Alpha Highlights & Improvements, Star System 02 – Union
What. A. Blast! The EVERSPACE 2 “alpha beat” has been our biggest marketing event ever in terms of media coverage and user engagement. IGN reported over one million live viewers on their streaming platforms during the block when EVERSPACE 2 was on, and while we don’t have any stats from PC Gamer, we can tell by comparing the number of Wishlist additions during those two days, the PC Gaming Show must have been absolutely bonkers.
With over 14K viewers, EVERSPACE 2 was on the Twitch front page and drove a similar number of Wishlist additions compared to when EVERSPACE 2 was featured on the Steam front page during last year’s Gamescom – thanks a ton, Cohh!
If that wasn’t crazy enough already, when the EVERSPACE 2 Prototype launched as a free demo during the Steam Summer Game Festival, the number of Wishlist additions went through the roof, peaking at 13K+ Wishlist additions on the first day alone, putting us at 155K+ outstanding wishes in total, which makes us quite optimistic about the upcoming Steam Early Access release in December.
Erik’s weekly EVERSPACE 2 game dev and community stream also became the #1 Steam Game Festival Broadcast on that day, clocking 2.8K concurrent live viewers.
It’s not just the sheer volume of new Wishlist additions though! What has blown us away the most is how many space game enthusiasts actually played the free Steam demo: we have seen well over 90,000 downloads to date, with a 70% attach rate, and median playtime of 14 minutes. The daring test pilots have left us a lot of positive feedback, and also some constructive criticism for us to take forward into the Early Access game.
Alpha Highlights & Improvements
Undeniably, marketing & PR was firing on all thrusters and exceeded our expectations by far. Now, those of you who don’t have access to the closed Alpha forum on Steam and didn’t have time to watch any of our game dev streams might wonder how the feedback from eligible backers has been so far. Well, let’s hear what Cohh had to say about the closed EVERSPACE 2 Alpha:
Needless to say, those clips are music to our ears, and browsing through tons of praise from Alpha backers on the closed EVERSPACE 2 Steam forum has also been super rewarding for us. However, constructive feedback on where we could make the game better, is why we are doing all this primarily. Here are a few examples of improvements and additions that we have already implemented based on community feedback so far.
The arcade-y flight physics featuring inertia dampeners are a core pillar of the EVERSPACE franchise. However, quite a few pilots have been criticizing a lack of immersion even though they understand that EVERSPACE 2 is not meant to be a classic space flight sim. To fix this, we not only allow die-hard space sim enthusiasts to disable inertia dampeners, we even implemented a visual effect for lateral thrusters on all player ships.
Having additional Display Options was probably the biggest wish from test pilots, so we prioritized quite a bunch of features that we had on our list anyway.
Of course, we are not only working on topics that were brought up by the community. We also constantly re-evaluate our own design decisions and try out new things. For instance, we felt that the game menu, the Ship Dealer screen, and perk system could be more streamlined so we made some further UI/UX changes.
Main Menu Navigation
Based on internal feedback, we redesigned the navigation and usability of the different tab menus. You can now navigate within a screen using specific keys, which is much faster than using WASD to emulate arrow key navigation or clicking on buttons. Due to this significant change, the root button navigation and its home screen no longer exist, and you are right at the hangar when docked. Another advantage of the new design is that you can now launch into space without having to make the detour via the home menu.
Tracking Perk Resources
Another community request and something that has been on our list is the possibility to track investment requirements of any perk at the touch of a button: You can now have a small tracking icon for items in your inventory, so you can see which resources can be used to upgrade selected perks and by what degree such requirements are met.
Other than these, we are working away on finalising the Alpha and heading towards the closed Beta release, scheduled for September. This includes balancing (always balancing!), bug fixing (always bugs to squash!), adding more polish to System 01 aka Ceto, among other things.
Introducing Star System 02 aka Union
While we are working on bringing all Alpha content and features to Beta level, we have also been busy creating new content for Union, the second star system in EVERSPACE 2.
As some of you know from our weekly streams, Ceto serves to introduce pilots to the basic gameplay mechanics and set the tone for the story campaign. It already offers quite some freedom of how to progress through the first ten or so hours of the game, but Union is where the game world of EVERSPACE 2 really opens up.
With trading playing a bigger role in Union, smuggling opportunities arise. Whether you are involved in transporting illegal goods or looting a freighter, criminal acts against the local authority will result in the Okkar jumping in and handling the situation as they see fit. Gear yourself up for a hard fight as the Okkar might chase after you if you manage to jump away. Or maybe you deliberately provoked them so that your wanted level increases. The Okkar will eventually send in their biggest battleships for you to challenge.
Lore-wise, this system is controlled by all sorts of freelancers who are organized in various sub-factions and individuals specialized in interstellar trading. Union is the bustling hub of Cluster-34 with numerous space stations, trade routes, and even a vibrant port city. It is also an area of rising conflict between different factions clashing in their attempts to shape the future of the DMZ. Adam will get caught in these struggles while trying to figure out his own role in it all. New side missions await, new challenges and lots of new secrets just wait to be discovered.
If you are as excited about Union as we are, make sure to join today’s stream on Twitch and YouTube, from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm CEST / 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm EDT / 11:00 am to 1:00 pm PDT where Erik will give a you a first taste of some of the new stuff that we have been working on.
The hype is real, see you in the space clouds… 🚀👀💥🤘🙀🙌
your dedicated ROCKFISH Games Team
Shout Out to Deck 13
Today’s shout out goes to our dear German dev friends from Deck 13, makers of the popular The Surge series, who did two rounds of alpha testing for EVERSPACE 2 with a strong focus on quality feedback for a very, very fair price! <3
Being experienced developers of high-quality, narrative-driven action RPGs and also fans of the original EVERSPACE, they knew exactly what kind of feedback would be helpful for us at the early alpha stage of development: Instead of listing countless bugs – unless they were critical – Jan Klose, Managing Director, and his QA team told us how it felt playing through the tutorial, some early missions of the story campaign as well as roaming the first star system and progressing from level 1 to 10.
Although we had received a lot of praise so far, we were keen on getting an outside perspective about which parts needed the most attention to improve the overall game experience, especially during the first hour of gameplay.
While we had most flagged issues on our list already, getting unbiased critique really helped us to focus on a more streamlined tutorial with less player interruption by narrative sequences and step-by-step onboarding when introducing new gameplay mechanics while keeping players engaged.
TL;DR: Thanks a bunch to Jan Klose and Felix Rischbieter, QA and IT Director, for helping us make an overwhelmingly positively received EVERSPACE 2 Alpha.