Ahoy! Just wanted to give you guys a quick update on what has been going on this month, and some things to expect coming into next month.
We have a big investor milestone meeting coming up on the 19th, and all of our time has been focussed on getting all the systems we shared with you, via youtube, stable and clean. Of course, those systems are not fully fleshed out game features just yet, but it’s a strong foundation built on the engine that is allowing us to expand out on things with gusto.
Into the coming months, we will be focussing on what is defined as a “minimally viable product”, that is to say, “what does this game experience feel like, with polish, for a short play session”. So while it may not be perfectly balanced, we need to demonstrate polished animations, some competency with enemy AI, and strong visuals (particle effects, graphics, etc). This also means a grasp on what the actual UX is in a 3d space, which revolves around the process a person gets from a keystroke, or series of keystroke, from a selection to an action.
Working through these things over the next few months gives us an opportunity to start being more open, again, with some of our thinking, and intentions, with design. While we do not expect EVERYONE to approve of all our choices, the product is too early on to allow for any design by committee. We will be responsible for creating the foundation of what the experience is, and leave opportunities for systems to be modified and expanded upon. And this is much of the reason we are so focussed on tools and our own development pipeline. The more clean and streamlined that is, the easier it would be for any of you to do, as well.
Some of you in the community have brought up the possibility of a QA, and that is a pretty solid idea. We love getting a chance to talk to all of you, and answer questions. If nothing else, we can always say that we pride ourselves on transparency, even on topics that are taboo and perpetuate chaos and confusion… (web based cookie clicker FTP clone, anyone?) But first, we are gonna get the current build into the hands of a few of you, and have some footing to get both technical, and experience driven question from all of you. So expect us to start taking in questions in a couple weeks time.
That is pretty much it for the time being, but if you have any questions, you are always able to reach out to any of us, and you will hear back from us.
After a long period of development with TUGv2, under the new engine, internally dubbed “eternus”, we are proud to share the progress we have made so far. Please do keep in mind, that we are building everything from the ground up on our own, to facilitate a lot of unique future goals, so not all systems have been complete. In order to hit our goals for this month, we had to be sure we focussed on systems that made the most sense, to share something today. So be aware that what you see is incomplete, the systems are not final, and we still have a long way to go until it’s “complete” and polished.
As for advancements:
Art: we have FINALLY been able to define visual consistency to work hand in hand with graphics development. And while we are still lacking some general systems like Particle Effects, and proper animation support, to facilitate polish, the general look of the game has really started to define itself.
Technology: Our team is broken into 3.5 major technology groups internally. Core engine has pushed forward our eternus engine, and lowered the bar to entry for hardware requirements, how much that bar has dropped, is still subject to some negotiation with art and design, but it’s still at least lower than the Dx11 spec as it stands. There is a lot to be said about what the engine does, and can do, but i’ll let Josh speak more to that in an update early next year.
The tools team is a massive change for us from the first iteration of the engine with TUGv1. Not only do they create tools that allow for our own team to develop content faster, but also allow for modders to change parameters within the game with relative ease, and even develop their own tools from an extensible framework. This is also another topic to expect being spoken of early next year.
On infrastructure, the ability to create accounts, upload and distribute mods, and be able to house a growing community of players and creators, we have come a long way. While I KNOW Nathan is going to love digging deep into share the emotional themes behind proper documentation and planning of systems, we will be sure he tones it down so as to not over excite himself (does sarcasm read well in blog form?)
And about half of the gameplay team is building systems that sit somewhere between gameplay, and core engine team. Little bits that give the game a great quality of life, that people may not fully get the implications of, until it’s revealed to them. Stuff like persistence of “simulated” data (what happens when off screen”, logic and power stuff, and even object datas and interactions.
On design and the other half of gameplay, it’s been all about making sure tools, and engine are supported so we can accomplish various goals. For now, lots of SYSTEMS are working, and we now have a chance to play and iterate to make the game “fun”. Lots of work still goes into narrative and mythos consistency, defining the “laws of nature” within the world, and the general approach to learning of complex systems is also a thing, but at this point it comes with a great deal more focus.
On the topic of communication, both recent, and going forward, I accept full personal responsibility for how things have been handled to date. The process of game development, and more so, software development, is a difficult enough thing to maintain internally as a group, and a great deal more consideration should have been taken from migration of our v1 to v2 work. We will ALSO communicate the plan for coms moving forward, early next year, so you know what to expect, and we can be held accountable to it.
