DEV DIARY: PRE-GDC UPDATE
Development Diary: Anthony Kyne, Producer
Since my original dev diary we’ve been pretty much foot to the floor working on the game so I thought it would be good to give you a more traditional diary update of what has been going on rather than a write up of a certain area, as we have doing over the previous few weeks.
Week Starting February 24 – Pre-Closed BETA Release
It was a really nervous week for us. We knew we needed to get people outside the office playing the game, and we were confident we had a great game but expectation had grown since the announcement. We didn’t want to release anything that would dent any of the goodwill that had been built up over the previous weeks. We’d had a great response from people wanting to be part of the Closed BETA and we’d chosen the initial 50 that were going to help us, we just had to deliver the build to them. The problem is no one on the team wanted their area to look unfinished, even though we knew that people would cut us some slack as it was a Closed BETA Build.
We got together earlier the previous week and decided what areas would need to be worked on for the BETA build and set Wednesday as the latest we could deliver the build. That would give us Thursday and Friday to deal with any initial teething issues.
This meant some 1:30am finishes but waking up Wednesday morning, tired, I was confident we had a build that could go out that morning. A quick test found a few bugs we wanted to get rid of -nothing major- so we fixed them and were ready to go straight after lunch. This is when the nerves started setting in. We sent out the emails, we watched as people accepted the user agreements and began telling the forums they were downloading the game. CineFunk had announced he was going to run a twitch feed, so we got the computer on the Mezzanine all set up ready to watch him start playing. All the time we were praying that people liked it.
Finally he started streaming; and the game looked great on his machine. He seemed to be liking it, the comments were positive with some great constructive feedback. We laughed as he exposed stuff we thought we’d disabled, we smiled as people said how well we’d done things. The hard work of the previous months and the late nights of the last few weeks had all been worth it. I don’t think anyone was disappointed with the reception, it’s definitely been the best I’ve seen in my years in the industry.
Week Starting March 2 – Working on a new build
The first build had been out for a few days and we had a lot of feedback to work our way through. It was hard to know when to release BETA Build 2 because you don’t want to bombard the users with builds but Friday of this week seemed to be a good fit for the work we wanted to do.
The big thing that most people were talking about seemed to be hillside lies. Luckily that was top of Adam’s hit list for the week, so we aimed to make that the key target feature for the next build. We had also noticed that a few people were having input lag issues and controller issues with anything that isn’t an Xbox controller so we put that high on the priority list. The Settings screen also desperately needed to be done. All this was going on as well as working on the console versions and finalising the tours and tournaments feature. It was another busy week but we were buoyed by the enthusiastic reception from last weeks’ BETA.
Another thing we had been looking at all week was the telemetry that we had been getting back from the people playing the game. We started studying the data for each shot and each round and assessing from this data how the difficulty level was playing out. It’s a project in itself, but a surprisingly fun and immensely interesting one. The data we can access on every single aspect of a player’s round is quite incredible and we will be writing an article just about that in the coming weeks.
In the end we pushed the second BETA build out on Friday, with the general consensus from the community being that it was an improvement on the first one.
Week Starting March 10 (This week) – Preparing for GDC
Into the present and we’ve got one more week until GDC which means spending most of the week optimising the game on both console and PC so it’s running as fast as possible.
We also plan to request some serious rounds from the Closed BETA members on a selection of courses to help us obtain some key telemetry on difficulty levels. There has been some talk on the forum of certain aspects of the game being a little easy but our data is just not backing those claims up. The scores being posted are realistic and there is no individual player tearing up the courses. However, to be sure we are going to do some focused testing. Once we have the results we will set up some telemetry meetings to review the data. This will help prioritise any work needed for certain shots and how much we need to tweak them, if at all. This is vital for the overall experience our Members will have. We will, also, be sharing some of this data with the community. With feature completion work added into the mix, there won’t be much time for relaxing – but that’s a good thing.
Overall the last couple of months have been extremely hard work but some of the most enjoyable we’ve had. Thanks for supporting us – and we can’t wait to get more Members signed up !