News & Updates

Week In Review (10/9/2015) Alpha Joins Early Access!


Hello Descenters,


This has been a very busy week for the team. If you're a member of The Underground, you've had an opportunity to play the game for a week now and many of you have! I know this because it seems like every time I turned around, someone was hitting me with lasers, vulcan guns, and yes, the dreaded Mega Missile :) . We've received some great feedback that has led to many changes over the last week.


We've now opened up the game to Alpha players as well. We're really hoping to stress the servers, so jump in when you get a chance.


Rather than listing all the bugs fixes here, I'll just point you to the release notes. Here's the latest, but feel free to peruse previously posted notes too!


Let's get right to the videos:


Wingman's Hangar is streamed every Friday, but if you missed it, you can catch it here:



Design Undeground (featuring just Rob this time -- sorry Pixley's Pixels, you'll have to wait till next week). In this episode, Rob talks about map building and shows off some of the tools.



For an inside look at some of the goings on in the studio this week, check out Studio Snapshot:



Well boys and girls, that's it for me this week. If you have alpha access or proving grounds access, jump in, join the fun, and shoot the devs (we'll be on and off during the weekend).





Monday Balance Blog


Howdy, Descent Community,


Welcome to another Monday of full-speed-ahead development on Descent: Underground. This Monday is, of course, a bit different than previous ones, because much of what is going on in the office is a direct result of the fact that members of our community are playing in the Proving Grounds right now!




The Proving Grounds were made available to backers at the higher levels during our Kickstarter campaign and subsequent funding on our site. Current builds of the Proving Grounds are also made available to active subscribers to The Underground at any given time. (There won't always be a current test running on PG.)


If you'd like to get in right now, I'll save myself some extra typing and point you to this release notes page of our blog, which tells you everything you need to know about how to get the game (and provides a convenient link to subscribe to the Underground if you're not in yet)!




Alpha and Beta access are stampeding towards us at full-tilt, as well, but we're rolling out servers and testing each deployment stage carefully before rushing ahead too fast. That way, each new player can have the awesome experience that we think they deserve on their first sojourn into Descent: Underground.


Meanwhile behind the scenes, we're doing a whole lot of playing, discussing, balancing, testing, and repeating the whole cycle. (Again, aiming for that awesome experience for each and every one of you.) We're also working on a few new interface elements to support game modes and better player information. (Note the sample Capture the Core scoring mockup in the blog image.)


The important thing about the test/balance/refinement process is not just looking at your last match and reacting to it, but instead aggregating results, looking for a desired change, and then figuring out the best approach for achieving that desired change. It's a very involved process - sometimes contentious and sometimes repetitive - but that process is what gets us to a better game.


That's really our only goal.


While I've got your attention: if you're an aspiring map builder, check out this week's Design Underground. In this episode we talk about a few specific map things that we do as part of our map layout and preparation process to get to grey box and art buildout. If you're interested, it's right here in this post...



As always, please help spread the word about what's going on here. More and more people will be playing the game over the next few weeks, and there's lots of great content still to come in the long run.


Also, keep you eyes on the blogs, forums, and the front page for updates on when your numbers will be called.


See you underground (hopefully when you're not carrying a mega missile),



Most Valuable Post for October 3, 2015


Howdy, Folks!


Our MVP award is given to members who actively contribute to making

Descent: Underground a better experience for us all!




Sergeant Thorne




Sergeant Thorne wrote a great post about Chromatic Aberration and

its impact on gaming.


Keep up the great work!


Enjoy the MVP forum badge that will appear on your account!


You will also receive a shout out on our Facebook

and Twitter pages.


We're also calling attention to Fallarnon's great post in which he's giving away Steam keys.


Everyone else, remember:


Our MVP badge is awarded to a member who

has supported the game in a positive way (creativity is encouraged!).


Our great moderation team picks a member each week who goes above and beyond.


So get to posting!

Week In Review (10/2/2015)


Hey Descenters,


Well, we've finally hit a major milestone. We've released the pre-Alpha build to the Proving Grounds! They're all having fun as we speak. Speaking of Proving Grounds ;) , we're going to have a focused test tomorrow (Saturday, October 3rd) for a couple of hours starting at noon. Come by, join the fun, and put the hurt on some of the devs.


As you might imagine, when a team is coming down to the wire on a big release, most of the work done (usually) is bug fixing and polish. That's what we've been up to this week.


