Welcome to another edition of State of Dauntless. This one’s big! We’ll be discussing our developer pipeline, release schedule, and how these things impact feature polish and future iterations. We want to explain how we used to look at content releases pre-Reforged and how we’ve changed post-Reforged.
Let’s get into it!
How We Used to Launch Content
Historically, we always aimed for large content drops with a ton of features all at once, but it meant they were spread far apart on the calendar. An example of this would be each Escalation launch. Let’s look at 1.3.0 for example. This patch saw a new Behemoth, Escalation environment, Hunt Pass, Slayer Journal, and the Training Grounds. It was a patch packed to the brim with content, but then we did not have another large content patch until 1.4.0. With patches like this, we would see players hungry for content between launches.This made us consider delivering content to players more frequently, providing the community with more exciting moments to jump in and play.
What We Tried with 1.6.X and Infinite Radiance
With the Infinite Radiance season, 1.6.X set of patches, we tried something different. Instead of saving all our content for one big patch, we released it into the game over many. We began with our Trials work, wound work, war pike work, Primal Behemoths, and the Reward Cache in 1.6.0. The following patch, we release the Relentless Cell. 1.6.2 brought the Future faction and Elder Behemoths. Most recently, in 1.6.3, we released the Chronovore and the Paradox Breaks. This approach allowed us to give players something new to play with while also measuring the fan response of each patch individually. It was great, but not perfect.
An underlying issue with both schedule structures has been less time committed to our launched features once they are in the live game. We want to give players new content as often as we can, and you deserve this content to receive updates and support once it’s live. At the rate we’re putting out content, this has been challenging as we are focused on the next shiny feature.
We want all content to launch in a stable, bug free state, and continue to receive additional support post launch. This also means going back and supporting our past features.
Our Future Release Strategy
We asked ourselves a simple question: do players value quality over quantity? Listening to your feedback, we think the answer is yes; you do. We’ve had a lot of conversations around slowing down our new feature rollouts in order to give them more time in the oven and prioritizing ongoing support of our live features.
We are currently working to understand what the size of a season is. What features do players expect from each season and how many do they want? By looking at launch data and past player feedback, we’re nailing this down so we can optimize our workload and deliver consistent content.
For example, we recently dialed back our Ostian season’s scope. Out the gate, we wanted a ton of features, but when we took a step back, we realized it would be better to have less features with more focus. Right now, that season will contain Thunderdeep Drask, a New Behemoth, Sub Classes (now called Omnicells), Heroic Escalations, Repeater work, and a high level Hunting Ground. Believe it or not, we had maybe four other things we wanted to pack in there, but have decided it’s best we save them for later while we focus on this set of features.
Thunderdeep Drask is a good example of us honing our focus. At first, we initially thought this would be just that: Thunderdeep brought back. By freeing up time and committing to this feature, it’s turning into something closer to a brand new Behemoth or an advanced variant with weapons and armour. It’s electrifying.
And this brings us to portals. We set out to make portals so we could have a way to provide instanced encounters in Dauntless. Sublevels, if you will. The goal behind this was to provide a set of unique sectioned off activities to the Hunting Grounds. In their current state, portals only led to the Keystone Behemoths. We could go our old route, launch portals and move on to the next shiny feature, but we believe it’s better to hold off until we can launch them with a clear plan to support them with new content in the months after. When we do launch portals, we want it to be a robust feature with many activities behind them that many Slayers can take part in. For now, we’re putting portals on ice until we can budget out time and resources to really make them shine.
We’ve seen a lot of comments about the reduced commitment to Dauntless in the wake of opening new studios and starting development on new titles. Yes, we’re currently incubating new projects (and they’re incredibly exciting) but this isn’t at the cost of our first love: Dauntless. We’re still committed to bringing content to Dauntless frequently over the years to come. We want to assure you that these new decisions around our pipeline aren’t because of lessened resources; it’s because of a desire to raise the quality bar of Dauntless. We want Dauntless to be a shining example of what we, as a studio, are capable of. Dauntless will be at its best when we release our next title.
Right now, we’re busy working on the Heroes of Ostia season and planning the following one. We can’t wait to get this content in your hands!
Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your feedback below. We’ll be reading it, as always!External link →