Post feature RSS BETA 1 Development Cycle

This article summarizes the short development cycle that went into the release of Source Media Arcade BETA 1.

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Development really started back in May 2010, when the idea of an open ended 3D user interface first became appealing to me. When I say "open ended" I mean in the sense that the users have the freedom to use the program as they wish. After my initial research it became evident that all the existing programs offering this type functionality were skewed in one way or another; usually the results of the program catering to a very specific crowd. Whether due to aggressive marketing campagins or flaws in their design, the biases that these programs carried saveirly hendered their functionality.

The first month
was spent extensively studying these programs, and making notes of the strengths and weaknesses of their designs.

The scope of the project was starting to take shape. In the following two weeks, as I continued to hash-out the details of the project, I produced numerous UML diagrams, flowcharts, and text-descriptions of the design and presented them to my programming colleagues on daily intervals.

It was now time to decide which graphics engine would power the project. I had a specific list of features that the engine would need to support, and a few restrictions. My restrictions were time, money, and man-power. College classes resumed in September, and I knew that would disrupt the project's schedule. I was damn sure going to get a playable version out before 2011, so I decided that it'd be best to have a release date of mid-September; just before classes resumed. This gave me a time frame of almost 4 months to turn my project from UML diagrams to reality. The idea of writing my own graphics engine immediately went out the window. And because the project was completely unfunded, I had a limited selection of free standalone engines to choose from. To make a long story short, I decided to use Source engine for the project because it was written in a some what familar language and would require minimal modification to acheive the functionality that I desired for the beta; yet was expandable enough to fullfill all the promisses that the full version of the project makes.

So I downloaded Source SDK 2007 and was reminded of just how little C++ I knew. After days of reading tutorials, I was able to compile the source code.

By July 16th, the bare bones back-end of the project was coded and functional using console commands. That is when I shifted gears and began making the art resources required to properly test the new mod. Between July 16th and August 7th I modeled and skinned 14 low-poly arcade game cabinets. After that, I went back to coding.

Over the next two months I worked tirelessly towards the mid-September release date; during which time I was forced to cut out numerous features from the beta due to time restraints. By the time the coding was "complete" it was October 15th, but the release date had officially been pushed back until October 31st.

As early as October 9th private beta testing had been expanded and pre-release demos were sent to various sites and communities. After the beta had proven the mod to be relatively bug-free and stable, I decided that there was no reason to hold on to it any longer. Source Media Arcade BETA 1 was released on October 19th.

The purpose of the beta was to gain the interest of the community and attract talented and experienced programmers and artists so that their skills can be put to use in a project that is already proven to have potential in the community they come from.

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