Soulash release cycle


Hey guys.

Time flies. It's been over two weeks after alpha release already. As things are moving along and Soulash is becoming more stable with every update, I thought it could be worthwhile to write about how I will update the game in the future to let you know when and what sort of changes you can expect. 

As some of you might have read already, the next big thing on the horizon for Soulash is version 0.3, which I will release in October this year. I plan to release significant updates on a 4-month schedule. I can only work on Soulash after a full-time job, and I feel that four months for a substantial update should be sufficient for me to provide enough changes to encourage you to spin the game again.

The primary focus of v0.3 will be on destruction - burning villages, forests, affecting the environment in many different ways with your abilities, improving the combat to be even more satisfying. The patch will include many more things, like new abilities for existing professions, some new races for the player character (dark dwarves and goblins requested so far) and other great ideas proposed on the community boards. I'll go more in-depth for the full scope of v0.3 in a couple of articles in the coming months when everything will take shape, and I'll have something to show. 

The alpha stage is the best time to affect the direction of improvements for the game. It includes some significant changes like proposed neutral or friendly factions and different interactions than combat. Join in on the community boards where we can discuss everything and see what else could enhance our world destruction experience.

Ok, so now we know the major game updates will release on a four months schedule, and this is the time to expect significant changes and new content like new abilities, maps, professions or races. Between the major releases, we will have minor updates, like recent v0.2.3 that introduced the Cemetery. These will include bug fixes, balance changes, and quality of life additions and will happen when some changes accumulate, or I finish something bigger. Usually, these will occur during the weekend. I learned my lesson from deploying v0.2.4 in the middle of Thursday night. An example of the quality of life change could be keymapping, colorblind support, better keyboard support to allow playing without a mouse, or using tools without equipping them. Any suitable suggestions you make in the community boards gets on the list of things to do, and I go through the list based on my judgment of importance and time requirements. At some point, I'll think of ways for you, players, to bump things to a higher priority, but right now I don't have a good idea how to do it logistically.

The last type of updates has one more dot and number behind. These type of patches are hotfixes, and hopefully, there will not be many of them. An example would be versions v0.2.4.1, that had to fix a crash that occurred when 1000 messages accumulated in the message log. Their purpose is to fix something critical as soon as possible, without waiting for other stuff. It can be a game-breaking crash or bug. I won't announce hotfixes in the devlog as separate versions, but introduced changes will be included in the next minor release description, to prevent clutter. Specific changes you'll be able to see inside the changelog.txt file in your game folder.

To sum it all up, if you just updated to a latest minor version, but you find there is another release with four numbers, that might be some critical update worth downloading.  If there is a new minor patch, it could be something you've been waiting for because some mechanic felt too annoying, or something was missing that prevented you from having fun. Worth at least to take a peek at the list of changes in the development log. And the last, but probably the most important, if you got to a point where another run doesn't feel fresh enough, the next major release should have enough new stuff to feel exciting again, and you'll know when it's coming.

Thank you all for the fantastic reception and your invaluable feedback and help catching bugs and crashes. I'll do my best to give back by providing exciting and unique gaming experience over the next couple of years. We got the world to burn!

PS: Come back next weekend, I'll drop some instructions on how to very easily edit configuration files to create new challenges for your Soulash runs while we wait for proper modding support in v0.4!

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Comments

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Any plans on a Steam release? If so, will a key be provided for people that buy it here, now?

The answer I can give you now is - probably, but I can't promise anything yet. :) When there is an announcement of Steam release (not sooner than the end of the year), I'll be able to provide more reliable info. 
From my understanding, it's possible to generate and distribute Steam keys, so it would make sense to thank the alpha supporters by sending them, but I haven't done enough research at this point to know how does that work.

Thanks for the response. Yes, you can easily give Steam keys through Itch - I've done it and can help if you have any trouble.


I'm curious why you are on the fence about a Steam release. It's really only a matter of $100USD fee for the page, and I'm sure you'd hook more folks. But hey, I digress. Anyways I'll keep this on my watchlist. I want to get it, but I'll likely wait for further news.


Thanks again and good luck!

Unfortunately Steam takes a little more consideration than just 100$. They take a 30% cut from the game price so I would have to bump the price for this to make sense, and as it is now, I think 10$ is reasonable. The second reason is that the game is still in alpha, and there are some issues, bugs, crashes. I heard a lot about how though the situation is on Steam with negative reviews, so right now I don't think it would be beneficial to go there until further into development. I'm in Soulash for the long run, so the approach has to be a bit different than releasing the game and moving on to the next project. :)

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Totally understandable. But you should keep in mind there are other options open to you. You can have a Steam page, don't sell it there (yet) and sell it here. Give the key now and have people be able to play on Steam now. But because it isn't released/purchasable on Steam yet - no reviews will be allowed. This is how I operated the beta for our game, and many other titles do this too. Then release the game on Steam when you want/1.0. And you are generating buzz over on Steam the whole way there and getting folks to wishlist it, talk about it, etc.


As far as the 30% cut - I get it, I really do - but the exposure on Steam is manyfold compared to any exposure you are gonna get here, or anywhere else where the digital distribution platform cut is significantly less. Some consider that cut simply the cost of better marketing. Sure, it's not amazing marketing, but the price isn't all that high either (good marketing is crazy expensive anyways). Bottom line is that you will factually reach more folks on Steam. And as an indie dev with an indie project - you likely need all the help and exposure you can get. More is more, and it probably still isn't enough.

That's interesting, I didn't know something like this would be possible. I'll check it out. Thanks!

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I'd like to also further encourage you in this direction, however you decide to go about it though is okay by me. Might selfishly just be a sucker for steam achievements :P

You may be interested in how Bay 12 is handling this for Dwarf Fortress for example:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/975370/Dwarf_Fortress/

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It's probably going to happen, but no need to rush. :) I might set up the page there sooner than I planned and have some more info, but I don't think Soulash will be playable on steam before at least v0.5. From what I read there, I will be able to provide you guys with keys, but they won't work before the actual release.

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After recently playing the demo, I agree with your wait-and-see approach. The game certainly has potential, but no need to jump to Steam just yet in my opinion. Going through one or two release cycles should help you get a better sense of the progress you can actually make.