posted on November 25, 2021
Hi Squad Community,
It’s been a few weeks since we’ve shared our answers to our first ever Developer Q&A and we’re glad to see that it’s sparked discussion within the community. One of the things we want to do is to show that even if we’re not in every thread on the forums, on Discord, or elsewhere, that we’re listening to our players. So we wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge some of the issues that you’ve been raising, and assure you that we’re aware of your concerns.
It’s important to understand that the Squad player base isn’t a monolith, each person who launches the game is unique and has different views and opinions on what needs addressing with the game and the community. We know this, and we hope that you also understand that Squad players come from an incredibly diverse array of backgrounds, and hold an equally diverse set of opinions yet there is some broad agreement online about what can be improved with the game for its players. We also should keep in mind that the players that we hear from on Discord, the forums, and elsewhere, are the most engaged and active members of our community and their views don’t represent all players, just an important segment of them.
Without further preamble here are a few of the notable issues that we’ve seen raised following the Q&A.
To be blunt we have not been real good here at Offworld Industries with delivering on our timelines, or keeping to our roadmap. Some of that has been a result of learning on the job. We’re a relatively young studio and we’re not making Squad 22, the latest annual entry in the Squad franchise that stretches back to the early 1990s. we don’t yet have game development down to a science, and we have sometimes not realized that we’ve bitten off more than we can chew until we’ve been chewing a while.
Alright, no more eating metaphors. We promise.
We’ve also not always been great at communicating expectations which is another mistake we’re learning from. We get excited when you get excited and there’s a rush and excitement in sharing the cool stuff that we’re either working on or planning. It’s fun when we get to show off something cool that’s coming to Squad, but we need to get better at ensuring that the things we’re showing off get finished and released in a timely manner, or that they’re definitely going to happen.
Delays and rescheduling is going to happen sometimes. It happens for those big established studios and it will happen here in the future. At the end of 2019 nobody knew that in a few months the pandemic would uproot the working conditions of the entire technology industry and cause a massive shift to working from home. We’ve managed to make the change as fluidly as possible, but events like that which are beyond anyone’s control will happen. We are proud that we prioritized employee safety and we will continue to do so even when it causes delays.
Even beyond global pandemics bugs (in software) still happen, and schedules can be thrown off as we’re trying to release stable, working software.
Ultimately though you should be able to trust that what we say we’re going to do, we do. You should also be able to trust that when we say something will be done by a certain date, we hit that date. We need to win back your trust.
Related to the previous section and actually what is at the heart of most of the community’s disquiet is a general lack of new content. We can change what we’re saying, and how we’re saying it, as much as we want but until this area is addressed it will only help at the margins. You want new stuff to play, whether it’s the US Marine Corp. faction, the Australian Army, or any of the other great stuff that we’ve promised.
We’re not going to give any promises at this point, other than we’re working on all of that and more. We just want to assure you that we hear you, we understand and we’re on it.
We have been thinking about how new players to Squad are brought into the game, or ‘on boarded’ for a while now and the reaction to the Q&A highlighted just how much of an issue this was not only for our fresh recruits but also our veteran players. We have always appreciated those players who take the time to welcome the new players into the community, and act as a sort of Drill Instructor to get them up-to-speed with the game. However, we also recognize that this can be hard on players, servers, and Squad communities when veterans just want to play a game without feeling that they’re doing our work introducing new players to the game.
We are definitely looking at ways of better introducing new players to the game, and taking responsibility for that burden. There is not an easy or fast solution, but it’s clear that the burden is beginning to grate on many of you. We appreciate your patience and understanding with new players and will be looking to improve this for you and them.
A concern for how Offworld Industries as a studio communicates with Squad’s player base runs through most of these issues. At times we’re very chatty, and eager to talk and other times we go silent and seem to be giving you the cold shoulder.
Though we’re never going to be fully transparent, a great deal of the above issues could be either avoided or made less severe with timely communication. It’s never our intention to delay a release, but simply avoiding giving you the bad news is not the answer.
As we’ve said we’re looking to hire a new Community Manager for Squad, and they will be the point person on ensuring that you’re kept in the loop. That’s not going to mean updates that adhere to an arbitrary schedule, but rather that when we have news good or bad we share it. That we do a better job of setting expectations for when content is coming, and owning up to our mistakes when we make them.
Communication is a two way street. It’s okay to be disappointed with us at times, or angry with us. We want to hear what you think, and we value your criticism as much as your praise. However, we do want you to always keep in mind that we’re people, just like you. This is our job, and it’s a great job making this game for you and we wouldn’t ask for another one. But just as we want to treat you with respect, we hope that you’ll return the favour.
We will start collecting questions for our next Q&A in the second half of November, with the intention of answering them in December. We are looking at providing solid updates for Squad’s announced content in early 2022, with other updates along the way.
We are internally reviewing the processes behind Squadchat and how to improve it to ensure that we’re using it to provide you with clarity on what we’re working on, without setting unrealistic expectations.
The development team is focused on their work, heads down as we head into the final weeks of 2021. We will have a much better sense of how things are progressing, and when some of our work will be ready for release in the coming weeks.
We have made a breakthrough with a technical issue that was holding up the v2.12 update, and once we are sure that it’s solid and has no further issues we hope to deploy it. Playtesting on the Marines is continuing with our Community Playtest group, yet there is still work to be done there. The same goes with the Australian faction. Both are increasingly near completion, and we are hard at work to have them in your hands as soon as possible. We are also discussing the possibility of releasing content more frequently in smaller chunks so that you’ll have a steady flow of new stuff to play. We like to aim for large, compelling updates, but looking back, it may have been better for us to break things into smaller updates and release them faster as opposed to waiting until everything was ready to release in one shot.
Finally as mentioned we are discussing ways of bringing new players into Squad in a manner that takes the burden off of the veteran players. This is a design challenge for us that we will be tackling starting in early 2022 once we have successfully completed some of the other work we’ve been discussing here.
Thank you for sticking with us, and sharing your thoughts on Squad and our work. We appreciate that you’ve been frank with us, and always welcome constructive criticism. The majority of you have been outstanding at being able to tell us what annoys you without the threats, name calling, and other toxic behaviour that can plague other game communities. It’s your support and passion for the game that keeps us loving what we’re doing, working on improving this game for you the Squaddies!
– Offworld Industries