Good news everyone! BLACK LODGE GAMES, LLC has moved forward and this weekend we finally became a Steamworks developer thanks to your efforts in Greenlighting Arcana Kira and Daath Galaxy. This year, the full focus is on bringing Arcana Kira to Steam and the PS4, although we’re hoping to announce a Wii U title for 2016 before the end of the year as well. Development of Arcana Kira has gone very well so far, but it certainly has had and continues to have it’s fair share of challenges. We will be shifting away from the once a week playable build model, to a still well defined but less regular release schedule, and in this blog post I intend to tell you why that is necessary, as well as to shed some light on how development of the game is evolving and what to expect in the next couple of months as the game progresses towards beta.
Finally Confirmed: Arcana Kira is Coming to Steam
First of all, we’re aiming for an October 2, 2015 Steam Early Access release date, but only if the game has reached the BETA phase of development by that date, otherwise we will continue to delay the game until it’s ready. We will not launch on Steam until the game is feature complete, so we’re ruling out any ALPHA releases on Steam Early Access. We will be launching with at least Steam Achievements and Steam Trading Cards when we do launch for Steam. We will be reviewing the intended launch date, and if we move faster than expected, we could launch late September, but intend to launch the BETA no later than March 2016 worse case scenario (but even then, we would delay it if a delay was warranted.)
We currently think late September/early October is a realistic time frame for the start of beta. To really explain the current state of the game and how the development is evolving, it is necessary to tell you a bit about how the game was designed and the some of the core philosophies that have made the progress so quick.
Why Weekly Releases Are Going Away & The New Development Timeline
Arcana Kira was conceived with a very well defined set of goals, namely gameplay, characters, setting, story, and game progression all written out at the conception of the game. Having such clarity in spec and scope from the beginning meant that reaching a completed state would be easily measurable, leaving little room for doubt about when or if the game is done. However, anyone who has done any programming knows that despite how well you plan out development, problems and issues you did not foresee are going to happen, and lots of time is likely to get consumed by these unforeseen pitfalls. Arcana Kira has been no exception to that rule.
Arcana Kira did not start out with an Agile software development philosophy, but instead started as a project utilizing the iterative and incremental model, which is a solid, very natural feeling development philosophy. We stuck with this design and development philosophy from the beginning of the project and into the weekly playable alpha phase of development. Basically using this philosophy, we’d look at our bug tracker, find features or bugs, and we’d bang out the first iteration of the feature or bug patch. Then we’d test it. If we liked it as it was, no further revisions were necessary, otherwise we’d improve the new feature or patch and repeat until it was good.
This is all fine and dandy, and has worked well for us so far, but in the last month or so it’s been harder and harder for us to make the weekly release deadline. Here’s why:
- We’ve been busy working with, complying and collaborating with our business partners
- Most of the features/fixes left on our tracker will take 1 to 4 weeks to implement even in a basic implementation
Another thing to keep in mind is that we’re going to be making the Steam version of the game, which is different than the executables we’re distributing now. For Steam, we’ll be integrating Steamworks, and that’s going to take weeks or even a month or more to integrate, during which time, we’re not going to be making public builds available.
So this week we’re moving to a Scrum based development philosophy, again because it really just feels natural. Each scrum we plan, we’ll decide on a target time window. Generally releases will be no sooner than 1 week, or no later than 4 weeks, and we will clearly document when each release will come out.
So next release is Alpha 12, coming this Friday, August 14, 2015, which has been delayed until the UI gets finished being revamped for controllers and consoles. At the time we’ll evaluate and plan the next scrum and will post the next release date. In this way, we’ll be able to implement the remaining deficits and patch larger issues without worrying about making it pretty and releasable just to make the Friday mandatory release.
Thanks for reading this! Let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, and thank again!