ORION: PRELUDE RETURNS | COMING TO STEAM (2014)
ORION: Prelude has been a part of Spiral since nearly the very beginning. It was originally inspired by and designed to be a spiritual successor to our first free prototype, the ‘ORION: Source Beta’ which was built as a modification for the Source Engine. It was created as a Weapon Mechanics demonstration / feedback test and featured the ORION IP as well as class-based gameplay between The Carriers and The Altair.
‘ORION: PROTOTYPE’ (2009-2010)
The ORION: Prototype was built as a free product as a Source engine modification. This was going to be the first publicly released prototype with the ‘ORION’ name and it focused on the Player-versus-Player (class-based) combat and Weapon mechanics. It saw release in December 2009 with another large free update in June 2010.
*Note: Keep in mind that the ‘ORION: Prototype’ was lacking in two of the IP’s 3 main pillars: Jetpacks, Mechs and Dinosaurs. There were no vehicles and no dinosaurs in any form in this prototype. It was still received rather well and averaged 7’s and 8’s, it won Mod of the Month at Fileplanet for January 2010 shortly after its release and it offered a really focused, linear sense of fun. It only had one single game mode called ‘Lockdown CTF’.
‘ORION: PRELUDE’ IS BORN (SUMMER OF 2010)
In the Summer of 2010 we wanted to do a proper successor to the ‘ORION: Prototype’ – something that would captivate the full ORION experience. We needed to build the ‘ORION: Prototype’ but it absolutely needed the Dinosaurs and vehicles now that we had our weapon systems tested in the public and improved behind doors courtesy of the Prototype. This was where ‘ORION: Prelude’ came in and was assembled. Most importantly we needed to brand out as an indie developer (Spiral Game Studios) and recreate this on state-of-the-art technology. This is where the Unreal Engine 3 came in. This is also when ‘ORION: Prelude’ grew from the one game mode to 3 modes including Lockdown CTF, VITAL and Retro DM.
CROWDFUNDING & COMMNITY SUPPORT (KICKSTARTER – 2011)
We did something brand new (at the time) - we turned directly to the community for support and funding. We talked to many Publishers prior to this but they were either scared of a new IP or their offering would have killed us before we even left the gate. We ran a successful campaign, the very first AAA title to utilize Kickstarter.
GREAT PRESS & ACCLAIM (2011)
The press was loving ‘ORION: Prelude’ which meant the world to us. There were glowing articles about the game, its Kickstarter campaign and the general consensus of how we were interacting with our community:
"For those of you who want, nay demand, the highest quality visual experience in your first-person shooters, ORION: Prelude has answered the call. I’ve watched ORION’s game trailer about eight times now because it’s just that good. The media has been giving ORION lots of love, describing it as “HALO meets Jurassic Park,” and if you check out that trailer, you’ll see why. This is one Multiplayer Beta you will NOT want to miss." –KickStarter
"In my time, a lot of Kickstarter initiatives have come and gone. There is, after all, only so much disposable income willing to be given out for the day’s good cause. I can’t predict what will happen to ORION: Prelude, but I can say that Spiral Game Studios certainly put the effort in." – Destructoid
"There are a few things in the world that just scream “awesome.” Look no further than dinosaurs, space marines, and jetpacks. Now imagine a game that was packed to the brim with the aforementioned items… you need to play this game, don’t you? – CultureGET
SO WHAT HAPPENED (@ ‘ORION: Dino Beatdown / May 2012)
There were many elements at play but the first and foremost was the product itself. While it definitely released in bad shape it came out of the gates far worse than we could ever have imagined. If you locate any press that had played the beta the week right before we released to the public in the first week of May you’ll see that they over all enjoyed themselves and had a good time, no *major* issues and that was pretty much that – it was an “OK” game.
Some of the main launch issues included some freak-events such as Steam changing a directory name seconds before launch which broke a bunch of directory connectivity – but in due respect they did the right thing with the name change – we were just never informed it was going to occur and weren’t able to plan ahead for that new id / tag.
