Pirates and Traders 2 is out in early access

Pirates and Traders 2 is now getting distributed across the servers of Google Play. Once it’s arrived, it should be available on this link.

Before you get too excited, though, it is worth keeping in mind what this game isn’t. It is not the full version of the game as I intend it to be. It is not even the full version of the feature-list in the previous post; a combination of work, private life, and unexpected developments ensured that I fell short of that.

I’ve still decided to go ahead with the release though, which I suppose can best be likened to “Early Access” on Steam. But what does that mean?

It means that “Pirates and Traders 2” is going to be under intense, active development for quite a while to come. You’ll be able to play the game while that happens, however, and also upgrade to the Gold! version once I finish hooking in the In-App Billing (and debugging the content that comes with it).

It means that things may still change. I am pretty confident in most of the mechanics that are now implemented in the game, but if there is anything that doing game development has taught me, it is that what seems like a good idea sometimes doesn’t work when put into the hands of players. It means that some features may not work properly, or may not work exactly as I’d planned it. It means that there may be occasional periods where the game is not particularly stable. And it means that there will be a lot of updates in the coming months.

If you think this is a problem, then sorry – I would strongly recommend that you wait a few months before picking up the game. And if you’re really looking forward to a bunch of new features, then you might want to wait at least a few weeks – this first version is not that version of the game. It will be soon, I hope, but it’s not there yet.

I could have just waited till the game is done. But for various reasons, this approach just doesn’t work for me. As you may know, if you’ve read the “About” info, MicaBytes is essentially a single-person company. My development time is tightly constrained, which means that I both need to, and want to, spend my time on the aspects of development that is most interesting. Which is why getting your feedback is extremely useful. The beta-testers in the closed beta have done a great job (and they have my thanks – all of them), but the more people who are actively playing the game, the better the feedback and motivation to improve the game. I have a tendency to perfectionism, at times, and if I did not have that pressure of having you guys pushing me for a release, I could probably have kept polishing and tweaking the game mechanics of this thing for ever. It is time for it to be released.

How long until the game is completely finished? Honestly, I have no idea. Keep in mind that I developed actively on “Pirates and Traders” for more than two years. It won’t take that long before I finish the planned features for “Pirates and Traders 2”, but who knows what new ideas I may get in the interim?

I do hope you’ll join me on the voyage to wherever that destination is, though. May the winds be ever in your favor.

 

When is it out?

The number one question I’m receiving right now in relation to “Pirates and Traders 2”. The answer is still “Uhm…?”. The game engine is pretty stable now, but there is still work to do. But if you’re impatient, scroll down to the bottom of the post.

The first release will be an “open-beta” style thing; i.e., not all features will be 100% working, though the game will be entirely playable. That approach works best for me, as I don’t want to be tempted to keep the game under wraps until everything is perfect. Partly because I know many of you will be writing me with suggestions and ideas soon, so I might end up implementing some stuff differently in the final version than I had originally intended, and partly because the way I work (on a part-time/weekend basis), I don’t have any guarantees on what kind of pace development goes at.

What I need to do before releasing the game out:

  • Finish hooking up the character relationship engine, so that these will form and change.
  • Convert some of the old encounters/stories to the new game engine.
  • Go over the ship combat engine one more time, try to squash any remaining bugs.
  • Make it so that getting defeated by pirates does not result in getting put on trial. :-p
  • Squash some bugs in the item pricing algorithm.
  • Generally polish up some aspects of the game UI and fix any remaining bugs there.
  • Add music/sound to the game.
  • Add local saves (currently it only allows cloud save).

What probably won’t make it into the first release:

  • Port attacks. This is an entirely new combat engine, and I want it to work correctly when it is introduced.
  • Some of the new game mechanics I have planned, such as careening, more complex ship modification options, coordinated warfare (e.g., where a governor requests help to lead an army against an enemy port), overland travel, etc.
  • A bunch of the new graphics. Some will probably be in, but most likely not all. I’ll also be setting aside some of the money earned by the “gold” version for further upgrades (more character graphics, more icons, etc).
  • New stories. There is a set of new stories planned for the game, including a conclusion to the Cimarron saga, but I probably won’t get most of them ready before launch.

All of this stuff should come later – as long as I have the time to work on the game.

There’s a risk in releasing in this manner, of course, in that there is always a risk that some players may be disappointed, and rate the game poorly (which hurts downloads more than one would think) and it makes it pretty hard to gain any attention on gaming websites. Well, the latter is probably not that big an issue, because I can count on one hand the number of sites that reviewed “Pirates and Traders”. I’m not expecting more for P&T2.  The former is more worrysome, but those are the breaks. It may not make the best sense from a financial POV, but I think it is the best for my capacity to work on this, and other stuff.

So when will it be ready? Well, definitely not this month. And I won’t promise March either, though it is a possibility. April though? That ought to be pretty realistic, and there is another thing making that month special – April, six years ago, is when Pirates and Traders was first released on the Android market. So let’s go for that. Assuming nothing massively unexpected happens, the planned release date for “Pirates and Traders 2” will be April 21, 2016.

There. Happy now?

Closing in on Release

It’s been a bit short of news on the fan page for a while now; the reason is quite simply that I’ve been busy, at work, and at working on Pirates and Traders 2.

After some initial stability issues, the new game engine now seems to be stable and without any obvious major issues (there are still the occasional crashes when play tester run into some stupid bug I’ve made, but those are quickly fixed). Hopefully this means a more problem-free launch than my previous attempts. Cloud saves are mostly working, though Google’s system there is not always 100% secure; I’ll be implementing local saves to supplement this.

There is still a deal of things that need to be completed. The game’s storylines have to be re-edited and tested, events have to be fixed (which is what I’m currently working on), and some of the game mechanics still need to be “hooked” into the game again. But all in all, I feel there is good progress in development when I have time to work on it, and I’m hopeful that the game will be release-worthy (if not fully complete), sometime in December.  December is a really bad month to release anything, though, so the plan right now is to go for a release in January.