Greetings! We are excited, happy, nervous, and about a hundred other emotions as we launch Astroneer into Game Preview for the Xbox One and Windows Store! Delivering on these platforms in a very short time with our very small team has been a hugely ambitious feat for us. I often can scarcely believe we’ve reached this point, and it’s with a sense of relief and of eager anticipation for the next year of development that I’m writing this. Let me tell you a bit about the game we’re releasing on December 16.
Astroneer is a game about independent space explorers prospecting the stars for fortune and glory. This is a game about discovery and mystery, as you uncover rare artifacts and the resources you need to find, on vast worlds where every cubic inch of space can be explored. It’s a game about creativity, as you use your tools to dig, build, sculpt, and shape the very ground to serve your needs, whether utilitarian or aesthetic. It’s a game about solitude, as you enjoy the beauty of your surroundings as you might on a long hike or camping trip. It’s also a game about cooperation, as you invite your friends to share the experience with you in multiplayer co-op.
We started working on Astroneer as a part-time labor of love more than two years ago. We were inspired by the legendary space-race exploits and heroes that enamored us when we were growing up: Titov and Gagarin, the Mercury Seven, the Apollo program, the shuttle. We wanted to use our skills to create something that could celebrate those inspirations, and do a little bit to pass on a love of all things space to a new generation — perhaps the next young Elon Musk, or Richard Branson. We began full-time development in earnest over the past year, and we’re finally ready to bring the alpha version of the game to light.
Why Game Preview? Why Xbox? The ultimate vision for Astroneer is a big one, and we’re a very new, very small team. We admire early access development models for democratizing how games are made. Without your help, Astroneer would only be built under the thumb of a large publisher, who would decide if it was made at all. If people like the game enough to want to see it be updated and blossom, the team will grow and we’ll be able to invest in Astroneer with the only outside influence being you, our community. We chose to develop for a console in addition to PCs because we don’t want to shut anyone out. The two audiences can be very different and we want those perspectives. We chose Xbox specifically because Microsoft, unique among console manufacturers, offers the Game Preview program, allowing us to pursue our preferred strategy, along with the Xbox Play Anywhere program, which we love because it means if you buy the Xbox version of the game, you also get to have the PC experience via the Windows 10 store as well, at no extra cost (or vice versa). Pretty nifty.
So, what should you expect? The game is very incomplete, after all. Expect glitches. Lots of glitches. We’ve worked hard to ensure a stable experience without game-breaking bugs, but there definitely will be some we haven’t caught, along with many minor issues. Expect to see some incomplete content. The very first alpha release does not have the complete Astroneer experience that the 1.0 game will have, but it does have the building blocks, the scaffolding, and the essential nature of the gameplay that we want your feedback on. Expect that we might put out an update with changes so drastic that old saves could become incompatible. We’ll try not to, but it can’t be ruled out. Expect some sub-par framerates at times. Astroneer was not originally built for Xbox, and the build came together by heroic effort in a short time span. Many game and engine systems are not yet ideally optimized for the hardware. If any of this sounds like a deal breaker to you, by all means don’t buy it yet. We don’t want anyone to have a negative experience. But if you’re willing to put up with the early-adopter issues, we’d absolutely love to engage you and your feedback.
How can you give feedback and participate? The absolute best way will be to get on our forums, at http://forum.systemera.net/. There you can post about bugs, discuss features, and meet your fellow Astroneers. The forum will contain links to some of our other communication avenues, and our latest update roadmap.
We look forward to pushing the final frontier with you!