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The First Demo

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Ok, so after the long rant last week (thank you for the positive comments), I figured I'd give a few more details on our first project. We're creatively calling it the First Demo.

The Basic Idea
Drawing from a bare-bones design document that was itself derived from the full game's design document, the concept behind the demo project is to create a very small but complete, self-contained, and playable 3d RPG-style game set in the world of Fountaindale.

Reasons for undertaking the demo project include:
- To learn, troubleshoot, and refine the tools and processes we'll be using. While this mainly applies to the coding side of the house, it also applies to our asset creation pipeline and the mechanics of getting all of the models, animations, art, music, and sounds into the game itself. The coding team is doing a lot of hard work putting the basic framework together to make this happen.
- To solidify the team and build team cohesion.
- To prove to ourselves we have the ability to tackle the much larger Fountaindale project.

The first demo will:
- correctly display 3d terrain, objects and buildings (including three to four interiors), and animated characters contained in a designated section of the main city (Nahelam, shown in picture);
- have one player-controlled character, with input handling in accordance with the design document;
- have an automated, semi-player-controlled camera in accordance with the design document;
- apply basic pathfinding algorithms;
- correctly play all music, sound effects, and environmental audio;
- have a short storyline comprising three small quests, requiring correct handling of conditional tree user input and game state change handling;
- contain two pre-scripted animation sequences ("cinemas"); and
- contain all aspects of the full-game GUI (with the exception of battle-related GUI elements).

For the first demo, we will NOT implement:
- any battle-related functions; or
- saving or loading.

Our goal is to make a very simple, yet highly polished, playable little demo.

So What Have We Done?

So far, we've managed to make an executable with a start screen, cursor, and buttons. The coders are working on implementing the camera and terrain display functions, and we still have some stuff to figure out along those lines (like just exactly how we want to represent terrain internally). We'll be toying around with that over the next little while.

Concept art is driving quite a bit of the modeling production, and now that we've got a decent rate of concept art production, the modelers have a bit more stuff to work with. They're working on the characters, animals, building, and objects required for the demo. Although the requirements are fairly minimal, it's still a decent chunk for a new, small team to bite off.

Brian Moody has created some mood music for Fountaindale that may or may not make its way into the first demo. The music was actually written for the central forest itself, which unfortunately is not a setting in the first demo. He's currently working on a theme for Fountaindale as a whole.

How Long Will it Take, and What's Next?

We're shooting for a March 31, 2007 alpha for the first demo. That may seem like a somewhat liberal estimate for the size of the project and the number of people working on it, but based on the rate of work we've witnessed over the last several months, March 31 is probably about right. We'll press for that, at least.

After the first demo is complete, we should have a really good framework for implementing the rest of the game. The next chunk we'll bite off will be the first part of the actual game (whereas the short story in the first demo occurs before the full game's story). We're calling this "The Last Adventure of Nahelam," and it should incorporate around 4-5 hours of gameplay. We'll work on implementing saving/loading routines as well as the full-on battle engine. That will keep us plenty busy. We'll also fully model the entire city and castle of Nahelam, the underground of the city, and the first labyrinth of the game (the Cave of Four Seasons). At this point in time, I estimate it will take another 12 months after the first demo is finished to complete The Last Adventure of Nahelam. The current plan is to market and sell The Last Adventure for a low price.
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Your Help Wanted thread(s?) have stood out as one of the better projects, good to see you've got a journal so we can follow your progress. [smile]

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