12/28/2013

Status

Aaand we’re back. Hope everybody’s holidays were fun!

I got a fair number of emails requesting troubleshooting / links to kits after my last KS update – by the end of today that should all be taken care of.

A tremendous amount of work related to missions and in-game conversations was completed over the last week or so. I spent most of this morning typing up documentation for our dialog writers (link for anyone who enjoys reading painfully dry technical documents) and I’ve got to say, I’m pretty pleased with what we’re now capable of doing in the game quest and story-wise. Meanwhile Matthew Davey has been working hard on our multi-threaded mesh combiner, which should fix the worst part of creating structures at runtime (laaaaaag) and remove one of the last barriers to releasing the next playable alpha.

I’m also working on my end-of-the-year video. In addition to the Q&A (feel free to post any questions below you want answered below; I didn’t get very many in the KS update) I think I’m going to break the video up into subjects like art, music, programming and writing and describe whether the past six months have been easier, more difficult or about as hard as I expected. I figure it’ll be a nice way for folks to catch up if they haven’t been reading the devlogs.

Read more here: 12/28/2013

12/17/2013

Status

I just spent all day culling ‘unused’ assets from the project to bring it down to a manageable size:

Whoops! Thank goodness for backups.

Character and creature AI got a solid boost this afternoon. Hostile animals give you one ‘warning’ before attacking when you get too close to their den – sort of like a dog snarling before biting you – and they no longer chase you past their territory’s radius. Pack animals also ‘stalk’ you for a time, growling and rotating around you in a wide circle before attacking (provided you haven’t gotten too close to them or their den). Basically they give you every chance to leave before they dig in.

And NPCs now walk around each other when they collide instead of just bumping into each other and stopping dead. This is truly next gen stuff, folks.

Read more here: 12/17/2013

12/12/2013

Status

I’ve actually hit some pretty good milestones this week. I’m finally starting to poke holes through the programming blockage that’s been holding everything up. There’s light at the end of this tunnel, yay! I won’t lie – that dry spell had me worried. But a couple of new features practically fell into my lap today thanks to the newly locked-down world state system. Let’s hope this pace keeps up.

Some of the new terrain stuff Given recently put together is going to blow people’s minds. We’re actually both working on the same patch of terrain tonight to see if we can experiment our way out of a rut we’ve gotten into with our rocky snow-capped mountains. (They’re the only part of the world that doesn’t look quite right yet…) If the rest of the terrain didn’t look fantastic I might be worried but at this point I have no doubt that we’ll pull it off. It’s been fun revisiting Willowpeak – I can hardly believe I first started placing rocks on that mountain over a year ago!

Oh, and I hardly feel sick at all today. No stuffiness or anything. Man. I’ve got nothing to complain about right now! What am I going to do with myself??

Read more here: 12/12/2013

12/11/2013

Status

I am getting eaten by bears and wolves entirely too much during testing these days. So I added a cheat code that freezes all hostiles in their tracks. The cheat code is the original name of FRONTIERS. Hehehe.

Pigs, chickens, sheep, wolves, cows, bears and rabbits are all (finally) spawning and wandering the landscape. Another happy side effect of locking down the world state format.

Read more here: 12/11/2013

12/9/2013

Status

The past few days have been interesting. I’ve spoken to more programmers this week than I have during the course of the entire project. Only a tiny handful of them will end up contributing actual code to the game, but even those that won’t usually offer some interesting ideas along the way. I’m looking forward to assembling this small team and I’m hoping it works in the same way the writing team did, where the team chews through tasks like an unattended wood chipper while I’m freed up to focus on the tasks that only I can manage.

None of this programming mini-team stuff was part of my original plan – I had intended to do the bulk of the programming myself, offloading only the multiplayer tasks to a full-time programmer that I (ideally) should have found months ago. (Of course I still haven’t found that programmer, though not for lack of trying.) Instead I’ve spent the last month trying to unblock a nasty bottleneck, one that I have no choice but to clear before I can move forward with game content (and further alphas / the beta). It’s the same bottleneck I’ve talked about in previous devlogs – saving and loading the world state in a way that lets me retrieve the state of unloaded game content. I’m close to unblocking it (right? RIGHT? I have to be) but I can’t continue to ignore the rest of my to-do list while I figure it out.

Of course this world state thing was never a problem in the pre-alpha because my prototype world kept the entire state in memory & saved / loaded it as a single object. Plus it only saved enough information to preserve mission and conversation states, not WorldItems, so I was basically cheating. I only became aware of how difficult doing it correctly would be when I decided to focus on gameplay instead of platform compatibility issues. Remember that? I sat down that day and started rewriting the mission classes with every intention of having a finished, testable mission by that weekend only to discover that I had no way to reliably ask for the state of a WorldItem or Character. I figured hey, spend a couple of days on this detour and get back on track. Nope!

I’m going to have to stop thinking of the original schedule and basically start from scratch. I keep thinking that I’m ‘behind schedule’ when the truth is the original schedule simply doesn’t apply to what I’m doing any more. Over the next week I’ll scrap the schedule I have and rebuild it in light of where I am / what I’ve learned so far. Far fewer guesses will be going into it this time so I hope it’ll be easier to stick to. (Right? RIGHT?)

By the way – Master Chef kits are done! They’re being tested now and you can expect to see them in your KS inbox within a day or two.

Read more here: 12/9/2013

12/02/2013

Status

Alright, so I was feeling pretty lousy when I woke up today. Thanksgiving took a big bite out of development and I’m in a near-panic about how far behind I am on mission implementation. And I’m still getting over another man cold. I wanted to dive right into coding again but I’m still way too foggy for that, so I loaded up the terrain tiles to see about building some more cities…

…and I saw what Given has been up to for the past week.

He has nailed the Wetlands. This was a region that I had put a LOT of work into during the pre-alpha so my expectations were high. I didn’t know if we’d be able to get the atmosphere I wanted. But he has nailed it. The claustrophobia, the sense of humidity and dampness, the wood-plank pathways, the grass-choked riverbeds – everything. Nailed it! And he’s not even done yet!

Thanks for lifting my spirits man, I really needed that.

OK time to build some cities!

Read more here: 12/02/2013