One of the key features of this milestone is that is marks the completion of ALL our core services and features at a basic level. That means the gameplay, login and asset services have their functionality ready to roll, although the login and asset services are not actually separate services yet. The gameplay service has LUA script integrated and indeed tested through some AI behaviors and it's all ready to talk with the login and asset services. So that's a huge achievement, specially in nine months!
The milestone itself called for the development of advanced in-game GUI functionality, radar, the markup language used to build the popup's and such. Here's a little preview of the GUI, it's designed to minimize down to the two bars along the bottom when not in use. I hope it looks as good once it's reconstructed in the client.
As some people may know, we are also working on a mini project as an entry in this years 4E contest, we are building it off the Tearsol client and at the moment work on one game is often doubling as work on the other, GUI functionality being one of them, which is neat to know.
We have chosen to actually take it a bit easy with asset production for Tearsol at the moment, this milestone didn't include any audio work and very little 3D development. The art side of the Export-games team is at least as accomplished as our programming side, but we are very aware that if artwork was developed to such an aggressive schedule as programming we would undoubtedly get well ahead of ourselves, and I feel it's important to build up a good portfolio of concept work before any substantial work is done on art assets, as long as time permits. Here's our latest concept - the 'generic' female mage, try to keep control of your jaws, gent's.
So... feature creep. As I mentioned, our main objective with milestone 7 was to get the client and server hooked back up for another developer test and to get a look at our various movement systems working perfectly ;). We did achieve this at a basic level, but haven't had the developer test yet, which means we haven't set up a webstart test. This is essentially because distribution in the form of a webstart simply takes a bunch of work and, when we come to putting everything together the general consensus is: "lets just get x and/or y done too we'll only have to do it all again in a week if we don't". Pretty standard stuff, right? Unfortunately, yes. I'm not a huge fan of any particular development convention, but If I had to compare the standard indie process I guess it's closest to SCRUM. I'd like to get a step closer to it, and produce monthly builds at the least from now on. I'm sure it will become more simple as much of the actual gameplay is developed in scripts on the server, but there feels like a definite widening of our feature base which needs to be continually managed - and that makes the compilation process all the more unpleasant.
Either way, the graphical client and server are now working together again and next milestone will be focused on consolidating and testing the swathes of new features which need integrating. We are going to try our darndest to get a webstart build up for the artists and such on the dev team. I hope you'll all see a very great leap forward in graphics and functionality. Cheerio.