I think it is safe to say that was by far the most stressful moment of my life. There were so many emotions and situations happening at every turn that when I even reflect back on it now all I see is this big giant blur. ‘ORION: Dino Beatdown’ was released on May 4th, 2012. We had put out 6 patches in May 2012 alone. We also put out this massive update outlining what was coming and how everything was going to be addressed via Title Update 001 which released in September 2012. This complete rebuild process took almost exactly 4 months and opened support for 32-bit systems. It added a new mode, maps and addressed all major issues with the game that users were experiencing or contacting us about.
WE COULD HAVE DONE SO MUCH BETTER
We were mostly sad as we knew it wasn’t the best we could do but we were out of any other options. We were out of money by February 2012 and were all working for free for the next months. I had even sold my car to raise additional funds to prolong it as much as possible. It was a very horrible situation.
Long story short: I involved my brother in late 2010 to assist with operations, accounting and helping pay the developers so I could focus most of my time on the actual game and its development. He had lined up a friend who was interested in investing. I had met him in London shortly after GamesCom 2011 in Germany. Things went well – I liked him, he liked me, he could see the vision in the product (at this time ‘ORION: Prelude’).
I flew home and we started working on the contract with our lawyer. This is where it started getting shady. They were trying to work in some absolutely insane stipulations like jacking up his return amount by 3x the original amount of what was originally discussed or a board seat. I quickly got it back to what it was normally but this should have been a red flag.
WHAT REALLY HURT
The big problem was when the investment arrived a 1/5th of it was taken which was equivalent a half a years’ worth of development (more on that here). That is a lot of time especially when you realize at how fast we actually are - we built the entire Arctic Update in 30 days. This really put us in a bad place and I had to immediately begin designing another game but for the first time this design was based around limitations – what content was already available and how fast this new design could be put together. This is where ‘ORION: Dino Beatdown’ came into existence in October / November 2011.
‘ORION: Dino Beatdown’ was designed as a cooperative title to stand alongside ‘ORION: Prelude’. We had to do this for a few reasons – variety, not to upset Prelude fans but to also make sure this in no way affected the investors title (attached to Prelude).
The biggest problem is that I had never encountered something like this to any degree. I’ve had my fair share of problems to deal with in life, but this was something new to me. I had never been a “CEO” before. I never had someone that close do something like that to me.
On one hand I didn’t want to throw my brother under the bus simply due to the hard nature of it (family) and on the other hand I was worried about letting the investor know that “hey, we received your money, my brother took a good chunk of it and now I don’t know what to tell you about the immediate future of ‘ORION: Prelude’” and have that possibly stop things full-force when I knew I could turn the ship around.
WHERE I MESSED UP
I should have said something – anything, to anyone whether it was the public or the investor. I literally blacked out and my only brain function was “restore the product - restore the product” and with that the Community.
Press, friends, family and literally anything else in my life took the back seat. This turned into 12-15 hour work days 7 days a week. It was absolutely insane. It wasn’t even a coherent decision, really - I was literally just doing it because it was what needed to be done. I would wake up anywhere from 3am – 5am and work until 11pm or midnight. Rinse and repeat.
PHASE 2 - THE SHIP TURNS AROUND (‘ORION: DINO HORDE’)
With all of that hard work (@dino horde) we did what we set out to do and turned the game around 180 degrees in a way that has never done before. That is what will set us apart and there is literally no competition to us in that aspect. We will work harder for our product and our community than any other person or game developer out there. Period.
PHASE 3 - THE FULL CIRCLE
It has been a very long and interesting journey on this game. It has changed, evolved and become something very special to us and for many fans around the world. We have had so much fun working on this game and bringing it to its true vision – which is where we are headed with PHASE 3.
Both ‘ORION: Dino Beatdown’ and ORION: Dino Horde’ came to existence because of situations and events that kept pushing ORION: Prelude further and further away. Both of these titles were built based on what was available and within realisitic reach while approaching the mega vision that is and was ORION: Prelude.
WHAT IS AND ALWAYS WAS
Many of you had caught on and probably knew that this was coming. Others may have even thought that ‘ORION: Prelude’ may never see the light of day. Everything we have done thus far has put in the ground work and cleaned up the foundation to make room for what is and always was about ‘ORION: Prelude’. This is the last major piece of the puzzle and it will be coming this year.
Q: “WHAT IT IS SCHEDULED TO INCLUDE?”
