Dev Diary – December 2023

Let’s start the year with some thoughts on 2023, on the DTC internal Alpha and on Neodori Infinity. Welcome back to the dev diary!

Hexagonal themed liveries for the Autovalk Brema.

What’s up?

It’s increasingly harder for me to find words for summarising a month or even a year of work, but in case of 2023 we can agree it’s been eventful for pretty much everyone, and we are more than ready to leave it behind. Personally I feel like 2024 will be very hectic too, for good and bad reasons as well. Funnily enough my socials are full of posts and memes along the lines of: “Nobody is posting new year resolutions, I see you learned the lesson”. I can relate so much…

For me 2023 should have been the year. The year where I would have launched DTC and finally start a new chapter in life, but nothing of that happened yet. It’s true that last February I moved in a new house, which is a new life chapter in itself, but even today that is still feeling like a long transition period that has not yet concluded, and I hope will be over as soon as possible.

DTC in 2023 saw a lot of progress both on the surface and under the hood, and I should feel proud of it. When I look at the game in its current state, I’m both impressed by what me and the team managed to create, but I also can’t stop totally opposite feelings of uncertainty and dissatisfaction, of which I will probably talk about in the game’s postmortem. But we’re almost done now. 2024 needs to be the year where things change, the earlier the better. I can’t wait any longer.

Progress from the internal Alpha

I just checked the January 2023 Dev Diary, and I felt very awkward when reading that I had already announced an internal Alpha to the public a year ago… To be fair that one was really internal, only the team and a couple of business partners got to try it. On the opposite, the Alpha running right now is extended to select people that aren’t necessarily linked to our team, including our Discord moderators, friends, and some trusted developers working on other games. And it’s a huge update compared to the game in January 2023, it really improved a lot since then both in functionality and in looks.

Speaking of the current Alpha, during December 2023 it received four updates, plus one coming very soon, which is a pretty good result considering that almost half of the month was off limits due to holiday preparations and events. Thanks to the help of the testers I’ve found some weak points and some bugs, but the best thing is that the game has been received really well in general, even if the Alpha has limited content compared to the release- a big relief for the team!

Having outside players access the game this early has been a motivational boost to be more consistent with updates. This kind of motivation can really fade away over time when you have no hard deadlines, which is a reality for fully independent developers like me (in which case money becomes your deadline, unless you are a big fan of not having food and a home).

Racetrack kerbs

Kerbs are a must in closed-track racing games and I implemented those just in time for the first version of the internal Alpha. Kerbs are added to the track only during races and time attack, and are removed in free ride. Kerbs in DTC are as physical as you’d expect: driving over them will tilt the car and emit that specific noise that racing fans know well.

Kerbs provide a very dynamic feedback and are exciting to drive on.

New look for the road

I often get lost in improving the game visuals, it’s one of the deepest rabbit holes of realistic looking games in my opinion, but also one of my guilty pleasures. The road really needed some work because it looked dull, partly due to how it’s generated and to how I manage the materials- there are some limits that prevent me to have certain visual features. But I spent a couple days looking exclusively into that and finally come up with a nicer look at the cost of less detail resolution when looking up close. It might not look much at a glance, but the difference is noticeable if you compare it to screenshots I shared in previous diaries.

An update on Neodori Infinity

It’s been a few months since we launched Neodori Infinity, and while the game was received with high ratings and plenty of love by the players, it didn’t catch too well with the general VR audience. We too love the game and loved working on it, but analytics suggest us this isn’t probably what players were expecting from VR games, maybe it’s too niche for the broader VR audience.

Some time ago we announced updates coming to Neodori Infinity, but unfortunately those have been pushed back indefinitely due to the reasons above. Right now the Strobetano team is moving on and focusing on other projects, while Commuter Games is completely busy on DTC. This doesn’t exclude the chance of updates in the future anyways! I’d love to create more content for the game in a less busy period, later on.

Remember that Neodori Infinity is currently free to try thanks to Try Before You Buy, a feature integrated in the Meta Quest store and App Lab!

The desert is one of my favorite environments in Neodori Infinity.

Wrapping up

December has been a busy month as usual due to holidays (we really feel those a lot here in Italy) and I’m sorry if I don’t have much else to show here about DTC. But I’m back to work now and my number one priority is once again Downtown Club. Hope to bring you a hefty dev diary for the next month!

Danjel Ricci “SkyArcher”