Following last weeks thoughts about making a road map for Quantum Wing Station Generator, I went ahead and actually did it. Having time of my full time job has had a huge impact on my game dev, as you might imagine.So I spent maybe half a day or so (I’m still a parent so I don’t get THAT much free time) working up a plan, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today.
The first change you might notice is the header image. I’ve actually decided to drop the generator’s association with my also in development game Quantum Wing. The code will very much still be contributing to the game but I feel the generator as taken up a life of it’s own, and I want it to have that life, as it were, without being tied to something else as well. So it’s going to be called simply, Station Generator. If I think of a better name before release well and good, but a descriptive name is fine. When I talk about it on Twitter, I’ll also be using the hashtag #StationGenerator to help keep everything together.
That of course, wasn’t the first thing I did. I started up a document and then collated all the feedback I’d received from the very first working pre-alpha, up to and including the recently released alpha 4, which I’ve now made publicly available for reasons I’ll get to later. When I printed these out it totally 12 pages of feedback. I hadn’t realised just how much I’d gotten over the last few months, and I’m very grateful to have gotten it.
I went through the feedback with a fine toothed comb, dismissing features I’d already implemented and bugs I’d already squashed, and made a list of features I would like to have done for the final game and a list of features I could add post 1.0 if I decide to keep going with the tool. And with this list of features I would plan out the rest of the alpha and beta versions. Here’s an overview of the plan as it stands:
- Alpha 5: Graphics overhaul and sound work (First paid update)
- Greenlight Campaign planing
- Greenlight Demo based on Alpha 5
- Re-branding and Marketing
- Beta 1: UI upgrade
- Beta 2: More graphic work, backend work
- Beta 3: Implement save/load states and general optimisations
- Launch on itch.io and hopefully Steam
I’ve been doing an update each month since the first pre-alpha launched and I’m hoping I can keep up that pace, and if I can the game could be market ready by Christmas, which would be nice. However real life has a way of bucking expectations so I’m looking at the plan as more of a guide than something set in stone. That said I will be doing my best to meet my goals.
I’ll go into more detail regarding the Greenlight campaign and the betas when I get to them, but I will go into a bit more detail on alpha 5, since that’s what I’m working on right now.
If you’ve been following my twitter (@ALWyvern) you’ll have seen that I’ve been furiously working on upgrading the tiles for Station Generator. But like many things, it wasn’t all plain sailing.
I spent a whole day with a blank canvas open in Pyxel Edit (great tool by the way, and super cheap for $10) finding excuses not to start, because I couldn’t do it. Artist’s block maybe? It was incredibly demotivating and I went to bed that night wondering if I was going to be able to go on with the project, was I going to end up canning it because I couldn’t face myself? Not all bad thoughts make sense.
Anyway, I got out of bed the next day, and took my time getting to my computer, I had a good breakfast, I chilled out for a while. Then I went upstairs, turned it on, opened a canvas, and stared at it for a while, I still didn’t know where to start. So I got practical.
I thought about what I was actually trying to do. I was making modular parts for a space station. But what size where those parts? I thought about this for a little while, and playing around with the rooms decided on 16 by 16 meters. This made everything that followed a heck of a lot easier.
I decided to start with the living quarters, as they’d be easiest because I had a ton of reference. I was sitting in a living quarters right then, as I am now. I got out my measuring tape and started measuring stuff, the bed, the wardrobes, the couch, and started drawing boxes on screen using the scale I’d added. It was a simple checkerboard in the background, each square measuring 8 pixels by 8 to show a meter. From there my imagination was sparked and after a few days hard work I had 20 rooms done in grey-scale and another day had them all (subtly) coloured.
I plan to revisit the star field in the background and make that a bit nicer as well as do some work on the sound. I’ve made the game 64bit so it can manage the textures for the bigger stations but it’s still not enough so I’ll have to limit the resolution you can save at for the bigger stations. After a bit of research it seems it’s a hardware problem as currently the biggest texture you can render is 8192 x 8192 where I was trying to render a test case at 9600 x 9600 which my computer didn’t like at all. But that’s very much an extreme case and won’t really have an effect on the kinds of stations that would be useful in a gaming environment.
So with the graphics nearly finished for this update, I just have to update the corridors, I’ll also be spending a bit more time working on sound, seeing what I can do in terms of refining the sfx or introducing music or something, and there’s also one small sound bug I need to address but that shouldn’t pose a problem (famous last words).
Once that’s done there’s a few bits of housekeeping I need to do, like making sure the credits are up to date and re working the splash screen and such.
As I mentioned earlier I’ve made the current alpha publicly available rather than hiding it with itch.io’s secret link and handing out links as I had been was because it uses the old graphics and I’m happy to get the game out there in that fashion as the next update will be a paid update. I feel it’s come a long way since it first released the pre-alpha and it’s at a stage where I’m happy to go into an early access payment model.
While I’ve not yet decided what I’ll be charging for the game, the early access versions will be cheaper than the final product. I think early access will really suit this as I’ve found the feedback from users to be an excellent addition in driving development forward. It’s also really helpful to get an outside view, there’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes on something, and knowing what gamers want from the generator.