DEV BLOG #3
The Exaggerated Epoch of Edward O'Hare | Storyend Studios
Two Weeks To Alpha
Within the next month the game will finally be on Steam!
ALMOST FEATURE COMPLETE
In two weeks (actually 12 days) is our alpha milestone, and one week before that date our lead producer Nick A wanted to submit the current build to Steam so they could review it early so we could fully release whenever we wanted.
For alpha we want everything going into the game to be a level quality of at least L1 (basic functionality) with some key features like the controller, combat and level obstructions to be at L2 (full functionality). While we were a little worried for a few sprints, everything has essentially left L0 (prototyped; basically just proof of concept) except for some UI and narrative stuff.
While we were confident we will make it, over the past week or two we have been dealing with some internal issues that have slowed our velocity. So while the bulk of the game is fine, the leads are still looking at cutting an obstruction or two and potentially, have already cut part of some levels, and are still considering other ways of reducing scope.
Largely, the problem we are facing is a low output of good work on a few of the teams. There have been too many sprints where work done was fairly minor on important features, or the work is more substantial but requires significant fixing, polishing and/or replacing to get it to the point we wanted.
While we have had to make do with that a few times, as sometimes we just need something working so we can get it in front of testers, or at least be able to test it internally to be able to tell if some feature would give us something we wanted (ie, if a new attack or control scheme would enhance the player experience); however, when this happens sprint after sprint, the amount of work that is left begins to outweigh the value of having "something working."
While the attempts at a solution I mentioned in previous posts (moving people around and getting a freelancer) in addition to trying to revamp communication have helped a bit, we still are not out of the woods yet.
THE ROAD AHEAD
In the next week, I will be trying to string together everything we have for levels and functionality into an actual, full game build to help us visualize where we are. I do think the build at the end of alpha will be a good candidate for submitting to Steam for approval, but the original target of a week before alpha is unrealistic, and has been abandoned by the producers.
As I mentioned, we picked up a freelancer who is a junior game programmer. She has already proved to be a great asset to the team. She started with some art assets for social media, revamped a presentation and this sprint has started taking on programming tasks, so I will have to see how that goes. I personally am worried that adding another programmer to the repo is a recipe for merge conflicts.
Overall I am quietly confident that our freelancer, efforts to define the QA pipeline, refine communication, remove impediments and accelerate the velocity of team members falling behind will allow us to crush our alpha milestone and be in a good place to hit our beta milestone as well.