Jan. 2010 Forum Updates

Submitted by Roots on Sun, 01/31/2010 - 22:27

Hey everyone. Just wanted to send out a quick notice about our forums. We had a lot of problems with spam bots registering accounts last year and this weekend it looks like we finally stopped them (for now). So the good news is that there is less spam for us to deal with, meaning more of our time is spent actually working on the game. But there are still several spam bots registered on the forums. We've already started going through the entire member list and deleting those that we know or are likely to be spammers.

Now the bad news is that we may accidentally delete legitimate accounts if they look suspicious (no posts, odd user names or e-mail addresses, etc). The best way to protect your account so that it is not deleted is to make at least one post on the forums. We're only examining accounts which have zero posts. So this might be a good time for you to post in the self-introduction thread if you haven't already. If we do happen to delete your account, you are of course welcome to register once again, and encouraged to make a post so your account is safe in the future. Also the captchas used for registration are now much more difficult than before, so if you're registering an account you may have a spot of trouble deciphering the captcha.

An unfortunate side effect of our forum upgrade was that it destroyed our custom forum skin and we had no backup of our style sheet. So the visual aesthetics of the forum are less appealing than they were before. If you're able and willing to help us get the forums looking as sharp as they once were, we'd really appreciate the extra bit of help. Thanks!

New Year, New Screenshots

Submitted by rujasu on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 03:36

Hello and happy 2010. Work continues on our next release, which will contain a new story, new music, and new maps. It's been a while since we've posted any game content, so I've put up a few screenshots from our current SVN:

http://www.allacrost.org/multimedia/screenshots

As you can see, these are mostly from the desert environment that will be featured in the early part of the game. In total, we have three new maps that are about 60% complete, and we will also may be including 2-3 miniature maps for certain scripted scenes. There will also be two boss battles that will challenge the player.

With that said, we are in need of help at the moment. Some of our most valuable contributors have been unable to help as of late, and we could use new people to help with nearly all facets of the game development process. No matter what your skill level, feel free to apply. Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, and we look forward to making 2010 a great year for Hero of Allacrost!

Rujasu

EDIT (1/20) - We've also released two new musical themes, and an updated version of the theme that plays on the title screen. These are just a sample of the music we have ready for our upcoming release.
http://www.allacrost.org/multimedia/music

Updates and Upcoming

Submitted by Roots on Wed, 07/08/2009 - 04:52

The team revival last month proved to be a success and we've been steadily making progress for five weeks now. I'm pretty happy about the pace considering we only have about four programmers that are active at the moment. The features for the map exploration section of the game are, for the most part, now complete. By the way, you can monitor our progress in the wiki. I've started design the maps for the next release as well, which will include a lot of new artwork.

I'd like to give a general explanation behind the purpose of this next demo. First, why another demo? Why don't we get started on the real game? The answer is that we're not quite ready to take that (enormous) step just yet. We're still missing some critical features that the actual game will require, and this next (and final) demo release will be implementing most of those requirements. Releasing demos are also a great way for us as a team to gain experience and I think we've gotten better with each release we've made. So those are the technical motivations behind this next release.

We have another type of motivation for this release. We (especially myself) haven't really been fully content with our past releases. Our previous demos were merely demonstrations of the technology and didn't really resemble an RPG very much. There was no story, no sequence of events, and no puzzles or major challenges. Those are pretty important things to leave out, especially for an RPG and especially for a game like Allacrost where one of our major goals is to place a strong emphasis on producing a good story. Our past releases felt more like "experiments" than games. So our highest goal with this next release is to produce a "mini-RPG". One that has a story, character development, plot devices, and so on. Something that is actually fun and interesting to play. That's what we're going to bring to you.

Brian (our writer) has already written us a great story for this next release. It is essentially a "prequel" to the main game storyline. It follows Claudius during his days as a Karlate (a knight in training). The setting is a remote desert town where Claudius and several other Karlates live temporarily at a training camp. Claudius develops a close bond with Kyle, a fellow trainee. There exists some friction between Kyle and his superiors, which climax with a dramatic turn of events that place Claudius in an uncomfortable position. I don't want to spoil it, so I'll leave the synopsis at that.

Well that's all for now. Next time I'll discuss more of the major changes that you can expect in this next release.

