Greetings, Unvanquished community.
We have at last surpassed a year of development, stretching from the pre-alpha days of last December, to the approach towards our eleventh alpha release next month. During this time last year, we were just getting onto our feet, preparing ourselves for our first release. Right now, we are maintaining an encouraging rate of growth, and our project has grown much stronger than it was in those uncertain times. A year from now, I expect that we will finally reach beta.
Of course, such a statement is a loaded one. It carries connotations with it, such as how exactly we plan on getting there. Thus, below, you will find our plan for reaching beta by the end of 2013. We have twelve alpha releases to go until that point, over the course of twelve months. If all goes according to plan, the release on December 1st, 2013 will be the final alpha release. The following month, on January 5th, 2014, we will pool together all of our alpha assets into a single package, cease the distribution of old Tremulous maps, and begin a new stage in the life of Unvanquished. It will be our first beta release, and as we come closer to reaching that point, we will determine an appropriate release cycle for it, likely a bi-monthly one.
Now, here is what we intend to do over the following year, first broken up into quarters, and then subdivided into the main areas of focus. Everything is tentative, but there is a solid chance that we will follow this plan to the letter. Any alterations to it will be announced in one of the weekly blog posts, and progress posts will also be made at the end of each quarter. Here we go! If you're interested in assisting with any portion of this plan, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're always open to new recruits in the project!
Timeframe: January through the end of March.
- Finish concept art. By the end of this quarter, we intend on having concept art finished for all models that we currently do not have. Several pieces of artwork are already finished, and since we are halfway done with our models, this task isn't nearly as daunting as it sounds. Over these months, as artwork comes in, expect to see blog posts featuring them. We already have a backlog of things to be revealed.
- Conclude metagame discussion. We've all been very much at work with discussing the general points of the game, such as how expansion works, what the winning conditions are, etc. So far, the most significant item of discussion has been resources. We are set to involve resources in the general game design, and at the moment, we've been going over the exact implementation. Once this is finished, we can go on to core gameplay.
- Finish the website. It's mostly done, but we still need to finish up integrating all of the logins, as well as going over some of the rough edges that people disagree on. By the end of March, we don't expect to be hearing about people being unable to login to some portion of the website. Ideally, we would also get a nice stats system up at some point, to replace the ancient Tremstats implementation we have.
- Start implementing tutorial mode. We're going to need this to attract new players for the game. People are going to need to practice against bots to learn the basics, and our bots are roughly in a usable state for this. Later on down the line, this can be turned into a single player mode, but for now we need to focus on it for tutorial purposes.
- Implement libRocket. We're going to need this for future interface work, including HUDs and the in-game menus. I don't expect us to be fully utilizing libRocket just yet, but before the end of March, it should be integrated into our codebase.
- Start assembling a texture base. This would involve collecting high-quality textures with appropriate licensing from reputable sources, or simply making our own. In either case, we're going to need to create our own collection of textures. It will make things easier for our mappers, and for community mappers further down the line. There's no deadline on this, but we will start as soon as possible.
Timeframe: April through the end of June.
- Implement new physics. While work may begin on it earlier, by this quarter we expect to finish implementing bullet physics. In addition to giving us support for ragdolls, we'd have much better collision detection than anything you've seen in Tremulous.
- Finish the first batch of maps. Plat23, Thunder, Yocto, and Parpax are all either in beta or approaching it. I think that yalt will be reaching beta state with his map before this point. In any case, we will finish up the first five Unvanquished maps. While these maps alone would be sufficient to make it to a beta release, we will still be working on more maps to add to our collection.
- Redo the interface. By this point, libRocket would be implemented. We'd spend time taking full advantage of it, replacing our terribly outdated UI system, updating our existing HUDs to utilize it, and also redoing those old Tremulous-style menus with their tacky blue fade effect that we've been using as placeholders.
- Work on core gameplay. As we're formulating gameplay, we would simultaneously be implementing it, so that we can test out ideas in-game to assess their feasibility. It doesn't matter if the idea is balanced on paper or not, the point is to see it in action. Thought experiments can only go so far, as our minds are not proper substitutes for a game on the Quake 3 engine.
- Finish major translations. I expect this to be finished before this point, but in any case, this is the deadline. We'll need the most widespread languages to be finished, and as many lesser-spoken ones as possible. This will be necessary for the international advertising effort.
- Get map models done. We need a core set of map props that all of our mappers can use. This will make things not only easier for them, but will also provide the game with more of a coherent look. Things like crates, lamps, futuristic furniture, etc.
Timeframe: July through the end of September.
- Finish models. Remember all of that concept art we'd be finishing at the start of the year? The moment a piece is ready, we hand it off to one of our modelers. Since it takes approximately 3-6 months for a highly detailed model to be finished, most of them will approach completion over this quarter. At the end of this quarter, all of our models should be ready, but not necessarily animated. Of course, models are animated as soon as they're finished, but this takes time, and the final push will mostly begin at the end of September.
- Finish sounds. All of the Tremulous sounds need to be replaced, due to the awkward licensing issues involved with them. In addition, all of our models look different, and the old sounds aren't really appropriate for them anymore. We will also provide a new set of sounds for other things, such as voice commands and environmental effects for mappers to use.
- Begin to polish things. We'll start smoothing out rough edges that we've had for a while now, to get the game into a presentable state. There's already a lot to begin with, and as new things crop up, we can keep working on polishing them. For instance, the installer that we've been using, or the menu system. Polishing the game would hopefully impress reviewers, too!
- Conclude gameplay. At the end of September, we should know what the gameplay of Unvanquished will look like, and the majority of it should be implemented. Adding major gameplay features after this quarter would be pointless. Instead, we would focus on testing and balancing. At this point, you can expect to see a rough draft of what Unvanquished is as a game. The final draft will be composed over beta. Many of our truly fundamental gameplay shifts will occur during this quarter, although some will appear over the preceding one.
Timeframe: October through the end of December.
- Finalize major engine features. If something is going to break compatibility for everyone once it's implemented, then it will be finished by this point. During beta, we don't want people to constantly have to redownload everything over each release. The engine should be at a relatively stable state, with few radical changes after this point.
- Finish the second batch of maps. Our second generation of maps should be finished by this point, to accompany the first set that we finished over the summer. Combined, these will make up our default map pack. We will no longer distribute the old Tremulous maps after beta is declared. All of the Unvanquished maps will have full bump mapping, and will take advantage of our engine and gameplay features. Old Tremulous maps may still be compatible, but they'll look extremely dated and won't be as fun.
- Conclude animations. We will ensure that all models have been fully animated and that glaring glitches are no longer present. Ideally, animations should have been done as we go along with models, but lingering animations will be finished during this quarter. In early December, we should have our final set of animated models.
- Finish polishing the game. We don't want to be on the receiving end of jokes on game review sites. Thus, we will thoroughly playtest everything. Bugs are unavoidable, but we will have people on all three major platforms constantly testing things so that the easy ones are squashed. Rough edges in animations and texture anomalies should be fixed at this point.