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The Riftbreaker » 2023 in Review

Hello Riftbreakers!

2023 has gone by in a blink of an eye. The Riftbreaker is two years old now, but your passion for the game has not disappeared – not in the slightest. You keep us motivated to keep making the game better and better. We have compiled some facts and stats about EXOR and The Riftbreaker to summarize our work. Let’s take a look at what we managed to achieve over the course of the past twelve months and talk about our plans for the next year.

    We have released four major updates for the game:

  • World Expansion II update – it accompanied the release of the Into the Dark DLC. This update allowed you to explore the Crystal Caverns biome, spanning for miles beneath the surface of Galatea 37. The new rock-digging mechanics allowed you to build bases deep underground while facing relentless attacks from the unwelcoming inhabitants of the limestone caves.

    Building a giant base beneath the surface of the planet is a challenge, but try that while repelling relentless attacks from hordes of aliens!

  • Summer Update – It added 156 new decorative items in several sizes and styles, all available for free and awarded to players for their in-game progress. They allow you to customize the looks of your Riftbreaker bases.

    Our screenshot contest asked you to put those assets to good use. Here’s a great example by acideiffel!

  • Halloween Update – Added the Halloween seasonal event, fixed several major bugs, as well as brought the Prologue version of the game to parity with the main release.

    Any ideas for new seasonal events in the Riftbreaker?

  • The Riftbreaker Multiplayer Closed Beta – It’s not an update, strictly speaking. However, we feel that it is an important milestone. We started conducting connectivity tests with players around the world. Our goal is clear – co-op multiplayer.

    The closed PVP test will evolve into a co-op test over time.

Now, a bunch of statistics:

  • Apart from the major updates, we have also released 11 maintenance updates, stability updates, and hotfixes, bringing up the total number of releases to 14 in 2023 alone. Adding experimental branch releases increases this number to 30 for Steam alone.
  • Adding other platforms to the mix, we have published 71 versions of the game altogether. That gives us an average of one game update every 5.14 days. We were busy!
  • To maintain compatibility with saved games, each patch that we publish has to successfully complete not only a QA pass but also a series of automated save tests. This year, our save samples package has grown from 135 to 163 tests to accommodate the new Story Campaign from Into the Dark DLC. A full run takes 3 hours on average to complete. We ran the save test gauntlet 476 times this year, summing up to 1428 hours, or 59.5 days, or 85680 minutes of automated testing, give or take. You can watch all 9 Star Wars movies back-to-back 56 times in that time.
  • The Riftbreaker repository revision number at the beginning of the year was 34431. As of the time of writing this article, the number is 42130, only counting the main branch. That gives us 7699 contributions to the game’s content alone. The programmers additionally work on The Schmetterling Engine, which uses a separate repository. They started the year on revision 25931 and finished on revision 28922. That is an additional 2991 contributions, bringing the total number up to 10690. That gives us an average of 29 commits a day. An average member of EXOR contributed 712 times.
  • We streamed the development version of the game on our Twitch channel 80 times this year, and you watched for 5660 minutes, sending over 36500 chat messages. Most of them were stronger attack votes.
  • We published 72 news articles on Steam, ranging from simple patch notes to detailed breakdowns of the new rendering techniques. These articles amassed about 20.041.000 impressions (times they showed up in various places around Steam for you). That gives us an average of 278.000 views per article. That’s over 5.5 times the capacity of the Polish National Stadium in Warsaw.
  • This year, we officially added integrated modding support for the game, implementing an in-game mod browser. Mods can be hosted on Steam Workshop and Our users have published 481 mods for the game. To promote modding in our community, we ran a community modding contest with high-end PC gear on the line. Our champions received customized gaming PCs with Riftbreaker artwork printed on the case.

    The main prizes in the modding contest went to Frognik and WirawanMYT. Congratulations once again!

