Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev
This update features some pretty drastic improvements to the Customize Character menu, some AI improvements, a return of the “classic” version of the Temple map (that some long-time ZGA players may remember as being one of the three maps included at the Early Access launch) and also some contributions from Ex3m (Max Graw) in the form of some improvements to CTS_One and some cleaning out of old, unused assets which has yielded a surprising reduction in the game's storage usage.
For those unaware, the weekly game sessions that were popular during Early Access have now resumed on Sundays at 19:00(GMT). Everyone is welcome and one will be taking place today so do please feel free to join and try out the new features.
-Jon

MAPS:
  • The old version of Temple has appeared in the community made map section.
  • CTS_One now has a rounded floor transition between the sections at 90 degrees.
  • Various minor map fixes.


AI:
  • The bots can now observe and remember whether a weapon pickup is currently spawned. This fixes what was previously their most obviously stupid behavior, which was standing on an empty weapon spawn until it spawned.


UI:
  • Color wheels in character edit menu and reticle edit menu.
  • Improvements to the layout of the helmet and shoe menus in the character edit menu.
  • Aesthetic changes to the map select screen.
  • Removed redundant debug messages that spammed something about destroying sessions when a listen server host quit.
  • Added a framerate limit option to graphics menu.


GRAPHICS:
  • The main menu has been rendered unfestive.


OTHER:
  • A reduction in total file size from about 7.2GB to about 5.7GB from Ex3m's clearing out of the project's old, unused assets. A great result considering that this update also added content.
Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev
Linux support is finally here! There might still be a few hitches still on some setups, but at this point I think it should work as well as the Windows build for the majority of users. If you run into any non-trivial problems on your system, just make a post in the bug-reports forum ( https://steamcommunity.com/app/467820/discussions/2/ )

I've been wanting to add Linux support for well over 2 years now. The problem last time I tried (before the early access launch) was that different distros had completely different and sometimes quite serious issues.

Recent testing of the Linux build has only encountered minor or very intermittent issues, all of which seem to be specific to certain systems. Most users, including myself with my Ubuntu installation, don't find any issues specific to Linux at this point.

Anyway, if you're a Linux user please do let me know how ZGA is running for you.
Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev
This is the announcement that I referred to earlier in the week. As the title suggests, Zero G Arena is participating in the Yogscast Jingle Jam. For those unaware, this is an annual fundraising event organized by The Yogscast in collaboration with Humble. This includes a special Humble Bundle, from which all revenue goes to charity. As of today, Zero G Arena has been announced as part of that bundle!

You can view the bundle here: https://www.humblebundle.com/yogscast

Previous Jingle Jams have proven to be hugely effective fundraising events, with last year's raising over 5 million dollars for charity. If ZGA's inclusion in the bundle helps in the fundraising effort then it's worth it on those grounds alone.

Anyway, as alluded to in the previous announcement, I'm hoping this will also benefit you, as players, by helping with ZGA's playerbase problem.
Firstly, the bundle can sell a maximum of 200,000 units which, going by previous years, probably most if not all of which will sell (63,900 and counting at the time of writing). The bundle features a lot of games so probably a relatively low percentage of buyers will actually play ZGA, but that's still a lot of units, so I hope that will translate to a noticeable boost to the playerbase.
Secondly, as I understand it, the Yogscast are actually going to play ZGA on stream at some point, to promote the bundle. Hopefully this will encourage more bundle-buyers to try it out, and perhaps even help ZGA's visibility in the longer term.

In any case, I encourage you to have a look at the bundle. It's going to be a great deal even if you already own a few of the games. And also, if you've been struggling to find people to play ZGA with, I imagine it will be worth checking the servers over the next few days.

