State of the Game

Hey there, travelers!

I wanted to take some time to think out loud about what big features are left to implement in FARA's alpha, talk about what a the beta might look like, and ruminate on what state FARA needs to be in for me to consider it a finished product.

How are things?

FARA's first public alpha was released a little over 2 months ago, and in that time, the game has changed and grown more than it did during its year of on-and-off development. The feedback from players and the game development community has been invaluable, and has turned FARA into something people actually enjoy playing and discussing.  Most of the development time between the first public release and now has been dedicated to fixing (SO MANY) bugs, and adjusting existing systems based on user feedback. Now that the bug reports for the current feature set have slowed down, I'm turning my attention toward the remaining major technical systems left to implement before the game moves to beta. 

The first thing I'm looking to round out is spellcrafting. FARA's spellcrafting system currently allows players to combine runes into unique spells for tackling the game's content. While close to 100 QUADRILLION rune combinations are possible, most of the resulting spells serve the same general purpose of dealing damage to enemies. The plan is to add new rune types that open up new solutions to existing problems outside of direct combat - spells that grant access to new areas, change the behavior of allies and enemies, alter the environment, or imbue objects with new properties. 

Another thing that will get more love during the alpha period are dungeons and methods of acquiring the Key Fragments needed to beat the game. Dungeons are a little one-note at the moment - a series of connected rooms with monsters, supplies, and traps. I'd like to increase the number of challenges one can encounter in dungeons to include puzzles, mini quests, and multiple paths to completion. As it stands, dungeons are the only obvious and reliable way to acquire Key Fragments. A few other methods exist, but they aren't obvious to the player, nor are they guaranteed even when the player knows what to do. These other options are going to be made clearer and more dependable, offering ways to beat the game for people who might be more interested in exploration and storytelling than direct combat.

Finally, the last big feature that needs to be built out during the alpha period is true game save functionality. Right now, there is a crash recovery command which attempts to save the player's items, collected fragments, class, and spells. What is NOT saved is the game world, any NPCs, or quests in progress. Eventually, players should be able to save the entire state of their game when in designated areas. As is true with most roguelike-ish games, these saves will be deleted upon death. Right now, proper game saves are only planned for the downloadable version of FARA, and will not be available in the browser version.

Let's talk about Betas

Once the aforementioned features have been built out for the game, FARA will move into beta. What this means is that fewer (if any) big new systems (like spellcrafting) will be added, and the focus will be shifted to polishing gameplay. Statistical balance, tutorials, game performance, story elements, conversational NPCs, multi-part quests, post-game content, and browser compatibility will be large focuses of the beta. FARA works best in Google Chrome on Windows, and I intend to bring the game up to speed in at least Firefox and Opera. Detailed user feedback and bug reports will be INCREDIBLY valuable during this phase, as I have limited access to the kinds of setups I'd like to support. The beta phase will also mark the beginning of native desktop client availability for donors and supporters. Builds will be available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and are playable offline.  All of that said, FARA's engine is pretty flexible, so players are still encouraged to submit feature requests as often as they did during the alpha.

Then what?

Once FARA has spent some time in beta, most of the bugs have been squashed, and player feedback has been taken into account, FARA will move on to being a completed game. What this means is that downloadable versions will become purchasable on (and possibly Steam), and any future updates will be limited to bug fixes. The web version will remain available, and will be free to play. There's always a chance big new features could come later if the demand is high enough, but I can't make any hard promises on that front. If I find the time and motivation, I'd eventually like to clean up and release the tools I wrote to create FARA so that other developers might use them to make their own browser roguelikes. 

That's about it! Please keep that feedback coming, and good luck out there.



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