These weekly updates are something we have been sharing on our blog for quite a while now. However, since they are 100% about work on Zero Gear lately, I decided we should start to post them here. It is somewhat technical, but hopefully it will be interesting anyway!
"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will." - George Bernard Shaw
Loading sucks. Loading while the player is trying to play the game REALLY sucks. The reason loading sucks is because it takes time. Time is very valuable. I spent a good chunk of last week working on getting Ogre's background loading working. This allows the developer to load resources in another thread which would prevent loading from interrupting gameplay.
You may be asking why we don't just load everything before the player is playing the game. The answer is we do. But the future is unknowable. When other player's connect to the server they can be wearing any of our many pieces of gear. We cannot preload all of this gear so it must be loaded when needed.
Unfortunately the background loading didn't work out for us so we are loading the content once the player is ready (the game play is over and they are waiting for the next round).
This week's big task is to get something called NAT punch through working. This will allow players behind a firewall to host a Zero Gear server. This is going to be a huge task that is going to require us to switch our low level networking layer over to a different library entirely. Wish me luck!
Between scribbling madly on my legal pad to remind me of things that need doing, I have been tweaking maps, tweaking graphics, tweaking GUI's and managing our issue tracker. I also spent a good chunk of time spicing up our Zero Gear website to start preparing for more people to start hitting it as we get closer to a public beta. As our private testing expands it is great to be hearing feedback from everyone and addressing what we can, and focusing on what people find the most fun.
This week I am just going to be hitting things as they come at me, and trying to prepare as best I can for what the next few months are going to bring!
Last week I started overhauling the garage GUIs, but hit a few snags and moved on to Bot work, mostly for tag mode. The tag bots now have limited functionality, enough to fill a spot or two in a server but not so great if you're playing all alone. Zero Gear was intended to be played with real-live people so we're debating how much time to invest in bot AI.
This week I'm hoping to get the garage back up and running with the new GUI so that our testers can go back to dressing up their characters!