Progress on the remaining tasks in artwork and code have been progressing much faster than I had anticipated it would two weeks ago. As a result, I've been thinking more deeply about exactly what we want to see for the next development release and to make a stab at a possible timeline for this. I spoke with rujasu about this on IRC this weekend, and he expressed his approval about this goal.
Second 0.1.0 Development Release
(our first was in July 2011)
Our goal should be to have the entire main event line of this release playable from start to finish. This means the intro scene, cave, return scene, city attack scene, saving the king, legend reveal, and sand dock departure (we already have three of these done). However, these scenes should be the bare, bare minimum required. They can have incomplete dialogue, missing artwork, etc. and that's okay. The purpose is to get to a state where the game is playable in a really rough state. From then on, we just need to make iterative improvements to fill the gaps and bring the quality up to our standards. The maps themselves should just be "skeletons", with little to know interior decorating of buildings, some buildings maybe won't be able to be entered, and so on
Why should we do this iterative approach model instead of just releasing it "when its done"? Several reasons, which we learned from previous releases:
- We feel more accomplished reaching this milestone than spending forever making things "perfect"
- Improving existing content is a lot less intimidating and difficult than starting something from scratch
- Non-develops will be able to see the state of the game, and get a better idea of what content is missing and what needs improvement
- Easier for new people on the team to figure out where we are and what needs to be done (explains better than the Roadmap wiki page)
- We can get community feedback and involvement
We're going to create the bare minimum content necessary to play through the main event line of the next release.
So, how do we get to there from where we are now? The following needs to happen:
- All required features of the map editor need to be complete
- Map data files need to be converted to the new file format
- Map mode's file loader needs to be modified to read in new file format
- There are a small number of critical bugs in maps/map mode that need to be fixed
- Need to produce the design drafts of the harrvah city/castle map and sand dock map prior to beginning the map
- Need to create the harrvah city/castle map and sand dock map in the editor (basic draft of maps)
- Need to write the map scripts for harrvah attack, harrvah aftermath, and dock departure (only following main events and omitting optional NPCs/charcters)
Notice that none of these requirements are for art/music/sound. We have enough of this content now that we can insert placeholders (for example, using the knight captain sprite in case we don't yet have one for the king). That doesn't mean that the art, etc. content isn't important to do right now (the more of it we can get in, the better). Media production should be ongoing while we work toward this development release.
Now for a rough timeline. This isn't set in stone and is obviously subject to great volatility because we don't know if our current rate of progress will grow, stagnate, or remain the same. I'm making these projections based on what our current progress. So here's what I'm thinking:
End of Dec. 2014
- Map Editor fully functional
- Design drafts of remaining maps complete and available
End of Jan. 2015
- Map file format conversion complete
- Map mode and map editor both use new data file format
- Sand dock map complete
- Sand dock scripting complete
End of Feb. 2015
- Harrvah city/castle map 75% complete
- Harrvah attack map script 50% complete
- Major bugs in map mode fixed
- All existing map scripts debugged and ready
End of Mar. 2015
- Harrvah city/castle map complete
- Harrvah attack script complete
- Harrvah aftermap script complete
- Finish basic playthrough testing/debugging
- Publish development release
March 2015 is a good date considering the limited size of the team right now, being neither too aggressive nor too conservative. I won't be surprised or demotivated if we need to push it back to April or even May, or even if we get it done a month sooner (which would be awesome). I certainly want to see us reach this milestone in the first half of 2015.
So that's our current short-term goal and timeline to completing it. Share your comments/concerns/questions.