Remember when early access meant something? When purchasing an early access game to take an active role in a project's development was something unique and noteworthy? These days, it seems more difficult to find a game that didn't have an early access phase at some point than to find one that did.
And as cool as it may be to get a "first look" at gameplay and take an active role in a game's roadmap, early access isn't without its growing pains. Plenty of shady developers have, at various times, attempted to use the classification as some kind of shield. To them, it was less a collaborative development process than it was a means of dumping shovelware or vaporware.
Even for legitimate game developers, early access isn't exactly sunshine and roses. It can be equal parts discouraging and overwhelming, with feedback coming from every direction and constant pressure to forge ahead in the game's development. It's for this precise reason that Amplitude Studios, a wholly owned development studio under SEGA, is taking a different path.
Some of you may recall that one of the studios’ under the SEGA of Europe’s umbrella is Amplitude Studios. Amplitude was among the first in the world to launch a title in early access in the form of the 4x game, Endless Space.
What you may not know is that for the past decade, Amplitude Studios has been actively collaborating with its audience. Its custom platform, Games2Gether, allows participating SEGA developers to collect direct, targeted feedback on their games. The tool has proven immensely valuable in the past, enough so that Amplitude Studios is using it for their upcoming title, Endless Dungeon.
A spiritual successor to Dungeon of the Endless (DOTE), Endless Dungeon features some pretty massive changes over the original. First, the game is shifting from pixel-based visuals to a new three-dimensional art-style. Second, and perhaps most interestingly, players will be able to directly control the game's characters.
For the uninitiated, DOTE and Endless Dungeon are both rogue-lites with tower defense elements. They're all about dying, learning, then dying again until eventually, you're skilled enough to finish the game. Set on a derelict space station, Endless Dungeon will task players with exploring the massive structure's depths.
Endless Dungeon and DOTE both take place in the same universe as Endless Space and Endless Legend, although both of the former titles are a bit tongue-in-cheek compared to their more dour cousins. Set tens of thousands of years after the extinction of a sophisticated civilization known only as the Endless, the setting is a science fiction/fantasy hybrid marked by constant war as multiple factions attempt to leverage the advanced technology of the Endless for their own ends.
Of course, you won't have to worry much about any of that. Endless Dungeon and DOTE are a great deal more irreverent. They're less concerned with intergalactic war than they are with just having a good time.
And that's totally fine.
But we're veering a bit off track—we haven't even gotten to the most exciting part. In combination with G2G, SEGA and Amplitude will be giving players access to small, limited-time slices of the game with the goal of collecting targeted feedback. Players can sign up to participate through OpenDev, testing everything from new controls to newly-introduced mechanics.
At the end of each OpenDev build period, participants will be asked to fill out a few forms that will provide SEGA and Amplitude with feedback to direct the future development of the game between now and release. If that sounds like it's right up your alley, then you can sign up here. You can also check any of the following links for development updates and other news:
Endless Dungeon will be available on all platforms, PC, Xbox, PS and Switch when the game launches.