Alpha 8 progress report

Posted November 4th, 2014 by Tynan Sylvester

Hi all. This is just a quick update on what’s going on in development. As always, you can follow my day-to-day development progress on my changelog.

The time between Alpha 7 and Alpha 8 will be the longest yet. This is for a number of reasons.

Partly, it’s because a lot of things have slowed me down. Piotr ‘ison’ Walczak was helping out over summer, but he went back to school. Work on the Ludeon Launcher took a lot of time – more than expected. Ludeon’s tax year ended, which meant a huge pile of paperwork that doesn’t appear on the changelog. The game is bigger, which means that there is more maintenance and fixing work to do every alpha. And I moved houses, which took many hours.

Besides all that, though, I’ve decided to start targeting somewhat longer spans between releases. This is to improve long-term productivity.

Each release takes a ton of time in and of itself. I can’t just package up the game and release it. It has to go through a multi-week, multi-stage testing and bugfixing process. The private testers have to bang on it, then the public testers. I have to manage dozens of bug reports, close duplicates, invite new testers, test it myself, and of course fix piles and piles of bugs. As the game’s gotten more complex this whole process has gotten more involved. The first public releases wrapped up their testing cycles in about a week. Alpha 7 took about three weeks. There’s just more stuff to test now. I can still work on future content during a testing cycle, but it’s slower as every change and fix needs to be merged forward – sometimes dozens of times. Then, once it’s released, there is a barrage of support requests and often more bug reports and hotfixes to test and release and publicize.

I believe I can maximize long-term output by reducing the number of actual releases and being able to just work with the game in an unstable state for longer. Because that’s where the good super-productive period is: when I can simply pour in features without constantly worrying about every little bug that might be getting introduced. I want to expand that period of the release cycle proportional to the testing period, to maintain a good ratio.

The good news is that the next release will at least feature boreal forest and tundra biomes, a full temperature and season system with fire, heaters, air conditioners, warm/cool clothing, hypothermia and heat stroke, and oodles of other smaller content additions like herbal medicine, weaponsmithing, and properly reworked economy and stats systems.

51 Responses to “Alpha 8 progress report”

  1. Forbidden

    Really appreciate the work and discipline you put into this game. So many indies seem to buzz and fizzle out after their initial moment of fame (WindForge, 7daystodie, etc).

  2. フィッシング バッグ ロッドケース

    Ludeon Studios

  3. Christian

    I really appreciate that you take the time to write this update. I’m very glad that I have backed this project. You rock Tynan 🙂

  4. Dan

    Thanks for the update. Completely makes sense to have longer intervals from now on. Really looking forward to the season system! Keep up the good work!

  5. brian

    good work man

  6. David

    I think this is an entirely reasonable change, particularly since the change log allows us to see what you are doing with the game on an ongoing basis and keeps us interested (to say the least). I just trust that you aren’t talking about one update per year like a certain other early access game I have has been doing … I’d just about given up on that one because of the ridiculously long delay between updates.

  7. Mathias kiær

    Thanks for updating us!

  8. So are you trying to tell me that I won’t lose two nights of sleep as often as I did after each of the previous Alphas? Unacceptable.

  9. sleeper_service

    The last alpha actually already felt like a slightly unpolished, yet complete game to me. There are many mechanics to explore, various obstacles to overcome and an actual goal to achieve. Of course the game could still be much more. My question is how far you want to go with rim world? Are there any overall goals for the first non-alpha release? How will rim world look when its “finished”? (A point where expansions still could expand it of course)

  10. Dr. Z

    I think it’s a good time to make such a change. The game finally has enough content to keep the players busy for a while. Recently I actually started thinking about forcing myself to play RimWorld more often because of less time so I can try out all the new features before a new ALpha hits. So in my opinion, it’s a good change, one because of the reasons mentioned above and in your text, two because of personall lack of free time.

    Also, as I said on the forums: The RimWorld community supports transparency from developer staff. So any insights in your work are welcome. 🙂

  11. Madira Nofo

    Take your time, no rush- we just appreciate an excellent game and a developer who communicates regularly with us!

  12. Oxocube

    As long as you dont do a cubeworld and go completely silent, we will be happy, taking time with releases is understandable, besides gives me time with mod sets on version 7

  13. Tricky

    Keep up the good work! not many games capture me, iv put 50 hours into this game over the last few months. Its fantastic and great game play. Why don’t you finish the current version, free it of bugs. Then create and add new content for releases after as dlc’s? Then iron bugs. The community is here to help!

  14. Tim

    Just don’t stop working, guys, we will wait as long as needed.

  15. Daniel

    I remember the first build I played… Damn, the game really evolved! All of these seemed like dreams back then and I didn’t seem to have waited that long!

