While at PAX West 2018, I had the chance to see what was new with developer System Era's Astroneer, a space sandbox adventure game (learn more about it here). I spoke with System Era's Communication Direct, Joe Tirado, about what players can expect to see in the future for Astroneer.
TechRaptor: Recently you guys teased a new planet in a dev video, how soon can we expect to see that in early access?
Joe Tirado: So, we are actually showing off the planet today in the demo. It is called the exotic moon for now—think they will all have cool names later. We're gonna slowly roll out the planet technology—it's kind of a big change for the game, and so we want to let early access players over time as we get close to launch kick the tires on it, make sure it's working, stress test it. So, the plan is to definitely have it before 1.0, but at 1.0 have all planets. Before that, slowly test them.
TR: Do you ever plan on going beyond planets and moons to asteroids or anything like that?
Joe: Absolutely, yeah. It's one of those things that the reason why we built the technology was to let us be really malleable and use it to make anything we want. So, we were using it to make like oval planets and different kinds of shapes. So, once we get all of the planets we want in the base game, we can be more exploratory with that.
TR: The last couple of patches have advised to create a new save, is that going to be a standard thing going forward?
Joe: It is not. It has been part of the early access push, we don't necessarily love that that happens. We walk this line of, like, we want to add new stuff but we also want to make sure the game performs and runs well. It sort of works, and so one of those things that has sort of been falling off the table has been making sure that saves are perfectly compatible in every way. We are a small team, so testing every single edge case on stuff has been kind of hard. So, we have sort of chosen in the last few updates specifically to say 'alright, let's get the new content in there and people testing it.' Because we don't want to extend early access out further than it has to be. We want to get to 1.0, make the game really stable and awesome. After that point, we are super committed to making sure saves last for a really long time. We cannot have you building something for several dozens of hours and losing that progress.
TR: Are there any plans to have player-made buildings? Like walls, custom-made stuff?
Joe: So, I think we are going to give you more tools to shape the terrain. I think that is sort of the first part of it. Right now, you can flatten and sort of flatten to the earth's surface, but we kind of want to give players more tools to make that stuff with the terrain specifically, rather than building just straight walls. Our style is more, a little more using our terrain technology versus explicit building or anything like that.
TR: So, the development roadmap mentions player customization, can you expand on that some?
Joe: Yea, totally. So, we are actually showing off two new suits at the show. Yea, we have two new suits and the plan is to have new suits but to also on top of that be able to customize the colors of those suits. And so, yeah, the idea is that you will have, everyone will have the base suit, and you can take that color scheme and sort of apply it to all the different ones. That's the goal on the customization side. We also want to apply that to base modules and the base itself, so you can make those look really different too. But right now the first implementation of it is going to definitely be suits and suit colors and stuff like that.
TR: How do we get new suits?
Joe: The plan right now is to have everything be achievement-based. In the game you do a thing and it unlocks, then you can use it. We want to give you—it's another thing that we're adding to it so that way you have goals to sort of strive towards, like 'hey, I unlocked this great achievement, now I have the cool suit' and show everyone else in multiplayer I have this awesome thing.
TR: Are we still aiming to get out of early access sometime next year, early next year?
Joe: So, the plan is for December, December 2018. We have a couple months, so we are going to do a couple more updates and then after that we are kind of going to go heads down into our beta period to do some testing. But then, simultaneously we just focused on performance, focused on making sure that the game goes through certification and runs really well. It will be less content and more just finishing the actual game and focusing on that.
TR: I'm assuming that there will be more after 1.0 comes out?
Joe: Yeah. So the plan right now is to have all the stuff on our roadmap, just releasing it every month with new awesome content drops. So, yeah, that stuff will all be included in the price of early access, so we are really excited. We kind of look at it, like, you know, those things didn't make it into 1.0 but we wanted to do them for early access, so let's get them in there and fill out the game more before we start working on anything super, super far down the line.
TR: Anything else you want people to know about Astroneer right now?
Joe: No, I think that the sort of standard stuff, Astroneer got space if you want to pick up the game. We are gonna be in 1.0 in December, and we're really excited.
TR: Thank you, Joe.
Joe: Thank you so much.
Astroneer is currently in Steam's early access and is available on Xbox One. It plans release fully sometime in December 2018.