It's been a busy time, as usual, but we wanted to drop a quick update to let you know the latest goings-on and where the game stands at this point in time!
On the progress front, things are moving fantastically. For a long time there were 'symbol' limitations in the AGS engine that were really creating headaches for us. In a nutshell, the AGS engine placed a limit on the number of symbols that a game could include. Symbols are a essentially a collective of characters, global integers, music/sound files, dialog trees, and other things of that nature. Coding wise, Mage's Initiation is so big that we bumped into that upper symbol limit quite a while back and as a result, we kept running into compile errors when attempting to add new things to the game! This hindrance constantly forced us into finding creative ways to work around the limitation -- for example, by re-using characters for multiple purposes rather than creating a bunch of separate ones, by deleting global integers and using arrays in their place, or by shuffling dialog topics so that less tree options were needed to convey the same information that an NPC imparts.
This was all well and good, but it was getting to the point where we'd shuffled assets all we could manage, and it was taking increasing amounts of time to create enough space for even just one or two new symbols -- time that could be better dedicated to finishing the game! Plus, we'd hardly imported any of the sound effects into AGS, and each sound and music piece in the game requires its own symbol. It was apparent that we were running up against a problem that was not going to yield, and would cause us significant delays if left unaddressed for much longer. Thankfully, one of our backers, and as it happens, AGS code contributor, Benjamin Penney, stepped in and was able to increase the symbols table limit to… well, unlimited! This change has now been rolled into AGS v3.3.4 (the latest stable, non-alpha version of the engine), and we're free, once again, to import assets into AGS to our hearts' content. Three cheers for Benjamin and the AGS Development Team!
Progress has picked up since this symbols limited was lifted, but it hasn't been without its detriments. We've found ourselves having to play catch-up, as a result and there's still a daunting list of combat-related bugs (over 400 entries) that we need to work through and alpha test before we can even consider launching the first beta build of the game. With a multi-class, multi-spell RPG of this complexity, we really do need to have it stable and functional enough, prior to entering the beta phase, otherwise the sheer number of bug reports being posted (most which we'd already be aware of) would get overwhelming and things would end up taking much longer to manage and sort through. So, our goal now is to get as many combat bugs squished as possible, with an aim towards stabilizing the game for beta. We're still tentatively hoping for August, but it will really depend on how quickly we can whittle down this huge list of bugs. Of course, we'll keep everyone posted on the timing of the beta.
The other main thing we're working on right now is full implementation of the Points and XP leveling system. We have this large Excel document to keep track of all the points and leveling-up opportunities for each character class. It gets pretty complex when delving into optimal puzzle solutions and optional side and sub-quests. Suffice it to say that it's going to be quite a challenge to find all those XP points and completely max out your Mage!
To date, XP points have been programmed in and finalized for the game's first act. Within the next few days the entire system should be completely in place and ready for internal testing and any further tweaking that's necessary.
Here's our gauge of progress thus far:
Writing & Design: 99.999999%
Background Artwork & Animations: 99%
Character Animations: 99%
Sound Effects: 48%
Adventure Game Programming: 99%
Combat System Programming: 96%
RPG/Stats/Equipment Programming: 95%
Pre-Beta Bug Squishing: 25%
AGS Game Engine Assets & Stats
Total sprites: 17873 / 30000
Sprite folders: 799
Total views: 767
Total GUIs: 67
Inventory Items: 300 / 300 (dynamic system, we have over 300 items)
Characters: 198 Dialog topics: 393 / 500
"Book of Backers" Reward Form
We've had a great response from backers who pledged to the campaign at $20 (Apprentice tier) or higher! Many of you have already submitted the form with your requested names to appear in the Mages' Tower's "Book of Backers". And for that, we thank you. However, there are still a few rebellious sorts who haven't filled out the form (or maybe just didn't see the e-mail?). In any case, if you backed the Mage's Initiation Kickstarter (or pledged as a Slacker Backer via PayPal), at the $20 Apprentice tier or higher, please double-check your emails for our previous update containing the link to the reward form. It was sent out on April 25th, 2015.
If you didn't receive the "Book of Backers" reward form and believe you should have, please email us at email@example.com with the subject like "Book of Backers Form" and let us know.
Postcards and Al Emmo Double Pack on Steam
Thanks to everyone for the votes on Postcards from Anozira on Greenlight. We got through relatively quickly and painlessly this time (which is the polar opposite to our previous efforts!) The game is available on Steam now, either by itself or at a discount as part of the Al Emmo Double Pack.
Shoutout to Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption
Lori and Corey Cole are currently running a supplemental Kickstarter campaign to put the finishing touches on their upcoming RPG game "Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption". There's a couple of new demos available, too; a remake of the early break-in house demo and a new combat demo both featuring 3D graphical assets. Their campaign has 8 days remaining and almost reached its goal. If you were a fan of the "Quest for Glory" games and missed out on backing the first Hero-U campaign, or if you'd just like to help the Coles get across the finishing line, take a look at the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Kickstarter campaign.
Well, that's a wrap for this update! Rachel will be attending the upcoming E3 later this month and will be taking Mage's Initiation along to show. Hopefully we'll have more news to report after that!
And as the magical mana meter depletes to zero, we bid you farewell until it recharges, once more, to full capacity.