Subnautica Hull Plates – Why the delay?

Posted by acedude 8 years ago

One of the perks offered with the Subnautica Special Edition is a unique, personalised ‘Hull Plate’ – a record that proves you were here in the very beginning. Each Hull Plate records the date you entered the Subnautica ocean, and the sequential number of your entry. We took too long to get them to you, here’s why.

The Steam Economy is still a relatively new kid on the game development block. While it sounds like a scary complex system, it is actually quite simple: It acts as a layer connecting a Steam user to a developer’s ‘item server.’

HullPlateInInventory

A Subnautica Hull Plate visible in the Steam client Inventory screen

That item server could be anything. It could be a hugely complex distributed MMO backend, granting access to and allowing trading of tens of thousands of items to millions of players. It could be a database of CS:GO weapons. Or it could be a simple list of Subnautica players who own Hull Plates, the date they purchased the Plate, and its number. It’s vastly more powerful than traditional ‘DLC’ and opens up wonderful opportunities for games to reach outside their worlds and into other spaces, and for players to influence the games they play.

For all that theoretical simplicity and potential power, it is still a system that developers need to learn how to use. This was Unknown Worlds’ first time using the Steam Economy. We thought we had tested our implementation, we thought it worked, we thought we understood the system. But the conditions that occurred on ‘soft launch day’ on October 25th were not what we predicted, and our implementation broke down. The root of the issue was that our Steam Economy implementation was trying to interface with a game that Steam still sees as being ‘unreleased.’ The end result was that you didn’t get your Hull Plates on time.

We are sorry for that. We are also very appreciative that you were there on October 25th as we began test dives, and on each day thereafter. You are the few that have been brave enough to swim in a game in its nascent state, and experience all the annoying stuff that comes along with it, like delays in getting you the stuff you have purchased. Because of you, we know that Subnautica’s first day on the Steam Store will go much more smoothly than it would have done had you not been here with us, right now. For that, we thank you.

Note – While the major ‘invisible inventory’ problem has been fixed, we are aware that some lingering issues remain. We’ll be working these out in the coming days.

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