We're almost a year past the original trailer, and a lot has changed. The game is getting to a stable state, and the release date is drawing closer and closer.

As I mentioned in the Discord last month, this is something I wanted to give an update on. While I'm still not confident about an exact date, I can say it feels imminent. I'm spinning up servers shortly for a (hopefully) brief dress rehearsal and testing ahead of the first release on Steam Early Access. I'm not going to do a protracted testing period before the initial EA Steam release because I want to get the game in your hands as soon as possible, but I do need to do some due diligence beforehand to see if it's sufficiently ready for the base experience I want to give everyone.

In the time leading up to release, I want to write a few blog posts about the feature-set that will be included at launch. One major sticking point that was holding this up, is the inclusion of the full breadth of the AI I wanted to implement—especially so the aquatic and flying AI. A lot of systems have already been written for this (a small section of which was visible in the trailer from last year), but getting the mechanics working well outside of contained scenarios, onto the full production map, is challenging. I'm getting more confident about this, but it's not said and done yet. That is not to say the animals won't be visible at all in the game, but more so that I haven't yet been able to get aquatics and fliers to behave with the amount of fidelity and interaction that I envision for them.

Some parts of this, like animals being able to roam in water are working, but others like proper flying AI are still ongoing. The landing behaviour I showed off in last year's trailer is a good example of something that, while it was implemented and working on a test map, has not yet been properly brought into the current codebase and launch map. Much of the core logic for AI has been overhauled since last year, and there are still portions that haven't yet been reintegrated.

For those of you who are looking forward to the aquatic animals: various of the announced animals (and a few surprises) will at least be visible swimming along the coast, thus having a presence in the world. Bringing more interaction to them will make sense if aquatic or semi-aquatic playable characters are introduced (something I haven't confirmed any concrete planning on yet but is on my wishlist to implement). I do also have a scenario prepared for predators like Basilosaurus to hunt prey, but finding and reaching Basilo in the big ocean is an encounter that is hard to stage at the moment, considering our playable character at launch is Coelophysis with its relatively limited aquatic locomotion capacity. Hence, for now, having them fulfill more simple aesthetic roles makes more sense. Fresh water fish on the other hand, do provide fun and more immediate avenues for interaction, and are included for you to hunt and eat.

I'll very shortly lock down the full scope that will be available on release, and what parts I will aim to include in content patches post initial release. I know there's a significant portion of my audience that wants to see robust aquatic and flying animals (myself included), but if it makes more sense for the project to focus on more immediate gameplay elements then this is the smart move to make at the moment. I'll of course communicate what will and will not be in the initial release, and the implications for the roster.

With that out of the way, I can confirm a few more features that will absolutely make it into the game, namely:

  1. A smelling system to help you find food/water
  2. A nesting system that serves as a spawn point for you and your pack members
  3. Skin customisation

I will give more in-depth information about all of these soon, once I start laying out the feature-set in the subsequent blog posts.

I will leave you with a screenshot of a nest that I just built. I'm very excited about the mechanics for this, and will detail these in the upcoming blog post.

Buckle up, we're getting close!