Archive for August, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Well, summer is actually just about through up here in Canada, but I thought I’d give a quick update on the project and account for the lack of regular updates recently.  See, in Canada summer is such a…. scarce commodity.  According to the economic laws of supply and demand, that makes it inherently more valuable than the rest of the year.  This has made development time scarce, and web-logging time non-existent.  Fortunately (from some perspectives, anyway), the weather is beginning to turn, so I will no doubt be in your face more regularly for the next ten months.

So, what’s been happening on the project lately?  Lots!  I’ve got the second of seven sections roughed out, and have a good start on a third.  I’ve done some heavy scripting over the summer and I have scads of animations that I am very proud of.  Where does this put me in terms of release date?  It’s hard to tell.  I still think autumn 2012 is in the cards, but it depends on so much that has yet to happen yet.  So I will keep on chipping away at the marble until my masterpiece is revealed.

Now the casual reader might choke on some of the time-lines I’ve mentioned (did he say years?!?), so this is a good point to discuss the scope of the project.  Curses & Castles is designed as a full-length fantasy adventure game on an epic scale, and this necessarily means an epic amount of time must be spent building it.  Recall that the development team consists of just one fraction of a person and you can see why it will take two full years for the this project to come to fruition.  (NOTE: I am not actually a fraction of a person, but I do have a day job and a family so I only spend about two hours a day in development mode, amounting to roughly 1/12 of my existence.)

I know, I know, you’re supposed to start small, especially when undertaking the risk of your first commercial release.  But epic fantasy and small don’t really go together, and I’m really excited about the script even a year after it was written, so I have no regrets about ignoring advice and rationality and plunging on in.  It will all be worth it when it’s done!  That’s what I keep telling myself, and that’s what I’m telling you.

To give you an idea of the scope of the game I am releasing a rough mock-up of the game world map:

Saefonley is a fairly small kingdom until you actually start drawing it pixel by pixel! This map -currently in a Lord-of-the-Rings-esque phase but it is still evolving – will serve two purposes.  It will allow the player at any point to tell where they are relative to places mentioned by characters in the game (the little purple x marks your location), and it will allow magic transportation between monumental travel stones to save what would otherwise be a considerable amount of walking!

The seven sections I referred to above will correspond to the five ridings of the realm, plus two extras.  The five ridings correspond roughly to the four points of the compass as well as the main town in the middle of the realm.  The extra sections consist of Princess Porphyra’s escape sequence from the Dragon’s castle and a foray into the mystical forest of the north.  Sounds like a lot, I know.  But in reality I’ve got the vast bulk of the top half of the game done (according to the map), including most animation and scripting, and much of the drawing.  But it’s hard to gauge the relative “density” of work that will be required by different sections of the game, so I can only reckon roughly that I’m somewhere between 35-40% finished.

So there you have it.  If winter comes early and lasts until next June (which does happen up here, alas, on occasion), then you can expect an awful lot of progress out of me in the coming months!