    You’re an awesome dev, Tynan. I’m glad I’ve contributed with RimWorld and I look forward to contributing to all your future works! 😀

  16. Taiko

    Good update for the blog, as well as explaining what’s going on behind the scenes. I also like the idea where each update holds enough new material to reinvigorate the audience participation, as opposed to releasing lots of small, quick updates. It’s also good for those with limited data downloads per month.

    That said, I’m curious about how the seasons/temperature will work with characters with the Nudism trait. I wonder if there’ll be a sort of “auto equip” feature where they will put on warm clothes for working out doors, and unequip them when they’re inside. Staying inside all the time will make them stir crazy…

  17. ToXeye

    I tried out the earlier versions. The game is a lot more advanced than any of those. I liked the combat version the most, running around between towns fleeing from crazies. Perhaps because I enjoyed playing Rimworld because of the tension that arises when some of your colonists are in danger. That version had the most gameplay in it.

    As it is now, though, the game has an absolute ending which is that the psychic drone can’t be beaten without extreme luck. I am psyched by that. So I will wait for the next release, and the more time that is put into it, the more time there will be for the game to receive some balance in that regard.

  18. Praeses

    Keep up the good work! It’s understandable that the bigger the game gets, the longer the releases will take. You should at some point consider maybe hiring another coder to help you out as the amount of work will be increasing (and hopefully the revenues!). Looking very forward to A8!

  19. Hi,

    If you need more testers to help you test the alpha versions of the game, I would like to volunteer. I have a MacBook Pro running Mac OS X. Will be happy to help you with testing.


  20. Juho

    Lovin the game and i would like to help the progress as i can, but i dont have the game, (waiting for steam release) so i could test the alpha(aplhas?) so i could give feedback relating on crashes, bugs performance and occasional ideas.
    Good luck on development!!

  21. Richard

    Dev can you put Rim World on Steam pls

  22. Thanks for the great effort and all your updates Tynan.. I love what you’re doing with the game; really looking forward to the heat/cold system and the seasons (and the new launcher too).

    I can’t stress it enough how important it is that we can watch your daily changelog.. it’s absolutely awesome to read the daily progress..

    Also, I’d love to see another tech video where you explain the inner workings of the game. Don’t forget that you can go into some detail, because even if not everyone understands; they can at least have a look at the logic you need to deal with every day when you’re developing this game 🙂

  23. Bob Barker

    I really like the changelog, even without regular dev blog updates it speaks for itself. I also believe that an “organic” release schedule allows for more meaningful updates, which I prefer.

    I trust you will do what is best.

  24. CharonX

    No complaint about increasing the time span between releases.
    But the following sentence startled me:
    Because that’s where the good super-productive period is: when I can simply pour in features without constantly worrying about every little bug that might be getting introduced.
    Don’t do that mate. Don’t just jam in feature after feature and say “I’ll do proper testing and bugfixing later”. I’m a software developer too, I know the temptation, but in that direction lies only misery when that technical debt catches up with you.
    Don’t start with a new feature until you are reasonably certain that the previous feature works and didn’t break anything (i.e. all unit & regression test pass etc.)

  25. SilencedScream

    So looking forward to the next alpha!

    After some of the mods I’ve played, though, I do hope you add priority for these effects; for example, if they’re becoming too cold, have them try to reach a warm destination. I’ve played several mods (yes – I know, these were mods and the game is very different) where I have to draft people to force them to do things that should be logical.

  26. Whiterain1000

    Keep it up man, Rimworlds got a hardcore fan base. I think many folks will agree with me, so long as you keep us in the loop we wont mind the slower pace of progress. Great game, solid fans, and a fantastic dev.

  27. ChapeauBlanc

    Hi, I’m just curious:

    With 45K copies sold @30$ or more, you probably got over 1 million dollars, maybe even more.
    Why can’t you hire someone to remove duplicates and assist you so you could focus on actual coding?

    I’m pretty sure that for 1000$/month you can delegate all chores to someone else.

    Again, just curious, no blaming.

  28. @ChapeauBlanc

    Hiring someone to help to assist you on an existing project adds a lot of overhead. You have to dedicate more time to a “management” style role. You have to bring the new programmer up to date on existing code, building good communication to ensure everyone is working on what they’re supposed to be working on, etc.

    There is a serious cost-benefit analysis that must be done before bringing in more programmers.

    This problem is often referred to as the “Mythical Man-Month”:

  29. JuGGaNoX

    i ot a question and i cant find the answer…

    i got the link and when i downloade the game it count downward… did i got only 5 downloads for total ??

    or will it be resetet at any stage ?

  30. Mathias kiær

    It resets at every update

  31. JuGGaNoX

    hmm okay… thx

    i dont want to spam here!

    so dont answer when im right ^^

    for exampel: alpha 7-7c = no reset
    aplha 7-8 = reset


  32. Hi Tynan,

    I’m rooting for you and I “love” Rimworld. The next update will really be fun with the climate and season changes. I dont see a problem in waiting for it.

