On the game front, I see so much conflicting advice. "Start getting feedback" as soon as possible. "Donnt soft launch on steam! The algol will wreck you.", "soft launch on itch to get feedback", "dont soft launch on itch!"

"Start marketing today", "focus on influencers", "get to know communities *before* you advertise", "dont get to know communities beforehand if you're just planning on self prompting", "dont self promote".
"CPM is important.", "CPA is important". Etc.

Sounds a lot like "have a bunch of money upfront." The solution is just to succeed from the start! It's so obvious. Just invent the next gta. The next facebook. Get a small loan of 50,000 dollars, or a million. Donate for a year to other kickstarter projects so people will know you and reciprocate! But also dont ebeg!

How about no. How about fuck all this advice by silver spoon assholes that didnt have to work on shoestring budgets. The advice is the equivalent of having a 300 page tonedeaf book, every page blank except page 150, where the words "fuck you. I got mine." Are printed in times new Roman, 14pt font, neatly in the center of the page.

The truth is most of the "indies" already made it in the software industry proper, before switching over. $5k kickstarter videos, with $15k marketing budgets, no doubt funded in part through their own money funneled through services that provide shell donations, because KS is being used as a glorified advertising service. People buying off steam curators for promotions, youtubers making sponsored videos without disclosing they're sponsored. Fake viralility. Fake campaigns. Predetermined success for those who could *already* afford to develop and go commercial without a publisher. And they came into the market and cannibalized the opportunity, raising the bar for everyone that wasnt them. I guess that's actually a good thing, because we wouldnt have half the amazing games we do, and the pressure to produce quality. But then I see fantastic games utterly ignored or flailing in an attempt to compete for eyeballs in an industry frequently dominated by gatekeeping marketeers and influencers, where human grace determines success or complete oblivion. And I'm just disgusted with it.

Also buy my game. Preorder NOW! And you'll get a REAL canvas bag, I'll go to like the goodwill and buy one and screen print the game logo on it or some shit. Buy the special collectors edition and get pictures of my feet. Buy the game of the year edition and get a real gasmask. Preorder now and I'll fucking suck your di k right now. No lie. Preorder the diamond edition RIGHT NOW in the next six minutes and I will send you one hundred thousand dollars in gold plated bottle caps. Limited supply. one million per customer. Offer expires soon. This is not a scam. I repeat. This is NOT a scam.

In other news I'm soft launching Atom Ranger in six months (assuming the nuclear apocalypse hasn't *actually* started by then). Its state of decay and fallout meets rimworld. Build and manage a sprawling base, resolving conflicts, exploring post apocalyptic Colorado and surrounding territories of no-mans-land. Navigate hazardous weather, radioactive terrain, collapsed bridges, dangerous rivers, and deal with cultists, bandits, slavers, and hungry cannibals. Broker peace between not just the factions outside your settlements, but within your base too. Manage conflicts, settle disputes, avert disasters, barter, scavenge, and survive in a fully dynamic world, where buildings slowly crumble, grass and trees sprout up in the road and vacant lots, fires burn out of control, and factions loot, ruin, and takeover settlements. Watch the world and the survivors in it change and survive. Help them to survive, or become a warlord and rule over the wastes.

Lets be honest. It's basically kenshi but less complicated.

If you want to volunteer to test (instead of paying to be a glorified tester, aka "alpha") let me know in the comments.

I'm currently setting up a discord and mailing list.

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    You better have good mod support from the start as that is real hard to get right when having to tack it on after the fact. And keep in mind that indie dev is all about the long tail as you probably can't really get your game hyped up for release. Might as well ditsch traditional release entirely and go the early access route slowly building up a hardcore fan base that will hype up your game a few years later when it finally releases.

    Look at Factorio: Wube basically did everything right from the start. But on the other hand, 7 Days To Die is in early access since forever and will probably take some more years till "release" - but it has a solid fan base despite real bad communication between The Fun Pimps and the community and it seems to sell enough to justify company growth. There is plenty of room for experiments when going the early access route - whether on your own site, Itch.io, Steam or GOG (although GOG seems to be overly picky for some unknown reason).
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    @zlice "if you build it they'll coooooome."
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    @Oktokolo True story, I advised the fun pimps.