Seven months

Submitted by Roots on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 07:01

Wow, its been nearly seven months since our last post. I bet some of you were starting to think this project was dead, weren't you? I grow tired of continuing to say this, but "no, we are not dead". Why the long period with no news posted on the site? The answer is quite simply, there was no news to share. The entire team kind of fell apart for a while and there wasn't a lot of motivation on our part to work on the game. We all had our own reasons. Some just needed a break while others were busy with other things in their lives. We did get some work done though. We're on the verge of having full internationalization (multiple language) support in the game and just have a few kinks left to work out.

One of the reasons why we fell into this state is that we lacked manpower in both our programming and art departments. If you recall from the last news post, we were trying really hard to attract new programmers. And we did attract quite a few. The problem is that nearly every person we brought aboard and trained turned out to produce nothing or very little work. Personally this pisses me off whenever this happens (and it has happened quite frequently in the last year or two) because it actually does take us some time to get people set and mentor them during their first couple of weeks with the team. So when someone joins but doesn't produce anything it actually hurts our progress, which is not cool at all. We do still need programmers and artists on this team though so if you are interested please apply. But do so only if you're actually willing to commit yourself and do some work because you're just going to hurt this game otherwise.

Now then, the good news is that the team is fired up again. We've picked up where we left off and have been working aggressively on implementing the features for the next release that we have planned. Yes, we haven't changed the plans for our next release. However because we fell behind so much from our long hiatus and our team size remains small, we've decided to cut some of the less essential features we had originally planned. One such feature that we decided to cut is surface sounds, which is the ability to play different sounds depending upon the type of surface a sprite is walking on. To be clear, we haven't decided to cut these features from the game entirely. We only decided to put them off until a later release milestone.

The highlight of this next release is going to be all the changes you will see in the game's battles. I guarantee that the battle system will be significantly better than any of our past release. You'll see improvements across the entire game of course, but battles are really what we are focusing on in this next release. Maybe in a future post I'll elaborate more on exactly what you can expect to see in our next release. Until then, thanks for being patient with us and hopefully we can deliver something to you before the end of this year. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that this project is now just over 5 years old. At least we're persistent, right? :)

New List of Development Tasks

Submitted by Roots on Mon, 11/17/2008 - 00:42

A couple months ago we had a number of discussions about how to improve management on our team. One common complaint was that some people did not know what needed to be done for the next release. The solution we came up with was to have a check list of all tasks that need to be done for each release. This wiki page has been private and viewable only to the team for the past two months. Today, we're making it public and you can check it out here.

Allacrost Demo 1.0.0 Task List
Warning: the contents of this wiki page contain many spoilers for the next release

This page is still not finalized, but most of the tasks for code, artwork, music, sound, story, maps, and game design are all there. The reason we have made this public is to hope that it makes it easier for outsiders to contribute something useful that we need. Many (but not all) of these tasks are already entered on our bug tracker/task manager. This may seem redundant, but its a lot easier to read through a single wiki page to get a general sense of everything that needs to be done than it is to view a large number of tasks on the bug tracker.

So take a look at the page (if you aren't worried about being spoiled for the next release) and if there's something on there that you think you can do, go ahead and tackle it yourself. The more people help out, the sooner the next release will happen. Oh and by the way, we are still very much in need of programmers and managers to join our team. We currently have only three active programmers. That really, really hurts. If we could bring that number up to eight (or higher), it would mean the world to us in the programming department right now. So please lend us a hand if you can afford the time, we need the help especially bad right now. Thanks!

E-mail/account issues with online services

Submitted by Roots on Mon, 10/27/2008 - 16:56

For several weeks we've been having e-mail issues. Specifically, none of our online services seem capable of sending e-mail. That means things like account registration, password retrieval, and other services are all affected. As far as I know you can still create an account with all of our services but you won't receive any e-mail from them when you register. Its really annoying and for that I apologize. We've been plagued with all kinds of online issues in the last six weeks due to lack of maintenance. We're trying to address the most urgent ones as soon as possible, but we simply don't have the bandwidth to solve every issue right now. Our programmers are the ones that end up fixing all these issues and when we're working on the site/wiki/whatever instead of the game, that means it costs us extra time to get to our next release.

