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The ongoing pandemic threw a monkey wrench into a lot of things, including the ongoing development of Grinding Gear Games’ free to play action-RPG Path of Exile. As a result, the next challenge league expansion for the game will be launching later than originally planned. This announcement on the game’s website shares all the details:
We know many of you are eagerly waiting for an update about when to expect our next expansion announcement and launch. This news post will let you know the timeline that we're currently working to but also explain the tricky nature of predicting when the expansion will launch.
As many of you are already aware, we have completed 8 of the 13 weeks of this development cycle from home which is a significant amount of lost time in terms of face-to-face and group collaboration. Our team worked hard to quickly adjust to the new work paradigm but there have definitely been some difficulties in working this way that have made development a little slower. Due to this, we have already internally delayed the expansion's launch by one week from its originally-expected launch date.
It is very important to us that we release a high-quality expansion in June, and we will take the time to do this if we feel that we need an additional week or two. While we tried hard to achieve this within our regular 13 week schedule, development certainly has not been business-as-usual over the last few months.
We are currently planning to announce the 3.11 expansion on June 2 at 2pm (PDT), roughly two weeks from now. This means that we're working toward a launch date of June 19 for PC and June 24 for console. However, it's extremely important to note that more so than any past expansion, it's very possible this launch will be further delayed.
The pandemic has made safely predicting the release date of this league very difficult. There's currently a reasonable possibility that the expansion will be delayed by an additional week and a low chance that it will be delayed further beyond that.
We usually prefer to only make these kind of timelines posts when we're more sure of a date but feel that as more time passes, the more people would become frustrated with not knowing what to expect, so it feels important to at least make you aware of the tentative nature of these things.
In good news, for this announcement you can expect our usual trailer, development commentary, journalist coverage and announcement page. However, we're spicing things up just a little bit! When our announcement goes live, ZiggyD will be streaming our trailer, his inside coverage of the expansion and then hosting a live Q&A with Chris Wilson about the upcoming content. This is an hour-long event that you'll be able to view live on Twitch! More details to come.
With that out of the way, you may be interested in reading this in-house interview with Skyler, one of GGG’s gameplay programmers. A couple of sample questions:
You are working on skill mechanics. Would you be able to give us an overview of the process of your involvement in the development of a new skill?
Sure! The first step is just getting a minimum viable prototype. Just something that functions so we can feel out if the idea has any promise. After that it's an extremely iterative back and forth between me, the designer, and the effects artist. Obviously the designer has final say in most non technical decisions, but I thoroughly enjoy trying to contribute my thoughts and opinions. Generally I value trying to make skills that are interesting to theorycraft since that has always been my favorite part of the game.
What is the most challenging aspect of programming Path of Exile gameplay?
Definitely the sheer size of the game. I like to joke that I get paid to fix bugs and to make more bugs to fix later. The codebase is absolutely huge and it's very easy to miss small details or not consider niche edge cases. Thankfully having a good understanding of the game has helped me in considering these edge cases, but it can still be very hard to catch everything (Bless QA for catching so many of my bugs).
What is your favourite thing you've worked on for the game so far?
I think it has to be implementing The Saviour. I really enjoy the wide open possibilities the sword offers. It's been extremely gratifying watching videos of people testing all the different skills that can work with it and reasoning about what's best and how they could build around the different options.