Shadows of Doubt DevBlog #33: Launch Hype and What to Expect
Shadows of Doubt is a detective stealth game set in a fully-simulated sci-fi metropolis! There’s been a murder and it’s up to you to solve it by any means necessary, with the condition that you keep a low profile. A unique mix of procedural generation and hand-crafted design enables every room of every building to be explored. Be sure to wishlist on Steam, join our Discord or read previous dev blog entries here!
Hello detectives! There’s just under a week left to go until we launch on Steam Early Access on April 24th! Things on the dev side have been what you would probably expect; hunting down as many bugs as possible before we press the big green button on our first publicly available version of the full game. We’re really excited to share it with you!
Before that day arrives, for the sake of clarity with our awesome community, as well as prospective players who may be reading this, I want to give an overview on exactly what you can expect from this initial version.
Those of you who played the demo over NextFest, or watched others stream it should have a pretty good idea already: It’s an open-world detective game that drops you into a living, breathing city. Player agency is the name of the game; you can investigate cases how you see fit using a variety of different avenues. The game features an initial starting case that is more scripted than the rest of the game to teach you the fundamentals; the length of which can range from about an hour to a couple of hours, and from there it pretty much lets you loose in the city.
Procedurally generated murders will happen, and you have the opportunity to track down the killers for rewards, or you can take on side cases that will ramp up in difficulty over time… Or you don’t have to do any of that; you can go around breaking into people’s apartments and generally being a bit of a menace if you so choose!
There’s a variety of player upgrades available; these will ask you to make a decision on how best to spec your player. You can also purchase an apartment and customize it to how you see fit with dozens and dozens of options. The ultimate aim of the game is retirement from the city, and you can do this by earning enough social credit from jobs.
Lots of the above is tied to the city you play in, and this can be generated before you start. Each city will feature different citizens and locations, so all of the cases above (including the introductory case) will change based on this. The density of Shadows of Doubt’s cities and creating living worlds populated by citizens each with their own lives and routines has always been our ambition. One crucial difference between this and your typical open-world game, for example, is that every single room is explorable. See a light on in a skyscraper? That means you can go there and somebody is home.
Your end goal for each city playthrough will always be to become a renowned private detective and retire, but because Shadows of Doubt is an open-world, sandbox game, it’s hard to put a figure on what you should expect from that in terms of playtime. In playtests, we have found some players becoming engrossed in the game world and playing a city for dozens of hours, while others can hit their retirement after around 10 hours. The playtime is ultimately driven by each individual – and of course, you always have the option to start again in a completely new city. To clarify, please don’t expect multiple questlines and story arcs that you might find in AAA open-world RPGs. This is an immersive sim driven by AI and systems, and the overall playtime is ultimately driven by your decisions and engagement with the game world. Getting to discover and explore your unique city, before generating a new one and starting afresh with different citizens, layouts and cases (and if you’d like to experiment with new playstyles – different detective builds as well) is important to the overall experience, and we really hope you’ll want to play through again with different cities.
There has been some good progress on squishing bugs, (in fact you can read the change log for the game since the NextFest demo right here). Even so, it’s worth being upfront with the fact that this is an early access launch, and as detailed in the previous dev blog we are expecting bugs and various bits and bobs to need some TLC. You’ll hear more about what new content you can expect pretty soon also; but I can tell you it’s going to be a combination of improvements and brand-new stuff.
We also have a bit to go in getting the game’s performance running to the standard that we would like for the final release; I’d recommend at least a GTX 1060 for 1080p at present. Screen resolution in particular is a big performance factor in the game’s current state. Performance optimisations are a particular focus for us once the early access period begins, so we hope to bring you more news there soon.
As with any early access title, if you’re truly not okay with potentially experiencing the above, I would advise waiting until our ‘1.0’, ie non-early access launch. That said, we’re very eager to improve the game with feedback from the folks who are.
I think that about sums it up, and gives a good idea on what you can expect on Monday. See you on the other side!