The Plan Ahead - Our First Blog
Len's Island Dev Diary #33
For anyone that missed it, we released a new Dev Diary on the Flow Studio YouTube channel a couple of weeks ago. This video goes over some of the things currently in the pipeline and hints and many of the features to be included in the big update towards the end of the year.
Since filming the above Dev Diary, some things have changed with the mentioned Controller Support update, see below for all the details.
Community Vote to Delay Controller Support
We had planned to have controller support out already, although after extensive beta testing and quality assurance phase we realized that the controller support we had designed just wasn't cutting it. We got controller support working, though it was janky and not ready for public release. We didn't initially realize just how much work needed to be done in order to get controller support up to scratch and behave smoothly across the entire game. This involves redesigning most menus and UI systems and overhauling large areas of the game and how they are controlled and experienced.
Controller support was already taking up a lot of development time and to continue to go further down that road would mean we have to sacrifice more and more core game content. It was a very difficult problem, one with no easy answer, so we left it up to the community to decide the pathway forward instead of us devs.
We ran a vote on a Discord to pick between Controller Support and an update to add Fishing into the game. If we continue to develop controller support at this time, it would mean we would need to postpone adding fishing and some other features indefinitely. We have been poor at sharing the development info and community updates evenly across all of our platforms, so we will make a big effort to start sharing all the updates across all of our communities from now on. This blog is also a way in which we can update everyone from a single central place and link any new blog posts on all of our social and community channels.
Below is a screenshot to the full post from our Discord. For all future votes on Discord, we will also share them on Steam Forums and YouTube to make sure we include the entire community in these votes.
At our current stage in development, we will tend to lean on the side that adds the most amount of depth and new content to the game. Accessibility and additional platforms are areas in which we will need to slowly build over time and then pour a lot of effort into once the game is leading into release.
I do apologize for everyone waiting on controller support. We honestly did everything we could to get it implemented. Right up until the point that we started sacrificing key features to try and get it done to a polished level. Though we simply underestimated the size and complexity of the task and it cannot get done right now. Controller support will absolutely be added in the future, though that time will likely be a lot closer to the final launch out of early access, as we simply need to focus on the content and stability of the game itself right now.
For anyone wondering why it is delayed so much further into the future, when the above poll says it could have been ready in 4 weeks. The simple answer is we have a gigantic backlog of work, and no 4 week gaps to use between now and the end of the year. Development is finely planned for the next year and something unfortunately had to give.
The Update Roadmap
With controller support being tabled, that means the update that would've been going out now, has now been pushed back to include fishing. So below is a general guide to the list of planned features and changes that will go out in the 6-week update and the big update later in the year.
The Fishing Update (Releasing in around 6 weeks)
Ability to purchase a fishing rod and fish in the ocean, ponds, cave pools and rivers.
6 new fish added with cooked and uncooked variations.
Ability to cook fish in a fireplace: Eating cooked fish grants new types of character buffs.
New status effect/buff system: various items can now apply passive/timed buffs to your character.
Dropping backpack on death: You will now drop a backpack when you die that contains all of the extra resources you gained since you last saved the game. Backpacks will de-spawn if you die again while trying to retrieve a backpack that is already dropped.
Island Level Rework: Reworking many sections of the main Island, adding a small cave near the starter hut, reworking the raft campsite area, changing various bits of the landscape and foliage.
Cave Level Rework: Making the entire caves to make them easier to navigate through, adding more details and diversity and overall just polishing and tweaking what is there.
Steam Cloud Saving: We are enabling Steam cloud saving so you can now sync your save files between computers. This also enables save files to work per steam user and not per computer. Meaning multiple people can share a computer with different Steam accounts and have different save files.
Updating and remaking various UI elements.
Recycling items now dropping excess resources onto the ground.
Starting to implement a new "Critter" system, you will now notice groups of crabs on the beach that react to your movement and scurry around looking all cute.
Auto-running towards resources when you try and hit them but are too far away.
Reworking bits of the saving system to improve stability.
+ a million bug fixes, tweaks, and small changes.
The Big Update (Act 2) (Releasing late October)
Whole new "Act 2" island with new dungeons, enemies, bosses, resources, new town, new quests, new weapons, just basically 2-3x more than what Len's Island is right now.
New Game Modes (Creative, Survival & Permadeath)
Connections update (Overhauling the building & farming systems and adding powered items, water systems and more)
Beastiary and Compendium (Enabling tracking of quests and tasks, collecting items and a whole new player skill system)
Updating the conversation system and focusing on bettering NPC interactions and creating various quests and tasks to complete.
Overhauling combat system and how shields work.
Farming 2.0 (Expanding on the farming system to include greenhouses, pests, more detailed interactions between plant types, and adding new "Exotic" plants that are difficult to grow and grant special powers.
More puzzles, parkour and traps around dungeons and within Act 2.
Reworked build/edit mode controls.
Critter system (Adding in crabs, rabbits, foxes and various other animals and wildlife that react to the player and make the world feel more alive)
+ A Whole bunch more.
We understand updates and community outreach have been slow, and for good reason. Though this year is when that all changes and will push forward at a tremendous pace.
The first couple of months after release we're focused on bug fixing, accessibility, and dripping out some new quality of life updates. Once we were through that phase and started the 2022 year,
we moved into a new office and started expanding the team. This expansion process takes months and months and we are only now starting to hit our stride and move forward quickly. Throughout the expansion process, we have also been starting to plan and develop the big long-term goals for the game which includes features and content that take many months, or years, to create.
So things have been quiet. We have been busier than ever behind closed doors, though what we show to the community has been quiet. Part of this quietness has been an issue that we will address, as Julian - the person writing this blog post, has been a bit slack updating all of our community channels consistently. We have also just been so focused on working on the game, we don't want to keep talking about working on the game, we just want to get some work done and let our actions show instead of words. Although the hard part is, what we are working on right now (the update lists above) take a lot of time to develop, so we won't have a whole lot to show you until later.