PAX East - A Focus on Improvements
When we last checked in on Edge of Space, the game had received much new content. Fast forward to several months later at PAX East, and things are still improving. The team’s focus in recent updates is to polish the game, continue to improve it visually, and create a better tutorial and beginning game experience for players. As someone who began in the alpha, zooming in on the characters or terrain, for instance, is much better. It’s smooth, detailed, and controls well. Edge of Space has come a long way, which is one of the guiding principles of the team under Early Access. They wanted to create a game that would see consistent progress, work with the community feedback received, and ultimately, deliver for those with enough confidence to plunk down the cost of the game to get in early. The early experience is indeed what we focused on at PAX. While some of these changes aren’t final, it’s clear that they’re trying to smooth out the early game play and make it so players who haven’t even played a similar game can understand the basics before attempting to dive into the complexities beneath.
One of the first things players will see, naturally, is the improved tutorial. This was still set to undergo some needed tweaking on the day I saw it, but the new tutorial for the game is robust. The team needed to not only make sure the text was descriptive enough for new players to get oriented, but that experienced players had some way of getting through at the rate they could parse it. This results in a longer version of the tutorial text in a window at the bottom of the screen and a shorter, summarized version off to the middle right side of the screen. There’s an option to autocomplete some tasks, which usually results in having everything ready to go, minus pressing a quick button to assemble without having to gather everything. In alpha, the tutorial was minimal and even broken, and this one is thorough and much improved visually. While there are still some concerns over the length and possibly a desire to break it down into easier to read chunks without shortchanging the new player out of valuable starter information. This will also make a related appearance when it comes to the improved crafting.
Speaking of crafting, Edge of Space has opened up a list of the schematics you can obtain and so you can see them listed, along with attributes, and for gear, a little preview on mouseover. This will let players go through the lists and see what they might want to obtain, creating a wishlist of sorts. You’ll still have to get these items (and resource gathering has been made a bit easier, in addition to cut requirements for some crafted items), but if you’re more of a planner, you can do that now too, rather than just see whatever you get. Most of the schematics are now visible in the list, so you can see what you might aim to obtain, but there are some that will remain hidden and available to unlock for those intrepid players who seek out undiscovered territory. There’s also a system that can track how close you are to being able to craft something and telling you when you have enough resources to do so.
There are quests that help players both be guided early on into the basics before getting into the intricacies of a complex game like this, as well as provide something for an aimless player to get in and accomplish. The recent changes should also help players even with a bit of experience under their belts to orient themselves for the longer haul. After experiencing some of the game, having the guidance of being able to see the gear schematics will help players to narrow down what their options are. Should they discover that they love crafting, exploring, and doing science, there are options to gear up appropriately. There are even ways to avoid a lot of combat, such as the Amnesia Pulse, which will send creatures away from you. For the more combat-oriented space explorer, there’s gear for you too. Letting players see what they can craft and plan to make it should help set some on course.
We were able to see most of these additions in action and play through some of the new tutorial. There were some scheduled tweaks coming, but it looks like things are still going to be in polish mode for a bit, with the booth at PAX letting players go through the new tutorial and seeing how everyone responded to it, to take feedback both from presenting the game in the wild once more as well as from the existing community. While sometimes Early Access can get some criticism, Edge of Space continues to have frequent updates and the team hopes to iron out an official release sometime this year.