This is the list of content that will be made available to those who pre-order. The planned dates are current as of October 1st, 2010. All dates are subject to change.
The first playable release will include five main levels to introduce the player to time travel mechanics and several sandbox levels. The five main levels will typically take around one to two hours to complete, depending on the player's skill level, and the sandbox levels will allow countless hours of play. This initial release will support Windows machines with dual core processors, and ATI or Nvidia graphic cards.
In general, we will be releasing content when it is ready. This first release will only contain a subset of the Human race; the other units, which have been fully playable for a long time, will be included in releases when their 3D art is ready. Future releases will contain more levels and other content, improved sound effects, improved rendering, and more. We will be holding off on releasing any story in our levels until we have at least one full campaign finalized.
Typically, games are marketed based on visual assets. Your first look at a game is usually a few sweet screen shots followed by a trailer or three. Achron is all about gameplay, and that's what we concentrated on first; we know that our visual presentation has not yet nearly achieved 2010 standards.
Starting January 17th we will be opening a program where our community members will be able to submit 3D models for consideration in the final product. Our art director, TC Chang (who has previously directed art on major AAA titles with experience at Sony and EA), will be providing concept art and direction for the community 3D modeling program. We know there are talented aspiring 3D artists who would be enthusiastic about contributing and being credited if their work is used. We will ultimately decide what material we accept based on artistic quality and fit, as well as technical standards. Those whose art we do accept for use within Achron will receive their name in the credits, 2 free licenses of Achron to give to their friends, and, if you do a lot of good work, we may give you monetary contracts or the option to enroll in our profit sharing program. More details will be forthcoming.
Along with the opening of this program, we will be providing our tools and scripts to import models from Blender into the Resequence Engine.
This should give you a taste of time-travel battle and the opportunity to explore strategies (though all units and races will not yet be available). This will also include our online game matching service and LAN play.
What would Alpha and Beta Achron tournaments look like? Would they be unpredictable and entertaining? What winning strategies will begin to emerge? No game has ever had this form of free-form time travel before. We think this will be good-spirited fun and mayhem.
Want to start creating your own levels and mods? We'll first be releasing our Resequence Engine scripting language (known as Rescript). We implemented our own scripting language due to technical implications of having time travel in a game engine.
Further, we plan to release a Linux build of Achron around this time. As of December 2009, over 95% of the Resequence Engine code has been compiled cleanly on Linux; it is the remaining 5% that takes the most time.
We are finishing rewriting the level editor using the Resequence Engine. When we release this, you'll be able to build and share your levels with the community. If your level is good enough, maybe we'll include it or a modified version of it in the final release (and give you the same benefits of our Community Art Submissions)!
This editor will allow you to completely rewrite the game mechanics and make your own game from scratch with time travel! The Skin Scripting will allow you to create and edit the user interface and menu.
Mods that bring substantial assets to the table, such as a casual time-travel game derived from the Resequence Engine, could potentially be sold through our channels. We are open to business ideas and Resequence licensing, so feel free to contact us.
We also plan to launch our Mac build around this time.
There are a number of things we're planning to improve regarding unit controls, from removing chronoenergy costs from build menus to showing what units' current objectives are to making air units' vertical movements better. We'll lay the groundwork for those improvements. Descriptions of the units will be included in the game so players can learn what their strengths and weaknesses are. Further, we'll be redoing some aspects related to level design to make creating levels easier. Our XML game design parser is also all planned out and moving along, so we'll be releasing it this month.
This month we'll be working on improving the user interface in other ways, such as allowing keyboard remapping (planned to be completed in August) and allowing different forms of coordination between clients (for countdowns, things to help support coop-play, etc.). With the XML Compiler fully functional, it will make changing unit controls easier, so we'll be working on those. A bunch of the rendering code can be further improved both in terms of quality and performance, and we'll start working on that. This month we'll also be starting to balance all 3 races together.
Keyboard remapping is first on the list, and then rendering improvements and efficiency. Final polish on Grekim and Vecgir controls and the first full balancing pass will be completed. We will build level scripting libraries to start production on the single-player campaign levels, and work will begin on the cutscenes.
Late September we'll be releasing both alien factions: the Vecgir and Grekim. We'll be ramping up production of single-player levels and accompanying scripts and assets. We also plan to add some rendering improvements, particularly with respect to depth-based rendering such as textured, volumetric fog for dust on turrains, weapon firings, and explosions.
We'll be pushing toward our Beta release. Beta means that all the essential functionality is in. This doesn't mean every last feature (e.g., replays and level distribution won't be out for a while), but the core ones to play the game are in. We'll be continuing to work on single-player levels and balance the 3 species together. We'll also be improving art assets and starting visual effects polish.
This is the last major strech of production to the finished product. We will have some level scripting work after January, but the bulk of single-player content should be completed.
The current pre-order model is designed for those who want earlier and better access, those who want to support and engage in Achron's development, and those who want to ensure that whatever the final release is priced, their copy is reserved at the pre-order price.
The complete version will include everything you would expect in a commercial release, with campaigns, story arc, balance, visual presentation, and fanfare. Achron will be available through our own site and Steam.
Console release and console support for the Resequence Engine are possibilities, though not currently at a high priority.
Summary: This release contains numerous performance improvements, especially for rendering and multiplayer, as well as numerous bug fixes.
This release fixes one critical bug and one minor bug.