Age of Decadence - Status Update
Responding to a forum post, Vince, Oscar and Nick explain the current development status of The Age of Decadence. Here's a lengthy collection of posts that provide a good picture. Oscar on being "content complete":
I want to clear a misconception. Content is not the same as assets. It's not the same to have a working area where all NPC are males and most buildings are untextured or just placeholders than having an area fully modeled and textured, with males and female NPCs with the correct clothing, filler NPCs, banners moved by the wind, particles, flavor overhead text, etc.
That is the difference between a "working" game, and a full, polished game.
Vince on the length of development and some hurdles:
One year full time with 15-20+ people. We work part-time and there is only 4 of us. It's not an excuse but an explanation of why things take so long.
Anyway, let's use the demo as an example of the indie process. We promised the demo by March and we had a playable demo by March. That was easy. Now, "playable demo" meant that there was the arena district, that you can explore it and talk to the arena master, fight in the arena, loot, sell, buy stuff, get proper skill points, increase skills, etc. Almost everything. Just a few tweaks and we're done. Not quite.
First, tweaking the combat system took a very long time. Nick worked his ass off, "processing" changes and spitting out new builds every day. I posted some feedback earlier. Did we have a combat system before? Of course we did, but we never tested it extensively and played it for days and weeks until you hated the fucking thing and cursed the day you started working on the game. It took a long time, but now it's really fluid and enjoyable. Now, it's exactly what I wanted it to be. Trust me, I can't wait to share it with you guys. It's very hard to work on something for years, dying to show it fully, and not being able to because the game isn't ready yet.
According to Annie, "it's shaping up to be really awesome ... graphics solid and consistent and the scale of the city was really impressive", but maybe she's being nice.
Second, the little things. Everything and anything goes there. Sounds and music, which we are still working on, AI, which still requires tweaks (previously we were talking about combat mechanics, rules, and numbers), menu commands, camera control, running, animation tweaks, problems we didn't foresee, and all kinda bugs from visual to scripting to mechanics.
The mechanics are complex, so it's easy to tweak a few things and fuck a lot of things up. Here is a recent example. We changed aimed attacks: legs damage from normal to damage assigned to fast range of the equipped weapon. Well, crossbows don't have fast or power attacks for obvious reasons, so when an crossbowman tried to shoot you in the legs the game crashed. Why? No fast damage.
No we have Vista issues. We tested the game on 12 PCs, none of them had Vista. You can load the game, but when you start combat, it crashes because Vista replaces your character ID with something else.
Oscar on some recent graphical improvements:
As Vince said, the road is not an easy one. We had a playable demo by March, but some shortcuts and rough around the edges. Then Nick had to work on his thesis and we lost him for a couple of months. We picked up the pace again, but there are a lot of small details that make a game truly polished, and those take time to do. Check, for example, the list from the updates I did in the past two weeks (this does not include Nick's updates):
- Virtual Collision Meshes for all buildings.
- Animated Doors.
- Animated trees and banners.
- Updated area map.
- 1600x1200 panels and buttons.
- Latest char and item databases.
- Latest Dialogues.
- Updated male face textures.
- Better collision for most buildings.
- Some texture changes for interiors, weapons and armors.
- Added some filler NPCs, will add more.
- Assigned new dialogue system to arena master and merchant.
- Assigned item list to merchant (check bug reports).
- Created item lists for the 3 tiers.
- Made some changes to the level mostly regarding passability.
- Greatly improved the quality of the lightmaps for the fort and assassins guild.
- Created passability for all floors of the level.
- Added moving signs to the inn.
- Completed all the lists for the merchant, including special weapons.
- Made some small changes to how THC is calculated for ranged weapons.
- Added scoped crossbows.
- Changed some blue steel icons that didn't look quite alright.
- Fixed flying spectators bones, textures and UVMs.
- Included latest item and character databases.
...and on the possible proximity of the combat demo:
As for the demo, I agree with Vince estimate of 4 weeks until release, but I might add 2 weeks more due to unforeseen consequences. We are doing some changes to the AI in order to use the new rules we made for combat and to counter some exploits, and messing with that stuff is a recipe for potential bugs, which will have to be found and squashed. After that is an update to the save system (which became obsolete due to some changes we made), implementation of a couple of accessory screens, sounds and different screen resolutions. And a final round of testing and optimizing. Now, do you think our estimate is accurate? Is there a book somewhere which could tell us how much would these tasks take?
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