DEV DIARY - EARLY ACCESS
Development Diary: Anthony Kyne – Producer
EARLY ACCESS: AN INITIAL ASSESSMENT
It’s been a week since we released The Golf Club to the Steam masses on Early Access. It was really exciting seeing and reading all the positive feedback. The Founding Members, New Members and Future Members have all been very understanding that this is Early Access and realise that we’re on a road, sometimes bumpy no doubt, that’s signposted ‘Great Golf Game’. After the late nights of last week we took a four day weekend for Easter to get some rest before returning to work and starting the final leg of the journey that will take us to the full release. Inevitably though, over the ‘rest’ weekend we all ended up on the forums, playing the game and fixing issues. We just couldn’t stay away. It’s great when your job is also your hobby.
To give you an idea what happened after Early Access launched, there were over 750,000 strokes taken on the courses. We’ll expand on the specifics when we do our next metrics update once the dust settles a little. The numbers were really impressive and we were pleased that our servers withstood the pressure without a problem. That was one of the key tests we wanted to undertake by going through Early Access. We also spotted a few cheaters, which has enabled us to work out preventative measures, and were satisfied to see that the scores were still very balanced with no outrageous rounds (other than those that weren’t actually played properly). Little Brook Manor, the easy introductory course, became easier and easier for users whilst the harder three official courses – Pinehurst, Knoll Down and Crystal Lake – had a fantastic and realistic spread of scores. That was really pleasing.
On top of this, it was great to see the fervour that the Course Creator generated. There were tons of courses created and some became really quite popular with the community. As designers hone their skills, there will no doubt be some serious masterpieces created.
With a whole set of new eyes on the game the forums were full of feedback. Most of it useful and insightful. We all spent our weekends reading it and noting down what we wanted to hit immediately, all the while making sure not to cause any delay to the timeline we are working to for the full release. Most of the issues that cropped up would need to be fixed on all platforms before completion but we did prioritise some of it to ensure that Early Access players have the best experience possible.
When we returned to the studio on Tuesday, we decided we’d work on trying to get a build out that same day with some of what our Technical Lead, Rami, deemed ‘critical’ issues fixed. These were:
• Add pop-up warning for unsupported hardware
• Some optimisation for the lower spec machines
• Live balls not always appearing
• Rounds and Ratings not being recorded
• Ghost Balls sometimes not appearing
• Adding Ghost Balls of the rival when responding to a challenge
• Course record leaderboards not being updated
• speeding up the published courses appearance time
• Left handed player not being able to change to Right handed
• A couple of crash issues
• Prevent shoot/quit exploit (unlimited mulligans)
The plan was then to add a second build this week with a few other minor fixes. This would be going out Thursday night Atlantic Time with the following, less critical issues:
• Enhancing the Ghost Ball details
• A restart button in the in-game menu, so it’s easier to restart a round
• Controller Crash bug fix
We’ll continue after this to work on optimisation and mouse controls for the PC version while continuing our path to completion. We will be aiming to deliver updated, Early access builds once a week as we progress to full release. With that, we have begun the final testing and tweaking process and are locking down our dates with the first parties.
It’s been a great start to public life for The Golf Club and what is really rewarding is that the vast majority of players seem to understand what it is we are trying to achieve with this game and are enjoying being part of it. We are committed to this game not just over the coming weeks as full release approaches but beyond when we can feed new features and assets to the community and respond to what players really want.