    Through comments that were play by play critiques of their dev videos.

    Comments that were literal chapters long.

    Wouldn't have the verticalization, focus on perks, or the changes in combat had I pushed that constantly through joel's private blog.

    Fuck if I ever got a shout out or any credits though.

    I thought it was a coincidence except every time I made a suggestion, it made it's way into the game some how. Like, very very specific implementations of ideas. Consistently.

    Happened with Project Zomboid too.

    I'm not even joking.

    Long tail is hit or miss but its pretty much the only route at this point.

    Soft launch onto a non-steam platform, and maybe kickstart if I want to do something big.

    Mod support is planned and I know exactly how I want to do it. I never liked "we offered you content modding and configuration files!" type modding.

    Also never liked lua. Angelscript is where its at.
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    P.S.: Marketing starts with linking anything that shows something of your game or what it might become till release whenever you mention your game somewhere. Also helps getting you people who want to test the alphas and betas.

    Do you have a gameplay video or some screenshots? I am currently upgrading a Factorio mod, but i definitely have some more Rimworld in the backlog and might as well test your interpretation of it too.
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    @Wisecrack So you are to blame for the Pimps' newest ideas to make clean water a bottleneck and change the skill system - again!

    Btw: If you have such close contacts to other game devs, try to get them to promote your game.
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    @Oktokolo no, clean water as a bottleneck was all joel's idea.

    The skill and perk systems modern incarnation was my take (and you should have seen the amount of text that went into the post explaining why he should).

    Any recent changes I'm unaware of.

    In fact I think he went too far with it. Same way he went with dungeoneering (basically every god damn building has zombies falling from the rafters now, instead of a mix of dungeoneering and peaceful scavenging). Just like he went too far with the suggestion to "use lights to guide players through linear buildings while making them feel bigger" (Left4Dead did this), just like he went too far with everything else.

    They lost a year to fully randomly generated zombies, before I explained, in detail, how having some 'mascots' (recognizable zombies based on predefined models) made it funner, easier to recognize different types of threats, and easier for players to talk in forums and in game about them, i.e. shared experiences.
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    @Oktokolo "Do you have a gameplay video or some screenshots?"

    I've saved most of that for marketing up till now.

    Also spent way too much time on content, only to discover thats the thing thats most effective by mechanical changes, which is why pro's save it for last.
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    Man, calm down. Remember Papers, please? I am no marketer, but I really believe great games get their exposure organically, though they indeed need a push sometimes. On the other hand, you cannot make people enjoy a bad game, no matter your marketing budget.

    If your game is great, I don't think there can be an error in your marketing that is able to ruin its success. My advice would be to select some simple proven strategy that is within your reach and stick to that. There is no magic sauce.

    I'm by no means expert in this. Just food for thought.
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    @kiki thanks kiki. Means a lot.
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    @Wisecrack Lulz yeah, the zombies in the rafters and closets are a meme. Also the massive amount of lighting in an environment which has to be without power for years is just ridiculous. And the skill trees are shit. Their arbitrary linking of the most essential skills sexual tyrannosaurus, miner 69er and motherloade to the clubs playstyle tree is just stupid as that arbitrarily made going clubs the meta - and they even encourage you to go for that playstyle in the tutorial quest. That all the zombies look like the same few archetypes is crap too. There was a huge discussion about performance that lead to them abandoning the idea of individualized zombies some years ago. If you triggered that, then shame on you. I would very well like a lot more variety in the look and behaviour of zombies (strengths and weaknesses are fine as they are).

    7D2D is the only first-person voxel basebuilder not giving you instant eye cancer and despite your influence it is fun to play on modded servers.
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    @Oktokolo very workable feedback, and I agree with most of it. The linking of skill trees and biasing the game was joels creative decision making, and is more due to neglect of other playstyles than with the stamina/run and gun playstyle that was overcooked, like everything else.

    Because of that you lose the stealth elements in a real way, and effectively it divides the player population into two distinct experienced, one that frustrating for one group, and fun for the other.

    It was the same issue with project zombie when they changed the jaw stab mechanic for balance. Effectively jaw stab success drops to zero if 2 or more zombies are near by.

    The problem with that in survival strategy or even just survival games, this breaks the premise of an open world and modern survival games: making your own decisions.