    There will be a bright future for Rimworld, keep up the good work!!

    If you need/have some promotion ideas pls contact me.

  33. Tulips

    Keep up the good work mate. Not played the game for a month or so, but sounds like you’re working hard. Awesome so far.

  34. Bilbo Bagins

    I don’t care how long it takes you as long as it’s some good solid content to keep me busy.

  35. Ronny

    Take the time you need. As long as the modding community is as strong as it is, some time between stable releases is actually totally fine 🙂

    Loooove this game!

    Could you perhaps look into some touch controls? I use an app to add controls right now, like four fingers to pan map and such. Or even just making the menu buttons resizeable, they are kinda hard to hit with the fingers even on my 23″. Also the pause/speed up buttons could be resizeable if possible.

    Other than that, the game works super well on touch screens. Just a little tweak and it’s totally good to go. Just a thought 🙂

  36. Paul

    Any chance on getting a quick update, you’ve been great at that in the past and i’m really itching for the next alpha.

  37. You can keep up with my doings on a minute by minute basis 🙂 Check the changelog.

  38. jack smith

    I can’t update. Im on a iMac IOS.Can someone tell me how to update please.

  39. Mathias kiær

    You just download the game again

  40. Terrence

    Big hello to Tynan and his team.

    I just downloaded and played this game over the weekend. I have to admit the 2D and graphics in general didn’t appeal to me very well, just like Prison Architect. However I AM SERIOUSLY BLOWN AWAY at how well this game is made, namely the details (thanks for the stats tab – it helps newbs very well – the details on the strategy + very fun gunfights).

    Also I do reload the same colony frequently to see all the possible outcomes of a gunfight or a raid – very high re-playability.
    For Comparison, I have played Banished for about 20 hours before I moved away… I don’t see this happening with this game. I feel like every little character is in “my” colony and need to take care of them.
    Kudos for the changelog.

    Keep up the good work and good luck with publishing on Steam! We wish you all the best and a couple of weekly top sales on Steam.

    Meilleur chance from Ottawa, ON.

  41. Tim

    I’m also a developer and sounds like your problem is too many hours of work, and not enough people to help work through it quicker.

    IMHO stretching out the release cycles is the wrong way to fix that problem.

    The total time required to debug your code will be even larger, not less if you leave it to the last minute.

    Sure its nice to forge ahead and build without worrying about bugs, but BUGS are an accumulated debt.

    They get more complex as you layer new code on top of them.

    Why not go the opposite, cut your release cycles down really really short.

    build test and repeat.

    Your customers will be happier (omg another update!) and you won’t spend time fixing bugs AND refactoring new code that got affected by your bug fixes.

    Keep up the good fight!

  42. Kauldric

    Thanks for the update and for insight into the release process! Looking forward to the next release.

  43. xiongyiwen

    Every day waiting for you to update, I wish you good health

  44. So, Tim, Mr. Judgement, what projects have you worked on in these same conditions (ie very little resources) that you can point us to showing us you have the right to judge? Please? I bet you won’t because it’s easy to cast judgement anonymously on the internet.

  45. Fan

    So…. where’s that alpha 8? 😀

  46. Enjoyment

    So, as I get from dev-blog, you’re start working on Alpha9, but there is no any rumors of Alpha8. So, what the hell is goin’ on? Or Alpha Eight will be only aviable for the limited circle of beta-testers? Or I’m panic too early?

  47. It takes time to test a game. I can’t release it the moment I’ve got the features done; the testers need to bang on it to make sure it’s okay. In the mean time, I have nothing else to do so I start working on Alpha 9 features in a separate branch of our code repository.

  48. Enjoyment

    Tynan, I’m not cryin baby but its killin me to see “A9” posts in blog while all we’re waiting A8… If its your Big Plan – be so, we’ll wait, as we trust you, but you shouls say a word for all of us.

  49. Realitylost

    I’m a huge fan of this game but sadly I do not own it :(! So until I am able to purchase this I advertised the living hell out of this game to my friends 😀 I was able to talk 6 of them into buying this amazing game! I honestly want to see this game go very far past alpha, I’ll keep advertising to my friends (I think I almost talked 2 more into supporting it as well 😉 ) so I hope you just have fun making this beautiful game. (No pressure though. I tried to make a game (my first game) but i cant really say i fully understand how much work you are doing but from what I do know.. I takes time.)
    Thanks for reading and having fun 😀

  50. Rimworld fan

    there is some kind of indie of the year voting at


    spread the word cuz there is like 8 hours left from the countdown

  51. […] are reasonably frequent, generally one or two months (though things are slowing down a bit since November). Additionally, Tynan is a very active member of the RimWorld community, updating the dev blog […]