  • We released a substantial number of updates this year. However, the majority of our work has been focused on co-op multiplayer. We have released four Status Report articles – over 12000 words summarizing our progress and describing the issues we had to face. You can read them all here:
  • We’re still a long way from releasing the co-op version to you, but we have made a major step towards it. We started a closed multiplayer beta, utilizing our ‘accidentally developed’ PVP mode to diagnose issues with our net code. Thanks to the data we have already gathered during the beta, we have managed to clear many bottlenecks in network transfers. Each step forward brings us closer to the real deal – fully online co-op mode. We have over 300 testers now, but we still need more – you can sign up for the test here:

What we wanted to improve:

Last year, we drew a couple of conclusions from our work, based on your feedback and our own experience. In 2023, we decided to put the theory into practice. Let’s see how that worked out!

We told you that we started testing our networking by playing PVP and that it happened by complete accident. You understood that and accepted our reasoning. It goes to show how far you can go when you actually take the time to talk to your fans.

The first lesson was about communicating with players clearly. We like to think that we have done a decent job with that. This year, we have not introduced groundbreaking changes to existing mechanics, so we did not have to explain nerfs or buffs and our reasoning behind them. However, we did have a chance to apply the conclusions from this lesson by telling you about the PVP mode. We stated that it’s used for testing only and won’t replace the co-op mode, ever. Your positive reactions to that news proved that being transparent on this topic was the correct approach.

The lessons we learned while developing Metal Terror allowed us to manage our resources better in the case of Into the Dark. We like how this expansion turned out.

The second lesson was about giving ourselves the time we need to complete tasks. We’ve given ourselves more time with Into the Dark and released it in good shape. It took exactly as much time to develop as Metal Terror did, as the two expansions were very similar in scope. The third World Expansion is going to be bigger, so we know we need to give ourselves a longer development window this time.

One of the first drafts of the cave excavation mechanic vs the final product. Showing off work-in-progress allowed us to gat your feedback early and make necessary changes ahead of release. Thank you!

The third thing we learned last year was to show off our work ahead of time, even if it’s not finished. We decided to take a much more open approach to development and reported on our progress every single week. You enjoyed our previews and shared a lot of feedback, which positively affected the final result. We even started publishing daily, unfiltered, and unmodified change logs from our development repository on our Discord. You can expect us to continue previewing upcoming releases – it benefits all of us.

As for the fourth lesson, we applied its results immediately last year. We learned that players are much more likely to share their feedback when it doesn’t require too much effort. For that reason, we launched our suggestion board, which you can find here: You continue putting up great ideas there, and we’re thankful for that.

All of our articles about co-op were smash hits, despite being difficult content-wise.

The last lesson was perhaps the most important one. We learned that we shouldn’t stop ourselves from sharing information on some topics, even if they might be difficult. This year, we wrote several large technical articles, ranging from discussing the new rendering methods to discussing our progress on the co-op front. All of those articles have been met with your positive reception. It’s been a gratifying process for all the people involved in writing those articles. We will keep delivering more in-depth news, with the first ones scheduled to be released early next year.

We think that by applying what we learned last year, we have managed to keep you informed, entertained, and engaged. Still, we know that even hundreds of news articles will never replace new content releases.

Here’s what we’re planning to do in 2024:

  • The first thing on our to-do list is World Expansion III. It’s a bigger expansion than the previous ones. As we stated earlier, we expect it to take a bit more time to develop, but it is going to change The Riftbreaker on many levels.
    • The main component of this expansion is the brand-new Swamp biome. The Swamp will pose an interesting challenge when it comes to base-building, as the available terrain space is going to be limited by the numerous puddles, ponds, lakes, and rivers.

      The base building in swamps is going to pose a challenge because of the limited dry land. However, you will be able to utilize a lot of liquids to generate power for your outposts!

    • Creatures inhabiting the biome have adapted to living in semi-aquatic conditions, and it won’t be a problem for them to barge into your base across a lake. You will have to place defenses in a much more strategic way.

      Creatures that can traverse liquids might be a strategic disadvantage. But look at those water ripples!

