Primarily, I've spent the past two weeks getting a little work done on the plot, and spent alot of time (primarily just in the past three or four days) on the editor. Pieces of code are starting to fit back into place - I haven't touched the editor in maybe a year and a half, but it's coming back together piece by piece.
It seems to be coming into shape as a real solid tool - which is good, as I've mentioned before I hope to use this same editor/engine for my next three projects (AdventureFar and probably two after it). It's also good, because my supporting map maker needs to be able to use it without hassle when it's time to build maps.
Latested editor screenshot:
Before other things were distracting me, I spent some time organizing my plot into separate Excel and Word documents.
I've been self-learning some Excel and a little VBA, and made a neat spreadsheet to measure and keep track of how far along the game is coming. It also has space to calculate how long each section takes to play through (though there's nothing yet available to play through) by calculating the average playtime per area for each play-session.
Anyway, I have a 'Master index' Excel document with links and completion amounts to the plot documents. Here's what it looks like:
Master index - Screenshot 1
If you click the clock icon, it expands giving locations for putting in playtimes of the game testers (whenever I get to that point), and calculates the average playtime for each section:
Master index - Screenshot 2
It also continues downward, for sidequests:
Master index - Screenshot 3
Honestly, these Excel spreadsheets didn't take long to make. A day's work maybe (with some adjustments here and there as I get ideas), and that from someone relatively inexperienced with Excel. Excel is much more powerful than I've imagined, and you can get things knocked together very rapidly.
Anyway, I've been working on the plot some since my co-author had to take an extended leave of absence. My desired play-time is about 6 hours of main plot and 2 hours of sidequests per Act, and about two hours of player exploration per act.
(6 + 2 + 2 = 10 hours per act, 4 acts = ~40 hours if new to the game, ~25 hours if running through)
Act 1, Section 2 - Event Index document
A snippet of 'Act 1, Section 1, Event 3, Scene 2'
I was previously wanting to release the game by the end of September, but if I can't reach that goal (which seems likely), I'd rather hold onto it until after the Christmas rush of triple-A game releases, maybe releasing it in early February. This will give me more time to polish the game anyway. When I get closer to release, I'm going to need to hire a good pixel artist for the NPC avatars, as the concept art is more for combat enemies (which are in a different art style). I'm waiting before finding a pixel artist, however. It's not a high priority at this point in time.
I can handle all the tile art on my own, I think, but AdventureFar will have alot of burned down villages in it, as part of the flow of the plot. This will cause me some art troubles, as my current tiles I made don't have any piles of ashes or smoke smears or burned buildings in it - but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Another issue that was a problem is trees. The nation the game takes place in is heavily forested - and my trees just weren't really looking that great. But I figured out a neat trick in Paint Shop Pro using effects that greatly assist in helping me make great looking trees.
Pine trees - WIP:
They still need alot of work (these were just proof-of-concepts basically), but I think they'll turn out pretty good in-game. Until I can actually see them in-game next to and working with the other art, I don't want to invest too much work on them that might need to be discarded.
I'll post some more character concepts from one of the artists next week, if I remember. I've also spent some time sketching some in-game interface designs, which I'll also post some examples of.
Before I go, I've fixed a bug or two, and added a few things to my name-indexing tool for writers: Nomen Rationarium.
At a family member's request! First ever support request I've received. Well, it's the first ever tool I've made that other people actually find useful.