    Every time you add a playstyle or enhance or nerf one, you have to do the same for all the others.

    PZ got it just about right (with some hiccups), 7Days not so much.
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    @Oktokolo I did. I also pushed heavily for the original randomization on the assumption TFP would be wise enough to realize the optimization was outside their skill level and hire some seniors to optimize (that was a nieve assumption on my part). That was the real hope, because at that point the game was kinda languishing for development direction.

    Instead we ended up with what we ended up with.
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    @Wisecrack Well, the worst decision was to just go with the Minecraft block size anyways. with all that visual fidelity of teh recent updates, they really need to introduce the ability to put multiple shapes on a single block position - or actually reduce the voxel size. Lately i am more building (and looting other people's bases for materials) than i do the classic city exploration.

    On the other hand, stealth is surprisingly viable and fun since they buffed the bow and introduced the knife bleeding mechanic. In summary, the game actually seems to progress - although a bit slow. Next version should bring us an actually working water simulation - which i definitely need for my underwater entrances.

    They also plan on making the spear actually a viable weapon by giving it a proper strong attack which doesn't involve losing your weapon...

    Regarding randomization: They want to do some random tinting. Probably better than nothing, but still meh...
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    @Oktokolo did they buff the bow? I hadn't been keeping track.

    Also how are you liking the new zombies-as-pincushions for collecting your arrows?
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    @Wisecrack Yes, the bow is viable from the start and keeps being viable for a stealth build when used from stealth to kill sleepers. It totally isn't viable as a horde night weapon because explosive arrows damage your own structures - otherwise it would be sortof fine in horde nights too. I love the collectable arrows - they are a surprisingly effective addition to immersion and make the bow have almost no cost of ownership (very important early on).

    A natural transition is the silenced Desert Vulture - a real gem of a weapon and also in the agility perk tree. Ammo is pretty expensive but it is a pistol so you can make every shot count when not in a hurry. You also find a lot of ammo mid-game. It has an acceptable rate of fire and good non-stealth damage output in case shit hits the fan.

    I did use a shotgun as secondary weapon in the past. But it damages your own structures, is in another perk tree and obviously doesn't fit the stealth theme... switched to traps for base defense.
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    Yeah this resonates a lot, I would be so happy if I just got to develop with no pressure surrounding me to meet any expectations. I actually do better if I do whatever I want.
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    @Oktokolo ammo is pretty expensive because currently many enemies are damage sponges which never sat well with me. Really should be a instakill headshot option in configurations. Shotguns would probably have to be rebuffed based on range, but would become a much more viable weapon in the short term.

    Shotguns damaging blocks idk, always annoyed me too, but definitely things like doors should be breakable.

    I seem to recall mals being infinite and they dont seem to be infinite anymore. They seem like they're pre-generated before play now?

    Think what it currently lacks is simply more configuration options for gameplay and mechanics.
    I dont want to deal with glowing ones and super zombies, like at all.
    Nor bears.

    The looting system got a major break in its attention cycle with the removal of log tree loot. The log tree loot was stupid but worked to motivate player exploration in some ways.

    Also *every* building being a dungeon took away some of the low stress exploratory moments.
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    If you hate bullet sponges go stealth, keep to biomes matching your level (which is green till the 60ies) - and keep maxing the stealth skill tree. then headshots with bows almost always kill and even if not you got plenty of time to land another one while you keep crouching.

    Shotguns as they are have a comically low range - so buffing that would be the obvious choice to make them more viable. Damaging your own base more than the zombies on hordenight could be fixed by just lowering ranged weapon and explosive arrow block damage. Dedicated weapons for block damage exist (timed charges for doors and containers, dynamite and anti armor rockets for structures). So there is no reason why anyone would want to destroy doors with shotguns - but even then: Specialized slugs exist for that too.
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    Infinite maps where axed way before i started playing. And considering the poor multiplayer performance of today, that probably was the right choice... 7D2D isn't Minecraft and will never be as optimized. So there have to be limits. But map sizes might in the future again exceed 16k (biggest currently allowed but unsupported size)...

    Config options already are plenty for multiplayer and actually not what you focus on in an alpha (whether it should have progressed past alpha stage by now or not doesn't matter). There surely will be more fine-grained config for that. Until then, mods exist.

