Tethical, an sRPG Engine
Tethical, an sRPG Engine
Tethical is an open-source strategy RPG engine with a growing number of development tools to make using it easier.
Tethical is an open-source strategy RPG engine with a growing number of development tools to make using it easier. Read more
My first memory of this project is of seeing videos Jean-André Santoni had posted of his progress on a clone of Final Fantasy Tactics (1997) for PC. It even included online play against other people! In addition to that, it was all open-source. I was hooked! I wanted to help out the project any way that I could.
Fast forward to two years later, I'd written a fully-featured sprite animation tool for the project, a Unicode image font tool, a control panel application, a drag-and-drop formula designer, and a database schema to address all manner of data-related needs an sRPG has. More importantly, I'd expanded the project's horizon to let you design your own game!
The collective effort that has gone into this project has allowed it to reach a tipping point. Many things within the engine have already taken shape, and they both leverage what's available to them while allowing you the opportunity to do even more if you choose to. I've had the great opportunity to develop these features in-tandem with their tools, so the sections of the tools that pertain to a given feature are tailor-made for the feature. Many other things still need to reach that point of such development and integration. That's where you come in!
I estimate that this project will take around 1,600 hours. Of the 52 business weeks in a year, that's a total of at least 40 of them. Of the 1,600 hours, most of them are going right into programming the control panel application. That means that a majority of the focus is on providing tools that can directly edit your game! Similarly, an equally important chunk of time is going into making sure you don't have to get your hands dirty programming the features that players know and love in this genre. You can just focus on customizing what's there and writing innovative new things!
If you'd like to see the whole breakdown, you can view it in this spreadsheet: http://darkabstraction.com/kickstarter/Tethical%20Kickstarter%20Estimate.xls.
How about some stretch goals!
- $30,000 - I'll purchase and set up a dedicated server to host the reference implementation game. Play the demonstration game you helped fund online! Show off your badges! Most importantly, have fun pitting your team of heroes against other players across the internet -- all from the comfort of your browser!
- $40,000 - I'll program a way to generically pit heroes from two different games made with this engine against each other in a standard match. Maybe you'll even get to fight against the bosses of those games -- all at once!
- $50,000 - Tools are made open-source, and the licensing is removed (would not apply to the contributions obtained through the tools, because those need to be tracked).
- $60,000 - I'll livestream at least 10 hours a month of me programming on this engine. I may optionally take suggestions during that period, allowing you to further effect this project.
Money above and beyond these stretch goals may go towards (1) moving up the delivery date of this project, (2) obtaining professional-quality themed contribution-packs to the contributions section, or (3) offsetting the cost of development (the reality is that I've pro-rated the cost of development in order to make it more affordable, but I did this because I really want the opportunity to continue to work on this project for another year).
Risks and challenges
I faced a lot of challenges when I first started helping out with this project. Did you know I didn't even know how to program in the language the engine was written in? Two years later, that programming language is one of my favorite to program in. Other challenges I faced involved having to unlearn many of the convenient shortcuts I'd become so accustomed to in order to make sure the design tools could be properly used in a program like Wine.
Beyond initial difficulties, one of the biggest risks with a hobbyist project is that the person working on it will burn out -- that they will lose the motivation to finish what they set out to do. This is still a risk, but I stand beside the work I've done to learn the engine's language, to program the design tools, and even to support getting content together for people in the community interested in making something with the engine (while it's still in a development phase).
In addition to burning out, not meeting deadlines is a problem prevalent in software design. Needs may not have been properly assessed. The condition of the people working on a project may have affected their average quality of work. It's a very real problem. For myself, I've already broken down what needs to happen with informed time estimates, and I will follow that breakdown feature by feature.
So, how can those issues be dealt with? We live in an exciting time, because there are so many people qualified and available to program. Sourcing parts of the project to such assets through a website like oDesk.com is a viable backup plan to ensure that your investment is well-spent. From personal experience, it is important to note that I may have to deal with the language barrier in this situation, and complex features may be difficult to express; however, that does not detract from the viability of the workflow. In short, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to sink your teeth into the result of this project come October 2014!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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