While we have been active and responsive to community on various channels (Discord chat, email, NK forums), we have neglected a few outlets for various reasons. However regret does come from lack of communication on our Kickstarter page. It was not considered a community to this point, simply a blog outlet channel, one of MANY, and no proper path was given to alter that outlets means of connecting with the project. This mistake, across a slew of others, were opportunities for us to learn and set a plan of action for communication into the new year. We have a lot of progress to share from this point forward, which will be more consistent.
As for “when the game is going out” to the community, some of you guys are going to be getting it sent to you soon, hopefully by end of week. HOWEVER, it’s not going to everyone, just yet. The first hands on have to be with some of the developers we have in the community, to help us catch some bits, so we can do a better job on supporting our own developers getting the game done. We will roll out launches to various groups within the community, and likely put out some kind of sign up in the next couple of months, to start phasing people in.
On the note of “our future”, we have determined that “paid mods” is not the right thing to do, if for nothing else cultural reasons. However, this doesn’t mean that modders will not be rewarded or compensated, it just means it will be coming from NK. The actual final cost of the game, is a bit up in the air, though do know that we are leaning AWAY from the idea of FTP.
Expect us to make more mistakes moving forward, it’s a process of our getting better, if nothing else, we can at least promise to be transparent with everything (no matter how taboo), and hold ourselves accountable for the decisions we make, and learn from them swiftly.
(no, nobody is paying a penny more for V2 of tug)
xoxo, ino, who still lives in his car.
Hey all, it seems that lots of people are taking bits and pieces of information from different places, so here is a breakdown of something with specifics, so there is not any hearsay involved. Please note, we will update this list as discussions advance a bit further as well.
We will share details of these things over the course of our development, and we are only a few months away from being able to show progress, which we will do as regularly as possible.
It’s Cambo again! Since the last update we have been continuing our focus on engine tech planning and settling into our new office. We were hoping to release a patch in September, but that quickly changed as we got settled into our new office. Let’s just say our devs are not fans of assembling furniture.
What else did we get done in September?
There are more improvements and tweaks, but we’ll save that full list for the patch notes. We’re looking forward to seeing your feedback once you see these changes live!
The NK family is growing and our newest member is Benjamin. Welcome to the team @5ubtlety!
– Cambo out!
Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No! It’s a flying dessert?
Hey folks! Time for another new face: Flying3.14 is the name, full stack is the game. I wandered in a few months ago and have been banging on things behind the scenes; recently, I’ve been focusing on the user experience of the new modding system that Maylon introduced us to last blog, Devotus.
Access to this new mod system comes in two parts: a web portal and the game launcher. This blog will be focusing on the development of the web portal which will facilitate mod creation, versioning, and multi-author management. We’ll go over how to create a mod with Devotus, upload the source to GitHub, how to tag that code as your first version, and download the mod for the first time!
To create a mod, users must have both a Nerd Kingdom and GitHub account. After providing some basic information about the mod, the front end sends the create request while the user is free to browse the rest of the portal. On the backend, Devotus is busy creating the GitHub repo and preparing the customizable marking page. After a few moments the mod is created, a push notification is sent to the user and the new mod is available from the My Mods page.
All mods are created with an empty git repository, just waiting for awesome code. To add source to your project you’ll need to clone the repo and commit as usual. If you are new to git or GitHub, here is a resource to get you started. Helpful links such as the mod’s GitHub page can be found on the Management page. Here you can edit the basic info entered earlier, add authors, add dependencies, add media, and publish updates.
As explained in the last blog, one of the common problems we wanted to solve was mods with multiple authors. The Authors tab within the Management page allows you to add multiple authors, and Devotus will do the footwork to make sure GitHub knows who can access the repository.
Once everyone is on board and pushed their code, the Versioning tab will help you tag your release. Updates are made simply by creating a tag on any commit in the master branch. You can do this by visiting the GitHub Tags & Releases page via a link located in the Versioning tab. The tag must be formatted like so: vX.X.X-release. In most cases Devotus will be listening for these tags and will automatically start building the new download package in the background. In the event a manual check of the tags needs to be made, a link is provided in the Versioning tab.
Once Devotus is finished creating the download package, the status in the Management portal will update, and a ‘Test Download’ link will be available. Wa-lah! A single .zip package that contains your mod! Soon the Launcher will be collecting these, installing and managing the updates automagically!