-Jon
Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev
Firstly, this isn't the announcement referred to in my last announcement. That's still happening Tomorrow (8th of December 2018).
This is just a little update with a few fixes and improvements. Most notably, a rework of the map CTS_One which Ex3m started on before the full launch.
-Jon


MAPS:
  • CTS_One has had a rework by Ex3m, including drastic visual and structural changes. The map should be faster paced now compared to the previous version, which was quite large and a bit too maze-like.

TUTORIAL:
  • Added a section to the new tutorial level explaining the various kinds of jumps (including the wall jump). It's a bit basic (just some text and things to jump over to one side of the weapon room), but better than nothing, as this was something that hadn't previously been carried over from the old tutorial, which was unfortunate as I think the various jumps are important in adding depth to the movement system.
  • There is now a message before the end of the tutorial telling you to go to the Game/Team tab of the in-game menu for a description of the current game mode. Also updated the game mode descriptions.

UI:
  • Avatar colors are now automatically set to the default white and blue when opening the avatar edit menu with no custom options saved. Previously the HSV values would default to 0 when opening the menu. This was probably even more confusing to people unfamiliar with HSV (Hue, Saturation, Value) as the H and S sliders would appear to have no effect while Value was at 0.
  • Changed the text of the server list message about bots and also made it bright green, to try and reinforce the message that you can join an empty dedicated server and play with bots.
  • Updated Pipe thumbnail


GRAPHICS:
  • Color changes to electric damage effect (such as when hit by CTS sphere).
  • Ex3m has added some festive decorations to the main menu scene.

SOUND:
  • Made default music volume lower in proportion to SFX and UI.


BUGFIXES:
  • This was not a bug by my definition of one, but I can see how it could be mistaken for one. Joining a dedicated server that had been empty, you may have sometimes found the match to have gone into some ridiculous period of overtime. The bots are removed when there are no players, so if all the players leave in the middle of a match it would just keep going and overrun, as non-team modes in ZGA go into overtime until one player has more points than any other player. Anyway, the server now just resets to a pre-match state when there are no players.
Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev
I just wanted to make people aware that something's coming up this Saturday (the 8th) that might be of great interest to fans of Zero G Arena. I'm not allowed to give any details until then (I don't suggest speculating too much), but I think I can safely say that it's a very positive thing and I hope it will also prove to be very positive to you as players.

Anyway, don't set any specific expectations, but I thoroughly encourage you to stay tuned and see what happens on Saturday.
-Jon
Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev


Well, with all the launch problems, I've just realised I never actually explicitly announced that Zero G Arena has left Early Access!

It didn't really happen as a single event in the end so much as a series of them:
  1. ZGA was removed from Steam when I pressed the launch button on the 8th of August, and became unplayable to Early Access owners.
  2. ZGA was put back on Steam and set to a released state, but appeared on page 949 of new releases, next to games from November 2016. I do not believe the launch visibility was working either, which I imagine was related.
  3. Finally ZGA was put in the correct place in the new releases list as though it had launched on the 9th of August (in my time-zone), although by this point it was on page 3 of new releases, so was never actually at the top of the new releases list (although no game is for very long these days). It has now got it's launch visibility so it's definitely not looking as bleak as it was. I am pretty sure everything on Steam is fixed now.

This all took place over two or three days (currently struggling to work out the exact timeline as was awake for thirty-something hours straight during the last stage of the whole debacle).

Anyway, whatever happens now, I'm extremely proud of ZGA in it's current form and glad that I'm able to call it "finished".

-Jon
Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev
Just as I was about to don my tinfoil hat and try to work out who I'd upset at Valve, I got a response. They've acknowledged the issues so I think ZGA should now get it's proper launch (although given the number of issues so far I'll wait and see...).

It's 01:50AM here in the UK now and I've been up late several days between all these issues and what I thought was going to be the original launch, so sadly I'm not going to be able to stay awake to see the launch in much longer.

