Weekly Progress Report #1
Due to some requests on our forums, I’m going to start writing up a weekly report on what we’re working on, what we’re focusing on next, and any setbacks or issues we’ve run into. Generally these will be more focused on the past week, but for this first time I’m going to give an overview of our mindset and where the project is currently at.
We’ve tried to make the development of CodeSpells as fluid as possible as we’re inventing several systems that have never been tried before and it’s hard to predict what will work and what won’t. It’s also always been our goal to make a game that at its core uses programming but is independently fun. The balance of these is not always easy as if we lean either way, we can end up with a game that can’t keep the attention of players or is too simplified in terms of programming. We’re also a very small team, so creating, testing, and balancing content can be difficult and time consuming.
To try and approach this the best possible way, we’ve focused our attention on making as many cool systems as possible without fully committing to the restrictions or balance of those systems. We are now focused on making a framework for making game modes, which we are currently calling Meditations. Instead of balancing systems that we are still inventing, we’d rather create these systems and make it so that we (and eventually players) can create rules specific to whatever each Meditation requires. If a certain system or function does not work for a given game mode, it can either be made very expensive or removed completely from a given Meditation. We can then focus less on a perfect balance of all the systems and more on fun toys to play with.
Last Friday (June 12), we released our Beta, working on Windows and Mac OSX to Kickstarter backers and those that purchased the game on our website. That version has essentially second passes of Earth and Water magic as our first passes didn’t produce enough interesting things to play with in Meditations. Our plan was to have first passes of all four elements for the Beta, but we decided to push Earth and Water a little farther to get to the point where they would maintain some interest. We still have plenty of work to do with both those systems, but we feel that they have enough to represent a solid portion of their final states.
We were also planning on releasing the game on Early Access, but due to the Steam Summer Sale, we will be waiting for that to end before opening the game up for sale directly on their store.
Overall, the Beta seems to be going fairly well. There is still a heavy reliance on using the “eval” block to hack the game for more features than are currently available, but players seem to be doing some cool stuff with Earth and Water.
The Beta also came with a wider audience and some unexpected performance issues and bugs. Generally we will try not to focus too much on minor bugs and hitches until major releases of the game, but given that some of these were rather substantial, that is my main focus for these first few days following the Beta release.
I will be on vacation at the end of this week and early next week, so these two weeks are pretty short, but the plan is to get a patched version of the game addressing primarily performance issues by this Wednesday.
After this week, we’ll be focusing on Fire. A good portion of the fire spreading simulation has already been written, so we would like to show a first pass of those systems by the monthly update, which will most likely occur around July 1st.