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Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:05 am
by Roots
http://www.allacrost.org/wiki/index.php/Roadmap

I updated the Roadmap page tonight and tried to make is as complete as possible. I want this thread to be -the- place where we talk about where we are, what we're doing, and where we need to be to make this release happen. I'll try to continue to update this page periodically so that it remains a solid picture of our current state.


Our top priority right now is map creation. This includes laying out the maps in the editor, writing the map scripts, and adding the characters and dialogue. Everything else we work on for now should hopefully be supporting this effort. Supporting tasks for map creation work includes:

  • CODE: Improving the map editor to make maps easier and faster to create
  • ART: creating missing tilesets that we require (most notably, we need castle interior and exterior tiles)
  • CODE: Changes to map mode to allow multiple tile layers and better map context support
  • ART: finish the final set of sprites we need (most notably, demon sprites needed for the attack scene)
  • SOUND: we are missing a few sound effects that we need for certain scenes on the map


Anything that does not expedite us getting our maps up sooner is secondary. Once we have all of our maps complete enough to play through them all, we will be in a stellar position and hit a huge milestone for making this much belated release finally happen. :approve:

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:39 pm
by rujasu
Cool. Do you have a list of maps that need to be made?

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:31 pm
by Roots
Yup, they are all on the roadmap. Its a little more difficult to define what needs to be done with maps now that we separated out the data and scripting portions into separate files. Here's the list straight from the roadmap:

  • Opening Scene: first map of the game showing the knights marching to the cave in the darkness
  • River Access Cave: first dungeon, a medium-size cave. Includes a wide open area at the end where an underground river has been blocked by fallen rocks
  • Returning Scene: similar to opening scene, showing knights marching back to the city to find it in flames
  • Harrvah City Attacked: capital city of Harrvah under attack by demons in the twilight hours. Should include fire, debris, destruction, chaos, and death
  • Harrvah Castle Attacked: the castle of Harrvah under attack, similar to Harrvah city
  • Harrvah City Aftermath: damaged Harrvah city after the attack
  • Harrvah Castle Aftermath: damaged Harrvah castle after the attack
  • Harrvah Sand Dock: a "port" for vehicles enabled to travel across the sand found to the rear of the city and castle
  • Harrvah City Outskirts: the desert outskirts outside of Harrvah city, used for a potential side quest

Now these aren't all necessarily their own map. This is just how I decided to logically break it up, since some of these maps are quite large. In terms of actual map data files, we have 5-6: the opening/return scene, river cave, harrvah city/castle (may combine these into a single map, or separate them out...we'll see what works best when we get to it), sand dock, and the city outskirts. City outskirts is the only map I currently have listed as "optional" for the release as it should just be for a little side quest, but it should be a pretty easy map to create.


Of the maps in the big list, the first three are mostly finished and just need refinement work at this point. The Harrvah map is going to be the real challenge, and it will be the biggest map we've ever made in any release. We've got a little bit of work started on the town, but the nature of that map is pretty complex and the editor in its previous state made it very difficult to build that map up effectively. Hence why I've spent the last six weeks or so on the editor to make it easier to use so we can create this mega map. It will be at least a couple more weeks until the editor is back to a functional state and we can use it to make maps again, but there are things we can do in the mean time that will also help with the production of this map. I listed several of those things in the top post.


One thing that we should do is design the map on paper so that when the editor is ready, we don't have to figure out what its going to look like. Really, we should be doing this with all our maps, as designing it as you're laying the map out is not a very good idea for a number of reasons. With that in mind, sometime within the next week or two I plan to do just this. I'll be making a post with a drawing that details the overall map, the interiors, the map contexts to use, and so on. Hopefully we can all agree on the maps design before we continue the creation process of it in the editor.


