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If you’ve read our page about what to expect with the upcoming Early Access, you may have noticed that it’ll require an internet connection to function.  If you’re like me, you probably have a question or two about that, so I thought it’d be helpful if I wrote about why we’ll need that connection.  Afterwards I’ll tell you all about some updates we have as far as development goes, but as always, transparency and communication are of the utmost importance to us.

So, why do you need a connection?  Well the most basic reason for this is that we want to be able to verify Alpha Keys and that the player is accessing the alpha during an active alpha testing period.  That second part is due to the nature of our alphas.  There isn’t going to just be a single alpha version over the course of our development, and we want to make sure that you’re playing the most up-to-date version of the game!  The more involved reason is this: we hope to collect playtest data as you’re playing.  That way, we have information on things like distance driven, resources collected, energy consumed/charged, etc.

There will be a post-alpha survey, but we want you to focus on what your experience feels like, rather than the minutia of the development process.  There’s a lot that can be learned about player experience by combining the survey results with hard data on gameplay behavior. It’s important to note that we’re not going to be collecting any data about you, your system, or anything else that’s unrelated to Gears of Eden.  I’d also like to remind everyone that, while the alpha will require an internet connection, the completed demo of Gears of Eden will not require an always-on connection.

We’re more than happy to answer any other questions about the Alpha, but since this is the development update, I figure we should probably talk a little development, right? So, while most of our effort is being put into the infrastructure of the Alpha, we have other team members working on bug fixes and general Quality of Life updates.  The biggest QoL issue we’re facing is that it’s just so easy to flip the rover onto it’s back, without any way to get back up.  Obviously, this is an issue, and though we might change our approach to correcting it over the development of the game, we want to make sure that your experience in the alpha isn’t plagued by needing to reset every few minutes. So, we’re looking at a few solutions… making it harder to flip over, and giving you a way to right yourself should you still happen to do so.

As far as bugs go, a lot of it is small stuff that naturally pops up over the course of development. For instance, the antenna of the rover would, for a while, refuse to animate!  Or, should the rover find itself rolling on the ground or flying through space, you’d see tire tracks being generated whether or not there was contact.  One of the bigger items we’re working on though, has actually been around for a while and we just haven’t dealt with it since it’s pretty much just an aesthetic issue.  Remember in Star Wars: Episode I how the Gungans battled the Trade Federation on Naboo?  Remember the giant bubble shields they use?  Well … that’s what our spectrometer looked like.

GoE Screenshot 031517See?  Doesn’t that bubble look silly?  Right now, we’re working on a new design which feels much better. You can see a work-in-progress image at the very top of this post. Instead of a bubble, we’re now using an energy pulse that creates an highlighted area of effect. This is just one example of the QoL updates we’re making as our alpha system continues in development.

Gears of Eden has been moving along at such an exciting clip and there’s much more to share, but I’ll leave off here before this update gets too long!  I’ll be back next week with even more exciting updates to tell you about though, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see those updates as soon as they’re available!  Also, as a reminder: the alpha is fast approaching, so be sure to sign up for the newsletter and become eligible for a free Alpha testing spot!  Or, if you’re not into things being random, we’d lose our minds if you popped on over to our donations page and bought yourself an alpha key.  Thank you so much, and have a great rest of your week!

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