“While we had full technical support from the engine development team, it’s the first time this team is making a game using the Nightshade engine, and as a result some things really were ‘trial and error’,” 612 Games wrote on Facebook. Consequently, the team writes, “We’ve made the decision to end Technical Alpha with this past weekend’s Technical Alpha Test 2, and not to extend it to this upcoming weekend. The reason for this is that we’ve received enough gameplay feedback and bug reports to move forward to next phase of development. As you may have noticed, functionality of the Technical Alpha version was rather limited in terms of both features and content, which was deliberate to allow us to limit the test scope and help us focus on identifying specific core system issues. Now that we believe those are all identified, we want our small team to spend extra time focusing on game balancing and integrating our backlog of expanded gameplay features, rather than supporting another Technical Alpha.”
All of that is to say that the non-technical early access alpha will still launch in mid-October with “more gameplay features and content, making it more suitable for a wider range of players.” It’s now too late to grab a refund if you were still hoping to claim one; apparently, 10% of the original buyers did just that (the team says it expected a 50% drop rate).
As for development moving forward, 612 says it’s focusing on the game economy (balancing, spawn rates, item availability) and the sheriff/outlaw/bounty system, chiefly in the service of making “gameplay more fun and predictable for PVP players” and “more fun and safe for PVE players.” Here’s a look at the changes:
* When a player deals damage to other player who doesn’t have Most Wanted Status, he still instantly gets a Wanted status effect, but this initial effect lasts for a few seconds. This allows the person who he attacked to respond without risking becoming most wanted, yet also allows the player who shot first to potentially survive the encounter if he dealt that damage by mistake.
* If you kill another player who doesn’t have Wanted status, you get a much longer lasting Most Wanted effect. If you keep killing, and survive long enough, you will get one or more “wanted stars”, which means you will become the target of “Deputies”.
* If you encounter a safe or chest that needs to be lock picked, they WILL contain only valuable items, yet you also get short term Wanted status effect on successfully opening the locked chest, meaning that going into a safe town and lock picking your way to riches will be a dangerous but rewarding proposition.
* Players can go to one of the Sheriff’s offices and apply to become a “Deputy”. This will give you a Sheriff’s badge, which will be displayed when somebody mouses over over your character (and not be displayed at other times). This token also gives the Deputies a useful feature: they can’t deal damage to ANYONE except Most Wanted bandits. This is an ad-hoc “hunt outlaws” general mission, which also unlocks Bounty missions. It also eliminates, for the Deputies, the scenarios where Most Wanted guys get shielded by their “casual” friends.
* If a Most Wanted bandit who has at least one full star kills a Deputy, the deputy will drop their items just like the bandit will when the Deputy takes them down. This balanced risk makes choosing “the way of the gun” risky and rewarding for both sides.
* In each of the Sheriff’s offices there’ll be Most Wanted Boards. Only Deputies can use them (but remember, anyone can become a Deputy). When you use the Most Wanted Board, markers get placed on your map showing approximate locations of all Most Wanted bandits in the area who have more than 1 star (just like you use the Gold Map to mark gold mining areas). Each of those “targets” will have a bounty posted, a cash value depending on their “notoriety” and number of other factors which we will keep as our “secret sauce”.
Massively OP’s MJ took a look at the game earlier this month.
— Wild West Online (@WildWestMMO) September 28, 2017