MMORPG.com: So let's talk about how things are going! What has the team been up to since we last toured the game?
Dave: Quite a bit! After fixing the bugs that were found during Alpha testing, we started polishing up the game and adding in things like a Company (guild) system, Factions, challenge dungeons, more quest flavour, better collision and pathfinding… and a few more things we’re chewing on.
MMORPG.com: What sorts of new features have made their way into City of Steam since then?
Dave: Well, we can’t give away all our secrets, can we? But I can tell people that Steambikes made the deadline, plus massive jaw-dropping scene revamps that are really going to add to the experience. The tutorial is completely redone –it doesn’t even start on a railhauler anymore! Multiplayer gameplay is better facilitated and encouraged through a system of dungeon challenge modes, and rewards you can only get through teamwork. Also, cutscenes will explain a lot of the context for the game before you start playing, giving you a sense of the epic scale story we are going to unfold.
MMORPG.com: How's the response been from the alpha players?
Dave: Very encouraging and positive! The majority of player feedback was very constructive, even when about something that didn’t work or they didn’t like; that they took the time to tell us, and still stuck around shows that they like what we’re doing, see potential and want to see the game succeed. We’re lucky to have a great community of fans like that.
MMORPG.com: Is there anything you've found of particular value when it came to their feedback? Something the dev team hadn't thought of before?
Dave: Players sharing their hardware specs was very helpful in working towards making the game more accessible (very useful, especially since accessibility is one of our main goals). Movement was also a major topic that came up; in the early days, we had point-and-click only. Our fans wanted WASD, so we added that in. During Alpha, many players wanted to be able to re-map keys, and we’ve been working on trying to put that feature in as well. Hopefully we’ll have that done for Beta as well.
MMORPG.com: How goes the progress towards the beta? You just announced recently that it would begin in November, correct?
Dave: Progress is good. Things come together in a pleasing way every day. It’s the most exciting time in game development when you see things assembled and actually working as planned. There are certainly features that we will save for open beta and also a later official launch date. But beta is already full of surprises. As I’ve said before, we work with insane zeal, so the changes will be immediately apparent.
MMORPG.com: What sorts of changes can we expect to see in the CB that we didn't see in the alpha?
Dave: The main difference to the user experience will be in the framerate, updated UI and interface. It’s more streamlined, better organized and optimized –some people who had problems with low FPS before should experience an improvement in performance of between 10-20 FPS. That’s massive.
MMORPG.com: How many players will you be letting into the closed beta? Will we be giving away any keys on MMORPG.com? Hint-hint...
Dave: We’re looking to get in quite a lot of people, actually, to see if we can reach the breaking point of our servers (much better to find out this kind of thing during testing than after release). And of course, if MMORPG.com is willing to help us out with a key giveaway, we’re happy to provide!
MMORPG.com: Alright, secret time. Is there anything you've not shared with anyone else you care to share with our readers when it comes to future plans on City of Steam? Inquiring minds want to know.
Dave: When it comes to unreleased levels, the sky is the limit. (Explorers, get your gear)