June Progress II

The last week  has seen more coding than much of the last month – having lacked the internet for the past week, very little else has been done aside from it. As ever, the release is a mix of things I’m making public before-hand and a few secrets I want people to find, but here the updates I can share. I’m aiming for release probably around late July at the moment, but it might get pushed into early August. The first half of July is almost entirely full with academic work, so we’ll just have to see how it goes. I’ll be doing a lot of playtesting towards the end of June once I have a pretty stable build, but ziggurats are looking all but finished.

Puzzles are 100% finished. There are five “levels”, finishing off with “boss” level puzzles. Even when I know how to solve the puzzles, they still take me some thought. Playtesting it with people who don’t know how they are generated under the hood have found them so far genuinely challenging and really interesting to solve, so I have high hopes. They include a vast quantity of procedural art (something like 200+ images?) and over 300 possible puzzle permutations, and that’s not even counting the clues. You’ll have to play A Lot if you want to see even a small percentage of these things.

Ziggurats are 99% finished. They generate the entire buildings, all puzzles generate (as above), the structures inside and outside match up, dungeons are three-dimensional, which is to say staircases lead directly up and down, not to random points on the floor above, and some areas can only be accessed from floors above or below. It makes for a really interesting structure to explore, and it’ll be all the better in the future once a greater variety of rooms exist. Special ziggurats also have secrets atop them, whilst by the end of tomorrow other ziggurats will have clues pointing you towards the special ziggurats if you’ve taken the wrong one. In the future these will be treasure rooms etc. Lastly, as well as “Look-up” graphics for blocks, I’m adding ones for doors, iron gates, and a few other things. They look pretty cool.

A basic inventory system is now in place. This is not what it will look like in the future, but suffices for the time being to deal with the few items now in the game. It won’t be redone for the release after this (probably), but certainly will once a decent number of items actually enter the game.

Next update will be next Monday, and since I now have internet at my new place, they should be regular until release (I know I keep saying this, and failing to keep to it, but I’ll try). By this time next week, ziggurats should be totally finished and I should be onto bug fixing and optimizations. I’ve had a very crazy idea for hugely reducing save/load times I need to try out, amongst other things.

As a final note, I’ve taken to streaming games on Twitch. At the moment I’m doing a Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup extended endgame run, but I might stream coding and playtesting or similar in the future if people are interested, and it could be a cool way to just chat with you guys! Let me know what you think, and see you next week (or on a stream). My account is http://www.twitch.tv/maasbiolabs, and I’ll probably be streaming some DCSS half an hour after this blog entry goes up…

Early June Update

Short update-focused blog entry today. I’ve been working on a bunch of things, some which are bug fixes and small features, some of which are further development of the procedural graphics in the ziggurats, and some of which are secret for now. Here’s a list of what’s been done over the last week, and what the goals for next week are. Next week’s blog entry will be something a little different, hence why this week’s is both a retrospective for the past week’s work, and a… prospective?… on next week’s.

This week:

Seven new procedural graphics have been finished off for ziggurats, leaving all the block graphics finished. These include various creatures and locations, each of which has a wide variety of different poses, positions or permutations. As ever, generated art is a central part of the game, and I’m pretty damned happy with how these are looking.

Ocean travel is now temporarily enabled for the next few releases. In the future, you’ll  need ships or similar to travel, but for the time being, you can travel across ocean squares when you’re in the fast travel screen (‘T’). This ensures you can get to all the imporant ziggurats in this release.

Ziggurat rewards have been largely programmed in. Right now, these are either a) secrets, or b) hints towards which ziggurats you can find secrets in. Naturally in the future there will be a far greater variety, but for the time being, 0.3 is focused on locating these items.

Various bugs have been fixed, and various small features added, generally in the direction of clarity and ease of use. A few small things have also been removed as they aren’t fully implemented yet (for instance, the skills menu), to focus on the exploration in this release.

This coming week, I’m going to be focusing on finishing off all the possible puzzle generation. There’s a very large number of components coming together so that the blocks, clues, codewords, puzzles, pressure pads and gates all combine correctly, and ensuring the game places puzzles of the correct difficulty on appropriate floors. Expect easy puzzles at the bases of ziggurats, and ones that pretty much require a pen and pad at the top. I’m also going to be trying to deal with a few more little bugs and features, and generally continue cleaning up 0.3 for release in a month or so. Next week’s blog entry will likely be a tribute to one of my favourite authors, Iain Banks, who died this week, but after that normal service will resume. By the time of the next URR update all aspects of ziggurats should (fingers crossed) be completed, at which point I’ll give a little postmortem on that process, and keep you all updated on finishing things for this release off. See you then, and remember – clues might be hidden anywhere.