Each mod comes with a marketing page that can be customized using the Nerd Kingdom Page Editor. Share this page with players and followers on social media to give a detailed insight into what your mod provides. This tool is found on the Management page and runs off the same media and information provided throughout the portal. Change the look and feel through the theme menu, and add images or YouTube videos in the media manager. Entire new sections can be added containing multiple types of content including lists and tabs, allowing you to fully explain the features and usage of your mod. We believe by providing modders with an easily customizable interface to reach players, each mod’s presence can be a little larger than the typical profile page on a mod management service. To try out the Nerd Kingdom Page Editor head over to the ExampleMod page where you can fiddle to your heart’s desire.
The frontend is still a work in progress, but it demonstrates the direction modding is heading, and we are excited about all the opportunities that brings.
Maylyon here with a new blog! If you just rushed to your “Nerd Kingdom Trading Cards” deck and didn’t find me there, don’t fret; I joined the Kingdom in March and have been quietly working behind the scenes as the Lead Infrastructure Developer. (On a side note, if those cards don’t exist, we should change that … .)
One of the things that has impressed me the most since joining the company is the perseverance of the modding community. You guys have such amazing ideas for ways to enhance or improve the gameplay of TUG, but the journey from “concept” to “deployment” seems fraught with needless perils:
The last may be a lost cause, but the answer to most of the other questions right now seems to be “the forums”. The forums are a great tool for fostering discussion in the community, but they seem like a less-than-ideal fit for the challenges that face a modder. Towards that end, we are actively working on Devotus!
Devotus will be a mod content distribution pipeline that facilitates the creation and deployment of mod content by the mod authors for the end users. With Devotus, we hope to allow the modders to focus the majority of their efforts on creating amazing content that pushes the boundaries of what Eternus can handle and stop worrying about the nuts and bolts of deploying a mod. The rest of this blog will focus on answering, “What does Devotus provide?” The next tech blog will focus on answering, “How can I use Devotus to be awesome?”
The first step towards admitting that you have a modding problem is registering your mod with Devotus. When a mod is registered, a blank git repository is created on GitHub; this will be the main home for the mod content that you create. Utilizing a third party git repository site allows us to leverage a proven implementation without the development time and risks of building our own in-house solution. Git repositories on GitHub should help mitigate frustrations 1 – 3 above:
I am definitely not providing a comprehensive feature set list of GitHub; if you want more information, hit up their website or contact me at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to address your questions/concerns/loathing. A few items to note here are:
Another feature of registering your mod with Devotus is the creation of a GitHub IO page. This page is yours to brag about … er, explain … your mod to the community at large. I’ll let the next blog cover the features that are being worked to enable you to create page content highlighting your epicness; I just wanted to provide a teaser to hopefully pique your interest and incentivize you to read the next blog … .
The second step towards admitting that you have a modding problem is publishing mod content for end user consumption. When you tag your git repository with a release tag in the format “v<Major>.<Minor>.<Revision>-release” (e.g. “v1.1.2-release”), a GitHub webhook will push an update command to the Devotus server that will revise the mod information within Devotus and build a ZIP file of the mod repository contents. The intent here is that you will perform a trivial action (tagging your repository) and Devotus will take care of the legwork necessary for that content to be available for download by the end users.
One hurdle of publishing mod content that Devotus attempts to mitigate is mod dependency resolution. Mod authors can indicate that their mod depends on another mod, and Devotus will provide a single download package that contains all the files necessary to use the mod. This feature could be used to develop content that depends on a utility mod (such as Johny’s “CommonLib”) or to develop a mod collection with a single-click installation ( “DaBoom” that contains all of UFIOES’s mods, including “Thermobarics”). A limitation here is that the mod that satisfies the dependency must also be registered with Devotus.
The final step in admitting that you have a modding problem is sharing that problem with others! Tech is planned to incorporate a Devotus browser into the Nerd Kingdom Launcher to mitigate frustrations 4 – 5b above:
This tech is the biggest piece of the ultimate goal: getting a mod into the hands of users.
So that’s it for me rambling about Devotus and scratching the surface of what we are working towards. @TheCamboRambo suggested that blog readers enjoy pictures. The backend isn’t visually interesting, but I want to make the audience happy, so I’ll end with this:
In the meantime, check out the latest NK Cribs video from Josiah!