If it really has worked, there are probably going to be a lot of new players coming in overnight. I would have hoped to be around to offer tech support but like I say, I'm falling asleep right now. I'd like people to be aware therefore: What I found on the Early Access launch is that there are all kinds of things that can go wrong with the installation process that have got nothing to do with the game. You might have found an actually issue with the game, in which case just make a bug report and I'll get back to you tomorrow, or it might just be your firewall, or Window's failure to install one or more of the dependencies. It's also worth verifying the integrity of the game cache.

Hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow to find this has all really been resolved.
-Jon
Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev
I would really appreciate if you could read this as I believe the last three and a half years of my life have just been rendered all-but wasted through no fault of my own, by a series of Steam issues which are yet to be resolved.

When I tried to instigate ZGA's full launch yesterday, there was a catastrophic issue with Steam which resulted in the game vanishing from Steam rather than launching. See my last announcement for details on this.

I woke up this morning to a response from Valve claiming that they'd fixed the issues. Thankfully, the issue with ZGA being erased from existence on Steam has been rectified, so existing owners can at least play it again.

This alone would have had a terrible impact on the launch (something I'm yet to get an acknowledgement from Valve on). Unfortunately there have been more issues with Steam which are currently set to render ZGA a complete commercial failure unless fixed. Even if they are fixed at this point the launch will have been severely compromised.

Here's what I know:

Valve have also supposedly launched ZGA for me overnight, which would have been inconvenient even if it had worked properly, as it would have been way off peak times and I wouldn't have been available for tech support.
It's now marked as released and the 40% launch discount has been applied. The launch visibility clearly hasn't been applied however and ZGA is not showing up correctly under new releases. I contacted Valve about this again and their response was that the launch visibility had been applied and that I couldn't see ZGA in new releases due to it being hidden to owners of the game. They suggested using private browsing to see it in new releases.
Multiple people have confirmed to me that ZGA is not showing correctly in new releases and I've tested it using private browsing and even a VPN. We have since discovered that ZGA's launch date is showing incorrectly in some places as the 3rd of November 2016 and it's place in the new releases list is next to games that launched around this time (on page nine hundred and something). I am still waiting for a response from Valve having provided this new information. I encourage you all to look on the Store page and observe the incorrect launch date. It shows as the 9th of August on other parts of Steam so this is clearly a problem. If in doubt, I do know that an Early Access game's launch date should be set to the day it leaves Early Access.

Given these problems, I do not think it should be surprising that the launch visibility is not working, although since this is not as clear to demonstrate I am concerned that even if Valve fix the other problems they won't do anything about this.

With regards to the launch visibility, I have access to data and so far as I can tell the number of impressions and store visits is orders of magnitude less than at the early access launch (which was supposed to be less than the full launch!). It is also less than any typical sale event, so I think any increase in traffic is attributable to the launch discount, which has at least worked.

I'm not sure if many people will appreciative the significance of ZGA not getting it's launch visibility. Every game that launches on Steam is supposed to be given a chance to show that it can sell when shown to users on the Steam store. This is the entire reason that Valve can take such a hefty chunk of a game's profits (I am not allowed to divulge the exact number), in exchange for visibility on their platform. ZGA has had a negligible increase in page views and a negligible increase in sales. As I say, any increase is more likely attributable to the launch discount and perhaps people who were waiting for the full launch (excluding those who tried to find it when it was vanished yesterday!).

If there is any doubt, I do know for a fact that a game releasing from Early Access should get launch visibility. In fact the documentation clearly states that a game doesn't even receive it's full launch visibility until it's full release, so right now ZGA should be getting more visibility in the Steam store than it did for the Early Access launch. I read the documentation over and over to be sure of this before making the decision to continue developing ZGA to this extent. I've also reinvested most of the money ZGA made in Early Access back into the game.

The consequences of all this are that ZGA has sold a negligible number of copies since the “launch” and as such the servers are all but empty and, unless something changes, I am, without a shadow of a doubt, not going to be able to go on making games for a living.


