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Chris

Proposed Development Roadmap

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We missed our Three Builds to Beta deadline for hitting beta a few weeks back. Moderately depressing, but it served its primary purpose - to focus development on defined milestones and deadlines, rather than everyone getting work done in their own time. We've not hit beta yet, but I don't think we're too far away now.

However, on the of the major realisations I had in the last month or so is that not all betas are created equally. Some people think beta means the game is literally ready for release when beta happens and the product only needs polish; others have a more liberal interpretation where the coding is pretty much all done and the primary purpose is to fix crashes and get the balance sorted too.

Therefore the "beta" section has been subdivided into phases. Here's my proposed roadmap for getting there and what is involved at each stage:

ALPHA: (The period of development where the game is actively under development and is so unfinished that the game / tech tree is deliberately limited so players cannot get too far into the game).

V17 - Stability. V17.x should allow us to concentrate on our sprint to beta, so it will not contain any new features and we'll stop releasing new iterations of it once it is confirmed stable. This will give people something to play with while we get on with the work of finishing the alpha.

BETA PHASE I: (The game is mechanically complete and the tech tree is fully unlocked. This part of development is focused on balancing the game to the point where it is enjoyable to play and eliminating crash bugs; game mechanics are subject to change during this phase. People who play the game will need to be prepared to deal with frequent crashes, but they'll have far more of a chance to influence the final shape of the game than in any other part of development.)

V18 - This build will contain the following items:

  • Full research tree unlocked, allowing the player to get their hands on all in-game armour, weapons, vehicles and aircraft. All projects will have Xenopedia descriptions but not necessarily art.
  • All UFOs / alien bases are spawning the correct items to allow the player to progress along the research tree
  • The final ground combat UI will be in place; effectively it is identical to the current one in functionality but will look prettier. Preview here.
  • We'll have our first try at the Desura file reduction stuff to try and get the build working properly for everyone.
  • The alien base tileset will be properly set up in the game, with some proper maps generated so we can test the map sizes etc to see what works best.
  • Hopefully all the alien sprites will be in the build so there won't be any more invisible / missing aliens.
  • There will be placeholder maps for all UFOs and alien bases (these won't look good but will let you test the difficulty of the number and type of alien within them).

During Beta Phase 1, the following will all be added at some point:

  • The final UI screens for all parts of the game will be implemented. This includes the new UI for all the Geoscape screens.
  • The Geoscape map will be revised so it is no longer missing parts of the world, plus more cities will be added to it.
  • All units will be rendered out and put in-game.
  • All the 3D models for the various terrain tiles of all types should be rendered and put in-game, though they may not have been painted over in 2D.
  • All building / prop tiles will be set up in the game correctly, allowing us to catch misset sprite issues before release and allowing people to build maps of their own without risking having the dev team change the sprites
  • Placeholder for final mission. If it's fun, we'll get the map painted up.
  • Lots of bugfixes, to the point the game doesn't crash any more.

BETA PHASE II: (The game is enjoyable to play, stable, and can be completed; essentially the game could be released at any point within Beta Phase II, once the art is done. This is the "polishing" phase, where usability issues are addressed, final assets are added or improved and more minor balance issues are addressed - for instance, a particular UFO type might have too many aliens on aboard for its position in the difficulty progression. The game should be fun and shouldn't crash much, but the game mechanics should be pretty much locked down at this point. Lots of PR will happen before this point.)

  • The final artwork for the research will be painted and added, as the Research tree will be locked down at this point (except for research / build times).
  • All ground tiles will receive their 2D paintover.
  • More ground maps will be generated to maximise replayability.
  • The final launcher will be put in place.
  • Finishing the file reduction process to make the game as easy as possible to deal with.
  • Producing an official Soviet Weapon example mod, and looking at community mods to see if any are worth bundling with the game.
  • Adding full tooltips and explanatory pop-ups to the game to make it as easy as possible for new players to learn the game mechanics.
  • Adding various keyboard shortcuts or tweaking the interface to make the game as easy as possible to use, though not changing the functionality.