    • Not only will the creatures try to get rid of you, but there are several types of carnivorous (mechavorous?) plants as well. Identifying them from a distance will be an important skill to master.
    • We know that liquid surfaces in The Riftbreaker left a lot to be desired. With an introduction of such a liquid-rich biome, we gave our water shaders a revamp, giving all liquids a new and, hopefully, much better look.
    • Introducing new elements into the already densely-packed Riftbreaker tech tree is a challenge. In order to facilitate the addition of new technologies, we will redesign the current tech trees.
    • Keeping tabs on balance after adding several new weapons and enemy types once more would also be very difficult. Some weapons fell into obscurity by prohibitive costs or simply because they lacked effectiveness. We will introduce a major rebalance of most weapons to make all of them useful once more.

      While we don’t have the images for the reworks mentioned above, we do have some new artwork prepared for World Expansion III. Enjoy!

    • Much, much more, laying foundations for…
  • The Campaign Endgame rework update. The massive changes coming with World Expansion III will lay the foundations for the endgame rework. You will get the ability to take part in more planetary missions after the end of the Story Campaign and set up new outposts. The reworked loot algorithm will keep you hunting for better loot and more resources. We will share more information about this as the update starts taking shape. Here’s what we can tell you now:
    • Improved world exploration – Galatea 37 will become a much more exciting place with our new additions. You will find much more objects of interest (and great power) on the surface of the planet. Smaller loot caches will join the bioanomalies you already know. They will be more common but also filled with resources, mods, and unlockables. Power Wells will grant you massive, temporary buffs capable of turning the tide in battle.

      The new loot caches are smaller and not protected as heavily, but will still surprise you with fountains of sweet loot.

      A wall of Krocoon Ultras is not a problem with the new QUAD DAMAGE power well, which gives you, well, quad damage for 60 seconds (WIP, changes pending)

      Another great example – Loot Chance Boost power well, turning regular canoptrix into loot pinatas!

    • New, elite creatures – The ‘boss’ variants of creatures you could meet in the wild were much stronger, but not very special. The elites we’re cooking for you will have additional properties and attack capabilities, making them much more formidable and will test your combat skills to the maximum.
    • Redesigned inventory screen – we heard your feedback about the inventory and your difficulties figuring out the properties of your weapons. With the new version, we will try to remedy these problems and make the navigation simpler and more intuitive.

      The new inventory screen will make it easier to directly compare the items you have equipped with those in your inventory

    • Reworked weapon mod system – The distinction we had between mods that enable certain properties (eg. Homing Projectiles Enabled) and those that improve them wasn’t a hit. The new system removes the “Enable” mods altogether. That gives you more clarity and more room for OP mods in your best weapons. The mod list has also been redesigned, grouping mods that affect the same property together with each other.

      The mods are now grouped by type, making it a lot easier to scroll through the list. This is not the end of improvements when it comes to mod system.

    • …and much more. We will keep you posted, but check our stream periodically to see glimpses of the new systems and reworks of the old ones.

Apart from the updates mentioned above, we are going to continue our work on the co-op multiplayer mode. Since we started our closed beta test on a very limited PVP build, we have been receiving reports on the game’s performance on various types of Internet connections. We also ran tests with people situated all around the world. These tests, running on a lightweight build, revealed to us which areas of the networking code we need to work on. Since then, we have managed to clear a couple of roadblocks, but our work is far from over.

In 2024 we will continue distributing access keys to The Riftbreaker Multiplayer Beta. As the net code improves, we will gradually increase the feature set of the beta until we reach the point where you will be able to play a real Survival Mode session with each other over the web. There’s still a long way to go, but we think that with the knowledge we have now, the reworked codebase of the game, and your support, we can do it. Every week new people join the beta. We stream the gameplay to show the progress we’re making regularly. More status reports are coming. Let’s get it done.

And that’s a wrap – our 2023 in review. Fingers crossed for 2024 – we hope it’s going to be at least as good as 2023 has been.

EXOR Studios