Thank you for reading this,
Jon Wood, developer of Zero G Arena
Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev
Well, at 8 minutes past 8pm (British time) I pressed the button to release ZGA from early access. Steam gave me an error and ZGA vanished from the Steam store. I've sent a message to Valve and hopefully they get back to me soon.

Anyway, ZGA's community HUB also became hidden. I saw in the Steamworks settings that ZGA was now in an "unreleased" state. I tried marking it as "coming soon" in the hope that I could at least make the community HUB visible again to let people know what's happening. This did actually make the community HUB and Store page visible again (or possibly just the Store page, I'm not sure if I checked the community HUB), but it seemed to revert to being invisible again shortly afterwards, despite no further action on my part.

I'm not sure if it was me trying to mark the game as "coming soon", or if the issue that'd already occurred was the cause, but it seems that people who already own ZGA now can't even run it. I'm sorry if that was me, although obviously none of this should have happened anyway...

Sadly I don't think there's anything else I can do on my end so I've just got to wait for a response from Valve. I am all but certain they'll be able to fix it and you'll be able to play ZGA again, but I can't give you a timeframe unfortunately.

Although the community HUB seems to be hidden, my hope is that people can see this in the announcements section for ZGA in their Steam libraries. Otherwise people are just going to find they can't run the game but have no means of contacting me.

Well anyway, pretty much everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong lately, so I'm not even unduly surprised by this turn of events. In the interests of positivity, I'll just say that I don't think this will be anything other than a temporary setback.

-Jon
Aug 8, 2018
Zero G Arena - JonWoodDev
For those unaware, this is ZGA's last couple of hours in Early Access (all going to plan [which will be a first]). I just wanted to thank the entire community for being great in so many ways.

Firstly, without your help in testing ZGA would, without a shadow of a doubt, be a borderline-unplayable-bug-ridden monstrosity right now.

It's hard to maintain any kind of realistic perspective on something that you've been working on every day for years. When putting ZGA in Early Access, I genuinely had no idea if people were going to love it, hate it or anything in between. I initially made the game free so that I could abandon the project if nobody liked it, without ripping anyone off. As it turned out, people, for the most part, loved it. So, I would also like to thank everyone who's ever told me what they think of ZGA. Without you, I literally would have stopped work on ZGA two years ago or otherwise would not have had the motivation to continue developing it to this extent.

I'd also like to thank everyone for their patience over the course of Early Access. It was inevitable that there would be some pretty serious issues at some points during Early Access. I've always tried to resolve these as quickly as possible but I really appreciate that no one's ever been anything but helpful and patient with these.
Also, I'm aware the playerbase has not always been as active as ideal (in fact some work has been required to find a match for the most part of ZGA's time in Early Access). Before making the decision to enter Early Access I had looked at other multiplayer games and seen that, all too often, they were review bombed for not having an active enough playerbase. This can, of course, become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy and potentially render an Early Access game dead-on-arrival. Somehow ZGA has managed to escape this fate, even in recent months when the playerbase has been least active. Once again, I'd like to thank the entire community for their patience in this respect. All going to plan, an inactive playerbase shouldn't be a problem again for a long time after launch.

Also, I've mentioned bug reports, but I'd also like to thank everyone for all the general feedback. A lot of player suggestions have been incorporated into the game and I think it's definitely much better for it. I wanted to make a full list of suggestions that made it into the game, but sadly I'm too pushed for time before the launch now. It was a lot in any case.
One such suggestion (which was suggested by many people) was the community made maps feature. This was an insufferable faff to add, not least because I spent a long time trying to implement it using a UE4 system that turned out to be a dead end. But it was definitely worth it. The quality and inventiveness of the community made maps was amazing and I was deeply moved that anyone had the enthusiasm for ZGA to put that much effort into it. As most will know, I asked one such map maker (Max Graw) to join the project as an artist for the last 6 months or so.

Anyway, thanks most of all for believing in the game.

-Jon
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