A: This will include the Carriers versus The Altair, this will include all of the original Prelude mega-modes (and more), this will include new alien weapons, a new game menu and a new game version / update to make this an experience like no other: Cooperative, Competitive, Melee, Playable Dinosaurs and more!
Q: “RENAMING THE GAME DIDN’T GO SO WELL LAST TIME- WHY AGAIN?”
A: We understand that doing things differently may ruffle a few feathers. We have our reasons but most importantly our products and community come long before the press or any number. The media, while slow and prehistoric, are finally coming around what with IGN admitting that games can change via post release and will now offer re-reviews:
Q: “ARE YOU DOING THIS TO GET RE-REVIEWED”
A: We have made it very clear that we don’t take much consideration from reviews or numbers. Those numbers and reviews are static while our development philosophy is exactly the opposite. We will support and work on a product until it reaches its potential and the fans and ourselves are pleased with its offering. The current review system doesn’t make room for this mentality or process and so we ignore it until something better comes along.
Q: “ARE YOU OPEN TO THEM RE-REVIEWING?”
A: If they do wish to re-review the game that is something we encourage and applaud. If they want recommendations for new review systems that are less dated and static in a dynamic, cloud-filled, patch-filled, constantly updated world we are also ready with suggestions to offer.
Q: “SO ‘ORION: DINO HORDE’ WILL BECOME ‘ORION: PRELUDE?’
Q: “WHY IS DINO HORDE EVOLVING INTO ‘ORION: PRELUDE?”
A: It is finally ready to. It is based on Dino Horde, requires the systems and content of Dino Horde and mirrors the way we have supported and evolved the game for the first 2-3 years.
Q: “WILL ‘ORION: DINO HORDE’ OWNERS UPGRADE TO ‘ORION: PRELUDE’ FOR FREE?
A: Yes – absolutely.
Q: “WILL THE PRICE INCREASE FOR NEW BUYERS AFTER PRELUDE IS LIVE?”
A: Not fully decided yet – but assume likely as it was with ‘ORION: Dino Horde’. With these massive evolutions we re-evaluate the quality and pricing of the game for new consumers going forward. All original owners are upgraded for free. There will be many sales and events leading up to the Phase 3 evolution where you will have many chances to get ORION: Dino Horde / ORION: Prelude for very, very cheap.
Q: “WHY DO YOU KEEP EVOLVING AND UPDATING THIS GAME?”
A: It had a rough launch and we knew it could be so much better. We love it and we love the community so we are continually adding to it until it reaches its overall vision.
Q: “WILL ANYTHING BE REMOVED OR CHANGED TO THE ORIGINAL CONTENT?”
A: No – everything you love will still exist whether its mechanics, features, weapons, modes, maps – everything. The only thing that original content will see are continued support and tweaks to better improve the overall experience.
Q: “WHAT NEW CONTENT WILL BE ADDED DURING THE PRELUDE EVOLUTION?”
A: We can currently confirm 3 new gam modes, 5 new weapons, 25 new achievements, new team character models (2), a new game menu and a significant / new game version and update.
Q: “WHAT IS THE EXPECTED RELEASE DATE FOR ‘ORION: PRELUDE?’”
A: It is currently targeted for Q4 2014.
A NOTE TO ALL 2011 KICKSTARTERS:
As previously mentioned we are no longer able to target XBLA or PSN. These targeted platforms were dropped due to the high costs of operating them which ultimately conflicted with our development philosophy of constant, massive updates.
We have already reported that if you wish to receive a refund please contact us at Kickstarter@spiralgamestudios.com
If you wish to migrate your Package to the Steam version of ‘ORION: Prelude’ OR to the recently announced Orion Project this is something we can do. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget – as a 2011 Kickstarter backer you now receive EVERY game we ever make – for the rest of your life. More details on that here:
Help Us Out
Spiral Game Studios intends to bring the fun and excitement back to the action genre, by focusing on its core values: intuitive gameplay, tight controls, frustration-free designs, and competitive, skill-based challenge. These elements are found in some games; sometimes a game incorporates a few of them. Rarely will you find a game that focuses on every aspect of a "fun" game, and those that do are the games that players still come back to decades after they were made. We hope to stay true to these values by introducing our first project: Orion.