The idea of the plan is to reach beta by 9th October – beta being a feature-complete state where the game could feasibly be released as a finished game. It won’t initially be a very good game, but we’ll be turning our attention from developing new features and content to bugfixing, polishing and balancing our existing content once we are there. From a pre-orderer point of view, the main improvement will be that we’ll stop cutting out all of the high-end tech and enemies. You’ll be able to play the game from start to finish with the full research tree and all the toys.
There are naturally some provisos – the game won’t be 100% finished in asset terms. As an example, not all the battlefield tiles will be finished in six weeks time, so there’ll be plenty of maps with low numbers of props or rendered 3D building tiles that have not yet recieved their final 2D paintover. There might be missing animations, or some missing sounds. But there shoud be plenty of major improvements over the current builds too - there should be a workable AI, for example, which is one of the major issues with the existing game. There will be more than two maps in the game, and all the tilesets should be present in some form too.
The date of the 9th October has been chosen because it is the release date of the new Firaxis X-Com game. Not only will I be busy for a couple of days playing it after the 9th, it’ll cause anther surge of interest in our game (as X-Com will cause a surge of interest in the genre) so it makes sense for us to be looking our best when it does arrive.
Of course, there may be snags along the way and we can’t promise we’ll hit the deadlines (the rendering is looking a bit tight at the moment), but we’ve got something to aim for now and we’ll do our best!