The past month has seen several important developments. The largest improvement was done in the code for the game's engine (specifically, our audio and video engines). The good news is that this new code is designed much better than before, making it more flexible for us to use and easier to add new features. So effectively, it is great progress for us in the long-term. The bad news is that engine development does not really gain us any short-term progress, so the next release continues to be delayed as a result. But this engine development would have to have been done later if not sooner, so its not so bad.
We've been seeing a good amount of progress in artwork lately, which is very nice. Some of the new artwork that's been created will likely make it into the next release as well. Some music has also been composed, as well as some people stopping by on the forums and contributing sound effects and artwork, which has been much appreciated. So in summary, I would say the progress of the past four weeks has been fairly steady.
Which brings me to my next point: we need more programmers on our staff. Currently, we have 7 staff-level and 4 contributor-level programmers on the team. 3 of the staff and 3 of the contributors are on what we call "downtime", meaning they can not work on Allacrost for an extended period of time due to personal reasons. So we really only have 5 programmers total who are working on Allacrost right now. We are really looking for staff programmers, not contributors. We need people who are able to make a regular, stead commitment to helping this game along, rather than those who just help out when they have free time. If you are interested, head over to the Contribute page and fill out a staff application for a programming position. I would also recommend that you view the Coding Needs page on our wiki, as it lists all the major areas of our code base and which ones are in need of a programmer to actively attend to them. Also you may wish to view our Bug tracker, as it not only lists bugs, but also specific development tasks. To view all of the coding development tasks, you can login anonymously, click on "View Issues", and then from the Filters box near the top right of the screen select "Code - Feature to Text". That should give you a darn good idea of the kinds of things we need to hire people to do, and in what areas of the code we need new programmers the most right now.
One final note I'd like to make regarding applying to be a team contributor. About a week ago, we took a step back to analyze our programming team to understand why progress has been so slow, and we realized it was because in the last hiring round we did, we took on several "contributor" programmers but only one or two "staff" programmers. We overestimated our programming strength as a result of all these contributors that we hired. And further, some of the people that we hired turned out to not produce any code at all, which was upsetting to us because we spend quite a lot of time setting up and training our new members. As a result of this, we've decided to change the way we recruit and respect our contributors so that we only "hire" those contributors whom prove that they're actually committed enough to contribute something. We now require only a very, very basic contributor application to be filled out, and we reply back with a small list of things for the applicant to work on. If at least one task is completed to a satisfactory degree, we invite them onto the team. We'll see how this new recruitment model works out and if it does the job, we'll continue it.
Hopefully we will get a few outstanding new programmers on this team and my next post will be filled with wonderful news about our progress. Until next time.