EDIT
After thinking about this some more today, I realized it would be better if the dock was not a part of the Harrvah city/castle map. I'll update the roadmap to reflect this shortly (should be a really small and easy map to make anyway). I also have a good mental image of what the dock and city outskirts maps should look like, so I will create draft drawings for these designs as well.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:43 pm
by Roots
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


TL;DR: 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:

  1. All required features of the map editor need to be complete
  2. Map data files need to be converted to the new file format
  3. Map mode's file loader needs to be modified to read in new file format
  4. There are a small number of critical bugs in maps/map mode that need to be fixed
  5. Need to produce the design drafts of the harrvah city/castle map and sand dock map prior to beginning the map
  6. Need to create the harrvah city/castle map and sand dock map in the editor (basic draft of maps)
  7. 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.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:44 am
by Roots
It's been a while so let's revisit what we've accomplished, where we are, and how we should move forward. Here's a status report on our major task list from the last post:

Roots wrote:
  1. All required features of the map editor need to be complete
  2. Map data files need to be converted to the new file format
  3. Map mode's file loader needs to be modified to read in new file format
  4. There are a small number of critical bugs in maps/map mode that need to be fixed
  5. Need to produce the design drafts of the harrvah city/castle map and sand dock map prior to beginning the map
  6. Need to create the harrvah city/castle map and sand dock map in the editor (basic draft of maps)
  7. Need to write the map scripts for harrvah attack, harrvah aftermath, and dock departure (only following main events and omitting optional NPCs/charcters)


#1-5 are completed. #6 is in progress, and #7 hasn't been started yet. A pretty decent success to get as far as we have gotten with such a limited team. Originally I set a goal for our second development release to be at the end of March. I'd still like to shoot for that goal, but instead I'd like to make that our third development release. Our second dev release I'd like to be at the end of this month (about two weeks from now). The purpose of this release will really be to get the new editor out there so that if/when we find a map designer, they already will have this tool at their disposal. As for the content of this release, I'd like to improve the scripting of the cave map to be nearly complete (including the end boss fight), and the capital map will simply be an environment that the player can explore, but it will otherwise have no scripting, sprites, etc.

I'm okay if that release slips a week or so later than the end of February. And like I said, I still want to target the end of March to be our dev release where the entire module is playable from beginning to end, even if it's a really rough and unpolished version. I'm going to be talking about my plans for the cave script in another thread later.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 4:36 pm
by Roots
It's been a while since the roadmap was updated. I took a look through it and it's still pretty accurate in describing where we are and what we need to do. Most of the changes I've made in the last several weeks have been improving the scripting of our existing maps and fixing several bugs I discovered in the process. I feel much, much better about the state of these maps now. And while they aren't completely finished, they are pretty damn close to it.

The plan for the next development release has fewer requirements than before. There are two reasons for this. The first is because this release has already been delayed due to the lack of people other than myself working on this and my job being really demanding of my time for the past several months. I don't want to stall it out any longer because we're missing content/scripting of the later maps planned in this release. The second is recruiting. We need to attract people to this project again, and to do that we need something to show that we're active. With that in mind, the goal for this upcoming development release has changed to just include up to the capital map, and leave the player off at the capital map with the ability to explore. The development release that follows after this next one will retain the original goal of having the game playable from start to finish.

Here's our major task list from this upcoming release to the one after that:

  • Publish a development release that is playable up to the capital map (which is incomplete, but allows the player to explore).
  • Produce a playthrough video with commentary of the release, showing off what we have and what is still under development
  • Clean up the website a bit, and add a really detailed description with screenshots in the "About" section to better explain what Allacrost is and what makes it stand out
  • After the previous three items are done, restart recruitment efforts and rebuild the team
  • Begin working on the next development release, which will focus around creating all the layout and scripting of the capital map (both during and after the attack scene)
  • Publish the next development release once the game is playable from beginning to end

The next development release is probably about just a week away now. I finished up map scripting and bug fixes, and now I just need to play through the maps myself and make sure that there's nothing that requires fixing (I'm only fixing important issues, not every minor glitch). The first four items on the list I'm going to take care of. The only help I might need is for building the Windows and OS X releases. So it's very, very likely that the release will happen by the end of June. When the release after that happens depends on how much help we get, but I imagine it will take about two months to do. Most of that release will just be art and scripting. Coding will be optional (but highly desired) and focus on improving things in battles and maps.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:51 pm
by Roots



With the release out and the walkthrough video done, we're moving on to a new phase of development. The steps that I listed above are still accurate, but I wanted to elaborate a little more on what we need for the next release. I'm going to sort this list into three categories. Required means we have to have this content, no question about it. Placeholder means something that's required, but we can use existing resources as a placeholder if we can't get it (for example, using existing sprites in place of a specific one we need). And last is Optional, which are things we'd like to have, but can live without for this release if needed.