That's part of the reason why we are so desperate for a team manager right now, as part of their responsibility is to handle these issues. Not having a team manager for several months is what got us in this position in the first place, and it really hurts when we don't have one around. Unfortunately we still haven't had anyone apply for the position since we announced it last week. So until we get a manager on this team, these sorts of problems will likely continue to be unresolved. To end this post on a positive note, we've hired three new programmers to the team recently and are still receiving applications for those positions.

Rebuilding the team

Submitted by Roots on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 21:44

Once again we are looking for interested individuals to join our team. The size of our programming team has greatly diminished over the past few months and we really could use the extra help. We're looking to hire anywhere between 5 and 6 C++ programmers this time, which will double the size of our current programming department. As I mentioned in my blog entry about a week ago, we're trying something very different with our programming team than what we used to do. Requirements are at least an intermediate level of experience with C++ and the ability to communicate effectively and work within a team. Knowledge of Lua, OpenGL/OpenAL, and prior game development experience is preferred, but not required.

We're also looking to hire two team managers. We have no managers on the team right now and it really puts a lot of strain on our team, especially the programmers who usually pick up the slack under these circumstances. The role of team manager is not apparent so let me explain what we expect our managers to do. They do not just manage the team, but actively contribute to the game content as well. Responsibilities include designing maps, organizing game media, keeping track of the team's progress, administration of our online services, and writing scripts to direct scenes and actions in the game. I personally think its a really cool position because you take the code, art, music, and other content that have been produced and put it all together, kind of like directing a film. Its perfect for someone who is interested in game development but does not have the skills to create the art or code on their own.

If either of these two positions sound interesting to you, please head over to our Contribute page to find out how you can get involved with the project. I'd like to also mention that in the near future we are going to be seeking additional pixel artists and foley (sound) artists. The reason we're not directly recruiting for those positions now is that it can get pretty hectic during recruitment periods and we want to make sure we have the time to speak to everyone who is interested in joining us. However if you are a pixel or foley artist and know you really want to join this team, feel free to apply now anyway.

Thanks!

Showing off the editor

Submitted by gorzuate on Tue, 10/14/2008 - 06:06

Toying with the Hero of Allacrost 0.2.2 Editor from qubodup on Vimeo.

A member of our community, qubodup, created this cool video showing off what the editor can do. As you can see, while it's quite capable at the moment, there is still a lot of work to be done.

I'd also like to mention the creation of a team blog. It will focus mostly on the development of Allacrost and how things are going, but may also branch off onto topics concerning our team members. You can find the link to the blog on the left hand side of the page.

The Intent of the Allacrost Editor

Submitted by Roots on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 22:51

I want to take a moment to briefly inform you of what our intentions are with our editor. Initially, our sole purpose for it was to create and edit map files. As our project matured however, we realized we needed it to be capable of much more. We refer to the editor as a "game editor" rather than simply a "map editor" because it will eventually support a very diverse set of features. Here are a few.

Create/modify characters, NPCs, and enemies
Create/modify properties of existing inventory items/weapons/armor
Create/modify skills that are used in battles
A browser for all game images
An audio player for all game music and sounds

To put it simply, virtually all content that goes into the game will be able to be either viewed, created, or modified from within this editor program. Most of what the editor will one day do we currently perform ourselves by hand. You need to have an intimate knowledge of how everything works together in order to edit or create this data correctly. The editor will eliminate that requirement, allowing anyone the ability to create or edit game content. It is our hope that this will be able to get more people involved in the game-making process, and perhaps we will be able to leverage this when we begin the delicate process of balancing the game.

There is one more important item we need to mention. The OS X release file for Demo 0.2.2 has been updated on Sourceforge. Two things were changed. First there was an issue reported with the demo not working correctly on PowerPC machines. This has now been fixed. Second, the content files (image, music, etc.) are now shared between the game and editor. They were not shared in the first iteration of this release, which drastically increased the size of the download by almost 2x and made it more difficult to use the editor to edit existing game content (you had to copy the modified editor data files over to the game data file location). If you intend to try using the editor to make changes to the game or have a PowerPC machine, you'll want to re-download the new OS X release file. Otherwise, your current install should be sufficient.