Some of the bigger ones:

  • Huge improvements to the launcher/patcher and more improvements are on the way

  • For now, we are just going with a "quick match" style of putting players into matches with each other. The system picks the map and game mode. In the not-too-distant future, we will allow players to pick specific match types, maps, numbers of players, inviting friends to play with you and a ton more! Having said all that, the matchmaking system is working great.

  • We've replaced several of the sound effects. Quite a few of our sounds were placeholder and we're starting to replace those with more final versions.

  • The graphics settings are now... well... "setting" now. You Undergrounders will see this in the next build.

  • Audio settings are now in as well. Next build for you Undergrounders.

  • Lots more, of course. Be sure to check release notes for more details.


By the way, for now, the only way to play is to have access to the Proving Grounds. You can get access by virtue of joining The Underground.


It's pretty easy to do... just go here! Joining The Underground also gets you access to Alpha and Beta to boot!


What would a "Week In Review" be without reminding you to watch the Wingman in all his glory... consider yourself reminded and check below.



And let's not forget Rob Irving's Design Underground (featuring Rob Irving)!



And lastly, for you folks that like Studio Snapshot (who doesn't?) , here it is.



That's it for me! See you in the game.



Proving Grounds




Be There!



Community Campfire #23


Howdy Descenters!


I apologize for the brevity of my "blog" today.


I've been spending a lot of time testing, testing, testing- not to mention writing release notes and instructions.




Because the day of Proving Grounds shall be a day out of legend!


...but that day is not today. :(




Clearly, we still have a bug.


*Smash!* *Smash!* *Smash!* Die bug!




If you have Proving Grounds as part of your crowdfunding rewards, or if you are a member of The Underground-


KEEP WATCHING this site!



We will let you know the moment that Proving Grounds is live for you to playtest!


Until then, fly safe!



Some Lessons on Design and Testing (and Building Maps, Too!)


Hey, Descent fans,


It's Monday, and, surprisingly, today has been better in some ways than Friday. (Or Saturday's Texas Longhorn game - but that's a different story entirely.)


The short version is that on Friday I broke the game. Really, really broke the game.


I suppose the best way to benefit from that experience (and the associated misery of being trapped here in the office on Saturday during the aforementioned disappointing football game) is to share the lessons learned from the experience, in case any would-be designers are paying attention here....


We've had a lot of feedback about the ships, the number of ships and how we make them different. We know that it will all work, but we want to make sure that each player really does experience each ship differently.


As you've seen in previous episodes of Design Underground, getting ship balance right is a very important and very extended process. So we've been slowly iterating over the last couple of months, making small tweaks to the ship stats to get each one feeling a bit more distinctive, but making sure that they feel right, individually, as well. The changes up until the last few weeks had been pretty subtle, and the end result wasn't quite where we wanted it.


Furthermore, we made another round of balance adjustments based upon how hard each ship is to hit. That's a lot of changes, and the last few rounds of stats were bigger than usual to achieve that new balance. Unfortunately, the new stats weren't feeling any different at all (other than damage numbers, which created a very noticeable difference). I made 3 rounds of changes, with each round having bigger numeric variances for each stat.


They still felt the same.


Now, some of you may recall that Jason finished putting in the predictive ship movement in the last couple of weeks, as well.


Apparently the associated changes moved all of the movement controls to a new location in the ship data. So the reason all of my stats weren't feeling any different was that they weren't different! Ugh.


Once we sorted that out, my first thought should have been that all of the previous testing had been invalid, so we needed to go back closer to square one on the numbers. In my haste (and, admittedly, frustration), I just went with the numbers that were already there, but in the wrong place. (You know: the ones that had been drastically altered under the assumption that 2 rounds of changes weren't enough.)


Need I say more, really? Let's just be generous and call it "a bit difficult to fly" in Friday's play test.


So keep in mind when you test - if your results are consistently not what you expect, you may need to consult others about your expectations and why your results aren't behaving the way you expect. Maybe you're not understanding a change that's been made, or even something that has already been in place for a while. And if you do find that your tests are invalidated, don't plow ahead anyhow. It will only lead to tears.


Enough about my bad day. It all got sorted out on Saturday, with numbers that are doing the job much better (with the added benefit that energy consumption is better now, too).


On the brighter side, at long last we've launched (and streamed live) the first Design Underground tutorial on building maps using Unreal Editor 4. This one covers a lot of basics of editor navigation and placement, but it also gives you some necessary info for creating and testing actual Descent Underground maps.


If you're interested, take a look...




If the tutorial raises any questions, or inspires thoughts on what else you'd like to know about map building, feel free to leave questions and comments in the feedback thread on the forums, so I can address them in future episodes.


