As of Sunday I feel somewhat of an internal Milestone has been reached; and it's a good time to take a moment, step back and have a good look at what the last month-and-a-week has brought.
We are only a few weeks away from the end of 2013; and it was a marathon year for me, having secured an office for my company outside of my home; dug the Morning's Wrath sequel out of its mire pit,and accomplished over 700 hours of work on it.
Earlier in the year
Most of work in the first half of 2013 was concerned with investigation and building the basis of what would become Revel.
Tom Novelli was a huge help during these times, especially in the area of tool support; where I was focused on engine systems; Tom would consistently lay out the bridges and tracks I needed to keep moving forward, in areas like image and audio atlasing; code minification/obfuscation and packaging for distribution; he was also great at figuring out various server configuration issues that plagued us early on.
During this time I also met Kate Billard, she was (and continues to be) instrumental in initial designs for Garranshall; and refinement of the story.
The pre-alpha was constructed hastily but Tom, Kate and I made a great showing at Indiecade 2013 in February; such that even though we were unable to pre-register for a demoing table, we were given one gratis when we got there.
The success and interest from folks there there really helped boost development for the next six months.
The April alpha release
We set a self imposed deadline of getting to open-alpha in mid April; what that meant was is we needed to build something stable enough to show to prospective players.
It would also be the proving ground for the expansionable system we designed; releasing early and making major fixes without breaking user save games was a key point in our planned model, and we needed to test it.
Thankfully everything went according to plan with twelve consistent releases between April and September; each with major changes to content, systems and gameplay; out platform was working, our plans were good; we had registered 200 alpha testers; fall was just around the corner, and it was time for a break.
Work since coming back from my vacation...
As reported in an earlier entry; I was on a fall vacation from sept1 to nov1, a two month break; and it was great; I really needed to just stop thinking about revel for a stretch of time; in retrospect, one month would have been enough, but my goal was to enjoy the fall, spend time with my wife and work on renovating my basement; all things were accomplished.
I returned with a renewed sense of motivation and urgency to push Revel forward.
The Revel Editor
OK, so without a doubt the biggest achievement, hands down has been the creation of the Revel Editor; a very large piece of software that lets us edit revel without twiddling tons of source files.
While I wouldn't pen it as being done (software rarely ever truly is) it is being confidently used to edit and move Revel forward, and was Use-Ready after only two weeks of development.
Version 0.14 was our first release via the editor; and Sunday 12/10 we released 0.15
Expansion of the landscape & Quests
Simply having the editor in place, changed the perception of the game greatly; and it meant content could be easily visualized, understood, added and edited; this pointed out a number of rough edges in the design, mostly concerning NPC dialogue and Quests, as was covered in a previous journal entry; these issues were quickly fixed and are operating great as of this writing.
More and more of Garranshall, and other yet to be seen maps are continuing to be filled out; as Kate, myself and other writers continue to refine the story elements.
I am happy to say that we finished the full implementation of a quest as of 0.15; and it has proved the system can work.
This has been a great milestone in itself and has given me a great sense of accomplishment.
The next few weeks and the start of 2014
Undoubtedly the holiday season will impact development of Revel, but I am hoping to put in as much time as I'm able to finish the year strong.
Our current goals are two-fold: More Content & Technological Refinement
This means mostly additions of quests, NPCs, and refinement of locations in Garranshall.
This also means refinement of existing dialogues, and hopefully catching up on some annoying but liveable bugs that tests have reported.
Our tentative goal is to be in what we'd consider 'Beta' by April 2014; In this case beta would be well features gameplay mechanics stability; and a wealth of content in the free areas of the game, as well as the full version.