Required
  • Sand dock map and scripting
  • Further capital map development
  • Capital attack scripting
  • Capital aftermath scripting

Placeholder
  • Castle interior tilesets
  • King sprite
  • Royal guard sprite
  • Various demon sprites (both for map and battle)
  • Armored beast sprite (boss)
  • Various tiles for debris/destruction for the capital attack sequence (fires, etc)

Optional
  • Side-quest map and scripting (likely an underground passage in the city)
  • Bug fix: sounds not playing correctly in certain cases on the map
  • Bug fix: dialogue icons not showing above NPCs

The items that are underlined in this list are the ones that will take a lot of effort to do. As you can see, the majority of this effort will be scripting and artwork. And all the artwork we can use placeholders if necessary. The only part where placeholder art becomes an issue is with the castle interior tiles, because replacing those means pretty much having to re-do the castle interiors from scratch. But that's okay if that's what it takes for us to get this next release done. The good news is that there's nothing really blocking us for this next development release. It's just a matter of taking the time to pull together our current content and create and script maps.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 3:00 am
by Roots
http://www.allacrost.org/wiki/index.php/Roadmap

I updated the roadmap today. The status of all items in the various tables is now up-to-date (there were only a few changes made there). More importantly, I added some information to the roadmap page so it talks about the next development release, not just the next official release. I pretty much added all the information from my previous post to this page for this. I also made a mention about the difference between official and development releases and put estimated release dates for both.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:24 am
by Roots
September is a few days away now, and I think it's appropriate to review what it is that the September release is supposed to be focused on. From the roadmap page:

The next development release has an estimated release date of September 2015. The previous development release was published at the end of June 2015. The next development release picks up where the previous one left off, at the capital of Harrvah where the city and castle are under attack by a force of demons. This release will allow the player to experience all the main storyline events of the official release. It may or may not include any sidequests or side events. Balancing and other design work is optional.


We've definitely been focusing on the "optional" end of things. I have no complaints about this, because I think a lot of our discussions and design changes are doing a great job at making the game more enjoyable for players. But our main focus should still be on providing more for them to play. We have a number of issues with making that happen:

  • I'm still the only person who is working on map design and development
  • Our map editor still only works on Linux systems (should work on Windows too, but we haven't figured out how to build it there yet)
  • Battle design changes and discussion have been pulling me away from map work (and I've willingly let this happen, because I'm a little tired of map development at the moment)
  • We're still in need of some artwork for this next release, but we are making due with what we have now and should be in an okay position for at least having placeholder art

Here's what we need to do to really focus on getting out these extra maps (which the release will not happen without):

  • Someone needs to get the map editor working on Windows. Architek was the last one taking a stab at this. I can take over if he's stuck
  • Someone needs to step up and volunteer to learn and work on map development. This can't continue being something that only I alone am doing. It's a lot of work, and I'm already stretched thin as it is
  • Major changes in battle design should be put as a second priority to map development and working on the new set of demon enemies that we will need
  • We should try to find an additional artist to help us meet our artwork requirements

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:09 am
by nemesis
Someone needs to get the map editor working on Windows. Architek was the last one taking a stab at this. I can take over if he's stuck


I can also take this over in case Architek doesn't want to continue trying.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:38 pm
by Roots
That would be great if you could do so. I started to look into it myself a little last weekend. Here's the conversation about what Architek has found so far:

https://bitbucket.org/allacrost/allacro ... 27da07dfd1


I tried creating a new QT project file from scratch (there's a QT project wizard within Code::Blocks that I tried out). Didn't make it very far because it couldn't find QApplication headers. I think that we may need to update our Windows library files for QT to get this working. I wanted to see if I could get the editor to build on the latest QT5 on Linux (we're currently compiling with some version of QT4) and if there were no problems there that required major changes to the editor code, I was just going to migrate the project to QT5 and hope that made the Windows dependencies a little easier to deal with.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:14 pm
by Atypikal_Arkitect
Roots wrote:Someone needs to step up and volunteer to learn and work on map development. This can't continue being something that only I alone am doing. It's a lot of work, and I'm already stretched thin as it is


I have no issues in volunteering for this. Not much of an artist, but I've done a bit of 3D level design before. I would be able to at least sketch out some layouts and put down the foundations in the editor that would be replaced with proper assets.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:29 pm
by Djinn_in_Tonic
Atypikal_Arkitect wrote:
Roots wrote:Someone needs to step up and volunteer to learn and work on map development. This can't continue being something that only I alone am doing. It's a lot of work, and I'm already stretched thin as it is.


