I'm trying to do a public update at least once a month to keep people apprised of what is going on with this project. So here's an overview of what's been going on lately.
We've hit a couple bumps with our development team in the past month. A couple of our key programmers were away, which really slowed us down. But the good news is that they are both back in action and making good progress again. We've also had some headaches due to our audio engine, which we've completely re-written using OpenAL instead of SDL_mixer. The reason for this switch is that OpenAL provides better playback quality and more features than SDL_mixer; I and others on the team have already confirmed that the game sounds much better after this switch. This engine is still undergoing some birthing pains, and fixing all the bugs and problems in it have taken up a significant amount of our time.
Originally we (especially myself) were hoping that we could get our next release out sometime this month (August), but it doesn't look like its going to happen. We really aren't too far from being release-ready, as all the major feature additions, save for one, are either complete or on the verge of completion. We ended up spending a lot more of our time working on some of the back end/engine code than we planned this period. Although you won't directly see the results from that type of work when ou play the game, these improvements that we have done ameliorate the process of expanding upon what is available in the game. Anyway, we are still working on getting this next demo out, but since many people on the team are back to school soon we're not sure how much progress we're going to be making.
Finally I wanted to give a mention of a major design change that our team is deliberating on. After releasing the last demo, we realized that our battle system pretty much consisted of "select an action, select a target, repeat". Now many RPGs have used this general formula in the past, but it just feels a little boring and it doesn't make our game very unique in that aspect. We've been brainstorming on an improved version of our battle system that we hope to be much more engaging to the player. The major premise we're thinking of here is to be able to put characters in battle into either melee or support modes. Support mode characters stay in the rear casting spells and such, while melee units engage an enemy by running up to it and remaining in close proximity to it. In other words, the characters would not continually stay in a line on one side of the screen (FF-style), but rather move around the battlefield as they fight their way through enemy lines. There's still a lot to figure out, but we think we may be on to something somewhat unique and fun here. We have a public discussion about these ideas on our forums beginning here if you'd like to chip in, but to view this particular thread you have to be a registered forum member. And just so that it is clear, the next release will not see any of these major design changes in the battle system, but the one after that very likely will. :)
That's all we have to report on for right now. Thanks for checking up on us.