    Glowing ones are actually dead simple to counter with the vanilla rad remover weapon mod. Bears on the other hand - are also totally feasible with explosive arrows, the desert vulture, shotguns or any other weapon really as long as you can prevent them from getting into melee range. Parkour is your friend here. Same as for dogs in the early game.
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    @Oktokolo you have a pretty solid grasp of balance and design.

    Frankly I forgot it was still in alpha.definirely wrong stage to be optimizing at.

    I was actually thinking by adding aton of customization they could do analytics in design and use that to balance and drive toward design that satisfies more people.
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    @Wisecrack But yes, everything being full of zombies is a bit anticlimactic and makes non-cheesy melee builds infeasible for the average player. Zombie inflation also doesn't help server performance. Less jump scares and buildings being less linear would make exploration feel less fake and more like actually exploring places.

    Looting as such is fine. But dead zombies should be lootable like everything else.

    A real problem in multiplayer is the trees and lack of actual zone resets. Growing trees seem to eat a surprising amount of CPU time while they really shouldn't. And almost every multiplayer server uses some mod to hard reset selected zones to avoid the whole world becoming an actual wasteland with nothing to loot or mine left. Some sort of hard zone reset mechanic has to be implemented in the core game sooner or later. Will probably have to look at land claims and last player visit and reset a zone when no one is looking - preferably while the server keeps running...
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    @Oktokolo working atm but that's all good feedback. Talk at you later.
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    @Wisecrack Sure, i actually played that game the last few months after playing it for a few months some years ago. I also did watch a shitton of fresh videos about miscellaneous topics like "force fields", weapon-transparent but visually opaque "cheater blocks", character development strategies, underground gardens...

    But now i play heavily modded Skyrim (SE/AE) again. I just left "The Island" to shipwreck at the coast of "Chanterelle". Not sure if after that i will enter a vanilla world space or another modded land...
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    @Oktokolo so they havent fixed the trees then. That's kind of a pity. That was actually part of the reason I started dumping hour-long feedback reports to them.

    If I recall, there were two reasons for removing infinite maps (that didnt have to do with performance):
    Joel couldnt find an easy way to fix issues of partial generation, I'll talk about that in a moment.

    2. Map limits would mean a more established level of exploration and potential player interaction.

    Basically if you're building a game around base building, having an infinite map is less of a priority. Even more so if its multiplayer and you want people to interact more.

    A while back joel made a post about problems with the map generator. The gist was if you approached a generated town from one side but didnt approach all the way, it would only partially generate. And if you then happened to approach from a different angle or double back around, it would generate something different
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    The consequence was that you'd end up with mismatches and bad generation.
    Basically there was a gap between player view distance, terrain loading g, terrain generation, and structure generation.

    The post indicated he was having trouble solving this, even if he didnt explicitly say it. And TFP removing infinite maps confirms my suspicion.

    If hadn't been busy I would have told him to preseed map chunks, rather than pregenerating them, and implementing a bit of lookahead.
    Maybe pregenerate terrain, or structures only, up to a certain distance from the player, and place them as needed, modifying terrain to do that. Or put constraints on terrain to prevent odd generation.

    In any case, looks like they took the easy way out. Pity.
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    @Wisecrack There are pretty good videos about "wave function collapse" procedural generation strategies on YouTube. And the Pimps already use sets of POIs with placement rules leading to actually quite impressive (but still uncanny) cities. So it shouldn't be too hard to go all in on that and generate everything on demand.

    But they would have to code it and it isn't trivial - so there will be bugs and edge cases no matter what. As you already stated there is indeed not much gain potential too. PvE and PvP don't really profit from infinite maps especially since there really isn't that much of a late game right now...

    At least transportation is solved with the smooth progression from bicycle to motorcycle and gyrocopter (but the latter really steers like a cornered rat on fire).
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    They should focus on finally getting that damn water right - and i believe they actually do so. So A20 will probably be worth another comeback.

    Till then, i got Soviet Republic and Going Medieval in the queue. Also want to replay Cyberpunk 2077 after all relevant mods updated.

    I wonder whether i should finally deinstall that half-finished Witcher 3 - not sure i would remember where i left when coming back to it...
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