The Long and Difficult Path to Space
Earlier today, private space company SpaceX launched their second resupply mission to the International Space Station. Shortly after the spacecraft reached orbit they discovered the maneuvering thrusters weren't working. This meant the ship had no control ability and would soon fall back to Earth. After a nervous few hours, they got the thrusters working and boosted into a safe orbit.
I hesitate to compare the development of Lifeless Planet to a real-life space mission, but there are times when I feel like I am involved in an equally monumental and complex task. I figure I've logged 3,000 hours over the course of the last two years. Since production ramped up I've been clocking ten hour days, six days a week. It may not be a real moon shot, but it's my moon shot.
I'm disappointed that I didn't make my goal for Alpha this month, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
Work Continues... and Continues...
I continue to work overtime on the game. The going seems glacially slow at times, but I have made good progress. And yet, there's still a lot to do.
To catch you up on progress, I’ll start off referencing my bullet points from January as a guide. For items that I’ve made measurable progress on, I’ve noted rough percentages completed:
- Finish building the last 4 (of 20) levels.
- Script 12-15 remaining cinematic scenes.
- Integrate remaining music into the game and cinematics--much of which has yet to be written.
- Finish writing/placing remaining log files/docs.
- Build the core game menu system.
- Finish adding details to the PDA.
- Tweak, tweak, tweak the gameplay!
- Finish texturing a few of the models.
- Add more details/refinements to some of the levels.
- Code a save/restore game interface.
- Release Alpha. Refine the game...
- Release Beta. Fix the bugs...
- Release the game!
I’ve taken a bit of a turn with production over the last few weeks to concentrate on finishing a demo that I can share with beta-tester backers. I’m pulling together the first 6 levels at a pretty high quality (closer to beta than alpha). I hope to have this ready for your review in 2 weeks (and I will post a new gameplay trailer shortly thereafter so everybody gets a look). In addition, we'll be pitching to Valve to publish the game on Steam and I need a good representation of what the final game will look and feel like.
After I finish this demo build I will turn back to finishing the remaining levels and thus complete the alpha. I think realistically it will be sometime in May. Full beta should follow pretty quickly since the first half of the game has become increasingly refined. I’m targeting a July release at this point. I can tell now that even that timeframe will be a challenge, but I believe this is realistic, and I will keep you posted with progress as we get closer.
I know this puts the game (at least) a year over my original estimated release target. I want to emphasize again that while the game is taking longer to finish, it WILL get done. Even though money is tight, my other business income allows me to continue working at a high level long after the planned release.
And once again I can't express enough how much I appreciate your support and your patience. I truly appreciate the kickstart you gave my little dream. It's become a much bigger dream and there have been more than a few sleepless nights, but I'm still so very thankful for your support. Lifeless Planet will get finished, and it got started only because you stepped up and provided your support. Thank you!
All I want to say about these new screens is that the most exciting one to me is the main menu screen. Every day I get a little bit closer, but seeing this was a nice confirmation that all this work will soon pay off with a finished product!
Who Am I?
Before I close out this update, I thought I should share a little about myself. I probably should've done so sooner, but better late than never.
I've been playing games since the early 80s. Probably my first game system was a pong knock-off that my dad hooked up to our black-and-white TV. Then came our Commodore VIC-20 (with 3k of RAM), and I started programming games at around age 7. My mom recently came across some of my old (and comically bad) game designs, circa 1989:
My interest in computer graphics lead to a college degree in graphic design. Then the web came along and I've been mostly building websites and interactives since then. My company specializes in promotional videos and interactives for charitable organizations. It is extremely rewarding work. In addition to providing media for nonprofits, my wife and I also volunteer as mentors to a 13 year old boy who lives and breathes video games, and aspires to be a game designer one day!
Stage 2 has produced a number of interactives including some simple flash games. But clients only have so much room in their budgets to produce apps and games, and so a couple years ago I decided it was time to try something more ambitious on my own time. Thus, Lifeless Planet was born... and you know the rest!
Things to Look For
I am sorry there's no alpha yet, but I promise the demo will be coming to beta-tester backers very soon. And I won't wait as long for my next update. You can always assume when I'm quiet that it's because I'm hard at work, but I will try to keep you updated more regularly as we march towards release.
Thank you as always!