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Steam release progress report

Holding hostage another huge update

Greetings surveyors!

I’m taking a quick break from working on the Steam release for Periphery Synthetic EP to share how it’s going. As predicted, my promise to finish the story is preventing me from sharing a ton of other things with you sooner. Let’s dive in to what’s becoming its largest minor update yet.

The v3.2.0 update

The objective of the v3.2.0 update is to wrap up the narrative. In addition to 33 new pieces of text, I’m taking this opportunity to align all of the existing game systems with the narrative—and introduce new game systems to support it further. It also includes several new features, enhancements, and bug fixes that you would expect from me for an update of this size.

Finished items

Here are the most significant things that are ready for release:

  • Trinkets. Procedurally-generated collectables were added to each world to support the narrative. The types of trinkets which can be collected evolve alongside the current story progress. They are visible on a new screen which lists them chronologically by world.
  • Milestones. Unlockable achievements were added to track your lifetime progress. For example, there are achievements for completing each world, traveling certain distances, and exploring some lesser-known areas. A new screen was added to view them as well.
  • World rebalance. Each world has been rescaled with larger terrain, more space between destinations, and more predictable material distribution. The destinations themselves are much grander and received some needed fixes. A number of behind-the-scenes changes were made to better support my plans for post-release and prevent future breaking changes.
  • Mix improvements. The overall mix is now much louder and comparable to other media. Various sounds were adjusted to fit better into the mix at the new loudness, such as the reactors or attractors.
  • Destination cues. Destinations now produce a brief sound after the scanning sequence. This allows you to find and adjust your direction toward the destination without needing to repeatedly scan.
  • Scan sequence. A visual animation was added to the scan sequence. Beyond looking rather neat, it helps visualize what the scanner is communicating by highlighting what elements are audible in the results.
  • Release preparations. Code was added to convert saves from v3.1.1 and earlier to the new format. Given that there is a significant amount of breaking changes, I’ve started everyone with all of their existing upgrades and materials. Code was also added to improve the experience when upgrading from the demo to the full version on Steam.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of everything in the full release notes. A quick count shows that I’ve omitted 19 items that could be summarized as small enhancements and fixes to random existing things. In total these make the EP its best version yet.

Unfinished items

Here are the things that are needing more time for release:

  • Perceptions. I have written six of the 33 new perceptions coming in the full release. Although it’s very easy to write 2,000 words—as I’ve done a few times on this blog—it’s very difficult to curate them in a way that captures and advances the tone of the EP.
  • Movement bugs. There are a handful of longstanding movement bugs that I finally have the opportunity to address. This includes issues with jumping down slopes, bunnyhopping not always working, and collisions reflecting in unexpected directions.
  • Underwater proximity cues. Recently I’ve been replaying S.E.A. and E.X.O. to verify that the EP is indeed the best version of those experiences. I noticed that I omitted the proximity sounds which help with collision avoidance while underwater. These will be added in the full release.
  • Optimizations. As time permits, I’d like to revisit some longstanding performance issues with the EP that result in crackling and other awful sounds on some machines. After many months of profiling and troubleshooting, I’m left with few options that don’t involve taking everything apart and putting it back together again. Given the complexity, these may actually get bumped to a post-release hotfix.

Although this list is quite short in comparison, I find it rather intimidating for any deadline. Specifically, a recurring villain of this project has been the writing process, which has been derailed by debilitating writer’s block multiple times. However, once the to-do list is exhausted, I will have no choice but to vanquish it once and for all!

Release date incoming

Originally I was planning for this release to coincide with Side C last year. Gradually the window has shifted as I have (yet again) realized the enormity of finishing a huge project. First it was this March, then early June, and now it’s likely going to be sometime in July after the Steam Summer Sale.

There are a number of considerations going into the release that will influence the final release date:

  • Creating new store and library assets, as the requirements have changed.
  • Verifying that the Steam Cloud configuration is working as intended.
  • Submitting the final build for Valve to review, and any requested changes.
  • Creating a final release trailer and text for the store page.
  • Updating the microsite with new assets and verbiage.
  • Announcing the release date, the release itself, and first free expansion.

I’m excited to share the exact date with you soon. In the meantime, I’m already thinking about where the project and my journey goes next. Although I will be quite busy with supporting the EP post-release, I am curious to start exploring new concepts like giant robots or dragons too.

Thanks for playing! ✌

Wishlist on Steam