Future Design Underground episodes (or whichever Underground series is up to bat) will be streamed on Mondays at 3 PM CDT/CST (so either UTC-5 or UTC-6, depending).


Meanwhile, we're getting super close on the Proving Grounds release. Everything is in testing or very, very close to done. Keep watching this space for more information.


See you Underground,



Most Valuable Post for Sept. 26, 2015


Howdy, Folks!


Our MVP award is given to members who actively contribute to making

Descent: Underground a better experience for us all!








Toysrme wrote a great post about joysticks and controller sensitivity.


Keep up the great work!


Enjoy the MVP forum badge that will appear on your account!


You will also receive a shout out on our Facebook

and Twitter pages.


Everyone else, remember:


Our MVP badge is awarded to a member who

has supported the game in a positive way (creativity is encouraged!).


Our great moderation team picks a member each week who goes above and beyond.




We've also finished up the final phase of Build-A-Bot and we've totaled up all the points to find our overall winner:







As you can see, the point spread was very close!



Week In Review (9/25/2015)


Hey Descenters,


In preparation for our upcoming Proving Grounds, Alphas, Beta, and Steam release, we've entered (for the most part) bug fix and polish mode. This means lots more playtesting here in the office and getting more and more of you into the game as well.


Some key points of interest this week:

  • All ships and weapons are and have been going through balance passes. This will likely continue for some time and, indeed, we'll be looking for feedback from ya'll, of course.

  • Huge progress towards getting out first phase of matchmaking in. The backend processes are ready and now we're hooking the game up. We're shooting for early (maybe Monday) next week. This is, of course, key to us releasing the game to the Proving Grounds and beyond.

  • A bunch of new sound effects are now in and hooked up. We'll be looking to balance the SFX in the next few days.
  • Initial steps towards and AI system were started this week.
  • A brand new trailer is being worked on. The story has been developed and we start putting it together next week. There will be lots of gameplay footage in this one.


This week's Wingman's Hangar was... "special". Have a look -- if you dare.



I know lots of you enjoy our weekly studio snapshot, so here it is:



This week, we have a new video for you. We've started to livestream our playtest sessions. There will be a regularly scheduled livestream of these (to be announced soon), but, just in case you can't watch it live, you'll be able to check in with this blog each week to see the recorded version.



Stay tuned for some big announcements in the very near future.





Community Campfire #22


Hey there, Rock Jocks!


Today's blog is brought to you by the letter "P".


P is for Predator, which (as you can see) is starting to peek into the nooks and crannies of our maps looking for ways to exploit the enemies' weaknesses.



P is also for Proving Grounds...


...which we are hoping to start in the next week or so!


While we had the core game ("vertical slice") working and playable... it was only playable one match at a time. Can you imagine trying to stuff hundreds or thousands of people into one map on one server? Here's a video of a different space game trying to do that- just for comparison.


Yeah, we didn't want to subject you to that!


So, how is Proving Grounds going to work?




Very soon (note the lack of a TM), we will post a download link in the Underground forum. If you are getting a complimentary year of Underground as a bonus to your Proving Grounds backer reward, we expect this to start shortly before we post the link.


This link will let you download our launcher:




Once you log in (using the same credentials you do on this site), you will get a list of the available "environments" you can play on.


Right now, the only environment should be "Proving Grounds". In the future, you'll see "Alpha", "Beta", and "Production" environments as well.


If you click on "Proving Grounds", the game itself will download and then launch.


For now, we don't have differential patching (it's coming), but the entire game download is only about 2GB.


From there, you'll just need to set your graphics and control options, click "Start", pick a ship, and click "Quick Match"!


We'll include some more detailed information in the download thread, but getting you into the game is pretty easy now!


So keep your eyes peeled for the announcement...




At long last my friends, we have come to the end of our summer-long Build-A-Bot competition- where YOU designed a bot to put in the game!


Yesterday, the devteam reviewed the awesome advertisement entries in Stage 4 Design. After a long (VERY long) discussion, the team voted on a winner in a close contest...








Your radio advertisement was selected as the best fit for the tone of the game!

Of course, who knows what other ads might someday show up as an easter egg...?


Stage 4 Design was the final part of the contest and the points have been totalled!


Right now, the top participants are all within a teensy-tiny point spread- just a few points separate all of the leaders!


Be sure to watch Wingman's Hangar this Friday at 11AM to find out who won the AMD 290X video card!


Just tune to our Twitch channel at 11AM Central U.S. time to follow along:


Until next time, fly safe!



Developer Tracker