I want to bring you up-to-speed on my plans for Cosmoteer from now until it launches on Steam Early Access. This is mostly good news, but there's a little bit of not-quite-so-good news that I suspect some of you won't be thrilled about. Like all of my plans, these are just plans, NOT guarantees, commitments, or promises. This is my best guess for the future, but the future is unpredictable, so expect these plans to change.
Firstly, the good news: As some of you may already know or may have guessed by the absence of tasks on the Trello, I have started working on a major update to Cosmoteer's singleplayer mode, a successor to the current Bounty Hunter mode. I hope that this new mode will be a lot more compelling and interesting. You can read more about my vision for Cosmoteer's new singleplayer in this design document which I had already posted earlier. This new mode is a huge undertaking, so you should not expect any major updates in the next few months at a minimum. But rest assured, Cosmoteer is NOT dead, I am still working on it as fast as I can!
At the same time that I am developing the new singleplayer mode, Cosmoteer's graphics will also be getting an overhaul. I have hired @Kroom, a longtime Cosmoteer modder responsible for Kroom's forge, to give Cosmoteer's sprites and animations a much-needed facelift. And already he has made great progress! Here's a sample of the new art he's been working on:
Okay, so now the not-so-good news: The free version of Cosmoteer will not be getting any more major updates. Although I will still put out minor updates to fix bugs, improve balance, and add design contest ships, the recent 0.15.6 update is likely the last major update that will remain free for everyone forever. As much as I'd love to keep putting out free updates for everyone, the harsh reality is that, if I am ever to earn any money for the years of my life that I've put into Cosmoteer, I need as many people as possible to buy the game in the first few days when it launches on Steam, and that means there needs to be a strong incentive to buy the game instead of just sticking with the free version. And so I've decided that all major new features and improvements from here on out (including the new singleplayer mode, the new art, and any additional weapons/parts that get added) will be limited to the paid version on Steam and won't be included in the free version. Sorry about that, but I don't have much choice. 🙁
That said, I am tentatively planning to run a BETA for a couple months before launch to find bugs and get feedback on the new singleplayer mode. The beta will be free, but unlike every version of Cosmoteer released so far, it will stop working after the beta ends and you will have to buy the game to keep playing. I am hoping to launch Cosmoteer later this year, but I've said that before, so we'll see... 😉
Thanks for understanding. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have or provide feedback on these plans. Here's an FAQ of questions I'm guessing you already have:
What are the features that will be exclusive to the paid version?
- New singleplayer campaign mode.
- Kroom's awesome new graphics.
- Any new weapons or other ship parts that get added between now and launch.
- Steam-specific features like Steam Workshop, Steam Cloud, and friend invites.
- Any additional gameplay features that get added between now and launch.
- Online multiplayer using the official server.
When will Cosmoteer release on Steam?
Shooting for later this year or early 2021, but we'll see.
How much will Cosmoteer cost when it releases?
I'm not sure. I'd say most likely $20, but I'm really not sure.
Will Cosmoteer launch as an Early Access game or "fully released"?
Will existing players get the game for free or at a discount?
No, sorry, that would massively reduce sales and likely dissuade Steam from featuring Cosmoteer on the frontpage. It's possible there could be some sort of launch discount for the first week, but I've heard mixed advice from other developers about doing that, so it's probably unlikely.
I can't afford to buy Cosmoteer, is there any way to get it for free?
You mean besides pirate it? 😉
Seriously though, there are some ways that you might be able to earn yourself a free Steam key:
As I previously announced, you can possibly get a free key for helping translate Cosmoteer. (But please read all the fine print in that post before claiming I owe you a key.)
I am tentatively planning to give keys to the creators of popular, pre-approved mods who have their mods ready and compatible when the base game launches on Steam. I will make an announcement about that closer to launch.
Be a member of my awesome community staff team. (Sorry, not taking applications for new staff right now.)
Possibly more ways in the future.
What will happen to the free version of Cosmoteer once the paid version launches?
First of all, any version of "Cosmoteer Classic" (as I think I'm going to call it) that you've already downloaded will continue to work fine, EXCEPT that I will probably shutdown the multiplayer server for the free version after the paid version launches since that costs money and time to maintain. You will still be able to host your own custom servers or play on LAN (including LAN emulators like Hamachi).
Also, I will probably not remove the actual download links on the version history page, though I will likely remove the main download links from the frontpage, Itch.io, and IndieDB, as well as the Steam demo, so that the main focus can be on the paid Steam version.
Will Cosmoteer be available on any stores other than Steam?
Probably not at launch. First of all, most non-Steam stores (like Epic and GOG) are invite-only, and I have not received an invitation from any other stores. I am also not planning to offer a standalone purchase on my website due to the amount of extra work that would require. (Plus I'd probably rather you buy on Steam anyway, at least during the first few weeks, despite Steam's 30% cut.)
Will Cosmoteer have a demo with the new art/features?
Probably not, sorry. With some exceptions for unusual circumstances (such as a game that's very unknown and hard to understand without actually playing it), demos are generally considered to be a bad idea by most other developers. (Plus with Steam's policy of refunding any game with less than 2 hours of playtime, arguably every game is its own demo.)
What will happen to Bounty Hunter once the new singleplayer mode is added?
I will probably remove Bounty Hunter from the paid version, sorry. Every line of code takes effort and time to maintain, so removing it will help the rest of the game develop faster. And I doubt you'll have much reason to want to play it once the new singleplayer mode is added.
Will my saved games and ships from the free version work with the paid version?
Your saved games will almost certainly NOT work. Bounty Hunter will likely be removed altogether from the paid version, and I suspect that Creative Mode will also have gone through enough changes to render old saves incompatible.
Your saved ships should remain loadable but in many cases me be illegal and require fixes. This is because I am planning to use the free-to-paid transition as an opportunity to make some breaking balance changes to certain ship parts. (For examples, removing most door locations on bunks/quarters and extending exclusion zones on thrusters & shields.) I am not planning to make any breaking changes to the free Cosmoteer Classic version, so you will still be able to use your old ships in that version.
Will I be able to switch between the old and new graphics?
No, this will not be an officially supported feature. However, it should be possible for someone to create a mod that restores the old art. (Though any newly-added ship parts won't have any old art to restore since all new art will be done in the new style.)