Of Xbox One Updates, and Things in Threes

Posted by Hugh 3 weeks ago

They say good things come to those who wait. I don’t know who they are, but they have clearly never had to wait this long for a Subnautica Xbox One update. We know it, you know it: It’s taking too long, and we are way overdue to push an update.

They also say that good things come in threes. That, we can agree with. It now looks like Xbox One will receive a three-in-one update. Subnautica on Steam is building up to an update right now: We may merge that work into Xbox One.

Silent Running, Voice of the Deep, and “the third update” would roll into your Xbox’s all at once. As usual, we can’t guarantee anything, or pick any dates, but we are trying to keep you abreast of the latest developments. We understand it must be immensely frustrating waiting for us to update on Xbox One, and we hope that some news will make the wait a little more bearable.

What is stopping you updating right now?

After fixing a horrible, horrible bug, Subnautica started running on our development Xbox’s again. In fixing that bug, we made big changes to the game under-the-hood. Those changes have slowed the game down. And the last thing Subnautica needs right now is to run slower.

We can’t release until we make headway on performance. There’s no point in giving you fancy Voice of the Deep features if the game runs like a slideshow: That already happens enough as it is.

Why not stop content updates and focus on performance?

Subnautica comes in two flavours: Steam, and Xbox One. Both are “built” from the same source: That is, the same collection of code, textures, models, and animations.

For various reasons, Steam is ploughing ahead with updates. We are shielded from our performance problems on Steam because some players have high-performance PCs. This means we can push through with the difficult task of finishing the game and adding all features.

Xbox must stay in sync with or behind Steam: If we stop Xbox, and do performance work specifically for Xbox, then the two will fall out of sync. Any work done on Steam to finalise features will likely become incompatible with the now separate Xbox source.

That would be a catastrophic poo-show of tangled code, broken features, chugging frame-rates, and developers that hate their job.

So, the two stay in sync. But eventually, Steam will have to face its performance daemons, just as Xbox does now. We can’t run from the need to make this game run better. As features are finalised and the game’s story is concluded, we will be able to focus attention on performance. That attention will benefit Xbox just as it does Steam.

We are sorry

Nothing we can say will make this better. We just need to put our heads down, and get the work done. We are sorry you are still waiting. It brings us no joy to know we’re so behind with updates. We won’t stop until Xbox is receiving updates, running better, and you’re back to having fun exploring the Subnautica ocean.

– Hugh