When Steam Early Access just isn't enough, what do you do? Well, you make your own “Earliest Access” scheme, of course. That’s what Gaslamp Games is doing for steampunk/occult crossover city builder Clockwork Empires. Ahead of the game’s launch on Steam Early Access in August, Clockwork Empires will be available directly from Gaslamp in an early manifestation.
The whole idea of Earliest Access, according to Gaslamp Games, is an “opportunity to take our testing to a larger scale than our internal testing while retaining as much of our ability to communicate directly with fans as possible. The game needs more hardware compatibility testing, large-scale bug hunting, and some more UI iteration before we’re ready for Steam."
With the experience of this preliminary playtesting under their belt, Gaslamp will then be ready to launch on Steam Early Access, where it promises to deliver new content each month in the run up to final release. The team anticipate that this will be somewhere within the region of nine to twelve months, but refuse to commit to a release date.
"We've hit the point (as of July 2014) where the game is getting very visibly better with each update we send to testers, and the experience is becoming less about basic functionality as it is about playing the game itself," explains Gaslamp. "Hitting this tipping was the most important criterion for us for any form of early access and we're at the point where people who want to participate will be able to watch the project take shape, submit bugs, help us prioritize features, suggest how to resolve design issues, and play the game largely crash-free."
Paying for Earliest Access now gets you all the familiar benefits of Early Access, simply with another phase added on top. Earliest Access will be purchased through the Gaslamp Games website, but when the game hits Steam purchasers will be provided with a Steam key for the newer version. Then, when the game finally goes full release, the key will be upgraded to the final version.
You can purchase Clockwork Empires’ Earliest Access version from July 18th. If Rob’s preview of the game is anything to go by, it could well be something worth investigating.
Thanks, PC Gamer.