It's been about 6 months since I started development on Beta 1, so it seems the latter part of my initial guestimate of development taking 3-9 months was correct. At this point all planned and unplanned mechanical parts are in place, greased up and interlocked, now the whole thing just needs a lick of paint, i.e., bug fixing, some balancing, localization support, and content, like how is a joystick made? What does a DLC contain? And what should a review say for a product designed by a visionary lead designer? "… Lead designer?" I hear you mutter.
So, this was the feature I teased in the last progress update as a "maybe if I have time", and I decided that I did have enough time.
Each project (Not including add-ons, contracts, and deals) will now require a lead designer, who is in charge of deciding how a product should work and feel. Lead designers will have 3 stats which determine how well their ideas turn out for a project:
Their creativity, which is innate and is revealed as they expand their portfolio.
Their inspiration, which drains during a project and replenishes during downtime.
Their skills. Every time you release a product, the lead designer(s) will gain experience with the software (or hardware) type in question.
Lead designers will require extra resources in terms of salaries and custom demands, each presenting unique gameplay challenges.
How do you find great lead designers? You might be lucky and find some out-of-work lead designers, or you can poach them from your competitors, but by far the least expensive option is hiring young designers and hoping to find a prodigy.
You'll now be able to start your company as a joint venture. You can start with up to 4 founders, and each founder gets an equal share of the company (excluding the main founder, i.e., yourself), which you cannot absorb until some years have passed. Note that dividend rates have been heavily raised in Beta 1, so extra founders do not come cheap.
Building system upgrades
When using the rectangle room tool to split a room, I made some big assumptions on how those splits would look, making its use very limited. I have now made the rectangle room tool split algorithm way more generalized to handle virtually all split tasks and some merge tasks. I then combined the rectangle room tool with the merging tool to create the wall dragging tool.
This generalized room split algorithm also made it possible to "stamp" single room clones into existing rooms, like copying an entire toilet and pasting it inside a room without first having to carve out space for it.
The verdict on save compatibility is still out. It's currently working, but Alpha 11 games won't play very well in Beta 1.
I'm reading through all your feedback and bug reports, and I've gotten a ton of important fixes in so far. Keep 'em coming, but also note that there's a good chance stuff has been fixed already.
A snippet of changes since the last progress update:
Fire fighters will now move out to help save your headquarters from going up in flames
Difficulty values are now displayed in the new game screen
I made it a lot easier to pick colors for your founders' clothes and stuff
The follower number when marketing is no longer hard capped
The manufacturing graph is now zoomable
You can now disable distribution deals on a per company basis
Some employee moods now decay while they are at home
Bunch of main loop optimizations, should improve performance of the office simulation
My self-imposed deadline dictated that I release Beta 1 before the start of April, and I'm fairly confident I can make it before then, but I was also confident this update wouldn't take more than 6 months… So, let's just agree to say, "Beta 1. Probably sometime before April".
Thank you for your patience. Can't wait to see what you think!
It's been exactly 3 months since I released the last patch. Since then, I've finished 50% of my planned tasks for Beta 1. However, since each task vary in complexity, I'm probably not 50% done yet. But let's get on with what I have done so far.
I've added the ability to design how your hardware products will look and Lasse has been hard at work making it work and look great. This system will be fully moddable and hopefully it will add a bit of life to all the endless text-only lists of products and make them feel a bit more tangible.
Overhauled hiring and traits
Ignore the unintended Dexter reference.
Traits have moved from independent/social, fast learner/hard worker and lazy/stressed to individual traits that are determined by an employee's personality, sprinkled with some RNG. Additionally, there is no longer an infinite pool of employees lined up to be hired or deallocated, but it'll be much easier to filter through applicants as the hiring system is moving from pay-to-view to pay-to-filter.
Notifications have been somewhat unhelpful up until now, mainly because it was hard to tell important from trivial messages, causing people to ignore them altogether, but also because issues would stick around even if they had already been fixed. This has changed in Beta 1 and I've added more complex interactions, making them super extra helpful.
Improved release process
I've overhauled the final review system, combined the post-release marketing and printing prompts, and merged it all into a single flashy release dialog, to make releasing new products a bit less anticlimactic.
You'll now be able to release DLC for your games, or joysticks for the most popular console on the block, to milk each product for all they're worth. With subscription-based software, releasing content for your products will also help bring back old customers, to gain those sweet extra monthly payments.
Bugs are no longer magically transported to your customers devices as soon as you fix them, you'll now have to develop and release patches, which will also present an opportunity to upgrade tech levels, for even more subscription-based income goodness.
I'm not sure I can guarantee save compatibility with Alpha 11 currently. I have not yet broken compatibility, but engine-related issues might force my hand later down the line. In any case, Alpha 11 should still be available, even after Beta 1 is out officially, so you can keep playing old saves, and a lot of the new mechanics in Beta 1 wouldn't be accessible from Alpha 11 saves anyway.
You can now get a detailed breakdown of expenses for products you have developed
HR can now auto-prioritize specializations based on active tasks
Assembly lines can now cross over pallets connections
Fixed a bug causing AI to buy OS licenses from player for porting, even if OS license was ridiculously expensive
Fixed it being almost impossible to get level 3 service employees when hiring
Tons of other fixes and improvements
I also have another super secret mechanic planned, which will involve a new class of employee. I will reveal more when I get there.
As for when you'll be able to play it: I'm still on track with my initial estimate of 3-9 months. With the progress I've made so far, that estimate is narrowed to 3-6 months from today, as long as there aren't any major roadblocks.
Thanks for sticking around! Hope you're as excited as I am :D