I can take a look at this as well, once the editor works on my system.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 6:01 pm
by Roots
Actually most of the work that needs to happen with map design for this release is the scripting component, not the data component (which is the part you build with the editor). However, it is very, very useful to be able to have the editor open when scripting a map, because you can hover your cursor over a location to retrieve the coordinates of that location (useful for setting the location of sprites and movement destinations), you can see what contexts are available and what they show, etc.

Most of what we need to work on for the map data component is fleshing out all the houses and castle interior. I have the basics mostly finished for this: walls, floors, and some amount of decorations. But we need to go through and add furnishings, rooms, and so on. I'm hoping we can get the editor functional and someone can do that part, even if it's only half-assed for this release. We can always go through and improve it again later before the year end release.

The scripting part of the map takes a lot of patience. You have to add each sprite (both characters and NPCs) and set their properties, add dialogue, add other objects (such as treasures), add zones, and most time-consuming of all script events. You can take a look at the cave map script, (lua/scripts/maps/a01_unblock_underground_river.lua, to get an idea of how these scripts are organized and everything that needs to go into them to make a map interesting and not just a dungeon crawler. I'd still like to do a little video tutorial about how maps work (focused on map scripting), but I don't know when I'll have the time to do so.

So for now, those of you interested in helping out in this regard can study the existing map scripts and perhaps play around with them and learn how they work. Hopefully we can get the editor working on Windows within a week or so and at that time we can really open up map development to more people.

https://bitbucket.org/allacrost/allacro ... at=default

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 5:47 am
by Roots
I've spent the last day learning about how the map editor is built on Linux to see if we could migrate to Qt5 (which I'm hoping will be easier to setup on Windows than Qt4). I think it will work okay, but I was having problems with the build project files on Linux to get Qt5 working correctly. It was taking me too much time so I've given up for now, but I do have some idea of how we can move to Qt5 in the future. But for now, I don't think we need to worry about it. I did manage to remove our dependency on the Qt3Support module, which is basically a component in Qt4 that allows Qt3-type code to continue to work. We only had one line of Qt3 code, which I removed tonight and so we are completely free of Qt3, which should make this whole business of getting it to work on Windows a bit easier.


I also created an issue for getting the editor working on Windows:
https://bitbucket.org/allacrost/allacro ... editor-can

I'll continue to poke around with it here and there, but I'm not 100% focused on it right now. By the way, if you guys think you'll have better luck using Visual Studio or another tool to build the editor, by all means take a shot at it. I just want to get a working editor on Windows, and for the time being I don't care how that gets done.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 10:38 am
by nemesis
Due to conferences I was not able to complete the work on the Map-Editor for Windows yet.

Actually, I successfully compiled and linked it using CGYWIN, but the OpenGL usage in QT seems to be actually not always working the the X-Server for Windows (QT for Cygwin is linked with the X-Server).

I will perform the build natively with MinGW as soon as I have time. I don't see any issues with QT4 so far, since I remember to have the editor compiled and linked with MinGW one or two years before.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:26 pm
by Roots
Alright, thanks for the update. By the way, last night I committed a change so that the QT3 support option is no longer needed for the editor.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:30 pm
by nemesis
Thanks for the information.

BTW, I will not use Code::Blocks for getting the editor running but command line tools (autotools). I think since most of the guys only want to run the editor and not work on it, this should be sufficient.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 4:17 pm
by Roots
Whatever gets you a built and working editor the easiest is fine with me. Also not sure if you saw my thread, but I'm investigating moving us away from autotools and over to CMake or something else, due to maintainability issues with autotools. Not sure when/if that will happen (definitely not for this month's release), but since you said you're going to use autotools I just wanted you to be aware about that.

Re: Roadmap - Release 0.1.0

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 4:46 pm
by nemesis
Thanks for letting me know. Both is okay and should work similar with respect to the editor. Basically only the paths to including and lib-files needs be available. This can be set for both build-systems.

As long as you have a working Linux version having Makefiles generated in Windows is most often possible using Cygwin or MSYS.