the game.
- And of course any time we have massive updates to the game (new regions added, full-release etc.), we’ll be sure to post special announcements to let everyone know.
We are currently buzzing with so much excitement people may begin to think we’re made up of bees. A huge thank you to those who backed Sunless Skies, and to the Alpha testers who have given us some excellent feedback—we couldn’t have done it without you all!
We’ll be holding a special Early Access focused podcast 1st September at 16:00 BST in case you want to ask us any delicious questions.
See you in the skies!