My lizard will see you in the New Year
Hello! Progress continues, though I'm never as far along as I'd like.
Since the last update, I was hoping to finish the world, but I ended up having to take care of a lot of other things first. I'm still not finished with the world, but it's getting done, bit by bit.
It feels very slow, but a lot of it is just that it's all done by me. I don't work in a linear way, I stop one task to work on another, and another, in whatever order seems to make the best sense. Some days I'm drawing sprites, some days I'm debugging NES code... I've had the high level plans for everything complete for a very long time, but everything has a lot of parts to it. It's frustrating because ideas come very quickly, but a fully realized implementation takes a lot of different types of work, and I have to do them all, one at a time.
What's new since the last update?
The Steam Zone is finished. Here's a picture of the whole area, and its place within the completed parts of the Recto side of the world. (Off the right hand side of this image are the yet-unfinished zones, coming soon.)
All of the talking creatures, text, and related code for the game is done at this point:
All the stuff needed to progress through the long form game, such as tracking for which bosses you've beaten. Here's the entrance to the final boss:
The ending sequence code, and stats tracking is finished too. There's a computer in the void zone you can check your stats on:
There's been a lot of other things too, but not everything is easy to explain with a picture. There's been a lot of programming work, cleaning up things that needed to be done before the game was finished. The only significant code left to write at this point is the unfinished bosses.
What's left to do?
There are three zones that are not yet complete: the Palace Zone, the Maze Zone, and the Void Zone. Each of these is already partially finished, and have been fully planned for a long time. You may have seen a screen or two teasing these places in the demo. There was a "complete" Void Zone in the demo, but it had to be totally rebuilt when I increased the size of the world.
There are five more bosses to finish. Each of them is in various stages. Some are fully planned on paper, some are partially coded, some have sprites or other material already.
I hate giving dates for anything, but I hope to begin beta testing in January. If not January, it will be as soon after as I can manage. Now and then one of you expresses to me that you're disappointed or annoyed that this project has taken too long. All I can say is that I feel the same, and it's much worse for me. I've managed my resources well enough that I'm sure I can finish without asking for more money, but at some point it'll be a matter of how much debt I want to take on to get this game completed. I want to get this game done as early as I can in the new year.
It's been strange working on this project. If this was work for hire, like any of my other professional game development jobs, it would be done by now. The scope of the game would be reduced to match the time available, and at some point I would have gotten everything wrapped up at whatever state of completion it was. This isn't that kind of project, though; I've got a clear end goal, and it's never been about meeting a timeline. I'm sorry to disappoint some of you, who just want to play the game already, but I need the time to make it into what I think it should be. I'm not far from the end at this point, but I won't cut it short to make an arbitrary deadline. This game is too personal for that.
Thanks for sticking with me. Sorry it's taking so long. I hope it's worth it. See you in 2016!