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February Update & Release Schedule

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After a long period of relative silence we've gone into overdrive - this is the third update in the space of a month! We'll probably calm down a little after this one (for reasons mentioned in this post), but I want to lay out a roadmap for the next few months before we do so.

Biweekly Builds:
The biggest news is that we're going to move to a system of releasing builds every two weeks, starting on February 14th. The fact this clashes with Valentine's Day shouldn't be a problem because this new system should make releasing builds a much more routine process, essentially turning it into something that doesn't interfere with our normal working days. It should also give the community a bit more certainty - you don't have to monitor the forums all the time (unless you want to), you just need to visit every other Tuesday to see what has changed.

How does this change things from a development standpoint? Well, previously we'd come up with a set of features we wanted to put in a build. If they weren't ready in time for our intended release, or they contained bugs, we'd just delay the build until they were ready. For instance, we were determined to include the new ground combat UI in our last release and we ended up pushing back the build release by over a week because it took longer than anticipated to finish, and then testing it out exposed bugs that we wanted to fix prior to the release.

That's not particularly efficient from a development standpoint. Our new system is that we will release a build every other Tuesday and if a feature is buggy or incomplete, that feature gets pushed back to the next build and the current build is released without it. If we discover critical game-breaking bugs that require immediate fixes, we'll release emergency hotfixes to address them ... but anything else will have to wait until the following build two weeks later.

This has a couple of downsides:

  • Some of the biweekly builds might be a bit light on features if multiple updates need to be pushed back.
  • The feedback loop is slowed down a bit, because the earliest any fixes or changes will arrive is in two weeks (game-breaking bugs aside).

However we think the overall efficiency gains outweigh the potential downsides, and I expect you guys will appreciate a bit more certainty about when updates for Xenonauts-2 will be arriving.

Publicity & Promotion:
I think Xenonauts-2 is in a decent enough state to start promoting the game now we've hit version 0.2.0 - it's far from perfect, but the game is significantly improved over our original build from back in October. Three months has made a big difference!

However, we've decided to give the programmers a couple of weeks to do some general cleanup and code refactoring after our last build. The plan is now for us to release a build on Tuesday 14th February and then for me to start the promotional work on Friday 17th February. The intervening three days will give us a chance to hotfix any crash bugs that have arisen in the build.

The PR work will consist of me sending out an email to everyone who has signed up to the Goldhawk email list, getting in touch with the major news sites in an attempt to get them to cover the project, starting to tweet about the project again, maybe doing some Steam / Kickstarter announcements via the X1 channels. It marks the end of the slightly awkward phase of development where we've publicly released free builds of game but are also trying to keep the project quiet ... come Friday 17th the idea is just to make as many people aware of the project as possible!

That's basically everything. Hopefully the publicity will attract some more users to the forums (although they're already noticeably busier than they were a couple of weeks ago) and our clearer release schedule will help keep people interested. 

If you want to help us during this period, please come back on Feb 14th - Feb 16th and give our new build a test. It'd be great to catch any critical bugs before we start shouting too loudly about the project!

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