I discovered a couple of weeks ago that the only space when my friends and I had a suitable time in our calendars to go off on holiday together for a couple of weeks was at the end of this month, specifically the 22nd September to 7th October. As the last time I took time off was December, I'm going to be in Thailand for those two weeks.
The observant among you will have noticed an issue - V15 / beta is due on 9th October. Hopefully work will not completely grind to a halt with me being away even if I'm not able (or willing) to make it to an internet cafe, but in any case that sort of time was going to be busy anyway. Aaron, currently our tile artist, joins Goldhawk full time on the 8th and we're also moving into a proper office on that day (or renting a couple of desks in someone else's office, to be exact). There's quite a few admin tasks required for both of those things, plus there's the small matter of the release of XCOM on October 9th. So lots going on.
The likelihood of V15 coming out on 9th October is therefore somewhat reduced - or certainly the likelihood of it actually being the full beta on 9th October is reduced, if it does come out then. Because of this, I'm happy to release a cut-down V15 next week - probably about Wednesday (giving me a day before my holidays to fix any massive crash bugs) with most of the progress we've made over the last couple of weeks in it, if people want.
The likely features would be:
- More sprites (all friendly AI soldier sprites and some more Xenonaut ones)
- Arctic, Desert and Middle East Tilesets added (though unfinished, so they're bsaically flat and open at the mo)
- Chinook spawn maps for all orientations been added to all tilesets
- Can shoot over crouched soldiers
- Armour degradation with damage
- Vehicles have shadows, plus an explosion when destroyed
- Pop-up windows on Geoscape (UFO detected etc) are now draggable
- Lightmap is realistic and changes with seasons rather than being static
- Burst delay tag for each weapon added, which allows you to set the time between each shot in a burst
- Psionic powers now fully implemented with animation and sound (just need the AI to start using them now)
- Autoclosing doors (at the end of the turn) have been implemented, which we'll use in UFOs / bases
- Aliens no longer run inside walls and objects, making them hard to find / kill
- Ground combat saves now work again
- Suppression system for burst fire is now per burst, rather than per bullet
- Civilians spawn again
- Massive strength gain after battle no longer occurring
- Lieutenant and Captain ranks no longer switched
- LOS bug caused by standing on a roof fixed up
We'd then probably put out V16 around about 9th October, which would be the aggregated progress made by the team while I was away, plus more sprite rendering work and GJ's first major AI release.
There's still some way to go before beta even if we hit these goals (which we probably will), but we're making good progress. It also occurs to me that what we initially advertised as "beta" - ie, it's possible to play the feature complete (if not asset complete) game from start to finish - probably wouldn't be a good thing to advertise too much.
I think we may need a couple of weeks of sort of alpha-deluxe before we hit beta, because the game will almost certainly be a bit of a broken, unbalanced, buggy mess for the first couple of weeks of "beta". You forumgoers are used to that, but the last thing I want to do is do a big publicity drive and get a load of new customers to try the game and conclude it's terrible. I imagine it'll be markedly better after a few weeks of tweaks and bugfixes.
So apologies for the delays, but I think the "Three Builds to Beta" schedule has got us pretty close to where we want to be even if we've not quite hit every milestone in it.