RELEASE: (Woo! We're finally there! At this point we release the game on Steam, stop providing any kind of product support and sail a yacht made of gold to Panama.)

If you think there are features I've missed off this roadmap, please list them here and I'll see if they need to slot in somewhere.

I'm going to put together a proper project roadmap for the project shortly, that includes the release dates and features for each build we released. Quite possibly linked to a wiki description of that system, so everyone can see at a glance what has changed since they last played. And so if people moan about how development is slow, you can point them at that. Also I figure we can get some PR out of it too.

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To quote Chris:

"•Producing an official Soviet Weapon example mod, and looking at community mods to see if any are worth bundling with the game."

This is interesting, official mods - something I was wondering about way back. May I suggest soloA's aircraft mod? I think you have already commented on it and like it (I think we all like it, the guy's a talented artist).

Edited by ooey

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I am kinda curious whats brewing on the problems with the UFOs implementation in the battle maps? There has been very quiet on that front lately. And i feel that is an obvious part of the beta stage of the game.

Other than that, nothing seems to be missing.

Nice road map and interesting to see the plan unfold

Cheers!

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Some people think beta means the game is literally ready for release when beta happens and the product only needs polish; others have a more liberal interpretation where the coding is pretty much all done and the primary purpose is to fix crashes and get the balance sorted too.

I avoid the term all-together these days because, as you point out, it has so many different meaning these days. Some projects are even in a perpetual `beta'.

Some alternatives include `Testing release', `Unstable testing release', `Preview release', `Development snapshot', etc. Just semantics? Perhaps... But it does communicate a clearer message...

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To quote Chris:

"•Producing an official Soviet Weapon example mod, and looking at community mods to see if any are worth bundling with the game."

This is interesting, official mods - something I was wondering about way back. May I suggest soloA's aircraft mod? I think you have already commented on it and like it (I think we all like it, the guy's a talented artist).

Yes I would agree having more is good but I think there is perhaps too many and I personally feel overwhelmed with choice!

Perhaps having 3 or 4 options at each stage of the game (around 12 total) would be a nice balance.

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Great roadmap, thanks for sharing.

As I understand it an Alpha phase it basically the phase where you throw everything in the game (code in all the game features), then on the beta phase you put some order (bug fixing, balancing & polishing).

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When do you add the other languages? german and the other ones? there is no word about that in the startpost:)

There can be a also a lot of translation bugs...

i remember you said german and french will come..

One idea write these other languages in a ini file..so fans can easily translate that game in other languages:)

Edited by shuuk

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All texts is already in separate strings file, you can easly translate it. Issue can be non latin(like cyrilic or japanese) or special characters, not sure how to change fonts and how it's all handled(strings characters to font characters), but i think it possible

Edited by zzz1010

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Nice road map, hope it works, i don t know wat is already done and not delivered but seems a lot of work do still do.

Is there, will be any facility to Unoficial moding ?

And if yes which part are intended/can be/will be modable ?

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You can already alter most of the in game text, add new weapons, ground vehicles, aircraft and gear (or just alter the stats), replace or add portraits and names, add/remove cities from the geoscape, add or change the animations used for ground combat, alter the sounds used, tweak the AI responses, create new submaps and levels, and add new tilesets or additions to the official ones.

There are likely to be others as that list is just things I have played with myself.

You won't be able to alter any of the game mechanics that are hard coded unless you can access the source code (which Chris mentioned he is considering releasing after the game) and can write your own code.

That would be things like adding a blaster bomb launcher (as no waypoints for weapons are in the vanilla game).

The modding section has a few threads that go into more detail if I recall.

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Beta is going to be so amaaaaaazing. :D

And alpha/beta have so many different meanings. They are almost meaningless, haha. ;p

EDIT: PS: If this doesn't have a Mosin-nagant in it I'll be upset. ;p

Producing an official Soviet Weapon example mod, and looking at community mods to see if any are worth bundling with the game.
Edited by icepick37

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